Have the Simpson’s ruined a generation

This is a really good article:

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/did-the-simpsons-ruin-a-generation?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=61557988&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9JbpzGVsVvZbr7FDjPp2iQTiywzcT8CDoyhOoVwVRWnpkSoipv62Um1SfSjcHVwZ43AdILh5Qup_22QqLCnz6oQRePBg&_hsmi=61557988

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Where Is History Going (Rev. 1:1-3)

Introduction:

We need the whole Bible, watch this:

https://www.russellmoore.com/2015/11/18/you-need-the-whole-bible-even-if-you-dont-know-why/

Back in the eighties there was a show called Quantum Leap. In this show the main character would leap between different time periods. A thought to think about is that God is outside of time and so He can leap between any time period He wants to. God is the keeper of the timeline. He is in charge.

As I do this, take the rope down the center aisle.

I have a rope up here, I have many feet of rope and I am going to pull it out and just watch as it falls to the floor. Now, suppose that this first end of the rope is Genesis 1:1. This is creation. Now, as I move, look at this rope and imagine all of this rope is time. So, we would have Abraham somewhere close to the same end and then Moses and then David and then Ezekiel and then Isaiah and then we would get to Ezra and that would be, oh, about 3500 years of history and then we go another 400 years and we have Jesus’ birth and then we have 2000 years until now and then we keep going until Jesus comes again and makes thing right. Now, as we look at this rope type of time line we are on the rope around, I don’t know, maybe here [point towards the opposite end of the beginning]. We are bound by our little time. We are stuck in the rope. Oh, but God, He created the rope. God created the time and He is powerful and in control. Take this thought a little bit further and understand that God put you in your spot for a reason, wow!

Be encouraged, seriously be encouraged. We can easily look at this rope and be discouraged about all of time and all of existence, but, no, be encouraged because God, who is not bound by time, chose to put you on this earth at this time. God can go anywhere He wants on our rope timeline. God can, “quantum leap.” But let’s go a step further: God is to time as we are to this rope. He looks down on the time all at once. He is not limited by it, for He created it.

Today, I wish to talk about where history is going. In a nutshell, history is going to a point and time and place where everyone will be judged. God will make things right again. In order to talk about this, I thought I would introduce the book of Revelation and then talk about Judgment. I will then end with Heaven. Revelation is the book of the end times judgment so we might as well talk about it. However, please know there are other places throughout the Bible when God talks about the judgment as well.

As we look at Revelation 1:1 we are going to “Quantum Leap” back in time to, around, 96 A.D. But not only us, notice that Jesus is also entering John’s realm of existence through an angel and even Himself later on.

My theme today is:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, God Tells Us The Rest of the Story, An Intro to Revelation and Judgment.

 

Let’s read Revelation 1:1-3 to get us started.

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

  1. This letter is revelation from Jesus Christ. This is all in verse 1.
    1. It is from the Father to the Son.
    2. It is from the Son, Jesus, to the angel.
    3. It is from the angel to John.
    4. It is from John to us.
    5. Look the verse says that God gave this to His servants to show His servants what soon must take place.
    6. Be encouraged that God is not limited. There is nothing limiting God. God wanted to show us and all Christians through the ages things that must take place.
    7. I must pause here because you are likely looking at this and thinking, “But it says must ‘soon take place.’” Let’s handle some of the background to this letter.
    8. First notice that it is titled the “’Revelation’ to John.” It is not “Revelation’s.’” This work, which is a letter, in the New Testament format, is one gynormous Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John.
    9. Remember that to God, He is outside of time. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:8, when talking about the end times: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. So, when this passage says, “soon” we can know that it could be soon in our thinking or God’s thinking and God is outside of time.
    10. There are four primary ways of interpreting Revelation.
      1. One of these is the Historicism method:This method interprets chapters 1-3 taking place in the first century, chapters 4-20:6 taking place between the second century and the end times and then chapters 20:7-22 being when Jesus makes things right.
      2. Second, is Futurism: This method most of Revelation is in the future, chapter 4 and throughout chapter 22.
      3. Then there is the Preterist. The preterist which is a past fulfillment or contemporary to John’s readers. Those would believe that it had to do with the Roman Empire and the fall of the Roman Empire. Fulfillment is entirely in the past by the fall of Constantine and Rome in 476 AD. Some see it as the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD but this is a very narrow view. This seemed to start in the late 1500’s or early 1600’s. This would be the earliest understanding of Revelation in the period following its dissemination
      4. Then there is the idealist: Sees Revelation operating at two levels.
        1. General spiritual principles operating at all ages.
        2. There was an immediate meaning for John and his readers but there is a profound spiritual reality for all ages.
        3. Idea that there is a clash between good and evil
      5. There are variations on each of those interpretations especially when we get to the Millennial reign and the tribulation period and we are not getting into that today.
      6. I would fall in the futurist camp.
        1. I believe the Millennial reign is literal and it will still happen.
        2. I believe that Jesus will come again in the rapture.
  • Following the rapture, I believe we will have the tribulation period.
  1. Following the tribulation period, I believe will be the Millennial Reign.
  2. Following the Millennial Reign, I believe we will have the final judgment.
  3. I do know that there are respectable pastors and theologians who are Amillennial and I have heard their view points.
  • I mean no disrespect to them.
  1. Next, let’s look at dating. It appears that John is exiled to the island Patmos and this was under persecution. He might have been there forced to work the mines. This could have been the great persecution under Caesar Nero in the 60’s AD or in the 90’s AD under Domitian which many believe. I believe the latter.
  1. John witnessed for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ with all that he saw. This is verse 2.
    1. We may wonder what he saw. This gets into the type of literature Revelation is. It is a letter with apocalyptic literature and prophesy. Think of the idea of pulling back a curtain and revealing something. That is the idea of apocalyptic literature. It means that God is showing us the spiritual realm. God is pulling back the curtain and showing us the end.
    2. John uses a pool of images that are very familiar to him and to his readers, but not familiar to us.
    3. John uses a Jewish pool of images.
    4. He uses a few from Hellenistic culture.
    5. Most of the imagery is from the Old Testament and intertestamental period. They are plain to his audience.
    6. We must understand this. If we divorce Revelation from its original context and meaning we can have multiple understandings and make it say whatever we want it to.
    7. There was an early 80’s Reader’s Digest article titled the Motel of the Mysteries. It was written as if it was an archaeological report. It was about the late twentieth century America that is now buried under dirt. An Archaeologist comes across a motel, but with the description they say that this was a late twentieth century burial site. The toilet seat was something you wore around your head. The bath tab was a sacred tower and the shower was a musical instrument. The article goes on and on, but we know better.
    8. There was a Time Magazine article in 1992 when the Republicans took over congress which shows a Donkey under the Republican Elephant. We understand the image because it is part of our time, but in hundreds of years they may not know that.
    9. John’s audience understands the image.
    10. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah are primary examples of John’s Old Testament imagery.
    11. Also, imagery from Baruch, Song of Songs and some other intertestamental imagery.
    12. John was a witness of what God was showing him.
  • Verse 3 tells us we are blessed when we read this letter.
    1. This is the only Bible book which says this.
    2. But we may not feel blessed. We may feel cursed as we try to get through.
    3. One wrote (Dr. Constable): “The symbolism is drawn from many previous Bible books. Revelation is similar to an airport, or a railway terminal, where materials from many other sources come together.” I like that description.
    4. We must read the letter. We must study the letter.
    5. Revelation 22:10: And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
  1. I want to share a little bit about the return of Jesus Christ
    1. His return will be Sudden (Matthew 24:44; 2 Peter 3:10); Physical (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16)
    2. Jesus will come again in power as King of Kings to reign eternally (Philippians 2:9-11).
    3. Jesus will judge (Matthew 25:31–33; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 20:11–15)
    4. Believers will be judged as well (2 Corinthians 5:10).
    5. We, Christians, will be judged based off of the way we lived (1 Corinthians 3:15)
    6. Believers can have confidence in the day of judgment (Romans 8:1; 1 John 4:17)
    7. Again, Revelation is the only book of the Bible that says we are blessed when we read it.
    8. I like the ESV Study Bible summary:
    9. While there has been much debate over the nature and timing of the millennial events, what is certainly clear in Scripture is that Christ will return and establish his kingdom and that all mankind will finally acknowledge his lordship over all creation. Once and for all, creation will undeniably submit to Christ the King, and he will reign on earth as already he does in heaven (Matt. 6:10; Phil. 2:10).

