jump to navigation

Steps to Buying a Church (An Apology for the Church) June 4, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Faith, Gospel, Grace Bible Church, Leadership, Local Church, Paul's Life, Redemption, Religion, Sermons.
add a comment

STEPS TO BUYING A CHURCH
Acts 20

Every once in awhile a letter with listings comes across my desk from a realty company, that specializes in selling church buildings. I normally glance over it and then file it away in the garbage can. The church we are talking about buying today, however, is not a church building but rather the congregation of Grace Bible Church in Delta Township, Michigan.

A. Christ paid the down payment for us with his blood (verses 21-28). There are two ways mentioned in Scripture in which we find that Christ has purchased believers in Him. The first is mentioned in Ephesians 1:13-14. There it talks about the Holy Spirit being the down payment to us as believers. One day we will receive our inheritance, the glory of God but right now we have the Holy Spirit of God guaranteeing that when Christ comes, what He has purchased will be in His possession.

1. The second way in which we find that Christ has purchased believers is found here in Acts 20:28. Christ purchased Grace Bible Church with His blood (verse 28). Perhaps you did not see the words “Grace Bible Church” in the text; so let me explain why it is that I do. Paul is talking to the elders of the church in Ephesus. He anticipates possibly never seeing them again, so this is a farewell message. He commands them to pay attention to their own spiritual well-being as well as that of the church(es) in Ephesus. They have this position because the Holy Spirit set them over the church of God as shepherds. What church is Paul talking about? The church in Ephesus. What is so important about the church in Ephesus? Christ purchased it with his blood.

Ephesus, however, is not the only church Christ purchased with his blood. There is a church in Delta Township. For over seventy-five years this church has been a witness to Christ. Sometimes a great witness, sometimes not. There have been and there probably still are goats among the sheep or tares among the wheat, perhaps even wolves among the sheep but it is still His church for He has bought it with His blood.

That is why I only baptize people who are joining Grace Bible Church. If baptism is the step that identifies one with Christ and with His body then the believer needs when possible to be baptized by water, by initiation, into the local body of Christ which He has purchased with His blood (sometimes as in the case with the Ethiopian eunuch it is not possible).

2. Our signature is on the contract (verse 21). He has made the purchase, He gives the guarantee through the Holy Spirit but it is not a hostile takeover. We are also involved in this transaction. Through repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ. Note that Paul does not emphasize repentance from sin. You see it is possible to turn from sin without turning to God. It is not, however, possible to turn to God without turning from sin. We hear the message of our sinfulness and of Christ’s paying of the purchase price on the cross and we either turn to Jesus for salvation from sin or we reject it and continue on our way to the lake of fire.

B. We invest ourselves into God’s church (verses 18-20, 28-35). Paul puts it this way in verse 24, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself.” Paul had this attitude, if the church is worth the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then it is worth my life also. You can invest yourself in morality, in family values, in political justice, in hard work, in caring for the needy, in all that is good and great in this country and if you have not invested yourself into God’s church, you have wasted your life.

Some wonder why I have given so much time to our teenagers. It is simple. They are the generation to which I will give over the leadership of this church. The twenty and thirty-something’s are not here. God, however, has given us a great gift and rather than crying because of what we do not have, let us invest in what we do. We cannot bury our treasure in the ground so that we don’t lose it. Even if we have only one gold coin to invest, it was given to us to invest, wholly, totally, with great risk, but with the hope of a rich return.

In Wheaton, Illinois there was “in front of a house that had a square marble stone with a brass marker in its front yard…On the marker were these words: On This Spot in 1897 Nothing Happened” (from Hans Finzel’s The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make). Let’s not be like that! Let’s invest ourselves in something worthwhile.

1. We choose to concentrate ourselves on God’s people and not on ourselves (verses 33-35). As in Ephesians 1:13-14 Paul mentions that we have an eternal inheritance through Jesus Christ. This inheritance is referred to by him in 1 Corinthians as a building of gold, silver, and precious stones. Paul says, I don’t want your gold and silver, I want to labor so that you will be vessels of gold and silver pleasing to the Lord. I don’t want nice clothes from you but to teach you how to put off the old clothes of unrighteousness and to put on the new clothes of a life that is honoring to God. I don’t want you to provide for my necessities but rather to allow me to strengthen you in your weakness. Paul concentrated himself on God’s people.

2. We choose to risk ourselves totally, getting the message to people (verses 18-20). There are many groups that are willing to sacrifice themselves for each other. We celebrated last week the men and women who were willing to die for their country. Our sacrifice for Christ and His people, however, is to get the message of the gospel to the people. He says I kept back nothing from you, which was helpful (verse 20). I have testified to the gospel of the grace of God (verse 24). I have preached to you the kingdom of God (verse 25). I have declared to you the whole counsel of God (verse 27). This message is worth dying for, it is worth risking ourselves totally so that everyone both in the church and out of the church can have it and understand it.

3. We protect our investment by the wise use of our personnel and time (verses 28-31). The church’s best people are called to watch over the flock. Why? Because the flock is who reaches the city. The church in Jerusalem was most effective in getting out the gospel when the congregation left town and the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. One possible reason why we are not as effective as we could be in reaching the community is that we have gotten the cart before the horse. It is not the pastor that reaches the community but the church that does. If the church does not do it, then how will it get done in any sort of spiritual way?

Allow me to give you a modern example: “Four couples are meeting for a Bible study on a weeknight. They have been getting together for about four months, since three of them had been converted to Christ. One of the laymen in the church has been leading the study…As they launch into their lesson, the phone rings. ‘Is Joe there? Joe is one of the four-month-old Christians. ‘Yes, but he’s busy right now…’ The voice is desperate, ‘Please! I’ve got to talk with him.’ …Joe picks up the phone and listens. ‘OK,’ he says, ‘I’ll come right over.’ Joe comes back to his Bible study group and explains. His business partner wants him to come over and help him. There’s been a marital fight, and the man’s wife is walking out on him…Joe feels he should go and do what he can.
The leader of the study group [agrees]…The Bible study turns into a prayer meeting… [Joe leads] both husband and wife to Christ… [and continues] leading them in a study of the Scriptures. The leader, in turn, had begun to spend a little extra time with Joe to answer some of his questions now that he and his wife were leading new Christians in a study of the Word of God” (from Leroy Eims’ The Lost Art of Disciple Making).

It will also cost us our time. Three years night and day is a long time. That is a lot of prayers. That is a lot of late nights talking and teaching. Paul obviously was used to that grind. In Troas he spoke so long that a fellow went to sleep and fell out the window necessitating a resuscitation ministry by Paul. If we give five hours a week to serving the Lord, his people, and this community we feel like we have given much. Don’t, however, ask yourself if you are giving enough time. Ask am I giving my all.

He paid the price for us. Spurgeon tells how Roman noblemen whose city was surrounded by their enemies the Carthaginians showed confidence in their success in that they bought the land on which their enemies were encamped. When Jesus died for Grace Bible Church, when He paid the price for us, He was confident that what He bought, He would possess. We can also, because of His confidence invest with great confidence in what He purchased with his blood.

Advertisements

Jacob Wrestling with God May 29, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Faith, Genesis, Jacob, Prayer, Religion, Sermons.
add a comment

WRESTLING WITH GOD
Genesis 32:22-32

In the evangelical tradition there has long been an emphasis on a “crisis experience.” Sometimes it has been considered crucial to a true salvation experience and often people have a crisis experience when they get saved. In 1865 a fanatical infidel, who had written a book on infidelity, “…was persuaded to attend an old-fashioned camp-meeting. The preacher challenged the people…to give Jesus Christ a fair trial. When he asked for those to come forward who were willing to make the test, [the infidel] went…While riding home, he got down on his knees in the woods and fought the battle out-and Jesus Christ won. [B. H.] Carroll’s life was transformed, and his great gifts were dedicated to Christ.”

Sometimes this crisis experience comes to someone who is already a believer but is plagued by doubts. “[G. Campbell Morgan] went through an eclipse of his faith. In desperation, he locked all his books in a cupboard, secured a new Bible, and began to read it…The result? ‘That Bible found me!’” (both examples are from Warren Wiersbe’s Walking with the Giants).

It should be noted that not everyone has crisis experiences and certainly not every crisis experience comes at the same time in one’s life or in the same way. In Jacob’s life his crisis experience came in a moment of great fear, his brother Esau was coming to meet him, the same brother from whom he had stolen his father’s blessing, the same Esau who had promised twenty years earlier to kill Jacob as soon as his father was dead. Jacob has now taken a step toward reconciliation (32:3-5). The messengers come back with this message, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him” (verse 6). Jacob fears now for his life. He divides his company into two groups so that at least some of them might survive and he prays to God for help but he still is fearful. He sends presents ahead to Esau, hoping to appease his anger but he still is fearful. That night he has a crisis experience, he wrestles with God.

A. Like Jacob, even though we have faith in Christ, we still might find ourselves wrestling with God. To have a crisis experience, to be fearful or depressed or doubtful, there is no shame in having a crisis experience.

1. Wrestling with God may happen when you know God’s will but do not know what you at that moment should do (32:1-23). Jacob had been walking with God for twenty years. He had been taken advantage of by his uncle Laban. During those twenty years he had been humbled by God. He tries to do what’s right by reconciling to his brother. And now four hundred men are coming, fully capable of destroying Jacob and all with which God had blessed him. Jacob knew in general that he was in God’s will but he did not know at that moment what he should do. Have you ever been there?

2. Wrestling with God happens when you want God’s will in your life no matter what the cost may be (32:24-32). People who don’t want God’s will done, do not wrestle with God. It wasn’t until Jonah was in the whale that he was willing to do God’s will. We find him wrestling with God in chapter 2 not in chapter 1. There he is simply running.

One of the best examples of someone wrestling with God is our Lord Jesus Christ. He knew God’s will. He may have not known every detail of what would happen during the next twenty-four hours but he knew that he was on his way to die. Yet he was willing to pay the price. The cost was great. The cost was terrifying to Jesus. Jesus faced death with the same emotions that many a man before and afterward faced death with but he was willing to pray the price.

Are you willing to pay the price?

B. When we wrestle with others, we must have God’s help to be blessed (32:26-29). God points out; Jacob has not only prevailed in his wrestling with God but also in his wrestling with men, particularly Esau and Laban. One thing is clear. Jacob prevailed with men because of God’s blessing and not because of his ability or wisdom. Why? Because he was part of God’s royal entourage.

1. We have a position as believers in Christ in a royal family (32:28). That’s what makes the cost worth it. Paul writes in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” God’s blessing is based not on me but on my position in Him.

2. We know from where our help must come (32:29). Will we depend on Him?

“In 1929 [W. E. Sangster] moved to Liverpool (England) where… he pastored [and filled] two churches…[He] went through a deep spiritual crisis…After his father’s death, [his son] found a handwritten ‘spiritual analysis’ buried in the bottom drawer of the desk…It was the record of [a] spiritual conflict…It begins, ‘I am a minister of God and yet my private life is a failure in these ways…’ Then he listed eight areas of defeat. He concluded: ‘I have lost peace…I have lost joy…. I have lost taste for my work….I feel a failure.’ What was the answer? ‘Pray. Pray. Pray. Strive after holiness like an athlete prepares for a race. The secret is in prayer’” (Wiersbe’s Walking with the Giants).

Are you wrestling with God today? Do you want to do God’s will and don’t know how? Tell it to Jesus. You don’t have to wrestle alone. Paul wrote to several churches including in Rome and Colosse and asked those people to wrestle with him. Jacob wrestled alone but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let us wrestle with you.

Mother’s Day Sermon 2012 – Two Wives, Four Mothers, Twelve Sons May 14, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Genesis, God's Goodness, Jacob, Laban, Leah, Mother's Day, Providence, Rachel, Religion, Sermons.
add a comment

TWO WIVES ON MOTHER’S DAY
Genesis 29:1-30:24

Erwin Lutzer once “asked a woman about the tattoo on her arm, she explained, ‘My former boyfriend did it-he was an abusive alcoholic.’ …every day she was reminded of the pain in her past. She would have preferred to remove that tattoo, but it was burned into her skin” (from Putting Your Past Behind You by Erwin Lutzer).

A. Many of us come from less than ideal situations, less than ideal families. For many Mother’s Day is a wonderful holiday but for others it brings sad memories and unfulfilled dreams. I doubt that they celebrated Mother’s Day in Jacob’s house, especially before Joseph was born. There were two wives, two concubines, and four mothers in this household. One wife was unloved; the other was for many years childless. The expectations of both women remained for years unfulfilled.

1. Our expectations are not always fulfilled (29:31-30:8).
i. It may be that certain things that we expected in life to happen never came to pass. That is what we have in this passage, especially in the life of Rachel, who wanted a son with all of her heart.
ii. It is also possible that things we expected to be fulfilling left us wanting. Leah had six sons, a mother’s dream in that day, but the pride of having children left her dissatisfied.
iii. It also may be that we had no expectations in life and life gave us exactly what we expected, nothing. Jacob’s handmaids, slave girls fall into this category. They became pawns in the hands of Jacob and his wives and at least in one case, in the hands of Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben (Genesis 35:22).

2. We sometimes try to manipulate the situation (29:15-30; 30:14-16). There are different types of manipulation. Perhaps Rachel tried to use guilt on Jacob to manipulate him to take her handmaid, although in this case he pointed out that the situation was beyond his control (30:1-6). Only God can give children.

3. We must depend on God for solutions (30:17, 22-23). We learn of God’s faithfulness and provision in his Word but the clearest way to depend on God is to flee to him in prayer. “In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, a young woman and her children are seen knocking on the Wicket Gate. In a moment a ferocious dog begins to bark, making the woman and children afraid. They face a dilemma: If they continue to knock, they must fear the dog; if they turn away, the gatekeeper will be offended and they will not be admitted. They continue to knock ever so fervently. Finally, they hear the voice of the gatekeeper asking, ‘Who is there?’ and instantly the dog ceases barking.” Erwin Lutzer comments, “The moment we are serious about prayer, a thousand dogs begin to bark. If we listen to them we will turn away. If we continue to know, we will hear the voice of our Master and we will be encouraged to press on.”

B. God’s plan is not limited by our dysfunction (32:9-12). There is a story of a “beautiful piece of cloth on which some ink had accidentally been spilled[.] Though the ink could not be removed, an artist painted a picture on it and used the blotch as part of the scenery” (adapted from Erwin Lutzer).

1. His expectations are always fulfilled (32:27-28). That is why we should pray according to God’s will, desirous that God’s will be done. “When we pray for a promotion, or that a child will be healed, or that God will give us a marriage partner, the question of the will of God always emerges as a part of the picture. In instances like these we must end our prayer with ‘If it be Thy will.’ On the other hand, there are some requests we can make with absolute certainty that we are praying in His will” (Lutzer).

2. He always controls the situation (45:3-8). “When Edmund Gravely died at the controls of his small plane, his wife kept the plan aloft for two hours. She radioed for help and her distress signal was picked up, but communication was impossible because she kept changing channels. Eventually she made a rough landing, but it would have been so much easier if she had stayed tuned to the right frequency” (Lutzer). God is in control, there is no doubt about that. Are you listening to him?

3. His solutions always good (Joshua 24:1- 13). How long did this take? From the time of Abraham to the time of Joshua was well over five hundred years but God’s solution was good. It was another thousand years before Jesus came but God’s solution was good. It had been two thousand years since Jesus promised that he would return but his solution remains good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next week: The Curse and the Blessings of the Cross

Easter Sermon 2010 April 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Easter, Religion, Resurrection, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons, Seven Churches of Revelation.
1 comment so far

WHO WAS DEAD AND CAME TO LIFE
Revelation 2:8-11

Sometimes we know part of the story, but not all of it. FamilyLife magazine, February, 1995 tells “…the story of a grandfather who wanted to know how much his four-year-old granddaughter knew about the Easter story. When he saw little Julie playing in the backyard with her friends, he asked them, “Who knows why we celebrate Easter every year?” One of Julie’s friends chirped up first: “Oh, that’s when you go to the mall and sit on the big bunny rabbit’s lap and tell him what you want in your Easter basket.” Her second friend’s answer was no better: “No, no, no! It’s when you get a tree and hang eggs on it—and you wake up on Sunday and there are presents underneath it.”
At that point Grandpa interrupted and gently said, “That’s a good guess, but it’s not quite right. Julie, do you know why we celebrate Easter?” Julie nodded her head. “It’s when Jesus was crucified. He died, and His disciples put his body in the grave. They rolled a big stone in front of the opening. And the guards went to sleep. On the third day, there was a big earthquake and the stone rolled away.”
Hearing all that, Grandpa was really encouraged that Julie knew so much of the Easter story. Then she continued, “When the earthquake happened, the entire town came out by the grave. And if Jesus came out and saw his shadow, they knew there would be six more weeks of winter!”
Young Julie knew a lot about Easter but she had misunderstood a key element. Because she had misunderstood, Easter’s meaning was changed. I believe most of us understand the key element of Easter. He who was dead came to life. It is the message of the resurrected Christ. That message changed everything. When Christ rose from the dead, He changed our view of death, He changed our view of this life, and He changed our view of the life to come.

These changes, however, are not just changes of understanding but are practical changes that affect the way that live. Jesus to the church of Smyrna applies His resurrection to the lives of the believers there in this passage.
I. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of death (vs. 8). Now there were resurrections before in the Old Testament as well as during the life of Christ but the resurrection of Christ is different. He never died again. He lives today after two thousand years. Because of His resurrection, we view death differently.

a. We view death from the outside (vs. 8a). It is hard for us to comprehend death. Milton Mayer once wrote in an essay “On Death”, “Death is the one idea that has no history. We do not know what to say about death because we do not know what to think about it, and we do not know what to think about it because we do not know what it is.”

The very name Smyrna reminds us that we do not know how to deal with death. The city was named for a substance, myrrh, used as a perfume as well as for anointing a dead body before burial. Burial practices around the world reflect this difficulty of dealing with death. Boettner writes in his book, “Immortality”, that in Greenland a deceased child was provided at burial with a dog to act as its guide in the hereafter. Religion seeks a purpose in death. Some promise a rebirth, others a happy future. Modern man has given up and concluded that death is simply the end and has no purpose.

b. Jesus, however, reveals to us a view of death from eternity (vs. 8b). He is the First and the Last. This title comes from the book of Isaiah where Yahweh tells His people that He is God and there is no one like Him. Isaiah 44:6b-7 says,
“I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.
Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?”
You see, He existed before death and will exist after death has ceased. He is the one who allows death to exist and He allows death to exist because it fits into His eternal purpose. To adapt a saying from St. Augustine, “God judges it better to bring life out of death than to suffer no death to exist.”

That does not mean that we always understand His purpose. That is the point Isaiah is making. No one, no god, devil, man, or angel can set in order for the First and the Last the events of time or eternity and we certainly cannot discover the purpose of death. That had to be revealed to us through Jesus Christ, the First and Last.

c. Jesus Christ, the First and Last, however, is not a puppeteer playing with us, pulling our strings, very much in control but outside the play. No, He views death from the inside (vs. 8c). All men, Christians included must stop at the gate of death and say, “I do not know…” We can define and describe love, hate, exhilaration, and despair but we do not know from personal experience what it means to die. Jesus Christ, however, knows what it means to die. He knows what it means to suffer our fate. He knows what it means because He experienced it. He plays by the rules that He set for us. He took the medicine that each of us is scheduled to take.

“Joseph Damien was a missionary in the nineteenth century who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii…One morning before he was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more boiling water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, ‘My fellow believers,’ But this morning he began with, ‘My fellow lepers.’”

Without the death of Christ, I could not know the love of God for me. So now I have a different view of death. I still do not know it by experience but I understand now its purpose in revealing God’s love to me.

II. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of life on earth (vs. 9-10).

a. For us life is about this world (vs. 9). It does not matter whether you are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, selfish or giving, surrounded by friends or isolated in loneliness, our life is about this world. These people were no different. Jesus said, I know your works, I know how you go about your daily life, I know your tribulations, I know the things that you are facing in the world, I know your poverty, how that you have lost jobs and family because of your faith in me, I know your present circumstances. I know about your enemies, people who claim to believe in me but are children of the devil. I know what they have planned for you, I know how long your trials are going to last, I know your future. But do not fear. Jesus addressed their present circumstances and their future danger. He did not call them to put on heavenly sunglasses and forget about the glare of this world.

b. What He did do is put this life in perspective for them. This life is about winning eternal life through lasting faith in Christ (vs. 10). That is why He was able to say, “Do not fear!” Jesus did not say, “I am going to deliver you out of your trouble.” Sometimes he does deliver us but often He does not because life is not about living without troubles and trials, without sorrow and pain. Life for the believer is about a constant faith, an enduring faith in Christ. That is why the Bible warns against a faith that does not last. The faith that does not last is not a real faith and will result in destruction. So my life is not about church or family or country or career or hobbies or friends or health or about myself. My life is to be about a constant display of my faith in Christ. Because He lives, I can live with a purpose, I can live the life of faith in Him, confident that when I die, I will receive the victor’s crown of eternal life.

III. That is what I mean when I say that the resurrected Christ has changed our view of life after death (vs. 10-11). In Christ, I have a new life, a resurrected life.

a. The resurrected life is victorious (vs. 10). One of the characters in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” Mr. Valiant-for-Truth was summoned home to the Celestial City. “He called his friends and told them of it. Then, said he, ‘I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am…My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me, that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.’…many accompanied him to the river side into which as he went he said, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ And as he went down deeper, he said, ‘Grave, where is thy victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”

“…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

b. Resurrected life is protected from the second death (vs. 11). Our text says, shall not be hurt. This word is found in the New Testament, primarily in the book of Revelation. The second death is described for us in Revelation 20. It is the lake of fire, the place of damnation. But the believer in Christ is protected. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

I may die physically but the resurrected Christ, the one who was dead and came to life promises to protect me from the second death. I may suffer now in some way or another but my hope for the future is the healing leaves of the tree of life, not the eternal hurt inflicted by the second death.
What is your view of death? Do you see in it God’s love for you in that He died for you?
What is your view of life? Do you see in it the opportunity to exercise constant faith in Christ?
What is your view of the life to come? Do you see victory and rest from your labors here?
If not, you can. You can begin today your walk of faith in Christ. You can begin today to experience God’s love. You can begin today to live for eternity. The resurrected Christ has made this possible. Trust Him today!

The Son of Man March 21, 2010

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

THE SON OF MAN
Revelation 1:9-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paying Attention to Jesus the Revelator March 14, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Blood of Christ, Christ, Day of the Lord, Eschatology, God the Father, Imminency, Jesus, Judgment, Messiah, Millenial Kingdom, Prophecy, Religion, Resurrection, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons.
add a comment

WHY PAY ATTENTION TO JESUS?
Revelation 1:1-18

The word “keep” in verse 3 carries the connotation of “paying attention with the intention to obey.” It is God’s intention that we keep the word of this prophecy and to the one who gives this prophecy. Sometimes it does not matter who the messenger is. When we listen to the news, it really does not matter who is reading the news. We may like the one we are listening to and they may make us feel better about the news but for the most part it matters little except for entertainment purposes whether I get my news from Diane Sawyer or Katie Couric.

It is different though when what we receive is a prophecy, that is, a direct word from God. There are many today who claim to have received direct words from God. We see them on our TVs, hear them on our radios, and see their books in the CBD catalogue. Should we pay attention to them? I do not; for none of them to my knowledge claim perfect inspiration and many of them preach one form or another of false doctrine. We are commanded to try the spirits whether they be of God.

Next week we will specifically look at why we should pay attention to His revelation. This week I want us to understand what is in it for us. That may seem a little backwards but this is the way it is presented in the book and so that is the order that we will follow.

This book begins by stating that God gave Jesus this revelation for the profit of His servants. Now many of us here this morning claim to be the servants of God, that is, the children of God, so this book is intended for us. Why do we need this book and why should we pay attention to the one who gives it to us?

A. Because God gave Him what we need to know for the future (1:1, 3b). The future is very important. Many of you will go to work because of the future. You will do schoolwork because of the future. Wars are fought so that nations can determine the future. Investments are made in the future. Roads and bridges are built for future use. Even history is often studied so that we can better understand the future.

Now God knows the future. Some of the future we need to know. We do not need to know details for the most part. In fact, God rarely gives us much detail. We do not know who the Antichrist is, we do not know the date of the Lord’s coming, we do not know if the multiple earthquakes that have recently occurred are signs of His immediate coming, and we do not know exactly how the world will look when Christ comes. Any details we have are either sketchy or incomplete. But there are some things we need to know about the future.

1. The coming of the Lord is imminent (verses 1 and 3b). He could come at any time. Two thousand years ago, the Lord could have come at anytime. That is still true today.

Now there are several attitudes that we can take about this.

a. We can be fatalistic about his coming. “If He comes He comes…” Now I do not think that very many people are truly fatalistic. Either they believe He is coming or they do not but this is a possible attitude one could take.

b. Most do not believe He is coming. They may not openly doubt it but they obviously do not believe otherwise they would be ready. Revelation 3:1-3 describes a church that did not believe He was coming. Jesus said that he would surprise them like a thief. Jesus taught quite often about this when He was on the earth. One of the last sermons He preached had as His main point that those who are not ready will be destroyed (Matthew 24:36-13). One of the illustrations He used was of a servant who was made ruler over his master’s house. He said to himself, “The master is delaying his coming.” He begins then to beat his fellow servants and to lead a life of partying. When the master suddenly returns the man will be cut in two.

c. There is though a third attitude. Being ready! How do you know you are ready? Romans 13:8,11-14 tells us how, “Owe no one anything except to love one another… and do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep…Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness…Let us walk properly…not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

Luke also tells us in chapter 12 of his gospel how that those who live for the things of this world will not be ready. In other words, only the disciple who is willing to live for heaven and not for this world will be ready when Jesus comes.

2. We not only need to know that the Lord could come at any moment but we need to understand that He is coming as the Almighty (verses 7-8). When He comes every eye will see Him and recognize who He is. Those who crucified Him as prophesied in Zechariah 12 will see Him. Now you might think that those who crucified Jesus are already dead. Zechariah 12:10 makes it clear that John is talking about the Jew here in this passage. They will not be the only ones to see Him. All the tribes of the earth will see Him and mourn. Why? Because the Almighty has come to judge His enemies. It is possible to mourn in repentance (which is the caase in Zechariah) but the context of Revelation indicates that the peoples of the earth will mourn when they realize that the Lord is coming to judge them (Revelation 6:12-17). On that day, every news station will show the Almighty. Facebook and Twitter updates will mourn the coming of the Almighty. The nations will rise against Him but will not be able to stand because He is the Almighty.

Now why do we need to know that He is coming as the Almighty? Because right now it looks like Christ is losing. The world is becoming more anti-Christ every day. He seems to be losing ground but when He comes we will be able to give thanks (Revelation 11:15-18) because He has returned and restored His rule over this earth. That is the day that we long for according to Romans 8. This world of sin and sinners is oppressive to the believer in Christ but when Christ returns, the sinner will be destroyed and sin will be put in check. Only the Almighty God can accomplish such a feat.

B. The reason we need to know about the future is that there is blessing in paying attention to Jesus and His revelation about the future (1:3). This blessing is not in stock tips or oil futures. This blessing is a spiritual blessing.

1. To be blessed means to be saved (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). Seven times in the book of Revelation, a blessing is pronounced on those who are believers in Christ. The word we read in our Bibles as “saved” Martin Luther often translated as “blessed” because He understood that to be truly blessed of God meant much more than houses and lands and nice families. God blesses the unsaved also with such things. To be blessed of God, however, means to be saved, to be redeemed by the Lamb. Sometimes this word is translated “happy.” That is not a bad translation, for one who lives eternally in the presence of God will be happy and the one in hell will not. To be blessed though is more than an emotional reality, it is a spiritual reality. Look at Revelation 20:4-6. What a contrast? Those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus are blessed because they are free from the second death. It is certainly not a happy occasion to be beheaded. Those who might sympathetically be looking on might say, “What a waste!” But they are blessed. They are saved from the second death, from the wrath to come.

2. To keep the word means to have an active faith (1:3; 22:14; compare with 1 John 3:23). You see, to keep a prophecy means that there is something that should be done in response to that prophecy. Revelation 22:14 makes it clear that those who do His commandments will have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. Now does this mean that we can work our way into heaven? Absolutely not. James put it this way, “Faith without works is dead.” In other words, true faith will live a certain way. First John 3:23 tells us exactly what the commandments of Christ are, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” So this blessing means more than to believe that Jesus is God. It demands becoming a disciple of Christ, an active faith that determines not only to trust Christ but to obey Him.

It is clear that Jesus can demand an active faith from me and I need to hear His word with active faith. The blessing of God is promised to me if I keep His word, if I have an active faith. An active faith will be ready for His coming. That is the point of the last phrase in verse 3. He is coming. Are you ready?

“A lady, who heard Whitefield, in Scotland, preach upon the words, “And the door was shut,” being placed near two dashing young men, but at a considerable distance from the pulpit, witnessed their mirth; and overheard one say, in a low tone, to the other, “Well, what if the door be shut? Another will open.” Thus they turned off the solemnity of the text. ‘Mr. Whitefield had not proceeded far when he said, “It is possible there may be some careless, trifling person here today, who may ward off the force of this impressive subject by lightly thinking, ‘What matter if the door be shut? Another will open.’” The two young men were paralyzed, and looked at each other. Mr. Whitefield proceeded: “Yes; another will open. And I will tell you what door it will be: it will be the door of the bottomless pit!-the door of hell!-the door which conceals from the eyes of angels the horrors of damnation!”

Jesus could come today. Are you ready? Is your faith active? Do you have faith in Christ at all? Trust Him today and live for Him, forsaking this world and all others for the one who loves you and died to wash you from your sin.

Next Week: The Son of Man

Seeking God’s Favor After Sinning March 12, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Adultery, Confession, David, Depravity, Faith, Forgiveness, Hope, Mercy, Psalms, Religion, Repentance, Second Samuel, Sermons, Sin.
3 comments

Seeking God’s Favor After Sinning
2 Samuel 12 with Psalms 51 and 32

David was entrusted with God’s people. In His disobedience to God, He betrayed God’s people. What we sometimes forget is the awful cost of betrayal. There is an emotional cost. When you read John’s Gospel carefully, it seems that a huge part of the emotional turmoil exhibited in the Garden of Gethsemane had to do with his knowledge of the betrayal of Judas.

Many of you today feel betrayed. Some of you have so often felt betrayed that you have deep scars on your soul. If you have been betrayed, then understand this sermon touches on those events in which you were betrayed.

There is, however, hope and healing. The path to hope and healing, however, is not an easy path. I do not want to mislead you and tell you that this one sermon will answer all your questions and solve all your problems. What I desire is that we begin our path through the valley of the shadow of death together. It will not be easy. In fact, our path begins with the destruction left behind by sin.

I. Sin is destructive (2 Samuel 12). It starves the malnourished and leaves the helpless unprotected. Sin is like a whirlpool pulling all those close by under the water. Sin leaves its victims with no where to turn. Sin, like Satan goes about as a roaring lion, seeking who He may devour. Yes, sin is destructive eternally in the lake of fire but it is also destructive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in this life, right now.

a. One of the reasons sin is so destructive is that when I sin, I do not care about others (2 Samuel 12:1-6). You see sin is manipulative, coercive, controlling, and predatory. Look at David’s sin. David in this case did not care who he harmed.

That is the point of Nathan’s parable. Nathan did not even address the lies David told and the murder David ordered. He simply points out that the sinner, in this case, David, did not care about the welfare of others. He did not care about his kingdom, he did not care about his family, and he did not care about his army. All he cared about was self.

Let me at this point say something very important. When I say these things, I know what I am talking about. I am an experienced sinner. I wish that I could tell you that I would never sin against you but my forty-six years have taught me this much. I sin when I am selfish. Sometimes my sin is acceptable to those around me and sometimes it is not but it is always selfish.

Sin destroys trust because sin uses trust as a weapon. When trust is destroyed, it is then that people begin to lose hope. Without trust, how can you hope in friends, family, and church? Without trust, how can you feel safe? Without trust, how can you hope in justice? Would you trust David as your king, your husband, your father, your commander in chief? No. Yet you need those in whom you can trust. What do you do? Perhaps the one damaged by sin withdraws into a world they feel they can control. Maybe they put up an impenetrable front through which no one can break through. Or perhaps they simply walk away when trust is demanded.

But when I sin, I do not care about that.

b. When I sin, I show a lack of contentment with God’s blessings (2 Samuel 12:7-8). This is the second point of the parable of Nathan but this point is so important that Nathan explicitly emphasizes it.

“In Our Daily Bread, Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat.
“Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.
“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” the rich man asked.
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”
The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”
“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.
“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied.

Again, I speak from experience. When I sin, it is often because I am not content with what God has given me. I want more. I am not convinced that what I have is enough. I am not convinced that the resources, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, that God has given me are sufficient. It is in that moment that my heart becomes fertile ground for sin.

c. When I sin, I despise the wisdom of God and His Word (2 Samuel 12:9-10). I will refer to this when we celebrate the Lord’s Table. It is important for you and me as believers to realize that when we sin, it is because we despise God’s wisdom. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that He is God and we are not. When I sin as a believer, it is usually because I feel I know better than God does.

II. But repentance is possible (Psalm 51). The consequences of David’s sin were long-lasting. A daughter abused. A son murdered. Another son, Absalom leads a rebellion against his father in which not only is he killed but thousands of others die in a civil war. Those were some of the special consequences God visited on David and Israel. Yet there was repentance on David’s part and this repentance resulted in God’s blessing on God’s people.

a. No excuses are allowed (Psalm 51:1-6). David made it clear where his sin came from. He was born a sinner. Environmental factors played no role. He was the source of his own sin. That is why he begged for mercy. He could not wipe away the consequences. Neither could he eliminate an already done deed. He needed God to intervene. For God to intervene, David realized that there could be no excuses.

It is essential that we be honest with ourselves. We must acknowledge the destructiveness of our sin. It is only when we are honest with ourselves that we can truly repent.

b. A return to dependence on God’s mercy is demanded (Psalm 51:7-12). There used to be a saying, “The Devil is no friend of grace.” We forget so easily that healing is only to be found in God’s grace and mercy. We, each of us, are in the midst of spiritual warfare. We are defenseless against Satan, against the world, and most of all, against our own evil flesh unless we depend on God’s grace.

c. Repentance unlike penance focuses on loving God and others (Psalm 51:13-17).

One of the big dangers is that one admits to guilt but there is not change. Repentance demands a change. David repentance drives him away from his selfishness. John the Baptist tried to explain this when he preached on repentance in Luke 3:7-14. Penance simply says I am guilty and I will start doing good works. Repentance says, there is no excuse, I am sinful to the core but I will throw myself own God’s mercy and begin to live as He commands, “To love the Lord my God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself.”

d. Repentance of the individual brings healing to the congregation (Psalm 51:18-19). You see, each one of us is negatively affected by the sin of the other. That is clear. First Corinthians 12:26 says, “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” This psalm also makes it clear that true repentance in one of us, positively affects each one of us. Last week, Dale preached on forgiveness from Matthew 18:21-35. Earlier in the chapter, Jesus warns against the consequences of sin in verses 1-10. Yet there is hope in verses 11-14. Jesus wants to save the lost, protect the weak, revive those without hope, and nourish the starving. He does that regardless of whether the offender repents or not.

But what about the sinner? Not every sinner repents and Jesus threatens that one with punishment. But if he repents, Jesus will not cast him out and according to Matthew 18:15, we have gained a brother. It is of profit to each of you when I repent of my sin. How? Because then we are viewed as acceptable before God.

What is your sin? It is destructive to yourself and to all those around you. You need to quit making excuses and repent. You may need help being honest with yourself. You may need help on the road of repentance. God’s mercy is available and we extend our hand to help you.

I have spoken primarily to believers who have already trusted Christ. If you have not trusted Christ, you need to recognize that He paid the penalty for your sin on the cross. He died for you. You need to be honest also. You need to admit that you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself. You need the mercy available through faith in Christ. Will you trust him today?

How to humble yourself in five easy lessons (Proverbs 30:18-33) February 25, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Character, Humililty, Pride, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons.
30 comments

FIGHTING SELF-EXALTATION
(How to humble myself in five easy lessons)
Proverbs 30:18-33

Humility is a tough thing to get. The minute you think you got, you lose it. As Agur explains to his two young listeners about life, one of his themes is the danger of self-exaltation. As we finish this chapter today, I want us to apply Agur’s observations about life to ourselves, specifically in how we can fight self-exaltation.

A. I must take responsibility for my own sin (verses 18-20). Agur says that there are some things that he cannot understand. How can an eagle fly through the air and not leave a path behind him? How can a snake crawl on a rock without leaving, as the snail or the worm does, a hint of his path? How can a ship part the waves without leaving a permanent dent in them? How can a man be with a maiden and leave no hint of his past presence?

We might ask ourselves what this has to do with a life honoring to God so Agur gives us an explanation. This is what we try to do with our sin. We try to leave no hint of our sin behind, no proof of our deeds. He speaks specifically of adultery here but this certainly applies to many sins. We sin and then try to hide it so that we will not lose face before others or so that we will not be punished.

To hide our sin is evidence of our desire for self-exaltation. To not take responsibility for our own wrongdoing is proof of our pride.

a. To hide a sin does not eliminate its reality. Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story called “The Cask of the Amontillado” in which the main character carries out the perfect crime. He chains his enemy in a wine cellar room and bricks him in to die. How much more would we sin if we though we could get away with it? I do not know but I do know that wiping the cookie crumbs off your lips does not erase the fact that you stole the cookies from the cookie jar. What sin are you hiding? What sin are you pretending does not exist in your life? If you are to humble yourself before God you must acknowledge the reality of your sin.

b. To deny a sin does not eliminate accountability. Do not forget that even if you leave no mark, God will hold you accountable for your sin. Agur has already mentioned this in verse 17. Sin will not go unpunished. Jesus Himself said that every word said in secret will be made public. Think of the most secret sin that you have ever committed, the one sin that you would be most horrified if anyone should find out about it. It is already known and you will be held accountable.

B. If I am to humble myself, I not only must take responsibility for my sin but I must act like God is God and I am not (verses 21-23). Charles Swindoll tells in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life (“No Place for Pride” on pages 62-65) how that a reporter asked Marian Anderson, the African-American concert soloist to name the greatest moment in her life. She had many great moments in her life. She was the first African-American in 1955 to sing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She had given private concerts at the White House with the President as well as the King and Queen of England present. She had sung one Easter Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 people including most of our nation’s political leaders. “Which of those big moments did she choose? None of them. Miss Anderson quietly told the reporter that the greatest moment of her life was the day she went home and told her mother she wouldn’t have to take in washing anymore.” She did not forget who she was.

We on the other hand tend to forget who we are. We live as if we were God Himself, determining what we are going to do and when we are going to do it. We act as if we were the determiners of morality and truth. We forget that God is God and we are not.

Our text gives us several examples of people who are in a position that does not fit them. A servant is incapable of being a king. A wicked, fool does not deserve the blessings of God. What can a marriage can mean to a woman who is hated? The slave girl does not kick her mistress out of the house so that she can enjoy her finery. So is it when we act as if we were God.

a. God’s place in the universe is supreme. We need to understand that most of the people who we work with, talk to, and live with do not believe that God’s place in the universe is supreme. The evidence is clear. Every time we sin, we are with our actions denying that God is supreme. We make ourselves king when we sin. Sin is nothing more than an exaltation of man over God.

Is it not ludicrous when we act as if we were God? We are no different than the slave girl who kicks here mistress out of the house so she can take her place. She may sit in her mistress’ chair and eat her mistress’ food but she is still a slave girl. We may do things our way rather than God’s way but He remains God regardless of whether we live like it or not.

b. I am accountable to God because He created me. Will Metzger in “Tell the Truth” tells about asking people two questions on a beach in Florida during spring break. The first was, “Do you believe in God?” Most said, “Yes.” Then he asked, “Does sin separate you from God?” Here are some of their replies: “No, why should it?” or “I don’t believe in that kind of a God”, or “My concept of God is one who loves.” In other words, I am not accountable to God so why should I worry about sin.

We are, however, accountable to God. The writer of Hebrews points out that it is appointed to man once to die and after this, judgment. We, all of us, are accountable to God. Those who believe in Christ have Jesus as the one who takes responsibility for our sin. Those who do not trust Christ as the only way of salvation will stand alone and give an account to God.

C. In addition, if I am going to humble myself before God, I must do what is right, without regard for how insignificant that action or my position may appear (verses 24-28).

The wise man is like the ant, his significance is not found in his great power but rather in doing what he is supposed to do. Like the coney, his security is not found in his own power but in the Rock on which he lives. Like the locust, he does not wait from a mandate from a king but follows the way of God, even though He has never seen God. Like the lizard in the palace, he lives in a great place but not because of his greatness.

God is God and I am not. Therefore, I am accountable to Him. If I am wise, I will walk in His ways without regard for my own ambitions, strength, wisdom, or position. I will be His servant, His disciple. The problem is this. I cannot in my own strength please God. I am a sinner. None of these animals is very capable but outside of the natural order, they would be incapable of survival. When humankind left God’s natural order through the sin of Adam, we set ourselves up for spiritual extinction. That is why we need faith in Christ. He came and died for our sin and our salvation.

D. That is why I can (if I want to) battle self-exaltation, I can live confidently according to my position in Christ (verses 29-31). To be humble does not mean to feel inferior. True, we are not God but the believer in Christ does not need to go around with an inferiority complex.

Another story from Chuck Swindoll, this time from “Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back”: “A man paid a visit to his local psychologist. When the doctor asked him what had prompted the visit, the man said, “I’m suffering from an inferiority complex.” After a long battery of tests, “…the doctor called the man and asked him to return to the clinic. ‘I have some interesting news for you,’ the doctor began.
‘What’s that?’ asked the man.
‘It’s no complex,’ the psychologist retorted, ‘You are inferior.’”

We as believers in Christ, however, are not inferior because we are in Him through our faith in Christ.

a. I am exalted and worthy in Christ. Hebrews 2:9-10 says that Christ brought “…many sons to glory…” through His death for us on the cross. John 1:12 reminds us that we receive the right to become sons of God through faith in Christ. Look at Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we also may be glorified together.” That is a wonderful position – to be a part of the royal family of the universe – heirs with Christ of God’s throne.

b. I can therefore live confidently because of my position. Like a lion, I can walk through the Serengeti of this world without fear because I belong to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ. Like the royal greyhound, I can stick my chest out and proudly display the royal decorations that my Master has given me. Like the head goat of the flock, I can confidently walk among the flock because my Savior is my shepherd. When the battle rages, I can go forth as a king because His legions fight for me.

Are you a confident Christian? Not a boastful, proud Christian but a confident Christian? You can be because of your faith in Jesus Christ which has made you one of God’s children.

E. Finally, if I am to battle self-exaltation, if I am to learn humility, I must learn to control my tongue (verses 32-33). The tongue has many uses both positive and negative. No use of the tongue, however, is more evil or more dangerous than the self-exalting tongue.

a. My tongue reveals the pride and sinful foolishness of my heart. Now most of us do not go around telling people how great we are but we use words in many ways to build ourselves up. We are constantly critiquing others, their success or lack thereof, their looks, their children, their lifestyle choices. We need to put our hands over our mouths. We constantly talk about our own accomplishments, our own possessions, our own abilities. We need to put our hands over our mouths. We quote Scripture in a self-justifying way, pass down judgments, pass along gossip, defend our great sin and attack the little sins of others, we grumble and complain, we fuss and fight, all revealing how important we are to ourselves. We need to put our hand over our mouth.

b. My pride uses my tongue to sow discord. Just as the humble man is often a peacemaker, the proud man is a warmonger. The proud man when he is right in his argument will destroy people while the humble man may make a mistake in judgment but will even in his mistake seek to heal those whom he has hurt through his mistake.

Five easy steps to humility was intended tongue in cheek but the reality is this: we know how to become humble but we just do not want to do it. Time after time we refuse to take responsibility for our own sin. We act like we are not accountable to God. We refuse to control our tongue. We refuse to do what is right because it does not seem to matter. We forget that our exaltation is to be found in Christ alone.

You can begin right now to humble yourself. Go to God and confess your sin. You may need to go to someone and confess a sin. They probably already know the sin, you just need to admit to it and stop defending yourself.

You might need to begin controlling your tongue. You will probably need someone to help with this. Men, I recommend your wives. They know exactly what you are going to say before you do anyway.  Write down the ways in which you regularly sin with your tongue and put a stop to self-exalting speech.

Do what is right, no matter how small the matter is. Your deeds as a Christian are great because you are royalty not because they are impressive.

Finally, hold yourself accountable to God. The unbeliever needs Christ to settle the account of His sin. The believer needs to confess and forsake the sin for which Christ has already died.

Take action now. Humble yourself before God and He will lift you up!

Evaluating a Generation February 15, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Character, Contentment, Depravity, Family, Humililty, Hypocrisy, Judgment, Materialism, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons.
1 comment so far

EVALUATING A GENERATION
Proverbs 30:10-17

Agur recognized that without dependence on God’s Word (verse 5) he was not only without answers to some of the most important questions of life (verses 2-4) but also that he was defenseless against temptation (verses 7-9). Although Agur prayed for God to protect him from temptation, he did not pray for God to isolate himself from temptation. What he did do, however, is look at the world around him and note those things about the world system of which he did not want to be a part.

Now we should evaluate the generation in which we live, the world system which is all around us but we should not stop there. When we look at the world, when we look at our generation, we must first evaluate ourselves. You see, the world is corrupt, the world sins, a generation becomes evil for the very same reason that we are susceptible to temptation. Our sinful flesh is corrupt and we sin. For that reason, we will evaluate our own hearts first before we look at the generations around us.

A. We can evaluate ourselves by how we treat those above us and below us (verses 9-10, 17). The importance of impartiality in our personal relationships cannot be overemphasized. James 2 says that we are to be impartial as God is impartial and that how we treat those above us and below us is an indication of the reality or the lack of reality to our faith in Christ. “All men are created equal” is not an American concept but rather a heavenly one.

In verse 10 we have a man who is slandering a slave. The slave is defenseless. The master will believe the other free man, not the slave. The slave will be punished unjustly. We all agree that this is unjust but how many times have we bullied someone, slandered someone, or laughed at someone who we feel is inferior to us. This is sin. The Bible points this out repeatedly and yet we continue to do it. Why? We have allowed our desire for importance to follow the way of the world around us.

One of the worst things about this type of sin is its contagiousness. Hans Finzel in his book on leadership, “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Makes” puts it this way, “[It] can become like a chain reaction. The boss barks orders to the employee. The employee goes home and barks orders at his spouse. The spouse barks orders at the children. The children kick the dog, and the dog chases the neighborhood cat! (page 25)” It is the way of this generation.

a. Mistreatment, however, of those below us will not go unpunished (verse 9). The slave who is slandered as he goes to the whipping post curses the man who slandered him. There is nothing more that the slave can do. It appears that the free man will truly go free. Agur says, “You will be found guilty.” By whom? God Himself.

I know that it appears that we get off free but we should not forget that we will be repaid according to the deeds we have done in our body. Vengeance is the Lord’s. He will repay.

b. Disrespect for those above us will not go unpunished (verses 10, 17). Now specifically Agur is talking about children and their parents. This is so important that it was a part of the original Ten Commandments. It was the first commandment with a promised blessing. A child who knows this and disrespects their parents is described for us in verse 6. They are adding their own viewpoint to God’s Word. They will be exposed by God for what they are. Verse 17, describes for us more specifically the price they will pay for their disrespect. The eye that mocks, that despises, that disobeys the one in authority over them will be picked out by the birds and eaten. The picture here is of someone who is already dead and the ravens and the vultures, birds that primarily eat carrion, will feast on those who turn their back on God’s commandment and disobey their parents. Now this may not be fulfilled literally in your life but there will be a price paid by the one who disrespects authority.

Now it is easy for us as parents to stand up and shout, “Amen!” Are we any better? Do we show respect for those over us? Do we mock our boss at work or the policeman on the street? During the past year I have been greatly embarrassed by believers with whom I am personally acquainted who have taken great liberties in making fun of our President. The believer who makes mock at our President through watermelon jokes is not exempt from verse 17. I do not know how God will act but He will not tolerate such evil from us.

B. Not only can we evaluate ourselves by the way we treat those above us and below us, we can evaluate ourselves by our self-righteousness. Verse 12 says, “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.” If ever there was a definition of self-righteousness, this is it. This is where religion and worldliness meet and breed sin. This where self-deception reaches its most dangerous.

When Jesus attacked the self-righteous, religious leaders of his day, he said to them, “…you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). He called them hypocrites not because they were pretending to be pure when they really were not but because they were truly convinced that they were pure although they were actually full of filth.

Now self-righteousness is a hard thing to evaluate. By its very nature, it avoids self-detection. There are, however, some attitudes and actions that might indicate you are self-righteous:

1. The self-righteous exalt themselves in external religious duties (Luke 18:11-12).
2. The self-righteous seek to justify their own sin (Luke 10:25-29).
3. The self-righteous are more interested in what man thinks of them than in what God thinks of them (Luke 16:113-15).
4. The self-righteous seek God’s righteousness through their own goodness rather than through faith in Christ (Romans 9:31-10:4; Proverbs 20:6, 9).
5. The self-righteous condemn the righteousness of others (Matthew 10:10-12; Luke 7:39).
6. The self-righteous despise and slander others (Luke 18:9-11; Proverbs 30:10).
7. The self-righteous walk in their own way (Isaiah 65:2-5; Proverbs 21:2; 30:6).

Self-righteousness is also contagious. In Luke 11:46 and 52, Jesus said to the self-righteous lawyers of religion, “…you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers…you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”

Will the self-righteous escape the awful justice described in verse 17? No, Jesus said to those same self-righteous lawyers, “…‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation” (Luke 11:49-51).

C. We can evaluate ourselves by our arrogance. Verse 13, “There is a generation-oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.” Certainly, this is an extension of the previous verse. The emphasis here is on their pride rather than their self-deception.

Paul in Romans 12:1-2 begs believers to “…present [their] bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God…and [to] not be conformed to this world…” Is pride and arrogance an indication that someone is worldly? Absolutely! Paul commands the same believers in the next verse “…not to think of [themselves] more highly than [they] ought to think, but to think soberly…” Pride and arrogance are characteristic of worldliness. We, however, are not of this world and should think soberly, that is, in our right mind. At the end of Proverbs 30 in verse 32, Agur states this similarly but in a negative manner, “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself…put your hand on your mouth.” Now foolishness is not only an unwise type of thinking but in it is a sinful type of thinking. When I am arrogant and proud, I am foolish and sinful.

Many of us have quoted and almost all of us have heard Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Commonly, we soft-pedal the emphasis of this verse. We use this verse to mean that embarrassment will follow the proud person. That is not the emphasis of this proverb. Solomon is speaking of judgment. The proud will be judged. Our pride, our arrogance, our self-righteousness will not escape. We will be judged accordingly.

D. Finally, we can evaluate ourselves by the selfish destruction caused by our insatiable greed (verses 14-16). It is easy to read this and say, “Well, that isn’t me!” Are you sure? Let me ask the question this way, “What are you willing to do to get ahead?” “Who are you willing to hurt, so that you might reach your goals?” Certainly, economic greed is in view here but there are many other types of greed. Do you care more for your interests, your ways, and your ideals or do you care for others?

a. You see, greed does not care who it hurts (verse 14). James 4:1-4 describes the worldly attitude of those who in their greed for their own pleasure, for more money or power or prestige. They war and fight, they murder and covet, they are friends of the world and enemies of God.

b. Greed is never satisfied (verses 15-16). Agur uses five examples to show us the emptiness of greed and the futility of discontentment. The blood-sucking leech drinks and drinks and drinks. It does not concern itself for the health of its victim. It wants what it wants. It is never satisfied.

Then there is the grave. Death never fills its quote. It never takes a holiday. The grave never says, “I have enough.” It is never satisfied.

Then there is the barren womb. Some of you ladies know exactly what is being described here. The woman who cannot have a child will go to extreme lengths to have one. We have whole industries built on the yearning of women to bear or to have a child. Hannah’s husband said to his wife, “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” The Bible does not tell us how she answered but what it does tell us is that she went to God and began to bargain with Him for a son. The answer apparently was, “No.”

Then there is the earth that is not satisfied with water. The earth needs rain every planting season in order to produce crops? If we have abundant rain this year and no rain next year, the rain of this year will not satisfy the need of the earth for water. It will become in one year without rain barren and desertlike.

Finally, there is fire. There are three things that a fire needs to burn: heat, air, and fuel. The thing about fuel is this. The fire never says, “I’ve got enough.” It is insatiable.

Is that a picture of your life? Are you driven by greed? Are you driven by your ego? Are you driven by the acclaim and recognition of men? If so, then you are an enemy of God and His enemies will be destroyed and left for the birds to pick over. That is the judgment of God against this generation and against every generation that follows the way of this world.

What then should we do? If you are believer, then obey James command in James 4:7-10, submit yourself to God. Humble yourself before your Lord. If you have not trusted Christ, the answer is found in Romans 5:8-10, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” You need to confess that you are God’s enemy, deserving of damnation, and you need to trust Christ as the only way to make things right between you and God.