Intro: In a little while we will be dedicating three of our member’s children. But why are they doing this? What is the purpose and does it have any Biblical basis? The first child that was dedicated to the Lord in the Bible was little Samuel. He was a child born to Elkanah and Hannah after many years. So when the Lord finally gave them this child after much prayer, Hannah gave him back to the Lord. “When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord and he will live there always.” 1 Sam. 1:21-22 At the appointed time, they brought the boy Samuel to the Lord and Hannah said, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given to the Lord.” 1 Sam. 1:27-28
What does this do for the one dedicated in his or her salvation? Is this child already saved? No and not yet. Not even baptism will save them for this is not mandated by God. This is an act of gratitude to the Lord for the blessing of this child. Giving this child to the Lord meant that we let God do with the child as He please in accordance to His will. However the parents take the responsibility in teaching and guiding them to know God through His word as the child grows up. The boy Samuel was given to the priest to live there and be nurtured by him who later became a prophet of God. Last Sunday we learned from the apostle Peter this truth what has become of believers after they have been born again. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peoplebelonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Pet. 2:9-10
So in the New Testament the Lord has abolished the priesthood that belonged only to the Levites but made every born again believer in Christ as priest and Christ being the High Priest. This gives them access to God as intermediary between God and men. Just as Hannah gave Samuel to the priest, every parent is a priest to their children and given the responsibility to teach them to love God and fear the Lord. This was already commanded to the Israelites before they entered the promise land. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deut. 6:4-9
So when parents share their faith both by teaching and example to their children as they grow up God will honor their obedience to influence their children. Here’s how the young pastor Timothy got saved. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim. 3:14-15
From whom did Timothy learn the Scriptures and who taught him? “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded lives in you also.” 2 Tim. 1:5 How did this faith get to live in Timothy? It was passed on to him from Grandma Lois and Mom Eunice? This is called “saving faith”, faith in a person who has authority to save. And what is the basis of this faith and where it comes from? “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Rom. 10:17
Faith then is man’s response after hearing from Christ the good news of salvation. Here’s God’s plan how one can have eternal life and live in heaven forever.
“God’s Only Plan of Salvation”
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourself, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9. We find in this passage the formula of salvation. Let us first define what Grace means? Grace is God’s favor to extend His loving kindness to one who does not deserve it. Those who are saved by the grace of God simply received the gift of God through faith. Grace is God’s unmerited kindness to sinners who already deserve God’s eternal punishment. Here’s how the Word of God explains this. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
Various religions have devised different teachings how a person can go to heaven and receive eternal life but they are all going the wrong way. So then who are those whom God has favored by grace with His salvation? These are those who will hear and believe the facts that are essential in order to know God’s plan of salvation and then respond to it by faith. Faith is man’s heartfelt response to what God has said in His Word. Here are the facts best explained using the word FAITH.
“F” Stands for Forgiveness. We cannot have eternal life and heaven without God’s forgiveness. And who alone can forgive our sins? We all know that sin is breaking the law of God. So if we sinned against God, from whom should we ask for forgiveness? From the one whom we sinned against and not through any person like the priest. And who has offended God? Here’s what God says, the verdict. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23
I had no problem in the past believing and admitting that I was a sinner. I know what I did, but then I would minimize my sin because I have not committed any major sins like killing anyone. I had an idea of the Ten Commandments but I really did not know all of them. In my ignorance I hoped God would understand. Like the saying what you don’t know won’t harm you. But that’s a lie. So it is a fact that because of my sin, I need to be forgiven by God because I fall short meaning I cannot make it to heaven and not just me but all have sinned. We are all on the same boat. So then who alone can forgive our sins? The God we offended and has delegated and given authority to only one person who can do that, the Son of God. “In him we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins.” Eph. 1:7
This brings us to the next letter “A”. A stands for “Available.” And what is available? Forgiveness and it is available for all. “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
God loves the world and made forgiveness available but it is not automatic. Why? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21 By just calling on God as Lord will not save us because we all have a problem which is our sin. No one can come before the presence of God with sin because God is holy and sin and His holiness cannot come together. So again we have a problem, which brings us to the next letter “I”.
