Recognition of Brokenness

 

That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

 

3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

 

4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

           

            Nehemiah 1:2-4

 

            It may seem evident but before one can rebuild something one must recognize that something is broken. Building upon the previous two weeks, especially last week’s sermon on the persecuted church I would like to take a look at what I am entitling Our Recognition of  Brokenness.  

 

            The old adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” would seem to apply. You would not waste your time tuning up a brand new 2015 vehicle with 25 miles on it. Neither would you put a new roof on a just completed home. The same applies to the Gospel. If the whole world was good and proper (as God intended) there would be no brokenness and no need for the Gospel Good News. But as we all know the world we live in is severely broken.

             

            Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 describes Brokenness as: A state of being broken; unevenness; as brokenness of heart. Charles Stanley says:  Brokenness is the Lord’s method of dealing with our self-reliance—that desire within us to act independently from Him.  God wants us to bring every area of our lives into submission to His will, and He uses our trials to lead us to a point of total surrender.

 

            The bible is full of stories of broke things. It starts out with the glory of God in creation and quickly erodes to man breaking God’s covenant in the Garden of Eden. There is the story of Pharaoh who must be broken step by step in order for God to be fully glorified. The story of Joseph recounts many broken moments from a fathers love to a faithful servant falsely accused. Of course we could go on but suffice it to say there is no shortage of similar stories throughout the Bible. The common thread in every case is man’s depravity, his broken state. His inability to do good of his own accord and the evil he can generate towards others. As I preached for the first time this past Jan (2014) in jail, one cannot truly appreciate the love of God (John 3:16) until one really understands the unbridled evil in man (John3:19).

 

            Here too in Nehemiah we see this in verses 2 and 3. Nehemiah asks about the Jews who had previously left Persia with Ezra and returned to Jerusalem. I want to emphasize these words in verse 3 that describe those in Jerusalem they: are in great affliction and reproach. Their lives are broken.

 

            Think about this for a moment how was man intended to live? Genesis 1:31a gives us a hint And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. We can see that all of God’s creation under the heavens and earth were good. It is not a farfetched leap to think God intended man to LIVE THE GOOD LIFE.

 

            The Hebrew word translated good is Towb a partial list of its meanings should enlighten us:

 

good, pleasant, agreeable, [No bad stuff here]

good, excellent (of its kind) [cream of the crop]

good, rich, valuable in estimation [worthwhile]

better (comparative) [as compared to after the fall should be obvious]

glad, happy, prosperous (of man's sensuous nature)

good understanding (of man's intellectual nature)

good, kind, benign [no evil intent]

good, right (ethical) n m [capable of making right decisions]

welfare, prosperity, happiness [ for ones benefit]

good things (collective) [creation individually and as a whole]

 

Not just a good VERY GOOD. Again it is the choice of the emphatic Very that makes this so compelling. It was not just ok good it was the best of the best.

 

The second thing to consider here is man’s intended role in the Garden. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth Gen 1:26 God gave man dominion or rule over all the earth. Not just bits and pieces but all the earth. He entrusted man because He created him good. But man had other ideas.

 

            Back to Nehemiah, the report he gets is they (the Jerusalem Jews) are living a broken existence. One not in line with God’s plan, they are in great affliction and reproach.

 

According to Josephus, Nehemiah, while walking around the palace walls, overheard some persons conversing in the Hebrew language. Having ascertained that they had lately returned from Judea, he was informed by them, in answer to his eager inquiries, of the unfinished and desolate condition of Jerusalem, as well as the defenseless state of the returned exiles. The commissions previously given to Zerubbabel and Ezra extending only to the repair of the temple and private dwellings, the walls and gates of the city had been allowed to remain a mass of shattered ruins, as they had been laid by the Chaldean siege.

 

            The walls of the city were left in disrepair, broken and a disgrace to the citizenry there. It is important to recognize the broken state of folks around us. We should never be surprised at the brokenness around us. I often hear comments like “how could someone do such a thing” from Christians and stand amazed at their ignorance. It amazes me even more, how someone who is completely broken does not do far worse. 

 

            We can look upon Nehemiah’s situation as symbolic of our own lives apart from God. Without Christ where was your life headed? It has been my experience that very few folks have come to Christ without first being completely broken in need of a complete renovation.

 

            There are many things that get us to that point (thanks to In Touch Ministries for the following list with my comments in italics)

 

A. Pride - How many of us thought we could go it alone?

B. IgnoranceMaybe stupidity would be my choice we knew better than God?

C. FearAfraid be seen as Broken therefore afraid to change leaves us broken,

D. Worldly entanglementsHere we again, loving the dark side of life.

E. Unhealthy relationshipsPersonal, Business, Social, who are you hanging with?

F. RebelliousnessResisting the truth; afraid to own up to our failures

G. Strongholds of SatanHe can’t make you do it but can plant the seeds to sedition.

 

            Often times this broken state is not as apparent as the words told to Nehemiah. We must always be on the lookout for family, friends, co-workers and even those who in authority over us who are broken and in despair. As a prison chaplain I am constantly on the lookout for signs of new brokenness if you will in the men women and staff I minister to. Some are easy to spot. They guy who is normally boisterous lying on his bunk with his head wrapped in a towel is a dead giveaway something new is wrong. Or the officer who grunts a greeting instead of their normal smile sets my alarm off. I constantly hear gripes from the inmates regarding the staff (and yes sometimes the other way around). The lack of control over their own lives (brokenness) leads them lash out at those God has appointed over them. Rarely justified it goes to the total depravity of man. I often try and pint out to those complaining that not only did they put themselves there, they have no idea of the (broken) state the staff member maybe in.

 

            Why is living in a state of brokenness so bad? Let us look at some of the Consequences: (Again thanks to In Touch Ministries)

 

A. We hinder our relationship with the Lord. (We can never make things right)

B. We delay the fulfillment of God’s will in our lives. (God will not work with junk)

C. We hurt those who are closest to us. (Our brokenness affects others)

D. We limit what the Father can do through our gifts and talents. (SOS mode all the way)

 

E. We are “put on the shelf”—unused by the Lord and prevented from experiencing His blessings and future rewards. (God wants representatives that glorify him not the devil)

 

            God uses the humble the willing and the broken of self for His kingdoms work.

 

·         Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor [humble] in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. We are drawn closer to God as we acknowledge our brokenness

 

·         Psalm 32:9a  Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle. WE must yield to the Holy Spirit as we recognize our brokenness

 

·         2 Timothy 2:20,21 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. We must be broken to be restored in the inmage of God.

 

            Recognition of our broken state is only the beginning of the process of rebuilding. Next week we will look at Responses to Brokenness.

 

            In HIS Service

 Trials or Tribulations?

 

            Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I thought it a good opportunity to reflect again upon what many Christians refer to as trials and tribulations.

 

            I have heard and read from many with illness, financial woes, the incarcerated and those with a variety of other problems that they must endure the tribulations that they are going through. That they can with God’s help deal with these great present tribulations, While the sentiments are nice they are somewhat lacking in biblical standing.

 

            As much as I can understand their feelings, I must first caution them that Biblical tribulations are always something one endures for the sake of Christ. Tribulation always equals suffering via persecution.  Even Nehemiah’s situation was not one of tribulation. A trial certainly, but true persecution for God; I think not.

 

            As we learned last week Nehemiah was living as an outcast in the land of his captors. Yet as the King’s cup bearer and trusted servant of the court his life could hardly be described as one of suffering. Although he has a lofty position in the court of King Artaxerxes, he is as a prisoner. He could only do what the King ordered and allowed. He may have been trusted but as we have seen in Ester the Persians probably did not approve of his high post. Finally he is a Jew in a pagan nation much like we all are as Christians in the World today.  Nehemiah must have been in daily conflict. To live as a Jew was greatly different than that of a Persian.

 

            The lesson from last week is this; most Christians today, like Nehemiah, go through trails in their lives. Some are brought upon themselves by illegal, immoral or unethical actions. While others through no direct action of their own (illness, injury, work cut backs, etc.) have equally challenging trials.

