Loving God, Loving Each other. Matthew 22:34-40
The Greatest Commandment
......Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We must love God with our entire being-our heart, soul and mind. Jesus followed it with, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Before we can love our neighbor, we must love God first. At the same token, we cannot say that “we love God” and not love our neighbor (especially fellow Christians).
How do we show that we love God? John 14:15 states “If you love me, keep my commands.” and the greatest commandment is what we just read and again on John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
The Pharisee however was not done with his questions, as should someone too who is truly wanting to find out the truth. He followed with a question; “who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25-29. Jesus answered with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Despite of the “hatred” between their races, the Samaritan had compassion to his “enemy” the half dead Jew on the road. While two Jews of “noble” or “holy” positions ignored their brother through, “passing on by the other side.”
Have we, or are we guilty of the same act? Ignoring a hurting fellow christian while we “pass on the other side.”? If so, why? Is it because we have other important things to do or the hurting christian will only slow us down or drag us down? The Samaritan applied his first aid, “wine and oil.” Commodities that are expensive to his enemy. Carried the Jew on to his donkey while he walked to the Inn. The distance was not mentioned but we all know that when we “help” someone, it hurts and it takes a lot from us. Whether physically or at instances, financially. Both of which the Samaritan experienced here. Most of all, he did it to an enemy.
We then need to see and review what the definition of “Love” is according to the Bible. Paul did it for us to his first letter to the church of Corinth. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.
While this verse is highly used during weddings, it must be said that the main intention is for us people at church. This is how we should love each other. That despite what “spiritual gifts” we may possess, we must have love. Love never fails.
In Luke 6:31-35, Jesus tackles the “Golden Rule” set by Confucius and totally sets a “higher bar” for us Christians by saying, “32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
Bar was raised. While the Golden Rule comes “natural” to anyone (returning how others are treating us whether it’s good or bad.), Jesus said, “but love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” Only a true believer can do this because this is the “supernatural”.
Loving our enemies require God’s love, not ours. Luke 6:36, states, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
We are told not to “Judge” others in Matthew 7:1-5. We tend to “judge” other believers when we think and feel “righteous” or “proud” of our own self. We see the prayer of the tax collector being the one heard and being the one justified verses the prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14.
We are reminded that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” in James 4:6 and
Luke 18:14 “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We are reminded that we should forgive our brothers “seventy times seven” times in Matthew 18:21-33 as God has forgiven our debts. The Parable of the Unmerciful servant shows us the ugliness of an unforgiving heart while we received forgiveness for all our debts to God. Every believers knows of John 3:16 but not as many know of 1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
While no one is asking a believer to do for another, it is rather “living” for other believers. Forgiving each other and with forgiveness comes love. Being united, one.
We cannot have love without forgiveness and there is no real forgiveness without love.
As Jesus prayed for our unity as believers in John 17:20-23, He also made it clear that through our “testimony” of loving each other, it is how the world will know that we are His disciples. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35. (The end)
ENJOYING GODS PRESENCE
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
The last time that i was up here, i think i delivered a message of who God is in our lives?
Do we see Him as the God of the Bible, or the God that we want Him to be?
How did we come to know who God is? Of course, God used someone to share with us the good news, What is the good news?
1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- 3 "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' "
We are all familiar with this story, it is talking about John the baptist preparing the way for our Lord Jesus Christ. It all starts with Jesus, and ends with Jesus.There will always be somebody that God will use to prepare the way for us to know Jesus. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”. Now, Going back to our previous verse, on Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever”. Its a straight to the point verse, we don’t really have think twice about what it means. Jesus does not change. Of course, outside of the bible what do we really know about Jesus Christ? Nothing! We have come to know Jesus through revelation, He revealed Himself to us. Through scriptures. And because “He chose us, we did not choose Him”.
Ever since the Lord put me up here to preach, i have been watching other preachers online. Thank God for the internet, radio,and TV. Let me tell you, there are a lot of crazies out there who claim to know and preaches about our Lord. Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit who reminds us of all things.