Close:

I don’t know about you but I can get discouraged when I hear the news. But isn’t it encouraging to know that God is in control. Look at this rope. [have someone in the back row pick up the other end] God is in control of time. God placed each of us here for a reason. God entered John’s time and told Him of the things to come.

Revelation is part of the Bible, the Word of God.

Do you know Jesus?

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

 

Where did it all come from?

Where did it all come from? (Creation) (Gen. 1:1-2)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, March 11, 2018 

I will never forget the birth of Mercedes and Abigail. How amazing we are. It was such a miracle, such a miracle that I could hardly contain my emotions. Every day, so many babies are born; so many miracles are being born. Every day, so many humans are coming to life. How can we observe and not realize there is a creator? Let’s talk about this, let’s talk about creation.

My theme is to share with you that God created everything and humans were a special creation. Furthermore, God created with purpose.

Application: Creation has value because we are created by God.

Please read Genesis 1:1-2:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

  1. From the first two verses of this text we see that God is creator.
    1. The Bible says, “In the beginning…”
    2. This means that God created time. This is the beginning. There was no time before this. Psalm 90:1-2: Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
      Before the mountains were born
      Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
      Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God
      .
    3. I remember when I was a child I used to think, “Who created God?” How did God come to exist? This says, “In the beginning.” This means that this is the beginning of time.
    4. What was faulty in my thinking is that I thought God was in our realm of time. God is not limited by time. You see, I thought that God was limited by our limitations. I, as a child, was already stuck in chronological thinking. Chronological means that it has to do with time.
    5. The thing is that God is not limited by time. So, my thought of “Who created God?” goes back to the fundamental thinking that God had to have a beginning. But “beginning” goes back to this chronological thinking.
    6. The Bible says, “In the beginning…” This is our beginning, not His. There are philosophical articles written about how God relates to time. No one ultimately knows. If you ever deal with insomnia, call me and I’ll loan you some books that deal with this subject. We do know that God was able to transcend time. We know this from the prophesies in the Bible. If God was limited by time, as we are, then Isaiah, writing around 700 BC, wouldn’t have been able to write about Jesus. But Isaiah, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote prophesies that were fulfilled in Jesus. Read Isaiah chapter 53.

So, God created time and this is written about our beginning.

  1. God created the Heavens and the earth.
    1. What does this mean?
    2. This means that God created matter and space. God created time, space and matter. He had to have a place to put the matter so He created space.
    3. God created the Heavens. The Bible refers to at least three heavens.
      1. The Bible will refer to the atmosphere as “Heaven.”
      2. The Bible will refer to the outer space area as “Heaven.”
      3. The Bible also refers to the area where God resides as “Heaven.”
    4. God created the “Heavens,” plural. This means that God created all of these regions.
    5. We see pictures of outer space and must know that this verse is saying, God created those solar systems, those stars, that galaxy.
    6. God created the earth. Now, the first two verses are an overview of the creation of time, space and matter. Starting in verse 3 God gives order to this matter. God arranges His creation so it is not such a mess.
    7. So, the rest of this chapter deals with the details of the earth and its surroundings. God chose to create everything in 6 days.
      1. On day 1, God creates light, this light may not be the sun. Most have believed the light is light emanating from God. On day 1 God also created the idea of the day and night.
      2. On Day 2, God creates the atmosphere. Notice the waters are already there.
      3. On day 3, God creates land and vegetation.
      4. On day 4, God creates the moon and the stars.
        1. Notice that the Bible doesn’t use the noun “sun,” or “moon.”
        2. If you study the ancient religions of the Middle East you can see that they worshipped the sun and the moon. So, Moses was careful not to use those terms. In fact, if you really study this text, you can compare it with the other religions of the Middle East. In comparing you can see that Moses is writing this correcting those religions and showing that there is one God and He is supreme.
      5. On Day 5 God creates the creatures of the sea and the air.
      6. On day 6 God creates the land animals and humans. Humans are the only creation specified. Humans are also created in God’s image.
      7. Notice also that it takes male and female to reflect the image of God.
    8. If we read on to Genesis chapter 2 we see more specific detail about the creation of Adam and Eve.
  • God created everything, seen and unseen.
    1. Nehemiah 9:6: “You alone are the Lord.
      You have made the heavens,
      The heaven of heavens with all their host,
      The earth and all that is on it,
      The seas and all that is in them.
      You give life to all of them
      And the heavenly host bows down before You
      .
    2. 1:16: For by Him all things were created, bothin the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 
  1. The Direct Creation of Adam and Eve
    1. Scripture affirms the direct creation of Adam and Eve.
    2. Theologian Wayne Grudem writes:
    3. The Bible also teaches that God created Adam and Eve in a special, personal way. “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). After that, God created Eve from Adam’s body: “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:21–22). God apparently let Adam know something of what had happened, for Adam said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen. 2:23)[1]
    4. In Genesis chapter 2 the Bible gives great detail about God creating Adam and Eve.
    5. It is not my intent to teach or preach against certain scientific theories today. However, it is my intent to share that humans are created specifically by God and that all of creation has a purpose.
    6. All throughout the Bible we see that God is in control and that God controls creation.
    7. I do have to say a few words regarding evolution or the big bang theory.
    8. First, it was a Christian who invented the big bang theory. I don’t have a problem with that theory because we know that space is expanding into nothingness. Please note, that doesn’t mean that I believe it has been expanding for billions of years. I don’t believe that. God began creation and it could happen as fast as He wanted it to.
    9. God created adult humans and it seems to me that He created an adult universe.
    10. Now, with respect to evolution.
    11. There is micro evolution and macro evolution. Micro evolution would be the belief that species adapt in small ways. Macro evolution would be the belief that we evolved all the way from one cell organisms.
    12. I am not a Scientist, I am a pastor and one could say a Biblicist and Theologian. I study Theology and the Bible for a living and that is the bulk of my education. Having said that, evolution in its fullest form, as in macro evolution, contradicts the Bible. Evolution is based on death. It took death after death after death to get to humans. Whereas the Bible clearly specifies the creation of humans in Genesis 1 and 2. Furthermore, macro-evolution has some major gaps. There is a book called “Darwin’s Black Box” that gets into that.
    13. Theologian Wayne Grudem writes: Some may object that Genesis 1–2 does not intend to portray Adam and Eve as literal individuals, but (a) the historical narrative in Genesis continues without a break into the obviously historical material about Abraham (Gen. 12), showing that the author intended the entire section to be historical,21 and (b) in Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45–49, Paul affirms the existence of the “one man” Adam through whom sin came into the world, and bases his discussion of Christ’s representative work of earning salvation on the previous historical pattern of Adam being a representative for mankind as well. Moreover, the New Testament elsewhere clearly understands Adam and Eve to be historical figures (cf. Luke 3:38; Acts 17:26; 1 Cor. 11:8–9; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13–14). The New Testament also assumes the historicity of the sons of Adam and Eve, Cain (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11) and Abel (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 11:4; 12:24).
    14. Grudem continues: In modern Darwinian evolutionary theory, the history of the development of life began when a mix of chemicals present on the earth spontaneously produced a very simple, probably one-celled life form. This living cell reproduced itself, and eventually there were some mutations or differences in the new cells produced. These mutations led to the development of more complex life forms. A hostile environment meant that many of them would perish, but those that were better suited to their environment would survive and multiply. Thus, nature exercised a process of “natural selection” in which the differing organisms most fitted to the environment survived. More and more mutations eventually developed into more and more varieties of living things, so that from the very simplest organism all the complex life forms on earth eventually developed through this process of mutation and natural selection.

The most recent, and perhaps most devastating, critique of current Darwinian theory comes from Phillp E. Johnson, a law professor who specializes in analyzing the logic of arguments. In his book Darwin on Trial26 he quotes extensively from current evolutionary theorists to demonstrate that:

  1. After more than one hundred years of experimental breeding of various kinds of animals and plants, the amount of variation that can be produced (even with intentional, not random, breeding) is extremely limited, due to the limited range of genetic variation in each type of living thing: dogs who are selectively bred for generations are still dogs, fruit flies are still fruit flies, etc. And when allowed to return to the wild state, “the most highly specialized breeds quickly perish and the survivors revert to the original wild type.” He concludes that “natural selection,” claimed by Darwinists to account for the survival of new organisms, is really a conservative force that works to preserve the genetic fitness of a population, not to change its characteristics.27[2]
  2. The fossil record was Darwin’s greatest problem in 1859, and it has simply become a greater problem since then. In Darwin’s time, hundreds of fossils were available showing the existence of many distinct kinds of animals and plants in the distant past. But Darwin was unable to find any fossils from “intermediate types” to fill in the gaps between distinct kinds of animals—fossils showing some characteristics of one animal and a few characteristics of the next developmental type, for example. In fact, many ancient fossils exactly resembled present-day animals—showing that (according to the chronological assumptions of his view) numerous animals have persisted for millions of years essentially unchanged. Darwin realized that the absence of “transitional types” in the fossil record weakened his theory, but he thought it was due to the fact that not enough fossils had been discovered, and was confident that further discoveries would unearth many transitional types of animals. However, the subsequent 130 years of intensive archaeological activity has still failed to produce one convincing example of a needed transitional type.[3]
  3. I could share more about that, but that is enough. If you want more sources let me know. Now, that is mainly talking about macro-evolution.
  4. I came out of college being a strong believer in a 6, 24 hour day creation and I still am. But when I came out of college I probably thought you were not saved if you doubted the creation account.
    1. Then God had me serve 6 years with a pastor who called himself a Theistic Evolutionist. This gave me grace. One day he said he could not understand how people could invest their life work in something and be wrong. My main response is that if the foundation is wrong then everything collapses.
    2. On another, yet similar note. I did meet professors in seminary who did not believe in a 6, 24 hours day creation, but also did not believe in evolution. They looked at the type of literature and thought it was not to be interpreted literally. They made some good arguments.
  5. My final comment is that we do not change our interpretation of the Bible based off of anything beyond good Bible interpretation. We do not change our view of the Bible because of a scientific theory.
  1. Some final application:
    1. We are created with a purpose.
    2. God created. All of creation, seen and unseen comes from God.
    3. Do NOT worship creation. Worship God.
    4. Praise and worship God.
    5. God created, do not be afraid, He is the creator and He is in charge.
    6. When you see beauty, worship God who created it.

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan writes:

Why would God create more than 350,000,000,000 galaxies (and this is a conservative estimate) that generations of people never saw or even knew existed? Do you think maybe it was to make us say, “Wow, God is unfathomably big”? Or perhaps God wanted us to see these pictures so that our response would be, “Who do I think I am?”

C. Sproul writes, “Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God. 

Did you know that a caterpillar has 228 separate and distinct muscles in its head? That’s quite a few, for a bug. The average elm tree has approximately 6 million leaves on it. And your own heart generates enough pressure as it pumps blood throughout your body that it could squirt blood up to 30 feet. (I’ve never tried this, and I don’t recommend it.)

Have you ever thought about how diverse and creative God is? He didn’t have to make hundreds of different kinds of bananas, but He did. He didn’t have to put 3,000 different species of trees within one square mile in the Amazon jungle, but He did. God didn’t have to create so many kinds of laughter. Think about the different sounds of your friends’ laughs—wheezes, snorts, silent, loud, obnoxious.

How about the way plants defy gravity by drawing water upward from the ground into their stems and veins? Or did you know that spiders produce three kinds of silk? When they build their webs, they create sixty feet of silk in one hour, simultaneously producing special oil on their feet that prevents them from sticking to their own web. (Most of us hate spiders, but sixty feet an hour deserves some respect!) Coral plants are so sensitive that they can die if the water temperature varies by even one or two degrees.[4]

We serve an amazing God!

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 we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 262–314.

21 Note the phrase “These are the generations of “introducing successive sections in the Genesis narrative at Gen. 2:4 (heavens and the earth); 5:1 (Adam); 6:9 (Noah); 10:1 (the sons of Noah); 11:10 (Shem); 11:27 (Terah, the father of Abraham); 25:12 (Ishmael); 25:19 (Isaac); 36:1 (Esau); and 37:2 (Jacob). The translation of the phrase may differ in various English versions, but the Hebrew expression is the same and literally says, “These are the generations of …” By this literary device the author has introduced various sections of his historical narrative, tying it all together in a unified whole, and indicating that it is to be understood as history-writing of the same sort throughout. If the author intends us to understand Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as historical figures, then he also intends us to understand Adam and Eve as historical figures.

  1. compare

26 Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1991.

27 Johnson, pp. 15–20 (quotation from p. 18). Johnson notes that in a few cases new “species” have been produced, in the sense of a part of a population that is incapable of interbreeding with another part: this has happened with fruit flies and with some plant hybrids (p. 19). But even though incapable of interbreeding with some other fruit flies, the new fruit flies still are fruit flies, not some other kind of creature: the amount of variation the fruit fly is capable of is inherently limited by the range of variability in its gene pool.

[2] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 280.

[3] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 282.

[4] Excerpt From: Francis Chan. “Crazy Love.” iBooks.

Hell is real and so is Heaven and Heaven is FREE

Introduction:

We prepare for everything, don’t we? Well, successful people prepare. I know a little about preparation. I have the spiritual gift of administration. I am very scheduled and very type A.

We could talk about preparing for school, preparing for a job, or a trade, or a trade school. We could talk about planning as well. For example, suppose that you want to run a 5k, or a 10k, or a marathon, wouldn’t you prepare? I know this personally as I have ran multiple 10k’s and three marathons. It takes hard work. In fact, two years ago I signed up for the Hall of Fame Marathon and I canceled because I started training again and thought I did not want to do the work. I was running 20 miles straight once a week and 40-50 miles a week. It was cold and snowy. I got done with my late night run one February night and it was about midnight. I sat down on the couch and I was trying to drink juice and replenish to keep my legs from cramping. I was shivering because I was exhausted. I thought, “Why am I doing this?” Then I pulled out. It takes preparation and I did not want to do it.

We will all die at some point. This is serious and it is an event which we must be ready for. We must prepare. Some people prepare by planning their funerals. Some prepare by making sure their affairs are in order, but FEW, too FEW, prepare by repenting and turning their life over to Jesus.

For the Christian, death is not to be feared:

Philip Yancey, Where is God When it Hurts:

Reflect a few moments on this poignant analogy between birth and death:

Each of your individual deaths can be seen as a birth. Imagine what it would be like if you had had full consciousness as a fetus and could now remember those sensations.

Your world is dark, safe, secure. You are bathed in warm liquid, cushioned from shock. You do nothing for yourself; you are fed automatically, and a murmuring heartbeat assures you that someone larger than you fills all your needs. Your life consists of simple waiting— you’re not sure what to wait for, but any change seems far away and scary. You meet no sharp objects, no pain, no threatening adventures. A fine existence.

One day you feel a tug. The walls are falling in on you. Those soft cushions are now pulsing and beating against you, crushing you downwards. Your body is bent double, your limbs twisted and wrenched. You’re falling upside down. For the first time in your life, you feel pain. You’re in a sea of roiling matter. There is more pressure, almost too intense to bear. You’re head is squeezed flat, and you’re pushed harder, harder into a dark tunnel. Oh, the pain. Noise. More pressure.

          You hurt all over. You hear a groaning sound and an awful sudden fear rushes in on you. It is happening— your world is collapsing. You’re sure it’s the end. You see a piercing, blinding light. Cold, rough hands pull at you. A painful slap. Waaaahhhh!

         Congratulations, you have just been born.

         Death is like that. On this end of the birth canal, it seems fiercesome, portentous, and full of pain. Death is a scary tunnel and we are being sucked toward it by a powerful force.[1]

We must be ready.

Today, I want to talk about hell and heaven.

My theme:

Hell is real and so is Heaven and Heaven is free.

My purpose is to explain the reality of Heaven and hell and challenge you to share the Gospel.

As we start this sermon think about our broader series. We have been talking about the Study of God.

Let’s read a passage about Heaven:

Isaiah 65:17-18:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.

  1. Hell is consistent with our Theology of salvation and Theology Proper, which is Theology of the character of God.
    1. You cannot take apart the Biblical view of hell without taking apart theology. Period. YOU CANNOT DO THIS.
    2. Taking apart our view of hell changes:
      1. The Truth of a Holy and righteous God.
      2. The Truth of a loving God who hates sin. There is sin because He is Holy and righteous. There is sin because He loves us and sin hurts God and people.
  • The Truth about God’s wrath.
  1. The Truth about humanity needed blood to atone for sin.
  1. Taking apart our view of hell changes the Biblical view of:
    1. Atonement: Jesus’ blood repaired our sin problem, Jesus’ blood satisfied God’s wrath. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice.
    2. Propitiation: Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross appeased God’s wrath and reconciled us to God.
  • Redemption: we need a redemption. We needed redeemed, which carries the idea of being bought out of our sin problem.
  1. Justification: This is a legal term which carries the idea of being declared righteous. God sees Jesus’ righteousness in us. 2 Corinthians 5:21: He made Him who knew no sin to besin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  2. Sanctification, that is, when we are saved we are being set apart for God’s glory and we are set apart for God’s glory.
  3. Sin: The Bible teaches that we sin against God. Psalm 51:4: Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.
  • This means that we need atonement, propitiation, redemption, justification, sanctification.
  • This means that if we alter the Biblical view of hell we alter the Biblical idea of the Holiness of God.
    1. Either God is not holy or we are not sinful.
    2. We are sinful and God is holy; therefore, we need a sacrifice for our sins, or there is hell to be paid.
  1. So, compromising the Biblical view of hell is illogical. It lacks logic. It lacks reasoning.
  2. All of these Theological teachings fit logically together.
    1. Creation: we were created good.
    2. Fall: we fell from God’s grace through sin.
    3. Redemption: Jesus is our redeemer.
    4. Consummation: someday God will make things right.
  3. Hell exists because we sin against a Holy God. This is consistent with the Bible.
  1. Hell, let’s talk about this place for another minute.
    1. The Old Testament doesn’t talk much about hell, at least to the point to develop a pattern of thinking on this topic. Sometimes in the Old Testament you will see the term sheol. This word simply means “the realm of the dead.” Dr. Ben Witherington writes:
    2. For example, in 1 Samuel 28 we hear about Samuel’s shade or spirit being called up from Sheol to be consulted by the medium of Endor. Samuel is none too pleased about the summons, but he is not depicted as having been in either heaven or hell.  He is simply in the land of the dead. This concept of Sheol continued on well into the New Testament era, and may well represent what Paul believes about where people have gone who have died, but who are not in Christ.  For Christians, of course, Paul says ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord’  (2 Corinthians 5).” The New Testament idea of hades is comparable to sheol and is the temporary place of the dead.
    3. The actual idea of hell is not until after the final judgment. (2 Corinthians 5 Bema seat)
    4. There is a hell written about in the New Testament and Jesus is perhaps the one most clear about this.  Jesus calls it Gehenna, and he compares it to a stinky garbage dump in the Hinnom Valley south of the City of David, and like a garbage dump it’s where the worm does not die and the fire never goes out.  And there are people expected by Jesus to go there, as the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus shows in Luke 16.  Granted, this is a parable, which is an extended metaphor, but it is surely referential, and it indicates the rich man is in an unpleasant place and there is no remedy.  There is an unalterable divide between the bosom of Abraham and the place where the rich man currently resides in the afterlife.  The parable teaches that how we live in this life has consequences for where we end up in the afterlife, and this must be taken seriously. I encourage you to read that parable from Luke 16 at a later time.
      1. Gehenna was a place in the Old Testament where people would sacrifice to false gods, even sacrifice children.
      2. Listen to what one source tells me:
  • The worship of Molech in which infants were sacrificed in fire to the god Molech also occurred in the Valley of Hinnom (2 Kings 16:3; 17:7; 21:6). Jeremiah announced the Valley of Hinnom would be the place of God’s judgment (Jer. 7:32; 19:6). The valley also became the place where refuse and dead bodies of animals and criminals were burned. As a result, gehenna became synonymous with eternal punishment, the fire of hell. It describes the punishment connected with the final judgment, a punishment that has eternal duration, not annihilation (Matt. 23:15, 33; 25:41, 46).[2]
  1. In the New Testament it was a garbage dump and that is the image Jesus gave for hell.
  1. Within the Bible there are several references about hell which are metaphors. It is really hard to talk about as an actual place. We do know that it is a place of terrible torment and a place of absence from God.
    1. Absence from God in and of itself will cause hell. Now, God is not literally absent. The Bible teaches that God is everywhere. But with hell, God chooses to keep His presence absent. We have never seen a place without God’s presence. The world is anti-God, but there is still some amount of God’s common grace. God has given even the worst of people some amount of consciousness and goodness. However, in hell, God is absent.
  2. Hell is a terrible place to think about. It is probably good for us all to think about it occasionally in order to motivate us towards evangelism.
  3. There are natural consequences for things. If I walk out a fifth story window, what will happen? I will fall and hit the ground. Why is that? This is because of the law of gravity. The Bible talks about God in a way that we give God human attributes. This doesn’t mean that God’s wrath is just like human wrath, not at all. But there are certain natural repercussions for sin. The repercussion is the wrath of God. This repercussion happens just like gravity works.
  4. Now, let’s talk about Heaven. We can all go to Heaven by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Jesus took the wrath of God.
  • What is Heaven like?
    1. Heaven is a real place. Too often people think it is only spiritual and so they really do not look forward to it.
    2. If things in Heaven are only spiritual then why does God use so many material objects to illustrate what we’ll have in Heaven, like “house, dwelling, clothed, rooms (John 14), white robes (Revelation 6:10-11), rivers, gardens, and the tree of life in Heaven. (Revelation 2:7; 22:2) refers to the SAME Tree of Life that was physical in the Garden of Eden in (Genesis 2:9).[3]
    3. Randy Alcorn writes: Christoplatonism: Plato was “the first Western philosopher to claim that reality is fundamentally something ideal or abstract.” “For Plato . .  . the body is a hindrance, as it opposes and even imprisons the soul (Phaedo 65– 68; 91– 94).”
    4. But according to Scripture, our bodies aren’t just shells for our spirits to inhabit; they’re a good and essential aspect of our being. Likewise, the earth is not a second-rate location from which we must be delivered. Rather, it was handmade by God for us. Earth, not some incorporeal state, is God’s choice as mankind’s original and ultimate dwelling place.
    5. To distinguish the version of Platonism seen among Christians from secular forms of Platonism, I’ve [Randy Alcorn] coined the term Christoplatonism. This philosophy has blended elements of Platonism with Christianity, and in so doing has poisoned Christianity and blunted its distinct differences from Eastern religions. Because appeals to Christoplatonism appear to take the spiritual high ground, attempts to refute this false philosophy often appear to be materialistic, hedonistic, or worldly.[4]
    6. But Heaven is a real place. Jesus reminded His disciples to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).
  1. Applications:
    1. Desire Heaven: in 2 Corinthians 12 we see that Paul had been to Heaven and he wanted to go back.
    2. 2 Corinthians 5:8: we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
    3. Colossians 3:1-2: Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 

Close:

As a final application, believe the Gospel and share the Gospel.

Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Romans 15:20:

And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation…

1 Corinthians 9:16b:

…for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

This world is all the hell that a true Christian is to ever endure, and it is all the Heaven that unbelievers shall ever enjoy! Jonathan Edwards

General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once told his students, If I had my choice, I wouldn’t send you to school, I’d send you to Hell for five minutes, and you’d come back real soul winners.[5]

Last week we had prayer cards in the bulletin. They are in there today as well. These cards were for you to write names down of unsaved family or friends. We now want you to come to the alters and place those cards in this box. We will collectively pray for all the names in the box. The first step in reaching people with Jesus is to pray for them. We will keep praying for the names in this box. No one will open the box and see the names, but God knows the names. Now, when one of those you listed comes to know Jesus as Lord and Savior we will then open the box and take that card out and we will rejoice.

Luke 15:10:

In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 

2 Peter 3:9:

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.

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 we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Pages 144-145. Philip Yancey, Where Is God When Life Hurts

[2] Enns, P. P. (1997). The Moody handbook of theology (375). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

[3] Rick Sams’ sermon on Heaven

[4] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 8723-8724). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[5] From a sermon by Gerald Flury, What Made John the Baptist Great? 12/12/2009)

Angels are Among Us

Tim Burns Testimony

Angels are among us, but they are not what many think of. Many of you may know a lot of truths about angels and so today may only be review. Let’s test each other to find out where we are at. Anyone call out the answer to these questions.

  • What do angels look like?
  • Do we have guardian angels? Do angels play man to man or zone coverage?
  • Do angels marry?
  • Do angels have children?
  • Are angels male or female?
  • Are angels real?

Well, let’s get into this sermon and answer some of those questions and/or provide Biblical support for your answers.

My favorite preacher Charles R. Swindoll shares:

Many years ago one of my mentors told me a story I have never forgotten. A missionary was home on furlough, traveling by car from church to church. Late one rainy evening, facing a long and lonely all-night journey, he asked the Lord to help him stay awake and make it safely to the next place he would minister.

A few minutes later he came upon a man off to the side, thumbing a ride. Although he rarely picked up hitchhikers, he felt sorry for the man out in the rain and offered him a lift. As the two of them began to visit, the missionary was thrilled to discover that the stranger was a believer and that they also had many mutual friends engaged in the Lord’s work.

Time passed rapidly as the two of them laughed and shared stories. The fellowship was so rich that the missionary hated to see the early light of dawn and hear his new-found friend say, “Well, here’s where I get off.” Before saying good-bye, the missionary invited him to have a cup of coffee at a roadside cafe. As they parted, they promised to pray for each other.

The rain had stopped by now, and a bright sun-drenched sky warmed the missionary’s soul. Then, a couple of minutes down the road, he realized that he had failed to get the man’s address and phone number, so he quickly returned to the cafe. There was no sign of the man. When he asked the cook if he’d seen which way the other fella had gone, he was shocked to hear him respond, “What other fella? You came in here alone . . . I wondered why you ordered two cups of coffee.”

The missionary glanced at the table where the two had sat and noticed that the other cup was still full to the brim . . . and the coffee was cold.

As he returned to his car, another surprising realization came to his mind. He remembered that when he had picked up the hitchhiker in the rain the night before, the man had gotten in the car but he wasn’t wet![1]

Did this missionary find help from an angel?

My Theme today: Angels are among us.

My application: Don’t worship angels, but let everything point to the creator God who we worship.

  1. There is more than we can see.
    1. Let’s read 2 Kings 6:17-20: 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Strike this people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. 19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria. 20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.
    2. I do not have time to give all the background to this passage, but I can share that Elisha’s servant was scared. He had a fear that Elisha and he were going to be captured by the Arameans. Yet, his eyes are opened and the truth is revealed. Further, the angels fight for them.
    3. Daniels 10:10-14: [an angels is talking with Daniel and he shares]Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.11 He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.”
    4. In the passage we just read we find out more about angels. There appears to be some form of cosmic struggle between angels and demons. Daniel had prayed in the previous chapter, but his answer was slow in coming. In verse 12 the angel says that he heard the answer on the first day. But he was in a struggle with the prince of Persia and Michael one of the chief angels had to come and help him.
    5. Now, I do not plan to talk about demons and satan’s fall today except for this: In Revelation 12 we see satan fell with 1/3rd of the angels who are now demons. Still be encouraged. God still has 2/3rds of the angels and furthermore, even if He did not, God is still Lord. The devil and the demons are no threat.
    6. The meaning of the word angel: Angel. The Hebrew word malak simply means “messenger”; it may refer to a human messenger (1 Kings 19:2) or a divine messenger (Gen. 28:12). The basic meaning of the word is “one who is sent.” As a divine messenger an angel is a “heavenly being charged by God with some commission.”1 The word is found 103 times in the Old Testament. The Greek word angelos occurs 175 times in the New Testament; however, of men it is used only 6 times. The word angelos is similar to the Hebrew malak; it also means “messenger … who speaks and acts in the place of the one who has sent him.”[2]
  2. Attributes of angels:
    1. There is so much to be said about angels, so let me skim the surface if I may.
    2. Angels are Spirit beings: Heb 1:14 is talking about angels: Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
    3. Angels do take the form of humans and we see this in Genesis 18:3.
    4. Something really important, angels do not have a gender. Mark 12:25: [Jesus speaking] For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
    5. They are warriors. We already read the passages where the angels do battle. You can read all throughout the book of Revelation and see the angels bringing about judgment. In certain cases when a person encounters an angel in the Bible the angels says, “Do not fear.” In Luke 2:9-10: And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people
    6. There are myriads of angels (Heb 12:22; Rev. 5:11)
    7. They were created by the Lord (Col. 1:16).
    8. Colossians 1:16: For by Him all things were created, bothin the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
    9. We do not become angels when we die.
    10. Some of these Scriptures I will be referencing but you will have to look them up at home.
    11. They are higher than us for now, but we will judge the angels: Heb. 2:7 shows that we are lower than the angels but 1 Cor. 6:3 shows that we will judge the angels.
    12. They are incapable of death (Luke 20:36)
    13. Angels have greater wisdom than man (2 Sam. 14:20), yet it is limited (Matt. 24:36).
    14. Angels have greater power than man (Matt. 28:2; Acts 5:19; 2 Pet. 2:11), yet they are limited in power (Dan. 10:13)
    15. We are created in the image of God, not angels (Genesis 1-2).
    16. There are rankings within the angels: Angels who are highest ranking. Michael is called the archangel in Jude 9 and the great prince in Daniel 12:1. Michael is the only angel designated archangel, and may possibly be the only one of this rank.
    17. Gabriel is another angel mentioned (Dan. 9:21; Luke 1:26).
    18. Lucifer (Isa. 14:12) means “shining one” or “star of the morning.” He may have been the wisest and most beautiful of all God’s created beings who was originally placed in a position of authority over the cherubim surrounding the throne of God.10[3] Yet, he rebelled and we know him as the devil or satan. See also, Ezekiel 28:11-19)
    19. Cherubim are of the highest order or class, created with indescribable powers and beauty (Gen. 3:24).
    20. Seraphim, meaning “burning ones,” are pictured surrounding the throne of God in Isaiah 6:2. They are described as each having six wings. In their threefold proclamation, “holy, holy, holy” (Isa. 6:3).

The following gives a lot of detail but important detail. It comes from the Moody Bible Handbook by Paul Enns:

  1. Angels minister to God, to Christ, to believers (Heb. 1:14)
    1. The cherubim have a ministry to God in defending the holiness of God; Seraphim have a ministry to God in surrounding the throne of God as they attend to His holiness.
    2. Angels predicted His birth (Luke 1:26–38)
  • Angels protected Him in infancy (Matt. 2:13). An angel warned Joseph of Herod’s intention and told Joseph to flee to Egypt until the death of Herod. An angel also instructed Joseph when it was safe to return to the land of Israel (Matt. 2:20).
  1. Angels ministered to Him after the temptation (Matt. 4:11)
  2. Angels strengthened Him at Gethsemane (Luke 22:43).
  3. Angels announced His resurrection (Matt. 28:5–7; Mark 16:6–7; Luke 24:4–7; John 20:12–13
  • They released the apostles from prison (Acts 5:19) and Peter from prison (Acts 12:7–11).
  • They will protect the 144,000 in the Tribulation (Rev. 7:1–14).
    1. There are many other places in Scripture where angels ministered such as: (1) Physical protection. David experienced physical protection by the angel when he was forced to flee to the Philistines (Ps. 34:7). Angels may frustrate the plans of the enemies of God’s people (Ps. 35:4–5). Angels protect from physical harm those that seek refuge in the Lord (Ps. 91:11–13). They released the apostles from prison (Acts 5:19) and Peter from prison (Acts 12:7–11). They will protect the 144,000 in the Tribulation (Rev. 7:1–14).
    2. Physical provision. An angel brought physical nourishment for Elijah when he was weakened from a lengthy journey (1 Kings 19:5–7).
    3. During the storm at sea an angel encouraged Paul, reminding him he would arrive safely at Rome to bear witness for Christ (Acts 27:23–25).
    4. An angel directed Philip to witness to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26); an angel arranged the meeting of Cornelius and Peter that brought the Gentiles into acceptance in the believing community (Acts 10:3, 22).
    5. Assist in answers to prayer. There seems to be a relationship between the prayer for Peter’s release from prison and the angel’s releasing him (Acts 12:1–11). Similarly, Daniel’s prayer was explained by the angel (Dan. 9:20–27; cf. 10:10–12:13).
    6. Carry believers home. Luke 16:22 describes the death of Lazarus and the angels carrying him to Abraham’s bosom. This may be the way God causes all His dying saints to be “absent from the body … at home with the Lord.”
  1. Angels will also be instrumental in judgment at the end of the age when they cast unbelievers into the furnace of fire (Matt. 13:39–42); angels will sound the trumpet judgments during the Tribulation (Rev. 8:2–12; 9:1, 13; 11:15); angels pour out the bowl judgments upon the earth (Rev. 16:2–17).
  • Applications:
    1. Angels in Heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents, wow! We see this in Luke 15:10.
    2. Don’t worship angels, but let everything point to the creator God who we worship.
    3. We must only worship the Lord, He created the angels.
      1. Angels show the greatness of God’s love and plan for us.
      2. Angels remind us that the unseen world is real.
  • Angels are examples for us. This is true in their obedience and worship.
  1. Angels carry out some of God’s plan.
  2. Angels directly glorify God.
  1. We must understand that God uses angels to carry out His purposes.
  2. As we study angels we must be amazed more by God.
  3. We must make sure that we have a correct understanding of angels.
  4. We must be aware of angels in our daily life (Heb. 13:2).
  5. We must be aware of false doctrine from angels (Gal. 1:8).
  6. We must understand that even satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).

 

One last thing, do we have guardian angels? Acts 12 references this, but not in a way as a teaching. I do not think we do, but we may have myriads of angels around us. We may have more than one angel watching over us. In the end, the Christian is always with Jesus and Jesus is always with the Christian. We are safe.

 

Closing:

I have another story from Charles R. Swindoll

Have you counted your blessings lately? Let me suggest one you might have overlooked. Let’s be thankful for angels—those unseen guardians who work overtime, who never slumber or sleep.

Angels exist as supernatural creatures in and about heaven, and they are frequently dispatched to earth in human form to bring encouragement and assistance. If you have ever encountered the sudden appearance and/or departure of an angel after receiving one’s help, you are never quite the same.

Several years ago some high school fellas from the church I pastored in Southern California went on a mountain-climbing excursion, along with their youth leader. While taking in the breathtaking sights, however, the leader realized he had lost the trail. A heavy snowfall had completely covered the path, and he didn’t have a clue where they were or how they could get back to the main camp. Sundown was not far away, and they were not equipped to spend the night on the craggy, windblown slopes where the temperature would soon drop even lower.

While trudging through the snow, entertaining thoughts just this side of panic, they suddenly heard someone on the slopes above them yell down: “Hey—the trail is up here!” They glanced up and to their relief saw another climber in the distance. Without hesitation, they began to make their way up to the large boulder where the man was sitting. The climb was exhausting, but their relief in finding the way gave their adrenaline a rush.

Finally, they arrived . . . but to their surprise the man who had yelled at them was nowhere to be found. Furthermore, there were no traces in the snow that anyone had been sitting on the boulder, nor were there footprints around the rock. The trail, however, stretched out before them, leading them to safety. The boys not only learned a valuable lesson about the wilderness but also firmed up their belief in encountering “angels without knowing it.”

God’s special messengers are often invisible but never impotent. As the psalmist has written: “He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone” (Ps. 91:11-12).

Can you think of occasions in your own life when you had what you would consider “a close call”? How about one of your kids or friends? Can you remember a time or two when, through some incredible manner, they were shielded from harm or delivered from danger?[4]

 

 

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 we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

1 Gerhard von Rad, “Mal’āk in the Old Testament,” in Gerhard Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 10 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 1:76–77.

[2] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 286–287.

10 J. Dwight Pentecost, Your Adversary the Devil (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969), p. 20.

[3] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 289.

[4] Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

What does it mean to be human?

As I was studying for this sermon all I could think of was a song from the 1960’s: “RESPECT, find out what it means to me…” That is all I knew of the song, so I looked it up. I don’t know that the song is all that appropriate depending if it is literal or has other innuendo, so I won’t share anymore lyrics. However, all people, male and female, should be treated with the utmost respect because we are created in the image of God. We are God’s image bearers.

We are not accidents. You are not accidents.

Just think how powerful it is to be created in the image of God. Just think how powerful it is to reflect God’s image. When you hurt another person created in the image of God you hurt the image of God.

As you know I am continuing a series based on Theology or Christian doctrine. It is called “The Study of God.” Today, we begin a worldview question. What does it mean to be human? This is still Theology because being human means that we are created in the image of God. Being human means that we do not own our body, God does. Being human means so much more. However, we must understand that our understanding of this broad topic has wide implications on every decision we make and how we view society. Furthermore, we must understand that this topic is too big for one sermon. Still, this topic should be addressed in at least one sermon. How does this topic relate to how we view society? I am glad you asked: Do you want to talk about same sex marriage? That means we must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about transgender people? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about abortion? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about sex outside of marriage? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about gender equality? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about race relations? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about creation and evolution and everything in between? Then we must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about sin and what is wrong with the world? Then we must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk to people who believe there were ancient aliens who created things and populated our race? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about murder and crime and adultery and stealing and punishments and prison reform and the death penalty? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about hate crimes? We must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about parenting? Then we must talk about what it means to be human. Do you want to talk about education? Then we must talk about what it means to be human. We must talk about this subject. Let’s talk about the subject.

Theme: You are created in God’s Image.

Applications:

  1. Live for God, He is Your Creator
  2. Respect all people, they are also God’s creation.
  3. Respect yourself, you are God’s creation.

Let’s read Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The Moody Bible handbook says:

The study of man is called anthropology from the Greek words anthropos, meaning “man,” and logos, meaning “word” or “discourse,” hence, anthropology is a discourse about man. The term anthropology can be the study of the doctrine of man from a biblical standpoint or it can refer to the study of man in his cultural environment. The former procedure will occupy this study.

  1. We are created in the image of God.
    1. We were created male and female
    2. Genesis 1:26-27, we are like God and we represent God.
    3. Genesis 5:1-2: This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
    4. We were created male and female for a reason.
    5. James 3:9 shows that men, not just believers, are created in the image of God.
    6. It takes male and female both to reflect the godhead. God created both genders and both genders reflect God’s image.
    7. Being created in the image of God shows:
      1. We are moral.
      2. We are Spiritual.
      3. We are mental.
      4. We are relational.
    8. I could talk about each of those topics right now, but I am not going to. We could add to this. God likes to create and so we like to create.
    9. However, we are talking about what it means to be human and there is much more to be said.
      1. Being human means that we are sexual and God has called us to marry and to have children, though some are called to celibacy and that is a call of God as well.
      2. Being human means that we like to play and have fun and that is good.
  • Being human means that we are learners, as stated above we are mental.
  1. Being human means that we are stewards. God owns our bodies. We must take care of them for Him.
  1. Since we are created in the image of God means that we have hope, we have purpose, we have value. The conflict over the worldview of the world and the worldview of culture is important because the worldview of the culture is leading to destruction.
  2. Culture means “Cult of the populace.” This cultural view is leading to our culture falling apart from the center. We are losing morality, we are losing purpose, we are losing grounding and foundational beliefs. Our lack of a Biblical view of what it means to be human is leading children and adults to lack purpose. Children and adults are lacking identity. Children and adults are lacking meaning. Children and adults are lacking value. Yet, we all have value, meaning, purpose and identity because we are created in the image of God. We are not accidents.
    1. Currently, physician assisted suicide is being legalized in many states. How is the Christian to respond? It is simple. We respond with grace and truth. Truth teaches that we are created in God’s image. Truth teaches if God created us we do not have rights over our bodies. We are just care takers. We are stewards. Grace teaches we must love all people and sympathize with their pain and suffering, without compromising the truth already stated. In some European countries physician assistant suicide is legal, even with young people when mental illness is present. Here is an example:

In early childhood, the Dutch psychiatric patient known as 2014-77 suffered neglect and abuse. When he was about 10, doctors diagnosed him with autism. For approximately two decades thereafter, he was in and out of treatment and made repeated suicide attempts.

He suffered terribly, doctors later observed, from his inability to form relationships: “He responded to matters in a spontaneous and intense, sometimes even extreme, way. This led to problems.”

A few years ago, 2014-77 asked a psychiatrist to end his life. In the Netherlands, doctors may perform euthanasia — not only for terminal physical illness but also upon the “voluntary and well-considered” request of those suffering “unbearably” from incurable mental conditions.

The doctor declined, citing his belief the case was treatable, as well as his own moral qualms. But he did transmit the request to colleagues, as Dutch norms require. They treated 2014-77 for one more year, determined his case was, indeed, hopeless and administered a fatal dose of drugs.

Thus did a man in his 30s whose only diagnosis was autism become one of 110 people to be euthanized for mental disorders in the Netherlands between 2011 and 2014.

Case 2014-77 appears on the Dutch-language Web site of Holland’s Regional Euthanasia Review Committees, which review mercy killing in the Netherlands — but almost never find fault. Of 5,306 euthanasias listed in the committees’ 2014 annual report, the vast majority based on physical illness, regulators found a lack of “due care” in four, or 0.08 percent. The consequences of these rulings, if any, are unclear.

Now, however, doctors from elsewhere are starting to apply independent scrutiny to the increasingly common euthanasia of Holland’s mentally ill, and their findings are not so reassuring. To the contrary.

According to an analysis of 66 of the 110 cases from 2011 to 2014, by psychiatrist Scott Kim of the National Institutes of Health and two colleagues, Dutch psychiatric patients were often euthanized despite disagreement among consulting physicians as to whether they met legal criteria. In 37 cases, patients refused possibly beneficial treatment, and doctors proceeded anyway.[1]

  1. Listen, I do not deny that people are hurting. I believe people are hurting. I do not deny that people have real and painful mental illness. I just believe that:
    1. We do not have the right to take life.
    2. Taking a life does not fix the problem.
    3. We must give real and true hope from the Biblical worldview.
      1. They need Jesus. Let Jesus help.
      2. Having Jesus means a Biblical worldview which recognizes that we are created in the image of God, we have a purpose, we have meaning, we have identity.
      3. Jesus gives hope and comfort through the church, the Word and the Holy Spirit.
    4. We have a nature that has fallen from grace, but this is not originally what it means to be human.
      1. Let’s read Genesis 3:1-7: Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make onewise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
      2. Now, many people will say, “I am only human” as they excuse sin. However, Adam and Eve were fully human before sin entered. We were not created to sin.
      3. In Genesis 9:6 it shows even after the fall we are still in God’s image.
      4. Let’s read Romans 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
      5. Let’s read Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • We can only be saved through Jesus.
    1. We must understand as humans that we were created good.
    2. We must understand that as part of human history we fell from grace.
    3. We must turn to Jesus for redemption.

Close:

Understand, every time you turn on the television, or the radio, or the computer, or your smartphone you are seeing images and ideas that are contrary to what the Bible says it means to be human. Understand, every time you read the newspaper, or an article or a book you are reading contrary ideas to what the Bible teaches it means to be human. We need our views to come from the Bible.

Our world will tell you that being human is without purpose and without meaning. This is nihilism. This is shown in a song titled: “Mr. Rogers” by Korn: You told me everybody was my neighbor.

They took advantage of me.

I wish I hadn’t watched you.

I hate you . . .

There is a lot of nihilism in rock.

Our world will tell you that being human means we must FIND meaning in my life because there is no meaning in my life. That is existentialism.

The world will tell you that life has no meaning or purpose except for pleasure so we should go for pleasure and this is hedonism.

The world will tell you that life is about making the world a better place for humans and this is called humanism. An example is Star Trek. Star Trek is all about a humanistic idea that humans can make the world better and bring peace on their own.

I use the word ‘Humanist’ to mean

someone who believes that man is just

as much a natural phenomenon as an

animal or plant; that his body, mind

and soul were not supernaturally created

but are products of evolution, and that he

is not under the control or guidance of

any supernatural being or beings, but

has to rely on himself and his

own powers. Julian Huxley, American Humanist Association[2]

The Bible responds to these. The Bible tells us we were created in the image of God. We have sinned, but we are redeemed in Jesus. The Bible tells us we have purpose because we were created by God. The Bible gives us purpose and meaning and hope from Genesis through Revelation. The Bible tells us we are God’s special creation and we reflect the creator. We glorify God because we reflect Him.

Children need to be taught the Biblical worldview.

Teenagers need to be taught the Biblical worldview.

Young adults need to learn the Biblical worldview.

Parents need to study and teach their children the Biblical worldview.

Everyone must embrace the Biblical worldview.

Knowing Jesus and embracing His worldview is the only hope for our society. We must change the cult of the populace. We must transform the culture. We must redeem the times.

People need the hope of what the Bible says it means to be human.

Theme: You are created in God’s Image.

Applications:

  1. Live for God, He is Your Creator
  2. Respect all people, they are also God’s creation.
  3. Respect yourself, you are God’s creation.

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 we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] https://nypost.com/2016/02/27/europes-cure-for-autism-is-euthanasia/

[2] These last quotes were taken from Dr. Bill Brown’s chapel powerpoint at Cedarville University on 02/11/2003

What is the Church? Who are the Church?

What is the Church, Who are the Church? (Ecclesiology) (Acts 2:42-47; Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; Col. 1:15-20)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, February 11, 2018

 I know many churches with fog machines in their worship service. I don’t know their purpose, but I really do not agree and I would be entirely, unreservedly opposed to a fog machine in our worship. I know of churches that begin their worship service with Beatles songs. I don’t know their purpose, actually I do. They are so intent on reaching the lost, and that is a good thing, but instead they sing songs written by a pot smoking band that do not glorify God. I do not agree with that either. A. W. Tozer has said that we were created to worship and so I would also say why would we compromise worship on our Sunday morning gathering. I would also say why when the whole body of Christ comes together some make it more about a pop concert than glorifying the King of Kings. I know why these churches do it. I respect their motivation, they wish to reach more people with the Gospel. They think if they start with a Beatles song and turn the sanctuary into a stadium people will feel more comfortable and be more receptive to the message. However, if we compromise Christianity in order to reach people we should expect that we are compromising discipleship. If we compromise worship in order to reach people we are falsifying Christianity in order to reach people. If we compromise worship in order to reach people we are being disingenuous and we are lacking integrity by misrepresenting Christianity and the claims of Christ from the very beginning. Therefore, people could think they are committing to Christianity, but they are not. They are committing to a pop culture skewed view of Christianity which is NOT Biblical Christianity.  This is what happens when we make our worship service our evangelism outreach. This is grave danger. This can lead to major problems in a church. If we compromise worship in order to reach people then we ought not be surprised when they really do not know worship themselves.

As you know, I am in a sermon series on the Study of God. So, now we come to the study of God’s church. We are talking about the church today and I want to say my theme and application:

Theme:

You are called to worship, but the church as a whole is called to evangelism and discipleship to bring people into a RIGHT relationship with God so that they can worship.

Application:

Don’t forget evangelism, as that is sin, but don’t compromise worship which we are called to do.

Let’s read:

Colossians 1:15-20

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  1. What is the church?
    1. If you notice the passage above, Jesus is the Head of the church. We also see this in Ephesians 1:22-23.
    2. The church is called the bride of Christ.
    3. We see this in Eph. 5:22-25 but mostly in Rev. 19:7-8: Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright andclean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
    4. We see the idea in Rev. 20:1-6 as well.
    5. The church is the bride of Christ.
    6. There are many metaphors of the church too many to name. But the church is the body of believers who are called out of the world to serve Jesus.
    7. God has not called us to live the Christian life alone, but to be networked together.
    8. We are a community.
  2. Who are the church?
    1. Listen, every believer in Jesus Christ is part of the church.
    2. Please take your pointer finger and point to the sky and now point at your self and say, “I am the church.”
    3. If you are a believer in Christ, you are the church.
  • Purposes of the church
    1. I want to talk about 5 purposes of the church. Ultimately, I believe if every Christian is a disciple that should lead to evangelism, worship, ministry and fellowship, but we all fail. So, every one of us must evaluate how we are doing. How are you doing with evangelism? How many times have you shared your faith? How are you doing as a disciple? Are you living like Jesus? Are you trying? How are you doing with worship? Do you worship Jesus? How about ministry? Are you serving? How about fellowship? Are you connected to the body? Every believer is to be involved in those 5 areas of evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. But what about the church. The church must mobilize the people for these tasks.
    2. Ultimately, I do believe we are created to worship God and DISCIPLESHIP teaches us that.
    3. But that is the Christian. Ultimately, I believe the church is God’s military organization to evangelize, but also to support one another as we share the Gospel and live the Christian life.
    4. The church is called to evangelism.
    5. Let’s read Acts 2:42-47: 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they beganselling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
      1. In that passage we see all 5 purposes of the church. The are devoting themselves to teaching. They are worshipping. They are ministering. Verse 47 says the Lord is adding to their number.
      2. There are many churches that must apologize. We must apologize for neglecting evangelism, and this is a sin of omission. Or, we must apologize for compromising worship with a goal of evangelism.
  • We do not compromise our worship for evangelism. We include evangelism in all of our ministries. If we are about evangelism throughout the week then we simply keep worship the same.
  1. The whole book of Acts is about church planting and spreading the Gospel.
  2. The whole New Testament is about spreading the Gospel.
  3. Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous manshall live by faith.”
  • Romans 15:20: And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation
  • the New Testament is all about the spread of the Gospel. Are you? Are we?
  1. People do not care about our Gospel because we do not care enough to share it?
  2. But the purpose of our Sunday morning worship gathering is not evangelism. Don’t get me wrong, I will share the Gospel wherever the people are, but that is not the purpose.
  3. You are called to evangelism and the church is called to mobilize, encourage and equip you to share the Gospel so that there are more worshippers.
  • Furthermore, the church as a community should have more invitational evangelism opportunities. I am looking into Celebrate Recovery which would be a Christian based recovery group in order to help people in the community. This building should be full of good, God honoring community, need meeting events throughout the week. Fill up the building with Christian classes for parents and children. Fill up the building with Christian counseling. But remember, you are the church and where you go you are to infect people with Jesus. BE CONTAGIOUS!
  • Generally we do not care enough to live it. The church is called to discipleship.
  1. The church is called to Discipleship.
    1. Don’t forget that disciples worship. Disciples minister. Disciples fellowship. Disciples make disciples. True disciples share the Gospel.
    2. Jesus has not called us to be fans but to be followers of Jesus.
  • There are so many Scriptures about this.
  1. Luke 9:23: And He was saying to themall, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me…”
  1. The church is called to Worship.
    1. I talked about compromising worship in order to reach people.
    2. Think about it, compromising worship for evangelism is like compromising your entire view of purity in order to find a spouse.
  • Think about it, Christians have been doing that for at least sixty years. Christians, even parents, would rather their children graduate from college than remain sexually pure. College is way more important to the Christian parent than sexual purity. Christian children are raised with a certain view of purity and then throw it out on the first date. So, why are we surprised when we do the same thing with worship. We have a Bible view and we throw it out with the goal of marrying more people.
  1. The worship service is for the groom. The worship service is not for you, it is for Jesus.
  2. BUT the rest of the week, the rest of the ministry, is about reaching more people with the Gospel so they can join us in worshipping Jesus AND help reach other people to also worship Jesus.
  3. See Col. 3:15-17: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
  • Look at Rev. 4:8-11: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

  1. The Church is called to Ministry.
  2. We are called to lovingly serve other people. See Phil. 2:3-11. Even this should have an evangelism goal.
  3. The church is called to Fellowship.
    1. We are to live in community.
    2. We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), etc.

Close:

I started this sermon talking about churches that I believe compromise worship with the idea of evangelism. BUT remember, it is also a sin to neglect to share the Gospel. Neglecting to share the Gospel compromises worship because in neglecting evangelism we have less worshippers.

Who are the church? YOU are.

What is the church? The body and bride of Christ.

What are we called to do?

You are called to worship Jesus.

We are called to evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship.

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 we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)