I stand for “Impossible”. According to the Bible, it is impossible to get to heaven on our own. When I look back at my life and the religion I practiced and followed, even though I tried all my best to be good, faithful to go to church, kind to everyone and did my best to obey the commandments it wasn’t good enough. There is nothing wrong by being good. Everyone’s problem is the sins we have already committed against a holy God. We cannot earn and work our way to heaven because we are already disqualified. The only way we can make it on our own is by being sinless and no one has lived in this world a sinless life except Jesus Christ. That’s why salvation is all by the grace of God and not by works because all of humankind has already sinned. God will carry out His law and the consequence because He is a just God. So here is another important fact to believe. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23
Now we see that the law of God demands payment from everyone who has sinned. Just for one sin the penalty is the same - death. So the consequence is we die physically first and then the death that follows is eternal punishment in hell. Eternal because the spirit does not die but will live forever. So every man has a problem, a huge problem that he cannot fix on his own. Here’s what some people think they can do, as Holy Week is approaching we will see some Filipinos hurt themselves by flogging their backs with a whip and a few even have themselves nailed on a cross as payment for their sins. Will that save them? That’s punishing one’s self in order to gain God’s mercy and pardon. A milder and simpler way that does not hurt much is the penance given by a priest after confessing sins. Again can anyone pay the wages for my sins? No one, except what God has provided to pay the penalty for our sins. So the question that one should ask, how can a sinful person have eternal life and enter heaven, where God allows no sin? This brings us to next letter which is T.
“T” stands for Turn. Imagine you are driving down I-80 to San Francisco and you see a warning sign to turn back because there was a landslide that caused a break on the highway. So what is it saying for us to do? Turn around, take the next exit and make a U-turn. In the Bible turn means repent. Repentance is turning away from sin and self. Jesus made a sweeping statement to all people, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:3
This is the first requirement and a must before Jesus will forgive anyone his sins and saves. His first message when He started His ministry is, “The time has come,” he said, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:15
After Jesus resurrected and appeared to two of His disciples, he said to them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance andforgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-47
After turning away from sins, the next step is to turn to Christ and trust Him only. Trusting in Him for what He has already done is the only way we can be saved from the penalty of our sins. Christ died on the cross two thousand years ago and is as good today because the One who died was raised from the dead and is alive, alive forever more. He received back His throne in heaven and He alone can forgive as many sinners that would come to Him in faith. This is the good news and should really be the greatest news of all and for all. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4 God the Father accepted His offering of Himself by raising Him from the dead. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:9-11
This is the basis of the faith that points to the object of faith who is Christ Jesus, the Son of God. So what must one do in order to be saved from going to hell? “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Rom. 10:9-10
So then, what happens if a person is willing to repent of their sins and confess Christ? Then letter “H” will become true to him. “H” is for heaven. Heaven is a place where the one who is saved will spend eternity with God forever and ever. Here is what Jesus promised His disciples just before He went to the cross. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3
Heaven is the place where Jesus will take us but what happens while we are still alive here on earth when does eternal life begins? It begins now with Jesus. “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10b
“H” also stands for how? How can a person receive God’s forgiveness, eternal life and heaven? If that is your question because you have not yet received eternal life, here’s Christ’s invitation to you by His very words. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”Rev. 3:20
That’s Jesus knocking at the door of your heart. He will not force His way in unless you invite Him in, surrendering your life to Him as your Lord. Will you receive Jesus Christ into your heart by a simple prayer of commitment? INVITATION
Intro: This is the continuation of the message last Sunday on the priesthood of Jesus. We don’t find in the Old Testament Jesus being mentioned but actually He is already revealed yet His identity as Jesus, God the incarnate was concealed. His coming was already prophesied from Genesis to Malachi and fulfilled at His birth. Today we will focus on His being the High Priest of God, typified by the High Priests in the Old Testament as to His role and what He has accomplished.
“Jesus Christ the Believer’s High Priest”
“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” Heb. 7:18-28
Our reading this past week in our Everyday with Jesus Bible is in Exodus. God gave many instructions to Moses aside from the Ten Commandments to appoint Aaron and his sons as priest. They must be descendants of Levi. “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priest. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor.” Ex. 28:1-3
In addition to Aaron’s garments he was to wear an ephod, a breast piece with precious stones mounted on them. The design of his robe was specified as follows, “Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.” Ex. 28:33-35
Notice also how detailed the instructions God gave Moses how the tabernacle should be made even the dimensions and colors. This is our God who is particular about details and expect them to be carried out and obeyed. God also made a distinction between the priest and the high priest. Only the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place and only once year. His primary role was to bring to God the sins of the people committed unintentionally. And priests offer to the Lord Sin Offerings when the people sins even the priests themselves, the leaders and members of the community and the whole community by… The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands – “If the anointed priest sins, bearing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sins he has committed. He is to present the bull at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the Lord. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it before the Lord. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the of the bulls blood and carry it into the Tent of Meeting. He is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting.” Lev. 4:1-7.
Can you imagine all the regulations God gave His people in regards to sin? Even the high priest also has to present a sin offering for himself when he enters the Most Holy Place. This is where the Ark of the Covenant is placed and no one is allowed to enter there except the High Priest at the appointed time. It is there that God says He will meet the high priest at the Mercy Seat. God gave Moses instructions as to how the robe of the high priest is to be made. They were to have golden bells sewed on them. Why was that? This was to let the people know that the high priest is still alive. If the bell stops ringing then he’s dead. “Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die.”Ex. 28:43
God is holy and sin cannot come into His presence. Blood sacrifice must be offered first and sprinkled before the presence of God. This of course is preceded with confessions of sin. How serious is God and what does He expect priests who ministers to Him? Here’s what happened to the first of the priests, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: “‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ ” Aaron remained silent. Lev. 10:1-3
The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New when approaching God “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship Godacceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28.
So then what has changed from the regulations God required of His people of those who entered into a covenant with God in the Old Testament and with the New. The law was given to reveal who God is, His holiness. This is who God is and those who now belong to God ought to be holy as well. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Pet. 1:15-16
However, God knew that no one could keep the law that He required. “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” Heb. 7:18-19
So what was God’s provision to be forgiven and save us from the penalty of sins? “In fact, the law requires nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Heb. 7:22
What then was the purpose and effect of the law God gave to be observed? “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the reality themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” Heb. 10:1
What was it for, then? “But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God.’” Heb. 10:3-7
God’s chosen people in the Old Testament were looking forward to the promised Messiah. The regulations given to them were to be believed then observed as the evidence of their trust and faith in the God. This letter written to the Hebrews who have come to faith in Christ are looking back to the fulfillment of what was promised through the prophets. This also includes the Gentiles who have come to believe in the gospel like us today. Here’s what was revealed through Peter, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the suffering of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look at these things.” 1 Pet. 1:10-12
When was this fulfilled? “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Gal. 4:4-5
We remember this as Christmas, and now what was concealed in the Old Testament has been revealed to us. The second Person of the Trinity left heaven and became flesh. He was not exempt from the law, thus He observed every law of God and never sinned. When it was time for Him to be revealed to Israel, at age thirty he went to John to be baptized. John and Jesus were cousins but he did not know whether He was the Messiah. Only after he baptized Jesus then John said, “I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” John 1:31
After Jesus was baptized John could now say and pointed his followers to Him, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29b
Jesus was appointed by God as priest and a priest forever. He did not come from the line of Levi to become a priest for He came through Judah. After His sacrificial death, this is what He accomplished as His eternal ministry as High Priest. “It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one: He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Heb. 9:23-28
Are you eagerly waiting for Him? The priest of the Old Testament ministered in God’s temple daily. Do you know the totality of who you are? “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Pet. 2:9
Since we are priests we can approach God in heaven through our High Priest. “Let us then approach the throne of grace, with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb. 4:16
Is this true to everyone? No. It is only those who have Christ as their Lord. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6b
So then what does every born again believer ought to do every day? “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom. 12:1-2
Christ Jesus has already been sacrificed, it is done. We need only to keep our focus “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priestwhom we confess.” Heb. 3:1
We will be remembering Him later in the Lord’s Supper, so prepare your hearts to come before His holy presence.
Intro: If you are asked to explain who God is and where do you find the Trinity in the Bible, would you be able to point out these truths? Why is it important for every believer to know the truth about God, who He is and how He saves sinners? Many people today call themselves Christians, but are they? It is claimed that the USA is a Judeo Christian country. Many people believe in God but do they really know the true God as revealed in the Bible. How many people have you heard claim to be saved because they believe in God? But they don’t mention specifically the name of the only One who is responsible to save them. What’s the difference between the god of the Muslims, the Hindus the Jehovah’s Witness, the Mormons etc… they all believe in a god but have different names like Allah, Krishna, Buddha and many other names. Is this the God of the Bible?
There are basic truths that every believer and follower of Jesus need to know as they grow in knowing Christ. For this is what having eternal life is all about. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.” John 17:3
Those who have eternal life will grow to become fathers in their spiritual life. “I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.” 1 John 1:13a
One can only know the true God by the revelation of God? And how does God reveals Himself and through whom and to whom? Today we will look into knowing the God Most High from one of the Scriptures we look into last Sunday which will now be our text.
“Know the True God of the Bible”
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. The Abraham gave him a tenth.” Gen. 14:18-20
In the Old Testament, God uses persons as types to reveal and represent God’s redemptive plan for man as to how He saves man from his sins. Let me point out again that God Most High is mentioned three times in this passage. Why? This reveals to us the work of the Triune God in the life of Abram, whom God later changed to Abraham. So is this the first time God revealed the three persons in the Godhead? No. In fact we see the three persons of the Godhead right away in the first three verses of the Bible working together in creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”Genesis 1:1-3
Right there we see the three persons in just these three verses? In the first verse we see God as the Creator and also the Master planner of everything that exists. God is called Elohim in Hebrew a general term for deity and a name for the true God, referred to by Jesus referred to in John 17:3.
The second person of the Trinity is in the second verse, the Spirit of God. Why was He called the Spirit of God instead of the Holy Spirit? Holy Spirit is His person but since He represents God, thus He is called here as the Spirit of God. He would also be called in the New Testament as the Spirit of Christ. Furthermore, He is God the Holy Spirit, who reveals the will of God and lives in the believer as substitute of Christ known as the Spirit of Christ. He is Holy because holy is the nature of God.
The third person is the One who did the creating in accordance with the will of God who gave Him the command. “Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light”, in verse 3. He is revealed by the prophet Isaiah as, “The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame.” Isa. 10:17
And in the New Testament, He is the light of the world. This third person of the Godhead is revealed also to us in the New Testament by John as the “Word”, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; and without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4
The plurality of the three persons is affirmed and revealed as written when God created “man”, the ultimate of God’s creation for the glory of God. “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female.” Gen. 1:26a, 27 This is the God of the Bible who jointly created everything according to their plan.
We all know that the man God created disobeyed and sinned against Him and thus got separated from Him and spiritually died as God said when they ate the forbidden fruit. Thank God, they had a master plan to restore the relationship with man that was broken which would save him from going to hell because of their sin. But did God know that Adam and Eve God created pure and sinless at creation would disobey God’s command? Yes. God being all knowing, we call that “Omniscient” knew beforehand that Adam and Eve would sin even before the creation of the world. And so in the council of the Triune God they already had a plan and provision how they would save man from the penalty of sin which is revealed to us in the New Testament by the Holy Spirit through Peter, “but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 1 Pet. 1:19-20
The revelation and application of God’s redemptive plan came in progression as the story of God, His creation and man is unfolded. Right after Adam and Eve sinned God applied their plan of restoring them to fellowship with God. “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothe them.” Gen. 3:21
Notice that it was God who did all these. The name of God this time has changed to both LORD and God. Notice that the word here for Lord is all capitalized. This is another name of God that refers to Him as YAWEH, a Covenant God. So now He is both creator and the one who covenants with man. Why is this important to know? It is because when God saves it is by means of a covenant initiated by God between Him and man. It is a legal and binding contract between two parties. So what did God do here? In order to save Adam and Eve, God killed an animal, took out the skin and while doing so, blood was shed and then clothe them with these garments of skin. The most significant of God’s provision is that it comes from a living being that is sacrificed and killed in order to restore their fellowship and relationship with God as payment for their sin. We will now expand the application of God’s redemptive plan from our text in saving descendants of Adam who would be sinning because of the sinful nature they inherited from him.
Then Melchizedek appears into the picture. The only thing known about him is that he is king of Salem and priest of God Most High. We have learned last Sunday that God Most High means the Sovereign Lord, but also the same God whom Abram referred to as his LORD, God Most High to the king of Sodom. “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or a thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’” Gen. 14:22-23
This is the first time a priest is revealed in the Bible. The chief function of a priest is to serve as intermediary between God and His people as his service to God. What did Melchizedek bring out before blessing Abram? Bread and Wine. What did Jesus give His disciple at the Passover meal, bread representing His body and the wine representing His blood of the New Covenant, bread and wine. Just as Melchizedek blessed Abram, Jesus blessed his disciples with salvation because He would die to pay for their sins. God’s plan of salvation starts with the call of God. “The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram left, as the Lord had told him;” Gen. 12:1-4a
God called Abram because He chose him to be the father of the Jews. Did he respond and did what God said? What then was the blessing Abram received? “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Gen. 15:6
Isn’t this the same way God saves the people God has chosen to save today? “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44 “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord, and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
When were they appointed for eternal life? “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Eph. 1:4
Just as Abraham received the greatest blessing of all, so all those who also believe the Lord receives the same blessing, the salvation of their souls. Abram had a priest Melchizedek to mediate between him and God. So we too have Jesus as the mediator of the new covenant in His blood. Although Melchizedek died and ceased to be a priest but this is what God said about this priest of the new covenant. “But he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “the Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Heb. 7:21-25 We will look more about the priesthood of Christ next Sunday.
After Melchizedek blessed Abram, he then blessed God Most High. “And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Gen. 14:20
There is a footnote in this verse that blessing God also means, “And praise be to”. Does God need our blessing when we are the ones who need it most? We bless the Lord when we bring Him glory that is due Him. This is what God saved us for by giving us this birth in the spirit by being born again creating us with a new life. He delivered us from our enemy, death because of sin. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sin against them.” 2 Cor. 5:17-19a
After one has received salvation how do we bless God? By our worship that glorifies God. We do this when we gather together to “lift Him up” with our words, sing praises to His name, to call on Him, to recognize His greatness, to recognize His name, to give credit to His worthiness, to admit proper fear (reverential) before Him, to praise His word. How does God view and find importance in our worship? “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
How should our worship be that God Most High is blessed and glorified? “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh-though I myself has reasons for such confidence.” Phil. 3:3-4
We are forewarned here by Paul that there are two ways we worship the Lord. In the flesh meaning we are just performing worship as an obligation just as Paul did in his past before he was saved. But the worship that blesses God Most High is the worship that is controlled and empowered by the Spirit of God, exalting the Lord Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.
In summary, salvation is all the work of God working together to create a new man who was lost and died spiritually because of sin. The Triune God in total agreement to accomplish their plan in redemption assigned themselves different functions and work together in accordance with what they have purposed.
God the Father chooses whom to save and give to Christ to save. God the Son would pay the price of redemption by leaving His throne and glory in heaven to become flesh in order to be the sacrificial lamb as payment for sins. God the Holy Spirit gives this new birth in the spirit to all that God has chosen to be redeemed by Christ and conforming them to the likeness of His Son.
Their work together is spelled out and revealed to us through the apostle Peter. “God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” 1 Pet. 1:1b INVITATION
Intro: Last Sunday we learned about who gave God’s people the ability to produce wealth. But what about those who are not God’s people, why are they richer than Christians and they are among the vast majority? It is said that money begets money. But if one has no money to start with how will it beget and grow? There is also a saying that money makes the world go round. My interpretation to that is money makes your mind go round and round because that’s what fills the mind. There was a man who was the richest in the world and even today his assets could not be surpassed. God used him to write down what he experienced and the lessons he learned and what we can also learn about wealth. Here’s the truth: “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” Ecc. 5:10
And what was his conclusion to the lesson he learned? “This is meaningless.” So what has God revealed to us through him about wealth? “God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless a grievous evil.” Ecc. 6:2
Have you heard about a rich widow who died and left one million to her son and three million to her dog? Who is now enjoying her wealth that made her son very angry with what she did. What about those who love money? “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Tim. 6:10
Is money evil? No. It is the love of money that leads to do evil. This is true to both Christians and non-Christians. To the non-Christian what will be his end? “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matt. 16:26
What about to the Christian, what did Jesus say about money to them? “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Luke 16:13
But you ask, how can I be guilty of loving money? God has this answered. I have titled the message I believe God wants us to hear and to “Listen to Him.”
“Money, matters to God”
“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?” “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you may not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruits,” says the Lord Almighty. ” Mal. 3:6-11
I made this statement in the past that I will only bring up the matter of money and tithing once a year. To those who have been members here for a long time, this is not the first time you heard me use this passage. And if you have just joined as members this may be new to you and to our guests. The focus of our church is to know Christ, to become like Him and to make Him known. So where’s the part of money in our purpose? It’s not there because that’s not the reason God saved us. Money is for us to use to meet our needs but not to love.
But does money really matter to God? My answer to this is “yes” because it is His business. This is part of His plan for our good. God will supply us with money to meet all our needs. Paul has learned and experienced God’s faithfulness. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19.
But does God need our money or does He need us to finance His work in redemption? What He wants us to do is to be channels of blessing to others and be a part of His enterprise in reaching the lost. He does this through His church. Jesus warns us of loving money because this will be competing in our love for Him. Our text shows God rebuking those who do not tithe. But first let’s understand what is “tithe”? By definition, the English word denotes a tenth part of our income we pay as a voluntary contribution. And this tithe is to be taken to the sanctuary as a thank offering to God. The giving of the tithe was first observed by Abraham. When his nephew Lot was captured by invaders in Sodom, he rallied his men to rescue Lot. The Lord gave them success and rescued Lot, his family and others with him. Abraham also took all the wealth that the invaders took from the cities. “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Gen. 14:18-20
Nothing else was mentioned about Melchizedek subsequent to his blessing Abram. Years later he appears again in the New Testament revealed as a type of Christ. “This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginnings or genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder.” Heb. 7:1-4
In the Genesis passage “God Most High” is mentioned three times. This is another name of God “El Elyon” meaning “Sovereign Lord.” In the same way the name “Lord Almighty” was mentioned three times in our text from Malachi. I take this as referring to the Triune God as one. The reference to Melchizedek being priest, and given the name with meanings as “king of righteousness”, “king of Salem” (which is Jerusalem) and “king of peace” is a type or precursor of the one who was to come, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ would be much more superior in His priesthood because He is now our High Priest, King of kings and Price of Peace. So then when Abraham gave a tenth, it was a thank offering for the success that the Sovereign Lord gave him to express his gratitude. God revealed to Abraham in his heart the offering pleasing to God in expressing gratitude for God’s blessings.
The next time the tithe was mentioned in the Bible was through the grandson of Abraham, Jacob. Jacob was the twin brother of Esau. While they were still in the womb, God revealed to Rebekah the destiny of the two boys. The older one that would be born was named Esau and Jacob would be the younger, but the younger will be stronger and the older, Esau will serve the younger. After Esau came out, his twin brother Jacob was grasping Esau’s heel, thus he was named Jacob meaning “he grasps the heel” figuratively meaning “he deceives.” As they were growing up, it happened that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a meal. When Isaac was about to die it was customary to bless the first born. Jacob agreed with his mother Rebekah to deceive Isaac so Jacob would get the blessing of the first born and they succeeded. When Esau did not get the blessing he was so angry and planned to kill Jacob after his father dies. When Rebekah learned about his plan she sent Jacob away to her brother in Aram. So Jacob left his home and on his way he went to sleep when it was night, “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen. 28:12-15
When Jacob woke up from his sleep he felt God’s presence and was in awe of God, then made this vow because of the promise God gave him. “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” Gen. 28:20-22
Where did Jacob learn about tithing? There could be no other source but from his father Isaac coming from his father Abraham. I believe that when Jacob made this vow he did not yet have a personal relationship with God. He only came to know God personally on his way to return to Israel. This was when Jacob wrestled with God. We can read this account in Genesis 32:22-32.
After God delivered the Israelites, descendants of Jacob from Egypt, God gave them the Ten Commandments. In addition to that God gave other commandments in regards to worship and offerings. “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Lev. 27:30
When it said it belongs to the Lord it simply means that God owns it. So if one is a believer a tenth of our income is not ours for it belongs to the Lord. We are just given the privilege to give it back to Him in obedience from a willing heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion. Then God said this to the many generations after. “I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” Mal. 3:6
When God said this, does this mean tithing will not also change? Yes. But are we descendants of Jacob? No. Whose descendants are we? We are God’s offspring through our union with Christ, thus we became co-heirs with Christ. When Jesus came this is what He said to the Jews to affirm that tithing has not changed. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matt. 23:23
So what was God’s message to those who were not tithing then and to us today? Return to God. Why, because they were sinning against God. He charged them of robbing Him, because they were not tithing. When we don’t give back to God what belongs to God we have broken the 8th Commandment. This is an act of disobedience, “You shall not steal.” What if one is not yet a Christian? This does not matter because there are many more sins that an unbeliever ought to repent and turn away from before they come to Christ and surrender to Him as Lord for salvation. Just like Jacob, he promised to give the tithe only after he experienced and tasted the goodness of God. Then he struggled with God to bless him and then committed to make Him his God. Only then will God own the tithe and not only the tithe, God will own you.
What is the consequence when a Christian does not tithe? God says you are under a curse. What is cursed here is your money that is not holy to the Lord. The tithe that you are withholding from God will become a curse. Here’s what will happen. God will not prevent pests from devouring your crops and the vines in your field will cast their fruit. Since these were the major sources of income of God’s people at that time, their crops were their means of livelihood. To us today unless you are a farmer, our means of livelihood are our jobs and the money we receive from it. The pest could be anything that will deplete your income and even get you into debt because of unexpected expenses.
But to those who are faithful in tithing, God’s promise is that He will supply your every need. The blessings the Lord will pour out from heaven is not necessarily more money but being content with what you have, have no worry about the future whether there will be enough for your retirement. The confidence that God will meet all our needs and keep us from having to worry about what we will eat or drink is already the blessing from heaven and have a good night’s sleep.
I have said this in the past, I do not know who is tithing or not among the members. That is not my business to know, but God knows. Only our treasurer and the finance committee are the ones who know that and that is confidential. So, if it’s only today that you have come to learn and understand about tithing, God is giving you a challenge to test Him. This is the only time that we are allowed to test God of His faithfulness to His Word. However don’t test God just for this reason, so that He will bless you in return. Tithing is not an investment. This is to express your love for the Lord by your obedience to His command. There are many who manipulate people into giving to them with a promise that God will give them in return blessings pressed down and overflowing just to get their money. Christ’s also test us if you are really His by your love for Him. “If you love me, you will obey my command.” John 14:15
Lastly, where do you give your tithes? To the church where you are a member of, where you are being fed and serve God, that is your storehouse. But here’s what really matters to God. He wants all of you. When you give your all to God, you will give your tithe with joy because of what you already have, His Son and eternal life. INVITATION