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  • Jan 14 / 2018
  • Comments Off on All Submission to Any Authority is because of God, for God (Romans 13:1-7)
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

All Submission to Any Authority is because of God, for God (Romans 13:1-7)

Download Notes in a .MD file

All Submission to Any Authority…

Romans 13:1-7 (Pastor Heo)

13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Do you have faith? Christian faith? Amen~

Christian faith is not abstract nor an ideology. It is a lifestyle / a reality.

Ex: How can we show our love to God? By loving his creations – men and women – created in his image.

The kind of relationship you have with God can be seen by the kind of relationship you have with others.

Theme of Romans: The Righteousness of God

(Having a right relationship with God by trusting in Christ)

Chp 12 – we studied our right relationship to God, ourselves, our brothers and sisters, neighbors, and enemies.

Today, we see how we can show our right relationship with God to the authorities (government). In these 7 verses we read today, “Authority” is repeated 7 times. So, we need to be clear about the kind of attitude we need to have to earthly authorities. The Bible is very clear that we need to “submit” (be willing to cooperate and obey) our authorities.

There are 5 reasons (biblically) why we should submit to the authorities.

#1 God authorizes all authorities

v. 1-2

“13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

God’s authority is exclusive, original, final. He has the ultimate right to govern, sustain, order ALL his creation according to his absolute sovereign will – because he is creator. All human authorities are derived from God.

Yes, in human society, there are so many authorities – official and non-official. We can learn to submit to God by submitting to those God has put in authority over us. By rejecting or rebelling against human authority is to reject or rebel against God – because he has created and established all these authorities.

#2 There is a Wage (for submission / rejection)

Wage = result = effect = consequence =

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans)

  • Sin’s wage = death
  • Faith’s wage = life
  • Obedience’s wage = blessing
  • Disobedience’s wage = loss of blessing

In our lives also there is pay (wage) for laziness, hard work, bad diet, exercise, too much TV. Like this, there is a wage for submission to authorities, and also rejection of authorities.

v. 3-5

“3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”

In these three verses, we see the word “Terror” and “fear”, “command”, “sword”, wrath”, “punishment”, “conscience”. We can see there is a wage for submission or rejection.

In humanity, there is a continuous circle of authority:

  • Nobody who is at the TOP of authority for his whole life.
  • Also, nobody is at the BOTTOM of authority for his whole life.

All human authorities are from God – big or small.

  • Are you parents now? Once you were children (you still are to your parents). Your children will also be parents one day.
  • Are you a teacher? You were once a student.
  • Are you a boss? You were once an employee.

We are related in authorities – this is a vertical circulation of authorities.

At some times – in some areas, we are the authority, at other times – in other areas, we are under the authority.

Even presidents must be subject to pastors in the church. But pastors are subject to police, police are subject to judges, judges are subject to medical doctors, etc. This is the horizontal circulation of authority.

“A man will reap what he sows.” – therefore, if we submit to authority over us, then the one(s) under us will submit to us – and more authority will be given to us. But if we reject the authority over us, then those under us will also reject us and our authority will be gradually taken away from us.

  • So, submission to authority = peace, balance, harmony.
  • But rejection = disorder, chaos, lawlessness, license.

Submission does NOT mean humility, weakness, etc – but it means courage, freedom.

Willingness to submit to authority is one of the basic Christian tenants.

#3 We are citizens of a country

(We have 2 citizenships – heaven and Korea / US / Laos, etc)

v. 6-7

“6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

A “state” is basically a group of people who have agreed to mutually keep a set of laws. Without this law of order, maybe a strong, bad man will reign supreme – and the Law of the Jungle will rule (every ordinary man owes his security to the state – and is therefore under responsibility to it).

Ordinary people owe a wide range of services to the state.

It’s impossible for EVERY man to have his own water system, electricity, toilet, public highway. These things can only be attained when people agree to live together. So, it would be wrong to enjoy everything the state provides but also reject all responsibility to it.

Yes, Korea is so blessed compared to Laos – but we know that hundreds of years ago, we also were so strong in Buddhism. Blessing can only come through Christ. But we must also live at peace with the state at least as long as it allows us to worship God freely.

Did you have any difficulty in worshiping God today? Because of your government? If “no” then we must support / help our government with prayer. That’s why we should submit to authority.

#4 It’s God’s will

Ephesians “Husbands, love your wives. Wives, submit to your husbands. Children, obey your parents. Slaves, submit to your earthly masters.”

1 Peter 2:13-21 “13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

1 Timothy 2:1-2 “2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests,prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

#5 It’s a symbol of ultimate submission to the authority of Christ

If Jesus is our Savior and Lord, then he is also our example in what kind of person we should be.

Phil 2:5 “Our attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.”

“Jesus is original God who being in the very nature God, made himself nothing, and became a servant – taking the nature of a servant – obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above all names, that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Hebrews?)

In his earthly life, Jesus Christ submitted to the authority of John the Baptist. John was surprised, but Jesus said, “Let it be so now – it is right for us to do this and fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus also submitted to the authority of the government of Rome at that time (who ruled Israel illegally at that time). Yet, he also paid taxes – for himself and Peter “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s – give to God what is God’s.”

This is amazing – he even submitted to the bad authority of Pontius Pilate. “You would have no authority over me if it were not given you from above.”

And after defeating the last enemy, death, he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go, making disciples of all nations.”

