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Archive for the ‘Faith/Trust/Belief’ Category

From my Christmas sermon on Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

But what does it mean for you to come to Christ? It means that you look to him. Look to him. He says to you, “Come and receive my finished work for you. Receive my blood. Receive my payment for you. Receive this that I have done for you. Don’t bear your burden of guilt anymore. You’re angry – I’m at peace. You’re lustful – I’m pure. You’re hateful – I’m loving. You’re impatient – I’m waiting. You’re sinfully afraid – I’m resting in my Father’s love. You’re ungrateful – I’m thankful. You’re distrustful – I’m full of faith. You’re greedy – I’m content. You’ve murdered – I’ve given life. You’re an adulterer – I’m faithful. You’ve lied – I am the truth. You’re selfish – I always give myself away. You’ve sinned. I haven’t. Exchange it with me today. I’ve paid for it. Let my punishment bring you peace. Let it be so today. This is what it meant for me to come to this earth.”

And this is what the famous Anglican Preacher, Charles Simeon discovered:

“But in Passion Week, as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord’s Supper, I met with an expression to this effect—’ That the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.’ The thought came into my mind, What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus.”

Will you bear your sin one moment longer? Why not lay them on Jesus right now? That’s why he came.

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Galatians 1:6-9 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

If you turn from the gospel preached by Paul, preached by the Apostles, the very gospel of Jesus Christ, you are not turning from a set of ideas or concepts or truths per se, but you are turning from Him; you are turning from a person; you are turning from Jesus himself; in Paul’s words, you are “deserting him.” And you never turn from something without turning to something else. So, when you turn from the true gospel, you will turn to a false one; and just like you are not merely turning from a set of ideas but Jesus himself, you are turning, not merely to a set of ideas or truth but to a different savior altogether. And this different savior is not real. It’s “not that there is another one” – there is no other good news or savior … just counterfeits … killers … destroyers. You are turning to bad news disguised as good news. If I am not mistaken, Jesus said something about that in John 10:10, something about a thief coming to kill and destroy but Him coming to give abundant life. That’s why should you turn from Christ and turn to a false savior, and should you preach such a thing to others, you shall be accursed, because you’ve destroyed others as well. Don’t desert Him! Hold on to his gospel! Believe it and preach it beloved.

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1 Cor 15:1-2 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

First, we are to be reminded of the gospel. How can we forget and yet how easily we forget? We return to our performance as the basis of our right standing with God. We return to our vomit – the vomit of our sin and self. We return to the world. We forget how they make us pay and how Jesus paid it all.

Second, we are to preach the gospel. It is by the foolish act of preaching that people are saved. Someone told you about Jesus. Someone told me. Somebody opened their mouth and spoke what they knew.

Third, we are to receive the gospel. It is by the simply act of receiving Christ that we are saved. It is by looking unto Him. It is a free gift. It is to be received.

Fourth, we are to stand in the gospel. Once you receive Christ, it is not over. Stand! Stand by faith. Stand for Christ. Stand against the world, your flesh, and Satan. Stand like a good soldier. Stand with your feet firmly planted on the gospel.

Fifth, we are being saved by the gospel. It’s not merely that you were saved at some point. It’s not merely that you will be saved at some point. But right now you are being saved – being saved from the penalty and power of sin. You sinned today. OK. That’s not good but you are being saved right now from that sin, from it’s penalty (There is no condemnation!) and from it’s power (Sin shall no longer have dominion over you).

Sixth, we are to hold fast to the word. The word of Christ no doubt. Don’t let it go. Don’t forsake the one who gave himself for you. If you forsake him that means you went to someone else. Who? Why? Hold on to Jesus by faith. Storms can howl and trials may assail you, but you hold on.

Seventh, we are not to believe the gospel in vain. We can believe in a false way, a wrong way, the kind of way that uses God for his gifts and not Himself, the kind of way that let’s go of God when things get difficult, the kind of way that betrays your disappointment that God did not let you keep your idols or the trouble-free life you wanted. Don’t believe in vain! Stand fast! Hold fast! Receive Him again today.

