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  • Mar 29 / 2020
  • Comments Off on The conclusion of the Faith chapter (Hebrews 12:1-4)
Hebrews: The Superiority of Christ, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The conclusion of the Faith chapter (Hebrews 12:1-4)

2020.03.29 Full Online service

Tithes and Offerings

Send to: NongHyup bank 351-0158-2802-13 Song Ki-Joong

Download Notes in a .MD file

The conclusion of Chapter 11: Faith

Hebrews 12:1-4 (Pastor Heo)

God Disciplines His Sons

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.


We finished chp 11’s study last time: the chapter of Faith. Through this study, we have seen heroes of faith in the OT. These are just a few, so the author says, “What more shall I say? I don’t have enough time to tell more.”

This first part of chp 12 is the conclusion of chp 11.

“Because..” we have seen faith, the demonstration and power of faith, … these 4 verses are actually the conclusion of chp 11.

In this conclusion, we can see a strong word: “Let us”

  1. Let us throw off
  2. Let us run
  3. Let us fix our eyes

This is not a suggestion, but a strong, absolute encouragement.

1. Altogether, we must do it together.

We must edify, minister, serve together because we are linked together as one body of Christ, we are affected and affecting each other. So, in verse 1, we can see the summary of the Christian life. What is it in this world?

v. 1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance [endurance, determination] the race marked out for us.”

We are like runners, athletes, marathon runners.

First, we have a purpose, a goal, a finishing line. We have a finishing line in our lives – a purpose, a goal, a final destination.

Yes, as Christians, we are travelers, foreigners, pilgrims, but we are not tourists. Our lives are leading somewhere. We must lead goal-driven, purpose-driven lives. What is the purpose of your lives? What is driving your life? What is the driving force?

We have purpose, a finishing line, but like runners, every athlete has his own running course and finishing line. But the running course / finishing line is just offered to them – they have no right to decide their own course or finishing line. This running course and finishing line was offered to them by the host of the race.

Like this we have a course and a finish line, but we have no right to choose our own course nor finish line – because we are not the hosts. Our maker, God, Creator, Father, is the host.

Romans 8:28 “God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.”

2. We have witnesses / inspiration

v. 1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,…”

This cloud of witnesses was introduced in the previous chapter, 11. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Joseph. Also, my father and mother are acting as witnesses for me / to me.

They are witnesses in a double sense – they witnesses about their confession to Christ, and are now witnessing to us, but not as spectators.

Martyr comes from the Greek word translated for “witness.” They are not merely observing us, but they are witnessing to us, and God is witnessing to us. From this truth, we can know that this is a hard time, but whatever sufferings we are going through, there are many witnesses and people of faith before us who suffered much more than us, but endured to the end and won the race. They are cheering us on: “I did it! So can you! Endure to the end!”

We do not struggle alone – we are not the first people who are experiencing suffering and difficulties, and we have witnesses.

3. We have handicaps / weaknesses

We are surrounded by the greatness of the past, but are also surrounded by our handicaps / weaknesses / hindrances.

v. 1

“…let us throw off [remove] everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,…”

We must know that yes, we are human, so we are surrounded by sin and temptation to sin as long as we stay in this world. But we must know that with sin, it is impossible to run and finish this race well.

What is sin that so easily entangles you or me? Disbelief, selfishness, dishonesty, greed, lust, envy, jealousy, self-indulgence? What is the sin holding us back from running this race? Whatever it is, it must be stripped off and left behind.

Jesus “If you eye / hand / foot causes you to sin, gouge it out because it is better for you to enter heaven with only one, than go to hell with both.”

This shows that we cannot finish this race without radical determination and fighting. We must fight continually – not only sin, but also hindrances – they must be removed.

What are hindrances? Maybe not sin, but if it hinders your running, it must be removed.

“…let us throw off every [weight]…”

For example: my necktie, nice? Yes, wearing a necktie and these clothes are not a sin, but if I participate in a running race, I must remove these things – I must change my clothes because these make me heavy, weighty, and slow, preventing me from running well in this race.

This about this sincerely. What is holding you back from this faith race? We must be very sincere and honest in this question.

4. We have means / method to endure

“…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

– endurance, perseverance

We know in a marathon, endurance, perseverance, stamina, energy are essential. Like this, in the Christian race, endurance is very essential. But we must know that biblical endurance is not merely sitting down and receiving things, rather it means refusing to give up without the loss of hope. Biblical perseverance = nothing can stop us from going our course until we reach our final destination and touch the final finishing line.

How is this possible? How can we do it in this world?