  • Jesus has authority over all spiritual beings – angels, demons, Satan (he has NO authority) – because “All authority” has been given to Christ.
  • Jesus has authority over all created beings – even mountains and animals and plants.

This means our submission to authority is a symbol of our submission to Christ.

Let’s pray.

  • Jul 02 / 2017
  • Comments Off on You died to sin, are alive to God (Romans 6:1-10)
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

You died to sin, are alive to God (Romans 6:1-10)

Download Notes in a .MD file

You died to sin, are alive to God

Romans 6:1-10 (Pastor Heo)

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Conclusion: we died to sin, we are alive to God.

In chp 5, we saw 4 “how much more“s

(Actually, there are FIVE)

  1. If God so loved us that he gave his one and only Son to die on the cross for us when we were ENEMIES, “how much more” does he love us NOW that we are his children?
  2. If our Lord Jesus Christ did something great for us through his death, “how much more” is he NOW doing for us that he is alive?
  3. If one man (Adam) brought physical / spiritual death to all human beings, “how much more” is Jesus ENOUGH to bring LIFE to all human beings? Adam being a living being, Jesus became a life-giving being.
  4. If just one action of disobedience of one person is enough to condemn and judge ALL mankind, “how much more” is just one action of obedience of one person (Jesus) enough to bring righteousness, redemption, glorification, justification, kingdom, heaven, to all men?
  5. LAST: (chp 5:20) “20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased (all the more) [how much more],”

KJV “Where sin abounded, grace abounded [so] much more.”

So…. how much do you sin in your daily life?

No matter how much it is, God’s grace is greater. This is common sense. God did not create sin. The root of sin is Satan. The root of grace is God.

  • If something from Satan is powerful,
  • “how much more” powerful is something from God?

There is no sin that is unforgivable. There is no sinner that Jesus Christ cannot save.

1 Tim 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, of whom I’m the worst.” Jesus can save even the WORST sinner.

By nature, I’m a terrible sinner, but honestly speaking, I don’t think I’m THE WORST sinner in this world.

Another meaning: “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

  • The more grace we experience, the more we will recognize how sinful we are before God.
  • The more holiness of God, power of God in my life, the more I see my own unholiness, powerlessness, weakness, smallness.

We are under grace.

“Where sin increased, God’s grace increased all the more.” – this is true – a basic truth – don’t doubt – believe it as truth – do you believe this?

But, we should not misunderstand. We must understand the true meaning of this sentence.

Somebody can say, “WOW! Sin increases, and so grace increases? Dude! Let’s sin continually! Sin is awesome! Because it gives me more of God’s grace!” The Bible says, “If you say this… you are not really a born again Christian, or you do not understand the fundamental basics about Christianity you should know.”

  • 6:1-2 “1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? “
  1. If you died to smoking, you cannot smell it any longer.
  2. If you died to alcohol, you cannot taste it any longer.

We read only 10 verses, but a very STRONG verb is repeated multiple times: “KNOW”

  • v. 3, 6, 9 – this expresses that this is a basic, fundamental, Christian doctrine.

Imagine, if Satan can keep us away from this knowledge, Satan can keep us impotent (powerless).

This verse is a believer’s identification with Jesus Christ.

Last week we saw our identification with Adam and Jesus:

  1. By our first, physical birth, we are IDed with Adam
  2. By our second, spiritual birth, we are IDed with Jesus

“To all who believed in him, he gave the right to become children of God. Children not born of natural descent, or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

This is just ONE message, our ID with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection. Our union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection.

  • When we are IDed with Adam, it is in his sin, condemnation, judgment, penalty, eternal death.
  • When we are IDed (united) with Christ, it is in his death, burial, resurrection, eternal life.

Let us continue this study next time.

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 31 / 2016
  • Comments Off on Job: Acknowledge the Sovereignty of God over ALL Creation (1:1-22, 13:15, 37:23-24)
It's All About Jesus, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Job: Acknowledge the Sovereignty of God over ALL Creation (1:1-22, 13:15, 37:23-24)



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  • Dec 20 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) – Christmas 2015
Christmas, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) – Christmas 2015



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  • Aug 30 / 2015
  • Comments Off on The Bible is All About Jesus (John 5:39, 20:31)
It's All About Jesus, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Bible is All About Jesus (John 5:39, 20:31)



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  • Aug 02 / 2015
  • Comments Off on What Did the Cross Say? (Matthew 27:1-66)
Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

What Did the Cross Say? (Matthew 27:1-66)



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What Did the CROSS Say?

Matthew 27:1-66 (Pastor Heo)

Judas Hangs Himself

1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. 2 They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. 

3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Jesus Before Pilate
27:11-26pp — Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2,3,18-25; Jn 18:29-19:16

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. 12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge–to the great amazement of the governor. 

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. 

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27:27-31pp — Mk 15:16-20

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion
27:33-44pp — Mk 15:22-32; Lk 23:33-43; Jn 19:17-24

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 

38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ “44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus
27:45-56pp — Mk 15:33-41; Lk 23:44-49; Jn 19:29-30

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “”Eloi, Eloi,” “lama” “sabachthani?””–which means,”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” 55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

The Burial of Jesus
27:57-61pp — Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:38-42

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Shall we read one more time? 10:00~


What did the cross say to human history?
What does the cross say to us each individually?

Honestly consider/ponder this question.

This is a very significant question.

I cannot repeat too many times this question: “What does the cross say to us each individually?”

A certain word/thing can be changed in its impression by a single event. Ex:

  1. Judas: original = “praise God” (at that time, MANY boys were named Judas)
    Because of THAT Judas, the name became = “betrayer” (nobody likes that name now – perhaps Judah is better?)
  2. Cross: original = “extreme shame, humiliation, pain, death”. Because of THAT cross = “victory, hope, life, future, forgiveness”

Now, we are proud of the cross.

Paul (Gal 6:14) “I have nothing to boast of except the cross…”

Last time, Jesus prayed so earnestly in anguish, his sweat was like blood falling to the ground. He arose, and voluntarily gave himself up for arrest. He was bound, judged (18 hours) (Wed night – Friday?)

He endured 6 trials:

  1. He was taken to Annas – the High Priest that year,
  2. then to Caiphas for a second hearing,
  3. then the Sanhedrin for a third hearing,
  4. then to Pilate for another hearing,
  5. then to Herod,
  6. then back to Pilate

He was hanged on the cross for 6 hours: (9am-3pm)

According to the title: What did the cross say to history? What does it say to us here and now?

There are 5 truths:

#1: Jesus = innocent

At that time, if a man was crucified, it said clearly, definitely – “he is EVIL”

The truth of the cross revealed that Jesus was absolutely innocent (irony #1)

According to the Bible, there are 5 (or more) witnesses (not Christians – they had no benefit to gain to support him – rather it seemed natural and good to stand against him) who testified that Jesus was sinless:

1: Pilate – the governor – the highest judge at that time

he was the champion to find the fault in a man – his main job was to find fault in Christ – but he repeatedly said (throughout the gospels) “I find no basis for a charge against this man – there are no grounds for the death penalty”

Imagine – Pilate = judge (above), Jesus = accused (below) – who should be afraid of whom? But Pilate was afraid of Christ – so much so that he washed his hands of the matter and confessed his innocence of this blood before the crowd. Pilate testified that Christ was sinless.

2: Pilate’s wife (v. 19)

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message saying that she suffered a great deal because of him. Actually, she did not even see Christ face-to-face, but she sent this message to her husband.

3: The crucifying Centurion before the cross (v. 54)

The main job of this centurion was to crucify people – they were generally quite cruel.

When he saw the earthquake and the other Roman soldiers were terrified of Christ when the earthquake struck and cried out “Surely, he was a righteous man. Surely, he was the Son of God.” Even a “bad” man testified for Jesus in this way.

4: Jesus’ neighbor on the cross

He was notoriously wicked – that’s why he was crucified with Christ at the same time. He confessed “this man, has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Christ, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

5: Judas’ own testimony – the betrayer (v. 3-5)

He betrayed him for (small) money (30 silver coins). He was so remorseful, he confessed his sin and returned the money. Then he committed suicide. This was not good, but it clearly shows that Jesus was perfect, innocent, blameless, infallible.

#2: Jesus = strong/powerful

If a man was crucified at that time, it said, “He was desperately hopeless, powerless, and weak”

The cross said Jesus = omnipotent/and ultimately powerful (”Surely, I say to you, you’ll be with me today in paradise.” Also from 12pm-3pm, the day became DARK – and earthquake split the temple veil in two (this destroyed ALL barriers between God and man, man and woman, slave and free), dead bodies were resurrected and walked into the town, rocks cracked in half) – (irony #2)

  • Col 1:3? “The cross made it possible for all to be reconciled to God.”
  • 1 Cor “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to we who are being saved, it is the POWER of God.”

What kind of power? Life-giving, creating, changing, transformational power.

#3: Jesus = absolutely unselfish and sacrificial

At that time, the cross meant the man was selfish, greedy, stole from/murdered others, etc

Yet even on the cross (while hanging) he GAVE unconditional forgiveness “Father, forgive them…” and blessings/mercy “You will be with me in paradise” and LOVE to those who hated him.

Eph 2:8 “Jesus Christ humbled himself even to the point of death…”

He was hanged for 6 hours totally nakedly. At the same time, under the cross, the soldiers divided his clothes by casting lots.

Jesus gave ALL – not only spiritually, but even physically – his love, eternal life, salvation, submission, obedience, even clothes. He fulfilled the requirements of all laws on the cross.

#4: Jesus = God

If a man was crucified, he was “just a man”. (Paradox). Yes, Christ was fully Man, but at the same time, fully God. For what charge was he crucified? Saying, “I’m God.”

So, there were two ways for Jesus to NOT be crucified.

  1. Confess “Sorry, I’m actually not God, fellas. Joking.~~” He would not have been crucified. But he never said “I’m NOT God.” He didn’t open his mouth, nor try to defend himself. You know, even if he’d have just said that SINGLE SENTENCE, he could have escaped death.
  2. There must be one reliable witness that had authority to testify that Jesus was NOT God. If there was even ONE witness who had public official authority to testify that Jesus was NOT God, he would have been proved wrong and NOT been crucified. Who would be this kind of witness.

As we read, could you imagine this situation? Jesus own MOTHER watched under the cross. She witnessed the ENTIRE thing and didn’t open her mouth to say “He’s not.”

Since the beginning of the world, Mary was the only one person who knew perfectly the secret of conception of the birth of Christ, and how he grew up and spent his childhood. She KNEW all about him, his entire life story – through her own experience. This was her son – she did not want him to die like this. If she had only opened her mouth and shouted, “Oh no! Jesus is only my silly son! He’s not God! I conceived him 33 years ago by my husband Joseph! Please, check his DNA!”

