In your anger do not sin

Our church (Center Church, Brenham Texas) is doing something this week entitled, “7in7.” This is creating something each day for seven days, all for the glory of God.  I admittingly do not have much skill.  I’m not a writer or much of a blogger at all anymore, but I decided I’m going to blog for a few days, just thoughts that come to me.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) – 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

This passage is one that is quite difficult for me.  I can get angry, and when I do, I tend to blow.  and when I blow, I will do damage unfortunately to people and things around me.  Oh, I’m not a violent person at all, but I can be rather cutting with my words.

This verse obviously has some practical meaning.

“In your anger do not sin…”

Here is an important truth: we will all at times get angry.  We will be offended. We will be wronged.  We might at times feel the sting of injustice.  And because of this, our blood will begin to blow.  We want vindication.  We want to see those who may have offended us quivering in a corner, begging for mercy.  Well, maybe not everyone – but I sure do!  It is easy to feel justified, especially when you are sinned against by another.

But notice this portion of the passage doesn’t say don’t get angry but do not react in your anger by sinning.

We are now new creations in Christ.  While we at one time did respond when being wronged in burning hot wrath, we are now ministers of reconciliation.  The Apostle Paul says, ” God…reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” (2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV).

“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”

It is important to deal with your anger as soon as possible.  One of the worse things we can do (and we often do) is we will rehearse an argument and wallow in our offense.  Come on, let’s be honest for a second – we all enjoy doing this.  Well, at least I do anyway.  But this is not how the Lord would want us to be.  Not only must we watch our response when we are angry, but we must quickly figure out a way to deal with our anger.

and do not give the devil a foothold.”

If the devil can’t bust the doors down of our lives to destroy us, then he will try to create the tiniest of cracks in said door to cause us a problem.

You ever had a splinter in your finger?  It can be so small, but it is extremely irritating.

How many times have I gotten angry at a brother or sister in Christ, a family member, my own wife and children and the reality of the matter is it was a very insignificant thing that was trying me crazy.  I was allowing that problem to splinter off and fester. In other words, I was giving the devil a foothold.

What can we do to not allow our anger to defeat us?

There are just some simple things to think about.  Here are a few that have helped me.

  • I am a new creation in Christ.  What helps me is to remember that God has rescued me from my sins.  I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1) and I remind myself of the gospel.
  • No matter how much that person has offended and angered me, I have offended Christ far more; and yet He has forgiven me.  Again a gospel truth to remind yourself of.  The fact is, we do not deserve forgiveness. We don’t deserve grace.  But we all have ultimately earned hell!  But Christ paid the price so that we might be the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • We are now ministers of reconciliation.  Ask yourself, “What action can I take or words can I say that will bring an end to the conflict, cease anger, and restore fellowship?  Once you have the answer to this, then do it for the glory of God.

The Lord is not looking for people to change the world because they are angry.  He is looking for servants who seek to be reconciled with others and not to give the devil a foothold but to present a wide-open door of opportunity for the gospel.

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The Gospel exposes cultural gods

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

Acts 19:23-28

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

 

This must have been quite a sight.  Paul and his colleagues have come to Ephesus to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As he does, many in Ephesus, as well as throughout almost all of Asia are repenting – abandoning their idols – and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The message of Paul is the gospel.  This gospel message is exposing the falsehood of the idolatry that plagues the region.

As you can imagine, the silversmiths who make the small, lifeless, figurine idols for people to worship are not too thrilled.  Their livelihood is being challenged.  So what do they do? They gather people together, and in a passionate plea begin to cry out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

 This event is around 2000 years old.  And yet throughout history, in culture after culture, as the old saying goes, “The song remains the same.”  When the gospel is proclaimed – not just in the church gathering, but in the homes and marketplaces of a culture, those who would profit in that said cultures idols become extremely angry. And when their livelihood is challenged; they gather people together to shout loud in support of their idols.

In our culture, people gather together in the name of rights.  The right to an abortion; the right of same-sex marriage; and a new one I’ve just seen – the right to make love to someone, regardless of their age (pedophilia). These are nothing more than idols that our lustful, dead in sin hearts have created.  And when the gospel of Jesus Christ goes forth, and we see it is truly not about “rights,” but about salvation through Him alone; then those who would profit from the idols of our culture stir up crowds, make signs, and shout out their rights.

