16 hours ago
The Spirit of Antichrist
16 hours ago
16 hours ago
INTRO: Good morning church. I’m going to deviate from the lesson I had planned because something came up that reminded me of a lesson several years back and I realized this would be a good time to look at the topic again. Incidentally, it us gives an entry point to what I am going to speak on eventually.
I was reading 1st John and came across this portion which started me thinking. Turn with me to 1st John 2:18-23 – “18. Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 20. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”[NKJV]
This point in John’s letter has caused difficulty for many religious people in the world and they have become confused about John’s meaning.
What I want to look at today is what John calls, “The antichrist.” We might want to note that John is the only writer of the New Testament who uses the term "antichrist", and he uses the term 5 times.
I – The Antichrist
A lot of the reason there is confusion about the subject of “the antichrist” is because people refuse to use the best commentary on the Bible there is, and that’s the Bible itself. I’m sure if people let the Bible speak for itself they would have no trouble in understanding John’s meaning of the term antichrist. Let’s look at the text again a bit more carefully.
1. Who is John writing to? - John starts this section of his letter with one of his favorite phrases, he says “Little children” or in some translations “Dear children”. He uses the term ‘children’ many times through his 3 letters and in 1st John he uses the term “Little children” 9 times. John is writing this letter to the Christians of that time as a loving father would write to his children.
2. John is warning Christians, his “little children”. He is warning them about a problem that was very real in his day. 1st John 2:18 “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” Note that John uses the term “antichrist ‘twice here, singular and plural.
3. He uses the term again in 1st John 2:22 where he says, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.”[ESV]
4. He uses it again in 1st John 4:2-3 where he says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit that does not confess Jesus, is not from God, this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”
5. John uses the term “antichrist” in 2nd John 7 when he says, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
We are living in a society where many people believe that the term “antichrist” is used to refer to an individual. In other words, they believe “The antichrist”, ‘singular’, will appear in the end times.
Some believe that an actual person will arise in the religious-political arena and lead many people astray just before Christ comes again. This view is held by pre-millenialist and many amillennialists.
To understand what John means, let us ask ourselves some questions. Who are the
antichrists? And how do we guard ourselves against them?
II - How do you spot the spirit of the antichrist?
Unlike popular public belief, the answer is not a mystery but quite simple. And it is simply because John tells us the answer. John says in 1st John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
You see in John’s day, not sometime in the future, but in John’s day, “The antichrists” not the “antichrist” but “many antichrists”, were individuals who had at some time associated themselves with the apostles and other Christians.
But then these people had left, gone out on their own, and were no longer in fellowship with the apostles. That’s why John says, “They went out from us, and they didn’t really belong to us, because if they did they wouldn’t have gone.” From this verse, it is plain that the "antichrists" were Christians who had defected from the truth, and their departure indicates their hostility to the truth.
In other words, these people were Christians, had faith, and then at some point, they lost their faith. Why? I suspect because they didn’t respect the apostolic teaching.
John tells us that, in 1st John 4:3-6 “3… every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
If you want to relate that today, you easily can because many "antichrists" behave the same way. Many people start out acting like they respect apostolic authority and seek to be with Christians but eventually, their true nature comes out and they do not want to be with those who respect apostolic authority very long.
For example: How many people do you know who do not have the Bible as their sole authority for their beliefs? Many religious groups who won’t even read the Bible. Many religious groups hold on to the teaching of men, and men have the final say, not the Bible. Some say the Bible was for back then, we don’t need it anymore. What they are doing is refusing to accept the apostle’s doctrine.
What did Jesus say about accepting the apostle's teaching? He said in John 13:20 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." Those who reject the apostles reject Christ himself, and in effect have the spirit of the antichrist.
John tells us another characteristic of the antichrists. 1st John 2:22-23 “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
In John’s day, some people denied that Jesus is the Christ. There was a big problem with Gnosticism in that day. A Gnostic is a person who says, “A divine God couldn’t possibly come in the flesh because the flesh is too sinful.”
People in John’s day and even today allege that Jesus and Christ are two different persons. They believe that Christ merely appeared to have flesh, but in reality, didn’t. Others believe that the Christ descended upon Jesus at His baptism and departed at the time of His suffering. It is that denial that Jesus Christ came in the flesh that John identifies as the spirit of the antichrist.
1st John 4:3 “and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
Another way to spot the spirit of the antichrist is that they deny the Father and the Son. Again in 1st John 2:22b-23, “He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
You see by denying that Jesus is the Christ, they were denying the Son. Do you recall in John’s gospel, John 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” And then in John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In other words, because of their denial, they are refusing to believe that Jesus came from the Father. By denying the Son they were also denying the Father. Again it comes back to John 13:20 I’ll paraphrase: “I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me."
If you want to spot the spirit of the antichrist today, it would be quite simple: 1. Anyone who denies that Jesus was the Messiah. 2. Anyone who denies the nature of Jesus, that He was fully God and fully man. 3. Anyone who denies apostolic authority, i.e. the Bible and its teachings about the nature of Jesus Christ. These have the spirit of the antichrist.
Based upon the evidence I have shown you so far is the antichrist a character soon to be revealed on the stage of world events? … Let’s look at some of the views of Dispensationalists, which is currently the most popular form of pre-millennialism because they have much to say about “the Antichrist.” They would have us believe that the Antichrist is a man, now living, who will soon rise to the position of a worldwide dictator.
In his book, “The Late Great Planet Earth” Hal Lindsey declares that the Antichrist will come to power just before the return of Christ, which, he asserts, will occur during this generation. Folks, this view finds absolutely no support in the Bible.
The term antikristos is found 5 times in 4 New Testament passages, all of which are found in John’s epistles, which we’ve already looked at. It’s significant that Lindsey, though devoting a whole chapter to the “Antichrist,” never once alludes to these verses. Why? The reason for this is obvious; the biblical information on this topic is not in harmony with his fanciful theory.
Over the years countless people and groups have attempted to identify the antichrist. Go home and simply type in the word “antichrist” on the internet if you have it. I got over 3 million hits in a Google search. You will be immersed with suggestions such as the Roman Emperor Nero, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and the Pope. These are but a few of the candidates put forth. In most cases, “the antichrist” is supposed to be connected with the end of the world, the number 666, and various other
signs of the times.
I keep going over this because we need to be aware of the view these people are coming from. We need to be aware, point out the antichrist spirit, and teach others to recognize it.
John wrote in 1st John 2:18 and I paraphrase; “Little children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” He says in verse 22, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.”
John specifically tells us that many antichrists had already come into the world. If his readers were looking for a single, solitary figure distinguished as the sole antichrist, John took that notion away by saying to them that many antichrists had come. If John was talking about a mysterious antichrist who is some sinister personage that would appear in the late 21st century why would he say this? Why would he say in 1st John 4:3 again I paraphrase, “But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
John says the spirit of the antichrist is already here, in John’s day. Any good Biblical scholar will see quite clearly that when John makes references to “antichrist” he is using that term to suggest a spirit of unbelief that can be manifested in a variety of ways, both in the past and present.
Folks, in 1st John 2:18, I would suggest you underline the term “antichrist,” and in your margin write the following, “A general disposition of unbelief; not a specific person.” John defined an antichrist as any person or group who denies the Father and the Son.
We have seen quite clearly that any person or group, which does not recognize that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come in the flesh, is a person or a group that has been seized by the spirit of antichrist. When you think about the religious world around us today, many would fall into the category of possessing the spirit of the antichrist.
III - How do we as Christians, guard against the spirit of the "antichrists?"
The way we guard ourselves against the spirit of the antichrists is by going to the people who have already experienced it. We guard ourselves in the same way John told his readers to guard themselves, and the way John tells them is by reminding them of their "anointing."
John says in 1st John 2:20-21 “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” He is not talking to people who don’t know the truth but to those who do. He also tells them in 1st John 2:27 “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
John says that this "anointing” is from the Holy One in 1st John 2:20. It was this anointing that enabled them to know "about all things." It also enabled them so that they "didn’t need anyone to teach them," according to 1st John 2:27. It may be that John is talking about the "gifts of the Spirit" which in New Testament times served to provide both Revelation and Confirmation of the truth for the early church. These gifts of the Spirit were given by the laying on of the apostle’s hands. The early church in this case could then identify the "antichrists" without John's help. Despite having this "anointing", they still needed to be encouraged to continue in what they had learned.
Today the earnest of the Holy Spirit is given to all believers in Christ following their repentance and baptism into Christ. It is clear from the last clause where the neuter pronoun and past tense are used that John is referring to the written records of the gospel. It was that which they had been taught; and it was that which was abiding in them, there being no difference whatever in the word of God dwelling in Christians and the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.
John in 1st John 2:24-25 says, “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us eternal life.” Just because they had "gifts of the Spirit," this did not keep them from sinning or being misled. Think of Simon the sorcerer. The same applies to Christians today. John reminds them of that fact in 1st John 2:26 paraphrasing: “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.”
It was only by paying attention to that which they had heard from the beginning that they would be able to continue to “abide in the Son and in the Father”, and receive the promise of eternal life!
We as Christians today don't have the "anointing" like John's readers did although some religious groups do claim this. If that were the case though, then we wouldn’t need the Scriptures, according to what we have read in 1st John 2:20+27, only the self-deceived would make such a claim.
Folks, we have something just as good! We have the Word of God, which is the "sword of the Spirit." Remember Ephesians 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” In Jude 3 we read “ Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” That is what we have. We have "the faith once delivered to the saints."
In other words, we have something which we use as the standard by which we can know the truth. It is because of that truth we find in the Bible, we can avoid being misled by subjective feelings that can be mistaken for some sort of prompting of the Spirit.
Within the Scriptures, we have all we need to enable us to know God's will. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 “16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
But just like John's readers, we need to be encouraged to continue in what we have learned from the Spirit-given Word. Just because we have the Word of God does not ensure that we will not be misled by others.
That’s why unless we study and apply the Word, we are open to deceptions by modern-day "antichrists"! As John urged his readers almost 2000 years ago, so we must today, take the same advice he gave in 1st John 4:1. paraphrasing: “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Let me finish by saying this, "antichrists" are a very real problem for us today. While there may not be many professing Christians who deny Jesus is the Christ, or that He came in the flesh, there are many who reject the authority of the apostles by how they disregard the Scriptures!
It is hard in our time and culture to realize how pervasive the spirit of the antichrist is and even harder to vocalize, even to ourselves, where we see it. Tolerance is not always a virtue and tolerance not guided by God’s word is an enemy. It can help blind us and the spirit of the antichrist is not always that easy to see. We are reminded of that in 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15 with these words: 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
The solution then, remains the same for us. 1st John 2:24 “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” No matter how wonderful the work done by a person or group, how much seeming good and kindness… if they exhibit what John warns us about then they have the spirit of the antichrist. In this spirit, Christians have no part or fellowship.
People who make all sorts of claims and theories about the antichrist are missing the point of John’s words. They need to remember what John said was the significance of these antichrists—“by which we know it is the last hour." John knew that in God's purpose, Jesus could return at any time! The fact that it has been 2000 years since John penned these words does not detract from their truthfulness. Loved ones we are living, in "the last hour", and Christ may come in judgment at any time! John’s point was not only to be aware of the spirit of the antichrist—but to be ready for Christ’s return.
Are you ready for His coming? Let me leave you with Peter’s words in 2nd Peter 3:8-9 which says: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
If you’re not a Christian this morning then let me encourage you to talk to someone about what it means to be ready for Christ’s return. We know from scripture that we must hear the word, believe in Christ, confess our faith in Jesus, repent of our sins, and then be baptized.
For those of the household of faith if you have gone astray I would encourage you to repent of your sins and pray for forgiveness. The grace of God has brought salvation. The question now is where are you relative to that salvation? Whatever your needs we will do what we can to assist you and we encourage you to come while we stand and sing.
Taken from a sermon by Mike Glover
Sunday May 28, 2023
What Am I Looking For - Everything or Nothing
Sunday May 28, 2023
Sunday May 28, 2023
Have you ever left home and had a funny feeling you have forgotten something? You don’t know what it was, but you just had this nagging feeling. A man said every time his family drove off for a vacation, his mom would say, “Honey, we’ve got to go back home, I think I left the iron turned on. I don’t want the house to burn down.”
His dad would turn around and they would go back and check and the iron would be turned off. This continued for several trips. Finally on one trip, when she told her husband to turn around and go check, he didn’t say a word. He pulled the car over to the shoulder, got out and opened the trunk and handed her the iron.
Our passage today introduces us to a young man searching for something. He’s often called the Rich Young Ruler. Matthew tells us he was a young man;
Luke describes him as a ruler, or what we would call an aristocrat. And Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us he was rich. He was a man who had two things, EVERYTHING AND NOTHING.
He was wealthy and successful, but he turned away from Jesus with nothing. He was searching for something more in life.
Millions of people are searching for something they really can’t even put their finger on what it is they’re searching for.
In 1987 Bono and the Irish rock group U2 recorded a song about this universal search. Bono sang: “I have run; I have crawled; I have scaled these city walls; Only to be with you. But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
He even ends the song referring to Jesus. “You broke the bonds; And you loosed the chains; Carried the cross of my shame; Oh my shame, you know I believe it. But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Two thousand years ago, there was a young, wealthy, successful leader who came to Jesus looking for something.
Mark 10:17-31. As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions)
and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
We don’t know this young man’s name, but since we’re going to be talking about him, let’s give him the name Richie. Richie did so many things right.
He came at the right time.
He was young.
He came to the right person, Jesus.
He came with the right energy—he was running.
He came with the right attitude, he knelt before Jesus.
He came with the right question: How can I have eternal life?
What a contrast! Richie came running, smiling, full of hope, but he walked away full of sorrow, dragging his feet with his only hope in his wealth. As we examine this amazing encounter, let’s look at five observations and five life lessons.
1. A STRANGE CONVERSATION: “Keep the commandments!”
So, what’s wrong with this picture? Why would Jesus tell someone to keep the commandments to find eternal life?
Every Jew knew the Ten Commandments by heart. They knew them as well as any of us could count from one to ten.
The Ten Commandments were divided into two sections, or two tables. The first four commandments have to do with a relationship with God.
We should have no other Gods,
we shouldn’t make and worship idols,
we should never take God’s name in vain,
and we should remember the Sabbath Day.
The second table contained six commandments about how we relate to one another. This is the table that Jesus quoted.
But he intentionally omitted one of the Ten Commandments.
You might not have caught it, because you may not have them all memorized. What if I said I am going to count to ten and I say, “One, two, four, five, six...?”
You’re going to say, “Hey, you skipped the number three.”
Jesus left out one; did anyone catch which one He omitted?
Let’s go through them. He didn’t give them in order, but let’s check them off. He said, “Do not murder.” Check.
“Don’t commit adultery.” Check. “Don’t steal.” Check.
“Don’t bear false witness or defraud” Check.
“Honor your Father and your Mother.” Check.
So, Which one did Jesus leave off intentionally? “Do not covet.”
That means a desire to have more and more stuff. Jesus knew this was Richie’s problem.
Richie smiled and said, “I have kept all these since I was a boy!” Jesus said, “There’s one thing you lack.” You see, this Richie already had a “god” in his life. His god was gold and his creed was greed. And there is only room for one God on the throne of your life.