He would not have been crucified like this. But, Mary just stood under the cross and cried to see her own son dying. She did not open her mouth – she was speechless from first to last. What did her silence say? Sometimes our silence is more powerful than any powerful words. Her silence standing under the cross, witnessing the crucifixion of her own son loudly declares that Jesus is God. She could not deny it.

#5: To be concluded…

  1. Cross = sinful man vs. Jesus (innocent)
  2. Cross = powerless vs. Jesus (ultimately powerful)
  3. Cross = selfish vs. Jesus (selfless)
  4. Cross = man vs. Jesus (God)
  5. (Next time)

Let’s pray.

  • Dec 21 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Immanuel (Matthew 1:23, 28:18-20) – Christmas 2014
Christmas, Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Immanuel (Matthew 1:23, 28:18-20) – Christmas 2014



Sermon Notes

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Immanuel (Christmas 2014)

Matthew 1:23, 28:18-20 (Pastor Heo)

23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


The key message of Christmas is “God With Us”. How is this possible? By nature, we have no right/authority for God to be with us.

  • God is spirit, we are physical.
  • God is Creator, we are his Creations.
  • God is in heaven and heavenly, we are on the earth and earthly.
  • God is absolutely pure and holy, all human beings are totally unclean and sinful.
  • By nature, God is unreachable, unapproachable. Then how is it possible that God is with us, among us, and IN us?

That became possible by the Christmas story, by Jesus coming into the world as a FULL man, as a person.

John 1:14 “God became man and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory. The glory of his one and only Son.”

  • Q: Do you recognize, enjoy, experience that God is with you wherever you are and whatever you do?
  • Q: If “yes”, how much does this fact affect you and your daily life?

In the Bible, the word Immanuel has different meanings – there are 5 levels in the Bible.

Let me share with you these 5 kinds of Immanuel in the Bible.

#1: Level 1 – one-dimensional Immanuel (“God with us”) – applied to ALL Creation.

God is with ALL things – living and unliving, all his things and Creations, he is “with” them.

God is with men, bad men, women, trees, stars, the sun, moon, birds, mountains, fish, everything, everywhere, God is “with” those BECAUSE God is Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Governor over all things.

  • Eph 4:6 “There is only One God, the Father of all who is above all, and in all, and through all.”
  • Heb 1:3 “The Son, Jesus, is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s being, and is sustaining ALL things with his powerful Word.”

#2: Level 2 – two-dimensional Immanuel

Applied to only human beings – ALL human beings. Yes, God is with ALL human beings, believers and non-, good and bad, the saved, the lost, ALL men.

There’s no place we can be hidden from God. We cannot flee from the presence of God.

Unbelievers do not know/recognize God’s being “with” them BUT regardless of their ignorance that God is with them, he IS with them.

“God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain and snow on the righteous and unrighteous – and causes money and blessings to come to the believers and unbelievers alike.” (Proverbs?)

This unlimited favor to ALL human beings = “General Grace”

#3: Level 3 – three-dimensional Immanuel

Applied only to believers – those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, Lord, and God.

This Immanuel guarantees no penalty for sin, and guarantees special freedom in Truth. And absolute heavenly peace and joy and intimate relationship and fellowship with God and the right to pray (directly to him) anytime, everytime. We have access to God with confidence and assurance to get help in our time of need.

  • Jesus says, “I give you eternal life. You shall never perish. No one can snatch you out of my hand.” (John’s gospel)
  • Jesus says, “My Father who has given you to me is greater than ALL so that no one can snatch you out of my hand.”
  • Immanuel God promised, “I will NEVER leave you, nor forsake you.” This promise given only to believers is called “Special Grace.”

#4: Level 4 – four-dimensional Immanuel

The BEST/highest Immanuel that we, true Christians can experience in this world.

This Immanuel is applied to only evangelists, preachers of the gospel – to make disciples of ALL nations.

Matthew 28:18-20 = The “Great Commission” for world salvation and evanglization.

“All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go, baptizing all men in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you, and surely I am with you always until the very end of the age.”

“…to the very end of the age.” = There is a limitation in time – ONLY until the end of this “age.”

It means, this kind of Immanuel is applied ONLY in this “age” and it means that this Immanuel will be no more after the end of this age.

This kind of Immanuel is applied only (1) in this age, (2) to true believers who (3) go and preach the Word to all nations.

Q: What is the effect of this 4-dimensional Immanuel? This is where the power and authority of Jesus Christ is revealed through the people who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Example: Moses:

  • God called Moses and said, “Go to Pharaoh and save my people out of Egypt.” This means (today) “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
  • God gave him a promise – the best promise he could give him that “I will be WITH you always.”

This promise was a 4-dimensional Immanuel promise. This means, Moses became LIKE God before Pharaoh, before the people, before his brother Aaron.

Moses performed 10 miracles before Pharaoh. After coming out of Egypt, in front of the Red Sea, Moses raised his staff and stretched out his hand and the Red Sea was divided and they crossed by walking on foot.

Later, Moses made drinking water out of the rock. Moses performed many miracles. God’s promise “I will be WITH you” meant “my power will be done/manifested through you as long as you DO the mission I gave you.”

Today, in our time, this is the same.

Jesus says, “All authority is mine… Therefore, GO, and make disciples of all nations… Surely I am always WITH you to the very end of the age.”

This means, whenever you “go and make disciples” Jesus authority will be manifested through YOU who preach the gospel of salvation.

#5: Level 5 – five-dimensional Immanuel

Applied in the LITERAL heaven – in the world to come after this world. This means the redemption of our bodies. We will be LIKE Jesus – seeing him face-to-face – in heaven forever and ever.

At that time, we will receive spiritual, heavenly, immortal, glorious, radiant, REAL, recognizable as the SAME person – bodies.

1 Thess 16:17 “The Lord (Jesus) will come back again from heaven with a loud command with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God, and then the dead in Christ will be raised first. And we who are alive in Christ will be caught up in the air to receive him in the air, and we will be caught up to heaven and be with him forever and ever.”

May God bless all of us with Immanuel God.

“God be WITH us.”

Remember and enjoy abundantly this last sentence: God is WITH you IN Christ Jesus who was

  1. born for us,
  2. died for us,
  3. was raised for us, and
  4. will come back for us, and
  5. live with us forever and ever Amen.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 24 / 2014
  • Comments Off on The Son’s Return (Luke 15:11-24)
Guest Speaker, Sermons

The Son’s Return (Luke 15:11-24)



Sermon Notes

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The Son Returns

Luke 15:11-24 (Missionary Seo)

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ‘ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Last year, we went to Mongolia in August. We got a call from my university and they said, “We have no more time. Come to China quickly, pack everything, and go back to your home country quickly.”

We contacted the head of Paul Mission and decided not to go back to China. After our retreat, we came back to Korea – about 2 months. Then we went to the US for a sabbatical year. We always prayed “Why were we expelled from China?”

My daughter Haneul is asking “We want to go back home.” We ask, “Where is your home?” She said, “China.” We came back to Korea last month and are very uncomfortable staying here because this is not our home.

This concept forms the basis for this sermon.

  1. Where is your home?
  2. Who is your father?

<< See three pictures: Joseon, …, Rembrant >>

Today’s passage goes like this:

One younger son asked his father: “Give me my inheritance.” The father divided the estate, the son went away with all his money and possessions to a foreign land – where he WASTED it.

At that time, a severe famine came, and he was starving. He was hired to feed pigs, and here at his lowest point, he realized “Hey, my father’s hired men have food to eat!”

So, he went back home with this idea, “I’ve sinned against God and against my father and I’m no longer worthy to be called his son.”

But when he was still a long way off, the father saw him coming and ran to meet him and kiss him. The son confessed his poverty of spirit to his father, and the father brushed it aside and said, “Bring the best robe and my ring and the fattened calf! Let’s celebrate my son’s return!”

The story goes like this:

First Son

“Give me my portion” – at this time I think of my younger daughter. From a few months ago, she always said, “No!” and “Mine!” This is life with a two-year-old 🙂 “That’s mine! Give me now!”

At this time, in the 21st century, if we go to our own fathers and say like this, then how do our fathers think? Rude! In the Jewish society at this time, was this rude or not? In that time, if that happened, it meant “Father, I consider you DEAD. Please die!” So, this younger one is VERY rude.

In the spiritual concept of this, the portion the second son has taken is NOT actually his. This is his father’s portion. If the father divides his portion before he dies, still the estate belongs to the father. Only after death, the estate will transfer ownership to the sons.

We, as Christians, always say, “Everything comes from our Father God.” We say this about materials, time, relationships. Everything is from God. But, how about you?

When I prepared this sermon, I was thinking, “Of course, everything is from God, so everything is yours!” But when I spend my hard-earned money on something, I think, “Oh, no. That now belongs to me.” It’s very hard for me to share something I buy.

In this story, let’s not only consider the son who left, but WHY he left.

Why would he leave his father’s love? Have you ever experienced this leaving?

Let me share my story:

I was in China for 3.5 years. At that time, I was really happy because I saw several students lives changed and many people accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. BUT, then they accept him again, and again. Up to 5 times! Something is wrong here. Why do they do 5 times what is accomplished in 1 time? It’s because they do not doubt who Jesus is.

Some other students accept Christ and devote themselves to him and want to become missionaries too. “Wow! God is working and alive in this situation!” At that time, this was the situation in my life. So, I prepared for another journey that God prepared.

Second Son

The second son said “bring all the things” and he packed all his bags and went to another country.

Actually, he left already BEFORE he was leaving.

Spiritually and emotionally, he was GONE before his body left his father’s estate.

The foreign country in this story = this life.
He wastes money on bars, nightlife, possessions. He thinks, “Great! My money! I’ll do whatever I want with it!”

He loved the world (yes, he “loved” his father too… but the world MORE).
He set his priorities:

  1. The world
  2. His father’s love

What are your priorities? Which is #1?

  1. God, Family, Work?
  2. Church, God, Work, Money, Family?

If we love money, we cannot serve God. “A man cannot serve two Masters.” (Jesus)

He loved the world more than his father at that time.

There is a similar parable in the book of Luke 18:18-30 – the Parable of the Rich Official:

“One day, the rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, ‘How can I get eternal life?’ Jesus said, ‘You know the Law and the Prophets, keep all the commandments and you’ll get eternal life.’ The rich young ruler said, ‘From childhood I’ve done this.’ So Jesus said, ‘Then do this one more thing: Sell all you have and give to the poor.’ The man walked away sad.”

His priorities were also on Money first, and Eternal Life secondly.

#3: Let’s see the rest of this parable.

The second son said, “Father, I’ve sinned against you and against God. I’m no longer worthy to be called you son.” This was repeated twice in the parable. Was this important? No – the son thought that with the third part (”I’m no longer worthy to be called your son”) he just wanted to please his father.

As a father, I know that the relationship between a father and son CANNOT be broken easily.

The second son thinks, “I’ll go to be a slave.”

The father doesn’t even listen to what his son says. He accepts him back into his arms readily.

The son didn’t truly understand his father.
“If I do this, father will be pleased. If I buy this, or have a good body, father will be pleased.” No. Your Father is pleased JUST WITH YOU. You need to nothing but be you, just to exist, your Father is pleased with you. Just to be in his presence, and he’ll be pleased. Let us not be confused any longer.

In conclusion, I think we should go back to our place. Our rightful place is in our Father’s arms.

“From a LONG distance away, he recognized him and RAN to meet him.” If we go back to our Father, even taking a single step, the Father will see and RUN to meet us.

Before closing, here’s a final story:

A couple days ago, a graduate student came to my house and has spent two days with us. I saw two lives: a graduate student of Yonsei, and a graduate student of another school. One had a hard time, the other, Hyansun-In, had parents who had a high rank in the Communist Party – doctors in the hospital. Usually, with that kind of family background, the student hates or doesn’t accept Christianity, but I was very happy that he accepted Christ.
During that time, there was a big life event: he went to Hanyang university as an exchange student. Every class, the professor began with a prayer. During that single semester, she accepted Christ as she was in the church doing as other members were doing.

Now, she remembers everything. At that time, she came to Jeonju and we went to Hanok village, but we forgot everything. We went back again and she remembered everything.

In her life, that was very precious. At that time, and also this time, I also have some kind of problem with priorities.

We are staying here for just one month and preparing things. My wife will go to China for 5 days from Monday. Also, my student came to town. I have much to do, and some burden – but spending time with that student was happy.


  1. What’s your priority? Money or God?
  2. Do you still think you can serve both?
  3. Then how can we spend our money and time and relationships (in a godly manner)?

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 23 / 2014
  • Comments Off on The Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:1-60)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:1-60)


02.23.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

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Acts 7:1-60

At this point in Acts, Stephen has been brought before the Sanhedrin. The apostles (Stephen included) had been put in charge of overseeing the distribution of food to the widows (particularly Greek widows). The apostles had appointed 7 disciples to do this – including Stephen and Philip.

God had more in store for Stephen and Philip. They were geared toward speaking to the Greek Jews. They were doing wonders, performing miracles before the Greek Jews (like the apostles).

Stephen was preaching before the Freedmen, and they began arguing with him. The Freedmen then accused him of blaspheming against Moses and the Law. So they brought him to the Sanhedrin where they asked him, “Is this so?”

He doesn’t answer directly, but retraces the steps of Israel (who’d not been completely faithful to Moses or the Law anyway). He was basically saying, “If you REALLY knew God in a real way, you’d know Jesus as your Savior.”

Recounting the history = 5 segments

  1. Abraham’s calling (v. 2-8)
  2. Patriarchs in Egypt (v. 9-16)
  3. The life of Moses (v. 17-36)
  4. Moses and Israel in the wilderness (v. 37-43)
  5. Tabernacle and the temple (v. 44-50)

#1: Abraham (v. 2-8)

Called by God in Mesopotamia. Stephen is emphasizing that even Abraham wasn’t a Jew at first. God called from OUTSIDE the Jews.

Stephen’s Speech to the Sanhedrin

1 Then the high priest asked him, “Are these charges true?” 2 To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ 4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

The Jews thought that God’s glory was in the temple. Stephen emphasizes that God called Abraham OUT of the Jews, OUT of the temple.

Stephen emphasizes God’s actions, not Abraham’s heroics:

  • He appears,
  • He speaks,
  • He moves,
  • He gives promises,
  • He judges,
  • He gives a covenant

God is the central character.

Stephen is very respectful and calls these men the Fathers (Abraham = “our father”). However, by the end of the speech he says, “your father” after he rebukes them.

He emphasizes that God can speak and act anywhere in the world – not just Jerusalem. This is very transformational. Before this, all the religion was geared toward Jews: mainly Jews preached to mainly Jews in mainly Jewish places. After this speech, Stephen is kind of the connecting link between hard-core Judaism and the Christianity Paul (in this chapter Saul) preached.

The main focus of Judaism was:

  1. The Land (Promised Land)
  2. The Law
  3. The Temple

#2 The Patriarchs in Egypt (v. 9-16)

9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph,they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace. 11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

Here, Stephen focuses on Joseph – the favored son of Jacob. The coat (colorful, yes) was a symbol of who was to receive the inheritance. This caused his other brothers to hate him. Also, the dreams he had (and proudly told them about), made them upset because they indicated that the whole family (even the parents) would bow down to him.

He was put in a pit, sold into slavery, sent to prison (falsely accused), interpreted dreams, got out of prison, became SECOND in command of one of the most powerful nations on earth at that time.

Joseph noted that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). Then the sons of Jacob came to Egypt to meet with him – they didn’t recognize him at first. But the second time they came back, he revealed himself. They were afraid because they thought he would take his revenge, but he comforted them, blessed them, protected them, and provided new homes for them.

Jesus and Joseph

  • Jesus and Joseph, rejected by their brothers
  • Jesus, rejected by Jews, received by Gentiles (John 1 “he came to his own and his own did not receive him – but to those who did receive him, he gave the right to become children of God”).
  • Joseph, rejected by brothers, received by Egyptians.
  • Jesus, died (lowly place) and rose to the highest place.
  • Joseph, in prison (lowly place) rose to the highest place (under Pharaoh).

So Joseph is a shadow, foreshadowing of Jesus. Stephen is trying to make this crystal clear.

#3 The Life of Moses (v. 17-36)

17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased. 18 Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt. 19 He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die. 20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house. 21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. 23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’ 27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons. 30“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look. 33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’ 35 “This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert.

Through their own history, they proved that they also did not follow Moses.

Jesus and Moses:

  • Moses narrowly escaped death as an infant from Pharaoh.
  • Jesus narrowly escaped death as an infant from Herod.
  • Moses was mighty in word and deed.
  • Jesus was mighty in word and deed (Luke 9:50?)

Moses tried to reconcile the fighting Israelites and he was rejected – he had to flee to Midian. Moses was commissioned OUT of Judea – “the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

The Jews had started to “cage God” in the temple. He was trying to show them that God doesn’t LIVE in the temple, and he CAN work outside the temple.

Yes, he appeared there, but there was a time when the glory disappeared from there – when hearts strayed from true worship. Stephen’s emphasis is that God’s dwelling is not the temple building. (Paul in Eph. 2 “you are the temple of the Holy Spirit – your bodies – honor God with your bodies”)

Moses had declared that God would one day raise up a prophet like him (the Messiah = Jesus) – had all the marks/requirements that Moses had declared that God would raise up. But the Israelites had refused to pay attention to them.

Even when Peter said these similar things, he’d softened it “Yes, you did wrong in the past because you didn’t know, but NOW God has commanded otherwise.”

Here, Stephen is being much more forceful. Will he go too far?

#4 Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness (v. 37-43)

37 “This is that Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.’ 38 He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us. 39 “But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt–we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: ” ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? 43 You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile’ beyond Babylon.

#5 The Tabernacle and the Temple (v. 44-53)

44 “Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him. 48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: 49 ” ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’ 51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him– 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

The tabernacle was a moveable building where God appeared at first.

David said, “Let’s give God a house.” Nathan the prophet agreed, but said, “You are a man of blood, you can’t.” So his son Solomon did it.

The problem is that God moves, and God dwells, BUT sometimes, we put too much emphasis on the BUILDING where God HAS been, and where he DID move.

Now, Stephen is emphasizing that the TEMPLE building is “the big deal.” Even Jesus had said this “Woe to you, for you built tombs for the prophets, BUT your ancestors killed them. So, you approved of what your ancestors did, but you build their tombs.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (And Saul was there giving approval to his death.)

At this, (so much hard speech toward them), they absolutely lost control and grabbed him, dragged him out of town, and stoned him violently.

At this part of Scripture, Jesus is standing (not sitting) at the right hand of God. It’s as if he’s standing, waiting to receive and welcome Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

It’s interesting too that when Jesus was before that same assembly, he’d said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in glory.” That caused them to murder him.

And now, Stephen is seeing the Son of Man in glory, and they murder him.

Jesus and Stephen:

  • Jesus: “The Son of Man will be glorified.”
  • Stephen: “The Son of Man is glorified.”
  • Jesus on the cross: “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
  • Stephen: To Jesus’ hands, commits his spirit.
  • Jesus: “Forgive them (my murderers) their sins.”
  • Stephen: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (v. 60)

Then he fell asleep (yes, death is only temporary). When we wake again (the Great Awakening) at Jesus’ Second Coming (just like Joseph showed himself to his brothers the second time), how will we wake up?

There was a first chance to receive Christ – when he came first and until the Second Coming. Have you received Jesus as your Savior?

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 23 / 2012
  • Comments Off on The Unknown God Made Known (Acts 17:16-34)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Unknown God Made Known (Acts 17:16-34)



Sermon Notes

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Paul in Athens, waiting for Timothy and Silas to catch up with him.

He noticed idols all over, and his spirit was provoked.

Athens had a 1,000 year long history, the foundation of democracy – very famous place. Literary, artistic, philosophic center.

Socrates, Aristotle, and others…
A long heritage of philosophy.

Romans conquered Athens, but they were so impressed, they fostered Athens continued philosophy, education, etc.
But, before Paul, it had long since lost its wealth, reputation, etc.

Its population at that time was only 10,000, compared to Thessalonica at 200,000.

It’s proud of its pagan heritage, full of idols, tons of religion.

William Barclay “more statues of the gods in Athens than in all Greece put together – it was easier to meet a god than a man”

Paul enters the synagogue and begins to reason with them, as was his pattern.

On the weekdays, he went to the marketplace and reasoned with the Gentiles there. This was the center of Athenian social life, where goods were bought and sold, and philosophers exchanged their ideas.
Paul challenged them there, soon he encountered Epicurus “pleasure is the chief goal of life – freedom from pain, superstitions, etc” Different from Hedonism – “physical pleasure” Epicurus taught friendship and mind pleasure were the greatest.

The Epicureans had little motivation to seek God or fear him “gods are far off, they don’t care, let’s just live our lives as best we can”
Actually, Thomas Jefferson was an Epicurean – “all men are created equal…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Stoic school of Phil – founded by Xeno – emphasize human rational abilities, reason, logic (Spock – Star Trek)

The gods of popular mythology believed to be expressions of this kind of thought.

So, these two schools of thought were competing with each other, then Paul comes along with the gospel.

Thoughtful people want to cope with the world of suffering using one of these two schools of thought. So, the two schools tried to show them how to cope without God. But the gospel questions the usefulness of these two philosophies because it depends on God.

