PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Romans 6; Resurrection Power

03/31/13 Romans 6; Resurrection Power Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130331_resurrection-power.mp3

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything! The same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us today. Romans 6:4 tells us that ‘Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’, and the rest of Romans 6 tells us that the resurrection of Jesus has implications for us today in how we live our lives. Listen to Romans 6:4-5

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

The resurrection of Jesus is where we as followers of Jesus find the power to live our lives. Let’s look at this passage, at the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and at what this means for us today.

Raised by the Glory of the Father

Romans 6:4 says that Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. This is a unique expression, probably not what we would expect. We might expect him to say that Jesus was raised by the power of the Father, but what does it mean to say that Jesus was raised by or through the glory of the Father? The glory of God is the outward manifestation of the splendor and power and greatness of God that causes us to be in awe and wonder. Romans is all about God’s glory.

Romans begins by condemning us, who suppress the truth about God, his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature (1:18-20). We did not honor God as God or give him thanks, but instead exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images (1:21-23). We were meant to reflect the glory of God, to bear his image, to put on display his invisible attributes, in the way that Jesus described:

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

But we all fail to do this properly.

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

Abraham, who did not work but trusted in a God who justifies the ungodly (4:5), is held up as an example of faith that brings glory to God.

Romans 4:20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

In Romans 8, we look forward to being restored to the glory for which we were created, the glory of properly reflecting God’s image in such a way that he gets all the glory (Rom.8:17-30).

In Romans 11, Paul interjects this doxology:

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

In Romans 15, he points to practical ways to live life to bring glory to God (Rom.15:5-9), and he closes the book with this doxology:

Romans 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

We were created to reflect God’s glory. In our self-seeking, we failed to glorify God with our lives. Jesus came to defend the honor of his Father and restore us to our proper place in his creation, to bring glory to God. Jesus took our sins, paid the ultimate price to demonstrate the greatness of God and the magnitude of our dishonor toward God, and was raised by the glory of his Father so that we too might walk in newness of life.

Where we are in Romans

In order to understand this passage properly, we need to locate it in the argument of the book of Romans. Paul has demonstrated in chapters 1 and 2 that although we were designed to reflect God’s glory through our righteous lives, we have miserably failed to represent him well. Both Jews and non-Jews have failed to live up to the standard they had been given. Jews believed that they could bring glory to God by keeping the law. But history proved this was impossible.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

In the middle of chapter 3, we are introduced to a different kind of righteousness, a righteousness not our own,

Romans 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

This is a righteousness that comes to sinners as a free gift from God based on the price paid in full by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

Chapter 4 shows that this gift of God’s own righteousness to all who believe is not contrary to, but connected with the Old Testament examples of Abraham and David.

Chapter 5 revels in the fact that the peace we have with God through this gift of God’s righteousness counted to sinners who believe is so unshakeable that no trial, no sin, not even death can now separate us from God. Chapter 5 concludes by pointing to the fact that the law was brought in to demonstrate our sinfulness by increasing our trespasses, and this dark soil of our sinfulness was the very place where God’s free grace could thrive.

Romans 6

So the question we find at the beginning of chapter 6 flows out of this truth.

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

If the grace of God is magnified by the black backdrop of my sin, then I should increase my sinning to the glory of God, right? Paul’s answer to this is the strongest possible negative.

Romans 6:2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

It is important to see what Paul does not say. This would be the perfect opportunity for the apostle to set us straight on our misunderstanding of God’s free grace, and say ‘no, no, no, God’s grace only comes in to play when you are really trying your hardest to be good. God’s grace is not really free; it only comes to those who are doing everything they can do.’ But he doesn’t say that. If after reading Romans 1-5, we are seriously tempted to ask this very question that Paul anticipates, that is evidence that we are on the right track; we are understanding him and grace properly. God’s grace really is free, and it really does thrive in the sick soil of human sin.

Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

But for us to purpose to continue in sin in order to magnify the glory of God’s grace would actually detract from the transforming power of God’s grace. That is the truth he takes us to in Romans 6.

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

The fact that Paul points us to is that we who are believing in Jesus and receiving the free gift of his righteousness are not only forgiven of all our sins and declared righteous before God (that is what he has taught so far in Romans) but also that the power of God’s free grace in our lives means that we have died to sin. When we believe, we are united with Christ, and that extends to his death and resurrection. Baptism is what Christians do to show that they are trusting in Jesus, following Jesus, obeying Jesus. Water baptism is a picture of what has happened to us spiritually. We are baptized into Christ Jesus, or immersed into Christ Jesus. We become connected with Jesus, united with Jesus, saturated with Jesus. We are united with him in his death, and we have the hope that one day we will be united with him in a resurrection like his. What this means for us right now is that we have died to sin, so we cannot be at home with it. We were buried with him in order that we too might walk in newness of life. This is the life Jesus pointed to when he said:

John 10:10 …I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Since we have died to sin, and since we will be raised with Christ, we can today live a different kind of life, because God’s grace triumphs over our sin. He continues in verse 6:

Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

God’s grace has broken the power of sin in my life. The mass of my sin is brought to nothing. I am no longer enslaved to sin. I have been set free from sin. Sin’s ultimate power is death, and Jesus conquered death by dying and being raised from the dead. The power of sin and the power of death have been crushed by Christ on the cross. Because I am united with Christ, the me I used to be is crucified and gone. If we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. We look forward to the day when we will be raised from the dead and live with him for eternity. His death killed our sin. His resurrection promises our resurrection. This truth breaks the power of sin in our lives.

Imperative follows Indicative

His question was ‘should we continue in sin’, and his answer was an emphatic no, and he gave solid theological reasons; our union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection.

So far this is all theological truth. Paul is telling us what has happened to us when we believed in Jesus. He hasn’t told us to do anything yet. That comes next. But it is essential to see that everywhere in the Bible our action is the fruit of theological truth. The imperative always flows out of the indicative. The Bible lays out the indicative, the facts, the truth of who we are in Christ, of what Jesus has done for us, and then, in response to that we are given the imperatives, the commands, how we are to live our lives. We see this throughout the New Testament; for example, in Ephesians we are given three whole chapters of who we are in Christ before we are told to do anything. Then we get three chapters of what that truth should look like in action. Even in the 10 commandments, the imperative follows the indicative; he starts this way:

Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

All Christian action is rooted in and flows out of the theological truth of what God has done for us. Here is our action that flows out of the truth of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and our being united to him by faith.

Romans 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

First, we are commanded to believe the theological truth. I don’t feel very dead to sin. Most days, I feel that sin still has a lot of power over me. But that is not the gospel truth. The good news is that Jesus died for me, and the sinful me died with Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead and because I am united with him by faith, I too will certainly be resurrected to be with him forever. First, I must believe the truth God tells me, that in Christ I am dead to sin and alive to God. Because this is true, I can rebel against sin. I can reject its authority in my body. I can refuse to obey sin’s passions. I can refuse to offer my body parts, my eyes, my ears, my hands, my mind, my heart as tools to do evil; instead I can take this body that has been given new life as a free gift from God, and present my body back to God and the parts of my body as tools to do what is right. I can do this because of my unity with Christ in his death and resurrection. I am no longer under the power and authority of sin. I am no longer under the power and authority of the law, which increases sin and presents everyone guilty before God. I am under the reign of God’s free grace, and this is what it looks like to be ruled by God’s free gift of grace. Those who are under the reign of grace take up the gospel and the power of the resurrection and do battle with sin.

If

As we close, I want to draw your attention back to a very important little word that shows up in verse 5 and in verse 8. That word is ‘if’.

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. …8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

This ‘if’ is crucial. ‘If’ asks a question. Is this true of you? If you have not been united with Jesus in his death, you will not be united with him in resurrection. If you have not died with Christ, you have no reason to believe that you will ever live with him. You only have a fearful expectation of the judgment and wrath of Almighty God against your sin. How are we connected with Christ, united with Christ in his death and resurrection? We only need to look back through Romans to see:

Romans 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

We receive the gift of God’s grace by faith.

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

We stop working and believe.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We obtain access into grace by faith. We receive. Believe. Depend. Trust. What evidence can we expect to see as we live resurrection lives standing in the grace of God and rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God? We will be:

Philippians 1:11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

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

March 31, 2013 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Knowing Christ Crucified

03/24 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Knowing Christ Crucified; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130324_1cor2_1-5.mp3

1Cor 2 [SBLGNT]

1 Κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ἦλθον οὐ καθ’ ὑπεροχὴν λόγου ἢ σοφίας καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ θεοῦ. 2 οὐ γὰρ ἔκρινά τι εἰδέναι ἐν ὑμῖν εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον· 3 κἀγὼ ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ καὶ ἐν φόβῳ καὶ ἐν τρόμῳ πολλῷ ἐγενόμην πρὸς ὑμᾶς, 4 καὶ ὁ λόγος μου καὶ τὸ κήρυγμά μου οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖ σοφίας ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀποδείξει πνεύματος καὶ δυνάμεως, 5 ἵνα ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν μὴ ᾖ ἐν σοφίᾳ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλ’ ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ.

1Cor 2 [ESV2011]

1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul is addressing the divisions in the church in Corinth. He appeals to them on the basis of everything the Lord Jesus Christ stands for, that they agree and that there be no divisions. He brings them back to the simplicity of the gospel message that they had believed as a remedy for their pride and quarreling. He was sent by Christ primarily to proclaim a message. The message he preached, he says in 1:18-25, the word of the cross, the good news of a crucified Messiah, seemed foolish, even scandalous to an educated audience. The expectation of the Messiah was one who would be victorious, conquer and rule, not one who would get arrested and executed. The message of Christ crucified seemed weak, but this very message is what proved to be the power of God for salvation to all who believed.

In 1:26-31, Paul points to the background and social status of the believers in Corinth to illustrate that God’s method was contrary to human wisdom, because for the most part, it was the lower classes, the foolish, the weak, the nobodies in society who believed. The message seemed foolish, and the ones who believed the message also seemed foolish. God is determined to shame the worldly wise and bring to nothing the things that seem strong and powerful so that no one can boast in his presence.

Here in 2:1-5, Paul holds up his own method of preaching as lowly, weak, and foolish, to show that his methods matched the nature of the gospel message. He presented the foolishness of the gospel to foolish people in a foolish way, so that God was able to take all the credit and get all the glory for the results.

He is picking up the thought that he left off in 1:17;

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

And now he continues:

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Let’s look first at what Paul did not do, then at what he did do, and then why he did things that way.

Paul’s Approach – Negative

What did Paul avoid when he preached the gospel? Remember, as he mentioned back in verse 17, to preach the gospel in the wrong way is to empty the cross of Christ of its power. So what methods does Paul avoid? Paul says:

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.

This corresponds to what he said back in verse 17 “not with words of eloquent wisdom”; literally ‘not in wisdom of words’ [οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου]; here it is ‘not in lofty words or wisdom’ [οὐ καθ’ ὑπεροχὴν λόγου ἢ σοφίας]. So far Paul has said a lot about wisdom: In 1:19 he quotes God in the Old Testament saying “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise”. He asks in 1:20 “where is the wise?” and asserts that ‘God has made foolish the wisdom of the world’. In 1:21 the wisdom of God determined that man’s wisdom would not lead to a relationship with God. In 1:22 wisdom is what Greeks seek. But in 1:24 Christ is the wisdom of God, and in 1:25 God’s foolishness is wiser than men. In 1:26-27, not many of the Corinthian believers were wise according to worldly standards; God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. In 1:30 God made Christ Jesus our wisdom.

Paul refuses to use lofty words or wisdom, or wisdom of words. Is Paul anti-intellectual? Is Paul promoting a faith that is illogical or irrational, contrary to the evidence? Paul himself made it his practice to ‘reason from the Scriptures’ and to ‘try to persuade’ (Acts 18:4). He is not encouraging us to disengage our brains. He never encourages us to believe contrary to evidence or logic. We are commanded by Jesus to love God with all our minds (Mt.22:37). We are commanded to seek understanding (2Tim.2:7), to be mature in our thinking (1Cor.14:20), to think about what is true (Phil.4:8), and to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pet.3:18). Here we are told that Jesus Christ is our wisdom.

So the wisdom that God destroys, the wisdom that Paul avoids, the wisdom that God will make foolish, is wisdom of words, lofty high sounding wisdom, wisdom of the wise, human wisdom, the wisdom of the world. This is the wisdom of crowd pleasing, ear tickling, preacher promoting, designed to impress with the talent of the messenger more than the truth of the message. Paul refuses to come with lofty speech or wisdom.

In verse 2, he says “I decided to know nothing among you except…” We will come back to what that one thing was in a minute. Here I want to point out that he resolved to know nothing else. We might expect him to say something like ‘I know a lot of things, but I resolved to preach on only one thing; I determined to speak only one thing.’ Instead he says that he decided to know nothing else. He set everything else aside. He was single-minded. Nothing else was really worth thinking about. He had one thing that captured his heart and consumed his thoughts. One thing oozed out of his every pore. Everything else was considered nothing compared to this one thing. Back to that one thing in a moment.

Verse 4 he says that his words and his preaching were not in plausible words of wisdom. Not with skillful persuasion, designed to sway with clever arguments. Paul did try to persuade everyone. But he refused to manipulate anyone. As he says in 2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 4:2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

Paul’s Approach – Positive

The open statement of the truth. If Paul refused to manipulate people, if he refused to employ lofty sounding speech that would impress his hearers and stroke his own ego, then what was his method? Verse 1 tells us

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.

This not only tells us the approach he avoided, but also the content he communicated. He came proclaiming the testimony of God or the mystery of God. He announced, declared, proclaimed the message, the truth from God. The message he announced was God’s message, not his own, so he was not at liberty to tamper with the message.

He describes the manner of his coming in verse 3.

3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,

This is quite the opposite of the sophists and philosophers of his day. Who wants to listen to someone who can barely stand, whose knees knock together and whose hands shake almost uncontrollably? We don’t know for sure what Paul’s physical presence was like. A second century document describes him as “a man small of stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked’ [Acts of Paul and Thecla, cited by Morris, p.51]. If we put some of the background of his visit to Corinth together from the narrative in Acts, we may be able to appreciate more of what he describes here as ‘weakness, fear and much trembling’. Toward the end of his first missionary journey, there was an attempt on Paul’s life in Iconium, so he fled to Lystra. The Jews followed him there and persuaded the crowd to stone him. He was stoned, dragged out of the city and left for dead. On his second journey, Paul was beaten with rods and imprisoned in Philippi. After being released, they went to Thessalonica, where there was a riot, and the brothers sent them away by night to Berea. The Jews from Thessalonica came and agitated the crowds, so the brothers sent him off by sea to Athens and he was there alone. After a short and discouraging time in Athens, he came to Corinth. We can imagine the physical condition of Paul. I suspect that being stoned and left for dead would leave an impression on a person. He may have been quite a rough looking character, scarred and disfigured.

But his weakness, fear, and trembling can be explained another way. In 2 Corinthians, he describes the apostolic ministry as spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere, which is a fragrance of death to those who are perishing and a fragrance of life to those who are being saved. And he asks the question ‘who is sufficient for these things?’ [2Cor.2:15-16]. The sheer weight of the responsibility of preaching Christ and the realization that for some this is the fragrance from death to death should cause anyone who takes on the task of preaching Christ to be weak in the knees with much fear and trembling. Paul must have felt the weight of his responsibility so acutely in Corinth that the Lord encouraged him one night in a vision.

Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

Paul did not approach ministry in strength, self-assured, confident and capable. He had learned the secret of effective ministry, that Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness (2Cor.12:9). So he was with them in weakness and in fear and much trembling.

Verse 4 tells us that his speech and his message were in demonstration of the Spirit and power. Some have taken this to mean that there were supernatural phenomena accompanying his ministry. And in other places, Acts records signs and wonders being done at the hands of the apostles. But there is no record of any supernatural signs in Acts 18, which documents Paul’s visit to Corinth. And this would not fit well with the statement he just made that he was with them in weakness and fear and much trembling. It also would not fit well with his argument in 1:22 that Jews demand signs, if his preaching in Corinth had been accompanied by signs.

So what does he mean when he says that his speech and message were in demonstration of the Spirit and power? This fits well with his thanksgiving in 1:6, that ‘the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you’. The power of the gospel was confirmed in Corinth when in weakness and fear the preacher preached the foolish message of the cross and dead sinners were given spiritual eyes to marvel at the beauty of the gospel and believe. This is the power of the Holy Spirit to convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (Jn.16:8). This is the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit to give life to our mortal bodies so that we can now live in a way that pleases God (Rom.8:11). This is transforming grace that as we turn our attention to Christ, we are being transformed into his image by the Spirit (2Cor.3:18). The foolish message was preached in Corinth by a weak and fearful preacher, and the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1Cor.6:9-11). That was irrefutable evidence of the Spirit and of power.

Resolved to Know One Thing

How did this power come to them? This is what happens when the cross of Christ is not emptied of its power. The word of the cross is the power of God to to us who are being saved. This preaching of Christ crucified is Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. This is why Paul resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. The one thing that had captured his heart and consumed his thoughts and shaped his life was Jesus. Specifically Jesus Christ crucified. This is why he doesn’t say ‘I determined not to speak about anything else or preach about anything else’. He says ‘I determined not to know anything else’, because you can speak or preach about an idea or a thing or an event, but you can only know a person. This one relationship so consumed him that he could write to the Philippians

Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

This relationship, Jesus said, is the definition of eternal life.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

He resolved, he purposed, he determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. The person and work of Christ is the one thing that is at the center of the gospel. Who Jesus is; the Christ, God’s anointed Messiah, God in the flesh, the only Son of God, God from all eternity, perfectly obedient to his Father. What Jesus did; the perfect Lamb of God, our substitute, crushed for our iniquities, wounded for our transgressions, the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Is.53:5-6). ‘Crucified’ is a perfect passive participle; it is a past completed action that has results which continue. We know Jesus today as the crucified one. We can only know him because he was crucified in our place. This crucified one will remain the center of worship for all eternity.

Revelation 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, …9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Paul resolved to know one thing, and one thing only. Everything else he determined to put aside. That one thing was Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Paul resolved to preach a cross-centered message, and to present it in a cross-shaped manner.

Faith Resting on a Sure Foundation

The purpose of Paul’s method was this.

5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul knew that if he mastered their intellect with logical arguments, there would always be the chance that someone else would come along with something that sounded more persuasive and sway them in a different direction. If he manipulated their emotions with a stirring appeal, their passions might just as quickly carry them off after something else that moved them. If he persuaded them with his powerful personality, they would be his disciples and not Christ’s. Paul knew that faith resting in the wisdom of men is shaky faith built on a shaky foundation. Paul’s preaching Christ crucified, preaching in weakness and fear and trembling, made room for a demonstration of the Spirit and God’s power so that faith would rest solidly on the power of God.

If faith is rooted in the wisdom of men, faith would be a system of belief that I can pride myself in that by my faith I have made sense of the universe. But if faith is dependence on another born in humility out of conviction of my sin and need, then my faith is looking away from myself to another for rescue. That faith is as strong as the object in which it is placed. If my faith is placed in the historical and theological facts of the person and work of Jesus, then faith is crying out to Jesus to save, and faith is counting on Jesus to be faithful to his promises. Jesus is the only sure foundation for your faith to rest on. Christ crucified is the good news, the power of God and the wisdom of God, the power of God to save believers, Christ who is my righteousness and Christ who is my sanctification and Christ who is my redemption.

I pray that your faith might rest on Christ crucified, the power of God. I pray that together we would resolve to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 

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

March 24, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Jesus Our …Everything!

03/17 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 Jesus our…Everything; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130317_1cor1_30-31.mp3

26 Βλέπετε γὰρ τὴν κλῆσιν ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι οὐ πολλοὶ σοφοὶ κατὰ σάρκα, οὐ πολλοὶ δυνατοί, οὐ πολλοὶ εὐγενεῖς· 27 ἀλλὰ τὰ μωρὰ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός, ἵνα καταισχύνῃ τοὺς σοφούς, καὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός, ἵνα καταισχύνῃ τὰ ἰσχυρά, 28 καὶ τὰ ἀγενῆ τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὰ ἐξουθενημένα ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός, τὰ μὴ ὄντα, ἵνα τὰ ὄντα καταργήσῃ, 29 ὅπως μὴ καυχήσηται πᾶσα σὰρξ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ. 30 ἐξ αὐτοῦ δὲ ὑμεῖς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὃς ἐγενήθη σοφία ἡμῖν ἀπὸ θεοῦ, δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ ἁγιασμὸς καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις, 31 ἵνα καθὼς γέγραπται· Ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν κυρίῳ καυχάσθω.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes to address problems that had arisen in the church in Corinth. Although there were some serious moral and doctrinal issues that required urgent attention, and that he will address in the course of this letter, the apostle started by giving thanks to God for how God had worked in the believers there. He addresses them as ‘the church of God in Corinth’; he says they are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, and that they are a part of the larger church, the body of Christ. He gives thanks that God’s grace was given to them in Christ Jesus, that they were enriched in knowledge, that the gospel proved to be effective among them, that they lacked no grace-gift, that they were waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he reminds them of God’s faithfulness, that it is God who will sustain them guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then he tackles what he sees to be the root of much of the problems in Corinth. He tackles their ‘I’ problem. Some said “I follow Paul.” Some said “I follow Apollos.” Others said “I follow Cephas.” And those who thought they were above the rest and really spiritual said “I follow Christ.” Division, disunity, quarreling, this kind of party spirit was evidence of pride. Paul brings them back to the nature of the gospel to cure them of their pride. He says that his primary responsibility as apostle was to preach the gospel, a simple message, an offensive message, the message of the cross. The message, not the messenger, carries the power of God. He undermines their pride by pointing to the fact that the gospel, the word of the cross, is perceived as foolishness to pagans and as a scandal to religious people. In fact, God set out to destroy the wisdom of the wise by saving those who believe in, trust in, depend on the foolish message of the cross.

He says that the message seems foolish, and then he causes a greater affront to their pride by reminding them of their own social status. Not many wise according to the world, not many powerful, not many of the nobility in Corinth were chosen by God. Instead, God chose the low and despised in the world, even the nobodies to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. God’s whole method of salvation was designed to strip us of anything to boast in so that all our worship goes to God. Humble adoration is what is appropriate in response to God’s saving work, not human arrogance.

He ties this all together with a dense summary of the gospel message in verse 30, which we will attempt to unpack today, followed by an exhortation from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah.

29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul has said in verse 17 that the gospel is the power of the cross of Christ. In verse 18 he calls it the word of the cross. In verse 23 he says “we preach Christ crucified. And in verse 24 he says that to those who believe, this foolish message becomes ‘Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ He says that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Verse 30 helps us to see how Christ is the wisdom and power of God, and how this simple message of the cross, that seems weak and foolish is really power and wisdom.

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

Because of Him

First of all, he reminds us of the fact that our salvation is not due to us, it is not because of us. Our relationship to Jesus, described as being ‘in Christ Jesus’ is not our own doing. It is ‘because of him you are in Christ Jesus’. Because God called you, because God chose you, you responded with faith and believed in Jesus, trusted in the foolish message of the cross. God, who creates beauty out of nothing, and calls into existence things that do not exist, ‘has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus.

Became to Us Wisdom from God

Jesus became to us wisdom from God. He wasn’t before. Before God called us, we were like the rest of the world. We looked at the cross and thought it foolish. We heard the message of Christ crucified and were offended. Our eyes were blind to the beauty of the cross. Our hearts were hard to the transforming power of his grace. We could turn this around, as one Puritan brother wrote in 1836, [Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae] “in ourselves we are ignorant, guilty, polluted, and enslaved.” But because of him, because God opened our hearts, we are in Christ Jesus, and in Christ, what once seemed foolish is now seen to be the profound wisdom of God. The foolishness of God is wiser than men.

Being Saved

Here we find encapsulated in three words the power of God to save. Paul described us back in verse 18 as ‘us who are being saved’. What does it mean to be ‘being saved’? Remember our illustration. The fireman has crashed into your bedroom, shook you out of your sleep, alerted you to the fact that your house is burning down around you and you are in danger of perishing. You realize the danger and entrust yourself to his care. He has taken you in his capable arms, wrapped you in his fireproof coat, placed his oxygen mask over your face, and he is carrying you through the burning building. You are being saved. Paul describes this ‘being saved’ as Christ our righteousness and Christ our sanctification and Christ our redemption.

Christ our Righteousness

If we are in Christ Jesus, Christ has become for us our righteousness. Paul, in Romans establishes the fact that ‘none is righteous, no not one’ (Rom.3:10), and that the law was brought in to stop every mouth and demonstrate that the whole world is accountable to God, because no one can keep God’s law perfectly. And then he presents a different righteousness, an alien righteousness, a righteousness not our own. He says:

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

This righteousness is not our righteousness, because we cannot keep the law. This is God’s righteousness, and it is given to all who believe in Jesus Christ. He goes on:

Romans 3:22 …For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift,

This word ‘justified’ is from the same root as the word ‘righteous’. It means to be made righteous or declared righteous. We, sinners who fall short of God’s glory and are unrighteous in ourselves are declared righteous by God’s generosity as a gift. We, who have no righteousness of our own, are given God’s righteousness. If you are in Christ Jesus, he has become your righteousness. This is what Isaiah points to when he says:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

This is what was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah, that from David’s lineage, a righteous branch would come and he would be called ‘the LORD is our righteousness’ (Jer.23:5-6; 33:16).

Christ our Sanctification

To us who are being saved, Jesus Christ has become to us righteousness and sanctification. Sanctification, or holiness in some translations, is being set apart. A time, a place, a person or an item may have been ordinary and commonplace, but if it was sanctified, consecrated or made holy, it now became set apart for God’s exclusive use. Back in verse 2, Paul called the believers in Corinth ‘those sanctified in Christ Jesus’. Whatever they had been before, they were now set apart exclusively for God. Holiness or sanctification carries with it the idea of being cleansed, purified, made fit for God’s use. Under the law, there was a process by which something or someone could be cleansed or purified or made holy, set apart for God’s use. This process usually involved sacrifices and cleansing. Often when we think about sanctification or holiness, we think of the lifelong process of becoming more like Jesus, and it has that meaning in Romans 6 and Ephesians 5 and 1 Thessalonians 4. But here in verse 2 Paul tells us that we have been decisively and forever sanctified in Christ Jesus, and in verse 30 that Christ Jesus has become our sanctification. We have been set apart exclusively for God. We have been made holy. We are not yet practically what we have been made positionally, but God is at work in us to bring to completion that which he started. Both of these aspects of sanctification are brought together in Hebrews 10:14.

Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

We have been perfected, brought to completion by a single offering- the offering of Christ on the cross. But we are in process, becoming what we are. We have some baby chicks and ducklings at our house. When they hatched out of their eggs, even before they hatched, they were what they will be. The baby ducklings are ducks. They are different than chicks. They have webbed feet. They have bills, not beaks. Ducks fly, but these ducklings can’t fly. They can’t even take care of themselves. They haven’t produced anything but a mess yet. They haven’t laid any eggs. But they are decisively ducks. They will grow up to be nothing but ducks. In Christ Jesus, we have become something that we were not before. The bible calls this regeneration or the new birth. We are not yet what we will be, but our nature has been decisively changed. We may still produce nothing but a mess, but by God’s grace we will mature, and one day we will bear fruit that brings pleasure to God. In one sense we have been changed. We are set apart for God. We are holy. In another sense, we have not yet fully grown into what we are destined to become. Jesus is our sanctification.

Christ our Redemption

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

Jesus Christ is our redemption. Righteousness is a legal term. Before God’s law we stand either righteous or condemned. In Christ, we are given the gift of God’s own righteousness. Sanctification is a ceremonial term. In relation to God’s presence, we are either set apart for God’s use, or excluded from his presence. Christ is our sanctification, setting us apart to enjoy the presence of God forever. Redemption is a slave-market term. Under Old Testament law, if you couldn’t pay your debts, there were no bankruptcy laws. You were sold into slavery. You were no longer your own. You belonged to someone else. But there was provision for redemption. Someone could pay your debt and buy you out of slavery and set you free. This was our situation. I had made foolish choices and got myself in over my head. Not financially, but spiritually. I wanted to be my own master, so I rebelled against God, and I was sold as a slave to sin. I was not in control of my own life, I was in bondage, with no hope of escape. But Jesus, the one against whom I had rebelled, came and paid my price, the ultimate price, to redeem me.

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

Jesus bought us with his own blood.

Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus became to us redemption. We have been purchased, we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. But there is a sense in which this redemption is not yet fully realized. The price has been paid in full. But our emancipation is not yet fully complete. We have been exempted from the consequences of sin. We are no longer under the power of sin. But we still wrestle with the presence of sin. We still battle with our old nature. The bible looks back to the cross as the victory where the head of the serpent was crushed, but it also looks forward to a day when all things will be set right. Ephesians tells us:

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

There is a day coming, certainly coming, where we will be delivered from the indwelling presence of sin. It is signed, signed in blood. We are sealed, sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. But we are not yet delivered. The day of redemption is coming, the day when all is set right. This is what in Romans 8 all creation longs for.

Romans 8:23 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.

In the gospel, the message of the cross, Jesus became for us righteousness and sanctification and redemption. This is the wisdom of God and the power of God. This is the wisdom of God to satisfy justice and show mercy to sinners. This is the power of God. What seemed to be a grand demonstration of weakness, that God incarnate would be killed on a cross turned out to be the power of God for salvation. This is the power of God to set us free from sin and death and hell. This is the power of God to set us free from our own self-centeredness and pride, to do what we were created to do and humbly worship our great and gracious and glorious God.

So that We Boast Only in the Lord

Both before and after this verse, the ultimate reason and purpose of the method of God is given. Look at verses 29 and 31.

29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

‘So that no human being might boast in the presence of God. …so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”’ God in his infinite wisdom designed salvation in such a way that it is exclusively his to give and ours to receive so that boasting in what we earn or deserve is excluded. The only boasting that is allowed is boasting in the Lord. This Old Testament quote comes from Jeremiah 9. It is a word of judgment on the people for turning away from him (8:4-5). They are full of deceit, greed, falsehood, lies, iniquity, oppression. They have ‘stubbornly followed their own hearts’ (9:14). Twice he says ‘they do not know me declares the Lord’ (9:3); ‘they refuse to know me declares the Lord’ (9:6)

Jeremiah 9:23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

Boasting in human wisdom, might or riches is foolish, and God will bring it to nothing. The only legitimate ground for boasting is in a relationship with God; ‘that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD’. We find that God’s steadfast covenant keeping love finds its ultimate expression in Jesus, the only Son of God, come to demonstrate the great love God has for us by giving himself in our place, dying for our sins. Justice is satisfied, the wrath of God against our sin is appeased, and righteousness is given to those who trust in Jesus. Let him who boasts, boast in knowing God, in a relationship with God that comes from God as a gift, a relationship that is in Christ Jesus.

True wisdom is knowing God, a relationship with God. Jesus is our wisdom and our righteousness and our sanctification and our redemption. Jesus is the gospel. Jesus is the wisdom of God and the power of God for salvation to all who believe. So trust in Jesus, believe in Jesus, enjoy a relationship with Jesus, boast in Jesus. 

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

March 17, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:26-29; Calling that Excludes Boasting

03/10 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 Calling that Excludes Boasting; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130310_1cor1_26-29.mp3

26 Βλέπετε γὰρ τὴν κλῆσιν ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι οὐ πολλοὶ σοφοὶ κατὰ σάρκα, οὐ πολλοὶ δυνατοί, οὐ πολλοὶ εὐγενεῖς· 27 ἀλλὰ τὰ μωρὰ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός, ἵνα καταισχύνῃ τοὺς σοφούς, καὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός, ἵνα καταισχύνῃ τὰ ἰσχυρά, 28 καὶ τὰ ἀγενῆ τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὰ ἐξουθενημένα ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός, τὰ μὴ ὄντα, ἵνα τὰ ὄντα καταργήσῃ, 29 ὅπως μὴ καυχήσηται πᾶσα σὰρξ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ. 30 ἐξ αὐτοῦ δὲ ὑμεῖς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὃς ἐγενήθη σοφία ἡμῖν ἀπὸ θεοῦ, δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ ἁγιασμὸς καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις, 31 ἵνα καθὼς γέγραπται· Ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν κυρίῳ καυχάσθω.

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Addressing Problems with the Gospel

Paul is dealing with the problems in the church in Corinth. The first on his list is division. Division is tearing apart the body of Christ, fracturing and splintering the church of God by quarreling, not over serious doctrinal issues, but over personalities and preferences. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he appeals for unity, that they all agree, or say the same thing, that they be united in the same mind and same judgment. And he applies the good news of the cross to heal these divisions. He reminds them of the gospel that had brought them into this relationship with God and with one another. He takes them back to the cross. We can learn so much from his approach. Problems in the church are often a result of a misunderstanding of or a misapplication of the gospel. If we go back to the gospel and let our crucified Lord shape our thoughts and emotions and words and actions, many of the problems that we face will be resolved.

The Corinthians were seeking status by aligning themselves with a particular teacher or leader within Christianity. Some followed Paul, the one who first brought the gospel to Corinth. Some followed the eloquent and passionate Apollos, the powerful preacher from Egypt. Some followed Cephas, or Peter, the primary spokesman of Jesus’ twelve. Some felt they were spiritually beyond the need for any human teacher and claimed they followed Christ directly. All this is rooted in pride and a desire to feel superior to others. Paul undercuts all of this by bringing them back to the clear simplicity of the gospel, that Christ was crucified for you.

This is the simple message he preached, and this simple message divided the world into two groups; those who are perishing and us who are being saved. There are not four or six or eight groups. The cross of Jesus divides all people into only two categories.

Crucifying Pride

Paul confronts their desire to be thought wise by pointing to the fact that it had been God’s wise intention all along to frustrate human wisdom and save people through what seemed a foolish, scandalous method. Wonder of wonders, God saves those who believe the foolish message of the cross. Believing by definition is giving up any reliance on self and depending on, trusting in another. Believing is the polar opposite of pride.

Pride is such an insidious disease. It is ironic that even in a group of fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, even among Jesus’ own disciples, pride tended to creep in. Who is the greatest? This seemed to be a persistent problem that Jesus had to address on more than one occasion.

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Pride is out of place among believers. Believers are those who acknowledge they are helpless, weak, unable to fix their situation and are trusting in another, in humility receiving a gift. You can’t even enter God’s kingdom unless you enter like that. Jesus prayed like this:

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. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (cf. Matt.11:25-27)

Paul has told us in verses 18-25 that it was God’s wise intention to undermine human wisdom by saving people using a foolish message, the message of a crucified Messiah. Now he tells us that God undermines human wisdom by saving foolish people. Make no mistake about it, this is insulting. This is demeaning, degrading, and offensive. And it is meant to be. Paul is intending to strip away the pride of his readers so that we would begin to see the cross more clearly, and to see each other in the light of the cross. And yet, to soften the blow, Paul comes along side us and includes himself in this category. Paul calls us his brothers.

Calling and Choosing

Paul instructs his fellow believers in Corinth to consider your calling. What does it mean to be called? In verse 24 he says that the gospel, the message of Christ crucified is to those who are called, Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God. There he says ‘to those who are called’; here he says ‘consider your calling’. What is this calling? Do you get a telephone call? Do you hear the dinner bell calling you to dinner? Are you called to a specific job?

Let’s see what we can learn from this passage about what Paul means when he says ‘called’. First, this calling cuts across ethnic barriers. In verse 23, he says the cross is folly to Gentiles and a stumbling block to Jews, but to the called, both Jews and Greeks, it is power and wisdom. We also see that this calling changes things for the one who is called. What was foolishness and scandalous now becomes the power and wisdom of God. It seems this calling creates a new category. Before, the categories were Jew or Gentile. Now, the categories are ‘those who are perishing’ and ‘us who are being saved’. The ones who are being saved in verse 21 are those who believe, and in verse 24, the same group is referred to as those who are called. So ‘the called’ and ‘those who believe’ and ‘us who are being saved’ are all ways of referring to the same group. If we jump back to the introduction of this letter, verse 2 tells us that the church of God is made up of those who are called to be saints. This calling cuts across ethnic barriers; it creates a new category, ‘those who are called’ is another way of saying ‘us who are being saved’ or ‘those who believe’.

After inviting the Corinthians to consider their calling, he goes on to describe God’s choosing. Not many wise, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose what is foolish, God chose what is weak; God chose what is low and despised, even the nothings. The calling of the Corinthians is here connected with God’s choosing.

Have you ever wondered why in response to the same preaching of the gospel one person is moved to tears, broken over their sins and desperate for a Savior, and they cry out ‘what must I do to be saved?’ while in the very same room, having heard the very same message, another person walks away totally unmoved. Someone else may walk away angry or offended. What makes the difference? Is it the passion of the preacher? The eloquence of the delivery? The rigor of the logic? No. Is it the upbringing of the hearer? From this and many other passages, it seems the Bible’s answer is that God’s call makes the difference. As Luke puts it in the book of Acts, “the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). In 2 Corinthians, Paul compares this to God’s act in creation when he says:

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.

In Romans 8, Paul describes those who love God, those to whom all things work together for good, as those who are called according to his purpose. Then he places this calling at the center of God’s saving work, preceded by predestining and foreknowing, and followed by justifying and glorifying. Jesus said ‘all that the Father gives me will come to me’ (Jn.6:37) and he said to the Jews who did not believe in him “you do not believe because you are not part of my flock’ (Jn.10:26). Peter points us to “the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Pet.2:9).

Not Many

Paul invites the Corinthians to consider their own calling as evidence that God destroys the wisdom of the wise and makes foolish the wisdom of the world by saving those who believe.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

He says that God did not call many wise or powerful or noble. He does not say ‘not any’ but ‘not many’. There was Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue (Acts 18:8), and Sosthenes, the next ruler of the synagogue (Acts 18:17; 1Cor.1:1). There was Gaius Titius Justus, probably a wealthy Roman, who owned a house next door to the synagogue, and opened his home to host the new church (Acts 18:7; Rom.16:23; 1Cor.1:14), there was Erastus, the city treasurer (Rom.16:23), whose name has been discovered in an inscription on a pavement in Corinth. None were excluded simply because they were wise, powerful or noble. But not many of those believed. The majority of the church in Corinth was made up of former idolaters, sexually immoral, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunks, foul-mouths, and extortioners (1Cor.6:9-11). Many were slaves. Most were from the lower classes. And yet even among them there seemed to be a desire to be thought well of. Paul invites them to look at the purpose of God to confound the wise and then to look around.

James confronts the same kind of problem. The churches he addressed had a tendency to treat with preference those who were rich and well dressed over those who were poor and shabbily clothed. James says:

James 2:4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

God has chosen the poor in this world. We see this so clearly in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was frequently criticized by the religious leaders for who he spent time with. Mark records:

Mark 2:15 And as he reclined at table in his [Levi’s] house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus says that he came to call sinners, and sinners came. It seems that Jesus was continually surrounded by the weak, the sick, the outcasts, the demon possessed, the desperate, the despised, the needy, the nobodies of society. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus rebuked the chief priests and elders in the temple, who refused to believe in him.

Matthew 21:31 …Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

The religious leaders were rebuked and held accountable for their unbelief, for their rejection of Jesus. Not many were called. Jesus said “how difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Lk.18:24). But he also said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Lk.18:27). Even they were not beyond the reach of God’s grace. Even among them, a few humbled themselves, became like little children, acknowledged their sin and their need and received the free gift. The rich man from Arimithea, Joseph, a respected member of the Council (Mt.27:57; Mr.15:43; Lk.23:50; Jn.19:38), and the Pharisee Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews (Jn.3:1; 19:39) became followers of Jesus. Even Paul himself, a Pharisee trained under Gamaliel, God knocked to his knees and called him to follow.

Nothings Nullify Things that Are

Paul says:

27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

God chose the foolish, weak, low and despised, even nothings. God shamed the wise, shamed the strong, brought to nothing the things that are. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). This is the kind of God we worship, a God who can take nothing and make something beautiful out of it.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

God brought something out of nothing with his word. And it was very good. The rougher the raw material, the more impressive the accomplishment of the Artist. So God delights to take nothings, zeroes, the low and despised and create trophies of his grace. When Jesus was told that his dear friend Lazarus was ill, he said

John 11:4 …“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.”

Jesus intentionally delayed two days before going (Jn.11:6), and then he tells his disciples:

John 11:14 …“Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Jesus waited until his friend had been dead four days so that everyone would see that his voice, his call, creates life in the dead.

We are told in Romans 4 that Abraham,

Romans 4:17 …–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, … 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

That is a great definition of faith; being fully convinced that God is able to do what he has promised. He believed in the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. He grew strong in his faith and gave glory to God. That is what this is all about. That is what we were created for. We are designed to give glory and honor and praise to our great God. We glorify God because God is the only one worthy of glory.

Ephesians tells us:

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins …4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– …7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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 goal of God’s call to the nothings, the goal of God’s gracious gift of life to those dead, the reason God excludes our works, the reason it pleased God through the folly of what is preached to save those who believe is so that he gets all the glory, so that he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace, or, as Paul concludes here:

29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

When we boast as if we have done something commendable, we rob God of the glory that he alone deserves. To God alone be all the glory!

Response

Consider your calling brothers and sisters. So what do we do with this truth? How do we respond? First, this should create in us a humble amazement. God called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light! Why me?

Remember the context. Paul is dealing with divisions and quarreling. Let this truth shape how you view one another. We naturally categorize people into losers and winners; drop-outs and the educated; well dressed and shabby; rich and poor; those who have it together and those who just can’t get it together. Let the good news of the cross shape how you view others. God levels pride and lifts up the downcast. The cross places us all on level ground. Look around you today and wonder at those God has called saints!

This truth should result in humility and boldness. Take heart; no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. The most horrific sinner and the most hardened Pharisee can both be transformed by the call of God. What is impossible with men is possible with God. God calls into existence things that do not exist.

All this is to the glory of God. God is the one who saves, so God gets all the glory. I can take no credit for my own salvation. All glory goes to God alone.

How do You Know?

Consider your calling. Have you been called? How do you know?

Have you felt the weight of your sins? Have you felt the seriousness of your sins before a holy God? The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and righteousness and judgment.

Have your eyes been opened to the light of the glory of the gospel in the face of Jesus Christ?

Have you believed? Have you put your faith only and completely in the finished work of Jesus? If you are feeling the weight of your sin and you see Jesus as your only hope then cry out to him today.

The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are his children. This is the call of God.

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

March 10, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Confounding the Wise

03/03 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Confounding the Wise; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130303_1cor1_18-25.mp3

17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς βαπτίζειν ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου, ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ ὁ σταυρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

18 Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν.19 γέγραπται γάρ· Ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν, καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω.20 ποῦ σοφός; ποῦ γραμματεύς; ποῦ συζητητὴς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου; οὐχὶ ἐμώρανεν ὁ θεὸς τὴν σοφίαν τοῦ κόσμου;21 ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔγνω ὁ κόσμος διὰ τῆς σοφίας τὸν θεόν, εὐδόκησεν ὁ θεὸς διὰ τῆς μωρίας τοῦ κηρύγματος σῶσαι τοὺς πιστεύοντας.22 ἐπειδὴ καὶ Ἰουδαῖοι σημεῖα αἰτοῦσιν καὶ Ἕλληνες σοφίαν ζητοῦσιν·23 ἡμεῖς δὲ κηρύσσομεν Χριστὸν ἐσταυρωμένον, Ἰουδαίοις μὲν σκάνδαλον ἔθνεσιν δὲ μωρίαν,24 αὐτοῖς δὲ τοῖς κλητοῖς, Ἰουδαίοις τε καὶ Ἕλλησιν, Χριστὸν θεοῦ δύναμιν καὶ θεοῦ σοφίαν.25 ὅτι τὸ μωρὸν τοῦ θεοῦ σοφώτερον τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐστίν, καὶ τὸ ἀσθενὲς τοῦ θεοῦ ἰσχυρότερον τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The Cross and Christian Unity

Paul is applying the gospel to the problems in the church in Corinth. He is reminding them of the nature of the good news that they had believed, and applying the cross to the divisions that were developing in the church.

He reminds them that there are only two categories; not I follow Paul, I follow Apollos, I follow Cephas, I follow Christ; only those who are perishing and us who are being saved. Paul and Peter and Apollos are all in the ‘us’ category, all on the same team, all pointing to the same Jesus who is the only way to salvation. Paul is confident that the believers who make up church in Corinth are also part of the ‘us who are being saved’, not divided, but one in Christ. So he brings them back to the foundation truth of Christ crucified to remind them of who they are, to remind them of their essential unity and the power of the cross of Christ to transform sinners into saints.

The Gospel is the Cross

As we saw last time, the gospel that Paul was sent to preach, the gospel that unites believers, is described in verse 17 as the power of ‘the cross of Christ’, in verse 18 as ‘the word of the cross’; he says in verse 23 ‘we preach Christ crucified’. The gospel message centers on the cross, on the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any message that centers anywhere else but the death of Jesus as a substitute for sinners is a false gospel and is guilty of emptying the cross of power.

The Foolishness of the Cross

In verse 23 he says that preaching Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. Preaching a crucified messiah is an oxymoron to a Jew. The promised messiah would have a special measure of God’s blessing (Ps.118:26); he would not be under God’s curse, and the Old Testament says ‘cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ (Gal.3:13; cf. Deut.21:23). So a crucified messiah was a cursed messiah, and not at all what the Jewish people expected. For the Gentiles, the Christ or Messiah was a Jewish king, so what did that have to do with them anyway? And a crucified king is a dead king, a weak king, an insignificant would-be king crushed under the rule of Rome. Criminals were crucified. To be nailed to a cross was the epitome of helplessness. To proclaim a crucified king seems moronic, idiotic, weak, powerless. The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing.

God’s Wise Intention to Frustrate the Wisdom of Men

The cross divides all people into two categories; those who are perishing and those who are being saved; those who are transformed by his power and those who consider it foolishness. God brings about his salvation through what appears to be a foolish method to intentionally undermine human wisdom. Paul backs up this assertion by quoting the Old Testament to show that this is not a new thing in the program of God; this has been God’s method all along. He says

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

We see here that this is the active intention of God. He says ‘I will destroy… I will thwart’. He says ‘God made foolish’; ‘it pleased God’. God is purposely destroying, thwarting, making foolish the wisdom of this world.’ It is the wisdom of God and the pleasure of God to bring to nothing this world’s wisdom.

Why would God do this? Why would God set out to obliterate the wisdom of the wise? Why would God set himself decidedly against human wisdom? Isn’t human wisdom a God given gift? Aren’t we encouraged to pursue wisdom and knowledge and discernment?

This wisdom is not the wisdom and discernment promoted in Proverbs, the wisdom of living a life shaped by the fear of the Lord (Prov.1:7; 2:5; et al.) this is the wisdom of Psalm 2, where the nations, peoples, kings, and rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed. This is the wisdom of Romans 1, against which the wrath of God is unleashed. Paul writes in Romans 1:18

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Here is the problem:

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. … 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

As Paul summarizes here in 1 Corinthians,

21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom,

Man turned his God given faculty of reason against the God who created him. In our ungodliness and unrighteousness we suppress the truth. We refuse to honor God as God. We refuse to give him thanks. We exchange the glory of the immortal God for images. We exchange the truth about God for a lie. We refuse to worship the Creator, and instead worship the things he created. We refuse to acknowledge God. Our God-given faculty of reason and wisdom did not lead us into a right relationship with our Creator, a relationship of worship and honor and thanksgiving and dependence. Instead we turned this God given gift of wisdom into a tool for independence, rebellion, idolatry, self-centeredness and greed. In the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom.

Quote from Isaiah

This purpose of God to undermine human wisdom and bring his salvation through what appears to us as foolishness has been God’s good plan all along. To support this, Paul quotes Isaiah 29, a passage where God is confronting the hypocrisy of the leaders of his people who do what seems wise to them while distrusting God and disbelieving his word.

Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14 therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; [the KJV reads ‘a marvellous work and a wonder’] and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15 Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

God promised to protect his people if they would trust him, but on several occasions in the history of Israel they chose to rely on their own wisdom in political maneuvering rather than simply depend on God. In their fear of an invasion from Assyria, they made an alliance with Egypt. They would spend precious energy and resources on securing this alliance, and when the time came, Egypt would do nothing while Assyria invaded. Wonder upon wonder, God would actually fight against his own people Israel to humble them, to teach them to depend on him and him alone.

The arrogance of human pride raises up in defiance and independence of God and says that we can do it on our own. We don’t need to; we refuse to trust, to depend, to rely on another. It would be foolish to wait when there are things we could be doing, action we could be taking. Wisdom says we need a backup plan. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Be resourceful. God intentionally turned the seeming wisdom of the wise into foolishness to humble his people, to bring them low so that they will see their need for him and turn back to him.

Paul says that this ‘wonder upon wonder’, this ‘marvellous work and a wonder’ that destroys the wisdom of the wise and thwarts the discernment of the discerning is the cross; the word of the cross; Christ crucified. God does not save those who think themselves wise; he saves those who believe. Those who believe are not the self-reliant, the proud, the resourceful. Those who believe are those who are helpless, out of options, who know they are sinners and entrust themselves to the mercy of God as their only hope.

Why is it Wise to Frustrate Wisdom?

1 Corinthians 1:21 tells us that our failure to know God through wisdom is the wisdom of God and the pleasure of God. Why is it God’s wisdom to frustrate our wisdom? In Romans 3, after establishing that none are righteous and none seek God on their own, Paul concludes:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Have you ever been around people who think very highly of themselves and think that you should think highly of them too? They go on and on and on and on about themselves, about their own accomplishments, about what they’ve done. They like the sound of their own voice. In the wisdom of God, people like that won’t be in heaven. If by God’s grace they are, their mouths will have been stopped and they will be humble. In God’s wisdom, he stops the mouth of every person, because we are all accountable to God and we all stand guilty before him on our own. The only way God saves is purely by his grace, as a gift through the cross (Rom.3:24). Paul goes on:

Romans 3:27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

God in his wisdom stops every mouth and excludes boasting. Wow, you made it to heaven? How did you do it? How did you make it in? I, like you, am a sinner, and stood condemned before God. But Jesus took the punishment that my sins deserved, and paid the price in full on the cross. He called me into a relationship with himself, and he gave me life. I am totally dependent on him, trusting in him. I did nothing to deserve to be here. All glory goes to Jesus!

In Romans 11, Paul celebrates the wisdom of God in showing the same mercy to us Gentiles and to the Jews

Romans 11:30 Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

The chief priests and the pharisees, the religious people of Jesus’ day refused to believe in him. But the lowest of the low, tax collectors, prostitutes, those who knew they were sinners believed in him. He chose a group of fishermen, a Jewish zealot, even a tax collector to be his disciples. Matthew (the former tax collector) records:

Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “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; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (cf. Luke 10:21-22)

It was the gracious will of God to hide the truth about Jesus from the self-righteous and reveal it to little children. In the wisdom of God, the world did not know God, did not enter into a relationship with God through wisdom. Religious experts with all their learning rejected Jesus. Sinners, those who acutely understood their need, found forgiveness and a reconciled relationship with God through Jesus. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus doesn’t say ‘come to me all you who have lots of letters after your name and who are smart enough to figure out the deep things of God’. He doesn’t say ‘come to me all who are willing to earn your keep and I will give you something to do’. He invites those who are weary, tired, those who have tried and tried and failed, those who know they can’t do it. He invites us to come to him and find rest. He doesn’t say come and earn rest. He says ‘I will give you rest’. A gift, freely given. Rest for your souls. Rest in him. Rest in his finished work.

So where are you? Have you found rest in Jesus? Have you come to him as a child? Have you realized that there is nothing you can do? Nothing! Can you humble yourself to acknowledge that your independence and self-sufficiency is a form of rebellion and idolatry offensive to God? Can you simply trust him? Simply take the free gift from his hand? Or are you still trying? Still looking to contribute? There are no qualifications; no prerequisites – other than admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus invites you to come – come to him and rest. 

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

March 3, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment