The Lord’s Message July 26, 2015
Intro: You don’t love me anymore. Painful isn’t it. So, how much are you loved by your spouse, your parents, your children, your relatives and by your friends? What about, are you loved by those you have hurt that you are considered an enemy to them? How about reversing the question? How much do you love your spouse, etc. even your enemies? Or do you love only those who love you?
When Jesus asked Peter after His resurrection, “Do you love me more than these?” This was his reply, “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” If I were asked the same question, I would also answer in the same way. I believe Peter knew that his love was not quite enough knowing what he just did by denying Jesus three times. He was honest to himself because he now knows that Jesus, the resurrected Christ is God knowing his heart more that he did. With the more than three years of following Jesus, he has learned that Jesus knows what is in the heart for he remembered what Jesus said to him when he was about to wash his feet. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean. John 13: 6-11
Even though Peter said that he loves Jesus, he knew that his heart has deceived him just as one of them did. He must have remembered the words of Jeremiah? The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Jer. 17:9-10
The love that Peter expressed to Jesus was only human love called Phileo, filial love for another person you have a relation with because at that time Peter was not yet given the Holy Spirit to be in him. This happened only at Pentecost. One can only love God and His Son with divine love produced by the Holy Spirit when one is born again and the Holy Spirit is now in him. One’s love for God is a response to God’s love that one receives through Jesus Christ after one is saved. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
So when one has received the love of God, divine love is produced in him that he can now love God, His Son and His people who also have Christ in them, even his enemies. Here’s what is more important. The last passage from the message last Sunday ought to answer this question.
“How much does Jesus love me?”
“The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20b
When a baby is born does he or she knows how much he or she is loved? No, but every time she cries, who provides the milk? Not just the milk but she is cleaned up. Sad to say but there are babies given up for adoption or abandoned because they are unwanted and there is no love from the mother. But even if she… “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isa. 49:15
In the spiritual life one is given first this new birth we call being born again, born again in the Spirit. In the same way the spirit needs feeding from the Word. And this is the evidence that the spirit is alive. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Pet. 1:23
This is how one is born again through the gospel that he heard presented to him. And when there is this new birth, this must happen and will happen. “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deut. 8:3
This was quoted by Jesus when He was tempted by the devil having not eaten for forty days. He had the word of God and that was His food to sustain Him. He did not need to be born again because His Spirit never died and while there was no food when He was led by the Spirit in the desert, He did not hunger for physical food because it was God’s will for Him to be there and His grace was sufficient.
So when one is born again and is growing in his knowledge of God and Christ, how should he live his life? Paul starts with our text, “The life I live.” He is simply stating that this is now how he will live his life, by his choice and will. Sometimes when we make choices, it’s very easy to change our minds. It is like saying, “I’ll try”. Trying will never work. But when one has decided what he wants to do and is fully committed, then he will by acting on his will. Is our will free as a believer in Christ? Yes! We are free to do God’s will and also free not to. Here’s what Jesus said when He was about to face the cross, “not my will but your will be done.” His will was driven by His love for His Father. Can you imagine if Jesus changed His mind by not going to the cross, where will we be? No Redeemer.
Now how does one live by faith? Living by faith comes from an intimate love relationship with a person whom you trust and to entrust your life wholly under His control. Jesus said our faith need only to be as the mustard seed. Yes, this is true because our faith is in the big God who saves. But living by faith goes beyond that. The more you know Jesus the more you trust Him to accomplish His will in your life. What is important is the object of this faith and that is in the Son of God.
When I had a major surgery, I went to a Filipino doctor recommended by my friends whom I could trust. But how can I be sure he will do a good job? However, trusting in the Son of God needs more than trust but faith because we don’t see Him and we don’t know how He is going to work out His will for my good.
There are two very important truths that we should grow in knowing God and experiencing Him. This is “how much does Jesus love me?” In the most widely used Scripture “For God so loved the world…” God loving the world is not for all people but individually. God loves the world because God is love. What about Jesus, does He love the world? When Jesus was sent down to earth and took on a human body did He love the world? There are only a few people in the New Testament mentioned whom Jesus loved. First ones mentioned were, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” John 11:5
At the death of Lazarus, Jesus wept and this was not in secret but publicly wept. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” John 11:35-36
Very close to Jesus’ crucifixion, John reported this account. “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” John 13:1
He showed them His love by washing their feet and then said, “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen.” John 13:16-18
Meaning Jesus did not love all of the twelve for He said this to them. “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” John 13:21b
Jesus knew that person and finally Jesus said this to those He loved minus Judas. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Jesus spoke that to His disciples while He was still alive. How does He express that to us today? When Paul wrote “who loved me” is that also true to us? Since it is past tense when did Jesus really love me personally, me and you. Here’s when. The Lord appeared to us in the past saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Jer. 31:3
Since God is from everlasting to everlasting, when did He love you and me? Did He decide that only when we got born again? Where was Jesus from everlasting past? He was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. So when the Triune God planned together to create the world and everything in it, the plan was complete from beginning to end. In their plan, they already knew whom they will save. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Eph. 1:4- 8
So how did Jesus express that love for you and me? “He gave Himself for me.” He gave himself to be crucified for sins He did not commit in order to pay a debt we cannot pay for our salvation. Why? because he loved you and me from eternity past. This was revealed by God to Peter who Jesus was and was going to do. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Pet. 1:18-21
Faith in God starts with faith in Jesus Christ who is also God from the beginning. Do you know now how much Jesus loves you? Can you and I measure that love with our feeble understanding not until God gives us by His grace through His Spirit. Here’s Paul’s prayer he prayed while he was still alive for the believers. “And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasps how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17b-19
We remember today that love that cost Jesus his physical life with excruciating pain and suffering beyond our imaginations when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. So that when we remember and realize what Jesus went through we do not take the Lord’s Supper lightly in an unworthy manner. If Jesus asks you now, do you love me more than anything you love in the world, what would you say? Can we be sure that we do? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts that we are not deceive “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
Lord’s Supper: “For whenever you eat of this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Cor. 11:26
The Lord’s Message July 19, 2015 Intro: In a few months one of our members will be deployed in Afghanistan. What qualified him to be sent to the battlefield and in harm’s way? He has been through rigid training called boot camp. In the Christian life there is also a training ground called “Discipleship”. There is a similar process that starts with being recruited and then sent to training. Last Sunday we went through the first battle when one is born again. To be able to face the greater battle we call spiritual warfare one needs to go through the basics starting with the foundation of the faith which is to know Christ, to become like Him and to make Him known.
The discipleship training we have carried out in the church starts with the “Lesson on the Way.” After one has been saved, he/she needs to fully understand the gospel that saved him. This is the basic doctrine of salvation and the benefit of this is twofold the most important of which is not to be deceived by false teachings on salvation. The second is it will equip you in sharing the truths of how you got saved and then pass this lesson to another new born baby in Christ.
After this lesson one goes through five assurances from God through Christ and what you have in Christ. The first is the assurance of salvation. Very important so that no matter what happens in his life his eternal life can never be lost even in the battlefield. This assures us that no matter what happens even death cannot separate us from the love of God but serves as the gateway to heaven. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12
Then we have this assurance of direct contact with the Lord at any time through prayer. We don’t need a phone or a cell phone to talk to God nor Wi-Fi and we will never be out of range. Think of Jonah in the stomach of a giant fish under the ocean he did not lose contact with God. We only need to ask in the name of Jesus. “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24
Why did Jonah end up in the stomach of a fish? It was because of his disobedience to God’s command to go to Nineveh. His sinful nature got the best of him and chose to disobey God because of his hatred against the Ninevites who persecuted them and were their enemies. How are we to respond to our enemies today? Jesus said we are to love them. But can we really love our enemies? Because of our sinful nature we cannot. But if we surrender to do the will of God to love them, Jesus will love them through us by His Spirit. God has given us the assurance of victory over sin and temptations with this promise. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up from under it.” 1 Cor. 10:13
However, if we fall we need to cry out to God to be restored in our fellowship because we gave in to sin. Here’s what we need to do to be forgiven. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Once we are forgiven then we are back on tract. But how do we maintain staying on tract in God’s way? Jesus said, I am the way, so we need to make it our will to follow Him. How can we be assured that He will guide us? By trusting Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6
David learned to follow his Lord as his Shepherd. “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Ps. 23:3
So with these assurances we are ready to be sent to the battlefield. However, God will not send baby Christians into the battle field. When we have been fully trained and equipped and have grown in our faith in knowing Christ we are now ready for the battle. And who knows and determines that – the Lord! He is our Commander in Chief and the One who fights the battle through us.
“The Battle is the Lord’s – Part Two”
“Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s scheme. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 6:10-12
There is still a continuation of this passage but we will deal with this first for now in identifying our enemy. When one is fighting a battle how can you fight and win when you do not know your enemy? It’s like fighting terrorists in the Middle East but they are not identified as Islamic Terrorist called ISIS, then who is the enemy?
For the Christian our enemy or enemies are not people. Our enemy is Satan also known as the devil and demons who follows him. In the Old Testament there are few descriptions of Satan as to who he is and what became of him to this day. He started as one of the angels of God, created by God even before the creation of the world. And here’s who created him. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Col. 1:15-18
So who created Satan, the demons and angels? It was Jesus Christ before He took a body to become flesh, born of a virgin, died and rose as the firstborn of all the dead. That’s why He has supremacy over everything. But here’s how the angel who is referred to today as Lucifer sinned against God and fell. You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Isa. 14:13-14
Notice how many I will did he say, five times. So what was his sin against God? Pride! He became proud because of the power given to him. Were we also guilty of this sin with still some pride left? Because of his sin of pride God did this to him. How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to earth, you who once laid low the nations! Isa. 14:12
So what did Satan do with God’s first creation, Adam and Eve? He deceived Eve because she listened to him and believed therefore she sinned. “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen. 3:5b
But sin was reckoned from Adam because he was not deceived but willfully disobeyed the only command God gave him, thus sin entered through the man. So what happened after that? We all inherited the sin of Adam and are born with a sinful nature, but not from the woman otherwise Jesus would have been born also with the sinful nature. That’s why Jesus had to be born through a virgin.
In the Old Testament we have seen that the enemies of God’s people were people from different nations known also as the Gentiles or Greeks. God had to intervene to protect His people otherwise they would be wiped out although He also allowed them to punish His people when they sinned. And among His people there were many who were wicked like Ahab and the evil kings of Israel. Even when Jesus was already born there were many Jews who did not believe Him and had Him crucified, even one of the twelve, Judas Iscariot.
But if God says to us today to love our enemies why does God allow them to persecute and hate the followers of Jesus. It is because it is not our business to punish them or take revenge with anyone who persecute and harm us. It is God who will deal with sinners, those who are not saved. Our real enemy is the power behind that drives sinners to do the things that they do. God said this through Paul. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Eph. 2:1-2
Paul knew this to be true because he persecuted Jesus by persecuting Christians. The spirit who was working in his life was the ruler of the kingdom of the air, evil spirits who had power over him. The kingdom of this ruler is the air because he is a spirit but evil spirit. God is spirit as well but more superior than him because He created the evil spirits. So we better know what he does so we will know how to discern when he is actively at work in persecuting us and opposing us when we are doing God’s business specially in bringing the gospel to the people under his rule. Satan has different names to describe what he does in the New Testament: 1. His name as “Satan” refers to him as “an adversary”, one who lies in wait or sets himself in opposition to another. How many people have you encountered who opposes the truth when you share the gospel. 2. The Greek word “devil” signifies a “slanderer” and an accuser, one who accuses another. The devil does not slander you but a person especially one who is close to you who accuses you of wrong doing or just by criticizing you. 3. Here are other names mentioned in the NT as Belial, Beelzebub, the Adversary, the Dragon, the Enemy, the Serpent, the Tempter and the Wicked One. These are the names describing who he is, his character and what he does.
So let us always bear in mind our enemy because the moment you lose track of that then you will respond in an unworthy manner to the person he uses to agitate you, insult you, persecute you and unjustly accuse you. Do you see them all around you? Yes, they are everywhere and do you believe even among us in the church. Have you been the subject of gossip? This could just be a simple criticism or something that was said about you and quickly it was passed on to others. And what is worse about this is when it is gossiped to people outside of the church. When one does this who is the person put to shame? The One you are identified with, Christ. Here’s what Paul warned and said to the church in Corinth. “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outburst of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” 2 Cor. 12:20
Paul was not writing them about what is happening outside but inside the church and among members. Can this also happen with us? Of course! The church of Jesus Christ is not compose of all mature Christians and especially if it is a growing church because God is adding new believers fresh from the life of the world. That’s why there is the importance of discipleship to help them grow up to maturity. This is already the battle field and sad to say, it is between believers. But God knows this and this is where many of the character of God will be developed in us. In God’s wisdom this is how it works to accomplish His purpose. “As iron sharpens iron so man sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17
Gossip and slander is not the only problem. When our sinful is still alive the evil one whispers into our ears something to criticize a brother or a sister. Harsh word of criticism could come out of our mouth. The ones who are mostly criticize are the church leaders especially the pastor. When sin is preached and somebody gets hit of guilt there is a sure reaction. This person could feel that he is singled out by the pastor and is hurt and if the sinful nature is still alive, he or she would either criticize or stop coming for a while. By the way trust your pastor that when he preaches on sin, he has no one in mind. Hopefully he or she will come back. But this is not only true towards the pastor, anyone can be criticized too. So how should one respond to criticism? I believe the best way is to accept it as something that can be beneficial and learn from it even if it is not true. Our response can make us bitter or better. Here’s how Paul addressed this when he was being judged. “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” 1 Cor. 4:3-4
So when we are criticized or judged by a brother or a sister that hurts us, it is to sharpen us and vice versa. Here is how we ought to respond. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Col. 3:12-14
Above all we are to love one another, just as Christ loved us. Here is love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor. 13:4-8a “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet. 4:8
Is this how you are living your life, victorious through our Lord Jesus Christ? “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20b
The Lord’s Message July 5, 2015
Intro: The whole nation celebrated Independence Day yesterday, but do you know the history and why this day is remembered and celebrated? This is in commemoration of the day when the USA formally declared its independence from Great Britain and that day was on July 4, 1776. This independence has nothing to do with the military or soldiers winning a war. This was a declaration of Congress and approved on July 4 the separation of the thirteen colonies from British rule.
In the spiritual life we declare freedom from ourselves and the tyranny of our former master to dependence in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unknowingly out of ignorance we were slaves to sin because of our sinful nature and naturally followed the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient who Jesus called the devil as our father. We were independent in the sense that we were free to do what we want dictated by our sinful nature with the prodding and influence of the evil one to do wrong contrary to God’s will and nature. As a matter of fact we were all enslaved by self and sin and helpless because we were born with a nature prone to sin. Could anyone free himself from this slavery to sin and change from this nature? Impossible! Here’s the truth as revealed to us through the prophet Jeremiah. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” Jer. 13:23
God also revealed this truth to David when he wrote this in one of the Psalms. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Ps. 51:5
We refer to this as the original sin. But what does the original sin bring about? “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam who was a pattern of the one to come.” Rom. 5:12-14
Now babies and infants, though they have original sin they have not yet sinned by breaking any law. This I believe is the age of innocence. In order to remove this original sin the Roman Catholic Church created this doctrine of infant baptism to cleanse an infant from this sin in order to start life without sin. Is there any truth in this? Here’s what Peter wrote inspired by the Holy Spirit regarding baptism. “…God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but a pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone to heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” 1 Pet. 3:20b-22.
So why is water a symbol of baptism here? Does baptism save anyone? Not at all! The symbolism of water here is the Word of God and not the literal water to cleanse us from sin. Jesus said that before anyone can enter heaven he must be born of water and the Spirit. Two interpretations can be used here. One is referring to the natural birth of a baby. Birth is completed when the water bag that holds and keeps the baby alive is broken then the baby is born. The other interpretation is that the water as the Word of God. When Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman at the well and asked her for a drink, He opened the conversation with that and then said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
Then Jesus explained it further by comparing the water from the well to His Word. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
So then how does a sinner gets save? He must hear the complete gospel that Christ died, buried and was raised from the dead and is now at God’s right hand with all authority to save and those He saves submits to His Lordship. He is given all authority that even angels and all authorities submit to Him and that includes evil spirits. But what did Peter mean “not the removal of dirt from the body but a pledge of a good conscience toward God”? Paul has the answer to what this means. “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance, and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21
Jesus said that one must repent and then believe the good news. So in order to be saved one must repent of all sins before coming to Jesus to be saved. So what then should this mean to one who has repented of his sins and is now born again? Where does he stand and what does he have in relation to Christ as Lord?
“Freedom from Slavery and Independence”
To the Jews who had believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendant and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-36
When reading through a passage of Scripture it is important to know the historical background and the context who Jesus was addressing this to. Jesus was speaking this to the Jews. Then it says that these Jews believed in Him. Jesus then qualified what it means to believe by the word “if”. At this time the Jews had already many teachings from the teachers of the law that has been added to Scriptures known as traditions handed down from one generation to another. So then the “if” defines whether they really believed what Jesus was teaching or not. When Jesus said hold on to “my teaching” it follows that they have to let go of what they have been taught that is contrary to what Jesus taught. Jesus’ teaching is not just to be added to what they already believed but to hold on to what Jesus is teaching them as truth from God and to discard anything contrary to His. This is how one knows if he is a disciple of Jesus or not. Believing in Jesus is to believe the truth for He is truth and the only truth. All other teachings pertaining to God and the spiritual life apart from the teaching of Jesus from the Scriptures are lies and in error.
When Jesus said the truth will set you free, it means that you are now free to follow Him and no longer slaves to self and sin. However, they misunderstood the slaves as those who are not Jews and descendants of Abraham. How does this apply in our context today? There are those who claim to be Christians by virtue of being born to parents who are Christians and most of whom are Catholics. They also claim that they are Christians because they have been baptized as if saying I am not a pagan because I have Christian roots and grew up in a Christian home. So then, does baptism as an infant save or not. Not at all! Jesus was baptized as an adult not to be saved but to do what is right as the will of God. True believers are baptized to follow the example of Christ after they are saved because it is the will of God. It is not added to salvation but an act of obedience. Some Gentiles of the Old Testament were slaves of the Jews after they have lost the battle and captured by the Jews. That’s why they claim they are not slaves but children of Abraham. But that was not what Jesus was talking about. It is their slavery to sin. No power to say no to sin and resists them. Yet they can follow teachings of men that are not hard to do like the different rituals. But when it comes to sin, they are slaves.
So when one truly believes the gospel that saves he is set free by the Son from the penalty of sin and the power of sin. That’s true freedom, freedom from my sinful nature and freedom from the slave master the devil. Now picture those who are still unsaved trapped together with all kinds of people in the world acting their sinful nature and no way of getting out. Here’s a list of the different activities they do. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness and orgies, and the like.” Gal. 5:19-21
These are just a few of the activities of the world and lived by those who have not yet been set free by the Son. Even those who are religious are guilty of idolatry. Were we not also involved in the past with these activities? We may not have been involved in all but did we have the power to resist the desires of the flesh. And here’s more of the evil carried out by the sinful nature that has become worse today. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, dis-obedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2 Tim. 3:1-5
Are we seeing these happening today? Just think of what the ISIS is doing, brutally killing innocent people doing it in the name of religion. Who can set them free?
Then there are those who think they are free and independent. Because we live in a democratic country we are free to do what we want. However, we don’t have total freedom because we have laws that govern us. There is a law that parents cannot keep their children from leaving home when they reach the age of 18. They want to be independent and free to do what they want. I don’t know if that is good or not but in the Philippines we don’t have that law and most likely children even when they reach 18 will still want to stay home and be dependent on their parents. There’s another kind of dependence that is happening here in the US and that is people who are out of work has become dependent on the government. This is not the freedom from dependence to independencethat Jesus set us free.
When the Son sets us free we are freed to follow Him as our shepherd. We are released from the slavery of sin and from independence. Picture now when you were trapped with the world and one day Jesus called you through the gospel having been chosen by the Father and then you responded in repentance and faith, He opened the door and broke the chain of slavery and set you free to follow Him.
Now you are free but does that give you independence? No! You are dependent on God the Father and slave to righteousness. We become dependent in the sense that He supplies all our needs from the source that is inexhaustible. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life…For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matt. 6:25-27, 32-33
And the apostle Paul affirmed this base on his experience of God’s faithfulness. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19
Was Paul dependent on his God? Of course! Did Paul follow his Lord? Of course he did and not just followed but he served Him till the end of his life. And confidently he could say as he knew himself. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1
And he also gave us a warning concerning our freedom and how not to use it. “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.” Gal. 5:13
Lastly, here’s the application of our freedom from the slavery of sin and to be dependent on God through the inspired words of David by following Jesus. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of my Lord forever.” Ps. 23:1-6
And who are those who can call the Lord my shepherd? Here’s what Jesus said, “My sheep listens to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
How do I know I am one of His sheep? Am I reading my Bible daily in order to listen and hear His voice? When I read and hear His teaching do I follow Him and do what it says? Jesus said that if we do follow Him, this is what it will cost. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Jesus already had His cross, so what is my cross? The cross means death. Here’s what it means to take up my cross. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20 INVITATION
July 12, 2015
Intro: There are ongoing battles and conflicts that are happening today in the Middle East, in the world and here in the US there is an intense political battle. There is also another battle brewing up which is racism. From the book of Acts racism was not new at that time between Jews and Gentiles and God eliminated that when He sent Peter to share the gospel with the Gentile centurion. In the Old Testament the Jews were identified as Israelites as the chosen nation by God tracing their roots to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while all other nations did not belong to God. So there were two races, and here’s what God said of the Jews. “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” Deut. 7:6
These are the people God redeemed from Egypt and delivered from the hands of Pharaoh for which they were enslaved for 400 years. As they were about to enter the land promised to Abraham for his descendants, God specifically warned them aside from the Covenant He made with them to keep this command once they entered the promise land and have killed and driven out the people living there. “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” Deut. 7:3-4
Did they keep the command of God? No they didn’t and rebelled against God. And because of their rebellion and disobedience the Israelites were always fighting battles. Down through their history there would be peace when they were obedient and wars when they became disobedient. In spite of their disobedience God still showed compassion on His people. And He would come to their rescue when they would call on the Lord and cry out to the Lord to help them fight their battles. Let me pick one of the amazing battles God came to their rescue and fought for them using only a few soldiers and one leader who was just an ordinary man, Gideon. Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites…when the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian…” Judges 6:1, 7
God answered their cry and sent “The angel of the Lord.” When you read “the angel of the Lord” that is referring to Jesus in His incarnate form. And when it is written as “an angel of the Lord” that is one of the angels of God. The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress to keep it from the Midianites…The Lord turned to him and said “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you? Judges 6:11, 14
When he was told to go in his strength how do you think he would respond? In the same way, suppose God sends you on a mission to reach out to people who are powerful, rich, highly educated even religious with the gospel, how would you also respond? Here’s how Gideon responded. “But Lord”, Gideon asked, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in the family? The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” Judges 6: 15-16
Isn’t this what Jesus said to His disciples before leaving them with a promise. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
Notice God’s promise to Gideon and to those who belong to Christ today? “I will be with you” and “I am with you always” is there a difference? I believe the first promise was on a case to case basis when one is called and sent to do a certain task but to us today it is always because we are obedient to His command. So what happened after Gideon obeyed and trusted God even after he asked for two signs. So Gideon summoned the Israelites for the battle and 32 thousand responded. But God reduced that to 10 thousand then to a mere 300 men. How in the world can 300 fight an army of thousands? Here’s the reason why? The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that his own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.” Judges 7:2-3
So here’s where we will focus on the message today. I have titled it from…
“The Battle is the Lord’s”
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with a sword and a spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beast of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Sam. 17:45-47
Of course we all know the battle between David and Goliath. I will not go into the details of that but David fought Goliath with the confidence that God was with him. He was already called into the ministry and anointed as the next king after Saul by the prophet Samuel. How did David fight Goliath? With one stone using a sling while the giant with all his arms for battle. What about today? Who are the giants we face today? These are different serious circumstances that are happening in our lives, like serious health issues, financial debts, family issues like disobedient children, issues in the workplace and persecutions for being a Christian and challenges to share the gospel. How then should we face these giants? Just as David did by responding and engaging the battle in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd who will fight the battle for us.
Here’s where we need to build up our faith and confidence. When I just received Jesus as my Lord I was encouraged to read the gospels starting with John, then the rest of his letters and the letters of Paul. I thank God for those who gave me this wise advise because the focus for a young believer is to know Christ and that is found in the gospels, how He lived and what He did. But then later I saw the importance of reading the Old Testament as well. We might not see the importance especially when reading the Chronicles, the genealogies and the many names even the details of the commands of God how to build the tabernacle.
Here’s the importance of reading the Old Testament, this is where we will know God as to who He is as to His character, attributes as Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent and how He revealed all these to His people by what He did among them. He also showed He is not to be taken for granted but to be fully obeyed and trusted.
How did God show His Sovereignty and power to Gideon with his 300 men to fight thousands after he followed His command to the letter. When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn to each other with their swords. Judges 7:22
A hundred and twenty thousand had killed each other. This also happened during the reign of Hezekiah when Sennacherib king of Assyria came to attack Jerusalem. That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning – there were all the dead bodies. 2 Kings 19:35
Notice again “the angel of the Lord” put to death 185,000 of the Assyrian army. Who killed them and whose battle was this? God killed them. Now think of what is happening today in Iraq and Syria and the surrounding countries. Muslims are killing each other, the Shiites against the Sunnis and yet they are all Muslims followers of Allah and Mohammed. Isn’t this a repetition of what God did in the past? And their next threat is to wipe out Israel? But before they can do that God is already killing many of the ISIS and other Muslims including civilians.
But where is the Christian’s battle? It is when we are persecuted by unbelievers. If you remember, the first martyr of Christ was Stephen who was stoned to death by his countrymen, Jews who strictly followed a religion of Judaism. And is this happening also today? Aren’t we facing the same conflicts and battles and will be persecuted? But Stephen was one of the deacons, mature and full of the Spirit. Will this be true if one is not that mature and filled with the Spirit? Here’s where their battle will be. “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Gal. 5:17
Paul wrote this problem to the Romans he experienced as a young Christian. “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” Rom. 7:21-23
Here’s where we encounter our first battle. The battle is within us, in our inner being. Our sinful nature always wants to disobey the law and loves to sin. You tell a child don’t do this how will his response be? His sinful nature will want to disobey and that is the same with the law. That’s where the first war and battle the Christian faces. And when he sins he loses the battle. But the Holy Spirit will bring about the conviction making this person see and feel his guilt. If he does not get the rebuke from his reading, he could get it form the message on Sundays. So how does he respond to the sin that he is made aware of? He then struggles? Then we have the Scripture that shows us the truth. “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as sons.” Heb. 12:4-6
Genuine born again children of God will not get away with sin. Even if they are already saved, sin will be dealt with by God so that His purpose in saving us will be accomplished. Sin will always have consequences but not hell for the believer. Here’s what the Psalmist learned when he sinned and went astray. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word…I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” Ps. 119:67, 75
When Paul went through this struggle with sin, he saw himself and said to God. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 7:24-25
Where is Jesus in this battle within me? He is the only One who can rescue me because “the battle is the Lord’s.” But first He won the battle over sin at the cross. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Heb. 2:18 INVITATION