Matthew part 10

Well, finally finished the Bless God series (whew!) that one was a tough one for me to do.  I’m now getting back into the Gospel of Matthew series.  In this one we are going through Matthew’s Gospel verse by verse.  So far we have covered the first 4 chapters, then took a break, now we pick it up again starting at Chapter 5.  This is the sermon for Sunday, October 30th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture is from the ESV.

Matthew part 10

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 1

The pursuit of happiness.

Matthew 5:1-5  –  1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

Introduction

We are now beginning to study the public teaching ministry of Jesus.  He begins with what has been called “The Sermon on the Mount.”  This is really a Jewish form of Rabbinical teaching that Jesus is doing.  This sermon begins in 5:1 and ends in 7:29.  So it is a fairly long teaching session that Jesus is doing.  Most Rabbi’s would teach concerning the Law and comment on the Law that Moses gave that he received from God Almighty.  Jesus is going to teach on the Law as well here, but what He says is actually opposite of many of the Rabbinic teachings of His day.  He is not going to teach the Law as something that can be lived by human effort in order to please God.  Notice what He says:

Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I’ve heard that perfect here in the text means, “perfect in love.”  But that definition is really watering down what the Lord intended in this sermon.  The Greek word is τελειος  (tel’-i-os).  It means, Complete perfection of the highest standard, fully developed in a moral sense.”  John MacArthur has this to say in his study Bible: “Christ expounded the full meaning of the Law, showing that its demands were humanly impossible.  This is the proper use of the Law with respect to salvation: it closes off every possible avenue of human merit and leaves sinners dependent on nothing but divine grace for salvation.”

Now before we begin unpacking our text, let’s look at just two more things:

  • Jesus is teaching the Law as the new Moses here.  Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Law and deliver it to the people; in Christ – God has come in the flesh to explain that the only possible way to find true favor with Him is through Jesus Christ.  Think of it this way – in Jesus, God came down to the mountain to speak with us.
  • In these first 12 verses Jesus uses the word, “Blessed.”  We need a definition to this word.  It is the Greek word, μακάριος (mak-ar’-ee-os).  It means, “to be supremely blest, happy, fortunate, blissful.  It conveys the idea of being truly favored by God.”

We must keep these two things in mind as we unpack this sermon.  Let’s begin.

The Rabbi begins His sermon.

Matthew 5:1-2 –  1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2And he opened his mouth and taught them…

Who are these crowds that came to hear this sermon by Jesus?

It was the crowds in Chapter 4.  In verses 23-25 of Chapter 4, Jesus is going into the Synagogues preaching the Kingdom of God as well as healing those who are sick and casting out demons.  He developed a following and these crowds followed Him according to verse 25.  His disciples in the text are just more than the 12, but it is used in the general sense of those who are come to hear Him teach.  Because of the signs, many have come to follow.  We know from the Gospel of John though, that this ‘many’ would not stay.  In fact, most would leave when his teachings became too difficult for them to understand and offensive (e.g. John 6 – especially the “eat my flesh and drink my blood” teachings).

This is not a preaching type of sermon, but deep Rabbinic teaching.

How do we know this?  Well because the text says, “he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down…. and he opened his mouth and taught them.”  This was the way that Jewish Rabbis in the first century taught their disciples, it was generally much deeper than normal proclamation and preaching.

There is something that can be learned here: Many will say that you can’t grow a church by going verse by verse into the Scriptures, chewing up whole books of the Bible at a time.  They say that people will not stay and listen to that type of teaching.  Well, maybe it doesn’t draw a crowd like the entertainment driven, philosophical fluff called sermons that many preach in our day, but the crowd that is drawn by the cotton candy approach to preaching never grows in their faith, they remain immature.  As preachers, God has called us to open His word and preach it, line upon line; precept upon precept.  To focus on anything else in our preaching other than God’s Word would be dishonoring God.

Divinely given happiness begins with humbling ourselves before God and man.

Matthew 5:3-5 – 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

Three kinds of people listed here as blessed by the Lord.

  • The poor in spirit – This is not talking about physical poverty, but spiritual poverty.   This is recognizing that apart from Jesus Christ, we are spiritually and morally bankrupt people.  What is found here in essence is the doctrine of Total Depravity, or another two ways of saying it – the doctrine of Total Inability or Original sin.  Because of Adam’s sin, we have all inherited a sin nature – and thereby all of us stand guilty before God because all have sinned (Romans 3:23).  But the good news is those that recognize that they are spiritually and morally bankrupt has this promise: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  It is not the moral perfectionist that receives God’s Kingdom, but being poor in spirit.
  • Those who mourn – Not those who mourn over difficulties in life, but specifically, those who mourn over their sin.  According to Paul worldly mourning or grief produces different things as opposed to godly mourning or grief.

