Sunday, February 3, 2013

Who Do You Say that I am?

Luke 9:1-20

Thoughts on Sermons at Andover Baptist

Real power in this world seems to reside with those who have the means to coerce the populace.  Whoever has the guns, money, or food seems to come out on top.  But this power is only temporary.  It is merely the appearance of power because the true power lies with God.

This was illustrated in Worcester v. Georgia where missionaries refused to get licensed to be on Native American land in a bid to keep the government from forcibly moving them off of their land.  The supreme court held for the missionaries but the President and the leaders in Georgia essentially ignored the Supreme Court and mocked the fact that the court had no means to enforce their decision.  But we must see that even these injustices are temporary - and that the true power lies with God and His faithful servants.

- rejoice over the Kingdom of God
- believe the evidence for who Jesus is
- do not be perplexed like King Herod
- who do you say that Jesus is?

This was a very helpful sermon and there was too much to include in my brief summary.  The audio will be posted here.

The Old Testament saints were well aware of the Kingdom of God and were looking for it.  It was expanded and clarified with the coming of Jesus for He was the prophesied Messiah and fulfilled the Old Testament.  Those like Simeon, Anna, the Centurion, and the sinful woman immediately recognized Him.  While others were confused because they looked for a political savior.  We struggle with being like those who see the obvious signs of who Jesus is but who don't want Him or His message because He isn't giving us what we wanted or expected.

The incarnation was a mystery not because we don't know what happened, but because we don't know how it happened.  Jesus appointed twelve disciples to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.  He made bread that was lasting (unlike Manna) and was gathered up in twelve baskets.  Isaiah 53:5 Christ healed us.  The physical healing was a sign of His power to bring about spiritual healing.  He could transfer His power to those who did not even have faith such as Judas.  None in the OT could do this.  He commands His disciples to go out unprepared because He controls all providence and can provide for His own.

Many were perplexed about who Jesus was and many in our day are perplexed about who He is.  But it is not enough to say He is a great prophet or a good teacher.  Jesus requires that we believe He is the Son of God.

Who do you say that Jesus is?

Sunday School The Apostles Creed

Review: We need to remember the scriptural emphasis on the resurrection of Christ and not fail to include this in our thinking about Christ's work in conquering sin and death.

The creed does not define the Holy Ghost as being God and this was specified later in history after a group of heretics denied the Holy Spirit's deity.  The Creed has a trinitarian structure and deals first with the Father, then Jesus, and then the Spirit.  It then goes on to deal with the workings of God among men.

The Holy Spirit helps us to destroy the sin in our lives and He helps us to build up consistent christian character in it's place.  We don't believe in sola boot strapa that we just need to kill sin by a commitment of the will alone.  We believe we need the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 8 "likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness for we do not know what to pray for as we ought but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words..."  Displeasure with ourselves and with sin is a positive sign that we are in Christ.

In considering the holy catholic church there are two errors:
1) exalting the church to a place that God did not intend
2) denigrating the church to being an institution existing only for our own benefit.  This is a consumer mentality to the church and is more likely to be the error we find in our culture.

Neil read a very insightful quote from a book in the 1500's regarding those who criticize the church and sermons.  It could just as well have been written today and dealt with our natural inclination to pick apart everything in the church with an unloving harshness without sincerely taking what is said to heart. 

Also, we need to be careful to be loving and warm to those in Christ with which we have disagreement.  J.C. Ryle made an interesting comment in this regard, "we must beware that we do not condemn men too strongly for not seeing all things in our point of view, or excommunicate and anathematize them because they do not pronounce our shibboleth."  And this was in regard to John Wesley the evangelist who was also an Arminian.

Sunday Evening Seven Bowls of Wrath

Cyril Joad was an intellectual who denied God.  He said that we had abolished the fear of God and were only left with the fear of man.  But this led to no fear of hell and as people lost fear of God and hell they have created a world that is more hellish than before.

The focus of most of this chapter has to do with temporal judgement.  These are similar to the judgements detailed in Chapters 8 and 9.  As we learned earlier, John is communicating the same things in different ways using recapitulation.  There are many similarities between the temporal judgements in these chapters of Revelation and the judgements of God on Egypt found in Exodus.  For instance, the fifth trumpet and the fifth bowl cause darkness on the earth and suffering.  This is foreshadowed by the plague of darkness in Egypt which was a darkness that "could be felt."  Exodus 10  Also, the 7th bowl has similarities with Exodus 14 where God descends on Mt. Sinai.  The Exodus of the people of Israel is a type of God's people coming out of the world into the New Jerusalem at the end of time and the judgements which will come on the earth.

- these are just judgements
- they cause hardening
- they lead up to and culminate in the coming of Jesus

God is just.  These judgements are a reflection of the Justice of God.  God is not being over the top in His wrath, nor is He being soft.  He is delivering retribution to those who deserve it.

In verses 8-11 we see the hardening of men under the wrath of God, "... plunged into darkness.  People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores.  They did not repent of their deeds." Just as the plagues of Egypt hardened Pharaoh and His people, so the pouring out of God's wrath on the earth will cause their hearts to be hardened.

The kings of the earth gather together for war in verse 14.  This is similar to Revelation 16, 19, 20 and Ezekiel 38:19-23:
For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord GOD. Every man's sword will be against his brother. With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

All of these passages seem to describe the final judgement.

For those who are not in Christ, the judgement of God looms over you.  But now is the time where free grace to cover your sins is offered to you.  By turning from your sins and trusting in Christ you can be free from the guilt and punishment your sins deserve.  But if you continue in your sin, there is a chance that you will become hardened.  Now is the time to turn to Jesus and repent.  This is what we understand Cyril Joad did at the end of his life.  He wrote the book The Recovery of Belief.

For believers we must continue to push on.  We don't know when these things are to be.  But we must be ready and we must be on the watch against apathy and against the sin which so easily ensnares us.

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