LIFE LESSON: Jesus will probe your heart to expose any competing gods
Jesus wanted to point out that Richie had a problem with greed and covetousness, but He didn’t just come out and say it. He kept probing until Richie saw the problem himself.
Many of us have probably heard of someone who went to the doctor not knowing they had an appendicitis. They complained of hurting all over their torso. The doctor had them lie down and then started probing. When the doctor gently touched the area of the appendix, I am sure they almost flew off the table.
That’s what Jesus does for us. He keeps probing to show us where we have other gods in our lives.
The Holy Spirit is working on you right now, gently probing.
What is that thing, or that person, or that activity that has become more important to you than the true and living God?
2. SHOCKING ADVICE: “Sell all you have and give it to the poor, and follow me”
Jesus said there was only one thing Richie was lacking. This one verse has caused more confusion and dismay that perhaps any verse in the Bible.
Multitudes read it and thought, “I want to obey God. So, should I go and sell everything I have, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus?”
Here’s the short answer. You don’t need to sell all your riches unless your riches have become the god of your life. Richie is the only person to whom Jesus ever spoke those words.
Nicodemus was wealthy. Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy, but Jesus never told them to sell all their possessions because Jesus knew their possessions didn’t possess them.
LIFE LESSON: Jesus provides a personal solution to remove any competing gods
Jesus looked into Richie’s heart and saw that money was his god. And Richie wanted more and more; that’s what it means to covet. So, Jesus was simply giving Richie a solution to get rid of that false God.
And notice Jesus said, “You aren’t losing your treasure, by giving it to the poor, you are laying up treasures in heaven. You’re just t ransferring your wealth.”
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned there is only room for one God in our lives. He said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Jesus designs a different solution for each person. In Luke 10 a lawyer came to Jesus asking the same thing, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus didn’t say, “Sell all you have and give to the poor,” because He knew this man’s problem was pride.
Jesus asked him what the greatest commandments were. The lawyer said, “Love the Lord your God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “That’s correct.” The lawyer was looking for a loophole. He said, “But who is my neighbor?”
He wanted Jesus to say, “All your Jewish brothers and sisters.”
But instead Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, a half-breed. Jesus saw this man’s god was pride, so he said, “Love your neighbor, even your Gentile neighbors.”
In John 4 Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman at a well. She asked for some living water.
Jesus didn’t say, “Go sell all you have and give to the poor.”
He didn’t say, “Love your neighbor.”
That was her problem, she was loving too many of her neighbors!
He said, “Go call your husband.” She said, “Well, I don’t have a husband.” Jesus said, “That is correct. You’ve had five husbands and the one you’re living with now isn’t your husband.”
Jesus was pointing out that she already had a god in her life, the unhealthy desire for acceptance by a man.
If you have a competing god ruling your life, Jesus will give you a unique word to replace that god with the true and Living God.
3. THE PERSONAL CHOICE: “The young rich ruler went away sad, because he had great wealth”
Mark is the only one who gives us the tiny detail that Jesus looked at the young man and loved him. We know that God loves the world. We know that Jesus loves everyone.
But don’t forget that Jesus loves individuals. He looks at you and loves you. He looks at me and loves me. Jesus really did want Richie to make the right choice.
There’s a painting by the German artist Heinrich Hoffman. In this frozen scene, Hoffman captured the divine drama of the moment. The Rich Young Ruler is seen wearing his fancy clothes and hat. Jesus is inviting him to give his money to the poor people in the background and then to follow Him. The Rich Young Ruler looks down as he ponders the most important decision he would ever make.
Give away all his money and follow Jesus? But he has so much! And in that moment he sadly shakes his head and says, “No.
The price is too high.” And he walked away.
Not all stories end, “and they lived happily ever after.” He was a man with only two things: EVERYTHING & NOTHING.
LIFE LESSON: Jesus offers eternal life, but He won’t force you to follow Him
Someone wrote, “The saddest words of tongue or pen, are these four words, ‘What might have been.’”
God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful. But there is one area of the universe where He has voluntarily restricted His omnipotence; it’s in the area of your will. God won’t FORCE you to accept his gift of eternal life.
4. THE CAMEL JOKE: “A camel could squeeze through a needle’s eye easier than a rich person could get into heaven”
Have you heard the one about the camel? Stop me if you’ve heard it. Jesus employed overemphasis and humor to teach a powerful point.
Jewish humor was based upon impossible, ridiculous images. Jesus used the largest animal in Israel, a camel, and the smallest manmade opening and talked about the impossibility
of trying to get a camel through that.
Jesus was partial to camel jokes.
In Matthew 23 He used a pun to describe the Pharisees. He said, “You guys strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.”
It’s like the cross-eyed schoolteacher who got fired because she couldn’t keep her pupils straight.
So what was the point of the camel joke? Jesus was pointing out that it is extremely difficult for wealthy people to enter God’s kingdom… and one of the biggest reasons is because people with wealth tend to trust their own wealth MORE than they trust God.
The point Jesus is making is that it is impossible for anyone to gain salvation through his or her own merit. Richie trusted his wealth. What are you trusting today? Is there a competing God in your life?
We all must come to Jesus the same way. Bill Gates needs to come to Jesus the same way a dirty homeless man would come to Jesus. He would have to acknowledge his complete and utter need and come as a guilty sinner and receive the gift of life from Jesus.
It doesn’t matter who you are. You can be a rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief; doctor, lawyer, Native American tribal leader. There’s only one way—and that’s Jesus. That leads us to our final observation:
5. THE GOOD NEWS: “All things are possible with God”
The disciples were under the impression that rich people were blessed by God, so after they heard the camel joke they turned to Jesus in amazement. They asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered with a profound truth: With men it is impossible [salvation]; but all things are possible with God.”
God specializes in miracles. When Moses had the RED SEA in front of him and an army chasing him, he faced an impossible situation, but God specializes in the impossible—and He made a twelve-lane expressway in the middle of the SEA.
When little David faced a nine-foot monster with only a slingshot, victory was impossible by human standards. But the God of the impossible directed the stone to strike Goliath right between the eyes, then David used Goliath’s own sword to decapitate his fallen foe. He showed everyone who witnessed this event that he was someone who knew how to get a-head!
When Gabriel visited a teen girl named Mary he announced she would give birth to a son who would be the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Mary said, “How can this be, since I’m a virgin?”
Gabriel said Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible for God.”
It’s impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, but it’s a miracle when God takes a person through the door of salvation.
LIFE LESSON: Eternal life can’t be earned or bought; it’s a gift from God
Richie walked away singing that U2 chorus, “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Have we found what we are looking for in our current life?
The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life IN Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Someone was once asked “Have you ever asked God for forgiveness?”
That individual relied, “I’m not sure I have. I just go on and try do a better job the next time.
If I do something wrong, I just try to make it right. I don’t bring God into the picture.”
It’s not about bringing God into the picture; He is the picture.
He’s the artist of the picture that is life and the universe. And there is only one way you can approach God and that is with humility and the admission that you are lost without His forgiveness.
Hypothetically, there are three ways to get to heaven.
Notice I said, “Hypothetically.”
Number 1, you can die before you reach the age of accountability.
Two, you can live a perfect life: Never once commit a sin of thought, attitude, or action. Anybody qualify?
Or Third, you can fall on your knees and ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to make you a new person through baptism.
Richie had so much, but he ended up with nothing but the god of wealth in his life.
Many may think they have everything they want or need. But if they don’t have Jesus, they don’t have anything.
Jesus is looking at us today and is extending His love to each and everyone of us.
He looks into our heart and says, “Get rid of all those idols, and follow me. I can give you a life that is really worth living.” Will you trust Him?
Monday May 22, 2023
This World Is Not My Home
Monday May 22, 2023
Monday May 22, 2023
A father told the story of taking his 5-year-old to Disney-world. It was all the little boy could talk about for weeks and now they were finally there and the boy loved the idea that he’d get to see Goofy and Mickey and Minnie and the gang. He was so hyped.
They parked the car and could see the castle and the rides in the distance. They made their way to the ticket sales and then entered through the gates, into a relatively small area where families could have their pictures taken with all the Disney characters. Then they were going to go into the main park… but the little boy didn’t understand that.
He thought that THIS ENTRANCE AREA WAS the park and when his dad tried to herd him into the park itself, the boy threw an absolute fit. The boy thought that, they’d FINALLY gotten to the wonderful world of Disney and his dad was going to take him home.
He fought it with all he had … but as his dad brought him around the corner, THERE WAS THE PARK WITH ALL THE RIDES and the boy's cries became shrieks of joy.
Think about it: the boy had to leave what HE THOUGHT was good; to get to what his dad knew was better.
One of our hymns says the following:
“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me, from heaven’s open door. And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
That song declares that this world is just “GOOD”, but heaven is “BETTER.” Our text today takes it even one step further. I John 2:15 tells us “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
And that’s repeated elsewhere in Scripture: James 4:4 says “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity (hatred) with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
And in Mark 8:36 Jesus says “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his very own soul?”
Now, there’s a couple of reasons why I think God stresses this so hard. The first is: the things of this world are deceptive. The world offers things that are just GOOD… but they’re not from God. These “good” things can often become substitutes for that which is BETTER.
Notice what it says in I John 2:16 - “All that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world.”
Years ago, I heard a preacher preach on this very passage, and he tied I John 2 to a story out of Old Testament – the story of Adam & Eve. I know you’ve heard it. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and He created all the animals/birds/fish of the sea. And then He created man in his image - male & female He created them. And He placed them in a beautiful garden.
And I know the Bible doesn’t say, but I can picture Adam and Eve treating the animals there as if they were their personal pets. I can imagine seeing them scratching the ears of a lion, playing tag with the monkeys, jumping around with the Kangaroos.
And there are many Bible scholars who think that there were occasions where God would come and walk and talk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evenings. And God told Adam “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) They had everything they could possibly want - just not that tree!
But then, one day Satan began whispering in Eve’s ear. “Did God REALLY say ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And with that… Satan planted a doubt in Eve’s mind. “you shall not surely die!” (he told her) “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5
Once Satan got Eve to doubt God - to take her eyes off of God - the rest was easy. He got her to thinking “Maybe you’re right. Maybe GOD has deceived me. Maybe God has denied what I’d really want and doesn’t want me to have what I REALLY want.”
And she began to look at that tree with new eyes.
I want you to notice what it says Genesis 2:9 says “the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground trees that were PLEASING to the eye and GOOD for food." Did you see that? There were all kinds trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food… but then in Genesis 3:6 we read “when the woman saw that the tree (of the knowledge of good and evil) was GOOD for food, and that it was a PLEASING to the eyes… she took of its fruit and ate.”
There were all kinds of fruit in the garden that was “good for food”; and there were all kinds of fruit that were “pleasing to the eye.” But this fruit was DIFFERENT! It wasn’t like all the other kinds of fruit, because… this was the fruit that God had denied her. And so, she desired it. And she wanted it so badly… SHE COULD ALMOST TASTE IT.
And that’s what our text TODAY (in I John 2) is talking about. This tree appealed to her “desire of the flesh”. Eve believed that THIS tree was “good for food”, even though every other tree in the garden was GOOD FOR FOOD.
And it also appealed to her DESIRE of the EYES. Genesis says the tree appealed to Eve because it was PLEASING to the eye, but Genesis tells us that all the other trees were pleasing to the eye too.
Now there’s kind of an overlap with these two desires because when people SEE what they want, they sense a desire in the flesh for what they’ve seen. And when that happens, they’ll do what they have to do to get what they want. And when it’s something they shouldn’t have, their desire for those things can trap them in sin.
ILLUS: I remember reading the story of a 6-year-old boy in Wisconsin who tried playing one of those crane operated game with toy prizes inside. I’ve tried it before, and I can never get a prize so I just don’t try anymore. But this little boy was ENTRANCED. The plush toys inside were pleasing to his eyes, and although he probably had better toys at home, he felt the desire of the flesh to have one of them for his very own.
Several times he’d tried to work the crane and couldn’t get anything. He wanted the toy, but the stupid machine wouldn’t cooperate. So, what do you think he did?
That’s right – he climbed INSIDE the machine! By the time the firefighters arrived he’d managed to get almost completely inside with just his right foot hanging out. HE WAS TRAPPED, but the firemen finally got the game unlocked and he was released unharmed.
For a short period of time, the desires of his eyes and his flesh trapped him.
There’s an old saying that “All that glitters is not gold.” It encapsulates what our text tells us today. Lots of stuff glitters like gold, and lots of stuff catches our eye and our imagination – and we JUST HAVE TO HAVE that item. But it’s not what it appears. When people fix their eyes on the things of this world they end up fixing their eyes on things that will trap them in sin.
That trap could be pornography; or drugs or alcohol, or gambling; or it could be the approval of their friends that makes them engage in activities they shouldn’t be doing; or it could be possessions they can’t afford, but they just have to have them. And so they’ll do what they have to do to get what they shouldn’t have or can’t justify.
My point is this: your desires and my desires can hurt us just like they hurt Adam and Eve. And the only way to combat this evil is to get our eyes off the things of this world and focus on God and His will for our lives.
But there’s a 3rd thing mentioned in I John that I found interesting. It’s called the pride of life. That was the real target of Satan’s temptation of Eve. He told her “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) And then the next verse says “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate...” Genesis 3:6
The “desire to make one wise” was where she really bought into Satan’s lie… because she wanted to “be like God.” The pride of life is when WE want to be in charge. WE want to be right. We want to express OUR opinions, and WE want our way. That’s why there’s so much conflict in our world. Everybody wants THEIR way. You can see it in politics; You see it in churches; You see it in homes. People fighting over stuff because they want things their way. They want to be God.
And the only way to combat that evil in our lives is to fix our eyes on Jesus.
Colossians 3:1-4 says “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. SET YOUR MINDS on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Now, at the beginning of the sermon I noted that I believed that there at least a couple of reasons God focuses on telling us to not love the world.
The FIRST was that the world can deceive and us and trap us into accepting substitutes for what God really wants to give us.
The SECOND reason I believe God stresses this so strongly is because we kind of like this world. I mean, I kind of like this world. I’ve got a great church to preach to; a wonderful group of family and friends; I’ve got a nice house, a nice car; my health’s pretty good. I’ve got no complaints. So… why shouldn’t I like THIS WORLD?
And that’s not an uncommon thought. One preacher observed that there’s all these songs about heaven.
There’s “When we all get to heaven”;
“Sing to Me of Heaven”;
“When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”;
“In The Sweet By And By”… and the list could go on and on.
But he said – “you know, when it’s all said and done, and when people are on death’s bed - they tend to NOT be so homesick for heaven anymore. They want to have just ONE MORE MINUTE, one more hour, one more day. They literally grasp at life with greedy hands to have just a longer time on earth.
That’s what happened back in the Old Testament: One of the most godly kings of Israel was a man named King Hezekiah.
2 Kings 20:1-3 tells us “… Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah… went to him and said, ‘This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.’ Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD… And Hezekiah wept bitterly.”
Why did Hezekiah weep bitterly? He didn’t want to die! And he was a godly man. Lots of people don’t want to die. They don’t want to leave this world behind. I mean it’s all they’ve ever known. It’s easy to fall in love with this world.
But God says “Don’t Do That! It’s a trap!!!!” This world is not your home … we’re just passing through. As I John 2:17 tells us “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
In verse 17, John reminds us of the fleeting nature of worldly pursuits: "And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." The world and its attractions are temporary, destined to fade away. Our fixation on accumulating possessions, seeking self-gratification, and pursuing worldly success will ultimately prove futile. None of these endeavors can provide lasting satisfaction or eternal significance.
On the other hand, when we align our lives with God's will and seek to please Him, we participate in the eternal purposes of the Kingdom. Our obedience to His commandments and the pursuit of righteousness grant us an everlasting inheritance. We find true joy, peace, and fulfillment by living in harmony with God's design.
And why on earth would you want to stay here? This is just the place where we get our pictures taken. The real park is just on the other side of the gate… and that’s where our Father has something far better waiting for us - just inside the gate.
CLOSE: What is the most important thing? Many Christians have noted that “it is knowing that this life is not all there is. Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production. You will spend far more time on the other side of death - in eternity -than you will here. Earth is the staging area, the preschool, the tryout for your life in eternity… This life is preparation for the next. At most you will live a hundred years on earth, but you will spend forever in eternity. It has been said that this life is “but a small parenthesis in eternity.” You were made to last forever.
the words of 1 John 2:15-17 echo throughout the ages, guiding us in the choices we make each day. As we navigate a world filled with enticing distractions, we must guard our hearts and minds against falling prey to its empty promises. Let us remain vigilant in our commitment to prioritize our relationship with God above all else, recognizing that the pleasures and pursuits of this world pale in comparison to the eternal treasures found in Him. May we continually seek God's guidance and strength to overcome
Sermon Contributor Jeff Strite
Sunday May 14, 2023
Life After Death
Sunday May 14, 2023
Sunday May 14, 2023
Intro: Good morning church. In Luke chapter 15, we find one of the most beloved chapters of the Word of God. It is an account of what was probably a single discourse of Jesus Christ, the whole theme of which was "The Lost." We are shown four ways to become lost. The sheep was lost by wandering away from the flock. The coin was lost through no fault of its own but through the carelessness of its possessor. The prodigal was lost by overt and willful disobedience; and the elder brother was lost through pride, selfishness, and self-righteousness.
The theme of the elder son continues I believe in chapter 16 where Jesus' continues His discourses to the disciples in the presence of the public and the Pharisees particularly. First, the parable of the unjust steward and then the story of the rich man and Lazarus, both related to the conflict with the Pharisees.
The context of this latter story goes back to verse 13, where Jesus is teaching about riches. He says in Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” We recognize this from Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:6. Continuing at Luke 16:14f, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
The Pharisees didn't want to listen to Jesus’ teaching about money because Jesus told them that they needed to serve God and not Mammon and that they couldn't do both at the same time. Jesus said to them, what you're trying to do is justify yourselves (implied here) and your sinful practices before men. They were upset not because Jesus was not telling the truth, but because they were seeking to prop up their sinfulness, their love of money, and their covetousness. Jesus says God knows your hearts. He knows what your real desires are. (We talked about that a couple of weeks back). God knows what is esteemed among men. In other words, what you Pharisees esteem as being great, is an abomination in the sight of God.
I wonder how many people think like that today. They think that what they do and say is wonderful; but what God sees, He considers an abomination. When we think like God thinks, we will consider things abominable that God considers abominable. Then we will not seek to justify ourselves before men. We will certainly not seek to permit our sin to remain within our life.
Jesus taught about the differences between these two types of thinking. Some of it involved the way they saw money. Some of it involved the way they saw the kingdom of God. Some of it involved the way they saw God's word. Some of it involved the way they handled their marriages. God knew what was in their hearts.
In Luke 16:19 and following, He tells this story of the rich man and Lazarus. Now some refer to this as a parable and some do not. Perhaps this hinges on our view of what a parable is. Oxford defines a Parable as “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.” Others add words like “comparative”, “allegorical”, or even “fictitious” to their definition.
I would not call this a parable. I am inclined to think of this as a real story Jesus is relating to show them, and us, what is spiritual reality.
It is a story about two people, one who was a wealthy man and the other who was a beggar. The story also speaks about Abraham being alive, which Jesus affirms as a reality to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:32. It contains a strong warning for us today regarding how we should live our lives and the consequences of living life solely for ourselves and not thinking about other people.
I. I'm going to look at this story today, not with the view of an allegory from which we draw a conclusion, but as a real story, a real account of two people that Jesus decides to share with us. One was a rich man and the other was a beggar, whose name was Lazarus. Let's look at some things in this story. We're going to study these verses in an expository way. I hope you have your Bibles open and that you're following along with me in the text.
A. Let's look, first at the two characters that are involved. Luke 16:19-21 – “19. "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20. "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21. "desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.” These are the two characters in this story.
1. First the rich man. From the description, we can imagine he is independent. He certainly takes care of his own needs and desires regarding food and raiment. I imagine he is self-satisfied, large and in-charge, you might say.
a. He is certainly a person who many people would observe and say, there is a successful man, a person who has done well in his life... probably envy him a bit.
b. You would look at him and you might think that's a model for society. There's a role model for everyone. A man who has done well, taking care of business and taking care of himself.
c. He must have significant resources and can enjoy the fruits of this life.
d. After all, isn't that what everyone is striving for? Isn't that what everyone wants? That's the picture that Jesus sets forth.
2. The rich man is clothed in purple. Purple is a beautiful color, the color of royalty, one who has wealth and status. Purple was desired in the ancient world.
a. Lydia was a seller of purple. Acts 16:14.
b. When Jesus was mocked at His crucifixion, a purple robe was placed upon Him before He was led off to be crucified, John 19:2-5.
3. This man, this rich man, was clothed in purple and fine linen—fine linen.
a. This was also the clothing of the rich.
b. Genesis 41:42 says, “Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.”
c. First Chronicles 15:27 says “David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark… ”
4. He fared sumptuously, which means rich; costly; luxurious.
a. He was probably a picture of being well-fed.
b. He dined well, he had plenty of food to eat.
c. He had the indulgences of life, beautiful clothing, wealth, good food, and probably a great place to live.
5. What a paragon most would think, right? People would look at that man and they would say he’s a paragon of virtue. He has been blessed with so much, because of all the external trappings that he has in his life. That's how the Pharisees thought about things. They looked at the external appearances. They didn't look at the heart. God judges the heart and because God judges the heart, He knows that this rich man isn't nearly as well off as he appears to be.
B. In contrast, we see Lazarus.
1. How is he described?
a. As a beggar.
b. He's dependent upon others.
c. That's what a beggar is. He doesn't have anything, he is not self-sufficient. He is not clothed in the finest clothes. He can't take care of himself. He doesn't have a place to live.
d. He's dependent upon charity for the food that he gets.
2. He's laid at the gate.
a. We notice that he is laid at the gate. It doesn't say he walked to the gate, likely because he cannot walk.
b. Someone put him there. Probably because he could not get around physically by himself.
3. He's full of sores.
a. This indicates his physical health. It indicates a breaking down of the skin for some reason, a virus perhaps, or bacteria; even some fungi can do this. It is a very unpleasant situation and I shudder to think about it.
b. This condition can occur even today when someone has become immobile. They can not move about and constant pressure from a hard surface can produce sores.
4. He desired the crumbs.
a. He only wanted the leftovers. Have you ever been in a position where you had no food, did not know where or when you would get some and you were so hungry you would eat almost anything?
b. He was willing to accept any food, even the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. That would have been enough for him.
c. He would have been satisfied with that.
5. It says the dogs licked his sores.
a. Again, this indicates his helplessness doesn’t it? How many of us would let dogs come around and lick our sores? I don't think I would. I think I'd shoo them away, tell them to get out of here.
b. To me this indicates that Lazarus was not able, in many ways, to move around and to do things that other people can do like shoo the dogs away.
c. It also indicates that no one was giving him any medical attention at all. No one was trying to soothe him or heal him or help him.
d. The dogs seemed to be his only companions.
II. The two characters—two circumstances—the rich man and Lazarus. Let us continue Luke 16:22-23 – “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
A. Two circumstances, and now both men have died. What a great commentary on life, right? It doesn't matter how poor you are, it doesn't matter how rich you are. We are all going to die unless the Lord returns first. What will happen when we die?
1. In verse 22 we are told the beggar, that is, Lazarus, dies.
a. He was carried away by the angels.
b. For one who had only dogs to take care of his sores in this life, he then receives the company of angels when he passes away to go to the next. He is no longer alone.
2. He ended up in Abraham's bosom.
a. That represents one who has entered paradise. Like Jesus spoke about on the cross when he said to the thief, today you will be with me in paradise.
b. The Hadean realm, as understood by the Jews, had two distinct places, one for the righteous and another for the wicked. Jesus' use of those ideas here gives them great significance; for there can be no doubt that this story was intended to shed light on the intermediate state between death and eternal judgment.
c. Lazarus was there with Abraham and the presence of Abraham indicated salvation for the Jewish person, and he was comforted.
B. The rich man also died.
1. The Bible simply says that he was buried. All the rich man's wealth earned him no exemption from the final accounting which comes to all men.
a. I suspect that his friends might provide the pomp and circumstance by which the wealthy are usually accompanied to their tombs; but how vain and empty are such honors!
b. No angels came to accompany him to the next life. He was just buried.
c. Of course, he was not there anymore but his body was buried. It was all he received at death—burial.
2. He found himself in (the King James Version says hell the new King James says Hades) being in torments.
a. To the Jew the word Hades meant the realm of the unseen. It described the realm where the dead go after this life is over.
b. It is described as where one goes to paradise or torment. Jesus is said to have gone to Hades in Acts chapter 2 because He went to paradise and paradise is a place in Hades.
c. The other place where the rich man went was “torment”…a place that is full of suffering.
3. “And being in torments in Hades…” verse 23 tells us.
a. Verse 24 adds to the picture that he was tormented in the flame.
b. “… he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” He is separated from them, yet he sees them.
c. In Jesus’ teaching, we see the state of the righteous and the state of the wicked, with no time-lapse indicated between death and the entering of the soul into one or the other of the Hadean compartments. The wicked life will not wait after death to begin reaping the rewards of unrighteousness; and yet, the eternal reward for both classes will not begin until the judgment.
III. A cry goes out in verse 24.
A. “Then he cried and said, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'”
1. The first thing we notice is that the cry comes from the rich man and none from Lazarus. The rich man is tormented but Lazarus is comforted.
2. The second thing is that his cry is a cry for himself.
a. He had certainly taken care of himself in life and now after his life is over, he continues to pursue self.
b. He says send Lazarus to me with just a drop of water. Have mercy on me.
c. He could have had mercy in life, yet he showed none. We are told, “… a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table.” There is an irony here in the rich man's cry for self. Lazarus needed help from the rich man during his lifetime and received none. The rich man now cries out to Lazarus for help, and what happens? He receives no help.
d. Lazarus did not ask for much in his lifetime—just a crumb. The rich man in the afterlife is not asking for much—just a drop of water. It seems none was given to Lazarus, and none was given to the rich man.
3. Next, we read that Abraham answered him. He said in verse 25, “…Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.”
a. Abraham called the rich man son. Earlier, the rich man had addressed Abraham as "Father," and here Abraham did not deny that the rich man was one of the patriarch's fleshly descendants. This was significant for the Jewish people. Many Jews of that day and age thought that just being a child of Abraham meant that you were going to be saved.
b. Jesus was refuting that teaching in this story. He was also pointing out that Lazarus was a child of Abraham and was saved yet the rich man was not.
c. What does that tell us? Simply because we are a child of God does not necessarily mean we are going to be saved. There is more to it than that. We must be faithful to the Lord and do His will within our life.
d. Abraham told the rich man to remember. “… remember that in your lifetime you received your good things…” No comfort for him really, because now he had nothing.
4. He also told him that there's a great gulf, an impassable barrier, if you will, that prevents me from coming to you and you from coming to me. In other words, you can't get to my side, and I can't get to your side. This is God's design. Jesus tells us once a person has died, things are set, and there is no going from one side to the other.
IV. Then the rich man cried, not for himself, but for his family.
A. He said starting at Luke 16:27 – “…I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.”
1. His cry was to have Lazarus go visit his family. If you can't have him come over here and give me a drop of water, then at least send him back to my five brothers, testify to them of the horrible things here in the afterlife for one who pursues a life of selfish pleasure without thinking about others. My wording added there.
2. Then “Abraham said to him, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'”
a. God has given us the information that we need to live life. The only question is, are we going to follow this information or are we going to seek and pursue our selfish desires?
b. We have the information. He had the information; his brothers had the information for they had Moses and the prophets.
c. We have Christ and the apostles, men even greater than Moses and the prophets, according to the book of Hebrews. Will we listen to the message?
3. The rich man argues “`No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'” So here it comes out. The rich man understood why he was in torments. It was because he would not repent.
4. Abraham's reply was this, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” Why is that? Because they seek their selfish desires and not what God wants.
V. As we study God’s word, we cannot help but connect another event, a striking example of the truth of what Jesus proclaimed here. It occurred only a little later in the resurrection of Lazarus told in John 11. Lazarus (the other one) did indeed come back from the grave in the very presence of the Jews that were enemies of Jesus; but did they repent? No, they did not! In John 11:53 we are told, “Then from that day on they plotted to put Him to death.”
A. In a sense, Lazarus came to the Pharisees who were present when he rose from the dead. In the case of Jesus' resurrection, there was no appearance to the Pharisees. Lazarus was the one Jesus had in mind here.
B. Regarding His resurrection, Jesus did not appear "to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before God," even to the apostles, "who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead" (Acts 10:41). It would have done no good at all for the Lord to have appeared to the Pharisees.
Jesus teaches many things here. Here are some of the points that have been put forth: (1) the souls of men do not die with their bodies; (2) the soul is conscious after death; (3) the righteous go to a place of happiness, the wicked to a place of misery; (4) we should not envy the rich; (5) memory will not be obliterated by death; (6) he who is lost in death is lost eternally; (7) God's word is sufficient to save men; (8) Those who are lost don't want their loved ones to be lost with them.
Sometimes people get it in their mind that wherever their relatives are, that's where they want to be. If they're lost, they don't want you to be with them, just like the rich man did not want his brothers to be there with him. The lost want us to tell others about the horrible place where they are so others can avoid it.
We should ask ourselves; where do we find ourselves today? Are we more like the rich man or more like Lazarus? Jesus told this story for the benefit of the covetous Pharisees who loved the things of this world.
Jesus said in Luke 12:15 – “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Death came to both Lazarus and the rich man… it comes to all.
Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” The rich man felt the sting of death, which is sin, First Corinthians 15:56.
There are only two final destinations for a person. After this life, one will either be saved or lost. There is no makeup exam. There's a great gulf, and you can't go over to the other side.
We may have the good things in this life, yet an eternity of torment may be awaiting us if we do not repent of our sins and do the will of God. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
Despite what some teach there will be no second chances after this life is over.
Revelation 21:27 in telling of the Holy City “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.”
Jesus spoke more about eternal torment than any other speaker in the New Testament. He did so to warn people about the ultimate state of those who refuse to repent. Scripture says that we need to listen to God's word, we need to believe it, repent of our sins, confess Him as Lord, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Many will not receive this message though it is given to them. The same warning applies to them today. They have Moses and the prophets. They have Christ and the apostles. How many will not listen because they simply do not want to obey God’s will? Do we continue to take the message of the Gospel to others? Of course, for God wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, Second Peter 3:9.
Just as there are two destinations—one for Lazarus and one for the rich man, so there will be two destinations for all in this life, saved or lost.
In all of that, Jesus wanted His listeners to understand, to recognize the opportunities that we have right here and now. Do not pine over those who have gone before, nor fret about the possibility of the future, but rather think right now of where we are at.
Are we in a right relationship with God or not? Can we do something about that right now? The answer is yes, we can do something about it. We do not have to be like the rich man, who had all the comforts of life but did not make any plans for eternity. We can make those plans right now. We can change our life and our destination. We can become what God wants us to be by giving ourselves to Him.
Listen to His Word. Simply listening to the word that God has given us will show us the way. Follow it, obey it, and do His will within our life. That's what Jesus is talking about at the end of this story. That's what He's urging us to do. Listen to Him and make changes based on what He says.
This morning, you have an opportunity to do just that—to hear the Word and to obey it, to put Christ on in baptism if that is what you need to do or to ask for the prayers of the Church if that is what you need.
This morning, why not do what Jesus desires and simply give your life to Him and be faithful to Him from now on?
If you need the prayers of the church or if you need to come forward this morning to be baptized, we will welcome you, we will receive you, and we will help you in whatever your needs may be. We invite you to come and make your needs known while we stand and sing.
Reference Sermon by - Kevin Cauley
Sunday May 07, 2023
Ready or Not Here He Comes
Sunday May 07, 2023
Sunday May 07, 2023
Matthew 25: 1 - 10 and John 14 : 1 – 3
A Bible study group was discussing the unforeseen possibility of their sudden death. The leader of the discussion said, ” We will all die some day, and none of us really know when, but if we did we would all do a better job of preparing ourselves for that inevitable event.”
“Everybody shook their heads in agreement with this comment.”
Then the leader said to the group, “What would you do if you knew you only had 4 weeks of life remaining before your death, and then the Great Judgment Day?”
A gentleman said, ” I would go out into my community and minister the Gospel to those that have not yet accepted the Lord into their lives.”
“Very good!” ,said the group leader, and all the group members agreed, that would be a very good thing to do.
One lady spoke up and said enthusiastically, “I would dedicate all of my remaining time to serving God, my family, my church, and my fellow man with a greater conviction.”
“That”s wonderful!” the group leader commented, and all the group members agreed, that would be a very good thing to do.
But one gentleman in the back finally spoke up loudly and said, “I would go to my mother-in-laws house for the 4 weeks.”
Everyone was puzzled by this answer, and the group leader ask, “Why your mother-in-law’s home?”
“Because that will make it the longest 4 weeks of my life!”
The day before Thanksgiving a man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, "I hate to ruin your day,
but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years is enough. We’re sick of each other. So please call your sister in Chicago and tell her."
Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone. "There’s no way they’re getting a divorce," she shouted, "I’ll take care of this." She immediately called Phoenix and said to her father. "You are NOT getting a divorce. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing. DO YOU HEAR ME?"
The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife. "Okay, honey. It’s done. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving, and this time they’re paying for their own flights."
Well, I guess that sometimes people do strange things or go to extraordinary lengths in order to accomplish their purposes.
For example, think about “Surprise” parties or events and all the effort put into planning and putting them on
and making sure that the guest or guests of honor are properly surprised.
For those who are involved, such an event can turn out to be something really special and precious.
Folks, we should ALL be ANTICIPATING a very special event, too. In fact, Jesus Himself talked about it the last night that He spent with His apostles before His arrest and crucifixion.
Do you remember?
Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him.
He had told the apostles again and again that His kingdom was not of this world,
and that the time would come when His enemies would kill Him,
but that He would rise again. But somehow it just didn’t sink in.
They couldn’t understand how that could possibly happen to Jesus,
their Messiah and their Lord.
But on this last night, in the upper room, Jesus told them plainly that the time had come, and that one of them would betray Him. Jesus even went on to say, “You will all fall away.” That’s when Peter declared, “‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’” Luke 22: 33 & 34
You can imagine the confusion and gloom that settled over them.
And then Jesus began to speak some of the most familiar words in all the Bible:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am John 14: 1 – 3
Did you hear His promise? Jesus is coming again!
A few weeks later angels repeated that promise.
Forty days after His resurrection Jesus met with His disciples on the Mt. of Olives for the very last time, and Luke says,
“They asked Him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
“After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly
two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go...’” Acts 1: 6 - 11
It is true! Jesus is coming again!
B. Years later, the apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Thessalonica: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope...
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thess. 4: 13 – 18
It has been stated that the books of the O.T. from Genesis through Malachi could be summed up as saying, "Jesus is coming."
The N.T. books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John proclaim, "Jesus is here."
The remaining 23 books of the N.T. tell us, "Jesus is coming again!"
There is NO DOUBT about it!!!
God’s Word tells us more than 300 times,
Jesus is coming again!
But when He comes, some will REJOICE and others will be TERRIFIED.
The apostle Paul tells us,
"The coming of the Lord will be like a thief in the night" 1 Thess. 5: 2
However, for the Christian it won’t be a terrifying experience.
It will be an exciting experience, like the anticipated arrival of a long...awaited friend.
The Bible also says, "We who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" 1Thess. 4: 17
Does that excite you? If you’re a Christian it should thrill you.
However, there is an old Biblical principle that will trouble many.
It is that we will surely REAP what we SOW Galatians 6: 7
A story is told that many years ago a man conned his way into being a member of the orchestra of the emperor of China although he couldn’t play a note. Whenever the group practiced or performed, he would hold his flute against his lips, pretending to play but not making a sound. As a member of the orchestra he received a salary and enjoyed a comfortable living.
Then one day the emperor requested a solo from each musician. The man was terrified. So he pretended to be sick, but the royal physician wasn’t fooled. On the day of his solo performance, the impostor took poison and killed himself.
The explanation of his suicide led to a phrase that later found its way into the English language: He couldn’t “face the music.”
Today someone can pretend to be a part of God’s orchestra by just blending in with the crowd and going through the motions.
No one notices, because you say the right things, go to the right places, and hang out with the right people.
But there will come a day when you and I must “face the music.”
On that day you will stand alone before God and give an account for your life, your decisions, and your relationship with Jesus.
2Thess. 1: 7 says, "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels."
Some will rejoice, but others will be terrified.
For in that moment when Christ appears in the sky,
they will suddenly realize that it’s too late. They will reap what they have sown.
They gambled with their future, and lost!
God allows us the freedom to make our own choices, but as Christians, we have a responsibility to warn the world that Jesus is coming again!
EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE READY
I know there are many predictions and calculations concerning His Second Coming, but Jesus said, "No one knows the day or the hour" Matt. 24:36
That’s why we must always be ready and constantly helping others to get ready, too.
God stands waiting and willing to forgive. He has patiently postponed His judgment to give us more chances to come to repentance, and more opportunities for people to see and hear a sermon through our lives.
Eventually that patience will be replaced by justice, and evil will be punished.
Some years ago an old time minister was Johnny Carson’s guest on the "Tonight Show." At one point Carson asked him, "Sir, what do you think would happen if Jesus came to earth again? I’d bet we’d betray Him and probably put Him to death once again."
To which the minister leaned forward in his seat and said, "You know, Johnny, Jesus said that He would return.
But the first time He came in love.
The next time He’ll come in power, and no one will do Him in."
Believe me, when Jesus returns, He won’t have to announce His arrival.
He won’t have to say anything, for every eye will see Him, and every knee will bow.
When you see a glorified being riding on a cloud with trumpets playing in stereo –
trust me, it will be Jesus.
On the dome of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, is the following inscription, "One God, one law, one element, and one FAR-OFF DIVINE EVENT toward which the whole creation moves." Folks, we must be prepared, for Jesus is coming again!
Had you been on the British Coast in 1845 you might have seen 2 ships boarded by 138 of England’s finest sailors setting sail for the Artic. Their task?
To chart a Northwest Passage around the Canadian Artic to the Pacific.
The captain, Sir John Franklin, hoped this effort would be the turning point in Artic exploration.
History shows that it was.
Not because of its success, but because of its failure.
You see, the ships never returned. Every crew member perished. And those who followed in the expedition’s path to the pole learned this lesson: "Prepare for the journey." Apparently Franklin didn’t.
Though the voyage was projected to last 2 or 3 years, he only carried a 12-day supply of coal for the auxiliary steam engines. But what he lacked in fuel, he made up for in entertainment. Each ship carried a "1,200-volume library, a hand-organ, china place settings for officers and men, cut-glass wine goblets and sterling silver flatware."
Was the crew planning for an Artic expedition or a Caribbean cruise?
The sailors carried no special clothing to protect them against the cold.
Only the uniforms of Her Majesty’s fleet, thin and inadequate.
Strange how men could embark on such a journey ill-prepared, more equipped for afternoon tea than for the Artic sea.
But stranger still how we sometimes do the same. Just like Sir John Franklin, we sometimes act as if life is just a cruise. We have little fuel but lots of entertainment.
We are more concerned with looking good than with being prepared.
We give more thought to table settings than to surviving the journey. We give little thought to the destination.
If we sail unprepared it’s not God’s fault.
He left detailed instructions. His Word is our map. The Holy Spirit is our compass.
He outlined the route and described the landmarks we should seek.
And someday, if we follow them, we will stand before Him and hear the words,
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
But the sad thing is that the Bible says that there will be many who will not choose to prepare themselves. We can read one example in Matthew 25: 1 – 10
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said unto the wise,
Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 13“Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
And we come together this morning with wonderful news - Jesus is coming again!
WE should ALL be looking forward to that day with anticipation.
I don’t want to hear the words, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”
I want to be a part of His family. Do you?
It is our privilege to make known the joy that we have, and to invite others to share that joy, to lift each other up when we fall, to strengthen each other when we are weak,
to cry together, to pray together, to rejoice together. That’s a privilege that we have.
I offer you the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus.
I offer you a heavenly home and a heavenly family. He invites you to come to Him this morning as together we stand and sing.
by Melvin Newland
Sunday Apr 30, 2023
He Knew All Men
Sunday Apr 30, 2023
Sunday Apr 30, 2023
Intro: Good morning church. Last time we looked at Jesus’ selection of the Apostles, twelve men charged with an awesome responsibility. Mindful of His selection of the Apostles, let’s take little look at John’s gospel today. The gospel of John is a unique gospel. His writing is a bit different from the other three Gospels. John's Gospel was written after the other biographies of Jesus.
John does not attempt to present a detailed, chronological description of Jesus’ life. He picks out relatively few events of Jesus' life until he gets to the end and then he gives us a more detailed description of the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection than the other Gospels.
I. John tells us in the text the purpose of his writing. Let’s start at John 1:14-18 – “14. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, `He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' '' 16. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
A. John's proposition is that Jesus, the Son of God, came, lived in the flesh, and that through Him we could see God, and that he calls individuals to believe in the identity of Jesus. He relates to us the witness of John the Baptist who said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”
1. John says in verse 17, for the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. This is the proposition of John's Gospel… Jesus is the Christ. As we study through the book, we find John begins and ends with that proposition.
2. Let’s fast forward to chapter 20 near the end of the book. John 20:30-31 – “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
B. John starts out by telling us who Jesus is. In John 1:1f he tells of Jesus’ preincarnate state. He says He was with God, He was God, and that He has come as a man. At the end of His Gospel he is saying that I've presented all the evidence that needs to be presented. He's not just telling us there were more events which he did not include. That should be obvious to any of his readers. What he's saying is that he has presented enough evidence for us to believe. There's nothing that's left out that's going to be crucial, “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”. This is enough.
II. Is that enough for us to believe who Jesus is? In between those sections of John’s gospel we find seven “I Am” statements of Jesus, and there are seven major miracles presented. There's teaching between those miracles as well, and this all points to the aspect of who Jesus is.
A. John concludes with a very lengthy discussion of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. He provides a detailed look at the days just before Jesus' death where He spoke with His apostles. In chapters 12 through 20, He gives us more information about that teaching period and the preparation of the apostolic mission than any of the other Gospels. Then there is detail into the resurrection day and later on Jesus showing Himself to the disciples.
B. John closes by saying this is enough evidence. When we look at what is prominent in the Gospel, that's certainly true. The miracles stand themselves as evidence of who Jesus is.
III. What I want to do today is look at evidence of the divinity of Jesus that may be a little more subtle. Perhaps easily overlooked because it's contained within the context and the teachings about other more visible, manifest miracles of Jesus that John presents as proof. I want to consider what sometimes might be unseen or perhaps generally overlooked evidence of the divinity of Jesus beginning in John chapter one.
A. John the Baptist is presented here as a witness to the identity of Jesus. He had seen the Spirit descend upon the Lord at Jesus’ baptism and he notes that this was a sign given to him so that he could identify who Jesus was.
1. John tells us John 1:29 – “… John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” In John 1:35-36 – “Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!''” This prompted two of John’s disciples to seek out Jesus. In verses 38 and 39 we find Jesus spent some time with these two.
2. One of those two, Andrew, is so convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, he gets his brother Simon and introduces him to Jesus. This is the introduction of a person we know as Peter. Jesus changes his name from Simon to Cephas or Peter in verses 40 and 42.
B. Next in John 1:43 we read, “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me.''” In the next few verses we see Philip seeks out Nathaniel and brings him to Jesus. When Philip first tells him about Jesus, Nathaniel is skeptical. He says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
1. I find Philip's answer is right on target. He said, “Come and see”. Don’t take my word for it. Come and see. Philip brings Nathaniel to Jesus and at verse 47. “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!''” Quite naturally the startled Nathaniel questions Jesus about His knowledge of him. “Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?''” then “Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.''” “Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!''”
2. Nathaniel's words here are very important for us to see. Not only because Nathaniel says the right thing about the identity of Jesus, but because this is one of the earliest, confessions that is made of Jesus. John shows us that the evidence has produced the right result. He's going to do that again later. There are several confessions of who Jesus is throughout the ministry based upon different kinds of evidence.
3. Nathaniel’s leads that list when he says that Jesus is the Son of God and He is the King of Israel. He got it right based upon this aspect of evidence.
C. What was the evidence that caused Nathaniel to make this profound confession of who Jesus was? It tells us in the text that Jesus said, “before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” What I suggest to you is that what is presented here, in an almost subtle way, is evidence of the identity of Jesus. It is this aspect of Jesus' knowledge, Jesus knows who Nathaniel is.
1. Sometimes we call this omniscience, and it is a divine quality. Certainly God is omniscient. He knows all things.
2. Yet, how do you portray omniscience in a human being? Jesus has come in the flesh. How then is omniscience illustrated? In illustrating omnipotence and power, you could talk about walking on water, or raising the dead or healing the sick. We can see those very visibly.
3. Jesus is God, and He makes that known to Nathaniel by what He says in verse 48.
IV. This quality will appear again, and as you study you will find that Jesus has unlimited knowledge of the things that are going on around Him.
A. Now looking at the conclusion of John chapter 2 in John 2:23 – “23. Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25. and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” Here again is this aspect of Jesus’ ability to know.
1. The text points out this wave of popularity had not deceived Jesus into declaring Himself. Yes, there were those who indicated they believed in Him because they saw the miracles, but He saw beyond the surface.
2. They may have been rejoicing over what He did, enthusiastic, but Jesus saw beyond that, and He recognized they were not committed to Him in terms of faith. The language indicates to me that Jesus knew the reality of their trust. He knew how deep it was, or maybe more to the point, how shallow. He was unwilling to reveal too much to them.
B. That's what's involved here; He knew what they were thinking. In verse 25 it said He “had no need that anyone should testify of man”, that is Jesus didn't have to rely upon other people's testimony. You and I do. For me to know what you are thinking you must tell me. How can I know what you are thinking unless you tell me?
1. Jesus did not have to rely upon the testimony of one man towards another. Why not? It says, for He knew what was in man. What an incredible affirmation about the character and the ability of Jesus.
2. How could one person know everybody? What you think, what you like, your disposition, your attitude, your thoughts, your feelings, your inclinations, your aspirations, your strengths, and your weaknesses.
3. Is there a single person that knows all those things about you? We might think there is someone who knows us like that. Our spouse, or a close friend perhaps, and we say, we're right on the same page and I know what they are thinking.
4. That's not what's being said here. What's being said about Jesus is that He knew all men, individuals from all different backgrounds in any circumstance.
C. John continues to give evidence of this divine quality of Jesus. It's almost overlooked in the context of what John records, and maybe we sort of just pass it off and say, Jesus was God. Certainly, that's the conclusion God wants us to come to. Perhaps in our reading of scripture though, we're too cavalier and pass by this profound evidence John is presenting.
D. Consider that as we look at some of the things John reveals which Jesus knows beforehand. In John 4:1 we see Jesus knew that the Pharisees were aware of His growing influence.
1. In that same chapter Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman, John 4:17-18 – “17. The woman answered and said, "I have no husband.'' Jesus said to her, "You have well said, `I have no husband,' 18. "for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.''” He told her “What you have said is true”, and that amazed her. In fact, she made a confession based on the same evidence that Nathaniel based his confession on earlier. It was because Jesus was able to read her heart, to tell her what she had done in the past, and how many husbands she'd had.
2. Jesus healed a nobleman’s son from miles away. The nobleman did not pretend to a faith he did not have, but only poured out the agony of a broken heart. In verse 50 “Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives.'' So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.” Little faith had suddenly grown strong. Then on his way home the nobleman is met by his servant who told him that his son lived, and the fever left him at the hour Jesus spoke. Jesus knew what effect this miracle would have and we read “So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives.'' And he himself believed, and his whole household.” Verse 53. More than merely believing that the Lord had healed his son, he now believed in the Lord as the Savior of the world.
3. In John 5:6 we read Jesus knew the paralyzed man by the pool had been in that condition for a very long time.
4. In John 6:15 after feeding the multitude with the 5 loaves and 2 fishes, “… when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone.” Jesus knew the crowd was preparing to make Him a king by force.
5. He also knew that those who had followed him to the other side of the sea, to Capernaum, did so because He'd fed them. John 6:26 – “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”
6. In verse 6:61 we see that Jesus knew His disciples were put off by the teaching and He knew which ones would desert Him. Then John 6:64 Jesus said to the disciples, “"But there are some of you who do not believe.'' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.”
7. After many turned away, Jesus spoke to the 12 and asked if they also would walk away. In John 6:70-71 He said to them, “… "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?'' He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” He knew.
8. In John 7:1 we see He knew the authorities were seeking to kill Him.
9. Remember what we are told in John 8:1-9 about the woman taken in adultery. Jesus knew the true motives of those who brought the woman before Him. He knew their hearts, and He knew what they were trying to do. Therefore, He reacted based upon the fact that He knew.
10. John 9:1f we find He knew why the man in the temple had been born blind. “his disciples asked him, saying, Who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus knew the real answer.
11. In John 11:11 He said, “… Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.” He knew that Lazarus had died without any evidence that someone had told Him. He knew what the circumstances were. From reading here I am led to believe that He had set the stage for this very event. Of all that Jesus ever said of death, this is the most encouraging. Sleep is a temporary thing; and so by this our Lord revealed that death too is not permanent.
12. In John 13:11 we read, “For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean.''”, Jesus knew that Judas would betray him. He also knew that Peter would betray Him and would deny Him three times. 13:38.
13. Jesus knew all those things. Then in John chapter 21 we read the amazing story of Thomas that Mark brought to us just a few weeks ago. Thomas demanded evidence, and Jesus knew the specific demands Thomas would make before accepting the fact of the resurrection. Here is the one who is demanding evidence and Jesus is making it clear to him—here's the evidence. I'm not going to withhold this from you, nor even scold you because you want evidence. That's what this is all about, isn’t it? Faith based upon evidence.
14. Then finally, in John 21, Jesus knows that the disciples would be successful if they would just cast their nets on the other side of the boat. The chapter goes on to describe to Peter the circumstances of his late life and how ultimately his life would end differently than the life of the apostle John.
E. Repeatedly, there is this element of the knowledge of Jesus. To some of this someone may say, I think I know why He knew that. Perhaps, but we can't overlook the fact that what John is presenting in his gospel is a running line of clear evidence of Jesus’ ability to know individuals and to see their hearts. It was a divine characteristic and it was to bring about as a result, individuals confessing who Jesus was, just as Nathaniel did, just as the woman at the well did.
V. John’s gospel brings to our mind why this was so impressive. It truly is a divine characteristic that someone could know everything. It's beyond our comprehension to understand the qualities of God. We cower at God's omnipotence.
A. I can't fathom a power that can just speak words and bring things into existence…that can control the entire physical universe, and that can bring a dead person back to life. That's power that's unfathomable to us. We're amazed at the wisdom that's manifested in the creation around us. The way things work together. The various laws that we are so thrilled to discover… those God originated at the beginning of creation and is in complete control of.
B. I stand in awe of the character of God. God's not just a little bit holy. He's absolutely holy and constantly righteous in every way, completely just, always loving. All those are things that we recognize as being the qualities of God, He has them not just to a degree, God defines them by His character. Jesus had all of that.
VI. God reveals Himself to us through His word. He tells us what He's doing, what He has done and what He plans on doing. He makes known His intentions and yes, even His obligations. Within that revelation of God brought down to our level, are some of the most perplexing things you and I can ever consider.
A. How could God possibly hold someone responsible for something that He said He had planned before time began, things that were in motion and could not be stopped? Yet, God holds people personally responsible for participating in the evil which was a part of that.
1. How can we in any way reconcile the absolute, complete knowledge of God with the free will choices that He gives men?
2. We must recognize that one reason it is baffling is because you and I cannot possibly wrap our little minds around the aspect of someone who knows everything. We are always in the process of learning, and there is always more to learn. There's always so much that we do not know. Whether you are talking about scientific knowledge or about what is within the heart of a man or what somebody else is thinking.
3. Jesus broke all those “human” barriers as He walked upon the earth with His disciples. He walked as someone walking in one of the poorest places of the earth, without any political power, without any prestige among men. He had no personal property. He had no army to lead. He was just a man walking around Galilee, yet He knew everybody. He knew everything that they did.
B. That's how John presents this evidence. We ought to be humbled by that, because when we think about it, we recognize that if we're going to understand the fact that Jesus knows, it demands that we take this personally. It can't just be assigned to the aspect of well, that's a quality of God, and Jesus was God.
VII. What we must recognize is when Jesus says that He knew all men, that includes me, that includes you.
A. In Matthew 10:29f Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The very hairs of your head are all numbered. That's proverbial, isn't it? Let me suggest to you its literal. It is a metaphor, but it's a literal metaphor because God has the ability to know exactly how many hairs you have on your head, and not just your head, everybody's head.
B. His knowledge is comprehensive. And what I recognize in all of that is, who am I? In the infinite number of things that God knows, why would He pay attention to me? That's where it becomes personal—God takes note of me, not only to know about me, but the reason He would know about me is to bring about my wellbeing. His knowledge is motivated by His concern and His love.
C. Think about that in the context of our lives and our behavior. There's a sense in which people will go along with that. People will say sometimes, the Lord knows my heart. People may even say that out loud, generally with the intent of justifying some failure, some weakness, or some lack of discipline.
1. They do something that's a bit short of what they ought to do, or they fail or perhaps things didn't go the way they should. They may say God knows my heart. I party a little bit, but God knows my heart. I'm not the best father in the world but God knows my heart. I curse a little bit and I go out and live it up sometimes, but God knows my heart. I don't attend assembly all the time, and maybe I get angry too much, but God knows my heart.
2. What do we mean when we voice this profound truth about God and about Jesus? Are we saying that inside we're better than we appear to be on the outside? Isn't that the way we're using this? Is what we mean, God knows that I'm better than I look? Ask yourself, is that what God knows?
D. Here's the truth. The truth is that God knows the truth. That's the truth. That's the heart of this aspect of Jesus knowing all men. God knows the truth. He knows every detail of my motivations. He knows whether we are better than we appear… or worse.
1. The reality is that God knows, and that should prompt self-honesty and transparency and true repentance, rather than rationalizing our lack of diligence or discipline. Never should we use God's omniscience as a poor excuse for continued ungodliness. It should be the greatest motivation to live better lives and to strive to be more like Jesus. Because God knows.
2. I recognize that's frightening. It's frightening to contemplate that God knows and that Jesus knows, because I will stand before the Lord in judgment. He is the one to whom I must give account.
E. Hebrews 4:12f reminds us, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
1. The writer of Hebrews connects two things together here, the Word of God and God Himself. The one who's doing the discerning is God. The Word of God opens the way or pierces through to the discerning of everything within us and God knows exactly who we are.
2. That's one of the purposes of God's revelation. When Jesus talked about the coming of the Holy Spirit, He said the Holy Spirit was going to come to judge the world, to make known righteousness and unrighteousness that the Word of God would discern.
a. In Psalm 90:8 the Psalmist says, “You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.”
b. Job 31:4 – “Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?”
c. Jeremiah 23:24 – “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?'' says the Lord;”
3. Is there any place we can go to hide from God, where He will not see what we're doing, but even more specifically, what's within us? The Word declares repeatedly that God knows. Connected with that is the truth that He will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil, 2 Corinthians 5:10.
VIII. You know what the apostle Peter says of Jesus in Acts 10:42, “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.” Every person will come under the judgment of Christ. It's at His judgment seat we will stand. How appropriate that is, because Jesus is the one who knows all men.
A. Jesus' omniscience is terrifyingly, when put in the context of men's disobedience or their attempts to hide what they do from God.
B. Yet there's also a sense in which the omniscience of Jesus is comforting. It's extremely comforting because Jesus knows my weaknesses, He knows my struggles. He knows what I think about myself when nobody else knows. He knows if I have a yearning to be a better person and whether I'm really striving to do what is best and the obstacles that are in my way.
1. In Hebrews 2:16f the writer of Hebrews makes the point that Jesus Christ is qualified to be a high priest for us because He has actually came in the flesh. Notice in those verses the emphasis on the identity of Jesus. He has suffered, He has been tempted, and He is able to aid those who are tempted… because He knows.
2. Then in Hebrews 4:14f the writer continues talking about Jesus priesthood, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
3. I suggest to you that the call for us to come boldly to the throne of grace is based upon Jesus Christ knowing who we are. He is a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted, just as we have been tempted, yet He did not sin. He knows what it means to win the victory over sin, to engage sin on the battlefield of the flesh and be victorious. He knows what it means to face the different emotional struggles of dealing with sin in our life.
4. Jesus knows what it is to be dismissed, misunderstood, hated, doubted, disappointed, lied about, lied to, and discouraged. He felt all those things and knows fully when they war against my trust in Him. He knows the concerns I have. He knows about my frustrations. He knows about my fears. He knows what and whom I care about. He knows the temptations that are so powerful in their appeal to me. He knows how hard I really try, and how pitiably I fail.
a. Because He knows, He can sympathize.
b. Because He knows, He can supply the escape for my temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
c. Because He knows, He hears my prayer (1 Peter 3:12f), and “knows how to deliver the godly” (2 Peter 2:9). He knows the ebb and flow of my trust and my earnest desire to please Him, even though I sometimes think I will never be who He wants me to be.
C. He knows that I am trying. He knows my potential and He desires my contribution to His cause (Ephesians 4:11f; Matthew 25:14f). He finds me valuable, even though I often feel woefully incapable. He knows me, and wants me anyway. Such knowledge helps me to get up in the morning and serve the Lord today. Because my Lord, my King, my God, my Judge knows me – and died to save me anyway.
What John presents is undeniable evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was unique, that He wasn't an ordinary person. When He came on the scene claiming to be the Messiah, He could clearly indicate it to others. Even in the subtle way of simply telling someone, “I know what you're all about”, Jesus was able to produce faith in the hearts of the unbelieving and the skeptical. If that sign was enough, if that ability for Jesus to make known what He knows was enough to convince them, then it's enough to convince others as well. That goes for people today also. Jesus knows me and Jesus has knowledge of everyone, that's based upon His love for every person.
If you want to be a child of God, God knows it. He understands what it takes to bring you to believe, in faith. Those things are contained within the very testimony that He has provided in His Word. Open your heart to what God says. Open your mind to what God has revealed, and understand that Jesus knows that you as well, can be His child. Then through faith turn your life over to the Lord, confessing that you truly believe, being immersed, buried, with the Lord for the remission of sins. It is God who washes away, remits, forgives those sins, when we're buried in water for the express purpose of being baptized into Christ.
If you are here and need the prayers of your brothers and sisters or if you are in need of the New Covenant baptism, we invite you to come forward as we stand and sing.
Reference Sermon by - Dave Schmidt
Sunday Apr 23, 2023
CSI - Evidence From Ten Lepers
Sunday Apr 23, 2023
Sunday Apr 23, 2023
One day, a man was driving on a mountain road when his car suddenly broke down. He got out of the car and tried to fix it, but to no avail. Feeling frustrated, he looked up at the sky and said, "God, please help me out of this mess!"
Just then, a tow truck pulled up behind him. The driver got out and said, "Hey, looks like you're having some car trouble. Need a tow?"
The man looked up at the sky again and said, "Never mind, God. I've got it covered."
Roy Larson thought the most difficult part of his day would be maneuvering the unfamiliar stick shift on a “loaner” electric wheelchair as he ventured into downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois, for a haircut. But his day was about to become much more difficult.
As he was crossing the railroad tracks on Main Street, one of the chair’s wheels became lodged in the track. As Larson struggled to free the wheel, something went wrong with the chair’s electrical system, and the chair refused to move.
Suddenly the lights began to flash, and the signal bells started to ring. The gates in front of Larson and behind him began to lower.
The first person Larson saw as he frantically looked for help was Mark Bade. Bade had been running an errand when he saw that Larson was in trouble. He sprinted to Larson’s side and began to struggle with the chair.
At almost the same moment, Don Burgeson had stopped his car at the gates and saw what was happening. He jumped out of his car and helped Bade wrench the chair free from the track and drag it out of harm’s way. The three men looked up, just in time to see the train was less than 20 yards away.
“After the train went by, I just said thanks,” Larson said. “The only reason I am here today is because these two guys saved my life.” Jesus Christ came to save our lives. We also need to say thanks.
In the miracle of Jesus healing ten lepers we notice that one of them did return to say thanks to Jesus. But what we learn is that he experienced far more than just healing of his body. He in fact experienced the salvation of his soul as well!
Let’s read about Jesus cleansing ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19
11 And it came to pass, [a]as they were on the way to Jerusalem, that he was passing [b]along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off: 13 and they lifted up their voices, saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go and show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, with a loud voice glorifying God; 16 and he fell upon his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were not the ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 [c]Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, save this [d]stranger? 19 And he said unto him, Arise, and go thy way: thy faith hath [e]made thee whole.
In today’s text Luke noted that Jesus was “on the way to Jerusalem”. While on his way to Jerusalem, Luke recorded Jesus performing five miracles (11:14; 13:12; 14:4; 17:14; 18:35). This is the fourth of five miracles. What is significant about each miracle is the teaching that follows.
In the fourth miracle, Jesus healed ten lepers. One of them returned to Jesus to give praise to God and thanks to Jesus.
The healing of ten lepers in our text shows us two signs of saving faith.
First, let’s look at the request of the ten.
Let’s begin by observing the circumstances.
Luke said in verse 11 that while Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. Galilee was in the north, and Judea, with Jerusalem as its capitol, was in the south. Sandwiched between Galilee and Judea was the region of Samaria. The people of Samaria - Samaritans – were a mixed race of Jews and Assyrians. The Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, and they would go out of their way so as not to travel through Samaria.
This was not true of Jesus. We remember his well-known encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria. Also, one of Jesus’ best-known parables was about a Good Samaritan. Jesus loved all people, including Samaritans.
Luke said that as Jesus entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance. The Mosaic Law forbade lepers to get close to anyone. That is why they stood at a distance. Leprosy was a dreaded disease in ancient times.
One description of leprosy:
Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is known from ancient writings from China, India, and Egypt, and from mummified remains from Egypt. It was common enough in Israel to warrant extensive regulation in the Mosaic Law of those suffering from it and related skin diseases. The disease is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, discovered by the Norwegian scientist G. H. A. Hansen in 1873 (it was the first bacterium to be identified as the cause of a human disease).
The bacterium was communicable through touch and breath.
Leprosy attacks the skin, peripheral nerves and mucus membrane. It forms lesions on the skin, and can disfigure the face by collapsing the nose and causing folding of the skin. Contrary to popular belief, leprosy does not eat away the flesh.
Due to the loss of feeling (especially in the hands and feet), people with the disease wear away their extremities and faces unknowingly. The horrible disfigurement caused by leprosy made it greatly feared, and caused lepers to be outcasts, cut off from all healthy society, for protection.
These poor lepers were social outcasts. They were cut off from their families, from society, and from worship. They were in a most pitiable condition.
Second, observe the cry.
It is likely that the ten lepers had heard about Jesus. They had heard marvelous stories of the countless number of people he had healed. So, when they heard that Jesus was in their vicinity, they went to him and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (17:13).
Imagine the following scene of this occasion:
On the outskirts of an unnamed village on the borderlands of Samaria and Galilee, ten leprous men stood before Jesus in various stages of decay,
their clothing torn in perpetual mourning, their skeletal heads uncovered, their lips unveiled as they warned others, “Unclean, unclean!”
They looked as though they had climbed out of the graves. But they were alive, sensitive human beings, living in the hindmost world of society’s fringe while they rotted away. So, from a safe distance they shouted the traditional plea, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v. 13). They were loud and persistent. “Have mercy on us!” “Master, have mercy!” “Mercy please!”
The important point to note here is that Jesus is the right one who is able to answer every need. When we have any need, we should take it to Jesus, just as the ten lepers did.
Third, look at the command.
Jesus, ever merciful, responded immediately to their cry for help. But, this time he did not touch the lepers.
When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests” Verse 14.
Jesus commanded the ten lepers to do what a cleansed leper would do, namely, to show themselves to the priests, as required by the Law (Leviticus 14). If they were cleansed of their leprosy, they would joyfully undergo the required eight-day ceremony, and then be reunited with their families, society, and worshiping community.
Jesus’ command is interesting. At this point, the lepers were not yet healed. They must have looked at themselves and saw that they still had leprosy. What would they do?
And fourth, observe the cleansing.
Luke simply noted in verse 14 that as they went they were cleansed. They were healed!
It has been stated, “Help meets men in the path of obedience.”
I wonder how often God does not work in our lives because we are not walking in the path of obedience? We struggle because we think of God as a genie. He is there to do for us what we want and when we want.
However, as some scholars believe, if the lepers had acted in this way, they would never have been healed. We must read the Scriptures diligently. We must pray. We must attend worship services with a reverent heart. All these are duties which Christ requires at our hands, and to which, if we love life, we must attend, without asking vain and petty questions. It is in the path of unhesitating obedience that Christ will meet, heal and bless us.
And second, notice the return of the one.
First, look at why he came.
There are two reasons why the leper, now cleansed of his horrific disease, returned to Jesus.
First. To Praise the Father (17:15)
Luke said in verse 15 that one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Only one of the ten returned to praise God the Father.
The interpretation we have heard again and again is that although Jesus healed ten lepers, only one of them was grateful.
The passage can be interpreted in different ways, but one common message is the importance of recognizing and acknowledging the blessings in our lives and expressing gratitude for them. The Samaritan leper is a model of faith and gratitude, while the other nine lepers are an example of taking blessings for granted and not expressing gratitude.
Overall, Luke 17:11-19 is a powerful reminder of the importance of gratitude and the role that faith can play in our lives. It encourages us to be mindful of our blessings and to express gratitude for them, recognizing that doing so can have a profound impact on our well-being and spiritual growth.
But, for a moment this morning I would like to consider the following thought.
If we have any understanding what a leper went through, we would know that not even the most corrupt and thoughtless sinner could fail to be grateful for healing. When these lepers saw that their ﬂesh had been restored, that this marvelous healer, Jesus, had done his work, no doubt they began leaping for joy and couldn’t wait to go home to be reunited with their families…
That would be the normal thing to do. So, nine out of ten went straight home. But one of the ten healed lepers delayed going to the priest to rush back to Jesus. His meeting with the priest could wait while he fulfilled a deep desire to praise God for his healing. His spiritual desire took priority over his ceremonial duty.
And second, he came to thank the Son.
Luke said in verse 16 that he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Notice that he prostrated himself before Jesus: he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet.
It has been said, “The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.
The converse of this proposition is also true. . . . A strong Christian may be said to interlink all their thoughts with thanks.
Next, notice who he was.
The astonishing thing about this healed leper is that he was a Samaritan verse 16. I have already noted that Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. The two ethnic groups did not get along with each other at all. And yet, the Samaritan, and not the other nine who were presumably Jews, returned to praise God and thank Jesus for his healing.
The lesson here is that Jesus makes no ethnic distinctions between people. He was equally willing to heal Jews as he was to heal Gentiles. And Jesus still deals today with people from every ethnic group.
Third, look at what he found.
Jesus asked three questions, all filled with sadness, in verses 17-18, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
At one level we understand that the nine were so glad to be healed that they went at once to the priests to begin the ceremonial process of being declared healed so that they could return to their families.
BUT, There is a problem here –
God was not the center of their gratitude. . . .
Only the foreigner, the Samaritan, gave praise to God!
The other nine were so earthbound, so like the shrewd manager and the rich man of the preceding parables, that they missed the spiritual dimension altogether. Vague gratitude to divinity was not an adequate response to what had happened.
Christ wanted their hearts! By failing to glorify God and returning to thank Jesus, they missed the greatest possible moment of their existence.
An old-time minister stated the following regarding ingratitude:
Our biggest problem in the church today are “hit and miss” Christians who claim to have known the Master’s cure and who return not [at other times] to thank Him by presence, prayer, testimony and support of His church.
In fact, the whole Christian life is one big “Thank You,” the living expression of our gratitude to God for His goodness. But we take Him for granted ... and what we take for granted we never take seriously.
And second, he found salvation from Jesus.
Jesus said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well” (17:19). The second part of the verse is literally, “Your faith has saved you.”
“Jesus’ words were clear: only the Samaritan who returned to praise God and offer thanksgiving to Christ himself had saving faith. Indeed, his gratitude and praise to God were signs of his saving faith.”
Therefore, having analyzed the healing of ten lepers we should praise God and give thanks to Jesus for our salvation.
Luke is not teaching that salvation is granted to those who have a thankful attitude. Rather, he is teaching that two signs of saving faith are praise to God and thanks to Jesus.
Are you living your life through the example, words and work of Jesus? If so, then give praise to God and thanks to Jesus for his work of salvation in your life.
Hebrews 3: 12-15
12Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: 13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: 14 for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end: 15 while it is said, To-day if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Sunday Apr 16, 2023
Sunday Apr 16, 2023
Sunday Apr 16, 2023
Intro: Good morning church. Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant, hadn’t played a hockey game in over a decade, but because of his background as a goalie for Western Michigan University, he’d been designated as an “emergency goalie” for the Chicago Blackhawks, an honor that usually just results in free food in the press box. At a game in 2018, the goalie, Anton Forsburg was injured, and then in the 3rd period the rookie substitute goalie Collin Delia was also injured. Foster who was sitting in the stands was told, “Put your helmet on”. Foster went on to stop all seven shots attempted, earn the team belt (an honor reserved for the game’s best player), and set the media ablaze with tweets and posts from fans and analysts who could not believe he had never played professionally. Imagine getting tapped on the shoulder for a life-changing assignment, one for which you’re not prepared.
A few weeks ago, in Mark’s lesson from Mark 3:7-12 we read that “…a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him.” Today we will continue using the third chapter of Mark’s gospel and begin to read at verse 13. In Mark 3:13-19 the bible says that Jesus; “… went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges [boa-ner-gees], that is, "Sons of Thunder''; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. And they went into a house.” [NKJ]
In Luke’s account of this event he says simply; Luke 6:13 - “he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;” Twelve men charged with the most awesome responsibility with which men could be charged. Luke’s account and Matthew’s account of this event gives us a little bit more information than does Mark's gospel record. In fact, if you notice here, Mark does not even refer to the twelve by the name apostle. Yet, later in his gospel Mark does refer to them with that name. It is Luke who calls these men the apostles. Of them he chose twelve and he named them apostles.
We remember the names of some of these people for the involvement they had in establishing the Lord's church. We see them in scripture as being active in that way. Yet there are others of these names which are not all that familiar to us. We have very little reliable information about some of them. I recognize that there are many traditions which have grown up around the names of some of these men. And we need to be careful when hearing of traditions. Often that is just what they are - traditions, with no credible historical information and certainly no scriptural information to support them.
What I would like for us to do today is just briefly consider what I would call this “landmark” event in the earthly ministry of Jesus.
I. THE CHOOSING OF THE TWELVE IS PRECEDED BY PRAYER - There are some events that are very significant to Jesus’ purpose and what He is going to do. So significant that they can only be seen as – landmarks. This is certainly one of those.
A. I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the gospel of Luke 6:12. What I want to note here is something that is so telling, and so like Jesus. Prior to the call of these twelve people, in verse 12 it says: Luke 6:12 - "Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."
1. Notice that prior to this “landmark” event for appointing the apostles, Jesus is found apart from everyone else in a night of prayer.
2. Before this very important event we find Jesus in prayer, and then immediately upon the coming of the day, He calls to Him His disciples and of them He chooses 12. There must have been more than 12 disciples for Him to choose 12. The 12 He calls or names “apostles”. It is typical of Jesus that before significant occasions, we find Him in prayer. The most significant of those times of course is the night before He is crucified. He is in the garden of Gethsemane and there He is praying alone. Praying alone is also typical of Jesus.
B. I mention this because I want us to draw a lesson from it. The lesson is in this question: should we not, you and I, more actively follow this example of Jesus in the matter of significant events or occasions in our lives?
1. Is it not true of us, many of us, that we rush into decisions and into significant events without sessions of prayer?
2. Perhaps we have become such a do-it-yourself society that, even in these matters, that’s exactly what we tend to do. We do it ourselves, and we do so, I fear, because we say; I am independent; I do not need help. I'm going to do this myself – without accessing the incredible resources of prayer. We rush headlong into events whatever they may be, with our human wisdom as the only wisdom we are using.
3. Here is the son of God, about to choose the 12 men with whom He is going to entrust the proclamation of the gospel and the establishment of His church. This is the son of God, and I wonder; should He have needed to pray? He is Jesus, He is the Christ. Then I realize just how beautifully and how well He teaches us by the illustration of His life. And this is one of those illustrations. It is my belief that we need to use this example in our own lives more often. I know I need to use it in mine.
II. WHAT WOULD BE THEIR PURPOSE? - He chose the 12… and what would be their purpose?
A. Consider for just a minute, the words apostle and disciple. If you look in Luke’s narrative the sixth chapter, you read this at verse 13; " And when it was day, He called His disciples to Him; and from them ( that is, the disciples) He chose twelve whom He also named apostles;" Think of the words “apostle” and “disciple”
1. The first thing we can say is that apostle and disciple are not interchangeable terms. The word disciple means a learner, a pupil, a follower, and all those from Acts the second chapter who were baptized into Jesus Christ we call disciples. Remember in the 11th chapter of the book of Acts at verse 26, the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
2. The name disciple is not apostle, it is different from apostle. Apostle means ambassador, one who is chosen and sent on a specific mission. A commissioner of Christ having miraculous powers. We know that in our own country we have ambassadors from various countries in the world. They come to Washington DC, and they present their credentials. Not just everyone can be an ambassador. That person must be chosen by the Head of State and he is entrusted with a specific mission, given particular credentials and sent.
3. That is exactly the nature of these 12 men. They had to meet certain qualifications. If you turn in your Bibles to the book of Acts, chapter 1, at verses 21 and 25 here’s what we read about the manner of the apostles as they replaced Judas. “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, "beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.'' And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.''”
i. They had to meet certain qualifications and the actual choosing is left to the Lord. Notice the qualifications. Beginning from the baptism of John, now let me ask you: are any of us qualified? We may be righteous people. We may be good people. We may be knowledgeable people, but is any one of us qualified based on that one thing?
ii. Of course, there are in the religious world today, those groups who have their “apostles” as they call them. Folks, based on scriptural qualifications, these people are not apostles like the 12. Wearing the name doesn’t mean you’re an apostle. If you don’t have the credentials, you’re not an apostle as they were.
4. The qualifications were given, and these 12 men were endowed with miraculous powers. In the 16th chapter of Mark’s gospel, at verse 20, here’s what we read: “they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” Not only were they endowed with miraculous powers, but here’s something else that is significant about apostles. It was they, and they alone, who could impart miraculous gifts to others.
5. I would like you to turn in your Bibles to the eighth chapter of the book of Acts and there we’re going to read of some of the things that were happening in Samaria. Beginning at verse 14, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them” You remember Peter and John are apostles. We read their names a while ago. “who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.: For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Then they laid” (Peter and John, two apostles) “ then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” The apostles possessed the credentials, the appointment of the Lord, possessed miraculous power, and could pass those gifts to others. If we stop and think about that, we realize if that’s the case, then with the death of the last apostle this particular power ceased.
6. Are there miracles today? There are unusual things that certainly happen. People often call them miracles, but they are not miracles, in the sense that the New Testament uses of the word. There is providence today; but not miracles in the New Testament sense. That phenomenon ceased very naturally with the death of the last person on which the apostles had laid their hands.
B. There were 12 of them. We’re told, - of them He chose 12.
1. In scripture numbers are very significant. Numbers are not all that significant to us except as they relate to our bank accounts, or as they relate to something that we want to purchase, then numbers are very important. In the days of the New Testament, in ancient times, numbers had significance because they were part of communication. Numbers were used symbolically to represent certain things. It has been said that on average, one of every five verses in scripture contains a number. Numbers were part of the communication.
2. The number 12 is often found in scripture. One of the things that it represents symbolically is wholeness or completeness or perfection. Something that it would invariably represent in the minds of the people then, is the nation of Israel. There were 12 tribes.
3. Let’s stop and think a little bit about that—12 tribes, Israel. There are 12 apostles. What could be the significance of that? Is there any significance? I would not tell you that I know for certain that there is, but let me suggest this…
4. The church is the Israel of God — the spiritual Israel.
5. Turn in your Bibles to the sixth chapter of the book of Galatians, verse 16, here’s what the apostle Paul writes: “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” The writer is referring to the church, as the Israel of God. Galatians 3:7 – “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” And next at verse 29 – “And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
C. Something else to note. As Mark gives us his recollection of this event, by inspiration, he says of the apostles, that they should be with him, that is with Jesus.
1. One of the interesting things about the rabbis of that time was that many of them were itinerate or traveling teachers. As they traveled, they would have a small entourage of people with them. Disciples who were learning and watching. These disciples themselves might one day become rabbis I would assume. In this case it is Jesus and the 12. They would be with Him and during this period of time the 12 apostles would hear Jesus teaching many things concerning the kingdom of God.
i. This choosing of the 12 marks a very definite ending of one period and the beginning of another in the lives of these men. It is time now for them to learn of things concerning the kingdom.
ii. If you’ll turn in your Bibles to the gospel of John, chapter 14, there’s something that is said there that is, I think, significant for us. At verse 25 and 26, Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. We remember that Mark said that the apostles would be with Jesus. Here Jesus is referring to the many, many things that He has spoken to them while He was yet with them. Now let’s look at the next verse; "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
2. There’s a second thing happening as well. Not only were they hearing things concerning the kingdom of which the Holy Spirit would remind them at the appropriate time, but they were also seeing Jesus as He interacted with people from all walks of life. How did Jesus deal with real life situations? They were in effect learning “what would Jesus do”.
3. What they would learn would stand them in good stead in the years to come. If the future of the Lord’s church was going to be entrusted to these men, they would have to be well schooled in Christ.
4. Next look at Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus is ready to ascend. The last written words we have of His while He was on this earth are these: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Then verse 20, and it is here we find why it was so important that they be schooled. And the reason why it was so important that the Holy Spirit remind them of those things in which they were taught… “teaching them (those people whom they are baptizing, people who would then become disciples of the Lord, Christians) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”
D. They needed to know these things because He would send them forth to preach.
1. Going back in the gospel of Matthew to the 10th chapter, let’s read together verses five through seven, just after their selection. What we’re going to discover is the preaching that they were going to do at this point in time was of a limited nature. It was limited as to the people to whom they would go. We begin to read at Matthew 10:5-6: “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ” At this point their preaching was limited to the “house of Israel”
2. Jesus goes on in verse 7: “And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” Their message was to proclaim the imminence of the kingdom of heaven.
3. Scripture continues in verses 8-9: “"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. "Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your moneybelts,” They are to go to the house of Israel, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “You go preaching and here’s the message”. They were not yet to go to the Gentiles. That would come in time. In this part of the ministry of Jesus they were to go only to the Israelites. Their message was - the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. They were to go preaching of the imminent coming of the kingdom of God.
4. The kingdom would soon be set up. Mark 9:1 reveals that Christ promised it to be done during the lives of some of them. “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”
5. I imagine an image of the ripples on a quite pond which come from the dropping of a single stone into the water. The ripples begin where the stone drops in and then spread out. What we have here folks, is the message of the kingdom spreading out. You go, and you preach, and you teach. He sends ambassadors with credentials, His apostles, to accomplish the preaching and the teaching - of the coming of the kingdom.
E. There’s one more thing that Mark tells us. Jesus gives them power.
1. In Matthew 10:8 we are told that they were given the power to: “"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons...
2. The fact they are endowed with these miraculous powers would in the minds of the people, associate them with Jesus for these were the very kinds of things that were being done by Jesus Himself.
3. There is something else that Matthew tells us. Let is continue in verse 8 of chapter 10. Jesus says to them: “…freely ye have received, freely give”.
i. Notice the thing that has immediately preceded these words; “And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” “Freely ye have received, freely give.” The knowledge and ability you have received you are to freely give. This would have been readily understood. A Rabbi was bound by law to give his teaching freely asking for nothing; the Rabbi was absolutely forbidden to take money for teaching the Law which Moses had freely received from God. Jesus extends this to the apostles He is sending out. They were not to charge for these services, teaching, healing, cleansing, raising the dead or casting out demons.
ii. Can you imagine the amount of money they could have raised among themselves with these incredible powers? He goes on to say, don’t provide gold or silver or brass in your purses nor script for your journey. You have received this power freely, you’ve received the message freely therefore you freely give it to others. Neither the message nor the powers with which they had been endowed were their personal property or domain…
4. I would also like you to turn, with reference to these powers, to Hebrews 2:3-4 – “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (and notice this) God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” No, these miraculous gifts were not their own personal property. These miraculous gifts and powers had a very specific purpose and that was to confirm the message as a message come from God Himself.
F. What then is the purpose of the apostles? Ultimately it was to be witnesses of the risen Christ.
1. Turning to Acts 1:8, Jesus says to the apostles, by the way, if you follow the pronouns all the way back through this part of the chapter you get to the apostles. Acts 1:8 – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” What was their purpose? To be witnesses of the resurrection of the risen Christ. Notice at verse 22 of this chapter the selection of the person who would replace Judas as they give the qualifications necessary: “beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” The “us” refers to the 12, the apostles.
2. Then in Acts 2:32 – “This Jesus, God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” Again, if you follow the pronouns in this passage, you’ll come back to the 12, the apostles.
3. One of the things that we hear often today is the use of this word witness, “I’m going to witness to this person. Or witness to that person.” We need to be very careful in our use of the word witness. Today the word witness is used in a way it is never found in the New Testament. I cannot witness to that which I have not seen. I just can’t do it. What I can do is tell people with my mouth of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. I can tell of the action of the gospel in my life.
4. I can teach, but I cannot witness to people as if I have seen the resurrection. I am not a witness of the risen Christ. I didn’t see Him. I can recount the testimony from scripture, but that’s a whole lot different from witnessing. The apostles were witnesses -- not me. In that respect we’re not witnesses, we are teachers.
III. THEIR NAMES
A. What were their names? Most of their names are familiar to us. We remember Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John the sons of Zebedee, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas and Judas Iscariot. We remember those names. They’re familiar.
1. A few apostles might not be as familiar, such as Philip, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas, sometimes called Thaddeus.
2. What we want to understand is: it’s not as important to be able to list the names as it is for us to realize that the 12 came from various backgrounds. If we look at the 12, we see in these men nothing from an earthly point of view that gives them any stature. They have little if any formal education. They have no position, no wealth. They’re just ordinary people, common men. Yes, they were industrious, keen of mind, sensitive of soul, honest, perceptive, and courageous. They were — 12 very common men from very common lives, common backgrounds, and they heralded the establishment of the Lord’s church and constituted it on this earth.
B. There’s one final reminder to which I would like to call attention. In Jude at verse 17. Jude 17 – “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:” The challenge — remember the words of the apostles.
1. I know verse 18 goes on to give a specific illustration of the kind of thing to which Jude is referring. They were told there would be mockers in the last times, those who would walk after their own ungodly lusts. The apostles warned that would happen.
2. I want to come back to verse 17 with this: remembering the words of the apostles should be broadly viewed. Do you remember Acts chapter 2 and verse 42? The disciples, those people who had been baptized into Christ, later called Christians, the disciples continued how? Acts 2:42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
There is so much more that we could say today, but there is one last thing I would like us to remember. The role of apostle as it is epitomized, exemplified by the 12, remembering of course that the Apostle Paul was chosen as one out of due time. The role of apostles was a onetime role in the Lord’s church during its beginning days, its infancy.
Now we have the word of the covenant, which is God’s instrument in conversion, in sanctification, and in the constituting of the church. Having the word of the covenant, tells me that the apostles did their work well. Where He leads me, I will follow. I was thinking that that song is appropriate for today’s thoughts. Where the Lord leads me, I’m going to follow Him. He went through His life serving others. Where He leads me, I’ll follow. He’s going to lead in a life of service. He went through life making sacrifices as He served. Where He leads me, I am willing to go and make sacrifices.
The place where we need to go first, folks, is with Jesus into His death. And the way we do that is we go with Jesus into baptism. We are buried as He was buried, and we are raised as He was raised to walk in newness of life. Romans, the sixth chapter. Where He leads me, I will follow. Will you follow Him through His death to be raised as He was to walk in newness of life today?
While we’re singing this song would you think about that? I want us to realize that the disciples today are not folks that are distant from Christ. They are those people who have been baptized into His body. I want you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and so does He. You can only do that if you follow Him into His death and then ultimately into His resurrection. If you need to be buried with Christ in baptism today, why don’t you make that decision? If there’s any way that we can be of service to you, we invite you to come while we stand and while we sing.
Reference Sermon by - Cecil A. Hutson
Sunday Apr 09, 2023
CSI - Looking Through The Eyes of Thomas
Sunday Apr 09, 2023
Sunday Apr 09, 2023
“Explanation Of God ”
(Written by an 8 year old)
"One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grown-ups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way He doesn't have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers."
"God's second most important job is listening to prayers. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because He hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off."
"God also sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy.”
"Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind, like His Father and He told His Father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K."
"His Dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so God told Jesus He could come back up in the sky and stay with Him in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Father out by listening to prayers and trying to help people choose to be good.
"You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time."
"You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God. Don't skip church or do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway."
"If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids."
"But...you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases.
And... that's why I believe in God."
Here in our story today we find that one of Jesus’ closest followers... doubted.
In fact, his very name has become a byword for doubt.
When we encounter someone who refuses to believe something that is true we call them a “doubting.... Thomas.”
You will find the text to our sermon this morning in John 20:24-29
In today's Gospel reading from John 20:24-29, we hear about one of the most famous encounters between Jesus and his disciple, Thomas, after the resurrection. This passage provides us with an important lesson about faith and doubt.
As the story goes, Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection. When the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, he was skeptical and refused to believe. He famously declared that he needed to see the wounds in Jesus' hands and side before he would believe that Jesus had truly risen from the dead.
A week later, Jesus appeared to the disciples again, and this time, Thomas was with them. Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds, and Thomas immediately recognized him as Lord and Savior, declaring, "My Lord and my God!"
What can we learn from Thomas' doubt and eventual faith?
We can learn that doubt is not the end of the story. When we have doubts, we should not give up on our faith or give in to despair. Instead, we should turn to God in prayer and ask for his guidance and understanding. We should also seek out the support and encouragement of fellow believers who can help us in our journey of faith.
We can learn that faith is a gift from God.
We must open ourselves up to the possibility of faith and ask God to give us the grace to believe. As we see in Thomas' story, Jesus did not condemn him for his doubts, but instead, he invited him to believe.
The story of Thomas teaches us that doubt is a part of the human experience, but it is not the end of the story.
By turning to God in prayer, seeking out the support of other believers, and opening ourselves up to the faith that God’s word (the Bible) leads us to, we too can come to a deeper understanding and experience of God's love and grace.
The writer of Hebrews warns Christians to :“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12
And Revelation declares: But the cowardly, [a]unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
People who have an unbelieving heart will end up in torment!
That’s not a good thing!
Now let’s step back for a moment and take another look at Thomas.
Thomas is a pretty good guy.
In fact, it helps to know that Jesus prayed all night before He selected His 12 disciples... and Thomas made the cut.
He’s a man who shows promise.
He’s a man who has the ability to believe and act on his belief.
In fact, all the other times Thomas shows up in the Gospels... he looks pretty good.
When Jesus is determined to go to Jerusalem in the midst of a dangerous situation, “Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” John 11:16
And later, when Jesus told His disciples that “In my Father’s house there are many rooms”... and I’m going to prepare a place for you... You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:4
Thomas piped right up and said: "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" John 14:5
And Jesus responded: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
So, in Thomas we have the picture of a committed follower of Christ.
He loves Jesus.
He walks with Jesus.
He’s willing to suffer and even die for Jesus.
But then he shows up late to the party after Jesus rose from the grave.
The other disciples try sharing their excitement with him
but he’s having nothing to do with it.
You can almost sense the anger in his voice:
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will NOT believe it.” John 20: 25
Whoa! I WILL NOT BELIEVE IT???
Not, “I have my doubts.”
Not, “I’m having trouble accepting it.”
Not, “You’re kidding me, right?”
NO --- I WILL NOT BELIEVE IT!
The Other Disciples may have had their doubts until they saw Jesus but they NEVER said
“I WON’T believe!”
That’s a dangerous way to deal with God.
I mean, doubt is one thing,
BUT… telling God WHAT you’ll accept as proof is another thing entirely.
Telling God to come down and settle things on YOUR TERMS is not generally a good idea.
So, Thomas is being so unreasonable here.
But if Thomas is being unreasonable why would Jesus even bother to show up?
Why let Thomas put his fingers into the holes in his hands and his side?
Why would Jesus show mercy to him when Thomas REFUSED to believe?
You know what the answer is? (PAUSE)
I don’t have a clue.
I don’t know,
the Bible doesn’t say.
All I know is that Jesus DID show Thomas mercy.
But notice, Jesus did tell Thomas to “stop it.”
“STOP doubting and believe.” John 20:27
Jesus showed Thomas mercy but he put him on notice: DON’T PUSH IT!
Don’t walk around the edge of faith and gaze down into unbelief.
Don’t push it! Don’t take your faith for granted! Don’t do it!!!
Thomas - your very salvation is at risk here!!!
But, what was it that Thomas was doubting?
He was doubting that Jesus could do what He promised.
For weeks before this... Jesus repeatedly promised He would rise from the dead
Matthew 16:21 tells us “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be RAISED TO LIFE.”
Then in Matthew 17:22 Jesus tells them
“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he WILL BE RAISED TO LIFE." And the disciples were filled with grief.
In Matthew 20:19 Jesus said it again: “(they) will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he WILL BE RAISED TO LIFE!”
So, Jesus had made a promise... over and over and over again.
But Thomas REFUSED to believe that Jesus could do what He had promised.
He had NO FAITH in Jesus’ promise .
Now I want you to notice what Jesus said to Thomas after allowing him to touch His wounds:
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
You know what Jesus was saying?
He’s saying: I’m going to cut you some slack here Thomas
but you have to realize not everyone is going to get this break. People will have to make up their mind to believe in me without touching.
Hebrews teaches us: “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.” Hebrews 11:1
And it also tells us: “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists AND THAT HE REWARDS those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
To have faith you have to be able to believe what you can NOT see.
And not only that - you not only have to believe that God exists... but that He actually DOES stuff.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is where a Jesus heals a boy with an evil spirit.
The boy’s father brings him to Jesus and says “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”
“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When the father pled “help me overcome my UNBELIEF” he was using the same word that described Thomas lack of faith:
But this time THIS man is admitting his weakness. He wasn’t saying he will NOT believe in Jesus... he’s just admitting he’s having a problem. But in spite of his struggle with unbelief he’s saying: I am making a conscious decision TO believe. “I believe – help my unbelief!”
ILLUS: Lee Iacocca (the creator of the Ford Mustang) once told a business associate, “The trouble with you is that in college they taught you not to take any action until you had all the facts. You've got 95% of them, but it's going to take you another six months to get that last 5%. And by the time you do, they will be out of date.”
Somewhere along the line in your life you’ll be faced with having to make a choice... and you’ll NOT HAVE ALL the information you’d like, but you still need to make that decision.
If you always wait till you have ALL the information, you may never make a choice!
Thomas had all kinds of information. He’d walked with Jesus for 3 years and had seen Christ heal 100s of people by just touching them, feed 1000s with just a small amount of food, and raise people from the dead.
He had far more information than you or I have, and yet because he sought that little bit extra, he almost ruined his relationship with Christ.
And at some point along the line in our faith... you and I had to make that choice about following God. We had to CHOOSE to believe.
We had to decide that we believed God actually could do things in our lives. We accepted that we couldn’t fully understand Him... but we believed IN Him.
ILLUS: An old time minister told of the time when he’d just finished a lecture a student stood and said: "Sir, you seem like a reasonable man. How can you with your sophistication really believe the Bible?"
The minister replied, "It's easy. I decided to. And, I have to explain; once I decided that I believe in it, I spent the next 35 years of my life accumulating arguments to support what I already believed.
But reason only came in afterwards. It only supported what I'd already committed myself to.
Then the minister said in response ... I got to ask you a question.
Why don't you believe the Bible? Isn't it because you've decided to? Please, don't tell me you've read it from cover to cover. Spare me that. And don't give me that jazz that it's full of contradictions because you can't name 5 (and they never can).
Somewhere along the line, you decided not to believe and after you decided not to believe you've been accumulating to support your commitment to non-belief.
The kid looked at the minister and said: "You don't understand. For me to believe in God, I have to have a God that I can understand."
And the minister replied "God refuses to be that small!"
Now here’s the deal. If your God were small enough to understand... He’d be too small to worship.
We serve a big God who goes beyond anything we can understand or explain.
We have a God who can accomplish way more than we can even begin to imagine in our minds. We need to boldly proclaim that our God can do exactly what He says He can do.
Faith can provide a sense of comfort and direction in times of uncertainty or doubt. It can serve as a source of inspiration and motivation, helping individuals to persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks.
May we all be like Thomas, open to the possibility of faith, and ready to declare with him, "My Lord and my God!"
Monday Apr 03, 2023
CSI- Even the Demons Know Who He is
Monday Apr 03, 2023
Monday Apr 03, 2023
INTRO: Good morning.
Imagine going into a bank, innocently filling out a withdrawal slip, and within minutes being arrested by the police. When Ron Schatz filled out a withdrawal slip in an American bank, he had no idea that handcuffs would soon be placed upon him. It took a while to straighten out the story. The teller had had pressed the silent alarm button after turning the withdrawal slip over and seeing the words, "This is a hold-up."
As it turned out, some wise guy had written "This is a hold-up" on the back of every withdrawal slip sitting on the counter. It’s was someone’s idea of a practical joke. A few words written on a piece of paper caused a terribly embarrassing chain reaction.
The gospel is a chain reaction which echoes through the corridors of eternity.
Today's gospel reading comes from Mark 3:7-12. In this passage, we see a large crowd following Jesus, and he heals many of them. The passage reads:
"Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd, he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him."
In this passage, we see Jesus withdrawing to the lake with his disciples, seeking solitude from the crowds that have been following him. But even in this moment of rest, Jesus' fame has spread, and a large crowd from Galilee follows him to the lake. We are told that people have come from many different regions, all seeking to be healed by Jesus.
As Jesus begins to heal those who are sick, we see that the impure spirits recognize him as the Son of God, falling down before him and crying out. But Jesus gives them strict orders not to tell others about him. Why does Jesus do this? Perhaps he knows that his message will be misunderstood, or that people will come to him for the wrong reasons.
What can we learn from this passage? First, we see that Jesus' healing power is real and that it draws people to him. But more than that, we see that Jesus' message is not for everyone. He chooses to reveal himself to those who are open to him and to keep his message hidden from those who are not ready to receive it.
As we reflect on this passage, let us ask ourselves: Are we open to receiving Jesus' message? Are we willing to follow him, even when it means going against the crowd? Let us pray that we may be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, that we may be healed of our impurities and drawn closer to Jesus, the Son of God.
The chapter starts with the event of the man with the withered hand and after verse 12 goes on into the appointing of the twelve apostles.
Luke’s gospel refers to this period of time with two words, ‘those days’.
Mathew’s gospel takes a little more time to record details during this specific period then either Luke or Mark.
Remember, though, that the gospel of Mark is very different from the other two synoptic gospels. For one thing it is quite brief. Mark from time-to-time just skims over some periods with just a glance. This is one of those places in which Mark seems to be hurrying on to the next major event in Jesus’ ministry ... the appointment of the twelve apostles.
Still, there may be something of value to be learned even with this hurried overview of time. Not a great deal of detail, yet in this period of time some interesting things happen.
I. THIS SECTION BEGINS AS JESUS WITHDRAWS FROM THE SYNAGOGUE
A. The first thing I wonder in looking at this section of scripture is -- Why did Jesus withdraw from the Synagogue and Capernaum?
1. In thinking about this question, I realize it was hardly from fear of confrontation with the Pharisees and scribes. Jesus had those confrontations before and would have them again. So, confrontation is not the issue.
2. At this time opposition was becoming very serious and more focused.
3. We read in Mark 3:6 – “Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
This alliance with the Herodians shows just how serious opposition was becoming. According to many scholars the Herodians were a secular group of people, a political party. They had little interest in spiritual things. There was no common interest with the Pharisees.
4. We still see this in action today! When people today have something they want to accomplish… they don’t necessarily care who they align themselves with to get the job done. Especially if it will help them reach their goal.
So, in our text we see the Pharisees becoming allies with the Herodians.
B. Jesus did not want to have a confrontation with them that would lead immediately to His death. We are told that He withdrew Himself, from the synagogue and from the city where there were so many enemies, and went down to the seaside.
1. I would like us to note these verses in the Gospel of John:
John 2 verse 4 “Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” –
John 7:6 “Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.” –
John 7:30 “Then they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.” –
John 8:20 “These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.” –
In all these it says something like “mine hour is not yet come”, or “His hour had not yet come”.
2. Let’s go to the twelfth chapter of John, and read there;
John 12:23 – “But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
and then in 13:1 – “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” - “Mine hour is not yet come” - “the hour is come”. See the difference?
3. Between the statement “My time has not yet come” and - “the hour is come” is His earthly ministry. Jesus is finding it necessary to withdrawal rather then to engage in this intense confrontation which could lead to His death BEFORE he could accomplish what HE was sent here to do!
C. There are times when “withdrawal” is the wise course. There certainly are times in human relationships where withdrawal may be a safe and sound course of action
1. I am sure that we have seen 1st hand that; bullheaded, stubborn and confrontation seldom accomplishes much.
2. If we withdraw from the height of the confrontation or from the heat of the moment… we may be able to leave some opportunities open which direct confrontation would otherwise close.
3. This is certainly a lesson in human relationships. It is a good lesson, a useful and practical lesson. Jesus withdraws. The opposition to Him has intensified.
II. DURING THIS PERIOD, GREAT MULTITUDES FOLLOWED HIM
A. During this time Mark tells us that great throngs of people followed Jesus. As He leaves the synagogue and the city He apparently went almost directly to the familiar seaside.
1. Yes it is true, Jesus could teach in a synagogue, He could teach in the temple.
2. But more often than not his “classroom” was in a non-institutional place! Like the seaside.
3. As we listen to the teachings of Jesus we discover that many, many of His illustrations came from these kinds of settings. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”. In my mind I think, here is Jesus sitting on the side of a mountain and around Him are flowers growing. He is able to look out in this unconventional classroom to say “Consider the lilies...” He goes on “even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” What beautiful lessons came from these unconventional classrooms of Jesus.
B. Mark tells us the crowd was - “a great multitude”. People surrounding Him, pressing to get close to Him.
1. So great was this press that Mark notes Jesus was concerned that “they should crush him” according the NKJ.
2. Jesus made an arrangement with His disciples to provide for a small boat which according to the text was provided for safety reasons. If they should “throng Him” as the KJV says, if things should get out of hand, unruly, He could step aside in the sea by means of this small boat.
3. In the fourth chapter of Mark’s gospel at verse 1 there was the time when the small boat became his “pulpit”
We read in Mark 4:1 – “... He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.”
We can in our minds picture Jesus in this small boat put out from the land just a bit, but the multitude would be standing or sitting along the sea shore. Because of this arrangement Jesus is able to be heard by the multitude gathered there.
On the occasion described in the third chapter of Mark, it did not seem to be a “pulpit” He was seeking. It seemed to be a method of escaping the press -- if escape was necessary.
C. The people in the multitude came from many different places.
1. When reading the names of the places listed earlier, we realize that the reputation of Jesus had gone beyond the boarders of Galilee. People as far away as Tyre and Sidon had heard of Him and come to see.
2. Idumea, the area far to the south had heard of Him. People came from those places, from every quarter of the compass - from great distances. They came to hear Jesus teach.
3. When I read these verses it occurred to me that we have probably become very satisfied with the convenience and the comfort of our religion.
I think about how at that time in history there was no fast means of transportation. No convenient means. When I travel we often stay in comfortable motels with heating and air-conditioning, and comfortable clean beds. They may have had some small inns but those certainly were not like what we would enjoy today. Yet, they came from great distances to hear the Lord.
They came, they stood, and they listened. ...how interested are we in the Savior really? How interested are we in hearing about Him... really?
4. There is an old hymn which says “I love to tell the story, to those who know it best”. How interested are we?
Would we stand in the heat for the length of a sermon?
Would we gather around in the open air with no place to sit but the ground for a Bible class?
Would we be there standing and listening?
Well perhaps if it was Jesus who was here we would do that, but not just to listen to someone else talk that is certain.
Yet, it was not that many years ago people did.
Not that many years ago people would gather in the open or in tents standing and listening to hear the story.
5. What about the story? Isn’t it a story worth telling and hearing?
How convenient our faith has become, how comfortable we have become. I wonder; have we become so comfortable that we no longer concentrate and strive to learn?
III. THE NECESSITY OF HIS MIRACLES?
A. In this section of scripture we read Mark also makes reference to the miracles of Jesus. In that “he had healed many”. In the absence of a particular illustration in this section of scripture it gives us the opportunity to take the time and to ask; “why were the miracles necessary?”
1. No specific illustration is given here. Nothing like that of the man with the withered hand in the previous event in the third chapter of Mark. Yet, Mark tells us that “he had healed many”. What you notice here is that people are not waiting for some interaction or encounter, as we might call it, with Jesus.
2. They simply sought to touch Him - although there is no mention of faith here, I cannot help but think that it was the faith that made whole those who wanted to touch Him, people who Mark tells us had various afflictions.
3. We do remember another occasion over in Matthew 9:20-22 –
Here is an occasion when a particular woman just sought to touch Jesus. When she did so she was made whole, she was healed of the condition which had plagued her for many years. “... a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment; for she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.''
4. Is this the sort of thing that I think the people to whom Mark is referring in chapter three thought as well? Yes, that is exactly what I think. Look as we continue to read at verse 22. But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.'' And the woman was made well from that hour.”
Here in this narrative we are told that it is her faith which made her whole. Here are these people pressing in on Jesus. Perhaps many of them were desperate to be healed just as she was. All they want to do is to touch Him, in the belief that if they could just touch Him they would be made whole.
B. That still leaves us with our question; why were His miracles necessary?
1. I invite you to turn to a passage we have doubtless read many times, but we need to read again. John 20:30-31 - “truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written and here is the purpose that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
With that turn with me to Acts 2:22 – here in part of the sermon that was preached on the day of Pentecost are these words; “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know ”. This same Jesus who you saw performing miracles and wonders and signs, this same Jesus “"Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;”
Why the miracles? Simply to confirm the claims of Jesus. The claim that He was indeed, that He is indeed the Son of God.
2. Incredible as it might seem to us, the miracles did not change the hard hearts of some people. Yet there were others who should have been listed among His enemies, who could not help but to come to the conclusion that there was something very special about Jesus because of the miracles that He did.
3. Listen to John 3:2 – Where we find a man named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Now this man should have been part of the opposition.
Apparently though Nicodemus had an open heart, and an open mind.
He could add up what he had seen and what he knew and got the correct answer.
“This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; How did he know it? He goes on to explain. for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
4. Here was a man whose heart was impressed by the miracles of Jesus. He recognized, though perhaps not at this point, that Jesus is the messiah.
He knew that there was something very, very different about Jesus.
5. Oh, there were others that were impressed, but came to a different conclusion. They accused Jesus of doing these things by the power of the Devil. Nicodemus was not one of those.
Why the miracles? As a confirmation. Keeping with John chapter 1 verse 14, “the word was made flesh and dwelt among us”.
Satan mounts an incredible offensive using the demons of the underworld for his purposes. We know that the scriptures tell us that “the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, "You are the Son of God.''
B. Jesus consistently forbade those unclean spirits from confessing and acknowledging to the world that He is “the Son of God”.
1. Jesus certainly did not want nor need the testimony of Satan or his minions. Certainly, their acknowledgement could well cause some to believe that He was in league with them. Jesus consistently refused to let them broadcast who He was.
2. Indeed, that was one claim the scribes would make!
3. He neither needed nor wanted testimony of Satan’s world!
The fact is, however, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Yes, He would often refer to Himself as the Son of Man. But everything He said and did was confirmation that He is exactly Who that voice from heaven had said He is ... “my beloved son”!
The question for us is, what are we going to do with Jesus? What will we do with this fact? What will our decision be?
Because Jesus is the Son of God some of us have a decision to make about what our initial relationship is going to be with Him, whether or not we are going to be baptized into His death becoming His disciple.
Others of us have a decision to make about the extent we want our discipleship to be manifest in our lives. Do we want to be fully committed disciples?
These are all decisions that need to be made by us, based on the simple fact that Jesus is the Son of God.
He would not permit the demons to acknowledge that publicly.
It is a joy that He entrusted the acknowledgement of that fact to people like us. Earthen vessels in which the greatest message ever heard has been placed so we might proclaim it. Jesus is the Son of God.
We have to make a decision.
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved.
We need to hear the word;
believe in Jesus;
repent of our sins;
we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God;
and be baptized for the remission of our sins...
If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today.
If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.