1 Corinthians 2:9-11
9 However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
If we truly belong to God, God does not want us to guess about what lies ahead for us, that is why He has told us a great deal in His words, Scripture, about our future, and why He has given us His Spirit to help us understand what He has, and will reveal these things to us. Of course God will not tell us what will our day will be when we wake up, right! Do you know what your day will be tomorrow? Of course not! We just have to trust that He has that all planned out. He did tell us what will happen in the future, but we just don’t know exactly when. We just know that His plans are perfect! Scriptures tells us that...
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."
The sheep will not follow another mans voice, it knows who it belongs to. And the Good Shepherd will always protect His sheep. “For God knows those who are His”
2 Timothy 2:19
19 Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."
“27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”.
“The Lord knows those who are His”.
All that we have read so far...all from God, His will, His perfect plan,from the beginning, before the foundations of the world....His plans, not men!
Earlier i spoke about all these crazy preachers on the internet, radio, and TV. Now Jesus did warn us about false prophets, and of course if there are false prophets, there are also deceived believers. If it wasn’t for the last two verses that we read, if it wasn’t for the Good Shepherd, we might follow and believe them! That’s when you change the channel, and never listen to them again!
A few weeks ago i was watching this message on youtube by R.C. Sproul. And i recommend if you have the time please watch it. The title is “If God is Sovereign, how can man be free”. There was a part there where he was explaining who God is, and who we are? God is a Supreme Being, we are human beings...( Adlib )
We will never be in the same level as our God. He is the creator, we are the creature. He is the Potter we are the clay. Never will we be greater than our God. Never!!!
Deuteronomy 4:24 “ For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
Isaiah 42:8 “ I Am the Lord that is My name! I will not give my glory to another, or My praise to idols”.
Sadly many have forgotten that. Simply because, maybe they claim that they know the bible from cover to cover? A sudden burst of ego, maybe? Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in knowing scripture, that is what God wants. But it is wrong to claim that we learned the scripture on our own. Not recognizing the revelation from the Creator. Yes! That’s right! Everything that we know has only been revealed by our Lord Jesus Christ!
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
We are all familiar with this verse, it came from the great commission. “go and make disciples’, Jesus commanded. We will be focusing more on the authority part of this verse. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Him, on earth as it is in heaven”. All, not some. Having this authority means that He is above all things. Above all created things. That will include, you and i. We submit to Him, and not the other way around. Its scary to see when you see a preacher or just a believer telling or commanding God what to do. Like, there is no fear at all, like they are just talking to a regular person. “I claim this by faith”! What do you claim? If you belong to God, you own nothing. God owns you! We cannot even boast about anything, any talent or knowledge? Everything we are, and what we know is from the Lord...
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Three times God chose... For His purpose. Go through the list of why He chose! “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus”, ...has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption...Our righteousness, from God. Our holiness from God. Our redemption, from God. Everything from God, not man! So, if you want to boast! Boast in the Lord. “ Apart from Him we can do nothing”. Apart from Him we are nothing, we are dead!!! Jesus made us alive! “Supreme Being---Human being”
1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles--
2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
“how the mystery was made known to me by revelation”. Who revealed it to Paul? God did! For who? For you and i...”it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by who? By the Spirit. We gentiles are now partakers of the promise...in who? Jesus!!!
Did you notice the first part of Pauls letter? He said that he was a prisoner for Christ Jesus. That’s kind of a weird analogy. Comparing his service as a prisoner. What i mean is, if you think of somebody who is in prison, that person is miserable. Just think of a prison, small cell, four walls. I don’t even know what the prison back then looked like, maybe a dungeon? All dirt, cement, no bed? Do you think he was miserable serving the Lord? And if it was that bad,being a prisoner, why did Paul continue? Here’s on more verse...
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
Paul called himself, a prisoner, a servant, in another translation, a slave...why do it? Because Paul knew who he belongs to. Who do you want to belong to? There is only two. Belong to God, or belong to the enemy! The best part is we don’t have to choose. We have been chosen.” you did not choose Me, but I chose you” Who chose? God did!!! The title of this message is “ Enjoying Gods Presence”. How can we enjoy Gods presence if we, like Paul, a prisoner, a slave, or a servant for God? What God did for For Paul, the Apostles, and every believer who is called by God, that includes you and i. We enjoy His presence simply because He is our God. He has revealed that to us, we are His. A God who loves us that He gave us His one and only Son! Our Savior. That alone is enough for every believer to follow His voice, to obey His commands. And He is the One that puts that in our hearts, He alone made us new. Every true believers falls in love with the Creator. Why? Because He is good! Supreme Being...Human being. This Supreme Being cared enough to save a wretch like you and me! Let me ask you church, do you enjoy Gods Presence? Yes, we do!!! Even through the bad times, we still enjoy His presence because...He said “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. I don’t know about you, if i am going through rough times...i am glad that i belong to Him. He will be with me through it all. Call me a prisoner, a slave, a servant. As long as its in Christ, i am happy. Jesus is more than enough for a wretch like me!
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Paul is simply saying that, whether live or die, he is for Christ. While he is still alive, he will continue to serve, and have fruitful labor. Yet Paul said...”Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far”. Its better because he has finished the race, job well done. No more prisons, no more pain, suffering, no more illness. He is done. He will be in Gods presence. Last verse he said...”but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” Why would he say that? Because, while he still alive there is still work to be done. If God has chosen you, live or die, He will never let go, He will always be with you!
We all have different backgrounds, we all came from different churches. Whatever God revealed to you and why you left your old church and ended up here.That is God. If you heard the gospel,somebody has shared it with, that is God at work and God has chosen you to receive it. You have been saved, Jesus saved you, not man. Don’t let anybody take that away from you. Because no man can save you only Jesus.Don’t be deceived with the lies. Listen to His voice. Believe that, because He said it. He is our Savior.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.
16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.
Remember this verse...
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and the Father are one."
The Lord’s Message August 9, 2015
Intro: We have just been reading through the book of Chronicles and learned about the lives of the different kings both from Judah and Israel. What was striking is that all of the kings of Israel turned out as evil kings and Judah mostly good kings. However, they all still had flaws and were not exempt from sinning against God. The first anointed king Saul right at the beginning of his reign disobeyed God and did not do very well as king and then died a violent death. He was followed after by David who was after God’s own heart and yet he also sinned. Then Solomon his son followed after him who was the wisest king and yet had a weakness after women and married 700 wives and 300 concubines, yet he was loved by God. One of the longest kings who reigned was Manasseh son of a good king Hezekiah and he reigned for 55 years, yet he did not follow the footstep of his father but did evil in the sight of the Lord. He became idolatrous and even burned his sons as an offering to his gods. God punished him by sending the army of the king of Assyria and captured Manasseh and brought him to Babylon bound in chains of bronze and led by hooks in his nostril. While he was in distress he prayed and humbled greatly before the God of his fathers. God was moved by his prayer and pleadings and brought him back to his kingdom in Jerusalem. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. So what can we learn from all these kings and how God showed Himself to them. Bear in mind that God said this about the Israelites who are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and speaking through Moses, said. “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. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the hand of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.” Deut. 7:6-10
However, did they all keep their covenant of love with God? No, and everyone failed to keep God’s commandments. Why? Even though they saw God’s mighty works they were unfaithful to keep the covenant. Then God through His prophet Jeremiah revealed what He will do in the future. But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Heb. 8:8-13
This was quoted by the writer of the book of Hebrews what was revealed through Jeremiah. So what is this new covenant God fulfilled some two thousand years ago? Here’s what Jesus said to His disciples given to Him by His Father. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them. “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matt. 26:27-28
When Jesus said “all of you,” did He mean all the Jews or Israelites? No because not all Israelites were chosen unto salvation even way back in the Old Testament. Here’s what is revealed in the New Testament through the apostle Paul. It is not as though God’s word has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” Rom. 9:6-8
Now we see that though God chose the nation of Israel not everyone is chosen
unto salvation. Last Sunday we saw that one is not born again because he has Christian parents. One is born again by God’s Sovereign choice and will. This He said of the children of Isaac who were twins. “Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad - in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls – she was told “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it was written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort but on God’s mercy.” Rom. 9:11-16
With these truths written in the word of God, is God then unjust? That he chooses some to be saved and some to go to hell? This question is already anticipated. “One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Rom. 9:19-21
Is this the God of love but who hates sin and is just? How can this be reconciled?
“The Gospel of God’s Grace”
“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Rom. 1:17
“For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
Gospel means “good news,” and if I may add, this is the best news one will ever hear in life. I say best because this involves eternal life and eternal death in hell. How many people have you encountered who are not interested even just to listen when you made attempts to share this gospel? Have you wondered why are they not interested? Just after I was saved, I could not help but tell all my relatives and
friends the good news. But were they interested even just to listen? There were some but majority thought I have become a fanatic and some started to avoid me even making fun of me. Isn’t that frustrating that you have this most precious gift of God more precious than gold or silver and they are not interested. Then as I started to read the Scriptures and grow in knowing Christ, even Christ was not listened to or heard by many people. In fact He was even hated and persecuted. Then as I read some more from the gospels Jesus said this to those who rejected Him and even saying that he was demon possessed. “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47
But do we know who Jesus was referring to today and with the people we share the gospel with? No we don’t but should this keep us from telling the gospel of God’s grace? We are to tell and share this good news because we are commanded by Jesus to do so. Here’s what Jesus told the demon possessed man after he was delivered and then wanted to follow Jesus, but He did not let him. “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19
He did not preach the gospel but was told to witness what Jesus did for him. When one is just saved will he know how to explain the gospel? Probably not, and I can remember my first testimony was that I have been forgiven of all my sins by Jesus and told those I was gambling with in golf that I was not going to bet anymore.
So what is this gospel that we are to spread and share? Let’s review what this gospel is as given to Paul by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Writing to those in Corinth, he reminded them of the gospel he shared that saved them. Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold on firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: That Christ Jesus 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. 15:1-4
Just before parting with the elders and believers from Ephesus, Paul said this.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
Now Paul describes and connects the gospel with the grace of God. The good news is what Christ did in dying for our sins and being raised from the dead. His resurrection was God the Father’s acceptance of His offering and now He is justified to forgive sins because the penalty for sin has been fully paid. It says from our text in Romans 1:17 that this righteousness is from God. This means that God’s righteousness has to be fully lived as revealed by Jesus of the character of God. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt. 5:48
Who in the world can be like God the Father who is perfect? This is God’s standard for the sons of man to enter heaven by living a perfect life. But is there anyone who has lived a perfect life? No one except the Son of God for…. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23
And because God is just even though He is love, He must carry out His justice. “For the wages of sin is death…” Rom. 6:23a
Death is both physical and spiritual to be spent in hell for eternity. Thank God he provided a solution to satisfy His justice and exercise His love and that love can only come through the One He loves, His Son and who has satisfied His justice. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
God’s justice was satisfied when the sins of the world was placed on His Son and making the perfect Son of Man and be made to bear the sins of the world. All the sins that man has committed put together was laid on Jesus Christ. And having been made sin, God punished His Son by pouring out His wrath on sin on Him. At that point God abandoned Him for He cannot look at sin and Jesus felt the loss of fellowship with His Father that He cried out… “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46b
Just before He was nailed on the cross He was beaten up but He bore the pain. ”Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” Isa. 52:14
And what was this for and for whose benefit will He give this to? “For he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isa. 53:12c
After Jesus paid the penalty for sins, God is now justified to save sinners that the Triune God has chosen beforehand, even before the creation of the world to save. Salvation is now applied to many but not to all through the gospel of God’s grace. “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourself it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8
Grace is God’s unmerited kindness and favor given to an undeserving sinner. Does anyone of those He saves deserve to be saved? No not one, not even one. Paul now connects and identifies the gospel as the gospel of God’s grace. Salvation is entirely by the grace of God, that’s why no one can boast about having been saved. Early in my Christian life my testimony was, when I heard the gospel “I repented of my sins and received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” Nothing wrong with that but as I have grown older in knowing God, my believing, repentance and receiving Christ came after I was made alive by the grace of God. I came to Christ because God the Father drew me to His Son and responded to the gospel because I was made alive by the Holy Spirit and was given the faith to trust in Christ alone as my Lord and Savior. But I needed to hear the gospel because only then can the Holy Spirit produce the faith in me to the gospel. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Rom. 10:17
That’s why the gospel has to be preached but who will share that gospel? “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. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God is making his appeal through us. Be reconciled with God.” 2 Cor. 5:17-20. INVITATION
The Lord’s Message August 2, 2015
Intro: What always amazes me and I am humbled is that the Lord always affirms the messages He gives us for our food Sunday after Sunday. Sometimes I can’t help the day after to ask whether that came from Him or from me. Then I am reminded that the message He gives me to preach is in answer to our Prayer Warriors prayer when we meet every Wednesday. Sometimes the Lord already gives me a leading on the topic and then after the prayer meeting it is developed like adding the right ingredients and marinated in more prayer until the food is complete and ready to be served. Last Thursday I already started writing down the message then the next day I got the affirmation from two devotionals I read the next day. Since the message is the Lord’s it is always about Him to His glory.
So what motivated Jesus to do and obey the will of God in everything? “…but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
Jesus chose to do the will of His Father which I quoted in last Sunday’s message. After he pleaded with His Father if there was another way to avoid the cross but did not get an answer He yielded to His Father’s will. Did Jesus have “free will?” Of course He did. He is the only one of all born of a woman who had free will since birth because he was born without the sinful nature and He never sinned till His death. There was another man, the first one created by God who also had free will and that was Adam. He was created perfect, pure without sin and his will was free to obey God’s first commandment given to him. And the Lord commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Gen 2:16-17
Did Adam have a choice? Yes he did. But when he chose to disobey God’s will, he sinned by breaking the only command of God and God is true to His Word, his spirit died and if God did not by His grace provided an animal sacrifice by the shedding of blood he would have gone to hell forever, but God saved him and Eve. The Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Gen 3:21
The garment represented the righteousness of Christ and the blood for the forgiveness of sin. So we will see Adam and Eve in heaven. But what happened to his children and all the descendants of Adam? They all inherited his sinful nature. This has now become the condition of all of his descendants. “Therefore, just as sin entered 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
Here now is God’s solution to save spiritually dead sinners. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” Rom. 3:21-24
This is explained further by Paul identifying who Adam was who brought sin into the world and passed his sinful nature to all and who Jesus was as it is written: “The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam a life giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” 1 Cor. 15:45-47
So we see here that God the Son came down from heaven and took on flesh to give life to our dead spirits. So how does God do this? By giving life to our dead spirit.
“How this New Birth came to be.”
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not know him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:10-14
When you were born in the flesh did you have any active part in your birth? Did you even have a choice whether you want to be a boy or a girl? Then what happened after you grew older were you obedient to your parents? When our parents tell us not to do this or that, how did we respond? Did we choose to obey everything they said all the time? Were we not stubborn and defiant and sinned by breaking the fifth commandment? Why did we choose to disobey? Because we were born with a sinful nature and our will was prone to sin. Can we change that nature? Impossible! It is like changing a goat to become a sheep.
Here’s the most controversial theological issue on the use and understanding of “free will.” Does everyone have free will? Meaning, am I free to do good or to do evil, to obey the commandments of God or to disobey? As far as being moral or immoral, yes. Do I have free will to choose to be saved or not? This now pertains to the salvation of one’s soul? From our text, the answer is No. Jesus explains this to Nicodemus who came to Jesus wanting to know how to get saved. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.” John 3:5-7
So then, one is not saved unless he is born again, clear and simple. This new birth is spiritual and why did Jesus call it born again, because after our first sin, our spirit died. There are three truths from our text that cannot make one born again
To be born again is “not by natural descent” meaning this not inherited from parents who are born again. No matter who your parents may be, even the children of Billy Graham cannot inherit his faith, the same as children of pastors.
To be born again is not by “human decision.” No one can decide for himself to be saved. This is where his will is not free. It does not depend on his will. In the same way that no one can decide to be born. Why is one not free to be saved? Because his spirit is dead. A dead spirit cannot respond to the gospel nor even seek God for the right reason to be saved. Here’s what Paul wrote quoting from the Scriptures. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Rom. 3:10-12
Then a husband cannot will his wife to be saved and born again and vice versa. No matter how he forces her, she might just agree for the sake of peace that he might not leave her. This easily happens to husbands giving in to their wives.
So how then can one be save when he cannot decide for himself? Only God decides who He chooses to give this new birth, “Born of God”, in the same way that you and I did not choose to be born into this world. This is where God chooses whom He saves, and this goes way back before the creation of the world. And those whom God has chosen to save, they will hear and listen to the gospel. This is because the Holy Spirit has given them life referred to as “Regeneration.” “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Eph. 2:4-5
This is entirely by God’s will. He chooses whom to 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.” Eph. 1:4-5
One is made alive first in order to respond to the gospel by repentance of sins, believing, trusting in Christ’s finish work and by faith in an unseen Christ through His word. The chosen of God will believe the gospel because he is now alive. “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
And because they believed how did they respond? “When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18
Appointed and granted, both of these acts are from God by His grace. So where is man’s free will and part in his salvation? None! These responses came when God at His appointed time drew His chosen ones to His Son to be saved. Jesus said, “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
Then those who believed and received Jesus as their Lord are now His disciples. “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.” John 8:31-32
The truth Jesus is referring to here is the gospel that saves one from the penalty of sin and the power of sin and is now spiritually alive to follow Jesus. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
He now has free will to follow Jesus. So will he follow Jesus? Yes, because he is born of God. The Spirit that was promised in the Old Testament is now in play. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to follow my laws.” Ezek. 36:26-27
It is the Holy Spirit who will move and empower us to follow Jesus. Is this automatic? No again. A newly born again Christian does not yet know how to follow Jesus, that’s why he needs discipleship. But as he grow in knowing how Jesus lived, he will now start to follow Him because he is given a new heart who loves Jesus and will obey the commands that he hears from the reading and study of His Words. The Holy Spirit will give him the understanding and with the love that is produced in him will want to follow Jesus out of love for Him. But will he follow Jesus completely? As in our previous message we will go through a battle. Our sinful nature who is still in us will want to sin as we used to but our spirit who is now alive will want to obey. This will cause a struggle within like a tug of war. This is where we choose and decide who we want to win. If we choose to follow Jesus then the Holy Spirit will be there to empower and move us to follow Christ. Our choosing to follow Jesus is an act of the will to do His will and this is because our will is now free to obey and follow Christ. Think of the character of a goat that is used in the Bible as an illustration in contrast. The goat loves to fight and quarrel because that is his nature. Compare that to a sheep that is meek, even dumb and does not fight but is submissive. That’s what happens when one is born again, God changes us from the inside, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. However, when a sheep is not following his shepherd will wander and go astray. Now here’s another question. Do born again Christians still sin? Yes, he will. He sins when he disobeys God’s command. He even sins when he is ignorant of the other commands of God aside from the Ten Commandments. Thank God there is a follow up letter by the apostle John admonishing us not to sin. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ.” 1 John 2:1-2
Why did John address us as children? It is because children are prone to sin. But as one grows older towards maturity he sins less and less. He now warns children. “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:7-8
Although born again Christians sin, especially young and immature, where is in their spiritual growth regarding sin which hinders growth but results in trouble. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9
But what if one continues to sin, then this may be where he is spiritually. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice of sin is left but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume God’s enemies.” Heb. 10:26-27
This now tells us of someone whose will is only to sin but is not free to follow Jesus. He has not been born again but only having knowledge of the truth. Here’s the nature of those who are born of God and has the Holy Spirit in them. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:12-13
Therefore, those who have been chosen by God will obey. “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 One will obey because he loves Jesus with the love produced by the Holy Spirit. You may be here today and don’t know if you are born again or not? I will be available to explain that to you after the service.