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

  • Notice the promise for those who mourn over their own sin: they shall be comforted.”
  • The Meek –  These are those who have humbled themselves in the sight of God.  What is the promise?  “…they shall inherit the earth.”  Jesus is quoting Psalm 37:11.  Let’s look at it.
  • What does inheriting the earth mean?  Those who are humbled before God because of their sins and recognize their spiritual poverty, will find true riches and peace in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Well, we are going to end here today, and pick up more of these 12 ‘blessed’ verses in our next sermon.

Apart from Jesus Christ we are morally and spiritually bankrupt before a holy and perfect God.  Let us recognize our spiritual condition, mourn over our sins, and humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God.  If we do this, we have a wonderful promise from Scripture.

James 4:10 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…

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Bless God part 13

This is the sermon for Sunday, October 23rd, 2011.  It is the last sermon in the series.

Unless noted, Scripture from the ESV.

Bless God part 13

There is salvation.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Introduction

This is the final sermon in our series, “Bless God: God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”

This morning we are looking at the real answer to the questions that we have looked at in this series: and that answer is the title of the sermon – “There is salvation.”

We have looked in this series at some foundational truths.  Then we tackled many questions that are being asked in many of our churches.

Now we want to end with some good news – there is salvation!  This is such a freeing truth.

As we look at this verse in Acts 4:12, we are also going to look at the verses preceding it; There is something that happens within the text, that takes place in churches, and the world anytime Christ is preached.

True Gospel preaching (preaching Christ) always produces conflict.

Acts 4:1-3 –  1And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

Peter, along with John, had been proclaiming Christ to the people around the temple.  The Scriptures says that the Saducees were, “greatly annoyed,” and they had Peter and John arrested.  There are many reasons that they had them arrested.  One reason that they healed a lame man in the name of Jesus – this is equating Jesus name equal to YHWH.  Another reason is when Peter preached at Solomon’s Portico, he shifted the blame of Jesus death to the people.   The main reason was given in verse 2, “they were proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”  You see, the Saducees did not believe in the resurrection, so this greatly annoyed them.

Church, when Christ crucified for our sins and raised for our justification is properly preached, many will get greatly annoyed and offended.  We live in an age that identifies preaching with felt needs, prosperity, audacious faith, wonderful families etc…  But when Christ is preached in the midst of these philosophies, it turns many off.  Why?  Because many Christians are superficial at best and carnal at worst.

But we must continue to proclaim Christ crucified for our sins and resurrected.  These doctrines must be central in our teachings and beliefs.

Proclaiming Christ truly is the answer to all these questions.

Acts 4:7-11 – 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.

Notice the question, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”  Notice Peter’s answer – Jesus Christ.

Folks, all the questions we’ve endeavored to answer and so many others that we haven’t addressed has only one true place to look to: and that is Jesus Christ and His word.  Apart from what Scripture says anything else is pure speculation.  And we must remember that speculation on our part is not equal to the authority of Scripture.  God does not anoint our speculation; He has anointed His word.

In Jesus is true salvation; all other roads lead to destruction.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

There are only two was to go in order to find salvation: (1) you can try to work your way to salvation and the end result will be failure and eternal punishment; (2) you can trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross for your sins and His resurrection and the results will be eternal life and peace with God.

Conclusion

Jesus Christ being the only way to salvation is not a binding concept, but a freeing truth.  It’s so good to know that salvation isn’t what I can do or offer to God; but its all about what He has done for me through Jesus Christ.

 

Crushed

We are having a conference/fellowship meeting at our church Saturday, October 22nd, 2011.  Several church’s are coming from the Full Gospel Evangelistic Association.  I’m also preaching.  Below will be my sermon notes for that sermon.  This sermon is not original actually.  It’s a reworking of my Dad’s (Jerry Trammell) most requested sermon, “Bread corn is bruised.”

Unless noted, all Scripture is from the HCSB.

Crushed.

Isaiah 28:23-29 – 23 Listen and hear my voice.  Pay attention and hear what I say. 24 Does the plowman plow every day to plant seed?  Does he [continuously] break up and cultivate the soil?  25 When he has leveled its surface, does he not then scatter cumin and sow black cumin?  He plants wheat in rows and barley in plots, with spelt as their border.  26 His God teaches him order; He instructs him.  27 Certainly black cumin is not threshed with a threshing board, and a cart wheel is not rolled over the cumin.  But black cumin is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod.  28 Bread grain is crushed, but is not threshed endlessly.  Though the wheel of [the farmer’s] cart rumbles, his horses do not crush it.  29 This also comes from the LORD of Hosts.  He gives wonderful advice; He gives great wisdom.

Introduction

The context of this passage is found in Isaiah 28:1-33:24.  Here the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah is giving six woe judgments upon the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah).  Both Kingdoms of the Children of Israel had constantly turned their back on the Lord who loved them and called them to be a holy people in the midst of pagan nations that surrounded them.  They had turned to idol worship, perverted worship of mixing the pagan religions with the worship of YHWH, and trusting and making treaties with nations that the Lord forbade them to do.

So God said that He was going to crush both nations.  And in verses 23-29 God through Isaiah tells them this parable of how He was going to crush them.  It would be like the crushing of seed and bread grain. Ancient  farmers used different methods to crush seeds and grain, depending on the seed/grain; in the same way God was going to use different methods to bring about His crushing judgment on both kingdoms.  But notice the promise of verse 28.

Verse 28a – Bread grain is crushed, but is not threshed endlessly.

This means that the crushing and threshing would not be an ongoing thing, but one day it would be stopped.  Many feel that it would be stopped when they would get to return to the land of promise from exile, but I believe that the stopping of the crushing and threshing ultimately would be the coming of the Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth.  Why do I say this?  Well, notice an earlier prophecy in Isaiah 28.

Isaiah 28:16 – Therefore the Lord GOD said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.

Jesus Christ is that tested stone (tested both in the wilderness and the Garden of Gethsemane); He is the precious cornerstone that is the foundation of our faith; He is the sure foundation that we build our lives upon so that when the winds blow, as we hold on to Him in faith, He will make us unshakable.

And this is what this message is about.  Let’s begin now applying this truth of crushing to our lives.

Contrary to many opinions in the church today, you and I will go through times of crushing.

We live in a time that people don’t want to hear this.

They want to know what God’s purpose for their lives is. They want to have their best life now, and live life everyday like it’s a Friday (not exactly sure what that’s suppose to mean, other than that’s the title of the new fad book hitting the Christian market).  They want to be prosperous, happy, care-free with no burdens, sickness, and struggles to speak of.

Many feel that this is the dream of Jesus for their lives (I actually heard a preacher make that statement the other day), but it’s not, it’s the American dream.

And the American dream is different from Jesus’ dream for our lives.  In fact, I can say this with certainty: Jesus saves us from the American dream.

As Christians we are not called to pursue the life of the American dream (nice house, car, life); we are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

Luke 9:23b – If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

So crushing times will come upon us, not because of judgment, but because we live in a fallen world.

We will all experience times of crushing.  These may come in the form of persecution, sickness, times of poverty, or many other things.

But the good news is these times do not last forever, and in the midst of them, Jesus Christ will be our strength.  Notice what Paul says in Philippians 4.

Philippians 4:10-13 –  10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me, but lacked the opportunity [to show it]. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content]—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Our hope is not that these times of crushing are for a brief moment in our lives, but our hope is also the same as the hope of those being crushed in Isaiah 28.

Our hope in the midst of our crushing moments is in the one who was crushed for our sins – Jesus Christ.

Let’s look and quickly dissect Isaiah 53:4-5.  Let’s look at it redemptively.

Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV – 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

Borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.

In Hebrew, griefs can also mean sicknesses.  He bore and carried the results of living in a fallen world – griefs, sorrows, and sicknesses at the cross.

Stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.

There is a negative connotation to this passage actually.  We esteemed Him means that the Jews of Jesus day thought He was deserving of death and judged by God.  But they missed this important truth that I want to reveal to each of us this morning.  He was crushed by God and afflicted, not for His own sins, for He never sinned; but for the sins of the whole world.

He was wounded and crushed for our sins.

He took our place in the punishment for our sins.

This punishment for our sins provides for us peace with God.

Our crushing can do a lot of things, but two things it cannot do; (1) it cannot provide peace with God for us; (2) it cannot separate from the Christian the peace we have with God all because of Jesus.

This punishment brought about the healing of our souls from sin and the healing of the rift we tore between us and God because of our sin.

Good works on our part cannot do this; it all because of Jesus.

Conclusion

As we conclude know this: we will go through times of crushing.  It will be painful, and at times it may be costly; but God does not abandon us in those times.  He is right there with us through our Savior Jesus Christ.  And Jesus was crushed so that He might heal us of our crushed times.

So if you are feeling crushed this morning.  Hold on to the promise that this crushing will not last forever, and you will not walk through it alone; and in God’s own time, He will provide healing and deliverance from this crushing.

Bless God part 12

This is the sermon for Sunday, October 16th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture is from the ESV.

Bless God part 12

What kind of God is it that

we need to be rescued from Him?

Introduction

This is the 12th sermon in our series entitled, “Bless God.”   In this series we are looking into God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”

We are in the question portion of the series – endeavoring to answer many questions that are being asked in the Church today.

This is the final question that we will determine to try to answer: “What kind of God is it that we need to be rescued from Him?

In the video that we played of Rob Bell’s promo to his book, “Love wins,” he had this to say: “Millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the Gospel of Jesus is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus.  And so what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues us from God.  But what kind of God is it that we would need to be rescued from Him?  How could that God ever be good?  How could that God ever be trusted and how could that ever be good news?”

Well, we are going to use each of these questions as a spring board to answer this final question this morning.  Let’s begin.

What kind of God is it that we need to be rescued from Him?

Let’s look at a couple of God’s attributes this morning that will answer this question:

  • God is perfectly holy.

Leviticus 19:2 – Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16 – 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Psalm 22:3 – Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Psalm 30:4 – Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.

Isaiah 6:3 – And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

  • God is perfectly just.

Psalm 9:7-8 – 7But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.

Psalm 111:7 – The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;

To understand the difference between a perfect God and imperfect man, let’s now look at a few of man’s attributes.

  • We are sinners.

Romans 3:23 – … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

  • We are deserving of God’s wrath but forgiveness is offered through Jesus.

Psalm 51:3-4 – 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Psalm 32:4-5 – 4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 5I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalm 25:17-18 – 17The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. 18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

  • So the God we need to be rescued from is holy and just in His judgment of sinners, yet at the same time He offers forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it through Jesus Christ.

How could that God ever be good?

He’s good, not based on what we feel about his holiness and justice, but He’s good because Scripture says that He is.

1 Chronicles 16:34 – Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Chronicles 7:3 – When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Psalm 25:8 – Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.

How can that God ever be trusted?

We don’t trust God based on what He has done for us or what He will do for us, but we trust God because Scriptures tells us too.

Psalm 9:10 – And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 20:7 – Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

How could that ever be good news?

Let’s unpack a classic passage of Scripture from the Apostle Paul that I believe answers this question well.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 – 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

  • The church has a message: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.”  The Church’s message is not some feel good positive message that is no different than what can be heard on Doctor Phil, Joel Osteen, or some other program or book; but our message is about a holy, just God judging a sinful world because they deserve it, yet He sent is Son not to condemn, but save those who believe.
  • The message (appeal): “Be reconciled to God.”  This is a message of repentance.  What sin has corrupted, Christ came to restore.  We must be reconciled with Him.
  • Why and how reconciliation is possible: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  In simple terms – Jesus took our sins and the punishment for our sins in our place – and we receive His perfect righteousness.  This is known as the great exchange.

Conclusion

As we finish up today with the question portion of the series, I need to ask this: have you truly trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you being restored in relationship with God or are you going through some type of religious service apart from Christ?  It is not your service or works that save you, but is it Christ service and work that does.  Trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins today.  Ask Him to be merciful to you and save you.

Bless God part 11

This is the sermon for Sunday, October 9th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture is from the ESV.

Bless God part 11

How do people become one of the “select few.”

Introduction

This is the 11th sermon in our series entitled, “Bless God.”   In this series we are looking into God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”

We are in the question portion of the series – endeavoring to answer many questions that are being asked in the Church today.

Today we will endeavor to answer the question, “How do people become one of the ‘select few?’”

This question is one naturally asked after it is determined from Scripture that only a select few will make it to heaven.  Let’s endeavor to answer this question from the Scriptures this morning.

You don’t become a member of this ‘select few’ by works on your part.

Romans 3:20 – For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Many try to be justified and find favor with God through Law-keeping.  But Paul is clear that no will be justified in God’s sight by keeping the Law; for the purpose of the Law is not justification, but the knowledge of the fact that we are sinners.

Romans 11:5-6 – 5So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

How is the remnant chosen by God?  Not on the basis of works on our part, but the grace of God Himself.

Galatians 2:16 – … yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Since no one is justified and becomes a part of the ‘select few’ be works of the Law, how then does one become a member?

A message must first be preached – and that message is the gospel.

Romans 10:14-17 – 14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

In our day of making our services palatable for ‘seekers’ we have watered down the Gospel and are pursuing the lost totally opposite of the way that Paul and others within the Scriptures present it.  First off, there are no ‘seekers’ according to Scripture.  Faith is produced supernaturally – notice verse 17: “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing the word of Christ.”  Disciples are not produce by our music abilities; our media prowess; our skits and fun and games; or trying to meet felt needs.  Disciples are produced by preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is as this good news is preached, that the Holy Spirit begins to truly produce faith in sinner’s hearts so that they may turn from their sin and believe the Gospel and be saved from the wrath of God.  That is why the most important part of our service is the preaching of God’s word.  We have in our culture forgotten this truth unfortunately.

Now let’s look into Romans 8 for the remainder of this sermon.  We want to look at a passage that is often called, “the golden chain of redemption.”  For in this passage Paul reveals how we become part of the ‘select few.’

The golden chain of redemption.

Romans 8:29-30 – 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Let’s begin unpacking this text.

  • Foreknowledge – Many people think that this refers to God knowing who would come to Him and who wouldn’t before the foundation of the world and then based on this knowledge, God would elect someone to salvation.  And I used to believe this as well.  But this is really an incorrect few of what true biblical foreknowledge actually is.  John MacArthur in his notes in the “MacArthur Study Bible” says it better than I ever could.  Let’s look at it and then look into the Scriptures for examples of this defined foreknowledge.  “Not a reference simply to God’s omniscience – that in eternity past He knew who would come to Christ.  Rather, it speaks of a predetermined choice to set His love on us and establish an intimate relationship – or His election.”[1]

Genesis 18:19 – For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

Jeremiah 1:5 – Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Amos 3:2a – You only have I known of all the families of the earth…

Romans 11:2a – God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.

 

  • Predestined – This is the predetermined plan of God.  His predetermined plan is that those He foreknew would become like Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:3-6 –  3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:11-14 – 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

 

  • Called – This calling takes place as the Gospel is preached and proclaimed.  It is the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit.

2 Thessalonians 2:14 – To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  • Justified – This is where we who are guilty sinners are declared righteous in the sight of a holy, just God, as if we have never, ever sinned.  Again, let me quote from the MacArthur Study Bible.  “This legal or forensic term comes from the Greek word for ‘righteous’ and means, ‘to declare righteous.’  This verdict includes: pardon from the guilty and penalty of sin, and the impartation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer’s account, which provides for the positive righteousness man needs to be accepted by God.  God declares a sinner righteous solely on the basis of the merits of Christ’s righteousness.  God imputed a believer’s sin to Christ’s account in His sacrificial death, and He imputes Christ’s perfect obedience to God’s law to Christians.  The sinner receives this gift of God’s grace by faith alone.”[2]

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  • Glorified – This is the future promise of being in the presence of our Savior for eternity.  God will continue to work in us, making us more like Christ until Christ comes again.

Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

How do we become of a member of the ‘select few?’  Not works of righteousness on our part, but trusting in the work and the person of Jesus Christ.


[1] John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible (ESV) Kindle edition location 123142.

[2] John MacArthur, The MacAthur Study Bible (ESV) kindle edition.  Location 122492.  Study note from Romans 3:24.

Bless God part 10

This is the sermon for Sunday, October 2nd, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture references are from the ESV.

Bless God part 10

Will only a select few make it to heaven

and the many burn forever in hell?

Introduction

This is the 10th sermon in our series entitled, “Bless God.”   In this series we are looking into God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”

We are in the question portion of the series – endeavoring to answer many questions that are being asked in the Church today.

Today the question that we are tackling is, “will only a select few make it to heaven and the many burn forever in hell?

Many people feel like they have earned heaven.  They feel that they’ve done enough good things that give them access to heaven in the after life.  And the blame for this type of belief falls on many church congregations and their pastors, mainly because they preach the law wrongfully.  They preach the law as keeping it in order to earn favor with God, as opposed to the truth that the Law is a school master that points to Jesus Christ.  This idea of earning heaven is a false belief.  It is true that only a select few will actually make it to heaven; with the rest being tormented in hell forever.  Let’s look at this subject and a number of Scripture passages for a few moments.

Only perfect sinless people make it to heaven.

Psalm 24:3-4 – 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.

Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

After Jesus gives His teaching of His demand on Law-keeping found in the sermon on the mount, He states that we must be perfect in our keeping of it.  But this would leave each of us out, sense we are all imperfect sinners.  Well, here is the good news found in our Lord’s prayer in John 17.

John 17:22-26 – 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Here Jesus prays that we might share the glory He shares with the Father.  Christ in us makes us perfectly one (verse 23).  In other words it is Christ in us that perfects us to enter into heaven.

Jesus is the only select way to heaven.

John 14:1-6 – 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus Himself claimed being the exclusive way to heaven in this passage here.  His claim is not one of many ways, but the only way.

Those who go to heaven are the elect of God.

Some truths concerning election:

  • The Father gives the elect to the Son out of the world.

John 17:6 – I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

John 6:39-40 – 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

  • Those the Father appoints to eternal life believes.

Acts 13:48 – And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

  • Election is not dependent on human will and effort but the merciful God.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 9:11 – … though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls…

Ephesians 1:11 – In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.

  • Election is because of God’s foreknowledge.

Romans 8:29 – For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

1 Peter 1:2 – … according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

  • Election is God’s Sovereign choice.

Romans 9:15 – For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

1 Corinthians 1:27 – But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

The unrepentant wicked are excluded from heaven.

Galatians 5:19-21 – 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:5 – For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Revelation 22:15 – Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – 9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

What is the only hope for the wicked?  Repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Conclusion

Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.  All other ways lead to hell.  The only answer to those on the other false roads is to repent, turn from that false road and trust in Christ as the way to heaven.

 

Bless God part 9

This is the sermon for Sunday, September 25th, 2011.

(Unless noted, all Scripture references is from the ESV)

Bless God part 9

Do good moral people go to hell?

 

Introduction

This is the 9th sermon in our series entitled, “Bless God.”   In this series we are looking into God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”

We are in the question portion of the series – endeavoring to answer many questions that are being asked in the Church today.

Today we are going to be tackling the question that many people ask: “Do good moral people go to hell?”  We often hear people when asking this type of question ask it like this example: “What about those who have never heard, but never did any dreadful sin, were great parents, never stole or injured anyone?”  Or another similar one: “What about someone who never trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and yet lived better than most Christians do?”  Somehow many feel that this type of question is an argument against Jesus being the only way to be rescued from the torments of hell as well as the only way to know the one true God and enter heaven.

But this really is a trick question; for no one is born nor dies apart from Christ as a good moral person.  Oh, they may be more moral than many people around, but they are not perfect in their morality.  In God’s eyes, they are horrible, unrighteous sinners deserving of His perfect wrath.

In this sermon, we are going to look at a very important doctrine that bears this truth of no one truly being morally good; it’s called the doctrine of total depravity or original sin, or as I like to say it – the doctrine of man’s total inability.  We are also going to let the Scriptures guide us in our answers this morning.  Let’s begin.

Question: What is the doctrine total depravity, original sin, or total inability?

Answer: “The consequence of the fall of man, every person is born morally corrupt, enslaved to sin, and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God.”[1]

There are many doctrines out there that many people believe.  But the test if a doctrine is correct is not our background, or belief system – but the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  And while the Bible does not use the terms “Total depravity, Original sin, and Total Inability” as titles to this doctrine; the Bible does teach this doctrine rather strongly.  So we are going to reveal some important truths the Bible teaches concerning this doctrine of man’s fallen condition by looking at the texts themselves.

We were born sinful.

Now before we look at the text, I want us to look at this truth from a natural viewpoint for a few moments.   You can see this in every baby from very early moments in their development.  One of the first things they develop early on is a sense of ownership – you know what I’m talking about right?  They go around saying, “Mine, Mine, Mine.”  And when they do, they get rather ugly about it.  Folks, this is just old fashioned coveting.  Also, disobedience to parents is something that begins very early in the growth of a child as well.

Now let’s look at some Scriptures.

Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

The Psalmists brings this important truth out, in sin did his mother conceive him.  We were brought forth in iniquity because our parents were sinners also.

Job 15:14 – What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?

Man cannot be pure, we cannot be righteous: why?  Well, we were naturally born and conceived in sin.

Job 25:4-6 – 4How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure? 5Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; 6 how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!”

Bildad would not win the “think positive about yourself” reward would he?  He is using some very strong language to describe the condition of man.

Our minds think on evil.

Genesis 6:5 – The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

This verse is in the context of the Noah and the flood narrative.   Mankind was wicked on the earth; their thoughts and their hearts were on evil continually.

Surely though, this type of wickedness died out with them in the flood, it doesn’t mean that man’s heart continued in this condition – does it?  Well, let’s continue looking into the Flood narrative because God says something about this I believe.

Genesis 8:21 – And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

God had poured His just wrath out on mankind, only sparing those within the ark.  And here God makes a promise, “I will never again curse the ground because of man…”  But right in the middle of God’s promise He says something important: “…for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”  This statement proves to us the truth that man’s heart is on evil continually did not die out in the flood.

All people sin.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 – Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Before we go to what is known as the classic passage to prove that all people sin, I wanted to take us to what Solomon said here within the Old Testament.  He acknowledges that there is no one righteous on this earth who never sins.

Romans 3:23 – … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Our hearts are deceitful and beyond cure.

Jeremiah reveals this in his prophetic book.

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Let’s unpack this quickly:

  • “The heart is deceitful above all things”:  He is talking about the human heart.  It’s not just deceitful, but deceitful above all things.  I believe you can say it perhaps this way: “The human heart is the most deceitful thing there is, far above all other things that deceive.”
  • “and desperately sick”:  Not just deceitful for the purpose of being deceitful, but the human heart is diseased – and the disease is called “sin.”
  • “who can understand it?”:  No person truly understands the deceitfulness of the human heart, even after all the studies that science performs.  That is why we are often shocked when a mother may kill her child, or someone we thought was a good moral person having a secret, horrible life that has been revealed.

Jeremiah 13:23 – Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

Let me state this another way:  It would be easier for a person to literally change the color of their skin by their mere decision than it would be for someone who is evil to change themselves into someone good.

The last two points both come out of Ephesians chapter 2.  Let’s look at them as we close.

All are dead in their trespasses and sins.

Ephesians 2:1-3 – 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Let’s unpack these verses quickly.

  • Paul is writing to Christians in Ephesus here and he is arguing for salvation being a free gift.  But before he gets to this, he reveals a truth that is true of everyone.
  • We were dead in our trespasses and sins.
  • We followed the dictates of Satan and this world’s system.
  • We lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out our evil desires.
  • And we were BY NATURE children of wrath – like the rest of mankind.
  • While this is bad news – Paul introduces the gospel, and we want to end this sermon with the gospel this morning.

The good news is God has made us alive and saved us!

Ephesians 2:4-10 – 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Let’s unpack these verses.

  • While we were dead in sin – God stepped in (but God) and made us alive together with Christ.
  • He also raised us up with him and seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
  • We are saved by His grace, not our works.
  • This grace and the faith we are saved through are both gifts from God, so there is no boasting on our parts in our salvation.
  • We are God’s workmanship – He continues to work on us.

Conclusion

There are no good moral people according to Scripture.  We are all sinners, deserving the just wrath of God as punishment for our sins.  But God, who is rich in mercy, sent Jesus to suffer God’s wrath in our place, so that we might be saved.  The good news is, we go to heaven, not because of our morality – but because of the morality of Jesus Christ!

Bless God part 8

This is the sermon for September 18th, 2011.

(All Scriptures unless noted are from the ESV)

Bless God part 8

Is there a literal heaven?

 

Introduction

This is the 8th sermon in our series entitled, “Bless God.”   In this series we are looking into God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”

We are in the question portion of the series – endeavoring to answer some questions that are being asked in the Church today.

One of those questions being asked is, “Is there a literal heaven?”  Heaven is believed by more people than hell by far.  And most people if you were to ask them would tell you rather emphatically that they are going to heaven when they die.  They may give you reasons like, “I’ve been a pretty good person and my good deeds have outweighed my bad deeds;” or “A loving God would never send anyone to hell,” or “I’m assured to get there;” or “I’m a pretty religious person.”

Well, just who goes to heaven?  That will be addressed in a future sermon in this series.  But for now we want to see if heaven is a literal, physical, and at the same time spiritual place; or just a state of mind or a myth.  Let’s look at the Scriptures and see what they teach.

Heaven is the dwelling place of God.

1 Kings 8:30  – And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

Notice here in First Kings that it calls heaven God’s dwelling place; a place he hears our prayers and forgives.

Matthew 6:9a  – Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven…”

Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray.  Notice He starts the prayer by saying, “Our Father in heaven.”

Heaven is a part of God’s creation.

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Revelation 10:6 – …and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay…

Both the first book of the Bible and the last book state that God created the heavens.

Heaven is a place that can’t be fully measured and described in human terms.

Jeremiah 31:37  – Thus says the LORD:”If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.”

2 Corinthians 12:1-5  – 1I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.

There are a lot of books out in the Christian market right now that purport to be some one’s either vision of heaven, or that they died, went to heaven, came back and told their story.  I have to be careful here, but we need to be cautious with these tales.  I’m not denying that they have happened, but according to Scripture, I don’t think that their graphic description of heaven can be described in that detail.  Why do I say this?  Well these two Scriptures.

Jeremiah basically says that the heavens can’t be measured.

Paul, using the third person, describes his ascent to heaven, and he was not allowed to speak what he heard.

The point is, we need to stick with the Scriptures concerning the descriptions of heaven, and judge those visions and visits people have had with the Scriptures.

Heaven is a place of holiness.

Deuteronomy 26:15  – Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.’

Isaiah 57:15  – For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Heaven rejoices when sinners repent.

Luke 15:7 – Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:22-24 – 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Heaven is a place where all Christians are known.

Luke 10:20 – Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Hebrews 12:23a –  and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven

Heaven is a place of rewards for persecuted Christians.

Matthew 5:12 – Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Heaven will be made new, come to earth and death and suffering will cease to exist.

Revelation 21:1-7 – 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Conclusion

We could go on with much more truths of heaven from the Scriptures, but we are going to stop here.  Heaven is not a frame of mind, a myth of someone’s imagination, or a place on earth; it is a real place revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.  The attitude I hope you caught from the Scriptures we looked at this morning for the believer is one of rejoicing when it comes to heaven.  It is a real, spiritual and yet physical place, where God dwells, holiness rules, and Christians are rewarded.  Rejoice in these truths.

 

 

 

Bless God part 7

This is the sermon for Sunday, September 11th, 2011.

Bless God part 7

Is there a literal hell?

 Introduction

This is the 7th sermon in our topical series entitled, “Bless God: God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”  This is also the second theme we are going to be tackling within this series.  The first through the sixth sermons dealt with the subject of what we believe about God being important.  Now we are going to be tackling some of the questions that were proposed in Rob Bell’s video that we watched several weeks ago.

This morning we are going to endeavor to answer the question, “Is there a literal hell?”  This is a subject that is now very popular to preach from, plus there are so many different views people within churches have today.

Different views concerning hell:

  • Not a real place, but more of a state of mind.
  • Only the worst of the worst go there (examples: Osama, Hitler) the rest go to heaven.
  • Hell is a myth to scare the masses.
  • It is a temporary abode but God’s love will eventually melt the heart of the sinner while in hell and they will then experience heaven (Rob Bell’s basic position).
  • It’s a real place but not eternal, one day God will end its existence and the existence of all who go there by annihilation (Charles Parham’s Apostolic Faith position).
  • Hell is a real eternal place with real fire and is located in the center of the earth.  The torment never ceases (literalist position).
  • Hell is a real eternal place where the torment never ceases.  Fire is a metaphor for the torment (my basic position).

 

As you can see, there are many positions that people hold within churches.  I believe the last two positions that I listed are the most biblical.

So when it comes to hell, we need an authority to tell us if it is real and what it is like.  This authority is the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament.  It is in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit really begins to reveal the doctrine of hell strongly, and that is where we will begin to find the answer to the hell question.  Let’s begin.

Hell is the place of eternal punishment resulting in ultimate judgment.

Matthew 25:41-46 ESV –  41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Revelation 20:11-15 ESV – 11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Hell is a place of great torment, eternal fire, and darkness.

Jude 7 ESV – …just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Jude 12-13 ESV – 12These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Matthew 8:12 ESV – …while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Revelation 20:10 NKJV – The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Luke 16:23 ESV – …and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

Hell is described as a place of eternal destruction.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV – They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

2 Peter 3:7 ESV – But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

  • An important point: This is not annihilation, but eternal destruction that is judgment in the form of being both separated from the Lord’s presence and glorious power and eternal torment.
  • If this was annihilation, then it would contradict the eternal torment passages that we have looked at.

God is the one who uses hell for His purposes (His total wrath on sinners); hell is not the wrath of Satan.

Matthew 10:28 ESV – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Romans 2:2-9 ESV – 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.

Conclusion

We could keep going, but we will end here.   Hell is a real eternal place.  It is a place of torment reserved for the devil and his angels; where the wicked are destroyed by being eternally tormented by God’s just wrath.  There is only one way to avoid this – repent of your sins and ask God to be merciful and forgive you through Jesus Christ.

 

 

Bless God part 6

This is the sermon for Sunday, September 4th, 2011.

Bless God part 6.

The Lord gives, the Lord takes; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Introduction

This is the sixth sermon in our topical series entitled, “Bless God: God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”

This sermon is going to be dealing with the topic of suffering and comfort, by introducing the concept of both eternal reward and eternal punishment, using the book of Job as a guide.

Suffering is not a delightful subject to deal with.  The fact is, none of us like to suffer.  Some well meaning, though deceived Christians believe that it is wrong for Christians to suffer in this life; and if you do, it is because of some present sin in your life or a lack of faith.  While others focus on an overemphasis of suffering in the life of a believer; they believe it is the only way to really experience the presence of God and His favor in your life if you suffer greatly for His name.

This sermon is not about the suffering we endure and the comfort we can experience in this life, but the next.

As we will be dealing with Heaven and Hell in this series – these actually fall along this category of suffering and comfort.  Later we will be dealing with each subject more specifically, but for now I want to just introduce two concepts to build a foundation for us for when we deal with the questions that are related to heaven and hell.

First, I want us to look into the life of Job.  Let’s look at him and then we will unpack this idea of suffering being a foundation to the doctrines of heaven and hell.

Job – the man.

Scripture reveals to us that Job was a godly man.

Job 1:1 ESV – There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

I don’t think that Scripture could say anything more positive about someone other than what it reveals about Job here.

First it says He was blameless: This doesn’t mean he lived in absolute perfection before God, but that he was consistent in his walk before Him.  Notice a couple of OT passages.

Job 9:20 ESV – Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV – Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Though Job, compared with other people may have appeared to be blameless in all his ways; before a holy God however, he was a sinner.  While this is true, Job still loved God.

Next we see that he feared God and kept away from evil: Job wasn’t one who pursued sinned and lived as he pleased, but pursued God in order to please Him.

Job was a man who loved his children and interceded for them.

Job 1:5 ESV – And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

It is God who introduces Job before Satan and allows Satan to test Him (verses 8-12).

Then, finally, we see Job lose it all (verses 13-19).

It is here, we see that Job refuses to curse God, but instead submits to His lordship and says something powerful.

Job 1:20-21 ESV – 20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

When reading this, it can seem so unfair for God to allow this to happen.  But in reality, God was being both just and later gracious in His dealings with Job.   Why can I say this?  Well notice what the book of Job says much later.

First, Job repented before God.

Job 42:5-6 ESV – 5I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

God restored to Job a double portion of everything he lost.

Job 42:10 ESV – And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

In all that Job both lost and had restored, God’s name was to be blessed.

So as we consider the doctrines of heaven and hell within this series, I want to build on these truths discovered in the book of Job as a foundation when we endeavor to look into those subjects.

God’s name is blessed in the salvation of the repentant.

There is an important truth that Scripture reveals about why Jesus came.

This truth is revealed in Luke 19 whenever Jesus has an encounter with the tax collector Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:10 ESV – For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

When Jesus came, the first message He proclaimed after His baptism and temptation was one of repentance.

Matthew 4:17 ESV – From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This also was the message that Jesus told His disciples to proclaim as well.

Luke 24:46-48 ESV – 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

The fact is, it glorifies the name of the Lord for sinners to repent and receive the forgiveness of their sins.

It is such a joyous thing to see when people are converted by the power of the Gospel being preached.

But there is another truth as well.

God’s name is blessed in the punishment of the non-repentant.

Because God is just and holy, He will rightly judge and eternally punish those who refuse to repent of their sins and wickedness.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 ESV – 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…

Hebrews 10:26-31 ESV – 26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

God judging sinners in their unrepentant sin brings Him glory, it shows the triumph of Christ over Satan and mankind’s fallen nature.

Conclusion

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who gives mercy, salvation, and grace; it is also the Lord Jesus Christ who will punish all the unrepentant with the awesome terror of His coming.  May His named be forever praised.