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  • Nov 19 / 2017
  • Comments Off on There is a Remnant by God’s Grace (Romans 10:21-11:10)
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

There is a Remnant by God’s Grace (Romans 10:21-11:10)

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There is a Remnant by God’s Grace

Romans 10:21-11:10 (Pastor Heo)

21 But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

The Remnant of Israel

1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” ? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” 9 And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”


Chp 11 = God’s faithfulness

Chp 10:21 “But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Their hearts were hard, we can see 3 results of their rejection:

1. Still today, they are guilty

(we also will be guilty if we reject God’s free gift of salvation) – God reveals himself in nature, Creation, the Word of God – these go together and reveal the glory of God. Israel had the benefit of BOTH – they saw God at work in Nature, and received the Word of God (but they did not heed the Word of God). No wonder many times in Scripture it says, “he who has ears, let him hear” – this is repeated at least 7 times in Revelation.

2. God sent this gospel to the Gentiles

When Israel rejected this Messiah, God sent this gospel to the Gentiles that they might be saved. One reason was to provoke Israel to “holy jealousy”.

3. Still today, God yearns over his people

v. 21 is from Isaiah 55:2

This refers to the present day of salvation (1 Cor “NOW is the day of God’s favor”).

Even 2000 years ago, Christ longed to gather his chosen people to his arms. He wept over Jerusalem. But instead, those arms were stretched out on a cross.

Today, Christ is stretching his hands out, waiting, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” – this is the message of the gospel for the Jews and the Gentiles.

Last Sunday, “how beautiful the feet of those who bring good news.”

Also, God can use our feet and arms as he used Paul’s 2000 years ago.

Everything is of God (behind everything) – and at the same time everything is of man (we have free will). 100% God-control & sovereignty & at the same time 100% human free-will (this is a paradox).

Are you a person? This means you have a personality.

  1. Feelings
  2. Emotions
  3. Interests
  4. Will

So, we are responsible/accountable before Christ. But he will NEVER give up his people. This is the story of the next chapter.

Actually, Paul devotes all of Romans 11 to presenting that God is not finished yet with Israel. He is discussing a literal future for the nation of Israel. And Paul is showing 5 proofs (witnesses) that God has a plan for Israel. Today, let’s look at just the first 2.

God’s future restoration plan for Israel is also very important for us.

God called Abraham, chose Israel, Jesus came from Israel. IF God abandoned them… then that would show that our salvation could also be lost in the same way. Thus, their future restoration is SO important for our own salvation.

Next Sunday, we will look in depth at: (the conclusion)

  • v. 26 “26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.”

There are a total of 5 witnesses to this. Today, we’ll see 2:

2 (of 5) Witnesses of God’s Plan for Israel

#1 Paul himself

Paul who wrote this book Romans.

v. 1 “1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.”

Honestly speaking, I have no right to say, “Korea will be saved – because I am Korean!” Nobody has a right to say this. But Paul is saying like this. How is this possible? On what foundation/grounds?

What is the difference between his and our salvation? We must know the background.

Paul’s conversion testimony is written in the Bible in Acts, 3 times (chp 9, 22, 26) – this is not by accident – but on purpose for something to show us.

This is not written to exalt Paul himself, but it is written to show his conversion is an illustration of the future restoration and conversion of the nation Israel. This is a secret, the mystery of God.

Paul’s Story

Yes, before his conversion, Paul had such great zeal for God. “I’m faultless – legalistically speaking.” Before his conversion, he was a champion of persecuting the followers of Christ – because he persecuted Christ for God. (He fought God, on behalf of God) – because he didn’t know Jesus was God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. He was so zealous for God, but it was misplaced. This was not based on the correct foundation of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

One day, on the way to Damascus, breathing out murderous threats. Christ appeared to him on the road and spoke, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” At this moment, he became blind, fell to the ground, and called out. “Lord, who are you?” “I’m Jesus, who you are persecuting. Get up, go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” After this experience, his life was 100% (180deg) changed and he became the champion of the gospel.

  • From persecutor of the gospel to the champion of the gospel.
  • From destroying the followers of Christ, to making new followers of Christ.

Israel’s Story

Israel, likewise, has been zealous for God – looking and waiting for the Messiah for a LONG time. This was their final hope. But, when he came, they did not recognize him. Still now, they are waiting for the Messiah.

Someday (maybe soon) there will be a day when Israel will recognize that same Jesus their forefathers crucified in 33 AD. And at that time, they will be totally 100% (180deg) changed. Their lives, lifestyles, etc will be transformed completely, and they will play a great role in closing human history with Jesus’ Second Coming.

Basic Question: Up to now, in your life, which event is the GREATEST event? Having the most POWERFUL impact on your personal life?

Ans: Conversion – salvation to Jesus Christ.

To be converted to Christ and NOT change your lifestyle is absolutely impossible.

That’s why Paul says what he does in v. 1.

#2 Elijah

v. 2-10 “2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” ? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” 9 And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.””

Two keywords here: Elijah & remnant

We know the background of this story. Elijah was one of the greatest OT prophets. He had many nicknames:

  • Man of Fire, Man of Miracle, Man of Prayer, Man of Power.

He raised a dead boy through prayer. When he prayed, there was no rain for 3 years – then prayed and received heavy rain. He alone defeated 450 prophets of Baal + 450 prophets of Asherah. He was a man of prayer, power.

Elijah’s Story

He worked during the time of Ahab, 850 BC.

At that time, Israel was divided in two (north and south) – like Korea (because of the sins of Solomon).

  • South = Judah
  • North = Israel

This is the story of the Northern king during the reign of the 7th (of 19) king, Ahab (among all 19, not a one was “good” in the eyes of God). But Ahab was just… THE WORST.

During his reign, Israel was full of idol worship.

So, this guy was “bad” but his lady (Jezebel) was “really bad.” (much worse than him). Do you know the story of Nabath?

There was a vineyard near Ahab’s palace, so he coveted it – he wanted to buy it – even for a better vineyard. “No, God forbid, this is inheritance from my father.” So, he got sulky and didn’t eat. His wife said, “Honey, why aren’t you eating?… What? Are you the ‘king’? Get up and eat – I will get that vineyard for you.” That very day, she “got” the vineyard through murder. She said to her husband, “Oh, look, he’s dead. Now, you can get it.”

Later, Jezebel said to Elijah, “Hey, boy, I’ll kill you.”

  • So, he ran off and hid and shook in fear and said to God, “Please God, kill me.”
  • But God said, “No, and you don’t try it either.”
  • God did not scold him, but encouraged him with a soft whisper, “Elijah, you still have a mission.”
  • Elijah appealed it. “God, Israel rejected your covenant, killed your prophets, and I’m the ONLY ONE left, and they are all trying to kill me.”
  • God said, “No, no, no. You’re not the only one. I’ve yet reserved 7,000 who do not kneel before Baal. This is my remnant.”

Immediately he got 3 missions.

  • To anoint 2 kings, and
  • anoint Elisha to succeed himself as prophet.

He received power and encouragement again, and fulfilled his mission and was caught up in a chariot of fire afterward and did not taste death.

Israel’s Story

Yes, even today, Israel is rejecting the Messiah, Jesus.

But, there is a remnant in Israel who is faithful to God, by the grace of God.

I’m sure, even in North Korea, there is a remnant, even in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, USA, Europe, every single local church, even in AICF. A few remnants may be among us – but many (even all) of us may be remnants before God.

I hope and pray we all are a remnant and faithful before God.

“He who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Only the remnant who remains faithful to God will be saved.

Who is the remnant? The one who calls on the name of the Lord.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

If you call Jesus “Lord” – this means he is Lord in EVERY area of our lives. He is Lord of our time, concern, interest, motive, purpose, priority, incentive, hobbies, job, ambition, dream, vision, money, wallet, material possessions. This is the true meaning of “Jesus is Lord.” God bless us to call Jesus our Lord, truly.

God is not deceived, not mocked. God knows if we are truthful in our proclamation. God knows if you are speaking from your heart, or just paying him “lip service.”

Jesus is Lord of every area of our lives.

God bless all of us so that our calling Jesus, “Lord” may be accepted fully by God our father.

Let’s take individual time to pray and shout and cry, “Lord, may my cry be acceptable to you.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jul 10 / 2016
  • Comments Off on Zechariah: Give Yourself to Christ as a Living Sacrifice (1:1-21, 8:3, 9:9)
It's All About Jesus, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Zechariah: Give Yourself to Christ as a Living Sacrifice (1:1-21, 8:3, 9:9)

07.10.2016

07.10.2016-PHeo

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  • Dec 13 / 2015
  • Comments Off on 2 Chronicles: Christ is the Reality of the Temple (1:1-17, 7:14, 16:9)
It's All About Jesus, Pastor Heo, Sermons

2 Chronicles: Christ is the Reality of the Temple (1:1-17, 7:14, 16:9)


12.13.2015

12.13.2015-PHeo

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  • Dec 07 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Faith and Deeds (James 2:14-26)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Faith and Deeds (James 2:14-26)

12.07

12.07.2014-PBrian

Sermon Notes

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Faith and Deeds

James 2:14-26 (Pastor Brian)

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.


 

James is giving practical advice to his readers. In the beginning of the chapter, he warns against favoritism – showing undo favor to the “rich” of this world. “Oh, sit here in this nice place!”

  • All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans) and when you look at some of these lives (any lives actually), you’ll notice that they aren’t amazing.
  • Favoritism = giving undo favor where it is not due, and not giving favor where it is due.
  • James is bringing our identity back to Christ – we ought to keep the royal law = “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • If we keep only ONE part of the commandments and break ONLY ONE part, we have broken ALL the law. To break 1/10 = to break 10/10.
  • We must love others and show mercy (because we’ve received both from God himself).  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

“What good is it my brothers if a man has faith but no deeds? Can such faith save him?”

Paul writes “By grace you have been saved through faith…not as a result of works so that no one can boast…FOR we are his workmanship that he has created FOR good works.”

We aren’t saved BY works, but we are saved TO DO works.

Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees and did everything in his zeal to keep the law – and he even persecuted the church at first. But after meeting Christ, he realized that ALL his works and deeds were FILTHY rags before God.

1 Cor 15 Paul rehearses how God’s mercy has been shown to him “But by God’s grace, I am what I am – and I labored MORE than all the other apostles (yet not I, but the grace of God working in me).”

God’s power gave him the power and the anointing to do what God called him to do.

James also asserts that we SHOW our faith BY our good works. We must demonstrate our faith by our actions.

When we come to believe in Jesus, we become a different person ( “A New Creation” ).

Testimony:

A pastor talked of how he became a Christian – he was a teenager in a band who HATED people. He looked for fights, insulted anyone, make fun of the homeless, and yell curses. God saved both of us in the same year and our hearts were absolutely changed.

When Matt saw a homeless man, instead of yelling at him, he pulled over and gave him a blanket and a lunch he’d made for himself.

What would James say if we’d become Christians and CONTINUED to yell at the homeless. If there was no heart change, no ACTION change, there is no EVIDENCE that your heart has changed.

It’s easy for a “pure” person to said, “Yes, I believe in God – and I’m a good person.” Well, the demons ALSO believe in God – shall they also go to heaven?

In the gospels, there was a man in the synagogue who cried out (with a demon), “Ya! What have we to do with you? Jesus, Son of God?” – Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, bless you, you know who I am.” Jesus cast him OUT of the man.

James goes on to show that faith without works is dead – using the Scriptures.

  • Abraham – sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22): God tested Abraham (remember “count it all joy as you meet various testings in the world”?). He was instructed to take his ONLY son Isaac and sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah. He did it. It took 3 days to get to Moriah. On the 3rd day, Abraham raised his eyes and left the servants to “worship” God. (This is an obvious act of faith on Abraham’s part). Abraham laid the wood on Isaac and carried the fire and the knife.
  • Isaac: “Father?”
  • Abe: “Yes, son?”
  • Isaac: “We have all the stuff except the offering itself.”
    Abe: “The Lord will provide, my son.”
  • Abraham built the altar and bound Isaac and laid him on the altar and stretched out his hand to KILL his son – but an angel of the Lord stopped him. Test PASSED.
  • Then Abraham raised his eyes and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its thorns. So Abraham used the ram in place of Isaac. He called that place, “The Lord will provide.”

Up to this point in his life, Abraham had at times shown a bit of a shaky faith. He lied about his wife ( “she’s my sister, actually” ) and brought trouble on himself and the people around him (TWICE).

Now, even after he’s been given promises from God:

  1. You’ll have a son
  2. I’ll bless you through Isaac
  3. I’ll make your descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore

But still, he takes his son Isaac to sacrifice him. He had such faith that God would do as he said to fulfill the promise, that even if he were to kill Isaac, God could raise him back up!

He’s taken it soooo far that he’s laid the wood on Isaac (remember Jesus also carried the wood of the cross). Isaac was NOT a young child – he was at least in his 20s. If Isaac had wanted to, he could have overpowered Abraham and said, “No way, daddy!” But he submitted himself to Abraham, laid down his own life – (remember, Jesus did this same thing for us as well – in complete agreement with God the Father).

“God will provide himself a (THE) lamb” – this is also a picture of Jesus – the ram caught in a thornbush – Jesus wore a crown of thorns for us to the cross.

Then, Abraham was told to NOT kill Isaac. In a sense, he received Isaac back from the dead – he was already sacrificed in his mind/heart. This is similar to Jesus’ resurrection as well.

James’ second example:

Rahab the prostitute protected Joshua and the spies when they investigated Jericho.

The prostitutes at that time also kept a boarding house – the spies went there for the night. The king heard about it and sent the guards to capture them. Rahab said, “No, they’ve gone.” But she’d hidden them. She’d also made a deal with them that when the men invade the city, they’d be protected from the destruction of the God of Israel.  So the men agreed – “put a scarlet rope from the window” – and they wouldn’t go in to kill the people.

After the walls of Jericho collapsed and the Israelites invaded, she was saved and assimilated into the nation of Israel.

This scarlet rope is symbolic of Jesus’ blood. In His blood, there is LIFE.

As we come around the table of the Lord for communion – as yourself, “Am I a part of this family? Is Jesus my Savior? Am I WALKING and ACTING in his will and his way?”

From the Daily bread – (hasn’t gone stale):

Feb 5, 2014: The Telltale Heart

We want to keep short accounts, not keep unforgiveness or sin in our hearts.

Recently, I read about a PI in the US who would knock on a door, show his badge and say “I guess we don’t have to tell you why we’re here.” And many times the person would look stunned and say “How did you find out?” And then go on to explain an unknown criminal act long ago.

This was an unconscious act of a telltale heart. We all know secret things about ourselves and our sins. The secret things we keep in our hearts may come back to us again and again.

  • John “By this we will know that we are before him. If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than us.”
  • James “Don’t just say, ‘We’ll pray for you.’ If you can actually help them.”

Have you done the things despite your failures? Then find rest. Even if your heart condemns you, know that God is greater. God abides in us by the Spirit whom he’s given us. God is greater than our self-condemnation.

Remember James’ words to be practical in our faith. Remember John’s words to DO the works before men that God would have us do – so that they will glorify God through what they see us doing through his power.

Where we can, ACT. (Maybe even a random act of kindness – don’t procrastinate – it won’t happen) If you have occasion to help someone, HELP.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 30 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Give Thanks to God (Psalm 107:1-8)
Guest Speaker, Sermons

Give Thanks to God (Psalm 107:1-8)

11.30

11.30.2014-R.Ahn

Sermon Notes

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Give Thanks to God

Psalm 107 (Rev. Ahn Choongsik)

BOOK V

Psalms 107-150

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this– those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,


 

Welcome Rev. Ahn Choongsik

This is today, between Thanksgiving (last Thursday in November) and Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day). This is a time to wait for the coming Jesus Christ. During this time, some people of faith fast, don’t eat meat, don’t pleasure themselves in some way, but pray for dependence and purity.

You may know this prayer/hymn about the long awaited news:

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…
To us the path of knowledge show and cause us in her way to go.
O Come desire of nations, and bind all peoples in one heart and mind…
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice!

In the history of Israel, they had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years. Isaiah prophesied, “A child is born to us and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.”  The Lord is determined to do all this. He is the reason that people of faith should examine our pasts as well as our futures to receive him.

Because of receiving Jesus Christ, John the Baptist said, “Turn from your sins, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

What is sin? A wrong relationship with God. How many people today have a right relationship with God? Who brought us out of slavery?

Too many Christians seek a God who provides Material Possessions. Too many Christians worship idols (Baal – in old Israel, Jezebel worshiped and brought his idols into Israel). The Israelites worshiped the gods of the Gentiles and the ruler of the country used the religion as a means to control his people. Jeroboam worried about his people going back to the other kind Rehoboam (1 Kings). He thought if they had to go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, they might go back to Israel and follow Rehoboam (this was at the time that Israel was divided into Israel and Judah). Rehoboam led Israel and Jeroboam led Judah. So, he set up idols (two calves) for the people to worship in Judah.

However, the Lord was angry with this and sent them into exile in Babylon, Assyria, and Syria for 70 years.

“Comfort my people” says the Lord, “Tell them they suffered long enough and I have forgiven them. I have punished them enough for their sins.” (Psalm 105 mentions the eternal love and forgiveness of the Lord).

All of these events lead up to the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning the Messiah.

Jeremiah says, “I will show you wonderous things you cannot know. I will purify them from the sins they committed against me. And I will forgive their sins and rebellion.”

This is not because of the righteousness and worthiness of the Israelites, but his grace, Deut. 7:7 “The Lord didn’t choose you because you outnumbered the other peoples, but the Lord loved you and wanted to keep the promise he made to your ancestors. This is why he saved you from the king of Egypt. Remember this: That the Lord your God is the ONLY God and that he is faithful.”

Sung MyungHee = a poet, 1953? born

Doctor’s mistake = her brain stopped for a whole afternoon when she was only one week old.

Because of her parents’ financial burden, she couldn’t get any care. So, the first 17 years of her life was absolutely miserable – suffering in pain in all parts of her body.

Finally, she found hope and purpose in Jesus. She had no formal education – even elementary level. Because of this, writing was not an easy thing to do, but she began to write anyway.

Despite all of this, she’s written 25 volumes of poetry so far.

Here is one of her most popular poems. I did my best to translate this into English – try to understand the gist of this:

Even I don’t have any treasures, no knowledge, no health that other people have, but I have something that others don’t have, what they can’t see. I heard the voice others couldn’t hear. I experienced the love and wonder of God that others couldn’t. I don’t have the things other people have. God, help me have the love you have that other people don’t have.

