As we celebrate our independence in the United States of America lets remember those who fight for freedom everyday. Let’s remember those who have fallen in battle. I thank you. You put it all on the line for freedom.
There is One who can give true freedom.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
February 7th sermon at IBC
Sermon title: Truth! Do we believe?
I recently had the opportunity to preach my first sermon. It was an honor to be asked by my good friend Pastor Luke Fraser at Island Baptist Church in Beach haven, NJ. I wanted to share the video along with my written notes on this blog. If you read and watch you will notice there are differences as I had to cut some things out and I might have gone on in other areas in the actual sermon. In any case may the Lord bless this message. May His voice be heard.
I am a seminary student at Whitefield Theological Seminary. This seminary is named after George Whitefield. He was possibly one the greatest evangelists in church history. I will talk a little more about George Whitefield later.
I came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ August 24, 2012. I remember this because I was watching the movie “Fireproof”on a weekend that I wasn’t sure my wife was coming back home from a trip with her sister. This movie was given to me by a friend who I asked “when do you get divorced?” She told me you don’t and she gave me this movie. In the movie I heard the gospel for the first time. Maybe I heard it before, but I grew up Roman Catholic, and they do not preach the true gospel. (I may touch a bit of that later) I heard it clear in that movie.
Then I broke down on my floor and on my knees and cried to God. I cried He would change me. He did. He changed me to start to become a better husband, father, and man. But that was not the goal of His change. The goal and His purpose of change in me was to allow me to have a new heart to receive the gospel. To receive the message that I was a sinner who needed a savior and the only savior, His Son, Jesus Christ. I have never been the same since that day as God began to make me into the image of His Son.
I have since been in pursuit of knowing and loving God more. I now have Christ as Lord and I have become the guy I used to make fun of. I picked on people who spoke to me about the Bible. I picked on people who posted Scripture on Facebook. And now I’m the guy who posts Scripture and talks of the Lord Jesus and His good news of salvation and the Kingdom.
I am in the Word daily. I watch sermons and read books about God. I can not help but speak of what I have experienced and learned in His Holy special revelation, His Word the Bible. I do not say this to boast in me but to boast of what God has done in me.
That is why I am pursuing more of Him in seminary. I have been given a heart, by the grace of God, to want to know Him more so I can share Him more. There is no other way to explain it then to say that salvation is truly of the Lord and I brought nothing to it but my sin.
God took a blind, deaf, in-prisoned to sin, wretch like me and gave me sight, hearing, and freedom in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. WHAT A GIFT! And if it wasn’t for His grace and His truth in His Word, that leads us to saving knowledge of His Son, there would be no anchor of hope of which we could hold, and it is actually what holds us.
As Warren Wiersbe says “it is the Word of God that does the work of God.” If it wasn’t for the gospel message in the movie “fireproof” I would probably be a lonely, bitter, divorced man. But by God’s sovereign grace, His Word was proclaimed in that film, and the Holy Spirit quickened my heart to receive the message. Now all I want is for others to hear and to be quickened by the Holy Spirit. And the only way that will happen is by God raising up more to be sent. And those being sent need to stand on the message that comes from the mouth of God in His Word.
We have this before us today as the Bible. That is what I want to preach today, and for that matter, everyday. The Truth of God’s Word found in the pages of the Bible.
It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about the world and everything in it, and out of it. It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about who we are. It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about Who God is as He exists as the beautiful trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is only in the Bible that we find the Words that make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Bible is authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient. As John MacArthur says “the Bible is the only source of divine truth.” The question is, as Christians, do we believe this? That brings me to the title of the sermon.
“Truth! Do we believe?”
What I pray you come away with is a firm answer of “absolutely yes!” What I pray you come away with is an answer to all who ask of the hope in you that starts with Christ as Lord found nowhere else but His Holy Word. What I pray you come away from this with, is more of a desire to know the God, who not only reveals Himself in all of creation so all are without excuse, but speaks to us in the pages of His Holy Scripture. I also pray, Lord do I pray, that if you do not have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit quickens your heart, opens your heart, to receive that knowledge as we expound on His Word and His gospel.
The text today I’d like to start with is
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
I know there is a lot in this Passage to cover, but I just can’t help it sometimes. I love the Word. Let’s set it up. The apostle Paul is writing to Timothy. Timothy is Paul’s young coworker in the faith. Paul calls him his child in the faith in 1 Timothy and here, in this epistle, his “beloved child.” This is obviously someone the apostle has spent much time with and has a fatherly affection for. This letter is written by the apostle Paul while he is in prison in Rome and Timothy is in Ephesus. This is the second of two letters we have of Paul writing Timothy. The first addresses false teaching and holy living brought about by the true gospel. This second letter focuses on persevering through suffering, while it still addresses false teaching. Paul focus on perseverance also attests to where he is at this point, awaiting death in prison. And the apostle focuses on the Word of God in the Scriptures to be sufficient for everything, especially knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So let’s read the Word.
The Word of God says:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Let’s dig into this text.
Vs 14 the apostle points out that Timothy has learned and believed, knowing he learned from Paul as well as probably his mother and grandmother, as pointed out in 1:5. This shows the importance of training our children up in the Word. Laying the foundation of truth is crucial in the development of a child and their faith. Next Paul points out the great importance of Scripture and the power there in. Paul makes a statement about the Scriptures “making one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus.” This is a pivotal point in this text. One that I hope you remember. It is not humans means that makes one wise for salvation. It is God’s Word and Holy Spirit.
Let’s see what the great bible commentator Matthew Henry has to say about this section. He makes 4 points.
1. It is a great happiness to know the certainty of the things wherein we have been instructed (Luke 1:4); not only to know what the truths are, but to know that they are of undoubted certainty. What we have learned we must labour to be more and more assured of, that, being grounded in the truth, we may be guarded against error, for certainty in religion is of great importance and advantage: Knowing, (1.) “That thou hast had good teachers. Consider of whom thou hast learned them; not of evil men and seducers, but good men, who had themselves experienced the power of the truths they taught thee, and been ready to suffer for them, and thereby would give the fullest evidence of their belief of these truths.” (2.) “Knowing especially the firm foundation upon which thou hast built, namely, that of the scripture (2 Tim. 3:15): That from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures.”
2. Those who would acquaint themselves with the things of God, and be assured of them, must know the holy scriptures, for these are the summary of divine revelation.
3. It is a great happiness to know the holy scriptures from our childhood; and children should betimes get the knowledge of the scriptures. The age of children is the learning age; and those who would get true learning must get it out of the scriptures.
4. The scriptures we are to know are the holy scriptures; they come from the holy God, were delivered by holy men, contain holy precepts, treat of holy things, and were designed to make us holy and to lead us in the way of holiness to happiness; being called the holy scriptures, they are by this distinguished from profane writings of all sorts, and from those that only teach morality, and common justice and honesty, but do not meddle with holiness. If we would know the holy scriptures, we must read and search them daily, as the noble Bereans did, Acts 17:11. They must not lie by us neglected, and seldom or never looked into.
Matthew Henry holds the word in such high esteem, even saying it is the way to get true learning. Basically, without learning the Scriptures and believing what they say, all other learning in futile. We can learn things but we have no basis to justify why we know them.
Vs 16 gives us the reason why we can rely upon the Word as the source of divine knowledge. God has breathed the Scriptures out, theopneustos in the Greek. Put your hand up to your face. Breath out. Can you can feel it? That is what is meant here. God literally breathed out His Word and men wrote it down as His pen. Peter puts it this way.
2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
This is where Scripture comes from. God! And, as the rest of the vs says, it is good for teaching, reproof, correction and all training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete. It’s good for everything because it is the very Word of God. This makes it sufficient.
Let’s continue on. The end of chapter 3 tells us what Scripture does. Here now in chapter 4 the apostle Paul tells Timothy, and now us, how to apply this. With false teaching appearing in the church, then and now, it is important we hear the next words of the apostle breathed through him by God.
Vs 1 of chapter 4 is a serious charge to Timothy to “preach the Word!” He doesn’t just charge him personally. He charges him in the presence of God, Jesus, and the Kingdom. Paul sees all the false teaching and knows the only truth are the Scriptures and the only salvation is in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the Scripture. The gospel is the core meaning in all of Scripture.
Vs 2 he tells Timothy to be ready in and out of season. When is this? ALL THE TIME! Ready for what? To preach the Word as to Reprove, rebuke, exhort, and teach with patience. Theses are all the things he also lists in vs 3:16. This also reminds me of what the apostle Peter says here:
1 Peter 3:15 the Word of God says, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
It is interesting to note that here and the end of vs 2 it says with patience, and the apostle Peter says with gentleness and respect. This is because when we teach the Word of God to the believer and unbeliever it will reveal sin. To the unbeliever it crushes their world view, how they believe things to be. We must be patient, gentle, and respectful, sharing the truth with love. Or else they may go elsewhere no matter how much we are right.
But back to the text. Why must Timothy Preach the Word in Ephesus? Vs 3 false teachers were there and have also come today. I see them on tv all the time. Their “churches” are filled with people, and it breaks my heart because they are lead astray. Those people are having their ears tickled hearing that they can have their best life now. To quote John MacArthur again “this is your best life, if your next life is in hell”. This is what the apostle is warning Timothy of. Doctrine being taught that lead people to damnation. And the scary thing is these false teachers talk and look like true Christians. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. They have the same vocabulary. They hold bibles. But they don’t speak truth. That is why the apostle charges Timothy to preach truth and endure and continue to believe in faith the things of Christ he has learned and believed.
The apostle knows in vs 4 many will go away from the truth into myths. Coming from the Roman Catholic church I know more now about what they teach then I did attending the church. They teach myths. From Marian dogmas to the saints to the papal infallibility. They teach myths and do not teach the truth of Jesus Christ. They use the same terms, and yes teach grace, but not the sufficiency of grace as they add works to salvation. They do not teach what the Scriptures teach that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone according to the Scriptures alone, (but that is a sermon for another time.)
And in vs 5 The apostle Paul reminds Timothy to stay sober minded, to keep his mind focused in all times, to endure suffering. With holy living, and when you proclaim the truth in the holy name of the lord Jesus Christ, suffering will come. Then he tells him to do the work of an evangelist. He is saying be a herald of the good news of what he has learned through Scripture. Tell people the truth. Tell of the gospel. Not all of us are called to be evangelist in the sense that they are called to go out in the streets and publicly proclaim the good news, but we are all called to evangelize and tell people we know and meet that good news. Just like pastor Luke has preached, it is like talking about your favorite store, movie, or hair product, but even better because those things go away. The Lord Jesus Christ never will.
And the apostle Paul sums it up by saying fulfill your ministry. he’s telling Timothy to do what God has called him to do. He has the grounding in the Scriptures. He knows the Lord Jesus Christ. Now believe and obey. Go do it!
The apostle in this letter, and many others, emphasizes the importance of the Word of God in the believers life. At the end of chapter 4 in this epistle he requests his books and parchments. Even near death the apostle knew he needed to continue In the Word of truth. Here is an interesting side note. I was recently listening to a lecture on the formation of the canon of Scripture, that is how the Bible we have was put together, by Dr Michael Kruger. He said in 2 Timothy 4:13 when the apostle Paul requests his books and parchments, the greek word for books is “biblia” which would refer to the scrolls, but the greek word for parchments is “membranas”. These “membranas” would be either his notes and letters, or those of others. This is what the epistles and gospels have been found to be written on. It was the preferred method, and some theories have been speculated as to why, but what Dr Kruger and other scholars conclude is this is evidence the cannon and acceptable NT books were already forming at this time as on pair as Scripture. (I love it when the Bible proves the Bible.)
Ok so we have taken a look into what the apostle Paul says about the authority of the Word of God. Let’s take a look elsewhere in the Bible to see what it says about God’s Word.
Psalm 19:7-11 the Word of God says: 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 119:105-107 this entire psalm is about God’s Word
The Word says: 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. 107 I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Let’s look at OT prophecy. Can they prove authoritative and God breathed?
Also in Psalms
Psalm 22:1-18 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. 12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
The opening v. is what Jesus said on the cross as He felt the wrath of God poured out on Him in replace of all who believe. But He also said this knowing that those around Him knew this Psalm. The next vs’s describe that scene. We know from the gospels that His hands, being His wrists that were considered part of the hand then, and feet were pierced as they nailed Him to the cross. We know water and blood came out of Him when the soldier speared Him. We know His bones were not broken as they did to the other two when they broke their legs. And we know they cast lots for His garments. Those around the lord Jesus, as He said My God my God, probably had this Psalm in their head and looked and saw it play out in front of them.
How about Isaiah 9:6 the popular Christmas vs the Word of God says For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He has been born and given and He is alive ruling and reigning at the right hand of the Father now.
I can keep growing but let’s do one more. Back to Isaiah.
Isaiah 53 let’s turn there.
I saw a video of a Christian evangelist in Israel asking Jewish people to read this passage in the original Hebrew. They do not teach this passage in the Jewish synagogue. It is forbidden. They do not learn of a suffering messiah in their texts. It is 10 minute video I recommend it so look it up when you get home on One For Israel. It brought me to tears to see their reaction. But you can see why the harden hearts of the Rabbis don’t want them to learn this. It so clearly speaks of the lord Jesus Christ and what He would do hundreds of years later. It is the clear gospel in the Old Testament and the gospel is all over the Old Testament.
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53
So we have what The apostle Paul has said of the authority of Scripture. We have Old Testament prophecy that shows the authority of Scripture. What does the lord Jesus Christ say of Scripture?
Turn to Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11
The Lord Jesus Christ, being 100% man and 100% God, used the Word to drive away Satan. This is what Adam failed to do at the fall. Adam did not stand on the authority of what God said. The authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency was brought into question, as it has been ever since, and Adam failed to say “God said not to eat of it so we will not.” But the Lord Jesus Christ said “it is written” and He followed what is written because it is written by God. Many times in the gospels the Lord Jesus says “have you not heard?” Or “have you not read”. He points continually to the law and the prophets because the law and the prophets speak of Him.
Matthew 5:17 -18 Jesus says, do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Luke 21:33 Jesus says, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
The Lord Jesus even taught directly from the scriptures in His home town in
Luke 4:16-17 The Word says, And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And he began to say “today this Scripture has been fulfilled in you hearing.”
And one more I will share with you is from John 17:17 that should ring in your ears because the Lord Jesus prayed this for us. Jesus prayed:
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
If that doesn’t tell you what the Lord Jesus thinks of the Word of God I don’t know what will. If God is the ultimate authority for the believer, than His Word, the Bible is authoritative. If God is perfect, then His Word is perfect. And if God’s grace is sufficient so is His Word. Our lord and savior Jesus Christ, when asked, or not asked, says so.
So do we believe the real truth that can only be found in the Bible? If yes then how does a believer live to reflect this?
Let’s look at a believer named George Whitefield. This is the man who my seminary is named after. He was a preacher from the 18th century. He went to college at Oxford where he joined a group known as the ”Holy Club” of which John and Charles Wesley were members. When he started at the school, and in the club he was not a saved man. It was not until he read a book on regeneration, explaining that biblical doctrine, that he realized it is not by his holiness that God would accept him, but by the holiness that comes from being born again to believe in His Son. It was at age 21 that he was saved and he preached his first sermon at age 23. He preached to hundreds of thousands over his preaching life from England to the colonies. He preached to 80 thousand people at one time and this was way before amplification. People would flock to see him preach and this was before Facebook was used to advertise. He was a very devotional man and it is said he studied the Bible on his knees. He preached with his major point being “you must be born again.” Unless you are born again of water and spirit you will not see the kingdom of heaven. He preached even to the clergy that they must be born again. This got him kicked out of many churches by the clergy. He decided to go preach in the open field. It is said he went to a field outside a coal mine in England. As the coal miners would come out with black sooted faces they stood and listened. White streaks ran down many of their faces as they heard about the kingdom and the need to be born again. Whitefield is credited with being a huge part of the first great awakening in the colonies as well as reviving England.
Why am I telling you about George Whitefield? Because he preached the Word of God. He was born again to believe the Word, by the Word, and he knew that by the Word everyone must be born again. He was a 5 point Calvinist believing in sovereign election and he was probably the greatest evangelist outside of the apostle Paul. What was his secret? He preached Christ and Him crucified, and you must be born again. He read the Bible, believed what it says, and obeyed what it says.
This is all from the authority of Scripture. It can be found nowhere else. It is what makes a person wise for salvation. The Word will bring about awakening and revival when preached. The Word preached is the means by which the Lord Jesus will build the Church. It is not music, gimmicks, or any means of man. It is not our clever worldly wisdom when speaking to our lost friends. It is preaching and staying true to the Word. It is what the apostle Paul tells Timothy. “Preach the Word!”
Do we believe?
If not for the Word of the gospel in the movie “Fireproof” I’d still be unsaved. This Word is proven to be true. It is from God and by His Grace I believe. That Word I received that night was exactly what the bible says.
I am not a good person. No one is. The Bible says None are good. I thought I was. I thought my good outweighed my bad and I’d get heaven on that. But God says my good deeds are dirty rags. If I stand before Him and show Him my good deeds he says. I do not know you. This is bad news.
BUT GOD! sent His only Son, fully man and God, to live a perfect life of no sin. He died on the cross for my sin because the penalty for sin is death. That should be me on the cross because that’s what I deserve. Instead it was His life for mine. He takes my punishment and I get His righteousness. It doesn’t seem fair. But it is mercy because I don’t get what I deserve. I also get something more because it doesn’t end there. He rose after 3 days in the grave defeating sin and death. Now when we turn from our sin and to Jesus Christ we are forgiven. We are set free from sin. We are adopted as sons and daughters. We are now to follow Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. Jesus took the wrath of God for His people to bring them to Himself. To this I say amen. To this I say hallelujah.
The word of God says in Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But to see this we must be born again. When you are born again you are made new. The old passes away. The old is put to death. The new creation will desire God and not sin. The new creation will desire His Word of truth and build their life on the rock. The new creation will have a hope that can be explained by more than experience. Repent and believe the gospel and be born again!
When asked, the believer can talk about lord Jesus Christ and say with full confidence “I know I am saved because God tells me I am in His Word the Bible and I believe the Bible.”
As the Word of God says in Romans 8:28-39
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things past nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ jesus our Lord.
This is what the Bible says, and this is our source of truth. We must believe it, not only on Sunday, the Lord’s day, but everyday.
When you leave here today know that you have the answer. Know that the Bible is the authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God. To be an effective apologist, defender of why you believe, or evangelist, or even just live as a Christian, it is as simple as this. To quote the apologist Sye Ten-Bruggencate. “Read the Bible.. Believe what it says.” and obey!