Today’s sermon is : the conclusion of chp 11. So, what is the conclusion of this message?

The conclusion: Jesus Christ

The answer to all the questions: Jesus Christ

v. 2-4

“2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who *for the joy* set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” [the point of death]

Remember in chp 11, there is one sentence I repeated almost every time? “by faith…” we are saved, justified, being sanctified, will be glorified, can please God, can overcome this world.

This was purposeful – to make something clear. We can see what is clear in this sentence: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Yes, faith helps us to be positive in our thinking, and optimistic in our perspective, strong in our self / mind control. But we must be clear that positive thinking itself is not faith, an optimisitic attitude is not faith.

Faith = believing in Christ as Savior and Lord – accepting and confessing him, committing my whole life to him as Savior and Lord.

Jesus is the source, the ground, the foundation, the reason, object, goal, of our faith, the author and perfecter of our faith.

This means, he is the founder, originator, pioneer, finisher of our faith. So, I said in the first sentence, in the Christian life we have 4 things – and the answer is found only in Christ.

  1. Goal / Purpose (Christ is our goal – if he is your Savior and Lord) – our worship, service, ministry, everything we are doing must be Christ-centric because he is the measure of all things
  2. Witness / inspiration (Jesus is the inspiration of all inspirations) – we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but Jesus must be the whole sky – the center of our sight.
  3. Handicaps / temptations (the only way to find freedom, cleansing, sanctification from all these things is Jesus – 1 John “the blood of Christ purifies us from all sins”)
  4. Means / endurance / patience (through the study of chp 11, we have seen how much they endured in their lives, but Jesus endured far more than any hero of faith in chp 11)

Jesus endured the cross. It means = shame, suffering, opposition, contradiction, the most terrible / horrible / painful / shameful death.

v. 4

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

None of us endured to the point of death – but he did. On the cross, he suffered for all the sins of all the people all over the world. Only Jesus is a perfect example for us to follow – a perfect example of patience and endurance.

1 Peter 2 “To this you were called, because Jesus suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow.”

He is an example and an enabler.

v. 3

“Consider him..” This is the greatest power – as long as we consider what he did and how he did it, there is nothing in this world we cannot endure. He is the greatest power in this world to overcome all things, temptations, challenges, hardships.

Why / how could he do that and for what?

v. 2

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who *for the joy* set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

This event happened 2000 years ago, but due to that joy, he is now rejoicing. We can know pain is short, but joy is long, eternal.

What joy was he expecting? He endured the cross expecting the joy set before him in advance. What was that joy? It enabled him to endure even the cross, even to the point of death.

We can see at least 3 kinds of joys he was expecting

  1. Joy of the reunion with his Father in heaven (his homecoming day)
  2. Joy of being crowned with honor and glory and making everything put under his feet (after resurrection “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me”)
  3. Joy of salvation of his believers (your salvation is Jesus’ joy – he endured for our salvation)

If Jesus did not endure the cross, then your and my salvation would be impossible. Due to his sacrifice on the cross, our salvation has become possible.

So, today, what is our joy?

Today Jesus invites us to share in his joy together. If we can see that joy set before us by faith in advance, then we can endure any situation and difficulty even joyfully.

God bless us that Jesus’ joy make be ours. Still his joy is available to us if we live by faith in Jesus Christ.

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 22 / 2020
  • Comments Off on By Faith let us stand firm to the end (Hebrews 11:35-40)
Hebrews: The Superiority of Christ, Pastor Heo, Sermons

By Faith let us stand firm to the end (Hebrews 11:35-40)

Watch full service on YouTube

Download Notes in a .MD file

Tithes and Offerings

Send to: NongHyup bank 351-0158-2802-13 Song Ki-Joong

By faith let us stand firm to the end

Hebrews 11:35-40 (Pastor Heo)

35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated– 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.


Let us trust God fully and wholly in this time. God bless his church in this time.

This is the last part of this great chapter on faith, but we will see the conclusion of this chapter next time in the first part of chp 12. Let’s open our Bibles and read together.


Faith, what is faith? Being sure of what we hope for – assurance, conviction, confidence in the unseen. By faith we are saved, justified, being sanctified, and one day we will be glorified. By faith we please God, give glory to God, overcome the world. Today, according to the text, let me share some characteristics of real faith.

Faith has the power of balance.

Faith is unconditional.

Relative faith is not faith. Conditional faith is not faith. What does it mean, “Faith has the power of balance”?

Last time: By faith, they experienced wonderful victory in war, marvelous deliverance and escape from lions and fury of fire, experienced the rising of the dead. This is the power of great faith.

Today, the story looks the opposite.

By the same faith, some experienced empowerment to persevere, endure in suffering to the end even to the point of death – without losing their hope of the better and eternal resurrection.

Faith provides empowerment.

To persevere and endure in suffering.

Something true can be proved as true. This can be proven as true only by enduring to the end.

If we have “true” faith in Christ, how can we prove it? We can reveal it as true only by remaining faithful to Christ to the end.

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

Something that is revealed, exposed as not true in the end was not true from the beginning.

So, steadfast faith in Christ does not guarantee a problemless life in this world. Actually true faith almost always guarantees some form of abuse in this world.

v. 36-37

“36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated–“

From the world’s view, they are miserable losers – terrible losers. From the temporary and material, they lost everything. But in God’s view, they are great winners and great victors. From the eternal values, they gained everything.

What is faith? The power to see something from God’s view, not from the world’s view – from an eternal value, not a temporary value.

Sometimes to endure and persevere takes more faith than to escape. If God is glorified by delivering his people, yes, he will do that – deliver them from suffering, from difficulties, from any hardships. God is almighty God.

But if it is better to suffer and persevere for some time even to the end (from his eternal perspective) then God will allow us to suffer. But he will provide us with power to endure and persevere.

So, do not conclude that the absence of immediate deliverance is a lack of love for his children.

Faith looks to the future – to eternity

For that is where the greatest rewards are found. Faith empowers us to turn from the approval of this world and seek the approval of God.

Some baby Christians may think that pain and suffering are an exception in the Christian life. So when this happens, they may ask, “Why me?” and they may feel that God deserted them – and is not as dependable as they thought.

But mature Christians ask, “Why NOT me?” If we expect pain or suffering, we will not be surprised when suffering comes.

John 16:33 “In this world, you will have troubles, but take heart: I have overcome the world.”

We can overcome the world, any kinds of suffering, pain, difficulty, hardship, by faith in Christ.

v. 38

“38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”

The world was not worthy of them…

This sentence is very short, but VERY powerful.

It means this world was not worthy of those who live by faith. The evaluation of this world and that of God are totally different.

Paul: a good illustration of this.

  • The world evaluated Paul: “You are out of your mind! You are insane! Not fit to live!”
  • God said, “You are my chosen vessel, my chosen instrument – for my purpose.”

This is very different. If you live by faith in Christ, God will be very proud to be called your father. If you live by faith in Christ, this world does not deserve to contain you as its own possession.

Example:

A container + a thing

If the container is so dirty, but the thing is so pure and clean and precious, then this container is not worthy of this thing.

Like this, the world is sinful and selfish and only material, temporary.

If we are really people of faith, it means we are fighting the good fight against sin and selfishness.

Yes, we are a body, but also spirit and made to live eternally with God in heaven. Thus, this world does not deserve to contain us as its own possession.

1 John 2:17 “This world and its desires and passions pass away, but the man who does the will of God [lives by faith] lives forever.”

Even though we live in this world, remember, the world is not worthy of us because we are living by faith in Christ.

v. 39-40

“39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

For several times we have studied this great chapter of faith. Do you remember the opening verse?

v 39 and v 2 are similar:

  • v 39 “These were all commended for their faith, “
  • v 2 “This is what the ancients were commended for.”

Those who persevered in suffering were commended for their faith. It means that God never forgets those who love him and serve him.

v 39 “yet none of them received what had been promised.”

This means: God had planned something better for you and me.

Hebrews is the book of better:

  • Better hope,
  • better sacrifice,
  • and so on.

God has planned “something better” – what is it? A new and better covenant, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

The faithful of OT times died before the Messiah appeared, so they entered heaven by faith – with the Promise unfulfilled. Only IN Jesus Christ (the new covenant), their salvation, our salvation, and the salvation of future believers – will be made perfect and complete.

One day, all the OT believers, NT believers, and future believers will share the promised blessing in Jesus Christ.

Faith is personal, individual, and private.

We know that faith is personal, individual, and private. I’m saved by MY faith – not my parents’. This means it is personal, individual and private. At the same time, faith involves the entire community of all believers. So how can we get connected? To the local church, through a small group, sharing with each other. To the Christian overseas, through the support of missions.

Also, all believers in Christ are connected vertically and horizontally – with one Savior, one Father, one hope.

Faith is also social.

Our salvation / faith is personal, but also social. It concerns the whole children and family of God.

As I mentioned, all believers are called a “family of God” with one hope, one Savior, one Father.

God is in control of everything. He is so faithful in keeping his word and fulfilling his promise. The Bible encourages us: “Do not be afraid, do not fear, do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus’ saying looks likes opposites.

  • He says, “In this world you will have trouble.”
  • and also, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

If we have faith, we can live without fear.

Q: Is Jesus really your Lord and Savior? If that is true, that is enough. Jesus encourages us and promises “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me shall never die.” Do you believe this?

Jesus challenges us in this.

Promise: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man, and God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted [to suffer] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor 10:13 – Jesus himself suffered for us, and is now sitting in heaven and interceding for us.

Hebrews “Because he suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

Romans 8:38 “In all things, [including what is happening all around us today], God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Amen

Let us stand firm to the end by faith. Let us love God and Christ more and more with our hearts, minds, souls, and strength because he is working for our good, for our benefit from an eternal perspective.

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 19 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Desire and Deception II (James 1:12-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Desire and Deception II (James 1:12-20)

10.19

10.19.2014-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Desire & Deception II

James 1:12-20 (Pastor Brian)

12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.


 

Pastor Brian’s voice today = his wife Pauline

In James 1, we see:

  1. Trials
  2. Temptations

Trials & Temptations GROW our faith

#1: Trials come from outward things.

  • We need to PERSEVERE because it develops CHARACTER. (Perseverance = Not quitting)
  • It makes us stronger in Christ, maturing us.

Long ago, the builders of ships looked for LONG trees to build masts. They went up to the hilltops to find trees that were already strong in storms, tall, strong, straight. (Therefore, they didn’t go down into the valleys.) God wants us to be like these trees – tall and strong through the storms of life.

Don’t be a tree that is uprooted easily – we need DEEP ROOTS in Christ.

James says, “Ask God for wisdom.”

We need an unshakeable faith that God will help us and answer us. He will give us a crown of life if we do this.

#2: Temptations

  • Has anyone ever NOT been tempted?
  • Are you tempted to call in sick to work? Speed (or run red lights) on the way to church?
  • It’s the “little things” that can trip us up.

Paul : “You once were adulterers, murderers, hard-core sinners… you’ve put that all behind you.”

When we become Christians, we quickly put away the “big” sins, but it’s the “little” sins (gossip, lying, cheating, etc) that trip us up.

In a Speech, when we say our words, they are GONE. But when we write them, they remain. Hopefully this is an accurate transcription of the sermon today.

“No temptation has seized you except what is COMMON to man…” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Ex: “If THAT guy didn’t do THAT thing, then I wouldn’t have done THAT OTHER thing.”

Also, no one can say that God tempts us. God doesn’t do that. But each of us is tempted when we follow our own lusts and wander off.

God makes a WAY to escape our temptations.

“And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but when you ARE tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can ‘stand up’ (resist) under it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

How to deal with these:

  1. Trials: be a BOXER – resist it, persevere
  2. Temptations: be a SPRINTER – run away

Ever heard “The devil made me do it?” Nah, I made me do it. I chose to do it.

Hunters and fishermen use bait to catch their kill. The experienced ones know EXACTLY the right bait to use to catch them easily and quickly. (Satan is the MOST experienced hunter.)

Story: My dad was a hunter, and so it wasn’t unusual to see bears hanging in the garage. When he wanted to get another animal, he’d put a part of the dead animal in a trap to catch the other. The living animal would come along and be unable to resist and easily be caught.

Satan KNOWS (how? not because he’s omniscient – he just has a LONG wealth of experience) what is the most attractive bait for each of us. He won’t tempt everyone with the same bait.

You know the fishhooks with a barb on the end? If you get caught with that, it’s HARD to get away – you may need to CUT it out (and that gets painful).

When we follow our desires, we are tempted, when tempted, we sin.

Choice:

  1. Give in
  2. Resist

Ex:

  1. Joseph – he was “the guy” in charge of everything for Potiphar, but his wife chased him around tempting him continually. But he knew he couldn’t give in. She cornered him but he RAN, leaving his coat — oops. Then she lied about it to her hubby who threw him in jail.
    1. Paul to Timothy: “Flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness.”
    2. Peter: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
  2. David (yes, THAT David)
    1. One summer, sigh, “I’ll just take a vacation this summer. You guys go off to war, I’ll chill in the palace.” He wandered up to the rooftop and saw a beautiful woman (Bathsheba) bathing on the roof below – and he fell into sin with her.

Differences:

  • Joseph: servant, poor, woman in pursuit
  • David: king, rich, loads of wives already

They both had a CHOICE. Position doesn’t matter. Income doesn’t matter. Who we want to sin with doesn’t matter. So, then WHAT matters? THE HEART.

Get in the Word of God to put the Word of God in your Heart in order to resist the temptations that come our way.

James say, “When sin is accomplished…”

(i.e. we embrace it – habitually – it’s a “lifestyle choice” – a pattern)

  • Do you think drug addicts think, “Hmm, what do I wanna be when I grow up? I know! A drug addict would be great!” No way. It just takes one step, and another, and soon you lose track of yourself down the path that steers you away.
  • Gambling also is a problem like this – it’s a big bait for some people.
  • Also alcohol, promiscuity, etc, etc.

Would these people have CHOSEN these lifestyles if they’d KNOWN beforehand the consequences of their step-by-step choices that eventually led them to this life? No.

Unrepentant sin = DEATH

It will kill you physically and spiritually. Sin has consequences. “The consequences of sin is death.” Romans 3:23?

1 John “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

I dunno what your week has been like, but ask Jesus to FILL you. Get in the Word. FLEE youthful lusts.

If you have anything in your heart that you’ve been holding close, protecting, guarding, keeping secret – give it to Jesus. Let it go. Then, throughout the week, get in the Word and pray and CONTINUALLY give this to Christ. It’s not easy, nor a one-time deal in many cases.

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 05 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Desire and Deception (James 1:12-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Desire and Deception (James 1:12-20)

10.05

10.05.2014-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Desire and Deception

James 1:12-20 (Pastor Brian)

12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.


 

James was the half-brother of Jesus, BUT considers himself a “bond servant” of Christ. He doesn’t boast in his relationship with Jesus except as a servant. He’s writing here to the 12 tribes scattered abroad (Jews, mostly) – in the “diaspora” – the spreading of the Jews into different parts of the world.

He is giving very practical advice and counsel. He is concerned about them living out their faith and being fruitful in ministry and life. He knows that they will have trials and suffering. James 1:2? “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds…”

Perseverance = going on to the end.

“The testing of your faith develops perseverance” Testing = making stronger, NOT trying to break. For example, steel: must be tested to strengthen it.

This is the kind of “testing” that God used to test Abraham. “Go up this mountain and sacrifice your son Isaac to me” (he was over 100 years old, this was his only son, through this son the Promise was to be fulfilled) – so why do it? The testing of his faith showed his heart to God – he knew that God would STILL fulfill that Promise to him – even if he had to raise Isaac from the dead again (which, in a sense, he did – because in his mind, Isaac was already dead).

Eagles also go through “testing”. When eaglets are “of age”the mother starts tearing up the nest and THROWS the eaglet out. The eagle struggles to fly, and finds that HE CAN! He didn’t know that before. But what would happen if he couldn’t fly? The mother swoops under the baby to catch it if it can’t really fly. Then, they will repeat the “test” again later.

The Queen of Sheba came to Solomon to “test” him with many questions. She came away convinced that all she heard about him was true.

God didn’t rid the land (the Promised Land) of its enemies before sending the Israelites there. He sent them to LEARN, to fail and then later succeed.

You start with the basics in school and build upon that.

Count these “tests” as fully joy – and allow perseverance to have its full work in you so that you may be complete and mature (not perfect).

Phil 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will complete it…”

What of these trials we face?

They are difficult. Trying. James says, “Ask God for WISDOM without ‘casting in your teeth’ (without reproach).” God doesn’t give a gift spitefully, nor to manipulate. He GIVES because he LOVES.

In the trial, ask “What can I learn from THIS experience?”

Maybe “try again” go around again, fail, fail, fail, succeed. God is looking for our reactions in these kinds of circumstances.

Now, this wisdom that James mentions is not some kind of abstract, philosophical, heady, theoretical wisdom – it’s practical LIFE wisdom.

“This is what you are to do to profit and grow in your trials and lives – ask in FAITH, remember how God has been faithful to his promises in the past, and trust that he will remain true to them in the future.” Doubt your doubts, and believe your beliefs.

Charles Spurgeon : “Faith comes…”

Romans “Faith comes from hearing…” (the whole verse) – but Spurgeon emphasizes “faith COMES” – if you don’t have it now, meditate (mutter), read, memorize, pray, proclaim God’s Word.

The Muslims proclaim their Quran multiple times per day – how much more should we also proclaim the Word of God!

We must hide his Word in our hearts, treasure it, and proclaim it.

What should we ask for? Not what you might think.

v. 9 “The humble man ought to take pride in his high situation – rejoice!” “But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position.”- He will pass away like the flowers. Imagine the fresh spouts in spring, scorched by the heat of summer.