#2: We should sing thanks to God all together as a people

The Lord brought us up out of a foreign country. Did he do it because we were righteous or faithful or obedient? NO, just he loved us.

For the married couples:

  • What was the criteria to choose your spouse?

Maybe model beauty, smooth skin, big muscles, tight waist. If God used the same conditions, we would NOT now be his children.

Remember the prophecy that God told Samuel? He said to go to Bethlehem and choose one of seven sons of Jesse to annoint as the next king of Israel. He immediately thought “Surely the biggest, oldest, strongest is the one God has chosen.” The Lord said, “Nope~ I don’t judge as men judge – you look at his face and muscles, I look at his heart.”

Isaiah, “My thoughts are not like yours, and my ways are higher than yours.”

He has something different to see, some different way to look at us. This is why God’s salvation is his MOST PRECIOUS work.

I was a teenager in North Korea. One month in April, I met two South Koreans in the West Sea on an island. The same two brought my father to that island just two weeks sooner.

I had to choose whether or not to stay in North Korean or try to escape with them to the island.

After a few weeks, I realized what a refugee’s life was like: not enough food, no extra clothes, no dwelling place.

Later I met a South Korean student: He was so proud of his uniform and fancy hat, and the shoeshine boys who shined his shoes. I totally didn’t understand – I was like an alien in outer space. But now, I’m so thankful for who I am and what I’m doing. This is all because of God’s blessing.

I’m sure you also have heard the Thanksgiving story of the pilgrims – from England to America. During the voyage, 102 people struggled against wind, waves, disease, lost loved ones. Finally, they arrived on Dec. 21 in America.

Surely only winter and hunger would welcome them. Even on the last day of hopelessness, Spring would come. With the help of the Native Americans, they cultivated the wilderness and planted corn and shared something together.

Because of these serious difficulties, the crisis situation, they were so disappointed, and frustrated, they did praying and fasting, but their minds and hearts were not changed so much.

One farmer stood up and said, “Dear friends, we crossed the Atlantic Ocean and lost many friends. But God has provided more than we expected. We planted, he provided. Let us stop fasting and change our minds and hearts and be thankful to God.” They did. And invited the Native Americans, and they celebrated the first Thanksgiving together.

This shows the mercy and liberation of God from a crisis situation. This is a communal festivity. Psalm “Sing to the Lord all the nations, sing to the Lord with joy,… he made us and we belong to him, he made us and we are his flock.”

Nelson Mandela – in jail 27 times because he was opposed to apartheid. One journalist asked what his motivation was. He replied, “I don’t want a black country. I don’t want a white country. I want a country for all the people.” This is our problem in Korea as well. We’ve been divided by politics, families are divided, groups, churches, religions, and the whole nation is divided still.

What do you think of Korean thanksgiving? Is it good for God? Is he happy with it?

Letter:

“Once I prayed to God that he might change the world. However, today I’m looking down at the Hudson river from my house. It’s surrounded by beautiful trees and mountains and I’ve never felt so marvelous as I do now. During my darkest time in life, I would read the Bible so many times, but today I feel so much peace in my heart. I’m able to hear the spiritual voices through my spiritual ear. All of them were with me all the time, they are the source of my comfort whenever I need them.”

Dear friends, whether in Thanksgiving or Advent (waiting for Christ), THANKS is the foundation to worship Christ.

Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 16 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and I (Matthew 11:1-15)
Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and I (Matthew 11:1-15)

03.16

03.16.2014 Pastor Heo

Sermon Notes

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1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. 2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

10 “This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears, let him hear.


Do you have ears? God bless us with our hands, ears, eyes, feet, mouth. 

As we know, in Chp 10, we studied 3 times – Jesus called his 12 disciples (apostles) and gave them authority and power to go on mission. After that, he didn’t take a rest – he went on to do his mission continually: Preaching, Teaching, & Healing.

At that time, JB was in prison by Herod – because he’d publicly rejected Herod’s adulterous relationship and marriage. JB was very active, he was sent as the forerunner of God to testify to Jesus so that through him all men might believe in Christ. Now, in prison, he cannot speak outside publicly anymore. He thought more and more about Jesus, and the more and more he thought, the more and more he was convinced that YES Jesus was the Messiah. So he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him – and he put all his hope in this one question. “Are you the One who was to come?”

This question may look like a doubtful question – but it can also be seen as a question through which the light of hope is shining. 

Jesus’ answer = v.4-6

This answer of Jesus is a quotation from Isaiah 29, and 35:4-6. In two places in Isaiah, these same words can be found. So, Jesus reminded him of the OT prophecies about the works of the Messiah. He pointed him toward his acts of healing, his preaching, and his teaching. YES! With so much evidence, Jesus’ identity should have been obvious. In this answer, we hear the accent of confidence. He didn’t say, “Tell John what I’m talking about.” He said, “Tell John what you SEE.”