If you are here today and you are not sure you are saved by the grace of God, if you are not sure you have been born again unto new life, do not leave until you are sure. Talk to Pastor Luke or one of the elders. Talk to me. I will give you my information on how to contact me. You can be sure. The Bible says so on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I know many people who say they follow the “Golden Rule”. They say they live by what Jesus has taught in the Bible and they love others as they love themselves. Or they do to others as they would want done to them. Many of these same people consider themselves Christians just because they claim to follow this teaching. Is that all it takes in life? Is that all it means to follow Jesus Christ and thus this makes a person a Christian? Perhaps the most important question is, is that what the Lord Jesus means when He laid out this commandment, to just simply do unto others as you would have them do? Or is there more to this and more to being a Christian?
Let’s take a look at a few places where the Lord Jesus has said this.
27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36
Here we have Dr. Luke recording this account. In vs. 31 the statement appears. But in context, what is the Lord Jesus saying? Is He saying do good so you can have good back? Is He saying don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you? Or is there something bigger that the Lord Jesus wants those who hear to grasp? I believe the answer is in vs. 35-36. Let’s take a look at what Matthew records.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12
Here in vs. 12 we have this command again. Matthew records it at the end of the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples about prayer and asking God in faith. Then vs. 11 leads right to the point of vs. 12 and vs. 12 to the point of this great sermon delivered by the Lord Jesus. Are you starting to see it yet? Is it about doing good to get good? Also in vs. 12 the Lord Jesus mentions the Law and the Prophets. This referes to the Old Testament writings of which the Lord Jesus has fulfilled. I pray you are starting to see. Let’s take a look at a few more places this “Golden Rule” is mentioned.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
Again, Matthew records here the Lord Jesus answering a lawyer (scribe) when asked about the great commandment. The Lord Jesus gave him two. The second is the “Golden Rule” in vs. 39 and again He states the Law and Prophets (Old Testament) depend on this command. But wait, what is the first? What is the greatest? Let’s take a look at one more record of the Lord’s 2 commands.
28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
Here the Lord Jesus gives the same “Golden Rule” answer for the second, but the first He states slightly differently. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord”. What the Lord Jesus is quoting from is Deuteronomy 6 in the Old Testament. This is also the Shema that the Jews would pray daily, and still do. The Lord Jesus knew this and He was stating how important it is to obey this command over every command. He was stating here, and as recorded in Matthew, that there is no other God and He is to be loved with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the most important. And this God we are commanded to love is the God of the Bible. He is the same God of the Old and New Testament. To love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is to obey all that He commands. That is to obey all of the Bible and not just what we decide to obey. In deciding for ourselves we create a god in our image and we don’t obey the true God who created us in His image.
But what does that mean for the “Golden Rule”? This rule is not “Golden” unless we obey the first. We can not truly love others until we truly love God. We can not do to others as we would have them do until we understand the love of God and His grace and mercy. Notice in Matthew 7:11 the Lord Jesus talks about evil people giving good gifts to their children who show love back. God goes beyond and gives gifts to those who do not love Him to start. Those who do not love Him do not ask because their hearts do not love God. In Luke 6 the Lord Jesus is explaining how the love of God is unconditional. Giving to those who do not deserve and being merciful to those who deserve wrath. God wants us to be Holy and imitators of Him.
The point of the “Golden Rule” as truly taught by the Lord Jesus is not for human gain. It is not a simple guidline to go through life. It is not what Christianity is as many may believe it to rest only on this command. It is not the gospel. It is not any of these becuase it needs the Shema. It needs the person following the “Golden Rule” to submit to the will of the One true God. In order to do that a person must have their heart changed. They must turn from their sin of creating their own god and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be forgiven and born again to know God.