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From my sermon yesterday on Ruth 1 (and a good Thanksgiving thought):

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”  16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

But the words of vv15-18 also express something else. Even though Ruth actually encourages her to return to her paganism and worship of false gods, Ruth’s mind is of a different sort. At the end of v17 she says something that God has said over and over with the very covenant he used to establish his people – “I will be your God and you will be my people.” And here is the Moabite woman, Ruth, the pagan woman, Ruth, declaring what all of God’s people were to declare to one another as a way of saying I am part of God’s people: “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

Somehow and at sometime and in someway Ruth came to trust in the God of Naomi. And this is huge because this is the same God whom Naomi just bemoaned as the One who had emptied her. This is the Almighty God who was against Naomi. And it’s not like Ruth had escaped unscathed. She had lost her father-in-law, brother-in-law, and husband with whom she had no child. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, even tried to talk her into going back to her gods (v15 – was that Naomi actually positing whether Moab’s gods would be better than her God?) And yet, Ruth trusted in this God. Do you see this? In spite of all the pain, Ruth trusted in God. Did you hear that? I didn’t say, “Because of all the blessings and abundance” Ruth trusted God. No. She clung to God in the midst of all her pain and emptiness.

And this is faith … this is hope. This is one who was not blinded by her troubles. It wasn’t that she was not hurting. It wasn’t that she was not discouraged or downhearted. But she could see past it. She could see past the pain and the problems. And I don’t mean that she could see past it and know that all these good things were about to happen to her. She couldn’t see the future? For all she knew, she was going with Naomi and would grow old and die with Naomi. She has no idea. But she still clings to Naomi and the God of Naomi. That’s faith. That’s trust. That’s hope. That’s Job saying of God, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” That’s Habakkuk saying, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” That’s Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego saying, “O Neb, God is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace … but if he does not, we will not serve your gods.” O beloved, may we join with them and affirm our hope in God in the midst of the trial.

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Here’s a little verse for you today, a classic by John Donne, and one of the greatest opening and closing lines you’ll ever see in a poem or prayer, which is what this really is:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

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An excerpt from a sermon on Luke 10:25-28:

Friends, this is so helpful to understand the gospel. What Jesus does is show the man his heart. He exposes the sin of this lawyer. And you know he did the same thing to another person who asked him the same question, the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18. He asked the same question and Jesus did the same thing. Pointed him to the law of God and then showed him that he was woefully short of that law, that he could not keep it. The parable of the Good Samaritan is intended to show the lawyer that he does not love his neighbor. The truth is, I don’t know that we would have ever had this parable in our hands had the lawyer admitted his sinfulness, had he said to Jesus, “You know, I fall woefully short of this. I know what it says to do. I am a lawyer. I try to do it. But I admit, I can’t do it well at all. I don’t love God and others as I should. Could you help me?” That’s what he should have said because that’s what God’s laws does.

That’s why Romans 3:20 says “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” The law does not justify you – it tells you that you are a sinner who needs a Savior. That’s why Gal 2:16 says “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

Do you understand? Let me explain to you the good news of Jesus. The Bible teaches us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and that he made man in his own image and put him in a perfect place and gave him one law to keep. But even in that perfect place, Adam did not love God with all that he had, and broke God’s law, and fell into sin, and in so doing he forfeited the eternal life God had for him and became enemies with God. This is the reason that man’s life ends in death. It was by man that sin entered the world – not at all by a holy and loving God – and death came upon us through our sin, and so death passed upon all men for all have sinned. But God in his grace determined to rescue man; so God made another Adam, the last Adam, his blessed Son Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin and he did two things: he kept the whole law for his people [lived a perfect life and kept the whole law, always loving the Lord and his fellow man perfectly; His life was pure and perfect and good. He was as righteous as God himself] and he also suffered the punishment due to our sins on the cross, atoning for our sins, that we might be forgiven, that our guilt might be erased, so that we would not have to carry that guilt or our blame. And after dying he arose again conquering death that we might have eternal life. And he said and now says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Now look, you have two options: either you will try to justify yourself by trying to prove how good you were or loving you were or you can trust Jesus to justify you? Put it like this: on the Day of judgment, when God asks you why he should let you into heaven, you can look at God and say, “You know, I tried to love God and love others as best I could” and if you do then you will have rejected eternal life. Or you can say, “It’s nothing I have done or can do. It’s all because of Jesus. He loved God and love others perfectly. And he paid the penalty for my sins and has clothed me with his righteousness.” Now which of those two options do you want, and I tell you, only one of those will give you eternal life, and it’s not the one that has anything to do with you.

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Another excerpt from your friendly neighborhood preacher …

This is based on yesterday’s sermon from Luke 10:23-24.

Reason #3: You are blessed if you have seen him by faith. You noticed that in Galatians 3:2 – “hearing with faith.” See, the point of seeing Jesus, of understanding who he was and what he did was not knowledge or amazement, but faith – saving faith. That’s why Jesus does not say [look back in vv13-16] to those in Bethsaida, “Blessed are you for you saw me do miracles and were amazed.” No, what he says to them is more like, “Cursed are you, because you saw and did not believe.”

There is a seeing that is not seeing at all, like those people at Bethsaida – you read the Bible and it does not move you, does not change you, does not cause you to pursue God, does not cause you to obey the Lord and give him your life, does not cause you to despair over your sin and fear God’s judgment and turn to him for salvation, doesn’t move you; you hear sermons, some good and some bad, and it does the same thing or should I say it doesn’t do anything for you but maybe inform you or maybe intrigue you or impress you; doesn’t change you. That’s the wrong kind of seeing.

And there is a seeing that is by faith. You read the Scriptures and you hear them explained and taught and you say, “Yes. I love that. This is my God. This is my Savior. It is true. I am sinful and I need Jesus. And Jesus is amazing and wonderful and Lord and He’s my Lord and I will obey Him and love Him and worship Him and give myself for Him and his people.” Do you see? It affects you because you believe in Him.

And do you see why that makes you “blessed?” You are not blessed simply because you now know how God is going to fix all things. You are blessed because God has fixed you, not completely, not yet, but you know he will one day. Until then, by faith you see your Savior. Your eyes have been opened to see that there is a judgment but it’s not your judgment and you’ve seen the One who was judged in your place. Your eyes have been opened to see your sinfulness (say “anger”) but you know that one day you will never get angry again. You see death (family, friends, pets) all around you but you also see through it all because you know by faith in His word that death is the last enemy to be conquered and has been swallowed up already in the resurrection and you will never taste death and one day death will be no more, a world without death awaits you. You see your body in a downward spiral no matter how much you exercise or how much make-up you put on; but you also see a glorified body one day in heaven before God himself, so glorious you would mistake yourself for a god if you really could see it.  And what of days when you are just lonely or hurting or downcast or depressed or worried – you see your Savior by faith who is closer to you than a brother, nearer to you than a friend, a rock and a refuge, a fortress, the lifter of your head, your keeper, your Savior. You see your sin and your struggles but you a risen Savior at the right hand of his and your Father interceding for you and cheering you on. Oh how it is blessed to see Jesus by faith!

Is that you? Do you have that kind of sight? If not, friend you need to be saved. And you need to know that God wants to save you. Can’t you see that? Does this whole section not drip with such eagerness from Jesus? He’s excited that people get to see Him, that he gets to reveal God to people, that he gets to save souls. Why not call upon him to save you now? Have you seen his salvation? Have you seen his forgiveness? Perhaps not. It may be because you have not seen your sin and the hell that awaits you? If you have not, ask God to show you what you are and where you are going? If so, why not call upon Jesus to save you? Why not commit your life to Jesus right now? If you will, on the authority of God’s Word, you will be “blessed.”

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