Jesus’ answer is the same today. SEE what I can do for you. SEE what I have done for others. 

The very things Jesus did 2000 years ago in Galilee, he is doing still today.

  • The truth about God and his works can only be seen (eyes opened) when you have faith in Christ.
  • Feet that are not strong, can be strengthened in Jesus.
  • Those contaminated by the disease of sin can only be purified by Jesus Christ.
  • Those who are deaf to the voice of God can only hear in Christ.
  • Those who are dead in sin can be raised to the newness and liveliness of life in Jesus.
  • Those who are poor in spirit can receive the richness of the love of God only in Christ. 

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

His invitation is, was, and will be the same. Give your life to me and see and experience what I can do with your life. 

The supreme argument for Christ is not intellectual debate, but the experience of his life-changing power.

v. 7-10

After this, Jesus talks about JB.

This is a quotation from Malachi 3:1 “I will send my messenger ahead of you…”

Jesus asks and answers 3 questions about JB:

What did you go out to see in the desert?

  1. A reed swayed in the wind? NO. – A reed was a kind of grass on the banks of the Jordan River – symbolizing the most COMMON of things to see. Another meaning = a weak vacillator – he never takes a stand on anything – always tossed about by various opinions (flip-flopper). We know they did NOT go to see this – JB’s fiery preaching was not like a reed.
  2. A man with fine clothes? NO – John’s clothes = camel’s hair. If they wanted to see a rich man, they should have gone to a palace. Such a man would be a courtier. He was not a courtier. He was an ambassador of God – not a courtier of King Herod.
  3. A prophet? YES – The prophet is a foreteller of the truth of God. He had confidence in God and the wisdom of God in his mind, the truth of God in his mouth, the courage of God in his heart. The job of the prophet was to show the true Messiah to man. JB was the LAST of the OT prophets – and he saw the Son of Man with his own two eyes. This made him more than a prophet.

Today, what do you come to church to see in Jesus Christ? Yes, we worship God, but what do you come to SEE in Jesus? Entertainment? No. Luxurious clothes? No. 

Why do you come to church? What do you come to see? “I come to see my personal Lord, Savior, God, in Jesus Christ and to worship him together with my brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Jesus continues to talk about JB in v. 11 (much meaning).

“I tell you the truth” = “listen well, this is SUPER important…”

First Jesus exalts JB to the highest place among all human beings “He is THE greatest among all born of women.” Yes, he is the greatest, biggest man in the history of the world. 

But then, Jesus lowers JB to the lowest place in the kingdom of heaven. How can these two opposites both be true? 

Yes, JB is THE greatest in human history. Before sharing this, let’s have one question: Who is greater, JB or you? Before God? (Silently)

Your personal answer to this question is the correct answer…to you.

Yes, he was the GREATEST in history – the only one who baptized Jesus in the Jordan, the only prophet to see and point people DIRECTLY to Jesus. In this sense, JB is the greatest in all of history. Yes, in this world.

BUT, in the kingdom of heaven, the least is greater than JB. It means, if we are truly in the kingdom of heaven by believing in Jesus, we are greater than JB. What did John lack? It’s simple and fundamental. He’d never seen the cross. Therefore, he never understood the FULL revelation of the love of God manifested through the cross.

The love of God, the holiness, the judgment, the warning, the penalty of God he preached, but he never FULLY understood the love of God because he died before Jesus died (and rose again to inaugurate his kingdom). 

No one ever fulfilled his God-given purpose better than JB, but he never saw the cross with his eyes.

It is an amazing thing for us to know more about God than the greatest of the great OT prophets. 

Yes, in his coming kingdom, we have a greater spiritual heritage than JB, because we have known and seen the FINISHED work of Christ on the cross. We can have greater privilege than JB.

Yes, JB is great, greater, the greatest – in that his FIRST message was the same as that of Jesus Christ “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near!” And Jesus came as the king of his kingdom. It means, Jesus is the REALITY of the kingdom of heaven – this is Jesus’ dominion as king. Wherever Jesus is in control as King, that is the kingdom of heaven. How can we receive this? 

ONE WAY: by believing in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sin and rose again for my salvation – and accept him as my personal Lord, King, Savior, and God. We receive by believing in the truth of Jesus’ substitutionary attonement. This is the gospel message. 

JB did preach a powerful and wonderful message, BUT it wasn’t the gospel – because there was no story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

We can be greater than JB in this sense. He had no opportunity to preach the message of the cross – the message of the gospel. But we have this wonderful blessing to preach and share this very message of the cross. 

IF you and I preach and share the message of the gospel – the death and resurrection of Jesus – then we are greater than JB in God’s redemptive history. 

That’s why this passage says “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

v. 12-15

Jesus continues to talk about JB. 

Let’s see two verses:

  1. Malachi 4:5 (last book, last chapter, almost last verse of OT) “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day when the Lord comes.”
  2. Matthew 24:14 (prophecy of the last day of the last days) “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and THEN the end will come.” (This is the prophecy of the last day of the last days.)

v. 12 “Forcefully advancing – forceful men” 

Yes, the kingdom of heaven was started with the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the consummation of the kingdom of heaven is YET to come. The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world now stand AGAINST each other – because Satan is the king/prince of this world/age. So, until the consummation of the kingdom of heaven is finished, there is fighting between these two kingdoms. 

From when JB was imprisoned wrongly, the kingdom of heaven has experienced violence and persecution. So, if we accept the kingdom of heaven, we need violent devotion – forceful attitude, assertive action – to keep the kingdom of heaven safely and peacefully. 

“John is like Elijah”

JB came in spirit and power of Elijah – he also dressed like Elijah and ministered like him – and had a message of judgment for the apostate nation of Israel. 

The last book, chp, almost verse – it prophesied the coming of Elijah again before the last day. Jesus regarded the coming of JB as the fulfillment of that prophecy. 

How about us? Yes, we can be greater than JB IF we are used in fulfilling the prophecy of the last days in Matthew 24:14. “This gospel will be preached to all nations and then the end will come.” (And then I will come.)

If we are used in fulfilling this prophecy, we will be counted, regarded by God as greater than JB in God’s redemptive history. 

“He who has ears, let him hear. She who has ears, let her hear.”

God bless us with our hands, feet, ears, and mouth. 

Let’s pray. 

  • Aug 25 / 2013
  • Comments Off on What Shall We Do? (Acts 2:21-38)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

What Shall We Do? (Acts 2:21-38)

08.25

08.25.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

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Peter’s preaching in Acts was shaped by Luke.

Acts 2 = summary of what Peter actually said.

Luke says Peter “warmed the crowd” with many other words (not recorded here).

Things of note:

1. Luke used the Septuigen version of the Scriptures (septuigenta = Latin = 70) – these Scriptures were made by 70 Jews. At that time, many Jews were spread throughout the world and didn’t know their mother tongue of Hebrew – so this was the Greek translation of the Scriptures. Most of the early church took most of their Scripture quotes from this version (LXX Version).

This was the main source of the Scriptures for the early church. Also, Joel is different (2:28 – “It shall come to pass afterward that I’ll pour out my flesh on all people…”) Afterward there = meta… = could be indefinitely. Peter here changes that word to “the last days” (it has a more specific time element).

For the New Testament writers, the “Last Days” began with Christ’s first appearance, and would end with his Second Coming. “You have been dreaming of the day of God – when he’d break forth into history – now the day is here in Jesus.” (William Barclay).

Peter obviously didn’t know how long it would be until Jesus returns. Even in 2 Peter, he defends the decades-long-no-Jesus-returning-period “In the last days, scoffers will come, following their own evil desires, and saying, ‘Where is this second coming?’ But they deliberately forget that in the Beginning, God formed the world and flooded the world with water and destroyed it. Now also the heavens are reserved for fire. But don’t forget that with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. God is patient with everyone, not wishing any to perish, but ALL to come to repentance.”

Not everyone WILL obviously repent, but the opportunity WILL be presented.

Near the end of Peter’s life, 1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near” he thought that the End was near – especially since there was so much time between Jesus’ resurrection and the Second Coming.

The Holy Spirit here has now been poured out and the Age of the Spirit had become. The times in Joel’s prophecy had come – it was now time to put faith in Jesus – because as Joel’s prophecy says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The note here = every ONE – personally. Not just since you go to church, or since your family goes to church, or since your friend goes to church.

Peter is sure that these are the Last Days of which Joel has prophesied. So, now he turns his argument over to “Jesus IS Messiah” and he goes to show (in the Scriptures) how many things prove he is. This is also the emphasis of the early church’s preaching.

Jesus was a man of God, approved by God, and through his signs and compassion, that proves (outwardly) that he was of God.

Peter argues that what was God’s apparent “weakness” (the crucifixion) was actually the power and plan of God (Romans 1:16 = Paul also says this). Peter argues that by the Jews putting Jesus to death, the Jews actually have fulfilled the prophecies (especially in Isaiah). Then, he quotes a proof text (a Psalm of David) that Jesus’ resurrection was appointed and prophesied previously – AND that God would establish an eternal throne in David’s line.

Psalm 16:8-11 – this is an exact quote from the Septuigen Scriptures. He quotes it Messianically (proving that Jesus is the Messiah). It says that “your servant shall not see decay” yet everyone KNOWS that he died and did decay – so the verse MUST apply to a future descendant of David. The people (and Peter) acknowledge that David is a prophet so it is true that he should be able to see the future.

Jesus also says, “Everything in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms is about me.”

Peter argues that these prophetic words were about Jesus – and the apostles are witnesses to these facts. The proof that the Spirit was present = fire, tongues, etc.

Psalm 101:1 = another proof text.

“Sit at my right hand…”

This verse was difficult to understand – the explanation depended on the way you understood the “lords” – “the Lord said to my lord…” or “the lord said to my Lord…” or … etc.

The Saduccees debated over this, but Jesus debated with them – “how then is the Christ the son of David? He calls him ‘my Lord.’”

The proper understanding of the Lords = the key to understanding the text. Jesus interpreted it messianically as referring to himself.

In fact, this text is not earthly but heavenly, not about David, but Jesus – the disciples were witnesses to Jesus’ Ascension.

In Jesus’ trial, the Pharisees asked “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus, “You have said rightly.”

Peter uses 4 points to argue for Jesus as Messiah.

  1. Peter’s personal testimony
  2. Miraculous events of Pentecost
  3. Information about Jesus that the audience had themselves (he was famous throughout the land at that time)
  4. The Scriptural proof texts

Then Peter concludes with the point he made throughout – Jesus = Lord, Messiah, Anointed One. (Romans 10:9 – “if you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth” 1 Cor 12:3 “no one who is speaking by the Spirit says ‘Jesus be cursed’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Spirit.” Phil “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”) – this (from Peter) became an early creed.

Peter’s speech produced a strong emotional reaction in the crowd – OBVIOUSLY, Jesus was the Messiah and they were convicted, humbled, and teachable and asked “What shall we do?”

Peter = the GOAL he’d wanted “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.”

Luke 24:47 Jesus foretells “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be told to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Metanoia = a change of mind/behavior/heart/etc.

This word is used repeatedly in the NT and especially Acts to talk about repentance.

  • Acts 3:19 – Peter preaches in Solomon’s colonnade “repent then and turn to God that your sins may be white and times of refreshing come.” These are God-fearers in the temple he’s talking to (church-goers)
  • Acts 5:31 – Peter speaks to the Sanhedrin (counsel of Jews) who tried to stop them preaching about Jesus “God exalted him to his own right hand as Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness to the people of Israel.” Here, people in religious leadership.
  • Acts 8:22 – Peter speaks to Simon the magician (the occultic magician). Simon wanted to offer money for the gift of the Spirit “Repent of this wickedness, perhaps he’ll forgive you for this thought.” Here, people in the occult also need to repent (today, many people are involved in the occult – wittingly or unwittingly – but whether we know it or not, God condemns the occult).
  • Acts 11:18 – explaining the conversion of Cornelius (Roman Gentile seeking God – God led Peter to his house, he preached, the HS fell on them, and it was evident that God had accepted them) “When they heard this they had no further questions, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance.’” (This was pretty amazing – unclean GENTILES too?)
  • Acts 13:24 – Paul in the synagogue gives a word of preaching/teaching – “Before Jesus, John preached repentance to Israel…”
  • Acts 17:30 – to pagan philosophers in Athens (Aeropogas) – “In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent – for he has set a day to judge the world – and proves it with Jesus’ resurrection” – some believed here though most mocked him.
  • Acts 19:4 – Paul speaks to some disciples in Ephesus “Did you receive the HS when you believed?” “The what?” “How were you baptized?” “Into John.” “John preached repentance, but said, ‘Look to the one who comes after.’ So, let’s baptize you into the one who comes after.” Now, they were baptized into the HS. (This is similar to Apollos who knew the Scriptures well but needed more info to help him be better.)
  • Acts 20:21 – the elders at Ephesus “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus.”
  • Acts 26:20 – before King Agrippa “first to those in Damascus, then Jerusalem, then Judea, then the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

Consider again the crowd that Peter was addressing, they were God-fearing Jews who worshiped and obeyed God already. They are presented as blameless in keeping the Law, so they didn’t really need to repent – they weren’t murderers, etc – but the one thing they needed to do was change their minds with regard to Jesus and enter a new relationship with him as Savior.

Do you have that relationship with Christ?

Have you repented from your sins? (There’s no real forgiveness without repentance – it’s not “cheap grace”).

We may have asked ONCE, got our “fire insurance” – but there must also be commitment to the Lord.

Paul “examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” We don’t need to be burdened with guilt, but this is an ongoing process of examination and repentance.

Let’s pray this prayer – if you’re not quite sure, you can join this prayer. It can help your heart.

Let’s pray.

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