Archive for the ‘ Sermon ’ Category

Palm Sunday Sermon 2020 – Worship Without Understanding

I preached, again! And this time, THERE’S VIDEO!

Because this is in the middle of the C-19 pandemic, so we are not supposed to meet in person.

And a reminder that the notes below are merely my notes, not every word I said in the video!

There is also mention of the children’s lesson based on this sermon that Caitlin recorded earlier!

Read Matthew 21:1-11 before starting:

The Triumphal Entry

21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Palm Sunday 2020 (The Church Next Door) – Matthew 21:1-11 – Worshiping Without Understanding

Imagine being a 1st Century Jew. 

  • A hostile government 
  • Foreign soldiers walking the streets 
  • Turncoats siding with the hostile government (tax collectors, joining the army)
  • Weak and compromising leadership 

And here comes Jesus, the one everyone is calling the Savior of Israel! Finally! Someone to throw out the Romans and restore Israel to greatness! Here is a great prophet and king! Save us! 

And then there is Jesus. He knows our expectations, but he subverts them. He knows our longings, but He has His purpose. 

Triumphal Entry: Celebration 
“God has come to do what we expect!” 

But the cross … Not what we expected. 
“In this world you will have trouble …” (John 16:33) 

Triumphal Entry: Worship 
Christ still receives worship, even amidst our misunderstanding. 

So, the cross … Shows us why He can accept. 
So, we should show grace to our brothers & sisters in error of understanding. 

January 17: Took Caitlin to the airport, stopped at a favorite coffee shop. 
Was updating the owner about my 10-month-old nephew being hospitalized with Hand Foot Mouth, Pneumonia, RSV, and other stuff. 
Customer asks if has gotten better, and I mentioned that as a Christian I believe all of the prayers helped get him home on Christmas night. 
Oops. Angry atheist. If any god exists, he “royally ****** up with humans. So you probably believe he made your nephew sick, which means he’s evil! If anyone helped your nephew it was the doctors.” 

I went from celebrating my God for healing my nephew to getting attacked for my faith. 

But I had a peaceful calm the moment this man blew up. And, how come our world is so messed up? “Short answer: sin. God gave us free will, and we choose to mess up this world by rejecting Him. But He plans on fixing it one day.” 
I did not get to share the full gospel with this man, but he respected meeting a Christian not afraid to tackle the hard questions. God gave me His grace to peaceably talk with a hostile man, calm him down, and even get a “It was nice talking with you! Have a nice day!” as he left. 

Why? 

Because I celebrated, without knowing what was coming. (But I also put in the groundwork of worshiping with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, studying the Word and answers people have provided.) 

But because of what did come over the week after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem – the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus – I could still worship Him by loving one who hates Him. 

Think back to those worshiping on Palm Sunday: (Matthew 21:11) “This is the prophet Jesus.” 
They see Lazarus – the man who was dead just a week earlier! – and think of Elijah and Elisha raising women’s sons. 
They see the donkey, and they think of Zechariah 9:9 prophesying the King coming on a donkey, and then probably skipped ahead to Zechariah 14: (vv. 1-5)

Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Here comes the King, on the Mount of Olives, to fight off the invaders and restore our nation! Especially with the other events of the week: 

  • Clearing the Temple with zeal for God’s house 
  • Rebuking and shaming the Pharisees and Sadducees 
  • Celebrating the Passover, the first time a mighty prophet led Israel out of subjugation into freedom 

But our Lord does not meet their expectations. What else happened that week? 
The arrest. 
The abuse. 
The crucifixion. 

No one saw it coming. (Even with Jesus’ own warnings!) 

If only they had continued reading in Zechariah [14:6-9]:

On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

When coupled with Daniel 9:24, 
“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place
we see that the Messiah would bring an end to sin and then establish His worldwide, eternal Kingdom. 

So, on Palm Sunday, we are reminded of three things: 

  1. Jesus accepts our worship, even when we misunderstand and believe wrongly about Him. 
    1. So, we need to show grace to those we disagree with. 
      1. The disciples did not understand that this King was going to die in just a few days time, and it caused them to scatter. (Self-isolate?) And Jesus still loved them!
    2. There are many who teach things wrongly, but they may still be our brothers and sisters. 
    3. Though, just as Jesus rebuked and shamed the leadership in His day, we must watch for and correct false teachings. 
      1. If the teachers repent, awesome! 
      2. If not, then we distance ourselves from them. 
    4. NOT EVERYTHING WE DISAGREE WITH IS NECESSARILY FALSE TEACHING! 
      1. Look at George Whitefield and John Wesley: a Calvinist and an Arminian who were dear brothers in Christ. 
  2. We worship and celebrate God without knowing everything that is coming. 
    1. The disciples did not understand that this King was going to die in just a few days time, and it caused them to scatter. (Self-isolate?) But it led to our salvation from sin! 
    2. Palm Sunday during C-19 Pandemic 
      1. Didn’t see it coming, but look at us trusting our Lord and meeting in innovative ways (such as Zoom!) 
    3. We know God leads us through hard things, and we rejoice and share the Gospel. (2 Corinthians 5 – Ambassadors for Christ sharing the message of reconciliation and peace) 
      1. Just as I was ready with an answer for an angry atheist, we are all commanded to be ready to give a reasoned defense for the faith that is within us, especially when bad/hard things happen (1 Peter 3:14-15). 
  3. We remember that our King shall return triumphantly to institute His eternal Kingdom! 
    1. Jesus warned (yes, warned!) and promised us He will return. 
      1. He was the gentle lamb in His ministry, but He is returning as a strong Lion and conquering King! 
    2. We need not imagine what ancient Israelites thought about our coming King. The book of Revelation shows us that God’s wrath will be poured out on the entire earth, all of Creation will be renewed through fire, and His eternal Kingdom shall be established as heaven and Earth become one. [READ Revelation 22:1-7, 20-21] 

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Topical message: The God Who … Slays?

If you are unable to attend a church at this time, may this short message help get you through. Obviously, it is preferable to get together to sing praises, pray, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached.

Regardless, may this message be a blessing to you in some way.

Topical Message: The God Who … Slays?

I guess we can consider this part two of the C-19 response series.

Last time we looked at whether the church staying apart during something like a pandemic is biblically okay. (Basically, yes, though far from ideal.)

This time, I am going to tackle one of those difficult questions: Does God send various calamities – such as C-19, locusts, earthquakes, and famines – against people, nations, and various groups?

There are two passages to consider.

The first is found in Luke 13:1-5:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The other passage is Amos 4:6-10:

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. “I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

“I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. “I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

So, what do these two passages tell us?

  1. Sometimes people really deserve what they get! But they do not always get what they deserve, at least in this life;
  2. And sometimes God does send war, famine, pestilence, and pain as judgment.

We should talk about this.

Let’s start with that second point: God sending these things. We see through Amos and the other Old Testament accounts that God sent the plagues on Egypt (Amos 4:10), and we know long before that He sent the flood waters in the time of Noah. Further, we get to the Revelation at the end of the Bible, and we see that God’s wrath is literally poured out on the entire Earth because they have rejected God.

And of course, we see the highlight of the whole Bible, when God’s wrath was poured out on the Man on the cross. This points back to the first point: people do not always get what they deserve. As Christians, we appreciate this, because we know that humanity deserves God’s wrath and judgment. Yet, we do not get what we deserve thanks to God’s grace poured out to us through the cross.

But what about the rest of the world?

In the Luke passage, we see that Pontius Pilate deserved punishment from God by mixing the blood of Galileans in with the sacrifices. Yet, he lived much of his life in relative comfort. Conversely, those Galileans and the eighteen killed by the tower falling did not necessarily do anything wrong.

This brings up two other quick points:

  1. Is it so bad to die? If we are true followers of Christ, no! As Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:
    For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
    So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

    So, for those apart from Christ, it is bad to die, because they still face judgment and wrath. But we Christians await judgment and glory with Christ.

    And, we must also recognize, God is our Creator. As Romans 9 reminds us, who are we to question the Potter? Just as we may create something – say, a bowl – and then throw it away later, why can’t our Creator do the same? Compared to God, we are nothing: clay. Yet, He still chooses to save us or let us reject Him. Which leads to …
  2. The other point is that God may not directly send these things, but He does allow them.