 

            I want to take a minute or two to expand on this for a moment. Verse one says:

 

1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

 

            Do you remember why Nehemiah was in Shushan and not say Bethlehem? He was there as a direct result of the actions of his forefathers. They had broken God’s law and there was a price to pay for such actions. Listen even though Nehemiah was not one of those who had broken God’s law that led to the Babylonians conquering and enslaving the nation of Judah in 586 B.C. he must endure the consequences.

 

              Illegal actions that lead to our imprisonment have consequences not only for us but for our families and friends. While prison is not a fun time for anyone and can certainly be a trial in that it tests us in many ways it cannot be considered a time of tribulation. After all (in most every case) you put yourself there.

 

 

            Marital problems due to infidelity while trying are not a time of tribulation. Nor is the aftermath that while trying and seemingly under persecution (high alimony) again it is a problem of your own making.  Laziness that leads to financial woes cannot be blamed on the economy or anyone else. A man that will not work (at any legal job) to feed his family is not a real man in my book. Immoral acts such as gambling and drinking that lead to family, financial and health issues cannot be described as times of tribulation. Trying yes, but that is everyday life in a fallen and depraved world.

 

            There are many in the world today who face real tribulation. Who daily are persecuted for their faith in Christ Jesus.  We in America are blessed that true persecution has not reached our shores. But be forewarned that day is coming. The actions of a misguided mayor in Houston and the passing of Hate Crime legislation making it seemingly illegal to speak out biblically against abortion, sexual orientation, same sex marriage etc. are bringing the day ever closer.

 

            For real Tribulations in the life of Christians today Voice of the Martyrs is one of the best sites for information. I gleaned the following from a long list:  

 

Egypt - Akhom, was shot during an attack on his Christian neighborhood. VOMedical will help him get the treatment he needs.

 

India - House Destroyed an Orissa victim sits amid what used to be her home. “We are waiting for the next riot. We do not know where it will happen. We know this was a warning, not an end.”

 

India - Imprisoned Indian pastors are imprisoned for their evangelical activity.

 

India - Four young Dalit pastors in India - Shivashankar, Ramiah, Yesuraj and Jeevan - were beaten by Hindu radicals and police and imprisoned. We assisted in their release from the Karnataka jail. They have returned to Bible study and ministry!

 

Indonesia - Before Christmas bulldozers were sent by the Muslim government of Tangerang County to destroy five church buildings.

 

Indonesia - Police tried to protect Christians of the Batak church, but two of the church’s pastors, including Pastor Purba (in the red tie), were beaten by the mob in August 2010. One banner carried by radicals during the protest read, “The Muslim community rejects the building of a church in Mustika Jaya.”

 

Iraq - In 2011, militant Muslims burst into Afanan’s home in Iraq. They locked Afanan and her two children in a room while they tortured her husband. The family was forced to listen to his cries until they ended with a fatal gunshot. VOM is supporting this widow and her children.

 

Laos - Somchi, a young Khmu woman, handed us an unusual package — a burned Bible in a plastic bag. The Bible was still wet from the rain, but we separated and dried the pages. Somchi has underlined many scriptures in her Bible. The most underlined section was around I Cor 9:19. She put a blue asterisk by this verse.

 

Nigeria - Seyi was hit with a machete several times and almost burned to death during Muslim rioting in Nigeria.

 

Nigeria - Monica was attacked by Islamic radicals in July and has already had four surgeries. She is due for another one.

 

Nigeria - Godwin lost his arm in an attack by local Muslims. VOM provided him with a prosthetic arm.

 

Pakistan - When Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood in Gojra, Pakistan, in 2009, Christians used a cart as a strecher to transport the injured.

 

Vietnam - Pastor Cong’s home was destroyed by local authorities.

 

Vietnam - Who can forget the stunning photo we printed of Vietnamese secret police officers swinging a club at a member of Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang’s Mennonite Church in August 2006? About 50 police officers swarmed the grounds of the house church, beating congregants with nightsticks, nunchucks and electric cattle prods. Pastor Quang was arrested. Today, Pastor Quang, released from prison, is operating a Bible school. Currently, 47 young Vietnamese and tribal youth are studying in the three-year program. The course teaches them a thorough understanding of the Bible, how to use a computer, how to establish a church and qualifies them to serve in full-time ministry. Oh, and secret police are still coming by his church and home.

 

India - VOM helped a woman after Hindu radicals beat her husband and burned her Bible. Christians are attacked in India more frequently than in any other country.

 

            For a look at real persecution and tribulation in the lives of Christians today I recommend you watch the following video. Afterwards ask yourself are you ready to answer the call of God? Are you truly a Christian?

http://www.persecution.com/idop       Leana’s Prayer

In HIS Service

 Living as an Outcast

 

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace

            Nehemiah 1:1

 

            As we begin our series on Nehemiah I thought it prudent to give some historical background before delving into the verses.

 

Title

Nehemiah (“Jehovah comforts”) is a famous cupbearer, who never appears in Scripture outside of this book. As with the books of Ezra and Esther, named after his contemporaries (see Introductions to Ezra and Esther), the book recounts selected events of his leadership and was titled after him. Both the Greek Septuagint (LXX) and the Latin Vulgate named this book “Second Ezra

 

Author and Date

Though much of this book was clearly drawn from Nehemiah’s personal diaries and written from his first person perspective (1:1–7:5; 12:27–43; 13:4–31), both Jewish and Christian traditions recognize Ezra as the author. This is based on external evidence that Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book as reflected in the LXX and Vulgate; it is also based on internal evidence such as the recurrent “hand of the LORD” theme which dominates both Ezra and Nehemiah and the author’s role as a priest-scribe. As a scribe, he had access to the royal archives of Persia, which accounts for the myriad of administrative documents found recorded in the two books, especially in the book of Ezra. Very few people would have been allowed access to the royal archives of the Persian Empire, but Ezra proved to be the exception (cf. Ezra 1:2–4; 4:9–22; 5:7–17; 6:3–12).

 

            {Many others believe differently that the book was in fact written by Nehemiah himself.  Jewish tradition identifies Nehemiah himself as the primary author of this historical book. Much of the book is written from his first-person perspective. Nothing is known about his youth or background; we meet him as an adult serving in the Persian royal court as the personal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 1:11–2:1). This prestigious position reveals something of Nehemiah’s upright character. Though he remained in Persia after the exiles had been allowed to go home, he was highly interested in the state of affairs in Judah (his brother Hanani [1:2] had returned there earlier). The book of Nehemiah could be read as a sequel to the book of Ezra, and some scholars believe the two were originally one work. It is possible that Ezra compiled Nehemiah’s original accounts with other material to create the book of Nehemiah. However, most scholars believe the book was written by Nehemiah}

The events in Nehemiah 1 commence late in the year 446 B.C., the 20th year of the Persian king, Artaxerxes (464–423 B.C.). The book follows chronologically from Nehemiah’s first term as governor of Jerusalem ca. 445–433 B.C. (Neh. 1–12) to his second term, possibly beginning ca. 424 B.C. (Neh. 13). Nehemiah was written by Ezra sometime during or after Nehemiah’s second term, but no later than 400 B.C. - See more at: http://www.insight.org/resources/bible/nehemiah.html#sthash.gbiJupff.dpuf

 

Background and Setting

 

True to God’s promise of judgment, He brought the Assyrians and Babylonians to deliver His chastisement upon wayward Judah and Israel. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians deported the 10 northern tribes and scattered them all over the then known world (2 Kin. 17). Several centuries later, ca. 605–586 B.C., God used the Babylonians to sack, destroy, and nearly depopulate Jerusalem (2 Kin. 25) because Judah had persisted in her unfaithfulness to the covenant. God chastened His people with 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Jer. 25:11).

 

During the Jews’ captivity, world empire leadership changed hands from the Babylonians to the Persians (ca. 539 B.C.; Dan. 5), after which Daniel received most of his prophetic revelation (cf.Dan. 6, 9–12). The book of Ezra begins with the decree of Cyrus, a Persian king, to return God’s people to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s house (ca. 539 B.C.), and chronicles the reestablishment of Judah’s national calendar of feasts and sacrifices. Zerubbabel and Joshua led the first return (Ezra 1–6) and rebuilt the temple. Esther gives a glimpse of the Jews left in Persia (ca. 483–473 B.C.) when Haman attempted to eliminate the Jewish race. Ezra 7–10 recounts the second return led by Ezra in 458 B.C. Nehemiah chronicles the third return to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem (ca. 445 B.C.).