This from Paul sounded dangerous and upsetting to them. “Who is this babbler?” (bird pecking at food – scrap-peddlers – people who sold religious ideas without understanding them)

Paul is dismissed as ignorant, foolish.
1 Corinthians 1:23 – “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, to the Greeks, foolishness, but to us who are being saved, salvation”

Others, more polite, said they’d listen again.

He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods – because he preached on Jesus and the resurrection (maybe this was TWO gods? Jesus AND the resurrection god?)

They took him to the chief judicial body of the city – 30 members – they overlooked the religious, phil, moral, stuff of the day. Areopagus still means “judicial body” in Greece today.

There’s an implied threat here, though nothing formal – yet. Josephus talked about many who were executed by insulting the Greek gods. Paul might be in trouble here….

In Athens, the introduction of strange gods was a capital offense IF the state gods were denied.

So, here is Paul, before the council, giving answers to their questions – gotta be quick on his feet, speak to the culture.

Paul points out the weaknesses of idolatry, by relying on their OWN insights (from phil of their own). Some pagan phil have ideas of gods that contradict idols. Paul says it doesn’t go far enough, and then he presents the gospel.

Paul quickly takes the side of his hearers (flattering them, making him sound like one of them) – He said they are “religious” – could be devout or superstitious.

He saw an altar to an unknown god, (God’s providence), so that he was able to say “Let me explain this unknown god to you.”

In this way, we can also see how Paul “became all things to all people, so as to win some.” Paul became as one without the Jewish Law in order to win them over. He had to become like them, become like the culture, empathize with the culture, before he was able to preach the gospel to them.

He informs them that God is the Creator of all – not detached from the universe, but caring, loving – so loving, he sent his own son to die in their place for their sins. The world did not come about by chance, but by design, God himself is the designer.

William H. Williams – in reasoning from the natural world toward faith in God, Paul borders on natural theology as a forerunner to faith. How can one look up into the stars and deny something or someone created them? Yet, atheists still do – ALL THIS STUFF just “looks” cool, just “looks” designed, but “oops! coincidence!” But to those who know better, there is no coincidence in this intricacy.

First, Paul needed to establish WHO the one true God was – and that he could be glimpsed through nature. He had to break them away from their idolatry before they could fully understand God.

“God doesn’t live in temples built by human hands.” Even Stephen – the first martyr – said that in a Jewish context. “He lives in hearts that are open to him.”

Interesting, pagan AND Jewish temples are placed in the same category. Even churches are not where God lives. If the beautiful temples in Jerusalem could not contain the true God, how much less could lesser temples (and churches) contain him?

“God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, but he gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

Our common humanity has a single source. From one man, God made all the nations, he marked their appointed times and lands (Adam and the scattering during the Tower of Babel). Paul insists, God has a purpose in the rise and fall of nations and their geographical locations – WHY? so that men would seek Him, and reach out to Him, though He is not far.

Ps. 145:18 – the Lord is near to ALL who call out to Him in truth.

God is not far away, he wants to be found, he wants to be discovered. For IN God, “we live and move and have our being.”

He quotes one of their own poets:
“Phenomenon” – “let us begin with Zeus, let us never leave him unmentioned, the marketplace, harbors, everywhere has him. For everywhere and in everything we have our being in Him.” So, Paul uses their own understanding and culture in order to give them the gospel.

“Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold, or silver, or stone – in the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

This speech is not just a dream or philosophy, but the call to repentance is very serious, because God has set a day for judgment.

At the end, he focuses on Jesus’ his cross, and resurrection.

From the introduction (focusing on the culture), to the conclusion (focusing on Jesus), Paul speaks well.

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some sneered, some wanted to hear more. The idea of a person’s body being resurrected was absurd to Greek thoughts. They believed in the immortality of the soul, but not the body. But at least no charges were brought against him, and some became believers.

In some ways, Paul’s work in Athens ended in an anti-climactic note – no church was established there. But the next city, Corinth, had a large number of acceptance.

But for those few that believed, it was NOT anti-climactic. Jesus died for the ONE person, just as much as he died for the multitudes.

It’s important that Paul made known the living and true God.

A time is coming when each of us will appear before the one true God, and Jesus will have to say to some of us, “I never knew you…”

Do we know we’re saved? Examine our own hearts and know we’re saved.

I’m a sinner, I need salvation by grace, God is not far off, he forgives sin, he cleanses from unrighteousness, we need the Lord.

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 18 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Exodus 4-6 (Bible-365.18): All Things to All People
Bible-365, Grow

Exodus 4-6 (Bible-365.18): All Things to All People

Back again with Moses and Aaron.

In chapter 4

Moses again hesitates about God’s calling. God says, “Alright, check it out. Here are three awesome signs and wonders I’ll do through you in front of Pharaoh. Now are you convinced?”

Moses says, “Ehhh…really? Really really?”

Continue Reading

  • Jan 03 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Genesis 7-9 (Bible-365.3): Rethinking Noah
Bible-365, Grow

Genesis 7-9 (Bible-365.3): Rethinking Noah

Everybody knows the story of Noah and the ark and the flood. And everybody thinks they’ve got it down pat. It’s a story about a single good dude in a world filled with terrible, horrible, rotten bad dudes that saves the day for humanity and all of Creation. Right? Or is it? Let’s back-track a bit before jumping straight to the “lesson.”

The story of Noah actually begins in Genesis 6 and continues through the end of chapter 9. In the pre-story to Noah we learn that: Continue Reading

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen