This is the sermon for Sunday, August 29th, 2010.
Galatians part 9
Seed of Abraham.
Galatians 3:15-18 ESV – (15) To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. (16) Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. (17) This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. (18) For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
INTRODUCTION: So far in this chapter we’ve seen Paul in his defense of the doctrine of justification by faith. We also saw Paul introduce this as the Blessing of Abraham. Last time we looked at verses 10-14 and preached on the broken curse.
Let’s go over the main points again from last time.
Main points for verses 10-14:
- Reliance on the Law brings a curse, not a blessing (verses 10&12).
- Reliance on faith in Christ brings righteousness (verse 11).
- Christ paid the curse’s redemption price (verse 13).
- The reason: that we might receive the blessing of Abraham (verse 14).
This morning, we are going to see Paul continue to use this reasoning concerning Abraham against the Judaizers. I believe he is showing something that would have shocked them: the doctrine of justification by faith is actually older than the Law! Hopefully I will be able to unpack this truth as we begin to study the text.
A human example.
Galatians 3:15 ESV – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.
This human example Paul is giving is for the purpose of explaining a powerful truth he reveals.
Galatians 3:14 ESV – (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Paul’s “human example” argument is strong when he says, “even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.”
We live in a day that covenants, contracts, and constitutions don’t mean anything, so we lose the power behind that statement.
The Judaizers would have caught Paul’s strong implication, however. What was Paul forcibly implying? That the Mosaic Law did not super-cede God’s promise to Abraham. You see, if the Law was more important than the promise, it would have come first, but it didn’t. Notice what Paul says in verse 17.
Galatians 3:17 ESV – This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.
The Law came 430 years after the promise. If perfect obedience to the Law saves, then why did it come so late? Well, the answer I believe is quite clear: it is belief in the promise that saves, not the Law; so the Law does not make God’s promise void.
Many times people will try to make deals with God. They will say things like, “God, if you will save me, I promise to be, etc… Salvation is not based on our promise to God; but God’s promise to us. And what is this promise? That in Christ, we are the seed of Abraham! I like what the Reformed Expository Commentary says, “Salvation in Christ is not a commercial transaction. My relationship with God is not based on my ability to make a deal or strike a bargain (page 128).”
Who then really is the seed of Abraham?
Galatians 3:16 ESV – Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
Now Paul is using “offspring” different here as opposed to the way he uses the word in Romans. Let’s quickly look.
Romans 4:16-18 ESV – (16) That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring–not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (17) as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (18) In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
In Romans “offspring” refers to a collective group – those who have faith in Jesus Christ, both under the Law, and outside the Law – i.e. Jew and Gentile.
In Galatians 3:16 Paul is referring to one person being the seed or offspring – and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. So the promise made to Abraham was fulfilled through his seed/offspring: meaning this promise was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, and we are heirs of this promise. Let’s look at the last point.
We are inheritors through the promise.
Galatians 3:18 ESV – For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
I believe the Reformed Expository Commentary says it so well and concise, that I will try not to improve upon it: “This is the grace of God, that He does not deal with us on the basis of our performance, but on the basis of His promise.”
CONCLUSION: Christ is the seed/offspring of Abraham and through Him we receive justification before a holy God – which is the blessing of Abraham. If you are trying to find favor with God by works, get off that ferris wheel, you are going no where. Trust in Jesus Christ today.
Sunday night, August 22nd 2010 our Church – Faith United Church – will be hosting the Hemptead, Texas Ministerial Alliance quarterly community service. I am also preaching the message. Here is the manuscript to the sermon.
The power of the revealed Jesus.
Matthew 16:13-18 ESV – (13) Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (14) And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (15) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (16) Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (17) And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (18) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
INTRODUCTION: Today we are going to be tackling this age old question: Who is Jesus? Many people have very different opinions about Him; there are possibly many different opinions about who is Jesus of Nazareth here tonight. And while I won’t present all the different opinions, in this sermon I want to unpack our text we read, and in the process ask this question: not of us, but of Scripture itself. Let’s begin.
Who do people say Jesus is?
Matthew 16:13-14 ESV – (13) Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (14) And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Let’s unpack these two verses and apply them to modern times for a few moments.
Unpacking verses 13-14:
- John the Baptist – a great preacher. Some people view Jesus as a great spokesman, teacher, or preacher, coming to earth to preach a message.
- Elijah – A miracle worker. To some, Jesus was nothing more than a miracle worker, He somehow tapped into something greater than Himself to heal people and do good while on this earth.
- Jeremiah – a compassionate prophet. Some view Jesus as a man, full of compassion, who came with a positive, caring message for the world.
Now the thing about all these revelations concerning Jesus is: they are all flawed representations of Him. Let’s move on to our next few verses.
Who do you say He is?
Matthew 16:15-16 ESV – (15) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (16) Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Here Simon Peter answers when the other disciples wouldn’t. His answer was one of those, out on a limb type of answers, in fact Jesus said where is answer came from.
Matthew 16:17 ESV – And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Now, even in this setting of people from different churches, this can still be a dangerous question; Why? Well, because if the Father has not revealed the reality of who Jesus is to you, your answer is going to be wrong…period!
So does the Father still reveal who Jesus is to people today? You betcha! He reveals Him through His word.
Let’s ask Scripture: “Who is Jesus Christ?”
I am confident, as we ask this question to Holy Scripture, that EVERY question will be answered to who Jesus really is. Here we go.
Scripture answers the question:
- Genesis – Creator.
- Exodus – Deliverer.
- Leviticus – The Sin Sacrifice.
- Numbers – The Cloud by day, the Pillar of Fire by night.
- Deuteronomy – The Prophet like Moses Himself.
- Joshua – The Commander of the Army of the Lord.
- Judges – The Punisher of the wicked; the Deliverer of the righteous.
- Ruth – Our Kinsman-Redeemer.
- 1 Samuel – The Voice of the Lord which calls out to His children.
- 2 Samuel – The Son of David.
- 1 Kings – Our Perfect Prophet , Priest, and King.
- 2 Kings – the Lord God of Elijah.
- 1 Chronicles – The Temple of the Living God.
- 2 Chronicles – The Sacrifice that stops the plague of sin.
- Ezra – The great spiritual Reformer which calls us to repentance.
- Nehemiah – The Repairer of the broken down walls that separate us from God.
- Esther – Our Mediator.
- Job – The One who suffered greatly, and was humbled and stripped of all He had, but in the end was restored and became the Intercessor for His friends.
- Psalms – He is the Perfect Song sung by the Perfect Singer.
- Proverbs – The Wisdom of God.
- Ecclesiastes – The great Preacher.
- Song of Solomon – The Lover of our souls.
- Isaiah – the suffering Servant.
- Jeremiah – The weeping Prophet weeping over our sins.
- Lamentations – The Tear shed by God Himself.
- Ezekiel – The One who raises the dead from the valley of dry bones.
- Daniel – the fourth Man in the fire.
- Hosea – the One married to the backslidden whore.
- Joel – He is the great and awesome day of the Lord.
- Amos – He is judgment, righteousness, and justice.
- Obadiah – Our Savior.
- Jonah – He is the One who has compassion and calls all people to repentance.
- Micah – He is our Messiah.
- Nahum – God’s judgment on sin and evil.
- Habakkuk – He is the reviver of God’s work in our midst.
- Zephaniah – He is the Lord God in our midst.
- Haggai – The Lord’s house.
- Zechariah – The Lord’s servant and the true shepherd.
- Malachi – the Rebuker of the devourer.
- Matthew – The King of the Jews.
- Mark – the Son of Man.
- Luke – The Redeemer of the Gentiles.
- John – The Word of God made flesh.
- Acts – The Baptizer in the Holy Spirit.
- Romans – Grace greater than all of our sin.
- 1 Corinthians – The Giver of Spiritual gifts.
- 2 Corinthians – He is the focus of our relationship with God.
- Galatians – our justifier before a Holy God.
- Ephesians – Our Armor of God.
- Philippians – Our Joy, the substance of life itself.
- Colossians – The mystery of God revealed.
- 1 Thessalonians – Our soon coming King.
- 2 Thessalonians – The source of grace and peace.
- 1 Timothy – Our Mentor.
- 2 Timothy – Our faithful Pastor.
- Titus – The builder of His church.
- Philemon – Our beloved brother who forgives and frees those enslaved to sin.
- Hebrews – Our heavenly High Priest and Sacrificial Lamb.
- James – Our Healer.
- 1 Peter – He is the fruit and victory of our suffering.
- 2 Peter – He is longsuffering, not wishing that any perish, but come to repentance.
- 1 John – Our Advocate with the Father.
- 2 John – He is our fellowship with God.
- 3 John – He is love.
- Jude – the Lord who comes with 10,000 of His saints.
- Revelation – The King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords!
No offense, but compared to what Scripture reveals about Jesus – our interpretations about Him and opinions about Him are about as useful and cow dung at a wedding!
Hell itself cannot stand against this revelation of Jesus from Scripture.
Matthew 16:18 ESV – And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Now let me be straight with you; contrary to what some believe, this rock the church is built on is not some flawed man like Peter, or Paul, or John, but it is built on the revelation of Jesus Christ through Scripture. It is this revelation that Hell will not stand before, but must bowed it’s wicked knee too and declare, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
CONCLUSION: Who is Jesus? More than our minds can conceive or imagine; more than man’s puny opinions of Him; He is all the Scripture says about Him. It is time we stop forming opinions based on our sinful nature, and start submitting to what Scripture says concerning Him.
This is the sermon for Sunday morning, August 22nd 2010.
Galatians part 8
The broken curse.
Galatians 3:10-14 ESV – (10) For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (11) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (12) But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” (13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
INTRODUCTION: Last time we looked at the blessing of Abraham and what it is. It is not temporary prosperity and blessing as some suggest, but it is justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone; meaning, we who are guilty of breaking God’s commandments are declared innocent of all charges because of Jesus Christ. What a blessing!
Now we are going to look further into our text and see that though we should be under the curse of the Law, we’ve been set free through Christ. Let’s begin.
Reliance on the Law brings a curse, not a blessing.
Galatians 3:10&12 ESV – (10) For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (12) But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”
First notice Paul’s words in verse 10, “all who rely on works of the Law are under a curse.” That is a powerful statement and one that would have cut to the heart of the Judaizers. You see, they were judging the Gentile Christians for food and circumcision, when their own heart before a holy God was uncircumcised and unclean; Why? Well they couldn’t live and abide by the works of the Law perfectly. Notice what verse 10 and a portion of verse 12 goes on to say, “cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, and do them,” and “the Law is not of faith, rather the one who does them shall live by them.” The Free Bible Commentary says, “The Law, as a means of right standing with God, is only applicable to the one who never commits sin.” So all of us are disqualified.
Jesus Himself has a lot to say concerning this in Matthew 5.
Here is a short synopsis:
- Jesus says that the people’s righteousness by keeping the Law must be above the Pharisees themselves (verses 17-20).
- Then in verses 21-47 He basically goes through the Law, point by point, showing that they are indeed sinners, i.e. lawbreakers.
- Then in verse 48 He shows that God demands perfect obedience when it comes to the Law.
Let’s read some of this passage.
Matthew 5:17-20 ESV – (17) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (18) For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (19) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:48 ESV – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Peter also speaks about perfect obedience in his epistle.
1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV – (15) but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (16) since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Here Peter is quoting the Old Testament command which is referring to holiness by perfect obedience to the Law found in Leviticus 11:44.
I hope you can see why reliance on the Law brings a curse; it is because we can’t keep it perfectly.
Reliance on faith in Christ brings righteousness.
Galatians 3:11 ESV – Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
It is interesting that Paul is quoting the Old Testament Prophet Habakkuk here. Paul is showing that justification by faith alone isn’t a new concept, but grounding in the Old Testament Prophets. Let’s look at Habakkuk.
Habakkuk 2:4 ESV – Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
Trying to please God by works puff one up with pride; but those who are truly righteous will live by his faith – and let me add – faith in Jesus Christ.
So faith in Christ does what works of the Law cannot do – declare us righteous before a holy, just God. Why is that? Well our next point answers this question.
Christ paid the curse’s redemption price.
Galatians 3:13 ESV – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”…
According to the Reformed Expository Commentary on Galatians, “In Paul’s world, ‘redeemed’ was most often used at the slave market, where it referred to the purchase price for a slave” (page 114).
This is what Jesus has done – He paid the slave price for ownership by dying on the cross. He did this not by just removing the curse alone, but by becoming a curse for us. In other words, paying the just penalty for our sins by enduring our punishment from a holy God on the cross.
The reason: that we might receive the blessing of Abraham.
Galatians 3:14 ESV – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
This of course is justification by faith. But more than this, we also receive, “the promised Spirit through faith.” Paul is again referring to the Old Testament Prophets; more than likely, Isaiah.
Isaiah 44:3 ESV – For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
CONCLUSION: Church, we must recognize that the curse of the Law over believers has been broken by Jesus Christ. He did this by dying in our place, for our sins, enduring the wrath of the holy God; why? So that we might be righteous and live by faith in Him.
This is the sermon for Wednesday, August 18th, 2010.
Philippians part 6
Carmen Christi (Latin, Hymn of Christ)
Philippians 2:1-11 ESV – (1) So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, (2) complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (3) Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (4) Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (5) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
INTRODUCTION: Paul had just ended in Chapter one talking about suffering for Christ’s sake and how suffering for Him as well as believing in Him are both gifts from God.
Philippians 1:29 ESV – For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…
Paul is now going to give some edifying words and commands as well as a hymn of praise. More than likely, this hymn of praise to Jesus is probably not of the authorship of Paul, but he quotes it, to both declare the gospel and to lift up and praise the Lord.
Sometimes our minds may not remember things from yesterday, or even a few minutes ago, but we can remember words to songs from many years back. Songs have a way of moving us. I believe this song that Paul uses was probably known by the Philippian believers. He is using this hymn to explain the example of the humility of Christ. Let’s begin to unpack our text.
The importance of unity in Christ.
Philippians 1:1-2 ESV – (1) So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, (2) complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Unpacking verses 1-2:
- Encouragement in Christ: Paul is wanting their unity to be in Christ, that the church stands against the wiles of the devil and humbly, “strive side by side for the faith of the Gospel (chapter 1:27);” and also, “not to be frightened in anything by your opponents (chapter 1:28).” They are to strive and not fear by finding encouragement in Christ.
- Comfort from love: They (and we) should find our comfort in God’s love for us and the love shed abroad amongst the saints.
- Participation in the Spirit: “Participation” in Greek is koinonia, which means, “fellowship.” Our fellowship is by and through the Holy Spirit. This passage could also be translated, “the Spirit has brought you into fellowship with one another.”
- Any affection and sympathy: This is the feelings Christians should have toward other Christians. As we are encouraged in Christ, comforted by His love, and fellowshipping with/in the Holy Spirit – affection and sympathy for one another is produced.
- Complete my joy by being of the same mind: This means that all Christians should arrive at this same attitude.
- Having the same love: Loving one another in Christ equally.
This I believe defines for us what true Christianity looks like.
How we should think and act toward other Christians.
Philippians 2:3-4 ESV – (3) Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (4) Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
- Do nothing out of rivalry and conceit: The NRSV translates “rivalry” as “selfish ambition”. “Do nothing” in Greek can also mean, “Think nothing.” We all know this to be true – however you think is the way you will act. So when it comes to other believers, don’t think or act out of selfish ambition and conceit – we are all on equal ground before a Holy God. Remember that.
- But in humility count others more significant than yourselves: Selfish ambition and conceit can ruin unity; humility can build it.
- In verse 4 we are told to care for not only our own interests, but the interests of other believers as well.
The singing attitude.
Philippians 2:5-11 ISV – (5) Have the same attitude among yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus: (6) In God’s own form existed he, And shared with God equality, Deemed nothing needed grasping. (7) Instead, poured out in emptiness, A servant’s form did he possess, A mortal man becoming. In human form he chose to be, (8) And lived in all humility, Death on a cross obeying. (9) Now lifted up by God to heaven, A name above all others given, This matchless name possessing. (10) And so, when Jesus’ name is called, The knees of everyone should fall Where’er they are residing. (11) Then every tongue in one accord, Will say that Jesus Christ is Lord, While God the Father praising.
Paul describes this attitude with a hymn or song, most likely not authored by him, but known amongst the Philippian believers. Notice the ISV’s poetic wording.
The message of this song had to lift up the Philippians believers as Paul quoted it.
CONCLUSION: It is my hope and prayer that this ancient hymn quoted by Paul moves you to lift up Jesus Christ and remember His humble life and sacrifice for our sins.
This is the sermon for Sunday, August 15th, 2010.
Galatians part 7
The Blessing of Abraham
Galatians 3:5-9 ESV – (5) Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith– (6) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? (7) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (9) So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
INTRODUCTION: Now, we started this series actually unusual; one of the first sermons in this Galatians series was from Galatians 3:1-5. Let’s read it again and do a little reminding on that sermon entitled, “The beauty of justification.”
Galatians 3:1-5 ESV – (1) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. (2) Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (3) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (4) Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? (5) Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
The Beauty of Justification:
- How does one receive the Spirit (verse 2)?
- Are we perfected by our own works, or the Spirit’s works (verse 3)?
- Is Christian suffering done in vain (verse 4)?
- Is God working amongst us because of works or faith (verse 5)?
Now in verses 6-9, we are going to look at the blessing of Abraham and how he was an example of being justified by faith.
A lot of people have different ideas as to what the blessing of Abraham really is:
- The Judaizers thought that it came by circumcision.
- Many in our day think it is material blessings of some kind.
- But actually – the blessing of Abraham is none other than justification by faith.
Let’s begin unpacking our text.
The example of Abraham.
Galatians 3:5-6 ESV – (5) Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith– (6) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
First Paul asks the question of why God is working amongst them: is it because of works of the Law or by hearing with faith? Obviously, the answer is, “Hearing with faith.”
The ESV study Bible’s notes say, “Hearing with faith is not only the way to start the Christian life, but also the way to continue it day by day.”
So we must first settle the issue: God works through us, not because of our work for Him, but our hearing the Gospel, which produces faith.
Now Paul brings up Abraham as our example, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to Him as righteousness.” Paul is alluding to Genesis 15 here. Let’s read it.
Genesis 15:1-6 ESV – (1) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (2) But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (3) And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” (4) And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” (5) And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (6) And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
This was the promise of Abraham having a son and his descendants would be numerous. Abraham believed God’s promise and righteousness was credited to his account.
Who are these descendants promised? The Jews? Well, actually, Paul reveals this in our next point.
All those justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:7-9 ESV – (7) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (9) So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The Judaizers were preaching works of the Law to the Gentile Galatians causing racial strife and division. Paul is proclaiming grace through faith in Jesus Christ, which brings unity and tears down the racial walls that divide. This passage is one that encourages the Galatian believers in the truth that they are children of Abraham, not by the flesh – or works of the Law, but by the Spirit.
Paul says this powerfully in Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:13-22 ESV – (13) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (14) For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (15) by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (16) and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (17) And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (18) For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (19) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (20) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, (21) in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (22) In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Let’s unpack this passage from Ephesians quickly.
- We’ve been brought near (verse 13).
- Christ is our peace and has broken down the dividing wall through His flesh (verses 14-15).
- He has reconciled Jew and Gentile into one body – the church (verses 16-22).
CONCLUSION: What can we learn from this? Well, we are children of Abraham because we share, along with Abraham his blessing; and what is his blessing? Not birth by flesh, or monetary luxuries or a supposed, “blessed, abundant life”; but simply justification by faith. We have the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ and we trust in Him and therefore are justified.
That, my friends is the blessing of Abraham.
This is the sermon for Wednesday, August 11th, 2010.
Philippians part 5
Suffering for Christ’s sake
Philippians 1:27-30 ESV – 27Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
INTRODUCTION: Last time we looked at the proper attitude a Christian should have when it comes to living and dying. This attitude can be found in Paul’s short statement in verse 21, “to live is Christ, do die is gain.”
Now within the remaining verses of Philippians chapter 1, we see that Paul deals with the subject of suffering for the sake of Christ.
Suffering is never enjoyable, nor easy. It can bring a lot of stress personally, within families, and even within churches. But the good news is that suffering is temporary. Look at the promising word that Paul gives.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV – 16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Let’s now begin to unpack our text.
The Gospel of Christ is worth suffering for.
Philippians 1:27 ESV – Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
Another way to translate, “only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ,” would be, “only behave as citizens of the Gospel of Christ.” The believers in Philippi are in Christ; they are citizens of the kingdom of God through Him. So they must live as citizens before this world in a worthy manner.
Now before we think that Paul is applying some legalistic teaching here; the context of this paragraph is suffering. I believe it is hinted in verse 27, “I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
Let’s do a little Greek study.
- Greek word, steko (stay’-ko).
- To persevere, to stand fast.
Striving side by side:
- Greek word, sunatheo (soon-ath-leh’-o).
- To wrestle as a team (as in an Olympic event).
- To work or labor together.
It’s easy to stand firm with no pressure or struggle, but difficult when going through suffering. That’s why the church needs each other, so that we can stand together.
Our suffering is a sign of coming salvation.
Philippians 1:28 ESV – and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.
Paul is encouraging the church in Philippi to stand firm in the midst of suffering brought about by their opponents. This standing firm gave two evidences.
- Evidence of their opponent’s destruction.
- Evidence of their future salvation at Christ’s second coming.
Now not every scholar or commentator agrees with me here. Why do I feel this is talking about the salvation we have at the second coming? Well, our opponent’s destruction is future tense – will ultimately take place at Christ second coming. And at the same time our full salvation will be realized at Christ’s second coming as well. Notice what Paul says in another passage.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 ESV – 5This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
We must remember that ultimately the authors of Christian suffering are not people, but Satan himself. We must stand firm and fight him together in Christ’s name. And when Christ comes again Satan will be destroyed and all suffering will end.
Ultimately our suffering for Christ’s sake is a gift from God.
Philippians 1:28-29 ESV – 28and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.
Let’s do a Greek word study here.
It has been granted:
- Greek word, charizomai (kharid’-zom-ahee).
- To grant as a favor; a gift.
- Same Greek word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians concerning God giving the gifts of the Spirit to the church.
- Greek word (pas’-kho).
- To experience pain.
Now notice what Paul says here, “It has been granted…that…you should not only believe in Him, but also suffer for His sake.” The ESV Study Bible notes says, “Paul teaches that both suffering and faith are gifts of God.”
Notice that Paul is not excluded from suffering in verse 30, “engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
What can be learned here? It is difficult in our, “prosperity, best life now,” culture to accept suffering as a gift from God; but it is. And since it is a gift of god, we must trust Him and be honored to suffer for His sake!
CONCLUSION: Suffering is never easy, but down-right painful. We must learn that the same God who grants us faith, is the same God who grants us to suffer. Why do we suffer? For Christ’s sake. If we learn to have this attitude toward suffering, these light, momentary afflictions will be more bearable.