PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

God Glorified in the Gospel

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121230_god-glorified-in-the-gospel.mp3

12/30 God Glorified in the Gospel

God’s Glory is Primary

The angels proclaimed ‘glory to God in the highest!’ God’s glory is primary. God’s glory is first in importance. God’s glory takes first place. Jesus came to bring glory to his Father, and his Father aimed to give glory to Jesus. Jesus, looking ahead to the cross, said:

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. … 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

The purpose for Jesus’ coming was to bring glory to God. In John 17, Jesus prayed:

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The centrality of the glory of God is not something new with Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament, the glory of God is primary. In Isaiah 43:7 God says he created us for his glory. Psalm 86:9 looks forward to the day when:

Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.

In Psalm 66, all the earth is commanded to:

Psalm 66:2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells us:

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

And then in chapter 10 he says:

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Am I Living for God’s Glory?

If God’s glory was put on display throughout the Old Testament, if Jesus’ aim in his coming was to bring glory to God, and if, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins, ‘the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever’, then in this time of retrospect over the past and resolve for the future, we would do well to examine ourselves in light of this greatest purpose. If we were created to glorify God, then we should pause to ask ourselves some questions.

-Am I living a life that brings maximum glory to God?’

-Am I doing that which I was created to do?

-Am I fulfilling my purpose?

-Can I increase the magnitude of the glory I give to God?

-Can I get better at fulfilling my purpose?

-Are there things that detract from God’s glory that I need to put aside?

In order to properly evaluate if we are living lives that bring maximum glory to God, we need to ask the prior question ‘What is it that brings glory to God? In what ways does God mean to be glorified in my life? How do I live for the glory of God? What does that look like? Lord willing, we will take the next few weeks to examine some of the biblical data to try to come up with a picture of what a God glorifying life looks like.

God is Glorified in the Gospel

In order to get started on this quest for the glory of God, let’s look back for a moment at the shepherds.

Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds glorified God for all they had heard and seen. What had they heard? They had heard the gospel – good news! Good news of great joy that will be for all the people. They had been told that to them a Savior had been born, the Messiah, the King. They had been given a sign to test the truthfulness of the message. They went and saw that the new King had been placed in an animal’s food trough, just as the angels had told them. The shepherds glorified God for all they had heard and seen. Glorifying God for these shepherds was a heart response to good news. They were first hearers of the good news. It was proclaimed to them. Then they became believers in the good news. They tested it to see if it was true, and they trusted him. This resulted in hearts naturally overflowing with praise to God. Glorifying God was not something the shepherds set out to do. They became recipients of the gospel, and their heart’s response was an overflow of glory to God. So it is with us. First, we become recipients of the gospel. The good news is preached to us. We believe, and our hearts overflow with worship and gratitude.

But there are obstacles in us to the gospel that God must overcome before we respond in a way that brings glory to him.

Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

We are naturally hostile to God, rebels against God, unable to submit to God, unable to please him or bring him glory. 2 Corinthians 4 tells us we are blind, unable to see.

2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Only God is able to overcome this satanic blindness in our hearts to the good news of the glory of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

God creates faith in the darkness of our rebel hearts.

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose what is foolish… God chose what is weak… 28 God chose what is low and despised… even things that are not… 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus… …31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love, took those who were dead in our trespasses, and made us alive.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The gospel is designed in such a way that excludes boasting.

Romans 3:27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. …by the law of faith.

Therefore, let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1Cor.1:31)

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

We bring glory to God when we confess that there is nothing good in us. We bring glory to God when we understand that it is God who took the initiative and overcame all the obstacles in our dead hearts and opened our blind eyes to the light of the good news of the glory of Christ.

We see this God-glorifying refrain of response to the gospel in Ephesians 1. Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ, he chose us, in love he predestined us for adoption…

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, making know to us his will; in him we have obtained an inheritance…

Ephesians 1:12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

In him, when we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

We become recipients of God’s grace and every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ Jesus, and when we look back over the gospel blessings he has purchased for us, our hearts resound to the praise of his glory. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! We bring glory to God when we pause to look at our own salvation. Have you glorified God for your own salvation today?

God is Glorified in the Expansion of the Gospel

Our hearts are also stirred to worship when we see God’s grace being extended to others. In Acts 10, God sent Peter to preach the gospel at a Gentile’s house. While he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word, and those who were with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. Peter had to explain what happened back in Jerusalem to many who were critical of his preaching to the uncircumcised.

Acts 11:17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

This was a somewhat hesitant, somewhat reluctant glorifying of God, hesitant because of their own social and ethnic hangups. But if God wants to extend forgiveness of sins to non-Jewish people who believe in the Messiah, then God can do what he wants. God is glorified. God is more gracious, more generous than we would be.

God is amazingly gracious. Jesus captured the heart of one of his most vehement opponents. God opened the eyes of a zealous pharisee who was on a campaign to obliterate the name of Jesus and imprison and execute his followers. When word got back to Judea about Saul,

Galatians 1:23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

God gets the glory for the conversion of any sinner. When the most vehement opponent of Jesus is brought to his knees, that is reason to worship. Paul began to preach the faith he once tried to destroy. Paul’s practice was to preach to the Jews in the local synagogue until he got kicked out, then take his message to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

When the Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch heard that the good news of forgiveness of sins through Jesus could extend beyond the bounds of Judaism, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord. When Paul returned to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey,

Acts 21:19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. …

The Jewish church in Jerusalem glorified God because Gentiles came to worship the one true God through Jesus Christ. Our hearts overflow with praise to God when we see him extend his grace to others, even others who are very different from us.

Missions advances the glory of God. Are you involved in missions for the glory of God? You might respond ‘of course not, I’m sitting here in church, in America. God hasn’t called me to missions.’ I would have to argue ‘Oh yes he has!’ God has called you to missions. God has called every one of his followers to make disciples. That might mean that you are called to go to a distant part of the globe and preach Jesus where his name has never been heard. It might mean that. It might mean that you get involved in missions in a secondary capacity, by praying and by paying. Jesus invites you to pray.

Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

God invites you to be involved in missions by praying and by paying.

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

So God may be calling you to go and preach. God invites you to partner with him in the work of missions by praying and by sending others. But if you are a follower of Jesus, you are called to make disciples. Wherever you are, you are called to make disciples of Jesus. Among the unreached peoples of the world, or among your neighbors and co-workers and friends and family. God is glorified when the gospel is extended to those who don’t yet know him.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

We can increase thanksgiving to the glory of God by spreading the gospel to more and more people.

Philippians 2:8 [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Imagine that day! The day when every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth bows to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord! On that day God will receive the glory that he deserves.

Today, we have the privilege of doing what we were created to do. We have the greatest privilege of bringing glory to God. God is glorified in us when we hear the gospel, when we believe the gospel, when we look at the gospel and are humbled and amazed by the gospel, when we treasure and cherish the gospel. God is glorified when we see the gospel at work in the lives of those around us. God is glorified when we spread the gospel, when we pray that God will send laborers into his harvest, when we pay for the advance of his kingdom, when we are making disciples of those around us wherever we are. God is glorified in the advance of his gospel, both in our hearts and around the globe. God is glorified, and we are filled with joy. May we give God the glory he deserves!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 30, 2012 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Luke 2:8-20; Peace Among Men of Good Pleasure

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121223_peace-among-men.mp3

12/23 Advent: Luke 2:14 Peace among Men

We are looking at the statement the angelic armies made praising God in response to the good news proclamation of the birth of the eternal Son of God. The glory of God had not been seen for hundreds of years, since the glory had departed from the temple, and suddenly, into the darkness of the Judean countryside, the glory of the Lord blazed around a group of unsuspecting shepherds.

Luke 2:8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

The announcement of the angel was a gospel announcement. The angel heralded good news of great joy. The word used here is where we get our word evangelize [ευαγγελιζω] – which is to proclaim the good news. ‘stop fearing; see, I evangelize you’ or ‘I preach the gospel to you’. This gospel good news extended even to a group of nameless shepherds out in the wild. The good news is good news about a person. This is a birth announcement; the city of king David has become the birthplace of another greater King. The angel attributes three titles to this baby; Savior, Christ and Lord.

God our Savior

God is seen as Savior throughout the Old Testament.

2 Samuel 22:1 And David spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 3 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.

This title implies that we are in trouble and helpless and need to be rescued or saved from something or someone. The Psalmist, reflecting on Israel, says:

Psalm 106:21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,

God says in Isaiah 43

Isaiah 43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. …

Isaiah 43:11 I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.

In Isaiah 45, he says:

Isaiah 45:21 …Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior;

In chapter 49 and chapter 60 he says:

Isaiah 49:26 …Then all flesh shall know that I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Isaiah 60:16 …and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

God said to the prophet Hosea:

Hosea 13:4 But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.

So when the angel proclaimed the good news of a savior born, this would point to YHWH God come down in strength to rescue.

Christ

The angel announced that he is Christ. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. Christ, or Messiah, is a title that means the anointed one. In the Old Testament, anointing with oil was part of the coronation ceremony to set someone apart for a particular position of authority. Kings were anointed. Priests were anointed. Prophets were anointed. The hope of Israel was the promise of this coming anointed one, the great Prophet who would speak in truth the words of the Lord, our great High Priest who would reconcile God to man, the coming King who will rule justly and shepherd his people. The angel pointed to Jesus as this coming anointed one, the hope of Israel, the great and final Prophet, Priest and King.

The LORD

The angel proclaimed that this baby born in Bethlehem is Lord. Back in verse 9, we are told that this angel is an angel of the Lord. The angel is a messenger sent by the Lord. The Lord is the sovereign one, who rules over angels. Also in verse 9, we are told that the glory of the Lord shone shone around them. The glory of the Lord is the brilliant radiance of the manifestation of God’s presence. The baby in the feed trough is the sovereign one who sent this angel with this message, whose glory was illuminating the Judean hillside. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word Lord is the word used to translate the tetragrammaton YHWH, God’s personal name. In Luke 3, John is said to fulfill the prophesy of the one who prepares the way for YHWH, the Lord to come.

Luke 3:4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (cf. Mt.3:3; Is.40:3)

The baby born in Bethlehem is the divine Savior, the Anointed Prophet, Priest and King, YHWH in the flesh.