Likewise, anyone’s life may be extinguished in an instant – you never know. Jesus also told this kind of story: “There was a rich man with an overflowing harvest. He decided to rip down his barns and build new ones to house it all. He would eat, drink, and be merry. Yet, his life was demanded of him that night.”

King Solomon (very rich) said in Ecclesiastes: “I hated all that I had and accumulated because I knew that I would not be able to enjoy it – but the one who came after me would get it.” Even Solomon fell from his high position at the end of his life when he turned from God.

In addition to maturity and perseverance, God wants to APPROVE of us.

There is a very detailed process for a politician to become a Cabinet member – they want to be sure there are no “skeletons in the closet” that would shame the government or create a scandal. However, where humans are concerned, things are often overlooked. But where God is concerned, things are NOT overlooked.

The Crown of Life: v. 12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under temptation….”

  • 1 Thessalonians “What is our joy, our crown, in Jesus? Is it not you – indeed, you are our crown of joy.” (The Crown of Joy – those who lead people to Christ and disciple them)
  • 2 Timothy 4:8 (The Crown of Righteousness) – given to the Christians who expected the Lord to come back and lived with that “Now there is in store for me the Crown of Righteousness…to all who loved his appearing.” (Looking forward to his return?)
  • Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) – given to those who shepherd the church and are responsible for the flock “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory, which will never fade away.”
  • James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because when he has stood test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to him.”

Temptation:

  1. God allows some kind
  2. Some comes from within (our sinful nature)

Temptation is common in life (speed, lie, call in sick, cheat, steal, etc, etc) – everywhere we turn, we face it.

The Jews had reference to the 2 natures of man: good nature, evil nature. Paul also knew this “When I want to do good, there is evil there will me, fighting against the good I want to do… Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Christ is in him, giving him the victory.

Illustration of temptation:

  • Temptation comes – a begrudging thought. We play around with it a little bit – then go back.
  • We get a lustful thought – start doing it. “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this” and go back.

Don’t let temptation go across the threshold of your mind. – Oswald Chambers

Let’s go into that more next week. Now, let’s prepare our hearts for the Lord’s supper.

What have we done throughout the week that is displeasing to the Lord? Confess those – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Lord, forgive us our sins, and purify our hearts. In Jesus name.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 17 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Start Well, Finish Well (Philippians 3)
Pastor Brian, Philippians: A Study in Contentment, Sermons

Start Well, Finish Well (Philippians 3)

08.17

08.17.2014-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Start Well – Finish Well

Philippians 3:1-21 (Pastor Brian)

Philippians = The Letter of Joy. “Joy” or “rejoice” = 25 times throughout this letter.

Even though Paul was chained up, he had the ability to say, “Rejoice in the Lord always” because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.

Paul, religious, encourages believers to continue to trust in the Lord. In the congregation = Lydia (high-end fabrics business, gave hospitality to Paul and his group), the slave girl (who’d followed Paul around, telling fortunes with the spirit in her – we don’t actually know what happened to her, but she may have been there).

The consequences of Paul’s actions = in prison. He rejoiced in that prison – he and his fellow servant were singing at midnight, the Lord sent an earthquake to release them, the jailor almost committed suicide, but Paul said, “Don’t!” and converted him to faith in Christ – he and his entire household. This jailor may also have been a member of the congregation in Philippi. He’d originally gone in response to a vision he’d received from the Lord.

He’s on good and friendly terms with this congregation – though not rich, they’d helped him on numerous occasions.


 

No Confidence in the Flesh

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh– 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. 7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Pressing on Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.


 

Paul is writing to the believers in Philippi to encourage and exhort them to consider one another’s needs ahead of their own.

He comments on the foundation (beginning) of their faith, and exhorts them to finish well (press on for the goal).

Salvation is not IN works, but he encourages them now TO work – do not be lazy in your salvation. God works IN us, we work OUT our salvation. God works, we cooperate.

Here, in the middle of the letter, here’s the transition: “Finally, my brothers…” (lots more)

“Finally, rejoice in the Lord.” = true joy is found in the Lord Jesus alone.

“It’s no trouble for me to write this to you again, and it’s to safeguard you.” = He’s written before, he’s a good teacher, he knows the value of repetition. (Keep repeating something until you get it.)

Peter also says the same thing in one of his letters, “You know this, but you need to be reminded of the truth constantly because our memories are short.”

Paul warns of the false teachers – like those in Galatia – trying to get the Gentiles to be circumcised in order to be saved. In Galatia, this was a very serious problem. In Philippi, it was just a threat, not yet serious – but enough to be warned and prepared.

v. 2 “Watch out for those DOGS…”

He’s throwing back onto the Judaizers that which they call Gentiles (they called the Gentiles “dogs”). The Judaizers considered them dirty and unworthy. So, Paul is turning that “compliment” back on those who first assigned it.

The OT (Old Testament) covenant was a foreshadowing of the NT (New Testament) covenant in Christ. Now, why would anyone return to a shadow when the substance of the thing has arrived?

Jesus also talked of this with a Gentile woman. “Lord, even dogs eat from the Master’s table – give us the crumbs.” And Jesus healed her daughter.

In Revelation, there is also mention of “dogs” as Gentiles.

Paul says the Judaizers are practicers of evil.

  • Perri Temne – cut off
  • Katta Temne – mutilate

Paul says, “These (circumcisers) aren’t really ones who ‘cut off’ – they rather mutilate!”

For Jews circumcising Gentiles – this doesn’t matter. What matters is a New Creation. “A man is a Jew, if he is one inwardly. And circumcision is circumcision of the heart.”

For Abraham and his household, this was an outward act, but should have had an inward meaning and attitude. The INNER is what counts more to the Lord than the OUTER.

“If salvation was based on genetics, I’d be the best.” he says. But, even though he has such confidence, he trusts in Christ alone. “Of all the Pharisees, I was the chief in my zeal for the Lord.”

He lists his qualifications as a Jew:

  1. Circumcised on the 8th day
  2. Born into the faith
  3. From the people of Israel (Jacob)
    1. (Ishmaelites and Edomites weren’t “technically” Israelites. Only a TRUE Israelite could trace their lineage back all the way to Jacob.)
  4. From the tribe of Benjamin
    1. (The only son of the patriarchs who’d been born in the Promised Land. From the tribe of Benjamin, came the first Israelite ruler – Saul. The battle cry of the Israelites was “After thee! Benjamin!” They were the warriors as well. The person responsible for the salvation of the Jews (Mordecai – in Esther) was a Benjaminite.)
  5. A Hebrew of Hebrews
    1. (Both mom and dad were Hebrews and he spoke Hebrew. Sometimes, the Jews who were scattered around the earth lost their language – even though they kept their traditions – but a “true” Hebrew would take pains to maintain their language.)
  6. A Pharisee
    1. (Special, elite, religious, law-makers, law-adders, law-adherers. Called the “separated ones” because they were so zealous for God they were separated.)
  7. So zealous I persecuted the church
    1. (He persecuted what he thought was a cult.)
  8. Legalistic righteousness? Perfect
    1. (Crossed all his t’s, dotted all his i’s)

BUT, ALL this is worthless. I consider it as loss. They are spiritually valueless – they can’t bring me closer to God. In fact, EVERYTHING is a loss compared to knowing Christ – for whom I’ve lost ALL things. This “knowing” is intimate, the same kind of word is used for a husband and wife in marriage. This isn’t just about “knowing ABOUT” but “knowing deeply and BEING known” by Christ.

Paul is still a Jew, but his genetics and traditions cannot save him. “They are all rubbish.” In and of themselves, they are not bad, but in order to save him? Worthless. “I’ve got no righteousness of my own through the Law, but only in Christ – through that he bestowed upon me.”

This is the RIGHT PLACE to start.

But Paul’s goal is to know the power of the resurrection, to become like Christ in death, and to know the resurrection. “Now, I only know in part, but soon, I’ll meet Christ and know in full.”

The world is not friendly to Christ and Christianity. Satan is a fallen angel who’s caused much trouble and still does. This environment will produce much trouble for us. “Nevertheless, rejoice in the Lord.”

“Brothers, I don’t consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and pressing on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

“I strive to press on for the prize” (though I know I already have it) – “and I want you to do the same. All of us, who are mature, ought to take such a view of these things.” The immature sometimes claim victory prematurely – too early.

As you mature in Christ, you’ll learn to think this way as well.

  1. The FIRST day isn’t the most important day.
  2. The LAST day IS the most important day.

Consider kings (Solomon) in the Bible. Consider your own life, your marriage, family, career, church. The FIRST day isn’t the most important. The LAST day is the most important. How will you end it?

The founding pastor of Antioch church (though retired) continues to “press on” and preach in other places and bless others. How will you live your last days?

God will keep us in his power until our last days.

START WELL – give your life to Jesus. The Lord will give you sustaining power to go through to the end. – FINISH WELL.

Pauline’s father is a good example of one who’s served the Lord with gladness and been faithful from his early years, into his 80s.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 17 / 2013
  • Comments Off on Conflict in the Council (Acts 23:1-22)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Conflict in the Council (Acts 23:1-22)

03.17

03.17.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

(After computer crash…)

In Judaism, there were three main sects of Jews.

The Saducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. (So, they were “Sad, you see.” – Sad-u-cee)

Paul was on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.

The Pharisees DID believe in the general resurrection of the dead. They believed that the virtuous ones would be able to rise and live again.

So, Paul decides to divide and conquer – now the two parties will fight with each other. (Pharisees think – ah, he understands us. Saducees think – what a loser)

This is one of the only times he refers to himself as a Pharisee (also in chapter 26:5). We might think it strange that Paul would still consider himself a Pharisee.

But, he didn’t see anything wrong with it, he even boasted in his background to the church (1 Cor 11:21-22) “What anyone else does to boast, I’m speaking as a fool, I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? Me too. Israelites, Abraham’s descendants? Me too.”

But as far as salvation is concerned he saw no value in his Pharisee background (Phil 4) – “we put no confidence in the flesh [human attainments]. If anyone thinks he can be confident of his accomplishments, I’m waaaaaaay better than that dude. I’ve dotted every i and crossed every T. Yet, whatever WAS good for me, is a loss – everything of value is a loss compared to knowing Christ – I have lost all things and consider all things rubbish so that I might be in Christ. Not having my own righteousness, but having that of Christ’s through faith.”

Self-righteousness leads to pride.

When we realize that WE can’t DO anything to get holy, it messes with our pride and makes us get humble.

Paul’s appeal to the resurrection was more than just a general hope in the resurrection (prophesied in Daniel). But, the religious leaders didn’t believe it would come from Jesus – yet Jesus had said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John). And this is the entire focus of Peter and Paul’s ministry throughout the book of Acts.

Many Jews had gone to Jerusalem for Pentecost. When the miracle of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit happened, they heard the praises and preaching of God and Jesus’ resurrection in their own tongues. Some people had thought them drunk – they “technically” were “drunk” as fulfilled by the prophesy of Joel (In the last days, I’ll pour out my spirit on all people) – but they weren’t drunk with wine.

Paul went on “Jesus was handed over to you by wicked men, and you conspired and nailed him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead – since the wages of sin are death, death couldn’t hold him.”

“King David prophesied – he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ – he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has poured out what you now see and here (the Holy Spirit).”

This was Peter’s message in Acts 2.

It was also Paul’s message when he went to Antioch.

“Though they found no good reason for death, they asked to have him executed, and when they had done all that was written about him, they took him down and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead and for many days, he appeared to many people – they are now His witnesses.”

So, for Paul, Christ and the resurrection is the basis for HOPE. (1 Cor 15 – the Resurrection chapter).

1 Cor 15

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you have received and on which you have taken your stand.”

Paul always made clear what the gospel was. There’s a need to confess, repent, be baptized, follow the Lord.

“2 By this gospel, you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you, otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

Paul emphasizes the need for perseverance, continuance.

“3 For what I received, I passed on to you as of FIRST IMPORTANCE: that Christ died for our sins – according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day – according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and the disciples.”

The basis for hope and the faith is Jesus and the resurrection.

Here, in the council, he didn’t preach Christ – but just spoke of the resurrection. Now, there is a violent conflict in the council – so Paul had to be rescued from them.

Luke 20:27-40

This shows the mentality of the Saducees – they constantly wanted to trap Jesus in his speech. For example, “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?” Jesus said, “Show me your coin – that’s Caesar’s face – so give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”

Here the Saducees say, “A man was married to a woman, and he had 7 brothers. The first died, the second married her – as is the law. He died, with no kids. Eventually, the got through the entire 7 brothers, with no kids. Now, in the resurrection, which brother gets the wife?” Jesus said, “You have no idea. NOW, we get married. But, in the resurrection, there will be no marriage – we’ll be like the angels. Besides that, when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, he said “I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” – he spoke of them as though they were alive.” So, God is the God of the LIVING.

The Saducees were wrong about the resurrection – there IS. Those who have received Jesus have the HOPE of the resurrection and WILL be raised again.

This is something we need to continue in – even if we sin, God is faithful to forgive us our sins IF we confess and repent.

Isaiah talks about backsliding – the quicker we come to the Lord, the quicker we can be restored to fellowship with him.

Isaiah 44:22 “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud and your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have paid the price for your freedom. Return to me, for I have paid for your salvation.”

Hallelujah.

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