What does this mean? The Lord Jesus became a man. He lived a perfect life of obedience, loving the Father with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, the way we are commanded to but can not. Through this He also loved neighbor. This we also truly can not do on our own either. Then He was crucified on the cross. This is the death you and I deserve for our sins. This is what all sinners, of which i am the worst, deserve. The penalty of sin is death. But God, being merciful, poured His wrath out on His Son. His Son, showing us how to truly love God and neighbor, laid down His life. The He defeated death rising from the grave after 3 days and He is now seated at the right hand of the Father ruling as King over heaven and earth. Now when a sinner believes that this life, death, and resurrection was for them, they are forgiven. His heart becomes regenrated to be able to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then inturn, they can begin to truly love their neighbor and do unto them as they would have them do unto themsleves. Then the repentant sinner will also recieve the grace of eternal life in paradise with the loving God of all.
This is GOOD NEWS. This is the GOSPEL!
I pray you recieve this message and truly love God so you can love neighbor and be a true Christian and a son or daughter of God.
Life is short. You don’t know what tomorrow holds. You don’t know if tomorrow holds anything at all. You may wake up. You may not wake up. If you are blessed to wake, what will you do with the time you are given? What will you live for? Will you take advantage of the time or will you let it take advantage of you? If you knew today was your last what will you do with it? Will you spend it having fun? Will you spend it living out the stupid acronym that was popular a few years ago YOLO? Or would you use your last day sacrificially? Would you give all you are? Would you do what you think will help people the most? This life is short. I pray you come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He offers everlasting life.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
I live today to tell you about Jesus Christ because I love you too much not to. I believe the most important thing I can do is tell you about Jesus Christ. I need to tell you what He did for us on the cross. I need to tell you that I am a sinner and so are you. I need to tell you God loves you and became a man and died the worst death because we are sinners. I need to tell you this because your sin, my sin, deserves to be punished. I need to tell you that God, who loves, is also just and will carry out the judgment, wrath, and the punishment we desever if we don’t come to the saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ who took that wrath for us.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
These are tough words. DEATH and WRATH! But it is justice. Think of the most horrible crime imaginable. Think of this crime being commited against you. Maybe it is theft, murder, rape, torture, or worse. Should that person be punished for their crime? Should that person receive justice? Should that person be judged and sentenced to the full extent of the law? What if you are the theif or the murderer? I know you might be saying “I may have only taken something small, or told a little lie, but I never murdered.” Jesus said:
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Matthew 5:21-22
Jesus is saying holding ill will, hate, and anger for another in your heart is as bad as murder. I am guilty of that. This is a crime commited against God. The justice we want for a crime against us is the justice God has to carry for our sins against Him. We deserve to die for our sins. Not just the big ones, but all of them. This is because God is just. God is holy. Any sin we commit deserves to be punished by a holy and just God. The fact is all sins are against God.
We are all doomed!
No! While God is just He also shows amazing grace. God provided a way for all who believe. He provided the Way, Truth, and Life. He provided the wages for sins of all who believe. He provided Jesus. Those who believe need to repent and put their trust in Him.
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
Repenting is turning away from our sins. When you know Jesus is your savior you see your sin for what it is. He will give you the power to turn. You my have tried to do it on your own. Let Him lead you. Let Him sanctify you.
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13
The Truth is Jesus, who was from the beginning. May you know the Truth. May He work in your heart. May you come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. May you be freed from your slavery to sin. May you meet and follow Jesus.
This world is temporary, but then comes eternity.
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
I pray you repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ.
This past week a friend of mine lost his sister to cancer. I did not know her but he told me she fought hard. She never gave up.
My friend is a fellow believer in Christ Jesus. He gives his life to Christ. As a believer he prayed without ceasing for his sister to win her battle. He talked to his sister about the healing power of Jesus and what faith in Him can do. He even found a church where the pastor had a personal physical healing by Jesus and took her there. He said she began to gain greater strength to fight for her life. In the end though her life on this earth has gone.
After losing a loved one after praying and believing in miracles many would lose faith. Many would turn from God. But my friend is an inspiration. He knows the truth. He demonstrates true faith in Christ Jesus. Instead of turning from God he boldly turns to Him.