Make no mistake. God is still in complete control. He lets natural processes play out. And we may ask why, because, if He is all-powerful (omnipotent), then He can stop these things from happening.

But as I have said numerous times, if people keep saying they want nothing to do with God, that they push Him away and call Him evil, why should He stop these things or protect them from these things? We know God can control illnesses (Plagues in Egypt, Exodus 7-12), the movements of the Earth (see Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16) and the weather (Noah’s flood in Genesis 6-9 and Elijah’s praying for rain in 1 Kings 17-18), and even the Sun’s motion (Joshua 10). He can stop these things from happening or getting worse, but the majority of the world’s population says, “We don’t need you!” Then they blame Him for those things!

So, now that we know God does send some things and allows others, how do we respond?

We can blame God for all the problems in this world and fear what will happen to us in this life. And then the life to come.

Or we can remember that we live in a rebellious world, fallen into chaos because of our own (collective) sin, and that God is still in control. It is not pleasant to suffer, and I will not judge anyone for fearing that suffering. But we can rest in the hope that the One who suffered for our sins on the cross has promised He is coming again, and we will be with Him in comfort and joy for all eternity.

Therefore, believe that Jesus was the perfect man and Son of God, who saw us in our sin and rebellion but came to offer us grace and forgiveness by dying on the cross for our forgiveness of sin, that He rose again to life, and that He now sits at the right hand of the Father until He comes again. Then, you can know you will escape the final judgment of the Earth.

Topical message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

If you are unable to attend a church at this time, may this short message help get you through. Obviously, it is preferable to get together to sing praises, pray, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached.

Regardless, may this message be a blessing to you in some way.

Topical Message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

At the time of making this, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. School and business closures, self-quarantining, limited numbers of people allowed to gather, and “social-distancing” (staying at least six feet apart) are affecting all of us. It can be difficult, problematic, and even annoying (especially seeing the empty shelves at the store.)

Many people are talking about even churches being told to stop services, which has led some to be concerned about regularly meeting, some to complain, and some to say this is a government overreach.

We should talk about these.

Firstly, we must ask ourselves, “What about the admonition in Hebrews 10:23-25 to keep meeting together?”

This is a valid point. We do live in the age of the internet, making it easier to have church together at a distance. (Look at this, right here!) My little church, The Church Next Door, is holding Zoom services for the next few weeks, because we meet in a school building, now closed by state mandate. Even if we wanted to keep meeting, it is not our building. So we have another option.

And, yes, as Christians, we have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), but we are also commanded to watch over the sick (Matthew 25:31-46). It would be irresponsible of us to put others in danger by bringing together those who may be sick with those who are more susceptible.

Secondly, this seems an inconvenience, fearmongering, and unbiblical to live in the fear of a virus or other illness.

These things are an inconvenience. There indeed has been a lot of fearmongering and irresponsible behavior by many people on almost all sides of this pandemic. We can debate many of them later, if you wish! However, it is not necessarily fearmongering to say we should do what we can to avoid spreading an illness. In fact, it actually is biblical quarantine and separate.

Leviticus 13:1-8:
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean. But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up for another seven days. And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the eruption spreads in the skin, after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again before the priest. And the priest shall look, and if the eruption has spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprous disease.

What does this mean for us?

Simply, God established the precedent for this sort of quarantining and self-isolation. It keeps others from contracting an illness, and it helps us to see whether or not someone actually has the disease or illness that could affect others. The current C-19 scare is absolutely being handled in a biblical way through the leadership demanding isolation and closing things down.

But, thirdly, isn’t this government overreach?

In some regards, maybe. But as just discussed, not necessarily. Again, we can debate some of this later, but (and you probably are expecting this one) we also need to remember Romans 13’s admonition to obey our governments, and Peter’s similar reminder to honor the national leader and leading institutions (1 Peter 2:13-25). Even if they are “not my president” or from a different political party or even despicable, deplorable humans, they have been put in power.

And, again, as stated before, as Christians it is our duty to obey within reason as we love our neighbor to God’s glory – including being physically separated for a time.