At that time in Judah’s history, the Persian Empire dominated the entire Near Eastern world. Its administration of Judah, although done with a loose hand, was mindful of disruptions or any signs of rebellion from its vassals. Rebuilding the walls of conquered cities posed the most glaring threat to the Persian central administration. Only a close confidant of the king himself could be trusted for such an operation. At the most critical juncture in Judah’s revitalization, God raised up Nehemiah to exercise one of the most trusted roles in the empire, the King’s cupbearer and confidant. Life under the Persian king Artaxerxes (ca. 464–423 B.C.) had its advantages for Nehemiah. Much like Joseph, Esther, and Daniel, he had attained a significant role in the palace which then ruled the ancient world, a position from which God could use him to lead the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls in spite of its implications for Persian control of that city.

 

Several other historical notes are of interest. First, Esther was Artaxerxes’ stepmother and could have easily influenced him to look favorably upon the Jews, especially Nehemiah. Second, Daniel’s prophetic 70 weeks began with the decree to rebuild the city issued by Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. (cf. chaps. 1, 2).

Third, the Elephantine papyri (Egyptian documents), dated to the late 5th century B.C., support the account of Nehemiah by mentioning Sanballat the governor of Samaria (2:19), Jehohanan (6:18; 12:23), and Nehemiah’s being replaced as governor of Jerusalem by Bigvai (ca. 410 B.C; Neh. 10:16). Finally, Nehemiah and Malachi represent the last of the OT canonical writings, both in terms of the time the events occurred (Mal. 1–4; Neh. 13) and the time when they were recorded by Ezra. Thus the next messages from God for Israel do not come until over 400 years of silence had passed, after which the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were announced (Matt. 1; Luke 1, 2).

 

With the full OT revelation of Israel’s history prior to Christ’s incarnation being completed, the Jews had not yet experienced the fullness of God’s various covenants and promises to them. While there was a Jewish remnant, as promised to Abraham (cf. Gen. 15:5), it does not appear to be even as large as at the time of the Exodus (Num. 1:46). The Jews neither possessed the Land (Gen. 15:7) nor did they rule as a sovereign nation (Gen. 12:2). The Davidic throne was unoccupied (cf. 2 Sam. 7:16), although the High-Priest was of the line of Eleazar and Phinehas (cf. Num. 25:10–13). God’s promise to consummate the New Covenant of redemption awaited the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Messiah (cf. Heb. 7–10).

 

Historical and Theological Themes

 

Careful attention to the reading of God’s Word in order to perform His will is a constant theme. The spiritual revival came in response to Ezra’s reading of “the Book of the Law of Moses” (8:1). After the reading, Ezra and some of the priests carefully explained its meaning to the people in attendance (8:8). The next day, Ezra met with some of the fathers of the households, the priests, and Levites, “in order to understand the words of the Law” (8:13). The sacrificial system was carried on with careful attention to perform it “as it is written in the Law” (10:34, 36). So deep was their concern to abide by God’s revealed will that they took “a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law … ” (10:29). When the marriage reforms were carried out, they acted in accordance with that which “they read from the Book of Moses” (13:1).

 

A second major theme, the obedience of Nehemiah, is explicitly referred to throughout the book due to the fact that the book is based on the memoirs or first person accounts of Nehemiah. God worked through the obedience of Nehemiah; however, He also worked through the wrongly-motivated, wicked hearts of His enemies. Nehemiah’s enemies failed, not so much as a result of the success of Nehemiah’s strategies, but because “God had brought their plot to nothing” (4:15). God used the opposition of Judah’s enemies to drive His people to their knees in the same way that He used the favor of Cyrus to return His people to the Land, to fund their building project, and to even protect the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s walls. Not surprisingly, Nehemiah acknowledged the true motive of his strategy to repopulate Jerusalem: “my God put it into my heart” (7:5). It was He who accomplished it.

 

Another theme in Nehemiah, as in Ezra, is opposition. Judah’s enemies started rumors that God’s people had revolted against Persia. The goal was to intimidate Judah into forestalling reconstruction of the walls. In spite of opposition from without and heartbreaking corruption and dissension from within, Judah completed the walls of Jerusalem in only 52 days (6:15), experienced revival after the reading of the law by Ezra (8:1ff.), and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (8:14ff.; ca. 445 B.C.).

 

The book’s detailed insight into the personal thoughts, motives, and disappointments of Nehemiah makes it easy for the reader to primarily identify with him, rather than “the sovereign hand of God” theme and the primary message of His control and intervention into the affairs of His people and their enemies. But the exemplary behavior of the famous cupbearer is eclipsed by God who orchestrated the reconstruction of the walls in spite of much opposition and many setbacks; the “good hand of God” theme carries through the book of Nehemiah (1:10; 2:8, 18).

 

Interpretive Challenges

First, since much of Nehemiah is explained in relationship to Jerusalem’s gates (cf. Neh. 2, 3, 8,12), one needs to see the map “Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s Day” for an orientation. Second, the reader must recognize that the time line of chapters 1–12 encompassed about one year (445 B.C.), followed by a long gap of time (over 20 years) after Neh. 12 and before Neh. 13. Finally, it must be recognized that Nehemiah actually served two governorships in Jerusalem, the first from 445–433 B.C. (cf. Neh. 5:14; 13:6) and the second beginning possibly in 424 B.C. and extending to no longer than 410 B.C. http://www.gty.org/resources/bible-introductions/MSB16/Nehemiah

 

How do I apply this?

 

The book of Nehemiah shows us the kind of significant impact one individual can have on a nation. Nehemiah served in secular offices, using his position to bring back to the Jews order, stability, and proper focus on God.

 

God uses all manner of people in all manner of places doing all manner of work. Do you feel you must be “in ministry” in order to serve God? Be encouraged; He is not limited by your vocation. In fact, God has placed you where you are for a purpose. Have this attitude about your work: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). 

See more at: http://www.insight.org/resources/bible/nehemiah.html#sthash.iECvL5Bp.dpuf

 

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah,.... Or his transactions and deeds; for דברי "dibre" signifies things done, as well as words spoken; who Hachaliah his father was is not known; the Arabic version adds, the high priest, without any foundation; though some have thought that Nehemiah was a priest, from a passage in "Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Chisleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, and of the fire, which was given us when Neemias offered sacrifice, after that he had builded the temple and the altar.' (2 Maccabees 1:18)and from signing and sealing the covenant at the head of priests, Nehemiah 10:1, but he rather seems to be of the tribe of Judah, see Nehemiah 2:3, and Nehemiah may be the same that went up with Zerubbabel, and returned again, and then became the king's cupbearer; though some are of another opinion; see Gill on Ezra 2:2,

 

and it came to pass in the month Chisleu; the ninth month, as the Arabic version; {it would equate to our late Nov into  Dec time frame}

 

in the twentieth year; not of Nehemiah's age, for, if he went up with Zerubbabel, he must be many years older; but in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah 1:1,

 

as I was in Shushan the palace; a city in Persia, the royal seat of the kings of it; as Ecbatana was in the summer time, this in the spring, as Cyrus made it, according to XenophonF2; but others sayF3 it was their seat in winter, and this was the season now when Nehemiah was with the king there; for Chisleu was a winter month, answering to part of November and of December;

             

            It is the final portion on verse one that I wish to spend the rest of our time. Nehemiah was very much an outcast. Although he has a lofty position in the court of King Artaxerxes, he is as a prisoner. He can only do what the King orders and allows. He may be trusted but as we have seen in Ester the Persians probably do not approve of his high post. Finally he is a Jew in a pagan nation much like we all are as Christians in the World today.

