Complete in Christ

29 04 2020

McKee Road Baptist – April 29, 2020 Wednesday Evening

Colossians 2:9-10 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye
are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Introduction:

Sadly, many believers live as though they are spiritually handicapped.
They live every day without hope, without power, without confidence and without being
a witness to victories in their lives because they do not embrace the fullness of their
salvation. The Apostle Paul told us that as believers we are complete in Christ and He is
the head of all principality and power.

Jesus Christ alone holds the key to our every need. Children of God struggle in their
Christian lives primarily for two reasons: we do not know, and we do not apply. We are
either ignorant, or we are negligent, or both. We either do not fully realize, or we forget,
who we are in Jesus Christ. If we really believed that Jesus Christ is all we needed, we
would never be out there trying to fill voids and find answers to problems anywhere else
but in Jesus Christ; voids and answers to questions that only He can fill.

The prophet Jeremiah put it this way:

Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the
fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no
water.

That is what it means to make Jesus Christ anything less than all-sufficient for
everything that you need, for everything that is your life. It is forsaking the fountain of
living waters for broken-down, polluted wells. Remember a few days ago we discussed…

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Paul is calling the church at Colosse to be aware of hollow and deceptive philosophy
that is masquerading as true Christian teaching. Rather than focusing on Christ, this
teaching depends on human tradition and the basic principles of Judaism. This teaching
can captivate them and lead them astray, if they are not careful. He is telling the church
to beware!

Christ is All God

Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

This is perhaps the most definitive statement of Christ’s deity in the epistles. It is the
rock upon which all attempts to disprove Christ’s deity are shattered. “For in Him dwelleth” the word “for” continues the thought of verse eight. The word “for” means: “because.” This word is important, because it introduces another reason for abandoning false teaching.

Verse eight warns us against following false philosophy. This verse gives the positive reason, all the fullness of God dwells in Christ. That is why he is superior to any philosophy or theology. He is all in all.

The words “in Him,” indicate a mighty contrast between philosophy and the Son. The
Son is superior to any philosophy. The word “dwelleth” means: “to settle down and be at home.”

This means that God continually abides at home in Christ. He is fully God forever. And as the One possessing all the fullness of Deity, Christ is the head over all rule and authority. He is not less than God, as the false teachers maintained. Rather, He is God Himself.
Understanding that the word “dwelleth” means to permanently indwell, we now see what
permanently indwells Christ, “all the fullness of the Godhead”. The “fullness” is defined
by this verse as “Godhead.” He is God.

The word “fullness” is the same term used in 1:19. This was also a term used by those
that espoused false doctrine in Paul’s day. They believed that “fullness” meant you
shared a portion of deity but not all. Paul, however, insists that all the fullness of the
Godhead, not a part of it, dwells in Christ. Jesus Christ is completely God. He is exactly
what God is. Jesus Christ possesses the “fullness” of God, not certain aspects of God’s
character. Jesus Christ possesses all power, the all the attributes of God. He is not
merely godlike. He is God himself.

The fullness of God comes into your life when you receive Jesus. What more do you
need? That is Paul’s question. What more can these false teachers add to that? What
new experience, what additional divine person can you receive than what you have
already received when you have Jesus?

One evening Jesus was sitting around with His disciples. He asked them about people’s
opinions of him. Who were people saying that he was? The disciples gave him various
comments that they had heard. Some people were saying that He was a prophet.
Others were saying that He was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or Jeremiah. Then He
turned the question to them:

Matthew 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

Jesus was asking his disciples what they had come to believe about Him. Today, this is
still the central issue of Christianity. Who do we say that Jesus really is? If He is
anything other than our Lord and God, then we are not describing Christianity. This is
the Christ test.

In the church at Colosse, there were some that were teaching that Jesus was not God.
There are many today teaching that Jesus is less than God. They say that He was a
good teacher, a great moral philosopher, a prophet, and a good man. Beware of this
kind of teaching.

Jesus was not just a good man or a good moral teacher. He was not just a moral
philosopher. He was not simply a prophet pointing the way to God. And Jesus is not
simply one way out of many ways to God. Jesus claimed to be the only way to God. He
is the way, the truth, and the life:

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh
unto the Father, but by me.

Josh McDowell wrote that here are really only three opinions that a logical person can
come to concerning Jesus. Based on what Jesus himself said, He was either a liar, or a
lunatic, or the Lord. You see, if Jesus is not the only way, then He was either deceiving
us, in which case He would be a liar, or He was self-deceived, in which case He would
be a lunatic. On the other hand, if He is indeed the only way, then He is in fact the Lord.

Any teaching that does not place Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven is not
Christian teaching. Jesus Christ is the only way, not because we say He is the only way,
but because He says so. Often Christians are labeled as judgmental, because we say
Christ is the only way. We are not trying to be judgmental. We are simply trying to share
what we know to be the truth.

We are not prejudiced against other religions. We are simply saying that Jesus Christ is
the only true way to God, “…no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6. We
do not say that in order to offend someone. We say that because we truly believe that it
is true.

Be on the alert. Do not be deceived. Be discerning. Put all the spiritual sounding
teaching to the Christ test. Who does it say that He is? What place does Christ hold in
the teaching? If He does not hold a central place as all supreme and all sufficient, then
the teaching is not of God. Don’t be taken in by it. Don’t be misled.

Now look at the last word that Paul uses:

Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

How does it dwell? In what way does it dwell? In what fashion? Bodily! This verse
proclaims the fact that God became a Man, bodily!

The word “bodily” means: “corporeally or physically, in physical form,” in the sense of
material in contrast to being symbolic. The complete content of deity exists in Jesus
Christ in real form, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” John 14:9.

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

The word “reputation” means: “to empty himself.” What exactly did Christ empty Himself
of? Not His deity, or He would cease to exist. Not the attributes of deity, it is impossible
to surrender an attribute without changing the character of the essence to which it
belongs. God cannot change. He is immutable! What, then, did He empty Himself of?
His Glory:

John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I
had with thee before the world was.

John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I
am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me
before the foundation of the world.

He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of all splendor and
glory. He emptied Himself of His legitimate and natural desires and prerogative as deity.
The natural desire and prerogative of deity is that of being glorified.

Christ veiled His glory by taking on humanity, but He did not diminish or destroy any
part of it. When the sun is obscured by a cloud, there is no real change of its glory. It
does not extinguish its sun-rays. The brilliance of the sun is obscured only for a time.
The sun was never affected by that cloud, but our vision of it was. Christ was never
diminished in glory, but He veiled His glory.

John said,” …and we beheld his glory,”

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his
glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Notice the two attributes of his glory, grace and truth. Through these attributes, Jesus
glorified God in his humanity, which is what all of us are to do, but the glory of His deity
was veiled. He looked like a man, like any other man, except for a brief time during the
transfiguration:

Matthew 17:1-3 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother,
and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them:
and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold,
there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Jesus literally lit the place up with His glory.

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

In the Incarnation, Jesus took “the form of a servant.” The phrase explains how He
emptied himself by taking the form of a servant. When He took the form of a servant, it
veiled His glory. That is how He emptied himself.

The word “form” means: “essential nature.” This is not a mask or like a Halloween
costume. He became a servant. He came to do God’s will:

Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give his life a ransom for many.

This is God voluntarily becoming a servant for us.

Philippians 2:7 goes on to say, “made in the likeness of men” the word “likeness”
means: “similarity, but difference”. Though His humanity was genuine, He was different
from all other humans in that He was sinless. We see this same word in:

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

Jesus Christ had real human flesh. He felt pain, sorrow, wept, died, but He was sinless:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we
might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Paul goes on in Philippians to say:

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The word “fashioned” means: “outer appearance.” People saw him only as a man.
Christ gave up the outward appearance of God, but not the essence of God. His glory
was veiled and He looked like a man.

The reality of Jesus Christ’s humanity is emphasized throughout the New Testament.
He had a human birth, His conception wasn’t human, but His birth was. He came
through the birth canal and was wet and wrinkled like any other baby. He had human
growth and development. He grew up just like any other human being.

Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the
grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and
man.

He had human experiences; emotions, feeling, desires and needs. He was hungry,
thirsty, weary, He sorrowed and wept. He had a human relationship with God. Jesus
said:

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to
pray, and not to faint;

Prayer is the necessary activity of a man who stands in a right relationship to God.
Jesus prayed, why? He was dependent upon God in His humanity. Jesus functioned in
the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of His deity. Why is that so important? His
ministry was marked with the repeated necessity of making choices, and He always
made the right choice. Of all men who ever lived, He alone could say,

“…for I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:29.

These choices were very real and involved the exercise of His will. Was it His human
will alone functioning on these occasions, or was His human will under the control of the
divine nature? If the latter is true, then it is hard to see how Christians, who do not
possess deity to control their human wills, can be called upon to look to Christ as their
example.

But if Jesus Christ did, indeed, divest Himself of the exercise of the divine
nature, and lived among men in real dependence upon His Father, and found His
strength and wisdom in a pure humanity empowered by the Holy Spirit, then we can
understand that His prayers were real prayers, His decisions were real decisions, His
actions and reaction were genuinely human, and He is, indeed, our example in all
things.

If Jesus Christ was dependent upon God for all He did, how much more should we be?
Now Paul gets to the heart of the letter. And the key verse, not only to this section, but
perhaps to the entire book, is:

Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and
power:

In Jesus Christ, if you know Him, if you have been born again, if you are a new creation
in Jesus Christ, trusting Him, you have been made complete. You’re complete. It has nothing to do with how you feel. You have been made complete. Christ is sufficient.
Your sufficiency is not in yourself; it is in Him.

“And ye are complete in Him.” The believer permanently holds that position before God from the moment of his salvation.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are in Christ. And because you are in Christ,
and because He is complete, you have been made complete. Get that? Because Christ
is who He is, we have been made complete in Him. His fullness is imparted to us. The
word “complete” means: “entire, finished, made full, perfect.” Our fullness of life comes
from Christ’s fullness:

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

We need no outside help from any other source. Every Christian, at the moment of salvation, receives this fullness. God views us as pardoned and as righteous as Christ is righteous. God accomplishes this at the moment of salvation. We do not receive Christ on the installment plan.

We receive a complete Savior and complete results of our salvation at the moment we come to know Him. We may appreciate Him more as we grow in Him, however, we do not receive more of Him. “In Him” means: “in union with Jesus Christ”. This is the believer’s position before God.

As God views us, He looks at us exactly like He would look at Christ, perfect. We are
not perfect in our experience, but in our position before God forever. We share His
fullness. From God’s viewpoint, nothing is wanting in us because of Christ. Jesus fully
meets every demand of God for us.

This is true of every Christian, no matter what their experience of living may be like.
Jesus Christ is our substitute not only at the point of salvation but as an ongoing status
before God. We stand judicially right before God forever.  God’s estimation of us is equivalent to His estimation of Christ. God identifies us with him in everything.

2 Peter 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God,
and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that
[pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to
glory and virtue:

God’s Word says, that Jesus Christ has granted to you “…all things that pertain unto life
and godliness” When you were saved, you received all you needed to live the Christian
life. Everything. There’s no other experience you need. Nothing.

The second half of Colossians 2:10 reads: “…which is the head of all principality and
power:” The word “head” is used three times in Colossians. It’s used in chapter 1:18,
here, and in chapter 2:19. It is a word that is used of a literal head, such as a person’s
head as seen in Matthew 5:36.

It can also refer to a symbolic head, such as the head of a family as recorded in
Ephesians 5:23. When it is used that way, it has the predominant meaning: “authority
over.” To be the head is to be the one in authority.

I will close with a story. William Randolph Hurst, the wealthy newspaper publisher,
invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read about some valuable
pieces of art and decided that he must have them for his collection.

He then sent his agent out to locate these items and purchase them. Months went by, finally the agent returned and reported to Hurst that the items had at last been found. The agent discovered the items were stored in Hurst’s own warehouse. Years before, William
Randolph Hurst had purchased them. This is like the child of God who is in a desperate
search for what he already has. Do not be held captive by anything other than the all-
sufficiency of Jesus Christ. He is sufficient for our every need.

Child of God, you are well equipped. You are complete in Christ. Serve Him the rest of
your days!

Pastor Don Thomason





Beware!

26 04 2020

McKee Road Baptist – April 26, 2020 AM Worship

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Introduction:

Daily, for the past three to four months we have been alerted to the
dangers of the Coronavirus by the news media. There has not been a dearth of
information regarding this pandemic. The coverage has been non-stop with each news
agency interviewing a different “expert’ every day. The warning is to stay alert. We must
stay alert, because, as we have been informed this disease is highly contagious and in
some will cause death.

We have been asked to keep ourselves separated from others. When we must go out,
we have been asked to keep at least six feet of distance between each other. The
experts have told us that we should also wear masks. This is to keep any air-borne
droplets from being transmitted to others. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the
air. If not transmitted, by someone as close as three feet, they can be transmitted from
other sources such as floors or surfaces. A person can become infected by touching a
surface that has the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing
your hands.

Like many other churches we have determined it best to practice safe habits during the
COVID-19 pandemic and have chosen to not gather together for a time. Meanwhile
many of us have been blessed by countless “live-feed,” Facebook messages we have
watched on our media devices. I am reminded of the story of Joseph, when he told his
brothers in Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it
unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. God is using the
bad things to promote His gospel. But we must be alert as we watch so many that
speak as an authority to the possibility, we might have consumed false teaching

We must be alert spiritually, because there are dangers to our faith. We must keep our
eyes and ears open and be aware of what is happening around us. There are those
who would pervert the truth of Christianity. This perversion manifests itself in subtle
ways. Without a doubt you have already encountered dangerous teachings. Our text
today gives us a stern warning against any teaching that would detract from Christ.
When Paul wrote this letter there was a subtle and powerful false teaching that was
threatening to infiltrate the Colossian church. We know that it contained elements of
false philosophy. Throughout the letter, Paul switches back and forth between his
seeming attack of Jewish elements of this false teaching, and his attack on the Greek
elements of this false teaching. This false teaching, this heresy, was a blend of these
two philosophies.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

“Beware” means: “to look at,” but it is also used of mental functions like: “direct one’s
attention to something, watch, beware, be on guard.” It is a command for a constant
circumspect watchfulness, because of the dangers lurking at every corner.
The idea is “look out”. The idea is: “guard yourself from this”. The idea is: “beware of
this”. That is how it is used in Philippians chapter 3 when Paul talks about the Judaizers
(Those that teach it is necessary to adopt Jewish customs and practices to be saved.)

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

The Colossian Christians were to: “Beware lest anyone spoil you…” It is a compound
word which means: “booty”, as in booty that you would capture, and “ago”, which
means: “to lead or carry”. It is to carry away a prize won in battle. It’s to be taken
captive.

The brethren at the church in Colosse were in danger of being kidnapped by error. Paul
was warning the brethren that they can be taken captive by wrong philosophy, wrong
teaching, false doctrine. Such teaching only works to deprive believers of their liberty in
Christ. These teachings can hold them hostage for years, if not for the rest of their lives.
Note: contrary to what the world believes, nobody is freer than a Christian. Nobody.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

There is always the danger of being caught up in false teaching in one way or another.
That is why it is most important to guard yourself. It is so important to the life and the
health of the church and to the members that make up the church.

Some of us are old enough to remember the People’s Temple Christian Church. Jim
Jones was leader of the People’s Temple Christian Church. On November 18, 1978, in
Guyana, Jim Jones murdered 909 people, mostly his followers and then committed
suicide. One of the most frightening discoveries about the People’s Temple Christian
Church was that a large majority of its members came from Christian homes of one sort
or another. Most people that joined the church did so because they believed it offered a
higher experience of Christian living. Paul’s warning is very pertinent to the church
today. Beware!

Note: every false teacher may not be a Jim Jones but every false teacher is dangerous.
Paul knew the danger. That is why he struggled so hard in the ministry. That’s why he
wrote, back in chapter 2, verse 1: “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for
you…”.

Paul goes on to say, “Beware lest anyone spoil you through philosophy…”
What’s philosophy? Very simply define it as: “the love of wisdom”. “Philos” is the
Greek word for love. “Sophos” is the Greek word for wisdom.

The love of wisdom is a good thing in many cases. There are good and bad
philosophies, but what the apostle has in mind here, of course, is the danger the
Colossians are facing of being seduced by bad philosophy.

In the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote in one of his books, “There are
three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of whom are the Pharisees, of the second the Sadducees, and the third sect called the Essenes”. That
said every age has battled against expounders of false philosophy.

Paul is talking about something very specific here. But there is application here for us
today. We fight against any philosophy that detracts from the sufficiency of Jesus Christ
and the purity of His Word is to be rejected.

One theologian said, “There are too many ‘ball-park’ interpreters and expositors today.
The theological atmosphere of evangelicalism is saturated with a dense fog of
uncertainty and misplaced emphasis in handling the Word of God. Many churches are
on the rocks because of careless hermeneutics (The study of the principles of
interpretation concerning the Bible.), ignorance of Biblical languages, and unsystematic
theology (Systematic theology formulates an orderly, rational and coherent account of
the doctrines of the Christian faith. So, unsystematic theology would be everything that
systematic theology is not.) Rough estimates as to what this or that passage means will
not do. We need qualified expositors who will take the time and make the necessary
sacrifices to do their homework well and bring clarity to the minds of God’s people as
they read and study God’s holy Word.”

Today we live in an age where the philosophy of many is this; do not offend me, do not
bore me, do not preach long, do not preach doctrine but make me feel good about
myself. Do this they say and your church will grow. I site the following paragraph as one
example of proof.

Many remember the Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove, California. It was a massive
structure constructed with reflective glass and at one time was touted as “the largest
glass building in the world.” Its founder, Robert Schuller once said: “For the church to
address the unchurched with a theocentric (that means a God-centered) attitude is to
invite failure in mission. The non-churched who have no vital belief in a relationship with
God will spurn, reject, or simply ignore the theologian, church spokesperson, preacher,
or missionary who approaches with Bible in hand, theology on the brain and the lips,
and expects nonreligious persons to suspend their doubts and swallow the theocentric
assertions as fact”.

You see, Schuller’s premise was built around the assertion that those that are
unregenerate (the lost) are transformed through human ingenuity and not through a
sovereign act of God’s grace through faith in the Word of the Living God. By the way the
former denomination of this church was listed as Reformed Church in America it is now
listed as Roman Catholic.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Paul says that it is the Gospel that is the power of God. Our responsibility is to proclaim
the Gospel. God will take care of how the heart responds to that.

There are many philosophies in our day that are deceiving young people, as well as
many adults. We hear this philosophy much of the time. It is called, “Tolerance”, which
says, “No one can say what is right and what is wrong”.

Some will say that adultery, abortion or homosexuality is wrong for them, but who are
you to decide for everyone else. A recent Gallup Poll, declared that 82% of college students say they believe in no absolute truths. It comes down to this: anything goes out
there. Morality of man is every man for himself. Right and wrong is no longer based on
absolutes, but on individual opinion.

It should be said that this is nothing new. We have just found a way to place a
percentage of those that believe this way. I am reminded that there has always been an
element that believed this. Isaiah said, Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put biter for sweet, and sweet for
bitter. Isaiah 5:20. Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every
man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Without a moral compass, people cannot make rational decisions about what is right
and wrong for themselves or for society. We are told that you cannot decide if an
unborn baby is a human being or a blob of tissue, because we have listened to the
rhetoric of the “politically correct” instead of checking out the medical facts that life
begins at conception, an absolute supported completely by the Bible.

Believers, we are engaged today in a battle between worldviews. We must understand
and defend a Biblical worldview in all of life. We must make it our goal to impart this
Biblical worldview to the youth who will lead the next generation. Make it your legacy.

Vain Deceit

Paul goes on to describe this philosophy as “and vain deceit”. “Vain deceit” describes
“philosophy”. The idea is that the particular philosophy Paul had been warning his
readers about was vain deception. These are not two separate dangers.

“Vain deceit” describes the nature of human philosophy. “Vain” means “empty.” It is (a)
“without content, without any basis, without truth, without power,” or (b) of the effects,
“without result, without profit, without effect, without reaching its goal”.

The word “deceit”, was used of the seductive deception that comes from wealth (Mark
4:19), and “the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). It is vain (empty) deceit. But what
does it mean to be deceived? “Deceit” means: “to cheat, deceive, beguile. It is that
which gives a false impression whether by appearance, statement or influence”. This
empty philosophy connives and misleads, it deceives or lies to people about what is
true.

Human philosophy simply said are the human traditions and principles of the world. It is
not according to the person and work of Christ.

After the tradition of men

This is the origin of false teaching. It is from the devices of men and not the voice of
God. “Tradition” means: “a handing down or a handing over”.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye
have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

There are good traditions. But they are the traditions of God. In our text in Colossians,
what is being condemned are the “tradition of men ” it is of men.
We must “beware” that our traditions do not contradict the Word of God. Because if they
do, they are error. If it goes against the Bible, it is not of God.

Paul tell us that these “vain” (empty), deceptive philosophies depend on human
tradition. They arise out of the thinking of men and then are passed along from
generation to generation so as to appear popular and widely supported. Hardly anyone
dares question them, because everybody believes them. An obvious example today is
the theory of evolution. Evolution is now being widely challenged on a scientific level.
Many evolutionists are beginning to question Darwin’s view. But it wasn’t all that long
ago that the theory of evolution was almost universally accepted.

Remember, with “philosophy”, there are biblical or divine traditions that have their
source in God’s special revelation, and human traditions; those that come from man’s
own ideas and theories.

Many people do not evaluate what they believe for themselves. They believe it simply
because their family believed it, “My mom told me so”. How you do know it is true? “I
never question it”. A person without healthy skepticism is vulnerable to seduction.
The test question should be: “Can it be substantiated by the Bible?”

Remember, human philosophy is: drawn from human traditions, and it is inspired by
basic principles of the world.

After the rudiments of the world

What are “the rudiments of the world”? Rudiment means anything in a row or series. It
was used of the letters of the alphabet (alpha, beta, gamma, delta; or in our vernacular,
a, b, c, d). It was used of numbers in a series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). It was used of soldiers in
rank and file down a line. It had to do with was anything in a series. It came to be
understood in the sense of elementary things (like the ABC’s of life).

The “rudiments of the world” was a reference to the religious practices the false
teachers were promoting in Paul’s day.

Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world,
why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

Here Paul is talking about Jewish laws.

Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of
an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of
things to come; but the body is of Christ.

It you look at its use in Galatians, you again see its Jewish usage.

Galatians 4:3-5 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the
elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his
Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the
law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

These “rudiments of the world” was part of Jewish legalism. They were the rudiments as
taught them by the law, as their schoolmaster. They were subject to a lifetime of
bondage to these rudiments of Jewish law.