It is okay. It is not necessarily a sin.

And we are able to virtually meet for a time in our modern, technological world.

In the meantime, do what you can to help each other in such difficult times. Share your goods, as possible. (Especially if you, quite bluntly, sinfully hoarded toilet paper. SHARE WITH THOSE WHO MAY NEED IT!) Offer to meet other needs by running errands for each other. Call each other on the phone. Send e-mails and texts to each other to encourage and fight loneliness.

Most importantly, pray for each other, our communities, our nation, and our world.

Whether this is the end of the world or not (*wink wink*), we still have the command to love God, to love each other, and to go into all the world (even virtually) making disciples and teaching them to obey all Christ has commanded us.

And He is with us always, to the end. Trust Him. Turn to Christ in faith, especially if you have not trusted Him as your Lord and Savior. There may literally never be a better time.

Sermon: Signs You’re a Christian – 1 John 3:10-24

I preached again! I liked it. Like, wept some, got goosebumps some, enjoyed preaching it … a lot.

Please enjoy listening (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

Signs You’re a Christian (1 John 3:10-24)

Read 3:10-11

        1:1, 2:7: Nothing new, known from the beginning

Read 3:12

        Genesis 4:3-5: Why did Cain murder Abel? His sacrifice was not accepted.
Why?
2 theories: 1) He could have asked Abel for an animal sacrifice. Could have, yes, but …
          2) He offered “an offering of the fruit” versus Abel’s “firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Abel offered the first and best, but Cain went for the bare minimum.
Genesis 4:6-7: Bare minimum can lead, at best, to complacency, and at worst to proof of not being saved.
Genesis 4:8-9: Our selfishness leads us to hatred, as John reminds us …

Read 3:13-15

        Testimony: Know I am saved, because I have loved the Church.
-Jim Harper – Pastor on the Titanic
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Pastor in Nazi Germany

Read 3:16-20

        Two things to remember:

  • Our sinful hearts:
    • Jeremiah 17:9-10
    • How righteous are we really?
      • Illustration with three volunteers (preferably one of the Paul’s, Jadon, and Scott as our prime example):
        • 1 at the left, representing Hitler and anti-christs
        • Student at the right, representing Christ
        • Scott (or someone) being moved for how much righteousness he has, starting out close to student, moving him until he is right next to “Hitler” to demonstrate how much better we are apart from Christ. Then, back over to hug “Christ” who has covered our sins with his own blood.
    • Romans 8:23 – awaiting the redemption of our bodies
  • Christ commanded that we help others, especially the Church (Galatians 6:10, John 13 especially v. 8)

Read 3:21-24

  1. If we believe, we are washed by Christ. Since we are washed by Christ, we should have clean consciences
    1. Sometimes, we struggle to let go of the past, making our consciences feel burdened …
    1. This is one reason Hebrews 10:19-25 (vv. 23-25) tells us to keep meeting together and encouraging each other, but also …
  2. Whatever we ask: See Ephesians 3:14-21 (v. 20)
    1. He meets all of our needs, knowing what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8, 7:7-11)

What does this all mean for us?

  1. First, realize we can do nothing good apart from God
    1. Romans 3 – None are good nor seek God, all have sinned
    1. Luke 18:18-19 – Only God is good
    1. Philippians 4:13 – Through Christ alone can we do good things
  2. Second, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. (Ephesians 2)
    1. Realize our full need for Christ, repent of sins, and believe in His atoning work on the cross.
    1. As Ephesians 2 continues and reminds us …
  3. Third, we are made one with Christ and each other through Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.
    1. We love Christ and His Church.
      1. Read your Bible
      1. Pray
      1. Meet regularly with other Christians
        1. Not just go to church on Sundays!
      1. Live out love for God
        1. Do good works as a response to the great love God has given
        1. Especially toward our brothers and sisters in Christ
        1. These reveal the Spirit’s work in us, that we love Christ by obeying His commands (John 15:12-14), all to the glory of the Father (meaning people see our love and good works and come to believe the Gospel!)

So, then, what are the commands we are to obey?