 

            Nehemiah must have been in daily conflict. To live as a Jew was greatly different than that of a Persian. But as we will learn as we progress and unfold scripture God is able to overcome any and all difficulties. No matter where we are in life, a palace or a prison God can and does use men and women for His glory. It matters not in the end, what society calls you; outcast or King. It matters only that God call you as His son.

 

Until next time may God greatly bless you.

 

In HIS Service

GLORIFICATION

 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

 

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

 

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

- - - Romans 8:28-30

 

            As we close our series on Salvation we come to what I believe should be the great hope of every believer, Glorification.

 

            Our main text is often referred to as the “Golden Chain”.  That it is an expression of the Ordo Salutis cannot be denied. Let’s break it down:

 

v.28:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of:

 

Those (The elect) who love him (not by their own efforts), who have been called (effectually not universal) according to His purpose. For

 

Those (The elect) God foreknew He (also) (v.29) predestined (determined beforehand) to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that Jesus might be the firstborn among many brothers. And

 

Those (The elect) those God predestined, He (also) (v.30) called (regenerated)

 

Those (The elect) those God called, He (regeneration, through repentance and faith) He (also) justified (found righteous because of Christ alone)

 

Those (The elect) those God justified, (adopted, sanctified and preserved) He also Glorifies

 

Glorification is the final stage of the Glorification is the final stage of the Ordo Salutis and an aspect of Christian doctrine on Salvation or soteriology. It is also a part of Christian eschatology or last things. . It refers to the nature of believers after death and judgment, "the final step in the application of redemption.[1] The theological doctrine of glorification goes on to describe how believers will be resurrected after death and given new bodies that have a degree of continuity with their mortal selves. [1] c Wayne, Grudem (1994). Systematic Theology. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 828–839.and an aspect of

 

In the Scripture the idea of glorification deals with the ultimate perfection of believers. The word "glorification" is not used in the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek New Testament, but the idea of glorification is conveyed by the Greek verb doxazo ("glorify") and the noun doxa ("glory") as well as in passages that do not use any word from this root. Although the Old Testament may anticipate the theme to some extent ( Psalm 73:24 ; Dan 12:3 ), the New Testament is considerably fuller and richer in its development, making it explicit that believers will be glorified ( Romans 8:17 Romans 8:30 ; 2 Thess 1:12 ).

 

            In considering what to preach on this topic I listened to quite a few sermons from different well know orators of God’s word. Then I found Brad Baggett’s [1] series of Ordo Salutis on sermon audio and decided to share his thoughts with you. I pray you are uplifted as much as I.

 

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=817081743424

 

            In closing as I was listening to the sermon and writing these few words I had the word of the faithful old hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns running through my mind. Verse four is especially applicable:

 

Crown him the Lord of love;

behold his hands and side,

those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.

 

All hail, Redeemer, hail!

For thou hast died for me;

thy praise and glory shall not fail

throughout eternity.

 

            Do you see it? In beauty Glorified of course speaks of Christ but remember our main text. Verse 20 of Romans 8 says in part:  he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Just as Christ, who today sits at the right hand of the Father is described in this song as beauty Glorified. We too who have been Elected, Effectually Called, Regenerated, Converted, Justified, Adopted, Sanctified, and Preserved by God have the hope nor more the promise to be Glorified by God. And not just any glory will be ours but the same that marks the beautiful image of His Son.

 

In HIS Service

Perseverance

 

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

- - Phil 1:6

 

            What words come to mind when you here the term persevere? Initially I think of determination, steadfast, resolve, grit, diligence and I could go on but you get the idea. Here are a couple of quotes to help us understand the concept of perseverance ever better:

 

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. - C.H. Spurgeon

 

Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams. – Dr. Benjamin Carson

 

When we are foiled, let us believe we shall overcome; when we have fallen, let us believe we shall rise again. Jacob, after he received a blow which made him lame, yet would not give over wrestling (Gen. 32:25) till he had obtained the blessing. So let us never give up, but, in our thoughts knit the beginning, progress and end together, and then we shall see ourselves in heaven out of the reach of all enemies.  —Richard Sibbes

 

            Let us pause for a moment, think of that snail if Noah took 120 years to build the ark, when did the snail set out for it? Dr Carson’s quote is a slap in the face to today’s world of live for yourself. He tells us to reach our dreams our aspirations we must have faith in God. Finally Richard Sibbes reminds us that even with God on our side there will be battles to fight along life’s path. but we are never to quit.

 

            As we come to the 7th step in the Order of Salvation let us take a quick moment to review what we have learned:

 

Step 1            Election:                    We are Chosen by God

Step 2            Calling:                      We are Called by God

Step 3            Regeneration          We are Regenerated made anew by God

Step 4            Conversion              We are Born Again by God

Step 5            Justification              We are Justified by God

Step 6            Adoption                  We are made Heirs by God
Step 7            Sanctified                 We are made Holy by God

 

            Note the ongoing thread throughout each step. It is by God; not by anything we can do for or by ourselves that this process of salvation happens.  That same theme is present in today’s lesson on perseverance.

 

            How many of you have ever started a project of any kind and failed to see it through to the end? I know I am guilty of that.  The bible speaks of a different kind of project one that will always be completed fully. Look back at our base text for a moment:

 

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

 

            There are three aspects of perseverance brought out in this verse. We can have confidence because it is of God, we can be assured God will not quit in mid project and it is a lifelong process.

 

            When it comes to better understanding Perseverance of the Saints I have broken it down into three categories: Command, Change and Compensation.

 

COMMAND:

 

            We are commanded to persevere:

 

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  - - 2 Tim 2:1-3

 

Once again my mind says is it really that simple. Get and order, obey and order all is well in the world. Oh if were only so. Let us look deeper.

 

            First we are to be strong in Grace. Not our own grace but that of Christ Jesus. Again the theme from the beginning of this series on salvation is repeated; it is of God, by God and for God.

 

            How are we to be Strong on Grace? By learning and being convicted of the Word of God. We are to listen only to faithful men of God; we are to be a Berean in all things checking the genuine, uncorrupted word of God against all we hear and read.

 

            I have heard it said from to many that they need only the Bible and the Holy Spirit to fully understand the Word of God. While this may be technically correct (the Holy Spirit is God and fully capable of doing anything) it is not biblically correct. The Holy Spirit is our guide and as such is there to assist us in our studies of the Word. I want to emphasize the word STUDIES. If one is to truly unlock all the truths of God’s word we must examine and reexamine God Word as it was originally written. I understand that for many this is not practical or possible for a variety of reasons. That is why Paul wrote (under inspiration of the Holy Spirit) the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others.

 

            Finally perseverance is no easy task; for the Holy Spirit calls us to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. This is a cry to war not a family BBQ. There will be battles to fight and we must be prepared.

 

Change:

 

            How do we prepare for the battles to come? How do we endure the trials to come? By controlling our actions! We can only do this by changing how we go about our daily lives.  Let’s face facts, although some who claim to be “Christians” live a life that resembles anything but. We however understand that we must change to persevere.

 

“For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” - - Eph 2:10     

 

            As we read in our base text God has begun a good work in us. Here we see not only has he begun a good work in us He created us for good works. Now I do not know about y’all but before and apart from Christ there was and is nothing good about neither me nor my deeds. It is only by God’s work in changing me that I have any hope of persevering.

 

            We all know that once we are “born again” we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). But apart from the obvious need to separate us from sin, why else are we changed as it relates to perseverance?

 

            I thought of three that we can all easily relate to:

 

1) For Fruitfulness: John 15:4-8 says a person who perseveres will bear much fruit. I believe this is what Paul was referring to in Eph 2:1.  We become change so we can do good works for the Kingdom of God.  Just as the withered branch those apart from God not willing to persevere are cast into the fire but those who do persevere are able to do great things for God.

 

2) For Spiritual Growth: Ephesians 4:12-15 says those who persevere will not be as little children easily deceived and misled. They/we through perseverance mature in our faith.

 

3) For a Testimony to others: 2 Tim 2:10 reminds us that like Job many good saints must endure (persevere) through many illnesses and trials not for our sake but for God’s glory. Out testimony in testing times may be will help reach others for the Kingdom of God.