So, this human philosophy is described as: being drawn from human traditions, being
inspired by basic principles of Judaism, and it is not according to the person and work
of Christ, “…and not after Christ.”

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

This verse can be summarized as the contrast between that which is according to Christ and everything else. Whatever we think of “philosophy”, “vain deceit”, “tradition of men”, or “after the rudiments of the world”, the bottom line is that these can be seen to be totally
against Jesus Christ.

That is the key. It is not according to Christ. Just as grace plus anything else equals
zero. If you add anything to grace, you negate grace. In the same way, Christ plus
anything else equals zero. You cannot make any additions to Jesus Christ, or you
subtract from His all-sufficiency. Everything we do, everything we are as believers in
Jesus Christ must be according to Jesus Christ.

Remember if you are a child of God, He was sufficient to save you. That is what the
gospel is all about. But is He sufficient for you in every area of your life, for every need
of your life, in your relationships, in your marriage, at your job, for your every spiritual
and material need? Is He sufficient? To say, “No” is to deny His sufficiency. He is
sufficient. We need to teach and proclaim that truth and uphold it. We need to
encourage one another to live in His truth. We need to warn each other against
anything, any philosophy, any tradition that is not according to Christ.

Conclusion:

We must open our spiritual eyes. If you are spiritually aware you will be
able to testify that God is at work. Many see this time as one of inconvenience to their
daily routine. Many proclaim that it is just an added exercise that is totally unnecessary.
One day we will be able to better judge these days in our lives and whether all steps
taken were necessary but until that day happens, step back and get God’s perspective.
Watch and see what He is doing. Position yourself to be right in the middle of His will
and further the cause of His kingdom.

McKee Road Baptist Members, “…Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:2

Pastor Don Thomason





Grounded in Love

24 04 2020

Ephesians 3:17-21 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted
and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth,
and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is
able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power
that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all
ages, world without end. Amen.

Introduction:

Please consider what the Word of God is saying. Do not assume that you do not need help in this area of your life. It is especially in times when we think we do not need it at all, that we need it the most. Consider all the times Scripture says something like, I bring you to remembrance or remember. Paul is making the point that we are to be grounded in the love of God. This is a love we do not come by naturally but by God.

Paul is praying that the Ephesians would be strengthened with the power of the Spirit in
their thinking. He is praying that their thinking would fall in line with the Word of God. He
is teaching that the Jew and Gentile are equal before God as the one new man. There
was to be no more Jew, no more Gentile, just children of God. This is critical because if
their thinking does not line up with this, they could fraction into a Jewish Church and a
Gentile Church. Paul was teaching it was most important for them to think correctly.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”

This goes hand-in-hand with what Paul said in verse 16, “To be strengthened with might
by his Spirit in the inner man.” This is one action. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts
by faith” is an explanation of how it is that God will strengthen you in the inner man!
When Paul says “inner man” here he is talking about the mind, the thinking process.
Paul’s phrase, “the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16) is synonymous with the heart
(Ephesians 3:17). And the heart is another reference to the thinking. Paul is praying
that the Ephesians would be strengthened with the power of the Spirit in their thinking.
“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love”

Paul prays that they would “be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner
man” so the result would be that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” in order for
that to transpire you must be rooted and grounded His love.

Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and
grounded in love,

Illustration: Try holding your breath. You can only hold it for a certain length of time.
Eventually you take a breath or pass out and then take a breath. That is just natural.
Fight as much as you will, this will be the outcome of your effort. When you became a
child of God the most natural thing in the world was this, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart, it should permeate you, it should exude from you, it should touch
everybody around you. It should be a way of life, but some people seem to be holding
their breath.

I used breathing as an illustration but know this, loving others is not as easy for us as
breathing. If loving others is so natural and easy, why are there so many exhortations in
Scripture to love one another? If it is like breathing, we should not need to be told to do
it at all. It should just be automatic for believers.

“Rooted” means: “to cause to take root, to become firmly rooted or fixed.” It suggests
the thought of something that took place in the past, but whose effects persist in the
present, because of their relationship with Jesus.

“Grounded” means: “to lay a basis for, to build upon a foundation, to build, to be
founded, to be grounded.” He will be your foundation, and the foundation of your life will
be His love. Like buildings, our lives are to be built deep into the foundation of God’s
love.

To be rooted in something means that you’re getting your nourishment from it, your life;
from the water, and from the nutrients and minerals in the ground. You are absorbing all
the life of the love of God. That is what is making you live! That is what is making you
alive, you are drawing upon the love that is in Christ Jesus. Rooted pictures a sturdy,
growing tree that sinks down roots that enable it to withstand drought and the fierce
storms of life. To be grounded in love pictures a solid building with a foundation that
goes down to the bedrock. It can withstand a flood or an earthquake, because it is built
on the rock.

We cannot handle life unless we have a solid foundation, unless we are rooted and
grounded in love. Many times, we question God’s love for us due to our situation. Our
emotions cause us to feel like God has forsaken us. But Scripture teaches that God’s
love is just as real in times of adversity as it is in times of blessings. God’s love to us is
unchangeable.

Consider Calvary as evidence of God’s love for us:

1 John 4:9-10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent
his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love,
not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
our sins.

The living God showed His love by meeting our greatest need and redeemed from us
from an eternal separation from Him.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us.

Please notice our condition when God demonstrated His love for us, “while we were yet
sinners.” God loved us when we hated Him. He reached out in love and met our
greatest need while we were His enemies.

Ephesians 2:1-6 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of
wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he
loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

This was our condition; we were dead in sin. We had an appointment with God’s wrath.
We have all sinned against a holy, righteous God. We have rebelled against His
commands and defied His moral law. Because of this, we all deserve His wrath. We do
not deserve God’s love or mercy.

Any time that we are tempted to question God’s love for us, we need to look to Calvary.
If God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us when we were His enemies,
surely, He loves us enough to care for us now that we are His children. In the midst of
the worst adversity, I can be assured of God’s love for me because of Calvary.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be
against us?

“God is for us” This is a concise summary of the Gospel. God is on our side. Think
about it! Meditate upon it! The immutable God, has loved us from eternity past has
made provision for your salvation.

Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall
he not with him also freely give us all things?

“But delivered him up for us all” The word “delivered” means: “to turn over to
judgement.” Who delivered up God to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not
the Jews, for envy; but the Father, for LOVE.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us
accepted in the beloved.

God’s unfailing love for us is a fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true
whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our
faith create it. But the experience of that love, and the comfort it is intended to bring, is
dependent upon our believing the truth about God’s love as it is revealed to us in the
Scriptures. Doubts about God’s love will deprive us of the comfort of His love.

Ephesians 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and
length, and depth, and height;

“May be able to comprehend” Unless they were “rooted and grounded in love,”
“because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,” (Romans 5:5.) it would be
impossible for them to comprehend the exceeding riches of the love of Christ.

“May be able,” It means “to seize, or to grasp for your own.” Paul is praying that we may
have the power to lay hold of, or comprehend Christ’s love for us. This is not something
we can accomplish apart from God’s divine power.

Every child of God knows the love of Christ in some way, but we do not all know it to the
same extent. Some are babes in Christ, who, like all babies, are quite self-centered. They assume that Christ loves them because they are so loveable! But as you grow in
Christ, you begin to see how wretchedly sinful your heart was and, apart from God’s
preserving grace, still is. And yet, wonder of wonders, He still loves you! You grow
deeper in Christ’s love as you realize that He loves you in spite of all your failures and
sins. Comprehending Christ’s love requires God’s supernatural power, because it is not
naturally discerned.

“With all saints,” This is a reference to all believers. It references all those who are set
apart from the world unto God. Paul wants all believers to understand the love of God.
“What is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” We are presented with four
dimensions: “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.”

These are the dimensions of God’s love for us. Verse 17 ends with love and verse 19
starts with love, and these four dimensions are talking about God’s love for His people.
What is the breadth of His love?

Chapter 2 verses 11 and following tell us that His love is broad enough to take the
Gentiles, who were called uncircumcision, and to bring them together with those who
were far off (verse 13) and make them near by the blood of Christ. To take Jew and
Gentile and make them one (verse 14) and break down the middle wall of partition and
abolish the enmity.

What is the length of His love?

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Now look at chapter 2:

Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his
grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

The length is from eternity in the past till eternity. Christ’s love extends from eternity to
eternity. It is an eternal love that will not let us go! 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Charity
never faileth”; that’s its length, it’s eternal. God tells us, “I have loved thee with an
everlasting love,” Jeremiah 31:3.

What is the depth of God’s love?

How deep is His love? The depth of His love caused Him to leave the glory of heaven
and His exalted position there and come to this earth to be born as a baby. It moved
Him to go to the extreme suffering of the cross, where “For he hath made him to be sin
for us, who knew no sin:” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

His love is deep enough to reach us when we were dead in trespasses and sin. As
Charles Wesley wrote, “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die
for me?” His love is truly amazing!

What is the height of God’s love?

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

His love lifts us up to our exalted position of being seated with Him in the heavenly
places:

Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly
places in Christ Jesus:

You cannot know the love of Christ or grasp these four dimensions without having first
been strengthened by the Holy Spirit in the inner man and having Christ dwell in your
heart through faith:

Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye
might be filled with all the fulness of God.

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” This is Christ’s love to us.
The word “know” in this verse expresses experiential knowledge. Paul was praying that
they would experience the love of God that surpasses knowledge.

How can we know a love that surpasses knowledge? There is so much more to know
about the infinite love of Christ. However, this does not mean that we cannot know
anything about it, or that we can know only a little about it. In fact, we are to grab hold of
the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ. We can understand it.
“That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Paul asks that we would “be filled.”
We cannot fill ourselves with the fullness of God. It only comes from Him. Note, it comes
from Him as we are filled with His Word.

The word “filled” has the idea of being “controlled.” For example, in the Gospels it says,
he was filled with anger, he was filled with rage, he was filled with wrath, filled with
malice. It means that one attitude dominated or controlled them. Muse on this thought.
Paul says later in this Epistle that believers are to, “Be filled with the Spirit,” meaning
that we are to be controlled by Him. So, the question is how are we controlled by the
Spirit? We appropriate the controlling grace of the Spirit through the means of letting the
Word of Christ richly dwell within us. I think the same is true with the fulness of God.
When we are controlled by the Word, we are controlled by the Spirit, and thereby
controlled by the fulness of God.

McKee Road Baptist, we need more than a casual acquaintance with the Bible. God’s
Word is to dwell in us abundantly. It is to saturate us. It must become part of our very
being. It must transform the way we think and act. This can only happen as we read it,
memorize it, and meditate on it to the point that it controls us.

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that
we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
“Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.”
Paul again alludes to God’s power. To be able one must have power.
In other words, we can have confidence that God will grant this request to grasp and to
know all the dimensions of His love; in fact, He will do more than what we can ask or
imagine.

Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy
great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Consider this: This all-powerful Creator loves us:

“Exceeding Abundantly.” Simply said it is “above or beyond, above or beyond what we
can ask or think.” God is unlimited in power.

“According to the power that worketh in us.” (Consider, Ephesians 1:19-20.) In other
words, there is an extraordinary power available to believers, a power that can
accomplish far more than we ordinarily think or imagine. It comes by the Spirit. It is
provided by the riches of God’s glory.

Paul put it this way in Philippians:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Can we do all things through Christ? Consider the Scripture verses that precede verse
13.

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I
know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to
be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

What Paul is saying here is that whatever circumstance he finds himself in, he can
handle it through God’s enabling power. This spiritual truth applies to all who live in
dependence upon Christ:

Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages,
world without end. Amen.

“Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus.” It is fitting to say that glory be to God
in the church and in Christ Jesus, because it is through them that men and angels will
see God and will glorify Him.

God saves people who were formerly dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), seats them
with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), and builds them into His Holy
Temple (Ephesians 2:21), He is glorified.

“Throughout all ages, world without end.” This is a mixture of time and eternity. The idea
is that God is to be glorified forever and ever, beginning in this age and continuing into
eternity.

“Amen.” Here, we all are invited to ascribe glory to God by saying along with Paul, “Amen!”

Conclusion:

Oh, how we fail to realize Christ’s love for us. This is one reason why it is
so important to mediate upon his love for us. We need to muse upon it. The times we
think that God has forgotten us, the times that we do not believe that he loves us,
should be a reminder that we are not thinking on his love for us.

Consider His love for you tonight!

A sermon by Pastor Don Thomason of McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California.





Walk Ye In Him

19 04 2020

Introduction: Alice and I discuss the Word of God often. Many times, she will share
what she has read and how it touched her soul. Many times, I will share with her things
that I have read and how it convicted me. Our text today operates from the premise that,
the reader has received Christ. With that in mind let us search the Scripture today and
learn what He expects from us.

Please open to each passage referenced in today’s message. You may want to make
some notes in your Bible.

Colossians 2:6-7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in
him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught,
abounding therein with thanksgiving.

The Colossians were coming under the attack of false teachers. The false teachers
were not giving the person and work of Christ proper interpretation or emphasis. Paul
emphasizes that the full assurance of understanding cannot be had apart from Christ.

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Since you received Christ by faith; now, continue your Christian life by a constant trust
in Him. Life begins and proceeds upon the principle of faith. We are saved by faith and
we are to live by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to
God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

There is no way our relationship to God can be pleasing to Him unless we trust Him.
God wants us to trust Him. Apart from faith, we cannot please God. So, apart from faith,
it does not much matter what we do.

A very basic and simple fact of life is this: All of our valuable relationships in life are built
on trust. When a husband and wife stop trusting each other, they may continue to be
married, but they can no longer have a happy marriage. When two friends stop trusting
each other, they may continue to see each other, but they no longer have a true
friendship. If that is true in our human relationships, how much more true is it in our
relationship to God?

The Christian life starts with an act of faith. We believe that Christ will save us if we trust
in Him alone for our redemption.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is a promise that when I believe in Christ, I am given everlasting life. When I come to
the living God as a guilty sinner, who deserves hell, trusting in Jesus Christ and Him alone for my redemption, I am engaging in an act of faith. I have never seen God. I have
never seen this place called heaven, or this place called hell.

I have never seen Jesus Christ. But by faith, those things which I cannot see become realities to me. I gain assurance and conviction about things that my eyes cannot see. That is what faith is all about. But trusting God for my eternal salvation is only the beginning. It is the start of a journey that cannot be traveled successfully in any other way but by a growing faith. We must distinguish between saving faith and walking by faith. Many believers have trusted Christ for their salvation, but are not living in faith. They are not trusting God in each and every area of their lives.

How do we grow in faith? There are two main factors which determine the strength of
our faith.

First, is our knowledge of God.

Many of the troubles and difficulties the children of God experience in their lives is due
to a lack of knowledge about Him. That is how to develop strong faith. The more you
know God, the more you will trust Him:

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We need to study the Word that we may know Him. It is hard to trust someone you don’t know. Sadly, many children of God tend to base their personal relationship with God on
their performance, instead of on His grace. We need to understand that the life of the
child of God is a matter of grace.

We are brought into God’s eternal kingdom by grace, we are sanctified by grace, we are motivated to obedience by grace, we receive strength to live the Christian life by grace, and we receive both things of this world and spiritual blessings by grace. The entire Christian life is lived by grace. Living by grace means that you are free from the “performance treadmill.” It means that you do not have to try to earn God’s approval.

Know this, nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. You
are loved and accepted through the merit of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ rendered perfect
obedience to God, and you have received His righteousness by grace through faith.

In Romans 5:12-21, the key idea in these verses is our identification with Adam and
with Christ. Paul saw two men, Adam and Christ, each of them reigning over a kingdom.
In short, this section is a contrast of Adam and Christ. Adam was given dominion over
the old creation, he sinned, and he lost his kingdom. Because of Adam’s sin, all
mankind is under condemnation and death:

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;
and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

That was the position of every one of us, but now all of us who put our trust in Jesus
Christ, by grace through faith, are joined to Jesus Christ. He is our head and His
righteousness is imputed to us:

Romans 5:15-16 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the
offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which
is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift
is of many offences unto justification.

Because we are in Christ, all that belongs to Jesus Christ belongs to us:

Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which
receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one,
Jesus Christ.)

Do you see the emphasis of grace in these verses? Christ came as the King over a new
creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). By His obedience on the cross, He brought in
righteousness and justification. Christ not only undid all the damage that Adam’s sin
affected, but He accomplished much more by making us the very sons of God. Note
the phrase is repeated in verses, 9, 10, 15, 17 and 20. This means that
in Jesus Christ we have gained much more than we ever lost in Adam!

Romans 5:18-19 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to
condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men
unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,
so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Your salvation and mine depends only, entirely, upon the obedience of Jesus Christ and
our faith in Him. The first factor which determines the strength of our faith is our knowledge of God.

The second factor which determines the strength of our faith is the application of
what we know.

A knowledge that never ventures out upon what it knows will never be a strong faith.

Luke 8:22-25 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his
disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And
they launched forth. 23 But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm
of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they
came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and
rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying
one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and
water, and they obey him.

The disciples in the boat during the storm were failing to apply their faith, and that is
why our Lord put His question to them in that particular form. He said, Where is your
faith? They had faith, but where was it? Why weren’t they applying it to the situation
that they were in? Their problem was they did not use the faith they had.

They were looking at the waves and the water coming in the boat. They were bailing it
out, but still more was coming in, and they cried out to Jesus, We perish. He said to
them, Where is your faith? They had seen Jesus do the miraculous. They should have
trusted Him.

In Colossians 2:6, received serves to stress the fact and decisiveness of their
reception of the gospel message about the person and work of Christ. The Colossians
had received the gospel centering on the Person of Christ.

Galatians 1:11-12 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me
is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the
revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel which Paul preached came as a result of revelation. That is why he could
announce to the Thessalonians that:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because,
when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word
of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that
believe.

The Thessalonians received the truth verbally. In Colossians 2:6, Paul is encouraging his readers to continue following Christ in harmony with the sound teaching that had resulted in their conversion. The expression in verse seven, as ye have been taught adds further support to this idea that they had received doctrine taught them.

When we became a child of God, we welcomed the doctrine of Christ. The doctrine
concerning Christ is sufficient to meet any problem in the Christian life.

Paul is claiming that his teaching is the only place where we can find the truth about the
mystery of Christ. All these false teachers should be easy to spot, because they will
teach something other than what Paul had already proclaimed.
So, they had received Christ through the preaching of the Gospel. It was through the
reception of the truth of the Gospel message that they came to Christ:

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

The point of this verse revolves around two little words, as and so. The as refers to
the point when they received the gospel of Christ. The so refers to continued abiding
in the truth that they had received.

Walk as you have received Christ as your Savior walk in Him. Do it now, continue to
walk in the Lord. It is literally saying, in Him be continually walking.

The position of  in Him stresses the fact of how we are to walk, in Him. It literally
means: to walk, and conduct one’s life. The term walk portrays the steady
progress of one’s life taken one step at a time. (I can remember my Dad telling me,
“just keep putting one foot in front of the other.) I am told that in Jewish thought, it was
and is the standard term for ethical conduct.

According to Scripture, our walk, our ethical conduct is to be like Christ’s:

1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he
walked.

When faced with the dilemmas that confront the child of God in their daily lives, the
guideline should be, What would Jesus do?

So, in verse 6, Paul is telling the Colossians that they had received Christ by accepting
the truth of the Gospel, and they were to walk in that same truth.

Colossians 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been
taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Rooted: Rooted means, to cause to take root, to become firmly rooted or fixed. It suggests
the thought of something which took place in the past, but whose effects persist in the
present, and is therefore the first cause of their relationship with Jesus Christ (the received of the previous verse) which is the place from which their experience springs.

Built Up: Built up means, to build up, to build further or build on something. This describes
an ongoing process, a steady growth of the spiritual structure of the believer’s life. Since
the child of God is the recipient of God’s work in his or her life, we then depend upon the
Lord for growth and spiritual change.

The child of God is in the construction business. The image here is that of a building.
We must grow up by building on the foundation, which is Jesus Christ. Jude says that
we build strength into our lives by what we believe.

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in
the Holy Ghost,

Stablished: The word stablished means: to make firm or make secure, to cause something to be known as certain, to confirm. It describes the continuous establishment or
strengthening that God gives when there is a Christ centered walk. God is the cause of
our certainty.

This stablishing comes as you have been taught. Teaching is the foundation for
stability. As we said earlier, we are strengthened in our faith through knowledge, and
this comes through teaching. Notice that the establishing is in the faith. Keep in mind that the context warns against false teaching and stresses their previous teaching; as you were taught. This refers to the faith, the body of revealed truth or the gospel message. This is a call not to merely hold the faith, but to grow in the knowledge of the faith as it reveals the person and work of Christ.

This is a call for continuous growth in the grace and knowledge of the Savior. The Apostle Paul talking about what we believe, not that we believe but what we believe. He is talking about knowing what we believe.

There is always a danger of false teaching. There was in that day, and there still is
today. It is vital for everyone who knows Jesus Christ to also know what they believe
about Him. You need to know what the Bible teaches about the Christian faith.

Thanksgiving:

Six times in this short epistle Paul focuses our thoughts on the fullness of Christ and our
completeness in Him. Paul emphasizes thankfulness six times, (1:3, 12; 2:7, 3:15, 16;
4:2). Thankfulness takes our thoughts away from our accomplishments and ourselves
as we grow and experience Christ. Thankfulness directs our thoughts to God and what
He has done and is doing for us in and through the Savior.

But we are not to just be thankful. We are to be abounding, constantly overflowing.
Abounding, stresses our responsibility to actively engage in thankful hearts. Overflowing
means, to be over and above, to abound, to be present in abundance. Believers who
are firmly rooted in Christ, being built up in Him, and established in their faith, will
overflow with gratitude to God:

Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Here we see that praise to God is defined as spiritual sacrifices. Do you spend time
sacrificing to God, how often do you thank him for all his blessings?

Psalms 47:6-7 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing
praises. 7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

Psalms 50:23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his]
conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

Psalms 107:8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his
wonderful works to the children of men!

We live in the midst of an unthankful people. (Many of them fill our church pew.) Many
people are miserable, and they show it. Some people are even proud of it. But if you’re
a child of God, one of the characteristics of your life ought to be that your heart is
overflowing with thankfulness. When people come in contact with you, instead of seeing
someone complaining, moaning and groaning, they should see someone who says, I
just want to thank God for all of His blessings in my life. He has blessed me beyond
anything I deserve. When people see people who are thankful, they wonder what it is
about that person that makes them that way. It’s Christ! If we know Jesus Christ, we
have so much to be grateful for.

One day someone robbed the great Bible commentator, Dr. Matthew Henry, as he
walked along a highway. Afterwards he told his friends there were four things for which
he gave thanks. First, he was grateful that he had never been robbed before. After
many years of life this was the first time he had been robbed, and for that he was
grateful. Second, he said, Though they took all my money, I am glad they did not get
very much. That was something for which to be thankful. Third, he said, Though they
took my money, they did not take my life, and I am grateful for that. Finally, he
suggested, I am thankful that it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed. There
was a man who learned how to overflow with thankfulness! Gratefulness is a
distinguishing mark of the mature believer.

Conclusion: I opened today talking about Alice and I sharing God’s Word with each
other. It is important to us to allow His Word to be our basis for faith and practice.
How is your walk in the Lord? Are you rooted in Him? Are you building up in Him? Are
you stablished in the faith? We have His Word that teaches us, are you studying it? If
you are doing these things, it will be evidenced by your overflowing thanks for what He
has done for you. You will not be the victim of your circumstances.

The day is soon coming that our life on earth will be through. In God’s appointed time
He will call his children home. You may think, I still have a long time to live. Do not fool
yourself. The graveyard is full of people younger than you. Live for God. Read His
Word. Become stablished in the faith, as we have been taught. (There it is again,
Romans 15:4 ready begin…quote it.) Let us allow our faith to overflow in abundance.
Let us be thankful that others might see something in us that they need. Time is short.
Live for God.

A sermon by Don Thomason, Pastor of McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California.





Peace- Things to Remember and to Consider

18 04 2020

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted in this attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

1 Peter 5:14 “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are
in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Introduction:  We live in a troubled world. Consider the turmoil that we are experiencing
with the Coronavirus Pandemic. This pandemic is virtually at the heart of almost every
conversation you hear or are a part of today. If the child of God is not aware, before too
long they will find their heart to be troubled as well, but God has promised peace to His
children.

There are some things we should remember.

First, remember God promised to give us peace. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my
peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be afraid.” God provided us His Holy Spirit, the Comforter. He has
made provision of peace for us in this troubled world.

Second, remember to surround yourself with other children of God. Isaiah 48:22 “There
is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” When we have conversations with those
that do not know God as their Savior, we sometimes allow the premise of their thoughts
to fashion our thoughts.

Third, remember we are at peace with God because of the blood of Jesus. Colossians
1:20 “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all
things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
As hard as we may try, we can not produce lasting peace in our life. Only Jesus can do
that.

Fourth, remember the peace of God depends upon you. Colossians 3:15 “And let the
peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye
thankful.” Make note of that little word “let”. We have an all-powerful God that has
provided peace to us if we just access it. But many times, we are guilty of carrying a
burden or trouble that God intends to carry for us. Let the peace of God rule in your
heart.

Consider: Could it be we do not experience peace because we do not believe God? –

Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye
may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

As you discuss this virus with others, the underlying theme is a hope that it will soon be over. But this hope is based in a hope of mankind. Child of God, either we believe Him or we do not. He has promised to fill us with all joy and peace, in believing. This believing will cause us to be full of His hope. Not the hope of the world.

We are quick to believe His hope of salvation. Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call
upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It was a wonderful thing to learn that God
would save us. Many were quick to grab hold of this truth. It takes others longer to
receive Him but most hope against hope that it was true.

Consider: We will have the peace of God once we realize that He is in control.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the
world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

As humans we naturally are aware of the troubles of this world. The storms of this life, if you will. But remember, the same God that calmed the sea wants to calm your soul. He is in control. This virus did not catch God by surprise.

Consider: The peace of God comes through keeping our mind stayed upon Him.

Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he
trusteth in thee.”  

(Stayed – to lean upon or to rest in – not in self; not in circumstances.)
What do you think about all day long? How much time do you spend thinking of Him and
meditating on His Word?

Consider: That the peace Of God comes through spiritual mindedness – 

Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

And this is what you should have your mind set on, Philippians 4:8  “Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good
report; if there be any virtue, and if[there be any praise, think on these things.”

Consider: That the peace of God comes through making peace –

2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”

How are things with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Is there any division between you? That ought not be for the Child of God. Make peace with one another.

Consider: That the peace Of God comes through prayer –

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

How much time do you spend in prayer? Every thought and every concern, all of our requests should be made known unto God. How is this done? It is done by prayer. The result is we shall possess the peace of God that goes beyond all human comprehension.

Finally, consider: That the peace of God comes through obedience to Scripture –

Philippians 4:9 “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and
seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Romans 15:4, ready begin…quote it. How in the world do we expect to experience the peace of God that He promises us if we do not read and hide His Word in our hearts?

Conclusion:

Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect
of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”

Have peace! Be at peace in God!

A Sermon by Don Thomason, Pastor of McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California.





He is the Silent Conqueror

12 04 2020

This is the Easter 2020 sermon from Pastor Don Thomason, pastor of McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California.

Read the crucifixion story: John 19:1- 20:18

Isaiah 53:7-9 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth. (8) He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who
shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the
transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit
in his mouth.”

Introduction:

Today we celebrate Easter. For many in business this is a time to
merchandise and make gain. For others it is a day that eggs are boiled, colored and
hidden for our children to find. Still others would look to have family gather for fellowship
and food. To the child of God Easter means something totally different. It is the day we
celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This morning I want us
to consider Jesus as He suffered the cross. Together we will ruminate about Jesus as
he was on the cross.

Have you ever been accused of something you did not do? If you grew up in a home
with at least one sibling you definitely know what I am talking about. My parents were
very good at getting to the truth but oh how I dreaded that time from possible accusation
to the time that justice was properly served. I can remember how stressful it was as I
would plead my case that I was innocent.

Sometimes, we will read or hear about someone that was wrongly convicted. Much of
the time those wrongly convicted will spend years and even decades in prison. How
does this happen. In America today, there are at least six ways to be wrongfully
convicted. The first is to be misidentified by an eyewitness. This is the leading cause of
conviction. The other are; unvalidated forensic science, false confessions, jailhouse
informant testimony, police and prosecutorial misconduct, a poor defense lawyer and
bias.

That is what happened to Jesus some 2,000 years ago. He had not done anything
wrong. He had not committed any crimes. He had not hurt anyone. But those that were
in authority had decided he had to die. In order to do this, they had to make him guilty
so they falsely charged him and moved him from hearing to another. In the end they
were successful. Jesus was crucified on a cross between two thieves. But He did not
deserve to be there.

There is a common proclamation of those that have been wrongly accused. It goes
something like this, “I did not do it. I am not guilty. You have got the wrong person. They
are lying.” This is our normal human response. I can be very quiet at times but if this
were to happen to me, I would be talking to anyone and everyone that listen, explaining to them that I had been wrongly accused. But there was something different about
Jesus, the Bible tells us that…

1. He was silent.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as
a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not
his mouth.” Verse 7.

Someone said, “sometimes you are known by what you do not say.” Consider that
hundreds of years later this prophesy of Isaiah was fulfilled by Jesus as he was being
accused. We find these fulfillments of prophecy in the gospels. “But Jesus held his
peace…” Matthew 26:63. “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he
answered nothing.” Matthew 27:12. “But he held his peace, and answered nothing.”
Mark 14:61. “But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.” Mark 15:5.
“Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.” Luke 23:9.
“And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But
Jesus gave him no answer.” John 19:9.

Jesus was standing before Pilate and Caiaphas as they accused Him and yet He did
not present a defense for Himself. It is interesting to note that Caiaphas had already
made up his mind about Jesus but Pilate had not.

Peter used Jesus as an example of how we are to respond when someone attacks our
faith when he wrote in 1 Peter 2:21-23, “For even hereunto were ye called: because
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22)
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him
that judgeth righteously:”

When we are insulted our natural inclination is to return insult for insult. But Jesus never
said a word. He was scourged, had a crown of thorns pushed into His head, had nails
driven into His hands and His feet, was spat on and cursed at, yet He never said a
word.

If you ever want to know who you really are, just let someone mistreat you or mistreat
someone that you love. I am reminded of the saying, “love me, love my dog.” How many
times have you witnessed a normally calm person rise up in anger when someone has
misspoken or said something mean to or about their children? Many times, the real test
of our faith is what we do not do. Sometimes as a child of God, instead of saying
something, you should say nothing at all.

Jesus was silent and never responded to his accusers. Consider this is the same Jesus
that said, “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matthew 28:19. He
could have called 10,000 legions of angels to Himself and yet He was silent. As Martin
Luther King Jr. once said, “We must say to our enemies, I love you. I would rather die
than hate you.” That is why Jesus was silent as He suffered the cross. He was doing it for all of mankind because He loves us. Not only was He silent as He suffered the cross
but…

2. He Was Unjustly Sentenced.

“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?
For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was
he stricken.” Verse 8.

The Jewish leaders were determined to kill Jesus. They paid Judas 30 pieces of silver
and arrested Jesus by cover of night. Where were the protestors that Jesus was
innocent? Who came to His defense? The answer is no one. Romans put him to death.
Isaiah said about Jesus that, “…he was cut off out of the land of the living:” Simply put,
Isaiah was saying that Jesus was a young man when he died. Jesus had only been on
the earth, in human form, for a little more than thirty years.

If we were discussing someone that had died in their early thirties, we would probably
say something like, “they died before their time.” “They had so much potential.” “They
were destined for greatness.” That was not the case with Jesus Christ.
There has been only one person in the history of the world that never left behind any
unfinished business, the Man Christ Jesus. Remember when Jesus died, He said, “…It
is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19:30. He
successfully completed the work that He came to do. Jesus paid the full price for our
sins. The work of salvation had been completed. That is the “finished work” of Jesus
Christ. There was nothing more that Jesus could do. There is nothing we can do. He
has died and now…

3. He Made His Grave with the Wicked.

“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had
done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” Verse 9.

This begs the question, “How can Jesus be buried with the wicked and yet be rich in His
death?” Sometimes you wonder as the men of God penned the words provided them by
the Holy Spirit if they considered their meaning. It is easy to understand that a wicked
person would be buried in obscurity but the rich are buried and given headstones or
large monuments.

How then, could Jesus be counted with both the wicked and the rich in His burial? R. T.
Kendall, a Baptist preacher said that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy three ways: First,
when Barabbas, a genuine criminal, was set free, and Jesus quite literally died in his
place. Second, when He died alongside of the two criminals who were also crucified
that day at Calvary. Third, when He died for sinners everywhere by taking their iniquity
upon Himself. “…and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6. “But
God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5.

Jesus lived a sinless life but upon His death was to be buried with the wicked but he
was actually buried in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, Matthew 27:57-60.
Again, you have the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Jesus Christ.
So, how was Jesus to die?

4. He Was Bruised

Isaiah 53:10-12 “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when
thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his
days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the
travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant
justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore will I divide him a portion
with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out
his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin
of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

These three verses answer the question, “Why did Jesus die?” Each verse gives us one
part of the answer. We already listed the first part of the answer, He was bruised.
According to the Bible God takes responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ. “Yet it
pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:” Is there one parent among us
that would take pleasure in putting their son to death? Yet is was the will of God that He
bruise His own Son. It was the will of God that His Son should be put to grief.
Revelation 1:18 reminds us, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive
for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
We must understand that the death of Jesus is not the end of the story. In fact, it is just
getting started.

5. He Shall Be Satisfied.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my
righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Verse 11

After He has suffered, He shall see and shall be satisfied. Not only was there physical
suffering of our Lord, He experienced emotional suffering as well. Consider Matthew
26:39, “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou
wilt.” Jesus was fully aware of the physical pain, torment and death He would ultimately
suffer. This caused Him emotional suffering knowing beforehand what was about to
happen to Him.

The key to verse 11 is, “He shall see the travail of his soul…” Just as a mother travails
in giving birth, going through death’s gate, Christ knew the travail of His soul would cause many to be justified. Romans 3:28 says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is
justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

In an interview Michael Bloomberg said, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to
heaven I am not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my
place in heaven. It is not even close.”

Whether you are a billionaire or the poorest of sinners going to heaven has nothing to
do with our goodness. The only way to heaven is to admit that you do not deserve to go
there. You must confess your sin to God and call upon His mercy by faith to save you.
6. He will be Given a Portion of the Spoil

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the
strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the
transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the
transgressors.”

Because of His suffering, the servant shall be exalted. In military terms God says that
Jesus will divide the spoils of victory. Like a soldier returning triumphantly from the
battle. What does He mean when He says, “…and he shall divide the spoil with the
strong…” The strong are those that have been justified.

By way of illustration, recall the story of David and Goliath. David fought for the
Israelites and Goliath fought for the Philistines. David won and when he did the whole
army of Israel won with him. David won the battle and the Israelites shared the spoils of
victory. It is the same with Jesus and us. It has been said, “The devil could not stop
Him. The cross could not defeat Him and the grave could not hold Him.

Philippians 2:8 tells us, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and
became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” It is because of that truth
that God has exalted His Son to the very highest level. So that one day every knee shall
bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Read Philippians 2:9-11.
As we draw near to the end of this message the reader must consider what Easter truly
means to them. Jesus was the only righteous man to have ever lived upon the face of
this earth. In all my years I have been witness to many persons with different degrees of
moral integrity but I have never seen a perfect man outside of the Word of God. His
reward for living a perfect life was the Cross of Calvary. But He did it on purpose as
stated in Romans 5:8. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Make note of the word “yet” as Christ died for us while
we were sinners. You know why He did? Because that is the only way sinners can be
saved.

So, Easter, what does that mean to me? How does it benefit me to know that the
celebration of Easter truly means that we are remembering the death of someone who
died 2,000 years ago?

If I have not made it clear, let me do so now. Easter is not just about remembering the
death of Jesus Christ, but rejoicing in His power over death, hell and the grave and
rejoicing in His resurrection. You see Christ is risen; He is risen indeed. He is the
conqueror over death, hell and the grave. He is the giver of New Life, He provides
Living Water, He is the Justifier.

I have heard it said by preachers that, the door to heaven is marked, “For Sinners Only.”
If you are a sinner, you can come in. Christ died for sinners like you and me. “Come
now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be
as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18.
God promises that, “…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son Cleanseth us from all sin.” 1
John 1:7.

Rejoice today in the Risen Savior. Remember what it cost Him.





Do What I Can-Pray

10 04 2020

My Pastor’s sermon for Wednesday April 8, 202 during the lockdown.

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted
in this attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

Coronavirus Numbers Update
Last week’s numbers are in red. This week’s numbers are in blue. At the time of my
writing this to you last week more than 400,000 (932,760) (1,495,051 today’s total)
people worldwide have been infected with the Coronavirus. At least 18,000 (46,840)
87,469 today’s total) people have died. The death rate per persons infected varies from
3.5% to 4.5%, depending upon your source. Italy has the highest number of deaths at
6,077 (13,155) (17,669). In the United States there have been 43,214 (212,980)
(425,107) reported cases with 533 (4,759) (14,262) deaths. This means that 1.23%
(2.23%) (3.35%) of all those infected in our country die.

Above is the updated Coronavirus update as of today. Please forgive me as I am one of
those number people. Like many of you I am constantly running calculations in my mind.
Now, I have only listed this information to keep you informed. Do not allow them to
frighten you. Remember, whether you what to know what the numbers are or not, they
are what they are. I just happen to be one of those people that thinks in numbers.

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1)

Introduction:

From the beginning of time, men have prayed,

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26)

In all types of places, at all times and in every conceivable situation, men have prayed. All people,
saved and lost have spent massive amounts of time in the pursuit of prayer. However,
only a small percentage of people have made prayer their priority. It is easy to recognize
that have as they stand out as bright lights in a dark world.
Many have chosen to pray when it was convenient, or when they were undergoing a time
of great stress and trial. Yet, it is clear from this verse that Jesus wants prayer to hold a
preeminent place in our lives. God expects us to be in constant contact with Him.

What is prayer?

1. Prayer Is an Invitation to God – Not coercion, not coaxing, but simply inviting God to
take over. It is me admitting my weakness and His power. Read about Jairus, Mark 5:
22-23.

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”

2. Prayer is Work – True prayer may require you to get up early, or stay up late, 1
Thessalonians 5:17.

“Pray without ceasing.”

3. Prayer Is A Battle – Satan does not fear nor withstand our prayerlessness, but he will
bitterly oppose our prayer efforts. Prayer is our greatest weapon in the battle between
good and evil, Ephesians 6:12.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

4. Prayer Is Power – Consider as examples, Moses, Daniel, The Three Hebrew Children,
Elijah, Paul and Silas. Prayer is the greatest power we have upon this earth.

I. PRAYER MUST BE A PRIORITY

A. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible, Luke 18:1 and Romans 12:12. We are to
remain in a constant spirit of prayer.

B. There are many examples of those that made prayer a priority.
1. Job – Job 1:5; 42:10.
2. Abraham – Genesis 12:7-8; 13:4-18; 22:9
3. Moses – Psalm 90:1-17
4. David – The Psalms are filled with many references to David’s prayer life. One
example is Psalm 86:1-17. Consider how David spoke to God.
5. Elijah – 1 Kings 17:1; 18:36-38
6. Daniel – Daniel 6:10
7. Jesus – Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12, 9:18, 29. Jesus relied on prayer.

Consider, if the Son of God had need to pray, how much more do we?

C. Jesus takes it for granted that His people are going to pray – Matthew 6:5

D. Is prayer a priority in your life? It should be, for it is your lifeline to the Father.
Matthew 11:25-26.

II. PRAYER MUST BE A PREREQUISITE

A. We should do nothing in any area of life without first taking the time to saturate the
matter in prayer.

B. Even Jesus preceded His activity with prayer.

1. Before feeding the 5,000 – John 6:11
2. Before raising Lazarus from the dead – John 11:41
3. Before His trial and crucifixion – Luke 22:41-45
4. Before becoming sin on the cross for us – Luke 23:34

III. PRAYER MUST BE PRACTICED

A. To make prayer truly effective, we must practice prayer. We must get ourselves busy
in the business of prayer! There are too may needs and too little time!

B. Pray at every decision. The time will come when you will find yourself in desperation
and must hear from God.

C. Remember, weak praying begets weak living! We must be diligent in our praying if we
want to be effective for the Lord.

Romans 15:4 (Quote it.) Tonight, I wanted to remind you all that our greatest power
source is through prayer. Do not allow the comforts we experience living in this great
country dull you to the fact that God provides our very heart beat.

As we continue this strange walk and strive to do what we can to keep our selves and
our loved ones safe, remember do not be afraid, 2 Timothy 1:7. Remember, He has
given us power, love and a sound mind.

Do what you can, pray!





Return

5 04 2020

This is my pastor’s Sunday Morning sermon for quarantine this Sunday April, 5th, 2020. Read it together as a family and read all the Scripture.

“Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.” (Ruth 1:6-22)

One preacher said, “It is possible to know God and yet be far from Him.”
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home. My parents loved “the boys.” There were
four of us. Dad worked hard at the factory producing cooling towers.

After coming home from work Dad would either work around the house or he would rebuild an engine on a car he had purchased to resell and supplement the family income. Mom would purchase food to feed us. Oh, how I loved that fried chicken and fried “taters.” We always had enough to eat. I never remember ever going hungry. We did not get many new clothes, unless you count the Nehru Jackets. But that is a story for another time. Mom would shop at the thrift stores and somehow always seemed to come home with nice, new-looking, clothes. Both my Mom and Dad instilled in us the value of hard work. I can still remember Dad saying, “If a job is not done correctly, it is not done.”

You would think that with all the love, provision and protection they provided us that we
would never disagree or disobey them, but we did. This was evidenced by the choices
that we made. These choices were signs that we were walking away from the safety of
their influence. While our choices created distance from the influence of our parents, we
were never far from them. We were never very far from them but we were very far apart
from their influence.

Similarly, that is how we are as children of God. Most of us have had the experience of
drifting away from God. We never planned for it to happen, but along the way we made
some wrong choices. Before you knew it, we were not as near to God as we had once
been. He had not left us as he promised, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

There are two things to remember; no one is exempt from this and we all come by it
naturally. This will happen to you no matter who you are. You might be the preacher or
a deacon and still be a long way from God. You might be a Sunday School teacher or
an usher and still be a long way from God. You may have grown up in a Christian home
but have rejected the teachings of that home. Perhaps something was said by another
believer and it broke your heart and crushed your spirit. Instead of making things right
with that person, somehow our relationship with God suffered. (This happens when we
choose to place blame where it does not belong.)

Something like this happened to Naomi. Several years have passed since she, her
husband and two sons left Bethlehem for the country of Moab. They left because there
was a famine in the land (a reasonable decision). They planned on staying just through
this difficult time and would then go back home. They had good intentions but nothing
worked out as they had hoped. Naomi’s husband, Elimelech died first and then her two
sons; Mahlon and Chilion died.

What do you do when the dreams of your life are shattered and you find yourself alone
and broken-hearted? That brings us to today’s passage of scripture, Ruth 1:6-22. There
is one word that appears repeatedly in these scriptures, the word “return.” In our
passage it has at least two meanings. One to physically return somewhere and second
to spiritually return back to the Lord.

When Naomi began her journey from Bethlehem she traveled west to east. Now ten
years later she is returning, traveling east to west. Her journey is both literal and
spiritual. After living in this Pagan land for a decade she is now returning to her
homeland but also in a spiritual sense she is turning her life around and returning to the
God of the Bible. She stepped out in faith with her family and is now returning battered
and bruised in her faith walk.

I believe this is a timely message for us as we are in the midst of uncertainty with the
Coronavirus pandemic. We need to practice Godly caution as we daily make decisions
that will impact us for the rest of our lives. Let me encourage you to walk more closely to
God than you have ever done before. You will discover that you must do it on purpose.
Here are three things to consider in your return.

1. Go Home

Naomi had a decision to make. Should she continued to dwell in Moab? If she does,
she will be a stranger in this land. If she makes that choice Orpah and Ruth will most
likely remarry Moabite men. Should she take her daughters-in-law with her to another
land? Or should she return to Bethlehem to be with her own people. Her decision
seemed to be an easy one to make when news arrived that the famine in Bethlehem
was over.

“Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the
country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited
his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where
she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on their way to return
unto the land of Judah.” (Ruth 1:6-7).

The famine was over, for Naomi the decision was easy. I shall return to my homeland.
But what of her two daughters-in-law? What would Orpah and Ruth decide to do? Life
as a Jewish widow in Bethlehem would be difficult at best, but it would be much worse
of young Moabite widows. Who would feed these women? Who would clothe and
provide them shelter?

Naomi did not have the wherewithal to take care of these young widows. The natural
thought process would be for them to live in Moab, the land of their people. Naomi was
attempting to give the best advice she could. She was not being unkind. It was natural
to consider that Orpah and Ruth would have a better chance of survival in Moab. It was
a difficult conversation to have to say the least. Consider the bond that these women
had made over the past several years. Naomi wanted what was best for her daughters-
in-law.

For Naomi, the decision had been made. She was going home back to the place of
blessing. But Orpah and Ruth wanted to stay with Naomi. They too intended to go to
Bethlehem and start over in a new land. Naomi wanted Orpah and Ruth to consider
what it would mean to live in a land that was new to them. Naomi pleaded with them
saying she was too old to have more sons they could marry. When Naomi encouraged
them to go back home, she said, “…Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord
deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.” (Ruth 1:8). I am told
that this is an Old Testament way of saying, “As you showed grace to the dead and to
me, may God now show grace to you.”

It is probable that the main reason Naomi encouraged Orpah and Ruth to go is found in
verse 13 when she said, “…that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.” She is
telling them to not stay with her because all that she had loved is now gone. She was
saying that the Lord had brought her nothing but trouble. First, it was famine in
Bethlehem and second, all the men in her life died. Without saying it she believed that
the Lord had become her enemy. (Have you ever felt that way before?) All hope seems
to be lost. There does not seem to be, “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Orpah took Naomi’s advice and returned to Moab. That is the last we ever hear of her in
Scripture. One can only imagine the heaviness of the hearts of those two as they
separated; Orpah to Moab and Naomi to Bethlehem. Naomi must have felt similar to the
Prodigal Son as he made the walk back to his father’s house. Recall he said, “And am
no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke
15:19).

As a side note, the Prodigal Son did not make any deals with his father. He came
back home with no conditions. He demanded nothing. (That would have been pride
speaking.) The Prodigal Son was so embarrassed about the way he had lived that he
was saying that I am not worthy to be called your son. Pride has no part in repentance.
In fact, real repentance does not make deals with God.

But like the Prodigal Son who underestimated his father’s heart, so did Naomi
underestimate her Heavenly Father’s heart. As we live in these uncertain times, if we
are not careful, we could find ourselves in this condition. It begins with the unwise
choices that have taken us far from God.

Many of us have lived within these poor choices for a long time. That in and of itself could cause us to doubt God’s willingness to take us back. If you are thinking that, ask God to remove that thought from your mind. Someone said, “Regret means you have learned from your mistakes.” If you regret your past, you know you messed up and if like Naomi you have tired of living with the pagans, you can return home. You do not have to stay in Moab. You can go home.

2. Commit to the Trip

Well Orpah has left but Ruth is refusing to leave her mother-in-law. Naomi attempts one
more time to convince Ruth to stay in Moab. Naomi knew how the Jews and the
Moabites hated one another.

Not only would it be difficult for Ruth to go there but it could be dangerous for her as well. One writer said that if Ruth went to Bethlehem, “She would be as welcomed as a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah.” Naomi knew that it could potentially cost Ruth something to go to Bethlehem. Similarly, Jesus warns the disciples of the cost of following Him, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear hi cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27).

Naomi is warning Ruth. She is doing her best to make her understand that this will not
be an easy life. But Ruth had made up her mind. Listen to her response in Ruth 1:16-
17, “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for
whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:
the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

Many times, these words are quoted in wedding ceremonies but they first applied to a
daughter-in-law committing herself to her mother-in-law. Not only is she committing
herself to Naomi but also to Naomi’s people and Naomi’s God. Ruth’s commitment is
personal, it is voluntary and it is complete.

This is something when you consider that Ruth had nothing to gain by going to
Bethlehem. She seems like an intelligent person and certainly knew that she was
probably looking at a life of poverty and rejection. The only thing that Ruth is thinking at
this moment is her connection and attachment to Naomi. (Oh, that we could attach
ourselves to God and allow Him to sort out our future.)

It would seem that Ruth was displaying more faith than Naomi. This is amazing when
you consider that the faith being displayed was that by an “outsider” of the faith. After
Ruth’s proclamation to Naomi, verse 18 tells us that, “…then she left speaking unto
her.” There was no reason for anymore talk. Ruth was going to be by her side.

3. Go to the Place of Blessing

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem. In those days Bethlehem was a tiny village.
Everyone knew everyone. The questions the town folk must have had. Where is
Elimelech? Where are the boys? Certainly, they were pleased and surprised to see
Naomi at the same time. Here is how Naomi sums up her time in the country of Moab,

“And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt
very bitterly with me. I went out full, and Lord hath brought me home again empty:
why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty
hath afflicted me.” (Ruth 1:20-21).

Do not call me Naomi (Pleasant) but call me Mara (Bitter). One preacher said, “Ruth is a
bruised believer, and those bruises take a long time to heal.” Naomi was saying God
made me very bitter. God brought me back empty. He opposed me. He afflicted me.
The bitter pain that Naomi experienced in Moab had bruised her faith, but it has not
destroyed it. If God is sovereign, then I must deal with God.

Naomi has no idea what is going to happen next. (Just like us when we come back from
our Moab.) She is not thinking of Boaz and how he will someday marry Ruth. We are
looking at a bruised and battered woman that has come home in utter defeat. It seems
that God has dealt harshly with her, or so she believes. She cannot see the bigger
picture. (We are no different today. We walk into the next day as the sun comes up after
experiencing great defeat. You see, we are all a Naomi at sometime or other in our
Christian walk. Are you walking back from your Moab now?)

Someone said, “Can we return to God and still harbor feelings like this? If we answer
no, it means we have not suffered very much.” For those that have suffered great loss,
you can understand Naomi’s heart. She is a battered and bruised believer and those
bruises take a long time to heal.

It was a difficult trip for Naomi to make, returning home without her husband and
sons. But she was determined to return to the place of God’s blessing. Some
might read this story and say that Naomi was a bitter woman. This is a true statement
but there is more to consider. As long as she stayed in Moab, she was out of God’s will.
At least she had the faith to make the long journey home. (How about you?)

We all make foolish choices that put us in bad situations. All of us, at one time or
another, have tried to sojourn in Moab. Perhaps we have done it by entering into an
incorrect relationship. Perhaps we moved when we should have stayed. Maybe we
gave up too soon. Perhaps we attempted to try a shortcut that got us into trouble.
Maybe we were thinking we could become involved in sin convincing ourselves that it
would not hurt us. We tried all these only to end up in defeat.

How about you today? Have you journeyed to Moab as the result of a sinful decision?
You see the question is not, “Have we sinned?” Of course, we have sinned. The
question is, “What will you do about it?”

Remember God’s grace exceeds our sin. One man said, “God does not consult your
past to determine your future.” Thank God that is true, and it is just as true for us as it
was for Naomi.

A footnote:

As we have discussed we are living in uncertain times. The Coronavirus has
provided far more questions than answers. I just want to remind you that while these are
uncertain times to us, they are not uncertain times to God. Remember what Charles
Spurgeon said about those that trust in the material things of the world,

“Every now and then, in order to enforce this distasteful truth upon us (that God is in control), the God of Providence gives the world, in some way or other, a warning shake. The Lord only has to lay one finger upon the world, and the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, where the waters of the ocean roar and are troubled until the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”

God is using this uncertain time to drawn people to Himself. Let’s join Him as He does.





Be Encouraged-God Has Promised

1 04 2020

This is the text to my pastors Wednesday night Bible study.

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted in this
attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

Coronavirus Numbers Update
Current numbers updated in red. At the time of my writing this to you last week more
than 400,000 (932,760 today’s total) people worldwide have been infected with the
Coronavirus. At least 18,000 (46,840 today’s total) people have died. The death rate per
persons infected varies from 3.5% to 4.5%, depending upon your source. Italy has the
highest number of deaths at 6,077 (13,155 today’s total) with 63,927 (110,574 today’s
total) number of cases. In the United States there have been 43,214 (212,980 today’s
total) reported cases with 533 (4,759 today’s total) deaths. This means that 1.23%
(2.23% today’s total) of all those infected in our country die.

The president has requested of us that we self-quarantine through April 30 th . We may or
may not find that this date will be extended into the month of May. Only those
businesses deemed “essential” are still allowed to work. Grocery stores and gas stations
continue to remain open as do take out food facilities. The goal is to reduce personal
interaction with one another. There are indications that self-quarantining has been
helpful in drastically reducing the spread of the Coronavirus.

That said, the world as we knew it has changed very quickly. Things that we never
dreamed of seeing are happening. Some shelves at grocery stores are empty. Our
stores used to have an overabundance of bread, eggs, milk, meat and paper products.
Now we are blessed if we find these items available.

Last week I asked the question, “So, as a Child of God, what do we do?” I bring to your
remembrance that as a child of God we are not to despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8 tells us, We
are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;”
There will be many times throughout our lifetime that we will be presented with situations
that perplex (cause to be puzzled or bewildered over what is not understood or certain)
but that should not then be allowed to grow into despair. Despair is to have no hope (the
complete loss or absence of hope.) This is antithetical (mutually incompatible) to what
scripture tells the child of God. Again Romans 15:4, ready begin (quote it.)

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Remember last week I encouraged us to not focus on the storm going on around you.
That storm could be the Coronavirus or something else but do not allow yourself to be in
fear of that. Remember, do not complain about your current storm but rather, learn to be
the student and not the victim. Take time to ask God what he is doing. But only if you
truly believe that he is in full control of your life, which He is.

So, what do we do? We do what we can! Here are some suggestions.

1. Check on your elderly neighbors but do not overwhelm them with your contact of
phone calls or texts. Find out if they need groceries. Find some way to bring a
smile to their face.

2. Contact your friends in the medical field and ask if they are doing okay. Let them
know you appreciate their efforts.

3. If you are the designated shopper, keep your distance from one another, cough
into your arm. Wear gloves and or a mask.

Do not focus on the things you cannot do. This can become frustrating.
Read Romans chapter 8. As a child of God, we have many promises, here are just four:

1. We Are Free of Condemnation – Romans 8:1
Owe are no longer under the condemnation or our sin for it has been satisfied by
Jesus Christ. We are no longer under the penalty of punishment. Did you know
that no one can serve the imposed jail sentence for someone else? The laws of all
the states decree that when someone is convicted of a crime, that person is to
receive the actual conviction that will go on his or her record and if jail time is
given, the person who received the jail sentence must actually serve the time.
God paid our penalty on the cross. He was our substitute, 1 John 2:1-2. He is our
propitiation.

2. God is For Us – Romans 8:31
If you have ever played sports for a school you are aware of the difference of
playing for the “home crowd” verses the “away crowd.” There is just something
about playing for the home crowd. The encouragement you receive from it and
how it causes you to play just a little bit harder. This is a poor analogy attempting
to illustrate what we have in Christ in knowing that he is for us. Oh, praise God
that he is not against us. That said, read James 4:6 and consider what the author
was saying to the child of God.

3. We Are Conquerors – Romans 8:37
The dictionary defines conqueror as – a person who vanquishes; victor. Matthew
Henry said that as conquerors we have little loss. He continued that in fact we
have great gain. He added that the spoils are exceedingly rich and these are
glory, honor and peace. Consider what all earthly conquerors had in common. All
were defeated in battle or in death. In other words, as a child of God, with Him, we
win!

4. Nothing Can Separate Us from Jesus Christ – Romans 8:38-39
The Apostle Paul recorded several things to consider that cannot separate us
from the Love of Jesus Christ. There are no angels or rulers that can separate us
from Jesus Christ. There is nothing that is currently happening or something that
is going to happen that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. There is no
mountain height or valley low that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. If it were possible to kill my God then you could separate His love from us, but as
someone said, “Death cannot kill what never dies.”

Be encouraged. God is still on the throne. Do not allow what you do not know to
cause you to fear. Read Philippians 4:8.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Here are some scriptures to meditate on and to memorize.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah  41:10)

Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” (Psalm 41:1-3)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:2-4)

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of
God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)





Slaves of God: Free From All To Honor All

28 05 2014

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Through this text this morning God has something to say to us about calling our president “Slick Willy.” He has something to say about Rush Limbaugh. He has something to say about a spirit of anti-authoritarian rebellion prevalent in our society and in the church. He has something to say about the moral foundations of civil law. And, most importantly he has something to say about the way God relates to all these things and what it means to be a God-centered Christian in a pagan or neo-pagan culture. It is full and overflowing with relevance for us. So let’s start with the most important—the central—and then work our way out to these other practical matters of Christian living today.

Live to God

The most important thing this text does is put all of our social and political life into relation to God. The Bible is not a book about how to get along in the world. It is a book inspired by God about how to live to God. I love that phrase “live to God.” It’s not mine. It’s Paul’s. He said in Galatians 2:19, “Through the law I died to the law that I might live to God.” The aim of life—including our social and political life—is to live to God. To live with God in view. To live under his authority. To live on him like we live on air and food and water. To live for his good reputation.

So the most important thing these five verses do is put our social and political life into relation to God, so we can live to God even in this seemingly secular part of our lives.

Let me simply take each verse just as each comes and point at this Godwardness in Peter’s dealing with these social matters. Each verse mentions God explicitly except one (v. 14) and that one implies God’s work and purpose.

“For the Lord’s Sake”

We start with verse 13:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, (14a) or to governors.
What Grounds Our Submission

The key phrase in this verse is “for the Lord’s sake.” If you miss that, you miss the most important thing. There is a kind of allegiance to human institutions that is not for the Lord’s sake, and that is not what Peter is interested in. It may resemble Christian submission on the outside, but it is radically different.

Christians do not submit to human institutions simply because they feel like it, or because they have compliant personalities or because the institutions have coercive powers. We do not look first at ourselves to see what we feel like doing, nor do we look first at the institution (like government) to see if it there are consequences for not submitting. We look first to God. We consult God about the institution. And we submit for his sake.

Why This Issue Is Necessary to Address Here

What makes this issue so urgent for Peter that he brings it up right here is what he has said in the previous four verses. In verse 9 he said that Christians are “a chosen race, a holy nation, and a people of God’s own possession.” In verse 10 he said that we are “the people of God.” In verse 11 he said that we are therefore aliens and strangers here among the social and political institutions of this world.

All that raises the question whether we have any allegiance to the institutions of this world at all. If we are a separate “holy nation” and if we are “God’s people” and if we are “aliens and strangers,” perhaps then we should withdraw into our own Christian ghettos and communities and enclaves and have nothing to do with the powers and institutions of the world. Peter’s answer to that is NO.

While you are in this world, you are (in different senses) citizens of two orders, two systems. This world with its necessary institutions, and the order of the kingdom of God with its necessary values. This is not because the two orders have equal authority, but because God is the ruler and owner of both, and when you belong first to him and his kingdom, you can be sent by him, for his sake, for his purposes, for his glory into the kingdom of this world.

An Act of Tribute to God’s Supreme Authority

In this way Christian submission to the institutions of this world becomes an act of tribute to God’s authority over the institutions of the world. You look a king or a governor in the eye and say, “I submit to you, I honor you—but not for your sake. I honor you for God’s sake. I honor you because God owns you and rules over you and has sovereignly raised you up for a limited season and given you the leadership that you have. For his sake and for his glory and because of his rightful authority over you, I honor you.”

So verse 13 subordinates all submission on earth to a higher submission to God when it says, “Submit for the Lord’s sake.” We keep the speed limit for God’s sake, not because we might get a ticket. And all our driving becomes an act of worship.

God’s Design for Government

Next . . . verse 14:

[Submit to kings and governors] as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
This is the one verse in the text that does not mention God. But he is here. When Peter tells us that the purpose of kings and governors is to punish evil and praise good, he is giving God’s purpose for them. We know this from Romans 13:4 where Paul says, that civil authority “is a minister of God to you for good . . . [and] it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.”

So what verse 14 expresses is not necessarily what Nero and his provincial governors aimed to do. It expresses what God designed government for. Nero, in fact, beheaded Paul and crucified Peter upside down. The proper aim of government is to dam up the river of evil that flows from the heart of man so that it does not flood the world with anarchy (as, for example, in Rwanda and Somalia). Governments do not save; they are to maintain external order in a world seething with evil so the saving message of the gospel can run and triumph on its own power. That is why Paul urged us in 1 Timothy 2:1–4 to pray for kings and those in authority—because he desires that the gospel not be hindered by upheaval, so that more people can be saved.

The Will of God

Next . . . verse 15:

For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
We are to get our bearings in a pagan culture from the will of God (1 Peter 4:2). We are aliens and strangers. We consult our true Sovereign how to live. He tells us what is right and what is wrong through his book—our ultimate charter and constitution.

His aim for us—just like it was last week in verse 12—is that we live out such a joyful, sacrificial, humble, fearless life of goodness to others that their slander of Christianity will finally be silenced. “By doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

We get this strategy and the strength and guidance to live it from God.

Bondslaves of God

Next . . . verse 16:

Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
What this verse teaches is that we belong to God and not the American government. We are slaves of God and not man (1 Corinthians 7:22–23). We do not submit to human institutions as slaves to those institutions but as God’s free people. We submit in freedom for his sake. Not in bondage for the king’s sake.

God has transferred us in one profound sense from this age to the kingdom of his Son. We have passed from death to life. But then for a season he sends us back into this age, as it were, not as we were once—as slaves to sin and guilt and the whims of this age and its institutions—but as free people, as aliens who live by other values and other standards and goals and priorities. We do submit. But we submit freely, not cowering before human authorities, but gladly obeying our one true King—God.

Our whole disposition of freedom and joy and fearlessness and radical otherness from this world is rooted in our belonging to God—which in one sense is slavery (because his authority over us is absolute) but in another sense is glorious freedom (because he changes our hearts so that we love doing what he gives us to do).

As Martin Luther said in his wonderful little treatise called “The Freedom of a Christian”:

A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.
The key to that paradox is God. Freed by God from slavery to all human institutions; and sent by God freely and submissively into those institutions—for his sake!

The Progression of Honor

Finally . . .verse 17:

Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
There is a progression here I think. First, give to all human beings (good and bad) a basic respect and honor. The way you respect a scoundrel like Judas and the way you respect a saint like John will be different. But there is a way. And we are to look for it and find it. It probably will not mean that the word scoundrel should drop out of existence. But how you use it will be profoundly changed.

Then, beyond that common respect and honor of all humanity, there is a special love that is to be given to “the brotherhood,” that is, to fellow Christians.

Then beyond that common respect for all and that special love for Christians, there is a special fear appropriate to God, and no one else. We are not slaves of men, and so we do not fear men. We give them honor freely. And we love Christians freely. And we bow to God’s absolute authority reverently.

“Honor all, love the brotherhood, fear God . . . ”

Then, back to the basic honor—”Honor the king.” Include him in the honor and respect given to all. He is not to be feared and he need not be loved as Christians are loved. But he must be honored. First comes our absolute allegiance to God. Next comes our affectionate love for other believers. Then comes our honor to the king and other unbelievers. The king is not God. Only God is God.

That is the main message of this text. But now look at a few of the implications for our life today. I mentioned four at the beginning of this message.

Four Applications

1. Honoring the President

First, I said it has something to say about calling the President of the United States “Slick Willy.” Now it almost goes without saying that I find myself more out of tune with this president than any president in my lifetime. The month he was inaugurated I preached a sermon asking, “How do pro-life Christians honor a pro-choice president?” It wasn’t easy then and it has gotten harder since.

But the fact is we must find a way to express our dismay at some of his views and some of his behavior while also communicating a basic respect for him has a person and a respect for his office which is ordained by God. “Honor all men . . . honor the king.”

One way to do this is to let sorrow temper indignation. This doesn’t mean you will only talk when you agree with him. It means that when you disagree with him, you will let the moral and social seriousness of the issue guard you from cheap, careless, insolent cynicism.

2. Rush Limbaugh

This relates directly to the second implication I mentioned at the beginning. The text has something to say about Rush Limbaugh.

I have no comment on Limbaugh’s politics. But I can’t help but think this text has a bearing on the spirit he exudes. I only want to ask you if you believe his prevailing attitude and spirit and tone (and the key word here is prevailing, since there may be times when satire has a place in the rough and tumble public forum) is one that you hope will be more prevalent in our social discourse or in the life of our church? Is it the spirit of one who honors all men and honors in a special way the king—the president? From show to show does sorrow balance indignation and disdain? Are there tears for terrible consequences? Is there a heartfelt earnestness and concern that goes beyond cynicism? I’m not sure about the answer since I have not heard or watched enough. But be alert that these questions matter, not just his political views.

3. Anti-Authoritarian Rebellion

Third, I said that this text has something to say about a spirit of anti-authoritarian rebellion prevalent in our society and in the church.

There is an inborn dislike for authority in all human beings. We are rebels by nature. Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit in order that they might be like God and determine for themselves what is good and evil. That has been our nature ever since. It’s what we need to be saved from by the cross of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some cultures foster this rebellious spirit more than others. Ours fosters it profoundly. Driving through Chicago I saw a huge billboard that said on the one side: “Image is everything,” and on the other side in huge red letters, “Rebel!” The two go hand in hand. The one says that truth and inner reality do not matter. In fact they may not even exist. What matters is what you can get by the image you project. So it follows: “Rebel!” against anyone who tries to limit you by saying there is some standard for your inner life—anyone who says that image is not everything. Especially rebel against God because in God’s eyes image is not anything—except a micro-thin cellophane wrapping around nothing—or around a pouting adult child stuck at the immature stage of the “terrible twos.”

This text, with the whole Bible, calls us to humble ourselves first before God, who has absolute authority and absolute rights over us, as the potter over the clay, and then, for his sake, to humble ourselves before any institution that God tells us to. In short, the one remedy to rebellion is the grace of God making us submissive to the authority of God so that we can enjoy the all-satisfying fellowship of God and submit in freedom to institutions designed by God.

4. Moral Foundations of Civil Law

Finally, I said that this text has something to say about the moral foundations of civil law.

Verse 14 says that civil authority exists for the punishing of wrong and the praising of good. I can’t do justice to a huge issue. But I can point. And what this points to is that the realities of wrong and right are foundations of law. If the civil authorities are to punish wrong and reward right, then there must be wrong and right.

I suggest that one of our tasks as Christians—not the only one, or even the main one—is to keep saying that. Laws (and their proper enforcement) rest on the reality of right and wrong. If we do away with right and wrong, laws will be without foundation and will crumble and all that will be left is anarchy.

It is not our job to save America from anarchy. Our job is to live to God in all of life—including the social and political parts of life—so that others may turn to him and be saved and give him glory. But in that process, leaders are honored, and civil discourse is purged of cynicism, and the rebellious spirit is humbled, and the moral foundation of law is strengthened. And this in turn reveals, for those who have eyes to see, that living unto God is good for the world.

By Pastor John Piper
May 29, 1994
By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org








%d bloggers like this: