The Study of God Part I, the Bible

Study of God, Part I, The Bible

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Voltaire, the noted 18th century French philosopher, said that it took centuries to built up Christianity, but “I’ll show how just one Frenchman can destroy it within 50 years.” Taking his pen, he dipped it into the ink of unbelief and wrote against God.

 Twenty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society purchased his house for printing the Bible. And it later became the Paris headquarters for the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Bible is still a best-seller; an entire 6-volume set of Voltaire’s works was once sold for 90¢.

I love stories such as that. I like poetic justice.

We believe the Bible is the God breathed Word of God.

Last week I began a study on Christian Doctrine or what I am calling the “Study of God.” As we study God it is critical that we recognize the authoritative source is the Bible. The Bible is the authoritative source and the Bible comes from God.

My theme:

The Bible is God’s Word and is the Reference Point for our Study of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:16)

Preaching Point(s): Christianity thrives or dies based off of a belief in the Word of God.

God has revealed Himself, just think about that. Isn’t that powerful?

  1. Let’s start with Scripture. Scripture affirms Scripture.
    1. I know these passages are not new to many of you.
    2. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    3. 2 Peter 1:20-21: Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
    4. 2 Peter 3:16: He [The Apostle Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.
    5. Just a few notes before we move on. We can tell based on those passages that Scripture values Scripture. I say that and you could easily say, “duh,” but realize that the Bible was written by 39 or 40 different Realize the Bible was written over about a 2400 year period. All of these authors affirm the value of the Bible.
    6. The first two passages I shared with you show that the authors affirm the Old Testament. But the last passage lumps Paul in with the other Scriptures. So, the Apostle Peter considered Paul on the same level as the Old Testament prophets and Scriptures.
    7. Some thirty-eight hundred times the Bible declares, “God said,” or “Thus says the Lord” (e.g. Ex. 14:1; 20:1; Lev. 4:1; Num. 4:1; Deut. 4:2; 32:48; Isa. 1:10, 24; Jer. 1:11; Ezek. 1:3; etc.)[1]
    8. The best defense of the Bible is Jesus’ view: Matt 5:17-18: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    9. Wayne Grudem shares: Jesus referred to dozens of OT persons and events and always treated OT history as historically accurate. He quoted from Genesis as his Father’s Word when he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4–6). Jesus not only assumed that the creation story was true, he also freely quoted words from the OT narrator as words that God himself “said.” It is not uncommon for Jesus’ theological arguments to depend on the truthfulness of the OT account (Matt. 5:12; 11:23–24; 12:41–42; 24:37–39; Luke 4:25–27; 11:50–51; John 8:56–58). Jesus’ view of the OT as the Word of God aligns with the way the OT regularly speaks of itself.
    10. Jesus saw his entire life as a fulfillment of Scripture (Matt. 26:54; Mark 8:31). Throughout his life, Jesus used Scripture to resist temptation (Matt. 4:1–11) and to settle disputes (Matt. 19:1–12; 22:39; 27:46; Mark 7:1–13; Luke 10:25–26). At the end of his life, Jesus died quoting Scripture (cf. Matt. 27:46 with Ps. 22:1). On his resurrection day he explained Scripture at length on the Emmaus road and to his disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13–17, 44-47).[2]
  1. Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
  1. We value the Bible today, they valued the Bible is the Bible times, what about Church History?
    1. Let’s start with some of the early church fathers.
    2. Hippolytus, d. c. AD 235: If there is a day on which there is no instruction, let each one at home take a holy book and read in it sufficiently what seems profitable. (Apostolic Tradition 36:1)

Tradition defined by Irenaeus and Tertullian is simply the teaching of Scripture. It was Irenaeus who stated that while the Apostles at first preached orally, their teaching was later committed to writing (the Scriptures), and the Scriptures had since that day become the pillar and ground of the Churches faith. His exact statement is as follows: “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.”

  1. There are over 5700 copies of the New Testament Greek manuscripts. They are being found all the time.
  2. This is evidence of its validity.
  3. In contrast to the Greek classics in which we only have a few hundred copies and the copies we have date over a millennia after the original date of writing. We have New Testament manuscripts dating back to the second century.
  4. Yes, some are torn, but we have copies going back to A.D. 125 (The John Ryland’s Manuscript), this is phenomenal.
  5. David Bauer from Asbury Theological Seminary shared: The very earliest manuscripts are largely fragments; but we also have almost complete early and reliable texts, such as Alexandrinus [ Fifth Century the majority of the Old Testament LXX and the New Testament] and Vaticanus [Fourth century Old and New Testaments, likely 325 A.D].
  6. If we lost all of our New Testament manuscripts, we could put the New Testament back together simply based off of the writings of the church father. The church fathers quoted the New Testament that much. That must lead a conclusion that they valued the New Testament.
  7. Martin Luther said: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.”
  8. Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
  • How did we get the Bible?
    1. This is a big question and too big for one sermon, but let’s dive into it a bit.
    2. Inspiration:
    3. Benjamin B. Warfield: “Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.”
    4. Charles C. Ryrie: “Inspiration is … God’s superintendence of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs.”[3]
    5. People moved by the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible. They wrote by a number of ways. One method is that the Holy Spirit literally spoke to some of them (Habakkuk 2:2; Rev 1:19). Sometimes the Lord literally engraved the Bible on to stone (Exodus 31:18). Sometimes the Lord led a person to write an historical account (Luke 1:1-4). Sometimes people wrote from memory about times with Jesus, such as Mark, writing off of Peter’s testimony, or Matthew’s Gospel.
    6. God moved people to write, yet we have their personalities which came through.
    7. Inspire means “God breathed.”
    8. However, there is more. People could say, I am inspired, God led me to write a book and put it in the Bible.
    9. That gets into the New Testament Canon. We would say that the Canon of the Bible closed with the death of the Apostle John. He was the last of the Apostles to die. The early church fathers had a strict test to determine what books could go in our 27 books of the New Testament. The Moody Bible Handbook shares:
      1. (1) Apostolicity. Was the author an apostle or did he have a connection with an apostle? For example, Mark wrote under Peter’s authority, and Luke wrote under Paul’s authority.
      2. (2) Acceptance. Was the book accepted by the church at large? The recognition given a particular book by the church was important. By this canon false books were rejected (but it also delayed recognition of some legitimate books)
  • (3) Content. Did the book reflect consistency of doctrine with what had been accepted as orthodox teaching? The spurious “gospel of Peter” was rejected as a result of this principle.
  1. (4) Inspiration. Did the book reflect the quality of inspiration? The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha were rejected as a result of not meeting this test. The book should bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit.[4]
  1. The New Testament Canon was affirmed in the first few centuries of the church. There is more to be said about that, but we will save them for another time. If any of you have more questions, give me a call or send me an email.
  1. The necessity of the Bible (my debt to Wayne Grudem’s breakdown on pages 54 and following of “Systematic Theology”)
    1. The Gospel: The Bible is necessary to share the Gospel (Romans 10:13-17).
    2. The Bible is necessary for maintaining a spiritual life. Jesus in Matthew 4:4 quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 as a rebuke against satan.
    3. The Bible is necessary for certain knowledge of God’s Will (Romans 12:1-2).

Close:

God communicated to us.

The message of the Bible in one sentence:

Kevin DeYoung:

A holy God sends his righteous Son to die for unrighteous sinners so we can be holy and live happily with God forever.

Ray Ortlund:

The Lover of our souls won’t let the romance die, but is rekindling it forever.

Application:

Read Psalm 119 this week.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 154.

[2] ESV Study Bible article in the back

  1. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948), p. 131.

Edward J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), p. 27.

Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody, 1972), p. 38.

[4]  Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 172–173.

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Introduction to the Study of God series

Introduction:

Pictures of money on the screen.

I have heard multiple times that bankers are not taught to recognize fake money, but real money. In other words they know the feel of real money so well that they can recognize fake money. They do not spend a long time teaching them about fake money. Instead they spend time teaching bankers how to recognize real money. If they know real money, they can recognize counterfeit. Do you know real and true Biblical teaching? What is the correct Biblical teaching about God? Do you know truth well enough that you would recognize counterfeit Biblical teaching?

The devil has been trying to counterfeit truth since the beginning of time. In Genesis 3:1 the devil, masquerading as a serpent, questioned, “Indeed, has God said…” Then in Genesis 3:4 the devil said, “You surely will not die.” They died spiritually right away and then later on they died physically. The devil has always distorted truth. The devil has always tried to counterfeit truth. So, I wish to talk about true, Biblical teaching. We call this Theology or Doctrine. I am going to title this series: “The Study of God.” My theme today: Studying God is important.

  1. The strong importance of Bible doctrine
    1. W. Tozer shares in the The Knowledge of the Holy. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
      For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.[1]
    2. It is Christmas season and you are watching your favorite news station, then you hear about a professor suspended from her position because she said Muslims and Christians worship the same God.[2] As you may recall, that really did happen. What do you think? Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?
    3. Can God be known?
      1. In order to understand current events which, have to do with God, one must understand God. Now, it is so easy to think, “We cannot understand God.” It is easy to think, “God is not able to be known.” If one thinks God cannot be known then he is an agnostic. The term “agnostic” literally means, “no knowledge.” This means we cannot have any knowledge of God. To call oneself an agnostic is to claim ignorance. The Latin equivalent would be ignoramus.
      2. However, I believe God is knowable. It is possible to know God. Yes, God is great, but He has revealed Himself to us in the sixty-six books of the Bible. We cannot know everything about God, but we can know God. We can know God because He chose to make the first move. We can know God because He has revealed Himself to us (Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11; John 1:1-14; 1 John 4:19). That is an absolutely amazing truth. Don’t miss that. The God of the world, the God of the universe, the only true and real God revealed Himself to us. Going a step further, if He is God then there is no reason to doubt that He can create the world, or the universe, or time. If He is God, there is no reason to doubt the miracles in the Bible. Believing in God means that logically it makes sense to believe in miracles. Believing in God means that logically there is reason to believe in the attributes of God, such as: He knows everything, He is everywhere and He is all powerful.
    4. So, in order to understand current events having to do with God, one must first understand God. We know about God and what He has already revealed to us. This is in the Bible (Deut. 29:29: the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but what He has revealed belong to us and to our children forever… (NIV), this means that what He has revealed is in the Bible). Moving on then, in order to understand the current events, or history, or fiction, or anything else having to do with God, one must understand God. It is important that one studies God. If one is a Christian, instead of starting with all the religions of the world, start with the Christian view of God. Start with what the Bible teaches about God. Certainly, I believe it is important for the Christian and non-Christian to study the other religions of the world, but the Christian must first know God. That is what this sermon series is about.
    5. Theology means the Study of God:
      1. The term “theology” or “theological” has been mocked, even among pastors.
      2. I once attended a conference where the speaker asked various pastors what seminary they went to[3] and as the pastors would answer the speaker would interrupt them as they said the adjective “theological.” This is because the adjective “theological” is in the name of most seminaries. A pastor could say, “I attended the Southern Baptist ‘Theological’ Seminary.” Another pastor could say, “I attended Asbury ‘Theological’ Seminary.” The list can go on and on.
  • At first, I was not bothered by the speaker’s comment, but as I reflected on his comment, it really bothered me. Theology means the study of God. If a pastor is in seminary, wouldn’t we expect that he or she is studying God? I would certainly hope so. Further, that particular seminar was devoted to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the speakers point was that seminaries do not teach pastors to be led by the Spirit. I would counter argue that the first step in being led by the Spirit is to know God.
  1. If we do not know God, if we do not understand God, then we do not understand whether we are led by the Spirit of God or by demons (2 Cor. 11:14).
  2. Theology is not a bad word, but a necessary practice for the Christian. The noun translated as “doctrine” is used seven times in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and these short New Testament letters are about pastoring a church. Certainly, our understanding of God is important just as our doctrine is important for our understanding of God is a large part of our doctrine.
  1. I believe it is important that every Christian is trying to grow spiritually and that begins with understanding who God is.
  2. Let’s try to understand who God is and in doing so, I believe, we will love Him more. Even as I study and preach this sermon series I believe I will grow in my relationship with God. I will realize more of His greatness and more of the awesomeness of the salvation God has graced me with and I will be caught up in God’s love for me. I hope that happens to you also.
  3. Before I move on there is one other important part of Christianity and that is having a Biblical worldview. Everyone has a worldview. When things come up in the news we interpret those events based off of our worldview.
  4. James 4:4 teaches us that friendship with the world is enmity with God.
  5. 1 Thess. 5:21 says to test everything. The point is that the world’s ways, meaning the worldview of the world or the culture, is different than the worldview of God.
  6. This is why we must study God, we must study Theology in order to have a Christian worldview. Let’s study God together. It is my goal that this study is simple and straightforward. I hope not to go too deep. I hope that this gets you into the pool of the study of God, but not into the ocean where you may get discouraged by the big waves. So, please don’t be discouraged.
  1. Think of Bible Doctrine and Theology as “knowing God.”
    1. Jesus prays in John 17:3: This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
    2. How awesome it is that we can know God. How amazing that God has made Himself known to us.
  • Think about Sound doctrine.
    1. 2 Tim. 4:3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wantingto have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires
    2. Titus 1:9: holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
    3. Take from those two Scriptures how critical it is that we assure our doctrine is sound.
    4. By the way, Doctrine means “teaching or set of beliefs taught by a church or institution.” Correct Theology should lead to correct doctrine. Or, the correct study of God should lead to the correct knowledge of God which should lead to the correct beliefs and teachings about God.
  1. How to study Theology (with help from Wayne Grudem’s book, “Bible Doctrine”)
    1. With prayer: Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes, that I may behold
      Wonderful things from Your law
      .
    2. With humility: 1 Peter 5:5: You younger men, likewise, be subject to yourelders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
    3. With reason:
      1. God gave us reason.
      2. God is a God of order. 1 Cor. 14:33: for God is not a Godof confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
  • God cannot contradict Himself: 2 Tim. 2:13: If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
  1. With help from others: 1 Cor. 12:28: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
  2. Collecting all the relevant passages of a given topic.
  3. With praise: Psalm 139:17: How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them
    !

Conclusion:

By the time this sermon series is over you will know the correct Biblical teaching on several topics concerning God. You may ask, “How do we know it is the correct Biblical teaching?” I am glad you asked, you will know because I will be using the Bible as the source. So, next week we will talk about the Bible and our understanding of the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, we are studying God, so let’s talk about His Word first. Then we will talk about the broad topic of “Who is God.” Then the sermon series will include: “Who is Jesus,” Who is the Holy Spirit,” “What is the church and who are the church,” “What does it mean to be human,” “Who are angels,” “What is Heaven and what is hell,” “Where did it all come from which will be about Creation” and “the study of last things.” Lastly, I plan to have a sermon on the difference between the god of the Koran and the Lord of the Bible.

Remember, we do not want counterfeit money and we do not want counterfeit Christianity. Please join me for this study.

Pray

Let’s pray.

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Excerpt From
A. W. Tozer Books Collection
A. W. Tozer
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-w-tozer-books-collection/id780535142?mt=11
This material may be protected by copyright.

[2] http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/december/wheaton-college-hijab-professor-same-god-larycia-hawkins.html

[3] A seminary is a graduate school which specializes in ministry training.

God provides the sacrifice

Jesus’ birth fulfills the Old Testament Prophesies, God Provides the Sacrifice (Gen. 3:15; Gen. 22; Isa. 7:14; Isa 53:7; 60:19-20; Matt. 1:23)

I do not believe in coincidences. Many of you may remember the former NFL player Tim Tebow. He was an outspoken Christian and came away with many surprising wins. One of them was versus the Steelers in the 2012 playoffs. This is what I read about it:

Tim Tebow appeared on Harry Connick Jr’s show “Harry” this week to discuss his new book, baseball career, and more. One part of the conversation that stood out was when Connick Jr. asked Tebow to explain the incredible thing that happened immediately after he led the Broncos to an upset playoff victory over the Steelers back in 2012.

For the game, Tebow decided to paint the Bible verse John 3:16 under his eyes, exactly the same way he did three years prior for the National Championship game. On that day, January 8th, 2009, an insane amount of people – 94 million to be precise –  Googled the verse and Tebow’s Gators won the game.

Fast forward to the upset win over the Steelers in 2012, which ended on this Tebow touchdown pass:

An ecstatic Tebow was celebrating with teammates in the locker room and preparing to speak with the press, when the Broncos PR guy approached him almost too giddy to speak.

“Timmy, do you realize what happened?”

“Yeah, we just beat the Steelers and we’re going to play the Patriots!”

“No, I don’t think you realize what just happened. It’s exactly three years later from when you wore John 3:16 under your eyes. During the game you threw for 316 yards, your yards per rush were 3.16, your yards per catch were 31.6, the ratings for the game was 31.6 and the time of possession was 31.6.”

During the game 90 million people googled John 3:16 and once again it was the #1 trending item on Facebook and Twitter.

Tebow summed up the incredible imagery with the numbers like this: “A lot of people said it was a coincidence. I say big God.”

No coincidence.

In the birth of Christ we also see a Big God, no coincidences.

The date is now December 10, so I wonder how things are coming along with your Christmas plans. Do you have all your shopping done yet? Do you have your house decorated?

Show of hands: How many of you have your Christmas tree up?

How many have two Christmas trees up?

How many have lights up outside of the house?

Have you gone out looking at Christmas lights whether driving around or a specific display?

Do you ever look up at the stars at night? Do you notice that you cannot see as many stars in the city as you can in the country? I once saw a program that said we have to go to the middle of the Atlantic in order to truly get away from the light pollution, wow! Yet, electric lighting revolutionized the world. We were already in the industrial revolution, but when electric lighting came, wow! But we know that Thomas Edison did not invent light, just the electric light bulb. Now, we have lights everywhere. Think about night baseball games, night football games, night soccer games, indoor night basketball games at night, we have services here after dark, headlights on our cars, lights outside our houses, parking lot lights and lighthouses. Is that all because of the light bulb? I don’t think so, I think it is all because we need light. Think about it, if we did not need light, the light bulb would have been another unimportant invention. We need light.

We need light and God provided light from the beginning. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was. Later God created the sun, moon and stars. But that is not the only light which we need and needed. We needed salvation. We needed a sacrifice. God sent us the Light of the World. God sent His own sacrifice. He was prophesied about in the Old Testament.

Singer Michael Card wrote a song called The Promise, and he wrote a little Christmas devotional on this theme:
He noted:
Christianity is founded on a promise. Faith involves waiting on a promise. Our hope is based on a promise.
Promises are made with words. … .that part of myself that goes with every promise is given to you through my words….
Our God is the great maker of promises… His word, our Bible, is a collection of the promises… most of these concern Jesus, who came to be known as “the Promised One”
Through all these promises, God was trying to give something of Himself to Adam, and to Israel, and finally to us. The Bible tells us that when the Promised One came, the Lord poured all of Himself into Him.
What a costly thing it can be to make a promise – it cost Jesus His life.

Today, we look at a very familiar Old Testament story. Yet, as familiar as this is, this is prophetic in looking towards the Christ Child. God provides the sacrifice needed for Abraham and for us.

Read with me Genesis 22:1-14:

The great idea in this passage is that the Lord provides. So, I want to talk about how the Lord provides the sacrifice. The Lord sends the Light. Three times in verses 1-14 we see the idea that the Lord provides.

  1. Let’s overview this narrative.
    1. In verse 1 God talks to Abraham and notice that Abraham has no hesitation. Abraham immediately said, “Here I am.”
    2. Verse 2 has God giving Abraham instructions as to what to do. Notice how specific this is:
      1. Take your son…
      2. Your only son…
  • whom you love…
  1. sacrifice him as a burnt offering.
  1. Realize that Abraham had another son, Ishmael, whom he sent away. He was not the son of the promise. He was not the son by Abraham and Sarah. Isaac was.
  2. This was Abraham’s only son and he loves him.
  3. Yet, God tells him to sacrifice him. What was this like for Abraham? What were his emotions?
  4. Whatever it was like for Abraham, God did this with His Son.
  5. John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
  6. Notice that Jesus, God’s only begotten Son is the Son of promise. Isaac was the son of promise to Abraham. By Isaac all the world will be blessed. The lineage goes on to Jesus and in Him, through His death and resurrection all the world will be blessed.
  7. Verse 3, the next verse says that Abraham got up early in the morning and he began his trip to obey God.
    1. I heard someone say, “I wonder if he told Sarah.” That is a thought. I wonder if he just said they were going out for a bit. Do you think he could have actually told Sarah that he was going to kill her only son? No way!
    2. I bet if he told her that she would have stopped it. That is not saying that she had less faith, but this was her only son.
  8. Verse 5 shows that this is about worship. There were two servants with them. Abraham has the servants wait. Abraham says that they will worship and then they will return.
  9. Isn’t that interesting? Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, yet he tells the servants they will return. Maybe Abraham did not wish for the servants to come with him and try to restrain him from following the Lord’s command? Or, maybe Abraham thought that Isaac was the child of promise and so God would raise him up again. Maybe he thought his son, Isaac, was the Messiah. They were waiting on someone to make things right.
  10. They have the wood, the fire and the knife and they are going up to make the sacrifice. Isaac is carrying the wood for his own sacrifice. Hmm. You know that in John 19:17 it says that Jesus carried His own cross?
  11. By the way, Isaac is not a young child. He is an adult. The Jewish historian Josephus says that he is probably twenty-five years old. We never think of him that old.
  12. In verse 8: Abraham says that God will provide the lamb. Isaac knew what he would need for a sacrifice. Abraham had strong faith. God will provide.
  13. We look at this today and we are looking back and we see that God provided Jesus, our eternal lamb.
  14. Abraham places his son on the alter and pulls the knife. He is about to kill him when an angel interrupts him. The angel may have been a normal angel or he might have been Jesus in the Old Testament. Sometimes when the Bible says the Angel of the Lord it is referring to Jesus.
  15. Abraham is stopped and then they see a ram caught in the bushes by its horns.
  16. God provided the sacrifice.
  17. God provided a sacrifice for Abraham.
  1. God provided a sacrifice for us and the sacrifice was His own Son.
    1. John 1:36 John the baptizer says look at the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. 1 John 4:9; John 3:16 both talk about God sending His only begotten Son.
    2. Isa 53:7: Jesus is like a lamb to the slaughter.
    3. Verse 14: Abraham calls that place the Lord provides.
    4. Abraham needed a sacrifice. God gave him the sacrifice.
    5. But the sacrifice for Abraham was foreshadowing the sacrifice for the rest of the world. Truly through Abraham all the world would be blessed.
    6. Close to two thousand years later a descendant of Abraham would be born and raised. He would be just over twenty-five years old at the age of thirty-three. He would be God’s Son and He would carry His own cross and this time the angel would not stop the death. This time He would die. He would die as our sacrifice. God provided the Light. But praise God He did not stay in the grave. He became the first fruits of the resurrection. (1 Cor. 15)
    7. Our Lord provides! Amen! Jehovah Jireh is how that name is translated.

Close:

Jesus came:

That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.(Hebrews 2:14–15)

But not just to die. Jesus was born to be raised from the dead (Revelation 1:18). He is the Resurrection and the Life and whoever believes in him “though he die yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem it was the dawn of death’s destruction. It made possible the fast-approaching time when,

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

We Still Prepare the Way (Mark 1)

Title: We Still Prepare the Way for Jesus’ Coming.

Opening:

We are now in the Advent season. Advent means the coming or arrival. All throughout Old Testament history they were waiting on the Messiah and every year during this season we celebrate His coming.

When I was in college I worked as a McDonald’s manager. I worked full time and I went to school full time. I did 5 years of tribulation period there and Jesus has not come back yet so He is coming back post tribulation. The McDonalds that I was a manager at was a franchise. With the McDonalds system, as a franchise, a couple times a year we would have a corporate audit. There was a specific person who worked for corporate who would come in and spend 2 days auditing our store. They would check the paper work, but mostly they would check us for cleanliness and service times. They would time us in the drive thru, they would time us in the grill, they would time us on the front counter, and they would time us everywhere else. Looking bad on this audit would mean more audits and other consequences for the franchise. These audits had scheduled dates. Because these audits were so important we worked extra hard getting ready. The days and weeks prior to the audit were filled with extra hours and extra staff to clean the store and be ready. Many times I came in extra early the day of the audit and the closing crew from the previous night was still at the store cleaning. We cleaned under the counter, under the grill, and under everywhere else. We had to prepare the store for the coming of the corporate people. We had to be ready.

You know, there are Biblical parallels to this story. In the passage we are going to look at we see the text talk about John preparing the way for Jesus. I would like to take a few moments and talk about how John prepared the way for Jesus and also show how even though Jesus has already come, We Still Prepare the Way for Jesus’ Coming. How do we prepare the way for Jesus’ coming? Listen and you will hear.

Let’s start by reading Mark 1:1-8:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

  • Mark opens his gospel with three Old Testament quotations. The first of these quotations is from Mal 3:1 and the second is from Isaiah 40:3. The third is Exodus 23:20. Isaiah is the strongest quotation.
    • I know as you read this you may notice that Mark says, “Isaiah the prophet” and then quotes Malachi. Well, this was common. The N.T. writers knew the O.T. so well that many times they would mention several O.T. quotations at once.
    • I find the quotation in Isa 40:3 particularly interesting. In the context it says: “make straight in the desert a Highway for our God.” It makes it sound like this messenger will symbolically be clearing a highway. This messenger will be getting rid of the trees and stumps and making a type of King’s Highway.
    • I think that is what John the Baptist did in a symbolic way. He prepared the way of the Lord in people’s hearts. He did this by what follows.
      • Before the U.S. president comes to a town there are traffic detours, etc
      • If the U.S. President were to come to our area there would be road closures and detours to prepare the way for the President. Actually, they would work with the local authorities ahead of time to prepare the way. I am an expert on this because I watch the show Blue Bloods. The show is about the Police Department in New York City and Tom Selleck stars at the Police Commissioner. Anytime a dignitary is coming they make plans. A few years ago Meagan and I were driving back from Cincinnati and there were many road closures. The whole highway on Interstate 71 was shut down. We got off and navigated home. Later we found out the President was coming to town.
      • We prepared the way for corporate to come to McDonalds.
        • John the Baptist did this symbolically in the people’s hearts.
      • In verse 4, following these quotations, Mark starts talking about John the Baptist.
        • We, the reader, don’t yet know anything about John the Baptist. But now Mark introduces him. I think it is very interesting that Mark introduces him in this way.
        • John follows the Old Testament quotations about this messenger who will prepare the way of the Lord. I think that Mark is trying to tell the reader that John was that messenger. John was sent to prepare the way of the Lord.
        • Mark gave those three O.T. quotations to give a little more credit to who John was. Isaiah was known as the greatest O.T. prophet. Inserting his name probably helped build the case that John the Baptist was this messenger.
      • Verse 4 gives some more ideas of how John prepared the way of the Lord. John prepared the way of the Lord by baptizing. But John was not baptizing in a special temple or other religious place. Mark tells us he was baptizing in the wilderness.
        • But John did not only baptize. John was proclaiming repentance for forgiveness. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
      • Verse 5 talks more about this baptism. Verse 5 adds that all the country of Judea and Jerusalem were being baptized. I think this is a little hyperbole. I really don’t believe that all the country was being baptized. But I do think that a lot of the people were. Even those not getting baptized were probable coming out to see what was going on. Matt 3:7 tells us the Pharisees were coming out. John was making quite an impact and rightfully so, because John was preparing the way for the Lord.
        • Verse 5 continues to clue us in to how John prepared the way of the Lord. He prepared the way by baptizing them in the Jordan River. They were also confessing their sins.
          • We also must do this. We cannot take sin out of the message of the Gospel. In Acts 2:38 Peter had just gotten finished with his Pentecost sermon and they asked how they could be saved and he said “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.”
        • Then we come to verse 6. I think it might be easy to come to verse 6 and think, “Why does it matter?” well it does matter. It matters because I think that Mark was trying to establish John as a prophet. Jesus calls him among the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28) For Mark’s Jewish readers they may recognize this type of dress comparable to Elijah in 2Kings 1:8.
        • But verse 7continues to tell us how John prepared the way of the Lord. John was preaching and what he said pointed to Jesus.
          • He said that someone is coming after him
          • John said that the one who comes after Him is Mightier than him.
            • Isn’t that humble? Here John has all these people coming out to him yet he acknowledges that Jesus will be mightier than him.
          • John is not worthy to unstrap this person’s sandals.
            • Only slaves washed feet and untied sandals. John is saying that he is not worthy to be Jesus’ slave. Very humble.
          • As John prepared the way of the Lord, John pointed to Jesus and did this in humility.
            • This reminds me of John 3:30 where he said that Christ must increase and he must decrease.
            • John is the person preparing the way. He is not the important person and while preparing the way John recognized his place in God’s plan.
          • Finally, in verse 8 John gives the contrast between the way he is baptizing and the way Jesus will baptize. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
            • This is significant because in the Old Testament only God could give the Holy Spirit.
            • John calls the one to come equal with God.
            • Also, Mark strategically places this as the 8th verse in His Gospel. In the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel He is saying that Jesus is Lord!

John prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming. We must prepare the way for Jesus’ second coming. Look at 2 Peter 3:8-10: But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

  • Now there are different view on when and how Jesus will come again. But none can dispute that Jesus will come again. But we must prepare the way.
    • We must preach the Gospel as John did.
      • We must do this in humility.
        • There is no other way to introduce Jesus. Only in humility. He is the King of Kings.
        • That means that we preach the Gospel of Jesus not the Gospel of Steve. We must recognize that Jesus is greater than us as John did.
          • We must lead people to Jesus. That means that we recognize our place in God’s plan.
        • Remember how the secret service prepares the way for the President. The person(s) preparing the way are not the important person but they do have a purpose
        • We prepared the way for the corporate representative at McDonald’s but none of us were that important person.
          • I once heard Chuck Swindoll talk about serving as an associate pastor. While he was an associate pastor the job was to take care of the desires of the senior pastor. Our job is to serve at the pleasure of King Jesus.
        • As John did we must preach that people confess their sins and be baptized into Jesus.
      • L. Moody shared: The monument I want after I am dead is a monument with two legs going around the world—a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ.
        • We must also do this with boldness and sometimes that may lead to death as it later did for John that Baptist.

Close:

I told you about those corporate audits. In 5 years as a manager I worked many of those audits. But after a few years corporate changed the rules of the audits. Corporate made it that they would come for a 2 day announced visit. The first 2 days they came we knew that they were coming. Then after that corporate visit they would come within a month and do an audit that would be unannounced. We had very little idea when they were coming. This was more difficult we had to be ready all the time.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming. We now celebrate Jesus’ first coming, but in doing so we must prepare the way for His second coming. Like the unannounced visit of corporate to McDonalds, Jesus will be unannounced. He will come like a thief in the night. So, we must prepare the way. We do this by preaching the Gospel. We preach the Gospel as John the Baptist did: preaching confession of sin with repentance and doing this in humility. We still prepare the way for Jesus’ coming!

Pray

Let’s pray.

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

The Benediction of Ephesians

Opening:

We have been in Ephesians for sometime now. I began this series on July 2 and now we are wrapping it up. When I began this series it was hot outside and now it is almost winter. We have preached this series through the seasons. I hope it was not too long for you. John MacArthur preached some 62 or 63 messages on Ephesians. This is expository preaching, which used to be very common.

We come to the last few verses.

Do you pray for Christian leaders? Do you pray for others? Do you pray specific prayers?

Do you love Jesus? How would you describe your love for Jesus? Is it “incorruptible”?

Do you have grace? Do you extend grace? Do you have love with faith from God, the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?

We see all these ideas listed in the passage today.

In his best-selling book The Reason for God, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, shares the story of a woman in his congregation who was learning how the grace extended to us through Christ’s work on the cross can actually be more challenging than religion. He writes:

Some years ago I met with a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion [i.e. the distinction between grace and what is often a works-based righteousness]. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked why it was scary and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with “rights”—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

She understood the dynamic of grace and gratitude. If when you have lost all fear of punishment you also lose all incentive to live a good, unselfish life, then the only incentive you ever had to live a decent life was fear. This woman could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had an edge to it. She knew that if she was a sinner saved by grace, she was (if anything) more subject to the sovereign Lordship of God. She knew that if Jesus really had done all this for her, she would not be her own. She would joyfully, gratefully belong to Jesus, who provided all this for her at infinite cost to himself.[1]

My theme and application:

Paul’s closing words: peace, love, faith, grace, love God with an incorruptible love.

Let’s read the passage:

Ephesians 5:21-23:

But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.

23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

  1. Let’s start by talking about verse 21 and Tychicus
    1. Who is this man? MacArthur notes: A convert from Asia Minor (modern Turkey) who was with the apostle during his first imprisonment in Rome, from where this epistle was written (see 3:1). He accompanied Paul in taking an offering to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 20:4–6) and was sent by him on several missions (2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12).
    2. Bible Knowledge Commentary: Apparently Tychicus was the bearer of this epistle. Paul considered him a dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord. In Colossians 4:7 Paul called him by these same titles and added that he was a “fellow servant” (syndoulos, “fellow slave”). Tychicus is also mentioned in Acts 20:4; 2 Timothy 4:12; and Titus 3:12. Tychicus was to inform the Ephesians of Paul’s welfare—how he was and what he was doing—in order to encourage them (cf. Eph. 3:13).
    3. I want to point out a different application on this verse.
    4. This verse follows Paul’s words on prayer. In the previous few verses, verses 19-20 Paul says: and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
    5. So, Paul talked about praying and now he talks about Tychicus communicating what is going on with him.
    6. Tychicus is communicating how they should pray.
    7. Tychicus is going to share with them what is going on in Paul’s ministry so that they can pray accordingly.
    8. You know we should pray as detailed as we can.
    9. Do you receive the church prayer chain? Let me know if you would like those?
    10. Every week we print out a weekly prayer list, do you pick up a copy? Let me know if you would like one.
    11. Do you pray for spiritual needs?
    12. Pray Spiritual prayers. Look at that verse 19 again: and prayon my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
    13. Paul was in prison, but he did not ask them to pray for his release he asked them to pray for the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul could have asked them to pray for his rest, his sores from the poor sleeping condition, his health, but he wanted prayers in proclaiming the Gospel.
  2. Now let’s get into the benediction:
    1. One source gives a NOTE ON 6:23–24 This beautiful benediction sums up the major themes of this very personal letter, reminding readers of the peace (v. 15; 1:2; 2:14–15, 17; 4:3), love (1:15; 4:2, 15–16; 5:25, 28, 33), and faith (6:16; 1:15; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13) from God and Jesus Christ.”
    2. Look at all those verses that reference these nouns.
    3. Peace: (v. 15; 1:2; 2:14–15, 17; 4:3): Do you have the peace of Christ. Do you offer others peace? Col. 3:15: Letthe peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
    4. Love with faith:
      1. Love is listed many times in Ephesians: 1:15; 4:2, 15–16; 5:25, 28, 33
      2. Faith is also listed many times in Ephesians: 6:16; 1:15; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13
    5. This love and faith is From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all about Jesus.
    6. Grace (verse 24): Grace is listed in Ephesians quite a bit too, no less than 12 times in this letter (Eph. 1:2, 6, 7; 2:5, 7, 8; 3:2, 7, 8; 4:7, 29; 6:24).
    7. The Ephesian letter begins with the grace and peace of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and ends in the immortality of love.
    8. Paul ends the epistle as he opened it.

Ray Ortlund Jr writes:

We were married to Mr. Law. He was a good man, in his way, but he did not understand our weakness. He came home every evening and asked, “So, how was your day? Did you do what I told you to? Did you make the kids behave? Did you waste any time? Did you complete everything I put on your To Do list?” So many demands and expectations. And hard as we tried, we couldn’t be perfect. We could never satisfy him. We forgot things that were important to him. We let the children misbehave. We failed in other ways. It was a miserable marriage, because Mr. Law always pointed out our failings. And the worst of it was, he was always right! But his remedy was always the same: Do better tomorrow. We didn’t, because we couldn’t.

Then Mr. Law died. And we remarried, this time to Mr. Grace. Our new husband, Jesus, comes home every evening and the house is a mess, the children are being naughty, dinner is burning on the stove, and we have even had other men in the house during the day. Still, he sweeps us into his arms and says, “I love you, I chose you, I died for you, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And our hearts melt. We don’t understand such love. We expect him to despise us and reject us and humiliate us, but he treats us so well. We are so glad to belong to him now and forever, and we long to be “fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10)!

Being married to Mr. Law never changed us. But being married to Mr. Grace is changing us deep within, and it shows.[2]

Christianity is all about Jesus.

 

  • Final application: Love Jesus with an “incorruptible love.”
    1. Love our Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible love Verse 24. This could also be translated “Undying love.” What does that mean: NET Bible note: The term “undying” which modifies it captures the sense of the kind of love the author is referring to here. He is saying that God’s grace will be with those whose love for Jesus never ceases.
    2. Another source points out some more applications with this: “Incorruptible” or “undying” love has the idea that believers’ love for the Lord Jesus Christ is to be pure, not corrupted with wrong motives or secret disloyalties.
    3. Does your love for Jesus cease?
    4. Do we really love Jesus?
    5. 2 Cor. 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves and make sure we are in the faith. How often do we do this?
    6. Is our faith in Jesus pure?
    7. 2 Tim. 3:7 talks about people who are always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
    8. Do we love Jesus or just things that we think Jesus represents?
    9. Do we love the Word of God, or do we just like to study?
    10. I say the following with great respect and caution.
      1. To some Jesus represents morality. The values are good, but do we love Jesus with “incorruptible love.” We don’t love Jesus we just love His values.
      2. To some Jesus represents the Judea-Christian values: we don’t love Jesus we just love the values.
  • To some Jesus represents our family history. We have always been going to church and so we go. We don’t love Jesus, we just wish to stay true to our family history.
  1. To many in the United States Jesus represents our American founding and history and so there are many in this fine country who really do not love Jesus from day-to-day and week-to-week, but they do when we talk about American values.
  2. There are some that love Jesus around Christmas time or Resurrection Sunday. There are some that love Jesus on Mother’s Day. In which case, He really is not loved. Either He is Lord of all, or not lord at all. In this case Jesus is not loved with an “undying” and “incorruptible” love.
  3. To many Jesus is loved until He messes with their life. For example, you love Jesus until you have a boyfriend and you want to move in together and be sexually active, but not get married. In which case, you compromise the Bible and say it is okay. In that case you love your boyfriend and hate Jesus.
  • Do we love Jesus?
  • Do we organize our affairs around Him?
  1. One source sheds light on the Ephesian church: what happened with the Ephesian Christians? Unfortunately, some Ephesian believers later did lose the fervency of their love for Christ (Rev. 2:4). Paul’s benediction, though unusual (cf. the chart “Paul’s Concluding Benedictions in His Epistles,” at Rom. 16:17–20), was certainly fitting.

The Real Jesus Christ

The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That’s why Jesus’ question to his disciples [in Matthew 16] is so important: “Who do you say that I am?”

The question is doubly crucial in our day, because [no one is as popular in the U.S. as Jesus]—and not every Jesus is the real Jesus. …

There’s the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.

There’s Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.

There’s Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.

There’s Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals.

There’s Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).

There’s Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.

There’s Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.

There’s Gentle Jesus—who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash (while looking very German).

There’s Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that “all you need is love.”

There’s Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.

There’s Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding “the god within” while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.

There’s Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.

There’s Revolutionary Jesus—who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on “the system.”

There’s Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.

There’s Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

There’s Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.

And then there’s Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed; the one to deliver us from captivity; the goal of the Mosaic law; Yahweh in the flesh; the one to establish God’s reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a New Creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the Serpent; the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood; the Christ promised to Abraham; the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites; the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died; the Christ promised to David when he was king; the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a Suffering Servant; the Christ predicted through the Prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father’s Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins—more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.[3]

As you leave have an incorruptible love for Jesus!

It is my hope and prayer that you now, know this book more in depth or in a different wy than you did before. The value of preaching through books of the Bible is that we can really learn a book of the Bible. This is called Expository preaching. This means that we teach the Bible text, by text, during the sermons. John MacArthur is a wonderful Bible teacher and he has taught all through the New Testament at his church. He did this over a long period of time, some forty or more years. Now, we are at a point in the church calendar where we begin to think about Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ birth. Ephesians fits with Jesus’ birth as we think about how much Ephesians speaks about us being “in Christ.” We are “in Christ,” we are held in God’s love.

Go, love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

Eph. 5:23: Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

 

 

 

[1] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (Riverhead Books, 2008), pp. 189-19

[2] Ray Ortlund, “Who are you married to?”The Gospel Coalition blog—Ray Ortlund (2-15-15)

[3] Kevin DeYoung, “Who Do You Say That I Am?” from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog (posted 6-10-09)