May Christians not be intimidated by our culture.  May we also not be prideful in our gospel proclamation.  But in love share Christ Jesus as the only hope there is.  We might satisfy the lusts of our flesh – but it profits us nothing but temporary pleasure.  Christ promises eternal life.

 

 

Taking a break

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging my sermons.  I’ve got a new series I’m starting Sunday (07/10/16) that I’m not going to post on my blog.  I have possible future plans for my manuscripts for the series, so I’m saving it for those.  The title of the series is, “When God leads you through life’s dark valleys.”  It is looking verse by verse in a rather personal, honest fashion into Psalm 23.  Hopefully I will return for the next sermons series I will do after that.  I also my just share my thoughts on some things.  I haven’t done that in a while; so you never no.  Be blessed.

Life everlasting

The sermon for Sunday July 3rd, 2016.  This is the final sermon in the series.

Unless noted all Scripture from the ESV.

Rooted: The Apostle’s Creed part 15

Life everlasting.

 Today we are going to wrap up our series into the Apostle’s Creed.  It is truly my prayer that this has been a very rewarding series for everyone.  Let’s look at the underlined portion of the Creed that we will cover this morning.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord.  Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.  He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick *(living) and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost (Spirit), The Holy Catholic *(Universal, Christian) Church; the Communion of saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life Everlasting.  Amen

 Life everlasting: I honestly can’t think of anything more wonderful to end a series on than considering what this means.  The joys and the implications are beyond human language and imagination quite honestly; and yet we are going to try to unpack this truth.

There are so many different passages that we can look at, but I’ve decided that in ending this we are going to look at the last book of the Bible and see what the Spirit has to say to us in two very wonderful passages.  Let’s read these two passages, and read them in one setting first.

Revelation 21:1-8 – 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 Revelation 22:1-5 – 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

 Our imaginations can often wonder what Life Everlasting will look like.  These two passages from the last book of the Bible has given us some very clear information concerning this.  Let’s begin to unpack these two portions of Scripture.

In the Life Everlasting there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

 Revelations 21:1 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

 This new heavens and earth is just more than a brand new creation, but it is actually a re-creation.  God will take this old order of corruption and sin and in the time of Life Everlasting He will totally eradicate the fall and its affects, and the world that is filled with corruption will no longer experience that corruption.

The Apostle Paul speaks of this as something that not only the Christians are longing for, but the created order itself is longing for also.

Romans 8:19-25 – 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

This is the hope for Christians as well as all of creation.  We long for it. We groan for it.  One day it will be a reality.  All of creation itself will experience Life Everlasting in the new heavens and new earth age.

God will dwell with man eternally in the Life Everlasting.

 I think it is common to say it the other way, “man will dwell with God eternally.”  But notice how Verses 2-3 describe it.

Revelation 21:2-3 – And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

 We first saw God coming down to man in the incarnation of Jesus Christ; when the King of the Universe, the very Word of God was born of a virgin.  He came, died for sin, was resurrected for our justification, and descended into heaven.

Here we see at the age of Life Everlasting, God will come down to the New Earth with the New Jerusalem to dwell with man – forever.  Never again will He be here for a moment, and then leave, like He was when He was physically present with His disciples.  No He will eternally be with us.

The fellowship that God has with man in the Garden of Eden will be completely restored; with the exception that Satan will not be around to tempt us.  He has been tossed into the Lake of Fire.  Again, something for us to look forward too.

There will be no more crying, death, or pain in the Life Everlasting.

 Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 All the heartache we experienced, all the pain we have suffered, all the sicknesses that tore us up physically and emotionally, all the temptation to sin and the frustration with ourselves over the times we have missed the mark and sinned, all the times we have suffered loss and mourned, every tear we have shed; these thing will be no more because the things that brought this about has passed away in the age of Life Everlasting.

There will be no more sin in the Life Everlasting.

 Revelation 21:5-8 – And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 The Lord says “it is done,” two times in the Scriptures.  First on the cross as He dies for our sins; and secondly when sin is finally sent to hell from the earth where it belongs in the age of Life Everlasting.

The Church will reign with Christ forever in the Life Everlasting.

 Revelation 22:1-5 – 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

 In this life we may suffer pain, sorrow, and persecution.  In the age of Life Everlasting we will with reign with Christ for a definite period of time – forever.

As we conclude this message and this series what a joyous hope the Christian has – the age of Life Everlasting.  May the encouragement found in these passages guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Jesus shall judge the living And the dead

I’m back from my weekend sabbatical.  Here is the sermon for Sunday, May 22nd, 2016.

Unless noted all Scripture from the ESV.

Rooted: The Apostle’s Creed part 10

Jesus….shall judge the living

And the dead.

This morning we are going to look at the judgment portion of the Creed that is underlined.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord.  Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.  He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick *(living) and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost (Spirit), The Holy Catholic *(Universal, Christian) Church; the Communion of saints; The Forgiveness of sins;  The Resurrection of the body, And the Life Everlasting.  Amen

 No one likes to read the judgment passages of the Scriptures.  And many people think that only the Old Testament gives warnings concerning the judgment when Christ’s comes again.  That is simply not true.  Both the Old and New Testaments speak of warnings concerning Christ’s judgment at His second coming; but they also speak of rejoicing because the Messiah is coming to judge the earth.  Today we are going to look at a passage that is celebratory concerning Christ’s coming judgment upon this world.

But before we do that, we need to look at some passages that speak of warnings that Christ is coming to judge: He will judge at His second coming those who are false believers; He will also come and judge those who have rejected the Gospel message and persecuted His people – the Church.  Let’s look at these quickly.

  • Christ’s first coming was not to bring judgment, but the hope of salvation to sinners. His second coming though will be about judging those who refuse His offer of salvation.

 John 3:16-21 – 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

  • Christ’s judgment of false believers at His second coming. It’s found in His Parable of the Weeds.

Matthew 13:24-30 – 24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

  • Christ’s judgment of those who have rejected His message and persecuted His people at His second coming.

Matthew 24:29-51 – 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 So clearly we see some warning passages concerning Christ’s judgment of both the living and the dead when He comes again.  But what about this idea of rejoicing that He is coming to judge the earth?  Well this idea is taken from Psalm 98.  For the remainder of this sermon we will look into this Psalm and bring the idea of rejoicing out.

We rejoice at Christ’s coming in judgment because He is coming to save His people whom He loves.

Psalm 98:1-3 – 1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

 Christ Jesus gave His life for our sins.  This wasn’t a sign of weakness, but one of absolute strength.  His death and resurrection has brought salvation to the fallen race of men.  People from all the nations have heard the gospel message, calling them to repent and believe the good news of Christ coming to save people.  He has a heart for His people – the true Israel of God – born not of flesh and blood, not nationality; but born of faith out of every tribe, tongue, and nation.  It is out of His love for His people that He will come and save us from this world that hates Him and His people.

The nations are invited to rejoice because the King is coming in Judgment.

 Psalm 98:4-6 – Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

 Notice the motif – we are to break forth into a toe-tapping, joyous song.  The invite is to “all the earth.”

There is only one way that this happens.  It is not just a simple acknowledgement that Jesus is a good man, or maybe a great religious founder; but that He truly is Lord of both heaven and earth, and that He came and died for the forgiveness of your sins and He was truly raised for your justification before a just God.  When we obey the gospel message by believing it, then we can join in the joyful songs of praise, looking forward to the King’s coming.

This gospel call goes out to all the nations.

We rejoice because our Lord’s judgment will be righteous, just, and fair.

 Psalm 98:7-9 – Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes
to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

 Think of it this way.  Christ’s judgment at His second coming will be purely just, righteous and fair.  None who are judged by Him will not deserve it.  Only those who have had their sins forgiven and washed away from their record before God will be free of judgment.  This my friends is reason to rejoice in His coming judgment.

As we conclude, we must remember we are in Christ solely on the basis of what He has done for us.  We heard the gospel, repented and believed.  Christ has saved us from His coming wrath.

 

Our responsibility now is to warn those of His day of wrath, and also to reveal to them that Christ Jesus has paid the price for their sins, if they will simply turn from their sins and believe the gospel message.  We can offer them hope that is reason to celebrate.

 

 

 

 

Christmas hope

Sunday (12/20/2015) I’m doing an original presentation (not truly a sermon) entitled, “The true story of Christmas.”  It would be way to long to post on this blog.  So I’m going to post what I shared this past Wednesday (12/16/2015) in our Bible study.

Unless noted all Scripture from the Modern English version.

Christmas hope.

 Being this close to our two week Christmas break on Wednesday nights, I decided to hold off on the next foundation until the new year.  Instead we are going to look at something that all of us need today – and that is hope.  Hope isn’t something generated by this season – Christmas time, but it is generated by the reason for the season – Jesus Christ.  He is our only hope in a very hopeless world.  I think that is probably the best gift we can give to anyone right now – hope found in Jesus Christ.  Let’s begin looking into this tonight.

Through Christ we have the hope of peace with God.

 None of the works we do can obtain this hope.  It isn’t found in positive thinking or maybe a song either.  Notice the Christmas story found in Luke what the angels said.

Luke 2:8-14 – And in the same area there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And then an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very afraid. 10 But the angel said to them, “Listen! Do not fear. For I bring you good news of great joy, which will be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly there was with the angel a company of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men.”

 These shepherds saw and heard an awesome sight.  It states for those on earth peace, good will to men (to those who please Him.)  how do we please God, by believing the gospel message concerning Jesus Christ, for in that only true peace is found.  It is a peace that is an anchor to hold onto during all the rough storms of life.

Through Christ we have the hope of God’s love continuing toward us.

 During the holiday season many people feel so lonely.  Maybe family members are many miles away and can’t be there during the Christmas holiday.  Or maybe they have been shunned by family members and during this time of year they feel so alone.  Or maybe they’ve had some tragedy that has really broken their heart.  Look at the comfort we have in what Paul says.

Romans 5:1-5 – 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and so we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also boast in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces patience, patience produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 This world will disappoint us.  Friends and family members will disappoint us. But God’s love toward us does not disappoint because He freely gives it to us by His Holy Spirit.  This leads us to our next point.

In Christ we have hope because the guarantee of our future inheritance – the Holy Spirit – we have been sealed with.

 Ephesians 1:11-14 – 11 In Him also we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will, 12 that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, should live for the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also, after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and after believing in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

 We have a future, eternal destination awaiting us.  To be in the Lord’s presence forever, never to experience, sin, sickness, and decay again.  What is the evidence and hope of this future destination?  The Holy Spirit.  We have been sealed with Him.  I like that word sealed.  In Greek it means, “to seal, close up and make fast with a seal signet such as letters or books so that they cannot be read.”  In other words, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit Himself and no one can remove that seal.  He is the promise of our future inheritance through Jesus Christ.  When you are doubting your salvation, find encouragement with this.

As we close, may we all come to know the hope we have as Christians through the reason for the season – Jesus Christ.

 

 

Justified by works?

The sermon for Sunday, December 13th, 2015.

Unless noted all Scripture from the Modern English Version.

James: a faith to live by part 10

Justified by works?

James 2:25-26.

 This sermon is really a continuation of the last one.  James is giving us word pictures into what our justification (being considered righteous NIV) looks like.  It is more than just a lifeless confession in Jesus, but something that is birthed by the Holy Spirit and produces things in us, and one of those things that is produced in us is works for the Lord (Ephesians 2:10).

Now these two verses seem to show James and Paul in complete contradiction to one another; but are they?  My contention is that they complement, not contradict one another.  That is something that I will have to prove from the Scriptures this morning.  So like always, test what I say concerning James and Paul with the Scriptures.  They are the final authority on this issue, not our traditions and opinions.

Now James used two extremes in this word picture of our justification and works.  He used Abraham, who is known as the friend of God.  And in this sermon we see that he uses Rahab – a harlot by lifestyle.  Yet both of them believed the promises made by the Lord, and because of this, their faith was shown working in love, which is an expression that Paul uses.

Remember James is all about the Great Commandment – love the Lord with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.  Martin Luther says, “the Lord doesn’t need your goods works; your neighbor does;” this saying is still true today.

James 2:25-26 – 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.

 Rahab is an example of living faith, not dead faith. (vv. 25-26)

 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.

 Like Abraham, Rahab is an example for us to follow.  The example is not being justified by our works therefore we have earned heaven as a reward.  No the example is that like Abraham the friend of God and Rahab the prostitute, they both believed God’s promise concerning His people, and therefore their actions was evidence of their faith in God’s promise.  God didn’t need to see Rahab’s actions to know that her faith was alive; for the Spirit is what made her faith genuine and alive.  Rahab’s works were for the benefit of the Jewish spies.  So in their eyes when they saw her actions they knew that the Lord was going to use this person of ill repute to save them and keep the promise He made to the Children of Israel.

This teaches us a lesson.  Our bodies continue to function and work because we have a spirit.  Once our spirit leaves, our bodies die.  The same it is with faith.  Our works is one of the evidences that we have a true, genuine, Spirit-birthed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the Spirit that works this in us.  Without the Spirit working in us, giving us the ability to do deeds for the Lord, our works would be dead – lifeless.  It is the Spirit of the living God that makes them living and active.

Let’s look further into Rahab’s story.

Rahab’s story. (Joshua 2:1-14)

 Joshua 2:1-14 – 1 Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men out from Shittim to spy, saying, “Go see the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and they came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab. They spent the night there. The king of Jericho was told, “Israelite men came here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who came to you, who have entered your house, for they came to spy out the whole land.” Now the woman had taken the two men and had hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. The men went out when it was time to shut the gate at dark. I do not know where the men went. Chase after them quickly, for you can overtake them.” Yet she had brought them up to the roof. She hid them in the stalks of flax that she had spread out on the roof. So the men chased after them on the road to the Jordan as far as the fords. They shut the gate as soon as the pursuers went out after them. Before the spies went to sleep, Rahab went up to them on the roof. She said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, for dread from you has fallen upon us, and all the inhabitants of the land melt in terror before you. 10 For we heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 Our hearts melted when we heard these things, and no man had any breath in him because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. 12 “So now, since I have acted faithfully toward you, please swear to me by the Lord that you will also act faithfully toward my father’s house. Please give me a firm pledge 13 that you will spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all whom they own, and that you will deliver our lives from death.” 14 The men said to her, “Our lives for yours; if you do not report us, then when the Lord gives us the land, we will act faithfully and kindly with you.”

 What we see here are the spies checking out Jericho.  A prostitute by the name of Rahab hears the reports of how the Lord has done mighty things for the Children of Israel; so she hides them.  In the eyes of the spies, this is evidence that both the Lord is still on their side and that she is going to be used by the Lord to rescue them so that they can go back and help overthrow Jericho.  But notice her confession in verse 11, “For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and earth below.”  This shows us that she actually had faith, and by this living faith in the God who delivered the children of Israel she would be saved as well.  This is evidenced to both the spies and all those who read this passage by the fact that she went out of her way and hid the spies.

Now we must ask what about Paul? Surely there is conflict between Paul and James when Paul speaks about being justified by faith alone.  Well let’s look.

The theology of Paul – faith working through love.

 There is a difference between Paul and James in this since – Paul is speaking from a much more theological side and James is speaking from a very practical side.  That being the case they are actually stating the same thing.

A little background before we read our passage in Galatians that will show us this.  The Gentile Christians were free, they had the liberty found in Christ alone.  But false teachers came in stating they had to keep the law in order to be saved and keep their salvation.  This lead to actually becoming a danger of falling from grace because they were keeping the Law for the purpose of earning justification; instead of the fact that they keep it because they are justified.  Two different things.  So Paul is correcting the Galatian Church.  Let’s read a portion of this in Galatians 5.

 Galatians 5:2-14 – Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. I testify again to every man who is circumcised that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You have been cut off from Christ, whoever of you are justified by law; you have fallen from grace.For we, through the Spirit, by faith, eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith which works through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch. 10 I have confidence in you through the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But he who is troubling you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would castrate themselves! 13 You, brothers, have been called to liberty. Only do not use liberty to give an opportunity to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 Quickly diving into this, Paul is warning the Galatian Church.  They are trying to be justified by Law-keeping, no longer by faith alone.  He warns them that if they pursue this, then they do not belong to Christ; they are cut off; fallen from grace.  What is important is not works of the Law like circumcision he gives as an example – but faith working through love.  I hope you see that – faith WORKING through love.  You see, a living faith works.  It is evidence that we truly have become a new creation in Christ.  And one way that this is evidenced is by our love for one another; because as we love fellow believers in Jesus we are fulfilling the Great Commandment which states to love your neighbor as yourself.

I hope after looking into Paul and James today you see the complimentary nature of them both.

I also want to leave us all with a word of encouragement.  If you feel like you are lacking in the “works” department; take heart.  All of us actually are.  But on this road of salvation we walk with the Lord by His Spirit daily working in us.  We haven’t arrived yet – but thanks be to God we are in Christ, believing in the promises He has made to us in the Scriptures.