Great Joy

The gospel message is a message of joy. The content of the evangelism of the angel to the shepherds is ‘great joy’. This is a message that our pursuit of happiness can end here. God is bringing true soul satisfaction to the human race. This is a message of fulfillment, of deep delight. There is reason for celebration. Longing and hoping and waiting have blossomed into joy. Great joy!

Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Ar this proclamation of joy, the heavens ripped open and the heavenly hosts unleashed their worship.

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

We focused last time on the first part of their praise: glory to God in the highest. God’s glory is primary. To glorify God is why we exist, why everything exists. God’s glory comes first. True joy comes when we get this right and begin to live our lives to the glory of God. The second part of the angels praise corresponds to the first. Glory in the first corresponds to peace in the second. In the highest corresponds to on earth. God corresponds to men of good pleasure. In the highest glory to God; on earth peace among men of good pleasure.

Peace

This is a staggering scene. The multiplied hosts of heaven. These are military terms. The armies of heaven appear in battle array. We are told what they say, but not how they said it. It could have been in song, it could have been shouted, it could have been chanted in military cadence. The infantries of heaven appear to declare peace on men. What is this peace they declare? We can quickly identify what it is not. Jesus said:

Mark 13:7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. (cf. Mt.24:6; Lk.21:9)

So the peace that Jesus brings is not a military peace or the absence of wars, at least not at his first coming. Nor is it peace in relationships among people. Jesus said:

Luke 12:51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (cf. Mt.10:34)

Jesus promised his followers:

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

So the peace that Jesus brings is peace in the midst of tribulation. Not national peace (not yet) and not interpersonal peace (not yet), but peace in him. The peace Jesus brings is other-worldly peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The apostles testified of peace through Jesus Christ. Peter said to the Gentile household of Cornelius:

Acts 10:36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),

And then he went on to describe the life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and appearances of Jesus, and he concludes

Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The peace we have through Jesus Christ is peace with God, the forgiveness of our sins. This peace comes as a gift to everyone who believes in him. In the book of Romans, after explaining the concept of sinners being counted by God as righteous not because of their own works but because they trust in Jesus, it says

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

The peace that Jesus brings is peace in our relationship to God. We were weak, helpless, ungodly sinners, enemies of God and fully deserving of his just wrath. But because Christ died for us, we can have peace with God. This reconciled relationship with God produces great joy.

Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Men of Good Pleasure [ευδοκια]

To whom does this peace come? If we are right in defining the peace as peace with God, a reconciled relationship, then not everyone experiences this peace. The testimony of Jesus and the Apostles is unified that this peace comes to everyone who believes in Jesus, and only to those who believe in Jesus. This is not universal peace, because not everyone will believe. This phrase of angelic praise qualifies the peace. The second phrase of the angels has been translated in different ways in our English translations.

KJV and NKJV: …and on earth peace, good will toward men.

MSG: …Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

NCV: …and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.”

NLT: …and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

ESV: …and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

NASB: …And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

HCSB: …and peace on earth to people He favors!

NIV: …and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

GW: …and on earth peace to those who have his good will!”

WYC: …and in earth peace be to men of good will

The Greek literally reads ‘and on earth peace in men of good will or of good pleasure’. What does it mean to be a person ‘of good pleasure’? Does this mean that God is pleased with the performance of some people, so he gives them his peace? This option is excluded on the grounds of the teaching of the rest of the New Testament:

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

2 Timothy 1:8 …God 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

There was only one man who ever totally pleased God with his life:

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (cf. Mt.12:18; 17;5; Mk.1:11; Lk.3:22; 2Pet.1:17)

The clear teaching of the New Testament is that peace with God comes to those who don’t deserve it, who didn’t earn it, to those who simply believe the promises of God. The well pleasing life of Jesus is credited to the account of those who embrace Jesus as their King.

Looking at other places this word translated ‘good will’ or ‘good pleasure’ shows up might help get a clearer picture of what is meant here. Luke uses this same word in chapter 10

Luke 10:21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (cf. Mt.11:25)

Jesus rejoices in the gracious will and good pleasure of his Father in hiding things from the self-righteous and revealing them to the humble. The same word shows up twice in Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

Ephesians 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

This word points to the mystery of the good pleasure of God’s will. It is God’s gracious purpose. On earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. This is good news of great joy to undeserving sinners! This is good news to these humble shepherds. To you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord! This message came to some shepherds. It did not come to Herod the Great, not to Caesar Augustus, not to the scribes and pharisees, not to the religious leaders, not to the Jewish High Priest, but to some shepherds who were out watching over their flocks at night. God’s grace, his undeserved favor is extended to sinners.

…“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (Lk.10:21)

This message of peace with God is the gospel of great joy that will extend to all the people.

Response

Notice the response of these simple shepherds to this gospel presentation.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

These shepherds heard the good news. They talked to one another. They resolved to go see. They went with urgency. They were given a sign. They checked it out. They tested the message. They found things exactly as the angel had predicted. The message of good news was confirmed. So they made the message known. They told everybody! Good news of great joy for all the people! To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. All who heard wondered, marveled. Some treasured. Some pondered. The shepherds returned glorifying God.

Good news has been proclaimed to you. Jesus came for you. The shepherds provide us with a great example of how to respond to the gospel. Be like the simple shepherds. Hear the gospel. Believe the gospel. Make the gospel known. Give glory and praise to God for the gospel. This is the sure path to genuine joy.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 23, 2012 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Luke 2; Glory to God in the Highest

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121216_glory-to-god.mp3

12/16 Advent: Luke 2:11-20 Glory to God

Lord willing, we are going to take this week and the next to examine the first hymn celebrating the birth of Jesus that was ever sung. It goes like this:

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

This hymn is packed with meaning, and I pray it will help focus our priorities as we seek to worship Jesus.

Let’s get some background to this night. In 63 B.C., the Roman General Pompey conquered Jerusalem and entered the Jewish temple. Jerusalem was now under Roman occupation. By 27 B.C., General Octavian, an adopted son of Julius Caesar, had risen to power in the empire and received the title ‘Augustus’, or ‘the illustrious one’, a title of divinity. The promised land is in the hands of the Gentiles. The emperor is revered as a god. The pax romana or Roman Peace is enforced by military might. Herod the Great, a suspicious and bloody ruler, has been appointed by Rome to rule over Israel. Luke tells us:

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Caesar Augustus decided that the entire Roman world should be registered. It was tax time. This forced Joseph and Mary to travel the 70 or 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. When the time came for Mary to give birth, there was no room for them in the guest chamber. Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in an animal’s feed trough.

Luke 2:8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Shepherds

Shepherds were not well respected in this day. Because of the nature of their work, they were considered ceremonially unclean and excluded from religious activities. Sheep are stupid helpless animals that need constant supervision and protection. A shepherd’s job would be to lead the sheep to safe places of pasture, to keep them from wandering into danger, to protect them from thieves and predators. Thieves and many of their natural predators would come out at night, so the hours of darkness would be especially critical for keeping careful watch. It is to this unsuspecting audience in the darkness of the Judean countryside that the lights were turned on. The text says

9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

An Angel Appeared

An angel appeared. That in itself is a terrifying experience. When messengers of God show up to people, there is reason to be afraid, because we are faced with our own guilt. Sometimes the message of the angel is “Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me” (Num.22:32). There is good reason to be very afraid, because we know that in one night, one angel slaughtered 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2Ki.19:35). When David sinned in numbering the people, one angel struck down 70,000 men with pestilence (1Chr.21:14-16). The biblical accounts of the appearance of a heavenly messenger in visible form to humans often results in paralyzing fear, and the inclination to worship. This is no different. The shepherds were filled with fear. They were not just a little bit afraid; they were filled with fear. If we translate the language literally, we get ‘they feared with great fear’. But it was not only the presence of the angel (as if that wasn’t enough!) that filled them with fear. The text says that ‘the glory of the Lord shone around them’.

The Glory of the Lord

What does this mean? The glory of the Lord is the visible manifestation of God’s invisible presence. It is his splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, majesty or dignity. The Old Testament term for glory refers to the weightiness, the heaviness or gravity of the presence of the Lord. Moses longed to behold the glory of God.

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

Unmediated exposure to the glory of God for even the holiest of humans would mean death. At Mount Sinai,

Exodus 24:16 The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

God’s glory was revealed in cloud and devouring fire. God intended to dwell with his people. He gave instructions for his tent to be constructed, and when it was assembled,

Exodus 40:34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. …38 For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

Once Israel was finally in the promised land, when Solomon finished building a permanent place for God’s presence to dwell,

2 Chronicles 7:1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

But the people did not remain faithful to the Lord. Their hearts went after other gods and committed spiritual adultery. As God warned, he sent them into captivity and his glory departed from his temple

Ezekiel 10:4 And the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD. …18 Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.

Ezekiel 11:23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city.

The glory had departed. Israel went into Babylonian captivity. The Persians defeated the Babylonians in 539BC, and Cyrus the Persian commissioned many Israelites to returned to the land and rebuild the temple in 538 BC, but we are never told that God’s glory returned. For about 600 years of Jewish history, God’s glory was absent. God’s glory had departed.

And then, in the dark of an unknown night in the Judean countryside among a group of unsuspecting shepherds, the glory of the Lord blazed out in radiant splendor! Something awesome is happening!

Good News of Great Joy for All the People

10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

An angel shows up and the weightiness an holiness of the glory of the Lord flashes forth, and these shepherds became acutely aware of how far they fall short. But this angel did not come in judgment. He came with good news. The glory of the Lord had returned! Good news of great joy that will be for all the people! Even these dirty shepherds! A savior is born to you! Good news! Your great fear will be turned to great joy. One has been born who will save you from your sins! He is the promised Davidic King, he is the Messiah, the Anointed One, and he is the Lord, YHWH God himself. This is the sign to you shepherds. This is how you will know that he has come even for you. You will find this newborn King, the promised Messiah, YHWH in the flesh, lying in a feeding trough for animals. He has fully immersed himself in your daily existence. He has identified with you shepherds. He is born to you, for you.

Glory to God

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

This is unprecedented in all of biblical history, except back before time began, when the Lord laid the foundation of the earth,

Job 38:7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

No man ever before has had this privilege of being the audience for the gathered armies of heaven in worship to their King. This staggers the imagination. When we think of the awesome power of even one of these created beings, and read the biblical descriptions of some of these fantastic creatures in Isaiah and Ezekiel’s visions, to imagine innumerable ranks of angelic creatures breaking into unrestrained praise of their great God is more that we can comprehend. What these simple shepherds experienced was truly out of this world!

It would be wise to pay attention to what the angels said. They gave praise to God, because that is what angels are created to do. Notice where they start. They don’t start with a message of peace among men. That is an important message, and they will get to that. But that is second. It is not first. The salvation of humans takes second place to the glory of God. Humans, like angels and all the rest of creation, were created to bring glory to God. That is the primary purpose of everything. That is why we exist. We were created to glorify God. We have failed miserably. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That was the sin of Satan. He was not content to give glory to God; he wanted to be like God and get glory for himself. That was the lie of Satan to our first parents in the garden, that rather than be content to give glory to God, you can be like God, and get glory for yourself. We failed to give God the glory he deserves. Rather, we dishonored God, robbed him of worship, and treated him with ingratitude and contempt. That is what Jesus came to restore. Jesus came to elevate the glory of God back to its rightful place. Jesus said in John 7:18 that he ‘seeks the glory of him who sent him’.

Even Lazarus’ death was designed to bring glory to God.

John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

John 11:40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Jesus taught us to live in such a way,

Matthew 5:16 … so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Jesus’ goal was to seek the honor of his Father. The Father was seeking to glorify his Son.

John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. …54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

The angels praised ‘Glory in the highest to God!’ What was this highest glory? In what way would God be magnified in Jesus?

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

Jesus connects his glory with a seed going into the earth and dying in order to bear much fruit. The hour had come for Jesus to be glorified, and to bring glory to his Father. He was looking to the hour of his death by crucifixion, and he says ‘for this purpose I have come’. Jesus came, God the Son took on a body of human flesh, so that he could bring glory to God in his death. After Judas the betrayer left,

John 13:31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

Jesus aim was to bring glory to God.

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The glory of the Father and the glory of the Son are one. Jesus connected the way he would bring glory to the Father with giving eternal life to all the Father gave to him. He defined eternal life in terms of relationship; knowing God and Jesus Christ. Jesus would bear much fruit and so glorify his Father like a seed, by dying. He would secure eternal life for his followers by dying in their place. He would bring them into relationship with him, into the presence of his glory. He would pay the deep debt of dishonor we owe to God, and restore us to a place where we can live lives that bring glory to God.

Philippians 2:3 …in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Glory to God in the highest! The angels sang Glory to God in the highest! You and I and the angels and everything were created to bring him glory. Let us live lives that magnify and put on display our great God!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 16, 2012 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:7b; Waiting for the Revelation of Jesus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121209_1cor1_7b.mp3

 

12/09 1 Corinthians 1:7b Waiting for Jesus to be Revealed

1 Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ⸂Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ⸃ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς 2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ⸂ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ,⸃ κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ⸀αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν· 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ ⸀μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι, ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 9 πιστὸς ὁ θεὸς δι’ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul thanks God for the sin-sick, sidetracked, self-centered church of God in Corinth. He thanks God because God’s grace, his free gift of undeserved favor, had been poured out on sinners in the city of Corinth through his preaching of the cross; sinners believed and sinners became saints and a church was born. The apostle made it his habit to thank God for them. He thanks God that they were enriched in Christ Jesus in every way; in all speech and all knowledge; they had been given spiritual insight into the truth of the gospel. He thanks God that the testimony of Christ; the witness of who Jesus is, the invisible God become human, who lived the righteous life in perfect communion with his Father that we were meant to live, who took our sins and died on a cross, bearing the wrath of his Father against our rebellion, who rose victorious from the tomb, appeared alive to a multitude of witnesses, and ascended to the right hand of his Father, where he now reigns on high; this testimony of Jesus, that whoever believes has eternal life and will live with him forever, this foolish message was believed and proved to be genuine among the Corinthians. The testimony of Christ was confirmed. He thanks God that they were not lacking in any grace-gift. God had abundantly supplied them with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. They did not fall short. They had a real relationship with Jesus and in that they had everything that truly matters.

Waiting

Next on Paul’s list of things to thank God for in this wayward church is that they were waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Christmas present illustration: What is this? What’s in it? When do you get to find out? Even if you already know what it is, when do you get to have it?] Waiting is something that is characteristic of believers in Jesus. There is a natural expectation, a longing, a desiring, a forward looking hope. The author of Hebrews says

Hebrews 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

It is characteristic of Christians to eagerly wait for the return of Jesus. The first believers, who saw Jesus ascend into heaven, were gazing into heaven and had to be told by two angels:

Acts 1:11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Paul tells the Philippians:

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Peter reminds us to:

1 Peter 1:13 … set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Already and Not Yet

Peter says that there will be grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. There is a future grace to set your hope on. But Paul has told us in 1 Corinthians that we lack no grace-gift. We have been been abundantly supplied, enriched in him in every way. And yet we wait. There is a tension in the life of the Christian between the already and the not yet. There is tension between what we have been given in Christ Jesus, and that which is yet to come. Let’s review the grace-gifts that are currently in our possession as believers, and then we will look at some of the promised blessings that are yet to come.

What are some of the grace-gifts that have been given to us by God? We are told in Ephesians 2:8 and 2 Timothy 2:25 that we have been given the gift of faith and repentance. Jesus claims to be the one who gives eternal life (Jn.10:28). He said ‘whoever believes has eternal life’ (Jn.6:47). God gave Jesus as the propitiation for our sins, appeasing his own righteous wrath toward us (Rom.3:25; 1Jn.4:10). In Ephesians chapters 1 and 2, Paul lists some of the spiritual blessings we have been freely given in Christ. We were chosen. We were predestined for adoption into the family of God. We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. We have obtained an inheritance. We have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who comes to live in us. We have experienced regeneration, or the new birth; being dead we were made alive. We have experienced reconciliation – having been separated and alienated, we have been brought near.

In Romans 8, Paul outlines the purpose of God for us. He says we were foreknown by God, predestined to be like his Son, called, justified, and glorified. And here we get a hint of the ‘not yet’. All these words are in the past tense. We have been foreknown, predestined, called, and justified. Our sins are paid for. We have been bought with a price. God’s wrath against our sin has been satisfied. We have peace with God. We have been adopted into his family. We have the gift of eternal life, and we have God’s Spirit living inside of us. But we are not yet glorified. This is in the past tense because it is as certain as if it had already happened. He goes on to say that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that since God has already demonstrated his great love for us in giving us the most costly gift imaginable, his own Son, we can be sure he will graciously give us all things.

Our glorification, from our perspective, is still future. We wait eagerly for God to fulfill all his promises to us. If we look earlier in Romans 8, we see what he means by glorification:

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We have received the Spirit of adoption as sons; we are now children of God. We are heirs with Christ. But we have not yet been revealed as sons of God. We have not yet been glorified. We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, specifically the redemption of our bodies. We have been transformed inwardly, spiritually. But we have not yet been transformed outwardly, physically. It is coming. It is guaranteed. But it has not happened yet. We hope. We wait for it with patience.

Paul says in:

Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

We now have justification; the legal standing of righteousness before God. All our sins are gone and Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to our account. But practically, in our thoughts, words and deeds, we are far from righteous. Paul expresses it best in Romans 7

Romans 7:15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. …18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. …22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

We ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. We have been justified, but we do not yet act like who we are. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Our citizenship has already been transferred. We no longer belong to this evil world. We belong to heaven. But we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. By his own sovereign power he will transform even these lowly bodies to be like him.

Jude gives glory to God who:

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,

That is something worth looking forward to! Think of that. To be presented before the presence of his glory -blameless! With great joy!Or listen to this:

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

One day Jesus will no more be doubted, despised and rejected by men (Is.53:3). One day,

Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Already, we have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ. Already we have no grace-gift lacking. We have been given faith, eternal life, election, adoption, propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, regeneration, justification, the indwelling Spirit, an inheritance. And yet, there is more to come.

Waiting for Jesus

What is it specifically that Paul thanks God that the Corinthians are waiting for?

7 …as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

They are waiting for a person. Jesus is coming again. Jesus promised that he would come. He said:

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. …18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Jesus prayed to his Father

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus promised to come to us. He promised to prepare a place for us. He promised to come again and take us to himself, that where he is we may also be. He prayed for us that we would be with him, that we would see him as he is. We wait for Jesus. We wait for our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord. He is King of kings, the Alpha and Omega, the great I AM, the sovereign one. He is Lord over all. But not just Lord over all, he is Lord over us. He is our Lord. He rules over me. He is my King. He is the one to whom I submit. He is Jesus, God come in the flesh, God become human. Immanuel, God with us. Jesus, who will save his people from their sins. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, our great Prophet, Priest and King. We wait for our King, Jesus, the promised Messiah. We wait for him to be revealed.

Revelation

What does it mean for him to be revealed? The word choice here is interesting. It points to something hidden that will be revealed. The Corinthians, who prided themselves on knowledge, had to acknowledge that there was more yet to be revealed. There were things they didn’t know. The Corinthians, who prided themselves on their abundance of spiritual gifts, had to see that there was something they didn’t have yet, something that they were looking forward to, waiting for. They were waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. The revelation of Jesus will mean different things for different people. For all who depend solely on Jesus,

1 Peter 1:7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

But for others,

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

The thought of Jesus being revealed should strike either intense joy or sheer terror into your heart, depending on your relationship with Jesus. Paul thanks God that the Corinthians were waiting for Jesus, looking forward to Jesus coming.

Practical Benefits of Waiting

What are some practical benefits of waiting? Waiting roots out pride and fosters humility. Waiting reminds us that we are not in control – God is. What we wait for, as well as what we already have, is a gift flowing out of God’s generosity. We didn’t earn it and we don’t deserve it, so we have no room to boast in it.

Waiting also keeps our eyes fixed on the prize and our hearts in the right place. Jesus said “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt.6:21). If Jesus is our greatest treasure, and we are eagerly waiting for him, that will be reflected in how we spend our time and resources.

Waiting encourages camaraderie in community. Notice, we are waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are fellow travelers on the same journey, weary pilgrims on the way, and we are not home yet. We all have the same end, the same goal in mind. When he says that you lack no spiritual gift, the you is plural. You the individual do not have every spiritual gift. God distributes gifts according to his purpose, and what you the individual lack, he has given to you the group, the body of Christ. We need one another. Waiting becomes more bearable when it is done with others.

Waiting also has a sanctifying effect. John says:

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

If what we are waiting for is seeing Jesus, which means for us total transformation and Christ-likeness, we begin to become like what we long for. When we see who Jesus is, the one who paid the ultimate price to save us from our sin, we are energized to put to death the sin that entangles us, fix our eyes on Jesus and more passionately pursue him.

I Thank God that together we are waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I pray that the practical benefits of waiting would become more and more evident in our lives. Come Lord Jesus!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 9, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:7a; No Grace-Gift Lacking

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121202_1cor1_7a.mp3

12/02 1 Corinthians 1:7a No Grace-Gift Lacking

1 Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς 2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν· 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι, ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 9 πιστὸς ὁ θεὸς δι’ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul is thanking God for the grace of God at work in the believers in Corinth. Although there were many serious problems to address, although much was not right in the church in Corinth, although there were serious sin issues and doctrinal issues, there was still much to thank God for. Paul begins this difficult letter by thanking God for the evidences of grace that he observed in this wayward church. First, he thanks God that they were enriched in Christ in every way, especially in all words and all knowledge. Their minds had been enlightened. They had perceived the truth of the gospel message and believed. Then he thanks God that this fullness, this being enriched in all things, comes from the testimony of Christ, the witness Jesus bore of himself; the witness borne by the apostles about Jesus, the good news that God the Son became human, that he lived a perfect life, that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was raised from the dead, that he is King. This testimony of Christ was confirmed, made sure, shown to be firm and legally binding in the Corinthians. They believed the foolish message of the cross, and they were transformed by it. Although they were not yet what they ought to be, they were no longer what they once were. As Paul says in Romans 8:16

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

The good news about Jesus was demonstrated genuine among the believers in Corinth.

Not Lacking in Any Spiritual Gift

Next on his list of evidences of God’s grace at work in Corinth is verse 7; ‘so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift’. This will be the focus of our attention today. Paul thanks God that his grace is evident in their lives in that they lack no spiritual gift. What does it mean to lack, and what is a spiritual gift? And why would we spend so much time looking at just a few words?

Words Mean Things

God has spoken, and he has used words to communicate truth to his people. He has preserved his word through the centuries so that we can live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Words mean things. If we want to know what God says to us, we need to pay attention to the words he uses to communicate to us. Today we are going to take some time to look carefully at two of the words used in this phrase. Part of my job as a pastor is to preach, to proclaim God’s truth in the power of the Holy Spirit so that God is glorified and your life is transformed. Part of my job as pastor is to equip you, the saints, for the work of the ministry, to give you the tools you need to do the things God has called you to do. Think of it this way. This is a jar of baby food, and this is a little baby spoon. The food is already ground up really small. Somebody else has done the work of chewing. Somebody else uses the tools – the spoon to get the food into your mouth. You almost passively receive. Now picture a big thick juicy delicious steak. Here is a fork and a steak knife. I’m going to cut off some small bites and give them to you so you can get a taste for what is really good. But you are watching how I hold my fork and how I use my knife and you are learning. The goal is not to stay dependent, not to stay on a baby-food diet. The goal is to learn to enjoy food yourself. The goal is for you to learn to use the tools and dig in to God’s word on your own, with your family, with your friends and co-workers, maybe leading a bible study, being prepared to do what God is calling you to do. My prayer is that both things are happening. You are being fed. Your souls are being nourished with the pure milk of God’s word. But you are also watching, learning how to use the tools, becoming equipped to dig in to God’s word yourself. Here are some tools. This is an English dictionary. This is not where word meanings come from. What words mean comes from how the words are used in a culture, in a society. The dictionary listens to how a culture uses words and then tries to record what it hears. As the way the culture uses words changes, the dictionary has to catch up and publish a new version. The way people use words determine what they mean. So to find out what a word in the bible means, we need a different tool. We need to be able to see how a word was used by biblical authors so that we can start to hear how they used words in their culture and hear what they meant by what they said. This tool is called a concordance. It is an alphabetical catalog of every word in the bible and lists every verse that uses a given word. We can use it to get to know how the biblical authors used a word and what they meant by it. It also helps to know that our English bible is a translation from a different language. A good concordance will help you get behind the translation to get a taste of the original language. With a good concordance you can get at the original word behind the English translation and find every place that word was used, even if it is translated by a different word in English.

Spiritual Gifts

7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift,

What is a spiritual gift? There is one Greek word that is behind the translation ‘spiritual gift’ in our English bibles. ‘Charisma’ [χαρισμα] is derived from the Greek word for grace [χαρις] ‘charis’. This same word is translated twice in Romans 5:15-16 as ‘free gift’, and again in Romans 6:23

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The concept of grace, as we have learned, is diametrically opposed to any sense of earning or deserving. Grace is the polar opposite of works. Wages are set over against the free gift of grace. As Paul says in Romans 4:4

Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift [literally: ‘according to grace’ κατα χαριν] but as his due [literally: ‘according to debt’; that which is legally or justly owed κατα οφειλημα].

And he says again in Romans 11:6

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

There is no possible way to combine grace and works in salvation. If I work for or earn or contribute even a small percentage, then it ceases to be a gift, it ceases to be grace. In 2 Timothy 1:9 he points to God,

2 Timothy 1:9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

So the concept of spiritual gifts has at its root the concept of grace; a gift freely given and not in any way earned or deserved. We could translate it a ‘grace-gift’. At the heart of this concept is the free gift of eternal life, the gift of sins forgiven, the gift of reconciliation, the gift of a full, rich, satisfying relationship with God that is guaranteed to you for eternity, purchased for you by the blood of Jesus on the cross.

Gifts that Differ

This concept is expanded later in Romans and in Corinthians to include the various gifts God gives to his church to create a fully functioning body. In Romans 12, Paul uses the metaphor of one body with many members that differ in function, yet are inextricably interconnected as one body.

Romans 12:6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:…

And he goes on to list some of the various grace-gifts God has given to his church; prophecy, service, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, mercy. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul points to the grace-gift of singleness and self-control. In 1 Corinthians 12-14, he addresses the issue of grace-gifts in the church in Corinth at length. He says:

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Here we are given some definition on what these grace-gifts mean. In the trinitarian formula ‘the same Spirit, …the same Lord, …the same God’, our word ‘grace-gift’ is placed in parallel with two other synonyms; they are varieties of service or ministry, and varieties of activities or energies. Grace-gifts are God-enabled service, God energized activities. Grace-gifts are here said to be God-empowered, and they are said to be a manifestation of the Spirit. This is why the word is often translated ‘spiritual gifts’; they are gifts of grace that come from the Holy Spirit. The ultimate goal of these grace-gifts is for the common good. They are given by the Spirit of God for the good of the church, the body of Christ. Peter exhorts us:

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

So a spiritual gift or grace-gift is a concrete evidence of God’s grace that is given, not earned or achieved, it is an expression of divine energy, not human potential or effort, it is an act of service which promotes the common good, not for selfish gain [NIDNTT vol.3, p.703]

Not Lacking

Paul thanks God that the Corinthian church is not lacking in any spiritual gift. What does it mean to lack? This word is used in Luke’s gospel in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son. He ‘squandered his property in reckless living’.

Luke 15:14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.

That’s our word for ‘lacking’. He describes what he lacked. It says in verse 16

Luke 15:16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

And then he says that his ‘father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!’ The lack was a desperate shortage of something essential to life. When he returned as a beggar to his father, he was freely given more than he could have imagined.

There was a young man who came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus pointed him to the commandments.

Matthew 19:20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”

This man had not murdered, committed adultery, stolen, borne false witness, he had honored his father and mother, and claimed even to love his neighbor as himself. And yet he still sensed that he was coming up short. Something was missing. So he asked Jesus ‘what do I still lack?’

Mark 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus tells him he lacks one thing. One thing is lacking for eternal life, but Jesus gives this man three commands; he tells him to go sell, to give, and to come follow. But he says one thing is lacking. Is it one thing or three? I think he is saying ‘get the stuff out of the way that is preventing you from doing the one thing. One thing is lacking: come, follow Jesus.

Paul points in Romans 3 to the one area in which we all lack or fall short.

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

He spent chapters one and two outlining how all men are without excuse because although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images. They brought God down to the level of a created being, a man or lower. All have sinned. All are under God’s judgment because all have failed to give God the glory that is his due. We come up lacking in giving God glory. He lays out the remedy in the next verse.

Romans 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

To lack is to have a shortage of something essential, whether on a physical level, lacking the basic necessity of food; or on a spiritual level, coming short of giving God his rightful glory, being distracted and missing the one essential thing to come, follow Jesus.

Thankful for no lack of Grace-Gift

Paul thanks God for his grace shown to the Corinthian church in that they did not lack in any grace-gift. This is the flip side of what he said in verse 5

5 that in every way you were enriched in him…

In every way they were enriched in him; in no way did they lack any grace-gift. This would include first of all the God-given gift of justification, forgiveness of all sin, the free and undeserved gift of eternal life in full soul-satisfying relationship with Jesus.

It would also include those various gifts of God’s grace given to his church to create a fully functioning body. They as a church are not lacking in any grace-gift. If they were not functioning as a healthy group of believers, which from the rest of this letter we know they were not, it was not because God was withholding something that they needed. They, like us, were enriched in Christ in every way. They were not lacking in any spiritual gift. They may have taken God’s generous gifts distributed according to his good purpose and prided themselves that they were superior to others who had different gifts. They may have used their gifts in self-serving ways rather than using their gifts to build up the body. They may have overemphasized the more spectacularly supernatural gifts and undervalued and neglected the more essential nuts and bolts gifts that were critical for the unity and health of the body. They were misusing, even abusing the gifts that had been given by God for their good. But even in this Paul finds reason to thank God. The fact that they were misusing the gifts of God meant that they had indeed been given gifts by God. God had extended grace to sinners in Corinth, they had received the free gift of eternal life, and God was at work in them. They certainly lacked in character. They lacked love. They lacked humility. But God was doing a great work. And there is reason to rejoice, because what God begins, he will see through to completion.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

 

December 2, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment