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  • May 07 / 2017
  • Comments Off on Justification Illustrated by Abraham’s Experience (Part 1) – Romans 4:1-25
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

Justification Illustrated by Abraham’s Experience (Part 1) – Romans 4:1-25

Download Notes in a .MD file

Justification Illustrated by Abraham’s Experience (Part 1)

Romans 4:1-25 (Pastor Heo)

Abraham Justified by Faith

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” 9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. 13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


Last Sunday, we made “justification” clear (i.e. how to have a right relationship with God). In the second half of chp 3: It is only by:

  1. The grace of God (the root)
  2. The blood of Christ (the power of the death and resurrection – the foundation, ground)
  3. Faith (condition – not method – for justification)

In chp 4, this is Abraham’s story. Why? What relationship do we have with Abraham in this matter of justification? At least there are more than 6x repeated “Abraham is our father.”

  • v. 1 “…Abraham, our forefather…”
  • v. 11 “…he, Abraham, is the father of all…”
  • v. 12 “…he, Abraham, is also the father of the circumcised…”
  • v. 16 “…he, Abraham, is the father of us all…”
  • v. 17 “…he, Abraham, is our father in the sight of God…”
  • v. 18 “…against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and became the father of many nations…”

Abraham is the “father of the faith.”

What does this mean when we call Abraham “our father”?

If you are Christian, you have 4 fathers:

  1. Physical (biological) father
  2. Father God (our Creator)
  3. Adam (the first man)
  4. Abraham (father of the faith)

The fact that Abraham is our father means at least 2 things (let’s focus on one):

#1: Abram (Abraham) was an example, chosen by God, and shown in history HOW to have a right relationship with God.

Abraham’s story of how he was justified is the SAME as our own experience to be justified. Every single, individual person can be justified by the same God, the same grace, power, and faith.

Abraham = “the father of faith” = he was justified in the same way we are justified today.

#2: Abraham is the promise, the covenant, of how this is being fulfilled today.

In chp 4, HOW was Abraham justified? His story is the same as ours.

  1. Negatively: by what he was NOT justified (today)
  2. Positively: by what he WAS justified (next week – very important to attend)

Four things that DID NOT justify Abraham

#1: Not by his good works / character

v. 1-2 “1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.”

Yes, Abraham was not perfect before God. He told many lies about his wife (“she’s my sister”). What would you think? He said that many times before kings (in fear of losing his physical life by pagan labors). “Wherever we go, tell them ‘this is my brother'”.

  • Abraham’s character is NOT perfect (don’t idolize him).
  • Abraham’s justification has NOTHING to do with his justification.

#2: Not by circumcision

v. 9-10 “9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!”

Abraham was circumcised at the age of 99. The Jews (at that time) gloried in circumcision because they thought it was the method of justification (they thought it was one way to have a right relationship with God). In fact, they looked down on Gentiles as “dogs” who were not circumcised.

Actually, Abraham was justified 14 years earlier in Genesis 15. So, actually, from a Jewish point of view, Abraham was a Gentile by the time he was justified.

Actually,

  • In Genesis 12 (24 years before circumcision), God called him to bless all nations.
  • In Genesis 15 (14 years before circumcision), he was declared righteous because he believed God.
  • In Genesis 17, he was circumcised.

#3: Not by observing the Law

v. 13-15 “13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”

It is clear that Abraham was not justified by observing the Law. Abraham was the man of Genesis – but the Law was given through Moses (Exodus). This was much later.

At the time of Abraham’s justification, there WAS no Law.

#4: Not by his own power

v. 19-20 “19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,”

Abraham has an only son (Isaac). Spiritually, this was the son of the Promise, the covenant, through whom all nations will be blessed. The spiritual truth of this is – HOW Abraham received this promise is a symbol of how he was justified by God.

The method by which Abraham received his Promised Son is symbolic of how he was justified by God.

He received this son at the age of 100. Wow! His wife was 90. Double wow!

This is IMPOSSIBLE!~

What does this mean? This is a symbol of spiritual truth. He was NEVER justified by his own power. He was totally powerless, helpless, when God started to operate his power in their bodies.

How was he NOT justified?

  1. Not by character
  2. Not by circumcision
  3. Not by keeping the Law
  4. Not by his own Power

Also, we are the same. Can you say “my character justifies me”? Not by communion, baptism, circumcision. Not by keeping the Law. Not by our own strength.

So then, HOW WAS Abraham justified? Next week….

Let’s pray.

  • May 01 / 2017
  • Comments Off on How Can I have a Righteous Relationship with God? (Romans 3:20-31)
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

How Can I have a Righteous Relationship with God? (Romans 3:20-31)

Download notes in a .MD file

How can I have a Righteous Relationship with God?

Romans 3:21-30 (Pastor Heo)

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.


I recommend you read and reread today’s passage more than 100 times.

  • In Romans, chp 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”
  • Chp 3:19 “All mouths will shut before God for no one understands nor seeks God. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

After a LOOOOOONG journey about our sinfulness, wickedness, total depravity, now, today, finally, we see WONDERFUL news about how to be declared “not guilty” by trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior – to forgive our sins, empower us to live the lives God wants us to live. This solution is available to ALL of us regardless of our background or past behaviors.

v. 21 “But now!”

This is a signal of HOPE. A big turning point.

The theme of Romans is the Righteousness of God. (or from God)

In today’s passage, can you see how many times this keyword is repeated? (x10 in 12 verses)

  • v. 20 “righteous”
  • v. 21 “righteousness”
  • v. 22 “righteousness”
  • v. 24 “justified”
  • v. 25 “justice”
  • v. 26 “justice, just, justified”
  • v. 28 “justified”
  • v. 30 “justified”

As we know, in the sermon of sermons of Jesus (Beatitudes) – Jesus mentions this word also several times (Matthew 5-7)

  • “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled” –
  • “Blessed are those that are persecuted for righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” –
  • “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” –
  • “so seek **first** his Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

There are 2 types of Righteousness of God

  1. Attributed righteousness of God
  2. Declarative righteousness of God

Attributed righteousness = his ABSOLUTE unconditional righteousness = He is the FINAL standard of what is “right” – so whatever he does is “right” – this is applied in his dealing with all Creation. (Ex: punishing the wicked, forgiving the penitent, fulfilling his Promise given to his children, his governing/ruling all Creation)

Declarative Righteousness = as righteous judge, supreme judge, his judgment on a person (“you are not guilty”, “you are innocent”) – this is his declarative righteousness to us

Whether Attributed or Declarative, this righteousness is revealed on the cross.

Today’s definition involves both meanings. Today’s topic gives an answer to this question: How can we be justified? (declared righteous, receive righteousness)

This is the Act of God where God declares a sinner “you are righteous” – this is not from the works IN us, but something declared OF us.

As I mentioned, regardless of who you are, your background, past behaviors, TODAY we can be justified, declared righteous, have a right relationship with God, receive righteousness from God. HOW?

#1 Negatively: We CANNOT be justified by our actions, the works of the Law

  • v. 20 “Therefore, no one (including me) will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the Law.”
  • v. 24 “But now a righteousness from God apart from the Law”
  • v. 27 “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. On that of observing the Law? No.”
  • v. 28 “For we maintain that a man is justified apart from observing the Law.”

This is repeated 4 times.

NO ONE can have a righteous relationship with God by your works, effort, power.

There are 3 Positive Points.

#1 Positive: We CAN be justified only by God’s grace

“Only by grace” do not forget.

If you are a real Christian, we must say all the time, “It is only by the grace of God that I am what I am today.”

  • v. 24 “and are justified freely by His grace”

Justification = ONLY by the grace of God

It originates in the heart of God – realizing not only our lack of righteousness and our powerlessness to attain it, God decided to provide a righteousness FOR us. It was by his own grace and thoughts that he provided this for us. He is under no obligation to give us grace.

Obligation is not grace.

That’s why “grace” is called “grace” – because it is “gracious” – not under obligation.

God has his attributes (who he is) and characteristics (how he relates to his Creation). “God is love” – and when he acts in His love and mercy, it becomes grace.

  • He does not give what we deserve to receive. (mercy)
  • He gives what we do not deserve to receive. (grace)
  1. Mercy = no wrath, no punishment for our sins, no hell
  2. Grace = life, eternal life, righteousness, forgiveness of sins

“It is only by the grace of God that I am who I am, I am what I am.”

#2 Positive: It is by the blood of Christ

Blood means not only “death” but also “resurrection”. Blood is symbolic of not only death, but also life.

  • v. 24 “redemption” – “and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption”
  • v. 25 “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement” (propitiation = atoning sacrifice)
  1. Redemption
  2. Sacrifice of atonement (propitiation)
  3. Blood
  • Q: “How much did you PAY to receive this salvation / justification?”
  • A: Nothing.

It is FREE, but not CHEAP.

Why FREE? It is TOO EXPENSIVE to receive. We can never pay the full price of justification. It is literally price-less.

These three words:

  1. Redemption
  2. Propitiation
  3. Blood

shows the price that God has paid.

  • Propitiation = appeasing someone who is angry by giving a gift. (We may appease a crying baby with candy – but this is not the same as the biblical term – propitiation satisfies God’s wrath.)
  • Blood = Jesus had to die on the cross in order to satisfy the righteous demand of God and rescue the sinner

Leviticus 16 : this is a symbol / type / shadow of this (The Day of Atonement)

This was one of the biggest national festival days in Israel. There were two goats presented at the altar.

  1. 1. Chosen by lot to be sacrificed as a sin offering. It was killed and its blood was taken into the Most Holy place and sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant and covered the two tablets – this meant that the blood (temporarily) satisfied the righteous demand of God.
  2. 2. The second goat – the priest placed his hands on the goat and confessed the sins of the WHOLE people. Then, the goat was sent out into the desert – symbolically carrying AWAY the sins of the people.

“As far as the east is from the west, so God has removed our sins from us.”

Actually, the blood of animals cannot TAKE AWAY the sins of the people, but it TEMPORARILY covered the sins of the people – until the Day when Jesus Christ came into the world and took away the sin of the world – perfectly, completely, eternally – once for all – and purchased FINISHED salvation. This is a miracle.

  • v. 25 “God presented Him as the propitiation for our sins because in his forbearance (long patience), he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished (the OT sins).”

God “passed over” or overlooked the sins of the Old Testament time until Jesus came in the flesh to finish the task. That’s why Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished.”

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, there is redemption (the purchase of the sinner and setting him free).

We have nothing to do for our justification because we have no power and Jesus has already done ALL things necessary for our salvation and justification. So, we can say, “The blood of Jesus and his death and resurrection is the foundation for our justification.” This means, the blood of Jesus is the foundation for ALL blessings we enjoy in this world and the world to come.

Are you enjoying some blessing? Any kind of blessing = the basis for this foundation of blessing is the blood of Jesus Christ.

#3: Positive: Justification is by faith

We can see this repeated x9

  • v. 22 “this righteousness comes through *faith* in Jesus Christ to all who *believe*”
  • v. 25 “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through *faith*”
  • v. 26 “those who have *faith*”
  • v. 27 “No, but on that of *faith*”
  • v. 28 “a man is justified by *faith*”
  • v. 30 “since there is only one God who will justify the circumcised by *faith* and the uncircumcised through that same *faith*”
  • v. 31 “do we nullify the word by *faith*? No.”
  1. Romans 5:1 “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God”
  2. Romans 10:10 “it is with your heart you believe and are justified”
  3. Gal 2:16 “Know that a man is justified only by faith in Jesus Christ, not by observing the Law…”

Remember: Faith is only a condition of justification – it is not a meritorious (merit) ground for justification.

  • Faith is not the PRICE for justification.
  • Faith is the METHOD for justification.

“It is by grace you have been saved, not of yourselves, but a gift of God, so that no one can boast.”

  • Faith is only RECEIVING. This does not mean we understand everything Jesus has done, but it means we BELIEVE Jesus has done everything necessary.
  • Faith also removes the pride of human action.
  • Faith is not something we DO.
  • Faith extols what Jesus has done for us, not what we have done.
  • Faith admits we need God’s help.
  • Faith in Christ is based on our relationship with God, not on our performance nor achievements.

v. 29-30 “Is God the God of Jews only? … of Gentiles too! Since there is only one God” (Deut 6:4) “Hear O Israel, your God is only one God, so love him with all your heart, soul, strength.” (This is Trinity monotheism) – if you believe in two Gods, this means you don’t believe in God.

There is no difference in the matter of condemnation, salvation, justification – because there is only ONE God – a universal, global God, the Creator of all things.

“God is a missionary God.”

If this is true, it means we also have a mission.

Last verse: “we uphold the Law by faith”

I need some time to explain the meaning of this sentence, so I will explain more next time.

May God bless all of us with this wonderful justification. How can we be declared righteous and justified? How can we have a righteous, right relationship with God? How can we receive the righteousness by God?

  1. By God’s grace
  2. By the blood of Christ
  3. Through faith

“Not FOR faith, but by/through faith.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 11 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Whence Our Wisdom? (James 3:13-4:10)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Whence Our Wisdom? (James 3:13-4:10)

01.11

01.11.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Whence our Wisdom?

James 3:13-4:10 (Pastor Brian)

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition,there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.


 

— No recording – cable is broken today —


 

Christians are not to expect rosy, perfect lives, we are to expect conflicts that Jesus and others told us to expect – but THROUGH them, our faith grows, and BY it, we overcome the world.

We trust Christ and he blesses our obedience.

James talks about the trials and how our faith is strengthened through the trials. He speaks of the rich man and poor man (the rich in faith). In fact, usually it’s the rich who oppress and persecute and sue.

Don’t set your goals on this world, but on heavenly riches.

Some Bible versions have the same word for trials and temptations.

But, temptations come from WITHIN, trials come from WITHOUT.

We have been given new hearts, new spirits, but we still need to deal with the flesh. But still, 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus said, “From within, from the heart comes greed, lust, murder, robbery, etc.”

God’s gifts are given generously to us if we ask for wisdom – God grants wisdom generously, lavishly, without reproach (without finding fault).

I struggle with condemnation, judgment, self condemnation and self judgment. “The Accuser” (Satan) of the brethren accuses us and pushes these things to the forefronts of our minds. But the Lord gives us grace and advocates (speaks for) us against the enemy.

“If Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

Listen to my Advocate – Jesus, he says, “NOT GUILTY” – he gives without finding fault. He’s not ignorant of our failings and sins, but he still provides the means by which we can be forgiven. God gives lavishly – we must be open to receive from him and we must have faith to receive that which we ask for (wisdom).

James reminds us of the holiness of God and his word – 1/2 Timothy 4:21? “The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword…”

Where’s the GOOD seat? Do you say to someone “Hey sit over here by my feet”? God wants us to treat others equally and fairly – but we need the spirit of God and his sensitivity to do that.

Faith vs. Works.

  • We are SAVED by faith.
  • Evidence OF our salvation must be visible by works.
  • We are not saved by works – by the things we do. John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him  shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
  • We may HEAR the Word of God.
  • We may FEEL the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
  • But we still have the CHOICE to accept or reject that salvation offered freely by God.
  • Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, THE Life.

OK, so you’ve accepted his salvation by faith. Now what?

Look at your testimony, and give it! “I’m not the man I once was. I don’t do the things I once did. Yes, I still fall, but there is ONGOING IMPROVEMENT – I am DAILY being renewed and remade in the likeness of Jesus, my Savior.”

Now, on to works. “Do SUCH good works that other men praise God because of you.” (Even in your workplace, home, community, society, etc)

Then, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers” because you will be judged more harshly.

Ex: “God says in his Word ‘You shall PROSPER!’” So how can we not believe it??” (Actually that verse says, “So that your SOUL shall prosper.” Get the soul prospering first before pursuing fleshly, worldly things.

Some of the things that James speaks of here (probably MOST of these things) were actually going on in the church at that time. There were people who dreamed of riches without God’s will, there were those who dreamed of being teachers, there were envious people, bad tongues, etc.

Bad tongues.

“All creatures of the air, land, and sea can be tamed and have been tamed by man, but no one can tame the tongue. Consider what a large forest may be set ablaze by a small spark. The tongue also is a spark and may set the whole world on fire and poison those who hear it – when we are critical and complaining.”

Remember this: “Cast all your cares on the Lord because he cares for you.” (Read Psalms for some great care-casting).

Whence is our Wisdom? From where does our wisdom come?

What do you think of when you hear “wisdom”? A gnarled old professor? Well, he MAY be wise, but merely HAVING Knowledge (in your head) is not wisdom. The APPLICATION of that Knowledge is wisdom.

There are three kinds of Wisdom:

  1. Godly
  2. Worldly
  3. Demonic

Some people BOAST of their wisdom. They want people to NOTICE just how wise they are. But if they don’t have “the fear of the Lord”, they don’t have true wisdom.

Proverbs: “For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

What is this fear?

Being in AWE of God. We want to preserve his presence.

Some people are “wise” in a way, but it’s not godly wisdom:

  1. Earthly wisdom = knowledge used to your own advances. If you rip me off, I’ll sue the pants off of you. I’ll blackmail/take advantage of you. Spam you, Phish you, bully you, etc.
  2. Soul wisdom = intuition, feelings, etc.
  3. Demonic wisdom = deception

People are constantly looking for the truth in various religions and ways of life – all the while IGNORING THE Truth.

Here’s a testimony I’d like to share with you. This man goes out every week to Manchester and hands out these testimonies.

“Barry” was seeking wisdom in all the wrong places, but the Lord had mercy on him and led him to Christ. One man received this testimony and was so intrigued that he wants “Barry” to write more.

“Don’t talk to me about miracles. Show me one, and I’ll believe you. Christians can talk all day about the Bible’s ‘miracles’ but they can’t show you one. Obviously, the Bible is a tale of fairies, and has nothing to do with the real world – pain, failures, misery – and we all paper it over with fake smiles and try to make a crazy kind of life that we must make our home.

“Most of the above is true in the opinion of many – but here’s my story. This is the story of better and expecting better things. I’m sure many in France are hoping for better things now.

“My name is Barry. When I was young, a hippy, 60s generation, I was broken down, degraded, lawless, self-hating, delusional LSD tripper, occult-dabbler. As I ended this period, I was dying, extremely sick, and tormented. I was irredeemably insane. I was obese, and had sores all over my body. All who met me saw something so evil within me that they had to look away.

(Another friend of my was sitting in a cafe and said, “God, you’re so good, you can save anyone.” In walked Barry and the man said, “Maybe not him…”)

April 1972 – I knew this day was to be my last – I could not endure even one more tormented life. I was nocturnal, had dreams of parades of horror.

“Margaret was a young woman living near me and had been praying for me. Whenever she entered my room, an unnatural peace entered my room – and when she left, the peace left.

Final morning. Why should she care so for the wretch I’ve become? At least, I must go say goodbye to her. I went to her house and she told me and said, ‘God spoke to me and said you’ll be freed TODAY.’ I couldn’t believe her, but I asked her to pray for my soul.

“She was young, 24, married, had only been a Christian for 6-months. She prayed, ‘Jesus, I know you can heal him NOW.’ I suddenly convulsed and thought that I’d die immediately. The muscles of my face spasmed into grimaces of evil expressions.

“Margaret later told me that had even the heavyweight champion of the world had been there they’d have been ripped to pieces.

“Suddenly, I noticed that someone else was taking over my body – then a horrible wind rushed from my mouth for 1 minute – I thought I was surely witnessing my own death. I slumped to the floor and heard a death rattle coming from my throat.

“This is my miraculous story of rescue from demon possession – I don’t know how many there were, but at that time they were all cast out. That night, I slept my first peaceful night for 3 years.

Aug 25, 1972 – I became a child of the Living God. Jesus had risen triumphant from his grave, and likewise, I now was raised from my grave. Yes, really, that is the grace that I stand in today – I’m a Christian now and there is nothing special about me, BUT by crying out to Jesus, I’d given him permission to reach out to me and rescue me from the depths of my worst, most demon-possessed state.

“God is the Living God, and while he hates the SIN, he died for US – to lift our penalty from us and place it on Jesus for us that we might not perish but have everlasting life.

“All this is the gospel truth. Despite many failings, I’ll never forget this truth, this good news. I can guarantee that if you ask Jesus to reveal himself to you, he WILL – he cannot and will not leave your prayer alone.

“Joel/Job? And it shall come to pass, that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thank you for reading this account of my life.

Barry Jones.


He’s handed out about 12,000 to people individually. He doesn’t know what effect that may have.

The same need that Barry had is the same need that every one of us, our families, our friends, our enemies need. Are you manifesting works that prove that you’re saved by faith?

God says, “Open up my WORD. Read the Bible. I’ll speak to you through the Word, other people, dreams, circumstances, etc, etc.” God is reaching out to you – he wants YOU to experience HIM more fully – experience his peace, joy, salvation, life change.

Even as a Christian, do you know THIS? Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (Jeonju), Judea (Iksan), and Samaria (Gunsan), and to the ends of the earth (Korea – your home country).

Make THIS your New Year’s Resolution!

How many times have we HEARD the Word and NOT acted?

Please don’t read this as a call to “religion” – it’s NOT. “Religion” is a hopeless attempt to satisfy a God we cannot know in a life we cannot live. God calls you to a RELATIONSHIP – a RETURN to your loving Creator.

At the beginning of this year, if you’ve never accepted Jesus, BEGIN the journey (Sola Fide – by faith alone).

But if you’ve BEGUN the journey, it is no longer Sola Fide – by faith alone – your faith must be SHOWN and ACTED upon. WORKS PROVE your salvation. Consider all the examples of FAITH IN ACTION that James gives throughout the book. Rahab, Abraham (not always a shining example of faith), – but in his journey in faith, he OBEYED God (faith in action) and God blessed him.

Let’s pray.

  • 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

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

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.

  • Sep 21 / 2014
  • Comments Off on James Sermon Art
Backgrounds, Resources

James Sermon Art

Here’s a collection of the sermon art I created for Pastor Brian’s series on James. Click any image to download a larger copy.

Widescreen

(1366 x 768px (720p HDTV size))

james-deep-wide

PPT

(1600 x 1200px – resizable to 1024 x 768px (for projector))

Inspiration and Resources

Screenshot at Mar 30 05-09-46 

  • Sep 21 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Introducing James (James 1:1-11)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Introducing James (James 1:1-11)

09.21

09.21.2014-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Introducing James

James 1:1-11 (Pastor Brian)

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. 9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.


 

Where are you on the journey of Faith?

You’ve exercised faith, lived by faith in your life before – looking back, surely you can see it. “Lord! You’ve got to come through! Show me you’re there!” And he does!

Wow. The book of James is a challenge to me (the pastor) and to all of us. May God bless us with MORE faith.

James majors in FAITH PROVING ITSELF THROUGH WORKS.

  • Do we live by Faith?
  • Do we live by Works?

Luther lived during a time of Legalism when lots of abuses of faith were in place – indulgences, etc, trying to “work” yourself into the presence of God. But he finally found peace with God when he read “The righteous will live by faith.”

Actually, Luther – who’d lived by works for much of his life – went overboard after he changed his opinion. He strongly disliked (hated) James afterward.

But James is not only about “works” alone – but THE “works” and the “work” OF our faith. “Without works, faith is dead.” says James.

After repentance, we live by faith, grow by faith, and WORK on it. This is what James says.

——

We know that the Lord used 40 authors to write the 66 books of the Bible.

  • John = fisherman
  • Matthew = tax collector
  • Luke = doctor
  • Samuel = in the temple
  • Moses = royalty
  • Daniel = slave

2 authors in the Bible lived a life NO ONE else lived: James & Jude: brothers of JESUS.

When Jesus began his ministry, he taught from many different places:

The boat, the mountain, hilltops, the synagogue, homes…

Even there was a synagogue in his hometown (Mark 6:1-3) “He went to his hometown and taught and many were astonished and saying, ‘Who is this man? Where did he get this wisdom? Isn’t this the son of Mary? The brother of James? Aren’t his sisters also here?’ And they took offense at him.”

His own family and hometown rejected him.

Jesus was the oldest of 5 boys – nothing set him apart physically from the others. These people had watched Jesus grow up from the time he was young.

  • Mark 6:4 “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown, among his relatives and his own family.”
  • In John 7:5 “Not even his brothers believed in him.” (after he was preaching and performing miracles) His brothers even teased him and said, “Hey, if you wanna be famous, go up to the temple brother!” (snickering)

They didn’t believe in him then, but then WHY is there an epistle from James (his brother) and Jude (his brother) in the Bible? They didn’t believe in him THEN, but AFTER his resurrection, they couldn’t NOT believe.

In his resurrection, James and Jude (at least) believed, became born again, filled with the Spirit, apostles, (and later martyred for their own brother/Savior).

We also need to believe and accept THIS TRUTH – that Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, was buried and resurrected on the third day to give us new life (this is the Apostle’s Creed which we’ve read this morning).

Paul

“I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas (Peter) but I didn’t meet anyone else except James, the Lord’s brother.”

14 years later, James spoke with authority at the Council of Jerusalem. This guy who once hadn’t believed in Jesus, became the lead pastor of the Jerusalem church! Galatians 2:12 “There are men coming to Antioch FROM JAMES.”

Even Jude, when he wrote his letter, he quotes his brother James, “Jude, a bond servant of Jesus Christ (my brother) and the brother of James.”

Neither of them ever quote Jesus as being their brother. This is part of their humility. They are SERVANTS of the Son of God – they recognized his authority and power and position as the Alpha/Omega – and acknowledge their position as his bond servants.

In the OT, if a person had fallen into debt, he could go into servitude and serve that master as a slave for only up to 6 years – in the 7th, he MUST be freed. But, some slaves felt, “My master is a good master – he takes care of me and my family – if I leave, I’ll likely be worse off. I’ll stay.” Then, there was a ceremony before God and the others to take him into his home. They used an awl to pierce his ear into the doorpost of the master’s house. He was then committed to this master FOR LIFE. This is the meaning of “bond servant.” THIS is how James and Jude see their relationship (now) with Jesus.

James then addresses his letter to the “Diaspora” – the twelve tribes of Jerusalem (i.e. the WHOLE church).

Many Jews had come back to the temple during Pentecost and heard Peter preach, had become born again and filled with the Spirit (3,000+ men in a single day), and went back to their homes and preached the good news there.

James is writing to THESE believers and encouraging them to remain faithful and encouraging them to PRACTICE their faith in a PRACTICAL way.

How many of you have had TRIALS this past week? They come and go, it’s a part of life – especially the Christian life because we’re living in “enemy territory.”

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.” (one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible) – v.2

They counted it as JOY when they were persecuted and suffered for the name of Jesus.

  • Is “all” an adjective? “Count it ‘fully joy’?”
  • Actually, it’s a noun. “Count ‘everything’ joy.”

In a message my family was listening to – we became quite stirred up. This was the story of a man who was a homosexual – in fact, a prostitute. The Lord got a hold of him, saved him, blessed him, and gave him a powerful testimony. He still had mannerisms that outwardly described him as feminine. But this gave a remarkable illustration of Naman – a general who had leprosy and was told to “go to the prophet” to be cured of his leprosy. He went there, and expected Elijah to wave his hands over him and clean him up immediately. But that didn’t happen, Elijah sent his servant out to him, and said “Dunk yourself in that river 7 times” (wasn’t that river dirty?) – Naman was ANGRY “Hmmmph! The rivers where I come from are WAY better than this!” The servant said, “Listen, IF the prophet had asked you to do some great, enormous, glory task, you would do it right?” “Right.” “Then, just do this – it’s so simple…” So Naman eventually did.

The man (homosexual) said that MANY times during his life, he’d had to “re-dunk” himself in the grace of God. He felt like he was becoming clean. It’s a PROCESS – it’s not IMMEDIATE. Have patience with yourself and others who are going through the process. God sees all and knows all and deals with it and HEALS.

If you see “Dunkin’ Donuts” remember that YOU need more “dunks” before you’re righteous and holy.

“Should I forgive 7 times?” Jesus: “Nah, 77 times.” You want mercy, give it as well.

I’ve got trials, but don’t count it “joy” but “trying.” Difficulties are “difficult.”

If you lack wisdom, ask God, he gives GENEROUSLY, LIBERALLY. When in a trial, ASK God and he will give you wisdom to know how to react.

Ex: Car accident

Cut off, side-swiped, “Lord, give me patience.” The thing worked out very well. LESS anger in Korea = less crazy. I got my car back BETTER than I left it. (Me too, same story.)

“How can I show myself as a Christian in this trial, rather than just as a ‘crazy’ angry guy?”

LOOK BACK on how God has helped you previously and ask IN FAITH for God to help you out in THIS PRESENT situation.

If you don’t ask in faith, what good is it? You’re acting like 2 different people. God HELPED you before, won’t he again? This is faith. If you have trouble with faith, ASK, “Lord, help my unbelief.”

James says, “God is a good God.”

Jesus says, “If your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? NO. If you (evil by nature) know how to give good things to your children, how much MORE will he give you the Spirit?” CONTINUE asking, go DEEPER in the Spirit, be continually FILLED, LED, GUIDED by the Spirit, worship in the Spirit – and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

From NOW, let’s prepare our hearts to EXPECT God to do good works in us and those around us. Let us now, “put our Faith to work.”

Let’s pray.

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