 

 

COMPENSATION:

 

            Remember our base text until the day of Jesus Christ? So what happens then? Not that we need any incentive to persevere, as we learned God commanded it so we should be obedient but hey it’s nice to know what the benefits of it are.

 

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap,

 if we faint not. - - Gal 6:9

 

            I love this verse it tells me that my time and effort are not wasted for God. That in the end there will be a payoff a return on my investment if you will. Here are a few thoughts on our compensation for persevering.

 

             I will start with one you may not have thought of Eph 6:11-18. Yes Armor, one of the benefits of perseverance is the Armor God gives us to fight the good fight. It gets less and less restrictive as we get accustomed to utilizing it in all conditions. Just like the modern soldier must train and train to utilize all his tools on the battlefield so to must God’s children train to meet the spiritual war raging around us. God provides all the Armor we need it is by persevering through trials that we reap its full benefits.

 

            How about strengthening our faith? 2 Tim 3:11 reminds us that Paul endured more than any of us probably ever will. Yet he complained not. No instead he praised the Lord for delivering him out of them all. His faith was strengthened by God’s demands of him.

 

            James writes of what maybe the greatest reason for persevering when in James 1:2 he says Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let that sink in a moment. In one short verse we are promised a reward but no ordinary reward for it is the crown of life!  This pinnacle of our existence is promised only to those who persevere to the end.

 

 

            In closing I would like to quote another Puritan writer William Ames who summarized Perseverance of the saints this way:

 

“This truth is perceived [perseverance of the saints] and made certain in us in these ways:

 

             First, by a certain spiritual sense in which the grace of God now present becomes known and evident to the believer.

 

             Second, by the gift of discernment through which believers distinguish true grace from its shadow.

 

            Third, by the whisper and witness of conscience in which grace and salvation are made fast for believers, just as sin and death for unbelievers.

 

            Fourth, the Spirit of God so confirms to believers these ways of perceiving that they have the same certainty as faith itself…This certainty follows upon the perceiving of faith and repentance, where the free covenant of God is rightly understood.”           

 

            Perseverance is commanded to all saints. Whether you are in the valleys or on the mountain tops we must endure all. The path up the hill or down may be very difficult and we must be properly equipped for the fight to come. I urge you to study God word daily, seek out learned men who are properly trained to teach God’s word. Guard yourself against the lies and smooth talk of world and above all else seek Him daily.

 

In HIS Service

Preached September 3, 2014 Lakeshore Baptist Church, Lakeshore, MS

            Whenever I think of judgment day I think of a court room with God presiding over the proceedings. My mind has it a regal affair yet a dark side as Satan and his minions prepare to demand our souls.

            So I found the following (I cannot remember where) and thought I’d share it.   

After living what I felt was a 'decent' life, my time on earth came to the end.

The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house.

The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table.

As I looked around I saw the 'prosecutor'.

He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen.

I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him.

The corner door opened and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room. I couldn't take my eyes off of Him.

As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, 'Let us begin.'

The prosecutor rose and said, 'My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.'

He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life, and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank.

I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.

As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all.

I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life - couldn't that at least equal out part of the harm I'd done?

Satan finished with a fury and said, 'This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.'

When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned Him to come forward.

As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendor and majesty.

I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior.

He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, 'HI, DAD,' and then He turned to address the court.

'Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned, I won't deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished.'

Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, 'However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is Mine.'

My Lord continued with, 'His name is written in the Book of Life, and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.'

As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, 'There is nothing else that needs to be done. I've done it all.’

The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips.....

'This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed.'

I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, 'Have you ever lost a case?'

Christ lovingly smiled and said, 'Everyone that the father has given me to represent they have received the same verdict as you, ~ Judgment for the defendant Paid In Full.'

            This is a nice story, kinda one of those feel good stories I you would find posted on Facebook. But there is much more to this, it is full of biblical truths that should not be ignored. I thought tonight we would explore some of the implications for believers and non-believers alike.

1) All mankind will be judged; Hebrews 9:27 - And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment …. 2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.

            Most “Christians” will acknowledge the coming judgment. However many believe that they are exempt.   2 Corinthians 5:10 tells a different story. and so does (1 Peter 4:17)  “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

            The question is are you ready? And what gives God the right to judge me? After all I am such a bad person.

2) All mankind has sinned  Rom 3:23 says all have sinned… Romans 5:12 - Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

            How foolish is man? I recently read an article that claimed that the only reason we have sin in the world is because biblical law points it out to us. Like if the bible went away so would sin? I am afraid to know what fairy tale land this person lives in?

            No the reality of Biblical Law can best be described by A.W. Pink:

3) Sin deserves to be punished 6:23 says the wages of sin is death… Ezekiel 18:4 - Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

            God, The God of the Bible, created all things, h=He alone is worthy of all praise and honor. Yet man chose to defile himself and sin against this God. It is only right that God demands justice.

4) Physical death is inevitable for everyone but what happens next: Matt 25:46 says And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

            What happens after our physical death has been debated for years. And despite tales of folks seeing heaven (the recent film Heaven is for Real comes to mind) there is no proof aside from our faith what happens next.

            But that is the point. We need no story or cute movie to reassure us. We have the Word of God. Our faith; derived from what we read in those pages are all the assurance we need.

5) Satan is real   Job 1:7 - And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

            He walks the earth seeking his next conquest 

6) Satan wants you   Ephesians 6:12 - For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

            Even the unbeliever understands some right and wrong and wrestles with this daily.

7) Satan will do anything to get you  2 Corinthians 11:14 - And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

            Satan is the great deceiver and will even disguise himself as a child of God. We must be able to discern true believers to avoid falling prey to some of his traps.

            Note on judgment day he has no need of lies or deceit. For our sin is real and cannot be excused away.

8) We are powerless to conquer sin and Satan’s accusations on our own

Romans 7:25b  …So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 8:3   For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh

            See that the law itself was not powerless; no it was only made so because of our weak flesh.

Gal 5:17  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

            Realize this is the Apostle Paul here confessing he is powerless over sin.

9) The POWER comes from Christ alone  1 Corinthians 15:57 - But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

            This; my friends is the core of this lesson. Our victory over death and eternal destruction can only be found in and through Christ. It is the message of John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, the power of Romans 5:8 - But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and the promise of Romans 8:1 - [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

            It is the Gospel message in a nutshell the glorious good news Christ lived, Christ died, Christ rose again and Christ sits at the right hand of the father your personal defense attorney. It is He alone who can declare Judgment for the Defendant is Paid in Full.

            Well I hope you see the full impact this little story can have. It is chock full of doctrines such as Election, Calling, Regeneration, Justification, Man’s depravity, God’s Grace, Limited Atonement, and of course Salvation. All of which can be used in our daily lives as we go about God’s work sharing the Good News of Christ.

Until next time may God keep you and bless you in your daily walk.

In HIS Service

SANCTIFICATION

 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, [and] prepared unto every good work.

                        2 Timothy 2:21

           

            Tonight we explore the 7th component of Salvation called Sanctification. It is the next rung in the nine step process. There are three major views on Sanctification (and many competing within), they are:

 

Wesleyan Christian Perfection or Entire Sanctification: in this view, the state of holiness begins at regeneration and is completed by an instantaneous work of the Holy Spirit (the Baptism of the Holy Spirit) subsequent to regeneration, in which the old Adamic sin nature is actually abolished ‘Christian perfection… is nothing more or nothing less than a heart emptied of all sin and filled with a pure love to God and man.

 

Reformed: Ongoing or Progressive Sanctification: In this view, the state of holiness begins with regeneration and conversion, and is to grow throughout the believer’s life through the ministry of the Word and Spirit and through personal faith and obedience. In this understanding, the old sin nature is progressively subdued but never entirely abolished in this life. Westminster Larger Catechism, q 77

 

Pentecostal: Sanctification via The Baptism in the Holy Spirit: “This wonderful experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth… the baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical signs of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance.” Articles Seven and Eight, “Statement of Fundamental Truths,” 35th General Council of the Assemblies of God, August 16-21, 1973

 

            Here are two definitions that may help us better understand Sanctification:

 

“The generic meaning of sanctification is "the state of proper functioning." To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is "sanctified" when used to write. Eyeglasses are "sanctified" when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God's design and purpose.” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary)

 

            Note the part where it says things are sanctified when they are used for God’s intended purpose. Think about that God intended man to live a life that honored and glorified Him. A sanctified man or women will do just that.

 

“Sanctification is the work of God's Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph. 4:24), and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Rom. 6:11)” (Puritan Catechism #34)

 

            Less one should think this is a one and done operation we need to remember that just as we get older we mature (grow mentally) so too does the believer grow. We are not infused with all things that pertain unto life and godliness. No these things says Peter are made available to us and over time (God willing) we learn their uses.

 

            I want to spend the majority of our time looking at three areas. They are the 1) Differences between Justification and Sanctification, 2) the processes of Sanctification and finally 3) the results of Sanctification.

 

1) Differences between Justification and Sanctification

            I know it took me a while to distinguish Sanctification from Justification. The following chart may help.

Justification

Sanctification

Attributes Christ’s righteousness

Here it is Christ’s righteousness that is covering the sinner in order to make him acceptable

Instills grace to exercise own righteousness

Here it God’s grace manifested in us so we can demonstrate our own righteousness in Christ

Sin is pardoned

Here God pardons our sin because he sees only Christ’s righteousness

Sin is subdued

Here the power of the Holy Spirit works in us to subdue (conquer) our sins

Total, equal in all, complete                            

Justification is equally handed out to all God’s children. Nothing done by man can change this.                                                   

Partial, different in all, growing

God here hands out only the amount of Grace that each man can handle. Never to little or too much.

We can see from this illustration that the righteousness by which we are justified is imputed or attributed to us via Christ’s work at Calvary. The righteousness by which we are sanctified is instilled or infused into us via the Holy Spriit. Another way of saying could be the first is given the second learned. One requires nothing on our part the other much work is needed to succeed.

 

Perhaps an illustration will aid in grasping the distinction: Here is a wooden post. It is painted on the outside to cover up all the stains and spots, thus to beautify and perfect its appearance; but the paint does not change the inside of its structure. How different with a vine. The sap flows from the vine into the branches, and imparts new life within. It does not simply cover up the outside, but changes the inside. The paint changes only the exterior, while the sap changes the interior.

 

            The paint was “imputed” to the post and covered up its blemishes. Likewise the righteousness of Christ is imputed to cover our blemishes (sins). But the like the sap, Sanctification does not cover the blemishes but imparts or works from the inside of man to change his entire presence.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Theology for the People or Biblical Doctrine Plainly Stated by William S. Plumer: Justification is sin pardoned. Sanctification is sin subdued.            

 

2) The processes of Sanctification

 

                        God tells us in 1 Peter 1:15-16 to be Holy in all our parts of life, why because He is Holy. As we learned last week as Adopted Children of God, we are to obey our Father.

 

            So one morning we wake up having been regenerated and indwelled by the Holy Spirit (First Step in Sanctification) and wham all our sins are subdued. Easy cheesy it is a done deal. No worries mate as they say down under.  

 

            Oh that it could be so easy. How do we get to the point where we are a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use as our base text says.

 

            The Second step in the process of Sanctification is growing in knowledge.

 

Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God

 

            How do we grow? By renewing our mind and how do we accomplish that? See the next verse.

 

John 17:17 - Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

           

            We grow via God’s Word. There is NO OTHER WAY.

           

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

 

            Anything we hope to master in life comes only from knowledge. We must apply ourselves daily to God’s word that we might grow in knowledge therein.

 

            The third step is growing in understanding.

           

Prov 18:2   A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

 

            It is one thing to read God’s Word it is quite another to understand it.  Foolish men have knowledge yet little understanding of how to use it.

 

Proverbs 2:2-5  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

 

            Notice the words in bold print. They are all actions words. Growing in understanding of God’s Word requires effort on our part. This is not one of those let go and let God moments.

 

1 John 4:6 (AMP) We are [children] of God. Whoever is learning to know God [progressively to perceive, recognize, and understand God by observation and experience, and to get an ever-clearer knowledge of Him] listens to us; and he who is not of God does not listen or pay attention to us. By this we know (recognize) the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error

 

            Although understanding can be a synonym for knowledge biblically speaking they are quite different. Many have knowledge of God without any comprehension or understanding of who God really is.

 

            It is the sluggard (lazy man) who depends only on his own interpretation of Scripture. One who does not take the time to research and  study the original languages with all their distinctions CAN NOT have a right understanding of God’s Holy Word.

 

            God uses many ways to bring us to this understanding. Sometimes it is the indwelling Holy Spirit speaking to us that illuminates a passage of scripture. Sometimes it is through Chastisement Heb 12:10 (AMP)   For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness. Prayer, meditation, fellowship and encouragement from likeminded believers are all part of this process of growing in understanding. 

 

            The final step is growing in conviction.

 

Matthew 6:24 - No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon

 

            As we grown in knowledge and understanding so to should we be growing in faith.

 

1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

 

            I love the use of unmovable here. Synonyms for it include: unwavering, unswerving, resolute, determined, firm, unshakable, adamant, unfailing, dogged, tenacious, inflexible, unyielding, unbending, uncompromising, dogmatic, iron-willed; rock-steady, diehard.

 

            Let me back up a moment and put the verse in context. Paul has just finished his discourse on Victory in Jesus. He says listen up because we have a guarantee victory go about your labors for God with confidence and a determined spirit. Because we know the outcome is preordained there is no reason to waiver.     

 

Titus 1:9 - Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers

 

            As our faith gets stronger our conviction or steadfast belief in sound doctrine should be growing so that we might exhort and to convince the gainsayers

 

John Bunyan spent twelve years in jail, but it wasn’t the stone and the steel that held him there. He could have gone free if he simply agreed to stop preaching. Instead, he wrote,

 

"If nothing will do, unless I make of my conscience a continual butchery and slaughter-shop, unless putting out my own eyes I commit me to the blind to lead me, I have determined, the Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eye-brows rather than thus to violate my faith and principles."1

 

            As we noted in the beginning of this section no short cut to the process. Both the Apostles Peter (2 Pt 1:5-11) and John (1 Jn2:3-6) noted that it requires steadfast effort and obedience to His commandments to succeed. That conviction of belief is the rock solid foundation of our faith.  It allows us to weather the storms of life coming out stronger than we entered.

 

3) The results of Sanctification.

 

Our Benefit:

 

            1 Peter 1:2-4 tells us: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 

            Our growth results in increased Grace, peace, power, and great promises.

 

            Romans 6:13-23:   22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

 

            Obtaining the fruits of holiness and assurance of everlasting life are a definite benefit.

 

For God’s Glory:

 

            John 15:8: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

 

            James says faith without works is dead. It is real simple God saved you and sanctifies you so you can serve Him. What are you waiting for?

 

            Eph 5:25-27: 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish

 

            The church is described as the “bride of Christ”. By the giving up or sacrifice of Himself, Christ sets the Church apart for God. The sacrifice of Christ sets apart the Church and the world, just as the blood of the Passover Lamb set apart the Children of Israel and the Egyptians.

 

 

            In closing the Greek word translated "sanctification" (hagiasmos) means "holiness." To sanctify, therefore, means "to make holy."Sanctification is the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God's will for the believer. It is a process that includes knowledge, understanding and conviction requiring effort and obedience on our part. The results will always glorify God and edify your fellow saints.

In HIS Service

Adoption

    Here we are at point number 6 in the Order of Salvation, Adoption. The bible is full of references to “God’s Children and Children of God.” If God is the creator of all are not all mankind his children? In the universal sense he is creator of life, yes. But becoming an adopted son or daughter of God implies so much more.

    I considered preaching this sermon myself but I hope (and pray) by now that the men I preach to and the online reader is aware of the Order of Salvation and understands being adopted into God’s family is without an explanation necessary.

    So I chose to have a guest preacher last Sunday evening and what a preacher he is. Dr Joel Beeke is pres­i­dent and Pro­fes­sor of Sys­tem­atic The­ol­ogy and Homilet­ics at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, a pas­tor of the Her­itage Nether­lands Reformed Con­gre­ga­tion in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, edi­tor of Ban­ner of Sov­er­eign Grace Truth, edi­to­r­ial direc­tor of Ref­or­ma­tion Her­itage Books, pres­i­dent of Inher­i­tance Pub­lish­ers, and vice-president of the Dutch Reformed Trans­la­tion Soci­ety. He has writ­ten, co-authored, or edited sev­enty books (most recently, A Puri­tan The­ol­ogy: Doc­trine for Life, Liv­ing Zeal­ously, Friends and Lovers: Cul­ti­vat­ing Com­pan­ion­ship and Inti­macy in Mar­riage, Get­ting Back Into the Race: The Cure for Back­slid­ing, Par­ent­ing by God’s Promises: How to Raise Chil­dren in the Covenant of Grace, Liv­ing for the Glory of God: An Intro­duc­tion to Calvin­ism, Meet the Puri­tans, Con­ta­gious Chris­t­ian Liv­ing, Calvin for Today, Devel­op­ing a Healthy Prayer Life, and Tak­ing Hold of God), and con­tributed 2,000 arti­cles to Reformed books, jour­nals, peri­od­i­cals, and ency­clo­pe­dias. Dr. Beeke teaches a four credit course in Soteriology.  His PhD is in Ref­or­ma­tion and Post-Reformation the­ol­ogy from West­min­ster The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary (Philadel­phia). He is fre­quently called upon to lec­ture at sem­i­nar­ies and to speak at Reformed con­fer­ences around the world. He and his wife Mary have been blessed with three chil­dren: Calvin, Esther, and Lydia. He blogs at Doctrine for Life.

    Dr. Beeke was kind enough to allow us to put his sermon entitled Walking as Adopted Children of God here on our site. I pray you are as richly blessed as we were.

[wpvideo ZICRAYdh]

For further study see the London Baptist Confession of 1689 Section #11

All those that are justified, God conferred, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption,1 by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God,2 have his name put on them,3 receive the spirit of adoption,4 have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father,5 are pitied,6 protected,7 provided for,8 and chastened by him as by a Father,9 yet never cast off,10 but sealed to the day of redemption,11 and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.12

1 Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4,5
2 John 1:12; Rom. 8:17
3 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 3:12
4 Rom. 8:15
5 Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:18
6 Ps. 103:13
7 Prov. 14:26; 1 Pet. 5:7
8 Heb. 12:6
9 Isa. 54:8, 9
10 Lam. 3:31
11 Eph. 4:30
12 Heb. 1:14, 6:12  

In closing I wish to quote from John Murray on this topic:

This doctrine of adoption is not only important in a positive way as setting forth the apex of redemptive grace and privilege, but it is also important negatively in that it corrects the widespread notion of the universal fatherhood of God and provides against its devastating implications. Though there is a sense in which the universal fatherhood may be maintained, yet to confuse this with adoptive fatherhood is to distort and even eviscerate one of the most precious and distinctive elements of the redemptive provision. For if we do not distinguish at this point it means one of two things; the denial of all that is specifically redemptive in our concept of the divine fatherhood, or the importation into the relation that all men sustain to God by creation all the privileges and prerogatives that adoption entails. On the former alternative God’s fatherhood is emptied of all the rich content Scripture attaches to it. On the latter alternative we shall have to espouse universalism and the final restoration of all mankind.

It needs to be repeated that Scripture all but uniformly reserves the title Father as it respects men and the title son as it respects our relation to God for that relationship that is effected by the special act of God’s grace that finds its place within the ordo salutis, namely, adoption. ‘Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God’

 

In HIS Service

 

Preached Aug 27, 2014 @ Lakeshore Baptist Church

image.pngThe thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly

John 10:10

 

 

    Because of the weakness in doctrinal teaching from pulpits today many buy into the false teachings of these name and claim it prosperity teachers. They want you to believe that simply becoming a Christian (how is another matter) entitles you to a better life. That is a life filled with joy and riches.

    According to Kenneth Copland; Bible believers should receive a hundredfold return on their giving. Really? Here are some of the texts they use to justify that position.

Genesis 26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.

Mark 4:20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

Mark 10:29-30 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

2 Corinthians 9:6-12 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

    Another says; God wants to do something new and supernatural in your life. Did you know He wants to do something supernatural in your finances? L. Comes; of Joel Osteen Ministries quotes:

Isaiah 43:19 says, "Behold, I am doing a new thing! …Do you not perceive it and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (AMP)

He then says; can you perceive it? Are you making room for it in your mind, or have you already made up your mind not to expect anything new due to your present circumstances? God is interested in all your needs, desires, and even, your prosperity. In fact, Psalm 35:27 says that God delights in the prosperity of His people.

    Really? I am not sure how Is 43:19 relates but ss that what Ps 35:27 really says?

ESV PS 35:27 Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

    The KJV says “which has pleasure in your prosperity”. Listen it is a matter of rightly discerning the Word of God. The Greek word used for prosperity is Shalowm, yes the word most folks would associate with peace. Its most common meanings are completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace. Yes it does mean health and prosperity but ONLY in the context of our welfare.

    Ok before I chase a rabbit let us go back to our base text:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly John 10:10

    There can be no doubt that Christ came to give life. Equally we can see that the life He offers is an abundant one. So I ask you, are the claims of these modern pulpiteers valid? I dare say not. One must read in context what Jesus is speaking of in order to understand the abundant life we are promised.

    Our Lord has just finished telling all that he has come into this world for JUDGEMENT John 9:39, then starts His discourse in being the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd that has come not to steal kill or destroy His flock but give them life (eternal) not only an ordinary life but an abundant one.

Strong’s lists the Greek word here for abundant as Perissos - per-e-sows'

• Exceeding some number or measure or rank or need

• Over and above, more than is necessary, superadded

• Exceeding abundantly, supremely

• Something further, more, much more than all, more plainly

• Superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon

• Pre-eminence, superiority, advantage, more eminent, more remarkable, more excellent

    Again there can be no doubt that God’s intent is for us to have an abundant life. So let’s look closely at what I believe the bible tells us about it. I want to break it into three sections for ease of study. They are God’s Plan, God’s Purpose and Man’s Performance.

God’s Plan

    God’s plan is simple and unchanging from before the foundation of the earth. His plan was always for our wellbeing, always focused on Christ, fulfilled in Christ and by His Grace and mercy alone.

    Does God’s plan include great health, wealth and prosperity (material) in this life? For some yes, to claim it is for everyone is to make a mockery of scripture. I know many a Pastor, far greater men than me who struggle to make ends meet, who have infirmities and consider themselves greatly blessed by God.

    Consider this if God’s plan was for everyone to be “prosperous” with things of this world why bother with the first commandment? Since for certain our focus would shift away from God unto those material things.

Isaiah 35:2 Was predicted for the New Covenant

It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.

Psalm 72:7 Fulfilled in Christ

In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

Romans 5:17-18,20 Given through Chris

17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Ephesians 1:3-6 By Grace alone

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

God’s Purpose

    I am not God. Ok, I know Duh! So I cannot be (nor anyone for that matter) expected to know God’s purpose in every circumstance. What I do know is He is sovereign and in control of everything. That He always without fail looks out for the best interest of his children. That the things we go through in life are used to [provide us with greater rewards; the ability for greater service; more joy, thanks and rejoicing; and to recharge the batteries when needed.

Matt 13:11-12 Greater Reward 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

1 Cor 15:10 Greater Service But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

2 Cor 8:2 More Joy How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

2 Cor 4:15, 9:12 More Thanks

• For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

• For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

Phil 1:26 Added Rejoicing That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Titus 3:5-6 Renewal and Reenergize Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

    God abundantly provides for us. He has furnished all we need in this life. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ understood this when he wrote 2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Man’s Performance

    If you are still with me we have learned that God has a plan and purpose for our lives. Now what do we do with that? Sit back and reap the benefits? Complain when we see those (believers and non-alike) around us with more stuff? Maybe we should be like the psalmist and declare: The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. (PS 138:7) And maybe as we rejoice in His Grace and mercy we can finally recognize what James meant when he wrote For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (2:26).

   The true measure of a man is not is the worldly stuff he possesses. No the true worth of a man is found in his obedience and relationship to God.

Lev 26:3-13 Given to the obedient 3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. 7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. 10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. 11 And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.

Deut 11:26-28 We have a choice Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

Eccl 5:10-12 Worldy Abundance cannot fulfill us 10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? 12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Mal 3:10-12 and Matt 6:32-33 Is conditional

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

• 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Luke 12:15 Not the measure of a man 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22 And he said unto his disciples, therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

Luke 12:23-21 Can be forfeited 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth

    One of the other prime scriptures used to declare God wants us to be healthy wealthy and wise as it were is:

Psalm 37:4 1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.  3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass

    Can you identify their glaring error? Delight thyself in abundance? Commit thy ways to Abundance? Of course not how absurd; we are to delight in and commit to Christ. Who in case anyone forgot is the Word of God In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1 and we have just seen what the Word of God really says about this abundant life.

C.H. Spurgeon; in his work Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on Ps 37:4 says: There is an ascent in this third precept. He, who was first bidden not to fret, was then commanded actively to trust and now is told with holy desire to delight in God. Delight thyself also in the Lord. Make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit. Bad men delight in carnal objects; do not envy them if they are allowed to take their fill in such vain idols; look thou to thy better delight, and fill thyself to the full with thy more sublime portion. In a certain sense imitate the wicked; they delight in their portion -- take care to delight in yours, and so far from envying you will pity them. There is no room for fretting if we remember that God is ours, but there is every incentive to sacred enjoyment of the most elevated and ecstatic kind. Every name, attribute, word, or deed of Jehovah, should be delightful to us, and in meditating thereon our soul should be as glad as is the epicure who feeds delicately with a profound relish for his dainties. And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. A pleasant duty is here rewarded with another pleasure. Men who delight in God desire or ask for nothing but what will please God; hence it is safe to give them carte blanche. Their will is subdued to God's will, and now they may have what they will. Our innermost desires are here meant, not our casual wishes; there are many things which nature might desire which grace would never permit us to ask for; these deep, prayerful, asking desires are those to which the promise is made.

    Let us look back to our main text for a moment before I close. Dr. Gill in his commentary makes an interesting point: the sense is, that Christ came that his people might have eternal life, with more abundant evidence of it than was under the former dispensation, and have stronger faith in it, and a more lively hope of it: or, as the words may be rendered, "and that they might have an abundance": besides life, might have an abundance of grace from Christ, all spiritual blessings in him now, and all fullness of joy, glory, and happiness hereafter.

CONCLUSION

    The story has been the same throughout the ages God does want His chosen to have an abundant life. 1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

That joyful abundant life we all crave is available to those who:

• Are obedient to His commands

• Put away sin

• Ask God for it

• Are unselfish in asking

• Are committed to asking

• Expect it in Faith

• Accept whatever is given if it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for us.  Matt 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

In HIS Service

    The bible shows us three different forms of Law. They are moral, ceremonial and civil. Today we will look at the Ten Commandments or the Moral Law. I want you to picture with me a room or a box. We are going to add things to this room or box in some specific places.

    Ready let’s start by orienting ourselves in the room (or the box) facing north. Now we are going to add some stuff in order:

In the Northwest Corner picture a Giant Size #1 Award

Straight North picture a Cross

In the Northeast Corner is a Giant Name Tag

Facing East see a Hammock

In the Southeast Corner picture your parents

From due South imagine Freddy Krueger

In the Southwest corner you see your Spouse

Due West we find a Burglar breaking into your space

On top is a Court Room Witness Stand

Covering the floor are Heaps of Money

    You are probably thinking, Mike has lost it, what can this possibly have to do with the Ten Commandments? But bear with me and I believe you will see the big picture in a moment.

    I wish I could take credit for the concept of this Sermon but my Pastor, Don Elbourne of Lakeshore Baptist Church used a similar illustration recently and I have drawn from that.

    We are visually oriented people. That is why commercials, programs and movies are so explicit these days. They are designed (in an immoral way) to stimulate your senses and help you remember their message or product. Using visual cues in of itself is not a bad thing if it is done to glorify God. So let’s examine our room or unpack our box. Turn with me to Exodus Chapter 20 and Deuteronomy Chapter 5 and follow along:

 

1. Highest Award = No Other God Ex 20:3 and Deut 5:7

    We are commanded to have no other God than the God we find in the Bible. He is described in many ways but All Knowing, All Powerful, Creator of all things who is everywhere; tells me He is most deserving of the description in Jeramiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. How could anyone hold another higher?

This implies trusting only in Him

This implies acknowledging no other God

This implies defining Him only as the bible dictates

 

2. A Cross = No Imagery, Idols or Likeness Ex 20:4-7 and Deut 5:8-10

    Many today place little importance upon this command, to their own harm: Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

Idolatry is the ultimate expression of unfaithfulness to God and for that reason is the occasion for severe divine punishment. 3 The portrayal of the kings In 1 and 2 Kings Is especially revealing. Kings are assessed as either good or bad purely on religious grounds, that Is, on the question of whether they destroyed or introduced idols. Omri, one of the greatest kings of Israel, is a case in point. In spite of his political achievements and the ‘might that he showed’ (1 Ki. 16:27), he is only mentioned briefly, for ‘he led Israel to ... provoke the anger of the Lord) their God with their worthless idols’ (1 KI. 16:26). The theme of judgement on idolatry is also widespread in the NT. http://www.theologynetwork.org/biblical-studies/getting-stuck-in/the-concept-of-idolatry.htm

Implies Worshiping Only the God of the Bible

Implies not only no physical graven images but also those of the mind

Implies no symbolism, imagery, representations, etc.

 

3. Name Tag = Honor God’s Name Ex 20:7 and Deut 5:11

In forbidding the vain use of God’s name, the third commandment does not merely ban irreverent, worthless, and empty speech and actions about the Lord, His titles, and His character. Like the other commandments, it also implicitly calls us to do the opposite of what it forbids. In this case, as question and answer 99 of the Heidelberg Catechism explain, the statute calls us to “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe.” http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/honoring-gods-holy-name/

Implies not only the obvious no cursing but no modifications of that

Implies do nothing false in God’s name, preach, teach etc.

 

4. Hammock = Keep the Sabbath Ex 20:8-11 and Deut 5:12-16

    Implies the obvious Resting on the Sabbath (Sunday) but even more Resting on Sunday involves contemplating God and His word Matt11: 28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden , and I will give you rest . 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Implies what we should be honoring God through Corporate Worship

 

5. Your Parents = Honor your Mother and Father Ex 20:12 and Deut 5:16

Implies respecting them

Implies listening to them in order to learn from them

Implies obeying them

Eph 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

 

6. Freddy Krueger = Do Not Kill Ex 20:13 and Deut 5:17

    Matt 5:21-22 (Amplified Bible) You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. 22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother orharbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously andinsultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire.

Implies respecting all life

Implies protecting life

Implies preserving life

 

7. Your Spouse = No Adultery Ex20:14 and Deut 18

Implies not only physical but mental lust

Matt 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Implies monogamy

Implies Sexual activity between spouses only

Implies Heterosexual relationships only

 

8. A Burglar = Do not Steal Ex 20:15 and Deut 5:19

Implies taking using only what is yours

Implies ownership of property (anti-socialism)

Implies not cheating another (full day’s work for a full day’s pay)

Includes cheating God of his due, Tithe

Includes cheating the Government of their due, Taxes

Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

 

9. Court Room Witness Chair – No Lying Ex 20:16 and Deut 5:20

Implies never spreading rumors and innuendo

Implies always standing up for the truth

Implies always telling the truth (and insuring it is so)

Prov 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

 

10. Big Money = Do not Covent Ex 20:17 and Deut 5:21

1 Tim 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Implies being satisfied with what you have

Implies depending on God for your provision

Implies God is sovereign, in control of all things

    By associating the Ten Commandments with pictures I think you will find it much easier to remember them. Of course in remembering them, we pray that will make it easier to obey them.

In HIS Service