At the viewing he said a few words about his sister. He spoke of how he and many other family and friends had been praying for a miracle. He said that many prayed for her life. Then he spoke more truth of how in her battle with cancer he saw her grow closer and closer to the Lord. He saw her faith grow. You see, he knows the truth. He knows the true miracle. He knows the true promise of Christ Jesus. He knows that when we believe in Him we never die but we have eternal life. Life without pain. Life without suffering. Life without cancer.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
While we all prayed for a miracle of her life continuing on earth, another one happened. She came to truly believe in Jesus. We prayed for her to live and now she lives forever. If we believe, we will live forever as well. My friend believes. He will see his sister again.
Some may not see it as a miracle. Some only see miracles as the blind seeing, the lame walking, the dead rising back on earth. Once they see they will believe. But believing is seeing. Jesus didn’t work miracles in his life to draw attention to himself. He worked them for the people who already believed. All throughout scripture there are examples.
They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat. Mark 5:38-43
I recently listened to a sermon by Alistair Begg about this passage. He had a lot of eye-opening points. The one that spoke to my heart about this loss is that after Jesus heals the little girl He tells those in the room not to tell anyone. This is after He puts out all those who were laughing. Alistair Begg points out that those who were laughing at Jesus, unbelievers, did not get to see the miracle. He said something like, “those who laugh at the words of Jesus don’t get to experience the works of Jesus.”
Again I see that a true miracle did take place in my friend’s sister’s life. She believed and now in her death she finally gets to live.
I pray that his family gets time to grieve. I pray that when they are done grieving, whenever that may be, that joy comes in the morning. I pray that they all see the miracle and they all find their way to give themselves to the Lord Christ Jesus.
To my friend, you are a godly man. Your love and boldness for Jesus is inspiring. Thank you for setting a great example for so many.
I saw how many people your sister touched with her life. I am sure there are many more. She is home now.
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. John 5:25
There was a hole. I tried to fill it with self-help techniques. I read some of “The Secret.” I read Tony Robbins. I asked the “universe” for help. Some of it seemed to work. There was still a hole.
I see many do this. The self-help section at the book store is filled with books. Oprah has her own network designed to help people fill the void in their lives. Many are searching for the method that fits them. I know I searched for a system that would allow me to be the same person and not change what needed to change. I searched for a system that told me I was in control and in charge of the outcomes.
I found many methods and systems that did this. They teach that it is within your own power to get the things you want. Usually the “things” are what is important in these systems. Want a car? Visualize you have the car. Want a house? Visit the house. Want a million dollars? Print out fake money and put it on a vision board.
(What does this prove?)
Did it make me a better man? Did it make me a better husband? Did it make me a better father?
I was on that journey but now my eyes have been opened. It is hard to look sometimes when they are open. Many people have the same void. They are looking to fill it by making the same bad choices I did. I see them going after things in a way that “works for them.” The problem isn’t going after your dreams. The problem is how you go after them and for what purpose.
Self-help books might help but they will not give you the answer. Yoga might get you to breathe but it will not give you the answer. The universe is an amazing creation but it does not have the answer. Motivational speakers with different ways to think may have some useful information but they don’t have the answer.
These things may provide temporary help. They may give you the illusion of helping you get the car, house, or other worldly possessions, but those things don’t last. They can’t fill the void. They may even make the void deeper and darker.
The truth I was seeking was not found in a “what”. The way I was seeking was not found in a “how”. The life I was seeking was not found in a method. All of these were found in a Person. A Person who is the Creator. He was there in the beginning, is here now, and will be there in the end. No material things can replace Him. No other ways promise what He promises.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5
You can amass a world of things but you can’t take them in the end. “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either”. 1 Timothy 6:7
I am not saying don’t make money or buy things, I am just saying know your purpose. Know the real reasons you want things. Know the real void you are trying to fill. Know that no matter what method you follow you are living for eternity. It is up to you if your eternity will be with God through His Son Christ Jesus or an eternity separated from God.