  1. Love God with all that you are (Matthew 22:37-38)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40)
  3. Love one another as Christ has loved us (Sacrificially and with a servant’s heart) (John 13:34)
  4. Go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)

Sermon: Defending Jesus? – John 18:1-14

I preached again! I liked it. Like, wept some, got goosebumps some, enjoyed preaching it … a lot.

Please enjoy listening (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

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Defending Jesus? (John 18:1-14)

(Parallel passages: Matthew 26:47-57; Mark 14:43-53; Luke 22:47-54)
Intro:

Read 18:1-2

Jesus spoke other words than the High Priestly Prayer: Luke 22 – “Sell cloak, get sword” “Here are 2”

Regularly with His disciples (Luke 21:37: He rested/slept out here): This time, this is where we read in other Gospels about Jesus’ 3 prayers
“Let this cup [of suffering] pass from me, but Your will be done.”

Read 18:3

We know they were not just soldiers, but guards from the Temple, sent by the leadership.
Probably a mixture of Jewish and Roman soldiers. Probably up to 200 people!
It was a major feast (Passover), so there would be extra soldiers to help keep the peace.

Read 18:4-8a

Why they fell back:

  1. “Ego eimi” – “I am.”
  2. Could also be how unafraid He seemed of them, possibly tripped over themselves/each other.

Read 18:8-11

Remember the swords?

  1. Disciples still expecting a revolution. Is this FINALLY the time?
  2. Will Jesus actually call His heavenly army?
    1. Matthew 26:52-56 (2 Kings 6:8-23)

Go back to v. 9:

  • His prayer last chapter: 17:12
  • Some try to teach this fulfills John 10:29, but Jesus was speaking to the leaders about ANYONE who believes in Him.
  • It makes me think (NO OTHER EVIDENCE!) Malchus became a Christian

Read 18:12-14

  1. Jesus bound: hearkens back to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22).
    1. Isaac was not stupid. He knew he was going to be the sacrifice, but he trusted his father who trusted THE Father.
    2. Now, Jesus willingly goes to sacrifice. (Without a ram substitute!)
  2. Why Annas?
    1. High Priest usually serves until death, but Romans only allowed terms
      1. He held sway even not being “in power” anymore
      2. His sons and son-in-law took turns over the years, hence “that year”
    2. Is he legitimate? He was installed by Romans
      1. This helps us see why the disciples were willing to fight the Temple authorities
  3. Caiaphas was deceived, but he essentially prophesied the truth!

What does this all mean for us?

  1. We must know that Jesus is God. (vv. 5-8)
    1. 20:31
  2. We must know He died for us. (v. 14)
  3. We do not defend Christ.
    1. He suffered, and so shall we
      1. Matthew 10, Mark 13, and Luke 12, Jesus says His followers will be led before others to testify
      2. 16:33
    2. His truth defends itself, but we are often His instrument.
      1. Psalm 28:7-9
      2. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
    3. Sword of Truth (Ephesians 6:17)
      1. Read Ephesians 6:10-19

Therefore: Matthew 28:18-20

Sermon: The Great War – John 16:5-15

I preached this past Sunday, June 30, 2019. I would have uploaded this sooner, but I am sure you understand technological issues and upload errors …

I barely used notes, so there is barely enough to read. If you want the full text, then listen to the message by clicking here or listening below!

I actually started reading from John 15:26 to help with context, in case you want to have your Bible ready. Other references are Genesis 2, 2 Corinthians 7:6-11, Revelation 20, Ephesians 6:12, and Matthew 28:18-20.

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John 16:5-15 (15:26-16:15): The Great War and the Counselor, Comforter, and Helper

World War 2:
Propaganda: “All Germans are evil!”
Truth: “Many Germans helped in secret to undermine the Nazis.”
Reality: Many Germans were shunned, despised, mistreated, and distrusted after the war for “wanting to kill all non-Germans, especially Jews!”

Read 15:26-16:6

        John 13:36-14:7 – Peter & Thomas asked
        For Peter: Going to cross, “You will follow me”
        For Thomas: “We don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” They did not understand He was leaving this world behind. They essentially were asking “What place on Earth are you going to prepare to kick out Rome?” Not “You are leaving? What do you mean? What place is it that we are unable to follow you to?”
The disciples were confused, scared, and worried. “He seems to be speaking nonsense. Is He leaving us? He keeps talking about dying and leaving us!”
After Thomas’ question, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will come, which leads to …

Read 16:7

        The Holy Spirit –the Counselor, the Comforter, the Helper – would not be sent permanently until the Son and Father sent Him from Heaven.

Now think back to the first time a helper was given to Man: Genesis 2:20-25. No good helper was found, so God put the man into a deep sleep and created a woman from his rib. Then we have verses 24 and 25. [Read] We have the establishment of marriage (v. 24), and it says they were without shame (v. 25).
What does this have to do with our new Helper?

Read 16:8-14

        The Holy Spirit has three major jobs:

  1. Convict the world of sin
  2. Point to Jesus
  3. Reveal the true World War raging since Creation (Genesis 3)

Let us look at these:

  1. Convict the world of sin:
    1. Romans 3:23 reminds us that we are all guilty of sin.
    2. The Counselor tells us we are messed up beyond hope: We all have essentially punched God in the face and claimed innocence.
      1. 10 Commandments: How we have all have fallen short
    3. 2 Corinthians 7:6-11: Godly grief (of sin) leads to repentance
  2. Point to Jesus:
    1. How then can we be saved? The work of Jesus!
    2. The Comforter shows that we are made righteous through the only True Way to Life (14:6): Believing in the vicarious work of Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of all of our sins!
    3. If teachings about the Holy Spirit do not glorify Jesus Christ, is it really from Him?
  3. Reveal the true War:
    1. This war started in the Garden, with “that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan” (Revelation 20:2), and that will only end upon Christ’s return, thus fulfilling v. 13.
    2. This war is spiritual in nature: Ephesians 6:12.
      1. Do not retaliate against fellow image-bearers!
    3. So how do we fight this war?

Read 16:14-15

        The Spirit of Truth, the Helper, reminds us of Matthew 28:18-20 (Great Commission)

        We fight this war (that was won at the cross!) through the power of the Helper, in a world that says Christians and God are bad and evil.

Different Teams: Two Fathers

On Sunday, February 10, 2019, I preached my first sermon for our little church. Other than weddings, it was first time I have preached since 2014. That was the year I finished my homiletics classes at seminary which in turn helped me get through speaking at my mom’s “Celebration of Life” service.

It felt nice to be actively researching and writing like that again!

Anywhat, I thought I would share the outline with you. (Even some of the stuff that was adlibbed, and a few sentences were left out.) Unfortunately, I do not think it was recorded, so you have to miss my dramatic pauses (and awkward pauses) and other small things.

As a brief introduction, during the third of four prepared songs, the fire alarm in the school we meet in sounded off. The band played an extra song, and then I was able to get started. A friend pointed out that I missed the opportunity to say that much of what passes as Christian teaching today should set off a fire alarm of warning!

-Daniel


Sunday, February 10, 2019
Different Teams: Two Fathers  —  John 8:37-59

When a new pastor preaches, we pull out all the bells and whistles! It’s always scary when someone not Scott preaches. Even the building got scared and cried!

INTRO:

Caitlin and I have wanted kids of our own. I have wanted my own since I was almost four years old, telling my parents “I want to do better than you!” I meant it as a compliment, meaning I wanted to build on what they had been doing for my brother, sister, and me. Maybe someday I’ll learn to actually say what I mean (apart from sermons and teachings, of course!)

Today, we do not have our own kids. Almost four years ago, my Sis-in-law gave birth to Maxwell, our first nephew, and on November 1, 2017, our niece Rosalie came along. Needless to say, we have been ecstatic to visit and spend time with them, even doing the nitty-gritty dirty stuff that comes with babies. Just this past February first, my brother and his wife welcomed our nephew Dominic! We are so excited to eventually meet him.

In the mean time, as you’ve heard, Bill and Kendra welcomed Jovie on January 30, and we live in their home currently. That little girl is going to be so loved, because she has two parents who have waited for her and an “auntie and uncle” who are unable to be with our niece and nephews as much as we’d like.

Now, it would be horrible if little Jovie were to grow up thinking I was her father. I love her to death, even knowing her less than two weeks, but I will probably never love her more than Bill. Should anything (God forbid) happen to her parents, and we had to take over that responsibility, you had better believe we would do our darndest. Regardless, we are going to make sure she knows who her parents are and how much she is loved by them.

Could you imagine, though, if she lived like I were her father – as great as I am *wink* – and came to treat her father like a stranger?

As Pastor Scott has been leading us through John, we have been hearing about a similar situation as Jesus confronts the Jewish leadership. We are in John chapter eight, and last week we heard how we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness and how the truth can set us free to righteousness.

Today, we will look closer at Jesus’ comparison in John 8:37-59 of the two households these two “slaves” represent.

MESSAGE:

Remember that Jesus is speaking to the leadership, the Pharisees and teachers, when beginning in verse 37 He responds:

“I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Jesus acknowledges that they are biologically related to Abraham. They know that Jesus claiming to be God’s Son essentially equates Himself with God, which, for any other person in history, would be blasphemy, a sin punishable by death in Judaism. But we continue in verse 39:

“They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.”

If you are in any way like me, you might think, “The works Abraham did? Like telling his wife to tell a lie (of omission) to other people (saying she was his sister, which is true, instead of his wife), going to war with people, and laugh at God’s promises? Or maybe have an affair my spouse suggested? Those works of Abraham?”

Instead, Jesus is probably referring to Abraham believing through doubt. His “lying with Hagar” to produce Ishmael was an act of faith, but very misguided. This is the act of one who is still a slave to sin. No, Abraham had doubts, until the actual son of promise came: Isaac. Then, when God said to sacrifice this son, Abraham had no hesitation to follow God in faith. Isaac’s birth was probably that defining moment when Abraham went from slave to sin to slave to righteousness. God had proven Himself faithful, so, somehow, God could make a great nation out of this son, even if Abraham did not understand. He heard the truth of God, and he believed.

But perhaps the Jews also got stuck with Jesus’ words, thinking He might be referring to Hagar and Ishmael, as we see back in verse 41:

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

Do not be confused by Jesus’ words here. This is Trinitarian talk. What is the Trinity? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Son willingly submits to the Father. Jesus is not saying He had no desire to come live amongst us, merely that His Father sent Him and He willingly obeyed. It is like two best friends and/or a husband and wife: “What do you want for dinner?” “Whatever you want.” “How about our usual?” “Yeah, that sounds good.” (Because we are slaves to our stomach, sometimes, am I right?) Obviously, though, we are talking about something much more serious.

But if we are not listening for what God is actually saying, we can easily misunderstand, as Jesus explains picking up in verse 43:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Do you see it? As a people, the human race, we want our own truth. We want to hear what we think is right, what we think we know. We are slaves to our own desires, which are often sinful. He is talking to the Pharisees, but here Jesus is telling all of us that this is a sign that we think we may be sons of God, but we are the offspring of the Great Deceiver, Satan.

Just look at the world today:
We are told truth is what we make it … as long as you follow the crowd.
People are basically good … unless they disagree with me, then they are evil incarnate.
Everyone’s truth is true for them … unless you say there is only one truth (which is in and of itself a singular truth claim).

This could be like me saying “I raised Jovie.” Sure, I have held her a few times, maybe even changed a few diapers and helped feed her, but it is not exactly true that I raised her. But what if she got older and believed it? She would say Bill is her daddy, but she spends all of her time with me. Or Bill says, “Hi, Jovie! It’s daddy!” and she slaps him in the face and then holds my hand.

How would Bill feel? (Probably quite angry, and mostly at me!) Probably heartbroken.

I would be a father of lies for Jovie, but she would be treating me with love. Bill would be shunned, even if she told people that Bill is her parent.

This is what Israel has largely done. This is what all of humanity as largely done. We refuse to believe the truth, and instead we shun and full-on rage against God, basically slapping Him in the face with the way we live. The scary thing is that this can even be found in churches, people who say they are Christians but live completely contrary to Christ’s teachings.

This can be seen by the way we villainize people of other churches or who are a part of another political party or voted for certain politicians. This can be seen by the way we tell others what the Bible says, and it is either completely out of context (because we have not been reading it) or we unrepentantly, unapologetically do the same thing as others. This can be seen by the way we refuse to forgive each other, get angry at others, and come up with excuses for why we keep sinning.

This can be seen by quoting a certain serpent, and asking “Did Jesus really say … ?” Or even responding as the Jewish leadership did, back in verse 48:

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The Samaritans notoriously only followed the Torah, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis through Deuteronomy. It is like some teachers today saying we don’t need the Old Testament, because Jesus is only in the New Testament.

Both this and saying Jesus has a demon is like those teachers who say “Jesus and biblical authors lived in a different time. They wouldn’t understand the world today.” (I agree!) Or that the miracles may or may not have happened. Or that most of these teachings were only for people at that time and place.

It is also saying that Jesus is intentionally deceiving people. But how does He respond? In verse 49 Jesus responds:

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

Basically, those who believe and follow Jesus will not taste death, meaning we will inherit eternal life through Him. The Father wants to glorify His Son, and it is denying Jesus’ Sonship that keeps us under judgment and heading toward the flames of punishment.

But watch how the Jews responded in verse 52:

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

There is a bit to unpack here, but why did the Jews want to kill him? When Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am”, he said in Greek, “Ego eimi”, very litearlly “I am.” I am sure you wall remember back in Exodus when God told Moses to tell the Israelites that “I am has sent you.” In the Greek Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament) it says “Ego eimi”, and in Hebrew “Hyah.”

(So, if someone tells you to “Leggo my ego,” you just say, “Hyah! He’s got me!”)

Jesus was literally calling Himself the I Am – God.

This is a lot to process for anybody: Jesus, who was a man, claimed to be God incarnate. How would you respond to someone telling you they are God?

RESPONSE:

That is crux of this whole chapter: How do we respond to Jesus?

Do you believe He is the Son of God – God Himself?

Jesus sets the standard here: Either you believe His words and are an adopted son of God, or you don’t believe and are a child of the Devil. That’s it. No other options.

BIG IDEA: You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan.

TRANS:

So what do we do with this? Here are some closing thoughts to take home.

APPLICATION:

I personally love apologetics – giving answers for the questions and attacks against Christianity. The thing is, we are all expected to be ready, as Peter tells us in his first letter, chapter 3, verse 15: but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (Gr: apologia, where we get the word apologetics) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

We are dealing with a fallen world, with people whose thinking is tainted by sin. We are gentle and respectful, because they may be completely unaware how hostile they are being and “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11). “Treat others how you want to be treated,” and all that. They are still slaves to their sin, not slaves to righteousness.

But also remember that we are not responsible for convincing others. We must be able to point them to the Word of God. Remember Jesus’ testimony: that Moses and the Prophets testified of Him, and His miracles signs and wonders prove His message.

But what is His greatest miracle that removes all doubt? Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Now, I know, it can be intimidating, even scary, perhaps even frustrating to have someone challenge your beliefs and God’s Word. Your pastors and elders are here to help you, of course, but this is why it is so important to read and know Scripture for yourself. We cannot always be there to help.

Besides, what was Pastor Scott’s message about last week? Focused on verse 32, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” How can you know – really know – the truth if you do not make it your own?

You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. If you have no desire to study Scripture, you are in danger of proving which team you are on. If you are ashamed to tell people the truth of Christ, you are telling the world you may be on the other team.

This is not to say this automatically means you are not a Christian. If you are newer to the faith, you may still be learning what it means. Sometimes being challenged in our beliefs can be scary and intimidating, like a fire alarm going off in the middle of church. But this is why we continue meeting together: to encourage each other to grow, to find the answers, and to be spurred on to reading and sharing the gospel.

CONCLUSION

Don’t be like hypothetical me and Jovie, knowing her biological father is Bill but living like we are father and daughter. That is just like those who claim to be Christian but never read the Bible, are ashamed to share the gospel, and treat other people without love, respect, or kindness. You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. The best way to know is to fall madly, deeply in love with the Son of God, learn from and about Him, and share that truth with others.