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2 Corinthians 3:6; The Letter Kills, The Spirit Makes Alive

05/20_2 Corinthians 3:6; The Letter Kills; The Spirit Makes Alive ; Audio available at:

What we want to be about, what we must be about as followers of Jesus, is spreading the knowledge of Jesus everywhere. We have seen in 2 Corinthians 3 that the sufficiency, the competence for this kind of ministry comes through Christ and toward or in the presence of God. We must recognize we are not competent in ourselves. We cannot claim anything as coming from ourselves. Anything. Jesus said ‘apart from me you can do nothing.’ But then Paul says we are competent, because of God,

2 Corinthians 3:6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

This raises some questions. What does it mean to be a minister? What is the new covenant? How do we minister not by the letter, but by the Spirit? What is the role of the letter and the role of the Spirit?


As we saw last time, a minister is simply a servant. One who serves others for their good. If we are all called to be ministers of a new covenant, we need to know what this means.


Paul introduces this concept of a new covenant here. He says that he has been made sufficient to be a minister of a new covenant. What is the new covenant? We began to look at this when we were exploring the contrast between letters on tablets of stone with letters written with the Spirit of the living God on tablets of fleshly hearts.

A covenant is a binding contract, an agreement between two parties. God made a covenant with his people at Mount Sinai, after he freed them out of slavery in Egypt.

Exodus 24:3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

Deuteronomy says:

Deuteronomy 4:13 And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone.

God gave Israel his covenant, his commands, his requirements. This was a binding agreement written on stone. He says in Leviticus:

Leviticus 18:5 You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.

If a person does them, by them he shall live. Obedience equals life. Jesus affirmed this. When he was asked by a lawyer ‘what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus responds ‘What is written in the law? How do you read it? The lawyer summarized the law by the two great commands; love God and love neighbor as yourself. Jesus said:

Luke 10:28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Do this and you will live. The lawyer, wanting to justify himself, asked ‘and who is my neighbor?’ He wanted to check off a box to show that he was good enough. Jesus gave him the parable of the good Samaritan. Everyone you come in contact with is your neighbor. Keep the law and you will live. Obedience to the law equals life.

The Letter Kills

The flip side of that, of course, is disobedience equals death. And that’s what we see if we look back to the giving of the law. Exodus 19-31 record the giving of the law to Moses. It is interesting to look back and see the difference before and after the giving of the law.

-In Exodus 14:6-14, at the Red Sea, before Sinai, Israel cried out to the Lord and complained that they would die in the wilderness; God parted the sea and rescued them. In Numbers 11:1-3, immediately after leaving Sinai, the people complained about misfortunes and the fire of the Lord burned among them. In Numbers 16:41-50 the people grumbled against their leaders, and 14,700 died in plague. In Numbers 21:4-9 the people become impatient and discontent; and the LORD sent fiery serpents to kill many.

-In Exodus 15:22-27, before the law, the people grumbled because the water was bitter; and the bitter water was made sweet. In Exodus 17:1-7 people grumbled and quarreled because they had no water; God instructed Moses to strike the rock and water came out from the rock for the people. But in Numbers 20:2-13, after the law was given, when there was no water and people quarreled, God instructed Moses to speak to the rock. Instead, he disobeyed and struck the rock. Water came out, but because of their disobedience, Moses and Aaron would die in the wilderness and not enter the land.

-In Exodus 16:1-18, before the law, the people grumbled because of hunger; God provides manna and quail for them to eat. But in Numbers 11, after the law came, the people grumble about no meat, and God sent quail until it came out their nostrils, and he sent a very great plague to destroy them.

– In Exodus 16:19-30, before the law, the people are instructed to rest and not go out looking for manna on the Sabbath, but they disobey. Nothing happens. But in Numbers 15:32-36, a person caught gathering sticks on the sabbath is stoned to death for breaking the law.

– In Exodus 17:8-14, before Sinai, God defeats Amalek before Israel. In Numbers 14:39-45, after Sinai, Israel is defeated before the Amalekites and Canaanites.

Some of the very same things that had no consequences before the law, after the law brought death. The history of Israel after the giving of the law is a chronicle of disobedience and death. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6 that the letter kills. This is very literally true.

Romans and the Law/Letter

Paul gives us more systematic teaching on the role and purpose of the law in the book of Romans. It will serve us well to look there to fill out our understanding of what he means when he says that ‘the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.’

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

The Jews prided themselves on having the law. But as we have seen, unless the law is obeyed, it brings death.

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.

The law was given to shut every mouth and hold all people accountable to God. The law shows us our sin; it does not make us righteous. This is made even more clear in chapter 4.

Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

The law brings wrath. We see this graphically displayed in the history of Israel after Sinai. Romans 5 tells us

Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass…

The law did not create righteousness; it actually did the opposite; it served to increase trespass. Romans 7 tells us how.

Romans 7:5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

The law actually stirred up our sinful passions. Paul gives a personal example:

Romans 7:7 … if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

He is describing what he said in 3:20 that ‘through the law comes the knowledge of sin.’ The commandment that promised life; the law says ‘do this and you shall live’ proved in his own experience to deliver death.

If the law produces death, does this mean that the law is bad? Paul answers:

Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 … It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

The law is holy, righteous, good, even spiritual. But the law puts on display the sinfulness of sin. The law’s good purpose is to show us our sin, to stop our mouths, to hold us accountable to God, and to put us to death. I said that is the law’s good purpose. How is that good? Good is not determined by what is good for me. It’s not all about me! Good is what is good absolutely. It is good and right for God to display his justice and to punish sin. But this is good for me. It is good for the law to show me my sin, because only sinners who confess their sin can be forgiven. It is good for the law to put me to death, because only those who are dead can be raised to newness of life. Only those who are shown their desperate need will cry out to God for rescue. Jesus said

Mark 2:17 …“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The law plays a vital role in showing us God’s justice and our need. This is what makes the good news so very very good! The law brings us to the end of ourselves, and that is very good. The letter kills but the Spirit makes alive.

A New Covenant

This is where the new covenant promises come in. As we looked a few weeks ago, God promises in Jeremiah and Ezekiel to make a new covenant with his people, a covenant different from the covenant he made with the fathers, not like the covenant that they broke.

Jeremiah 31:33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This is the contrast Paul draws in 2 Corinthians; They old covenant was written on tablets of stone, and the result was disobedience and death. The new covenant of which he is a minster, is a heart agreement. No longer is it an external standard, which we may even agree is good, but our competing desires and inclination to disobedience thwart our best efforts to keep it. Now in the new covenant God writes his instruction on our hearts. It is part of us. It is internalized. It is who we are. It now defines us.


A critical component of this new covenant that God works in us is that he says ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more. This is powerful. This is so powerful for obedience. If we feel like a failure, if we feel like we have already disappointed him, we feel defeated. The guilt and shame are disabling. It’s like an overwhelming record of debt that stands against us. When you’re in debt and really see no way out, it’s easy to just give up and spend even more, run the credit card again, dig the hole deeper, We feel crippled to ever be good enough, to ever measure up. But in the context of forgiveness; this is so beautiful, so powerful, let this sink in an saturate your soul and transform everything; God says he remembers your sin no more. If you are in Christ, you always, always have a clean slate. You are always accepted. You are always good enough. You can’t sin fast enough to make the record stick. Do you see how powerful this is? Try to fight when you are all tied up and ensnared and weighed down. You can hardly even move. But God cuts the cords and sets you free and keeps you free so that you can fight.

This is so powerful, and I pray it shapes the way we relate to each other, to our spouse, to our children. Shame and guilt can be a motivating factor, but it is disabling. Forgiveness is so much more powerful.

they shall all know me

Notice another key aspect of this new covenant in Jeremiah 31. it says ‘they shall all know me.’ Paul is spreading the knowledge of Jesus everywhere. The new covenant is built on relationship. Intimacy. This is not second-hand knowledge. I know God and I have to tell you, God says what you’re doing is wrong. Someone stands between. You’re not hearing it first hand. It’s not direct. Someone is in between. That’s exactly the way it was at Sinai with the law. The people said ‘don’t let God speak to us directly. Moses, you go listen to God and then come tell us what he said.’ When I send one of my kids to pass along instruction to one of their siblings (and this happens a lot in our house) it doesn’t carry much weight. They say ‘hey, you need to do this’ and it’s easy to ignore. They might even say ‘hey, dad said you should do this’ and that carries a little more weight, but it’s still easy to ignore. Sometimes something gets lost in the delivery. The messenger got sidetracked and never delivered my message. Something got lost in the communication and something different than what I asked gets done. Is it the messenger who failed or the one who was supposed to receive the message who didn’t listen? It’s easy to shift blame. But when I show up personally, that’s completely different. It’s no longer someone passing along second hand information about what I said. Now it’s me, in relationship, really present, it’s direct. That’s what the new covenant does. It brings each of us into direct relationship with God. It’s no longer someone else telling you what you ought to be doing. It’s no longer mediated. It’s God himself communicating directly.

And it’s within the context of loving relationship. It can try to tell someone else’s kids what to do, but if the relationship isn’t there, if the accountability and love and respect in relationship hasn’t been established, it isn’t very effective. They run to mom or dad and say ‘that weird guy just told me what to do.’ In the new covenant, God brings us into relationship with himself. They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

a new heart and God’s Spirit

Another piece of this transforming power of the new covenant we see in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

God gives us a heart transplant. Our hard rebellious heart needs to be removed, and replaced by a soft, tender heart, a heart capable of love, a heart receptive to the Lord. But he doesn’t stop there. In the New covenant he puts his Holy Spirit in us. This is the aspect that Paul highlights in 2 Corinthians. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. O hear this! Let the truth of this sink in! The Holy Spirit of the living God; God the Holy Spirit, comes in, takes up residence in us. He lives in us and makes us alive. He transforms us from the inside. He will never leave!

Romans 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

We are released from the law to serve in the new way of the Spirit.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

This is the message we are called to minister! This is the good news of the gospel! Through the cross there is forgiveness, no matter what you have done. You can know God yourself, you can enjoy relationship. God the Spirit comes to live inside and make you alive, truly alive, eternally alive! So walk in the Spirit and spread the knowledge of Jesus everywhere!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

May 23, 2018 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 1:11; Multiplied Prayer for Multiplied Thanksgiving

10/29 2 Corinthians 1:11; Multiplied Prayer and Multiplied Thanksgiving; Audio available at:

Today we look at the subject of prayer. In 2 Corinthians Paul offers no thanksgiving for the Corinthian church; but invites the Corinthians to bless God with him for God’s work in their apostle. He also offers no prayer for his readers; but he invites them to pray for the deliverance of their apostle.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

To make this passage read more smoothly in English, the translators have broken it up into shorter sentences, but in the original verse 11 is not an independent sentence. It continues the thought of the previous. It begins with a participle; some translations render it ‘as’ [NET] or ‘while you (also) join in helping…’ [LEB, HCSB].

Working Together With God

This is an amazing statement. Paul has just said that the affliction that so utterly burdened them beyond their ability to cope and caused them to despair even of life was so that they would rely not on themselves but on God who raises the dead. This resurrecting God delivered them from a deadly peril, and he will deliver. They have set their hope on God alone that he will deliver. No dependence on self. All dependence completely, exclusively on God alone, and you also. Even you, working together (with God) on our behalf by prayer. What in the world is Paul saying? God alone is their hope. God alone rescues. And the Corinthian church works together with God to bring about this rescue?! This is staggering. This seems contradictory. God alone saves. God alone brings deliverance. And you work together with God to bring about this deliverance. God works alone, but he often works in answer to prayer.

This word translated ‘help’ is a big word. It is a compound word. The first prefix of this word means ‘with or together’. The second prefix means ‘under, beneath, or through’. The root of the word is ‘toil or work’. Working together under; laboring or toiling underneath with. When I look at this word, I get the picture of Moses in Exodus 17.

Exodus 17:8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Aaron and Hur labored underneath with Moses. In another sense, Moses labored underneath with Aaron in and all the fighting men. This story gives us an insight into prayer. Prayer is hard work. What is more exhausting, what is more draining, what is more difficult? Standing, holding a stick in the air; or wielding a sword in battle against an enemy all day? I think it is fair to say that Joshua or any one of his fighting men burned more calories that day than Moses, Aaron and Hur combined. But we don’t read of Joshua growing weary. We read of Moses growing weary. You see, prayer is hard work. It is wearying work. It requires help from others who come alongside. If you have ever entered into the serious work of prayer, you understand. Think about it. How many of you have fallen asleep while doing manual physical labor? How many have fallen asleep while attempting to pray? Prayer is labor.

C.H. Spurgeon writes about this passage “I find that in the original, the word for, “helping together,” implies very earnest WORK. Some people’s prayers have no work in them, but the only prayer which prevails with God is a real workingman’s prayer—where the petitioner, like a Samson, shakes the gates of mercy, and labors to pull them up rather than be denied an entrance! We do not want fingertip prayers, which only touch the burden— we need shoulder prayers—which bear a load of earnestness, and are not to be denied their desire. We do not want those dainty runaway knocks at the door of mercy, which professors give when they show off at prayer meetings, but we ask for the knocking of a man who means to have, and means to stop at mercy’s gate till it opens and all his needs shall be supplied! The energetic, vehement violence of the man who is not to be denied, but intends to carry heaven by storm until he wins his heart’s desire—this is the prayer which ministers covet of their people!” [Sermon No. 507, May 3, 1863]

We see Jacob, in weakness, his hip dislocated, clinging to God.

Genesis 32:26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Jesus taught his followers

Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Jesus invites us to ‘keep bothering him’, to ‘beat him down by our continual coming’, to ‘cry out to him day and night.’

Jesus tells another parable in Luke 11

Luke 11:5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Jesus invites us to impudence, to persistence in prayer.

Luke 11:9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

An Example of Earnest Prayer

Paul tells the Corinthians that they also are laboring together under God on our behalf by prayer. God’s deliverance and future deliverance come to him by means of the prayer of the churches. We see this very thing happen in Acts 12.

Acts 12:1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.

Peter is in trouble. James had already been beheaded. Peter was next.

Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Earnest prayer. Fervent prayer. Intent prayer. The feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days. We don’t know how many of those days Peter was imprisoned. This might have been a seven day prayer meeting. The church had something serious to pray about.

Acts 12:6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.

God waited until the last possible moment.

Acts 12:11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.

These believers were gathered together laboring together under God in prayer on behalf of Peter. God rescued Peter in response to their prayers. This resulted in great joy. The servant girl Rhoda was so overjoyed, she left Peter locked outside while she ran in to tell the others.

Prayer and Need

This is what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 1:11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

When whole churches labor together under God in prayer on our behalf, it results in many giving thanks on our behalf for the grace granted through many.

There is a request that goes out horizontally. Pray for us. This is not the only place that Paul asks for prayer. In Romans 15 Paul says:

Romans 15:30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.

To the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brothers, pray for us.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

And to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

To the church at Philippi,

Philippians 1:19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,

And to the church in Colossae:

Colossians 4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—

And to Philemon

Philemon 1:22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

Paul was not ashamed to ask for prayer. He knew his own weakness and his need for help. This was the primary evidence of his own salvation. In Acts 9, when God humbled Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, when God sent Ananias to heal him, the main evidence of his transformation was ‘for behold, he is praying’ (Acts 9:11). Paul was praying; he began to acknowledge his dependence on God alone. He was no longer relying on himself.

Allow me to quote Spurgeon again: “Why God has been pleased to command us to pray at all it is not difficult to discover, for prayer glorifies God, by putting man in the most humble posture of worship! The creature in prayer acknowledges his Creator with reverence, and confesses Him to be the giver of every good and perfect gift; the eyes are lifted up to behold the glory of the Lord, while the knees are bent to the earth in the lowliness of acknowledged weakness. …prayer… is the most humble, and so the most fitting to set forth the glory of the perfect One as it is beheld by imperfect flesh and blood. …in their very essence, all truthful confessions of personal fault are but homage paid to the infinite perfections of the Lord of hosts. …Moreover, the act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is no small blessing to such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favors without compelling us to pray for them, we would never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalog of necessities, a request in forma pauperis, an exposure of secret wounds, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. I believe that the most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty, and always depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and therefore the use of prayer, because while it adores God, it lays the creature where he should be—in the very dust. ” [Sermon No. 507, May 3, 1863]

Multiplied Thanksgiving

To the proud Corinthian church, who were looking for a celebrity to follow, someone who had it all together, Paul holds up his weakness and need. Paul wants the Corinthians to know that it is not him who is strong, but Jesus. It is not him who is self-sufficient, but all sufficiency is in Jesus. He is not independent, but dependent, utterly, hopelessly, helplessly dependent on God alone. For righteousness, he depended on God alone. For rescue from present circumstances, his hope was in God alone. For future resurrection and eternal life, he depended on God alone. It is not his strength, his credentials, his capabilities he holds up, but his weakness. He is dependent on God, and he is dependent on their prayers for him.

Pray for me. The request goes out to many. Many prayers go up to God for him. The grace comes down to rescue him. The report goes out that God has delivered him. Now many faces are turned to God in thanksgiving for him.

Thanksgiving reverses the degeneration of sin described in Romans 1

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.

Paul invites the Corinthians to give evidence of their own transformation in thanksgiving to God. He invites them to partner with him in his dependence on God as they labor together for him in prayer so they can join him in blessing God as they see and experience the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we are able to comfort those who are in all affliction. Through his abundant affliction, Paul seeks to multiply prayer so that thanksgiving is multiplied, to the glory of God.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

October 30, 2017 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, occasional, podcast, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nativity-God With Us

12/27 Don’t put Jesus Away with your Nativity!; Audio available at:

So Christmas is over. For some of us, that is a relief. The preparation and shopping and traveling and decorating and baking and busyness are behind us. We can take a deep breath, clean up the mess, eat through the leftovers, pack up the decorations and store them away for another year. Many of us have a nativity scene, a set with figures of Mary and Joseph and shepherds and wise men and sheep and a donkey and the baby Jesus in a manger. We set this up in our homes, not as an object to be worshiped, but as a visible reminder of what we celebrate, something we can use to teach our children, a reminder to keep Jesus central. In the coming weeks, we will be packing that up, along with all the other Christmas decorations and putting it in a box in the basement or attic for another year. I want to caution you; Don’t put Jesus away! Don’t put him in a box and store him out of sight and out of mind for another year! Don’t wrap Jesus up in tissue paper and bubble wrap and put him on a shelf!

I’m not saying that you can’t put away your nativity set. I’m not saying that you can pack up all the sheep and wise men and even Mary, but you must keep the baby Jesus out all year. No. Put it away. But Jesus is not the porcelain or wooden figure laying in the hay. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us! Don’t set Jesus aside as if he were a holiday decoration.

The nativity doesn’t tell the whole story. Jesus was a born in a stable to a young virgin mother, placed in a manger, a real baby. But Jesus was so much more. Jesus is the Eternal Creator God, the only Son of his Father, the great I AM. I’ve not seen a nativity display that can capture that! Jesus was born in humble circumstances, but Jesus didn’t stay a baby. He grew to be a man. He became an itinerant preacher. People left their jobs to follow him. He got himself in trouble with the religious authorities, and got himself crucified. In that act, he took my sin upon him and before God the Father he paid my price in full. I’ve never seen a nativity set that can communicate the whole story of who Jesus is or why he came.

Matthew 1:18-23 says:

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. Joseph was understandably troubled that his betrothed bride to be was pregnant. But the angel assured him ‘that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’. The angel told Mary:

Luke 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. …

…35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God.

John’s gospel says that Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God, and

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This is no ordinary baby. Jesus is Eternal God become flesh, the only begotten, unique, one-and-only son of the Father. Jesus, who is fully God, who eternally existed with his Father, at a moment in history his divine nature was united to human flesh. He became a human embryo. The Creator God was born a human baby. This is something no manger scene can convey.

Jesus is the Savior

The angel told Joseph ‘you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Mt.1:21). John introduces Jesus

John 1:29 … and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’

Jesus is the sin-bearing substitute. Jesus himself said:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Peter teaches that ‘you were ransomed …with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1Pet.1:18-19). And he says:

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Jesus paid the price for our sins. He died in our place. He took the punishment we deserved. He came to save his people from their sins. He came to give his life a ransom for many.

To look no further than the manger is to miss the meaning of the coming of the Son of God.

Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.

Matthew 1: 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

The baby in the manger is to be called Immanuel. God with us. Take note of this. Jesus is God, fully God, eternal God, omnipotent sovereign creator God, the great I AM. Jesus said

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him…

The author of Hebrews says of Jesus:

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Colossians says of Jesus:

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus is God. And he is God with us. Not God against us. Not God distant, afar off.

Isaiah 59:2 ​but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

We sinned. We rebelled. We caused a rift in our relationship. We became his enemies. We deserve just retribution for our willful disobedience. But God came down.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 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.

Jesus said:

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 …for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

Jesus did not come as judge to punish, but as a lamb to bear a punishment not his own. Jesus died to bring us near.

Job lamented:

Job 9:33 There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.

He longed for a mediator who could go between a holy God and sinful man. Jesus is that longed for mediator. He lays his hand on us both. He died to bring us near.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…

That he might bring us to God. Jesus is Immanuel. Jesus made a way for us to be with God and experience his affection rather than his retribution. Jesus said:

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the only way for us to be reconciled to the Father. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. Jesus came to bring us to God, to reconcile us to God, to restore our relationship with God.

So don’t put Jesus in a box! Don’t put Jesus away in storage! Let every heart prepare him room! Enjoy your blood bought relationship with Jesus. Savor him every day. Enjoy his presence with you!

At the close of Matthew’s gospel, after the resurrection, as Jesus appeared to his followers,

Matthew 28:17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

He commissions his disciples to make disciples, and he gives them his promise. I am with you always, to the end of the age. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. He promises to be with us, to never leave us. Jesus said in John 14:

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Jesus and his Father love us and come to make their home with us! Don’t put Jesus away after the holidays are past. Seek to foster an awareness of his presence with you every moment of every day. Allow his presence to shape your attitudes, your your actions, your reactions, your identity. Hebrews says:

Hebrews 13:5 …be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Enjoy the presence of the God who has made a way to be with you forever!

Jesus is not Fragile

As a wedding gift, we were given a white porcelain nativity set that was made at the Carmelite Monestary in Seattle. It is fragile, so we wrap it up carefully each year and pack it away. Both horns on the ox have broken off and are missing, and one year, one of the wise men tipped over and lost his head, so I had to glue it back on. We have since bought a little plastic resin nativity set that is more durable so the younger kids can play with it without having to worry. Even on that most of the points on the kings crowns have broken off.

Jesus is not fragile. Jesus does not need to be packed away, insulated from the real world. Jesus does not need to be protected like a fragile decoration. He is durable, resilient, you can interact with him, bring him in to the dirty messy situations. We don’t need to worry that we will break him or tarnish him. Jesus wants to interact with us. Jesus wants to be accessible.

He is real. He understands what real life is like. He knows what we are like. He is not surprised by our sin. Jesus did not hesitate to interact with the worst sinners. Prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, demon possessed. In fact he says

Mark 2:17 …“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 came specifically for sinners, for the broken, for the hurting, for those who knew they were helpless and needed his help. He shocked the religious leaders by pronouncing sins forgiven.

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jesus does not get stained by sin.

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Jesus is not defiled by contact with sinners. Instead the sinner is cleansed, washed, transformed, made new!

In Matthew 8,

Matthew 8:2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Jesus did not hesitate to touch lepers and the unclean. He did not get infected; they were made whole!

Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah! He is strong and fierce. Don’t pack him away, turn him loose! Don’t shield him from evil, allow him to overcome evil with good! Turn him loose in your neighborhood! Turn him loose among the broken, the hurting, sinners.

Jesus has strong shoulders. He invites us to come weary, come heavy laden, come burdened and find rest. He invites us to cast our anxieties on him, because he cares for us.

Matthew 6:28 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.”

I invite you to open the box. Experience Jesus all year round. Acknowledge his presence, because he promised to never leave or forsake you. I invite you to enjoy his presence, for he is Immanuel, God with us. He is with you in your joys and in the deepest sorrows of life. He is strong enough to overcome your failures and flaws. He will carry you through the most trying times. Treasure his presence with you. He will clothe you with boldness to advance his gospel in spite of your fears and inadequacies.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

December 28, 2015 Posted by | occasional, podcast, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basics – Worship

01/08 Basics – Worship

We are looking at the basics of what we believe. Last week I asked the question “if you were to choose just three words that would most accurately sum up what it means to be a Christian, what would they be and why?” I’m picturing these three words as categories or buckets whose contents sum up what Christianity is all about. This question does not necessarily have a right or wrong answer, but I pray that the contents of our buckets are roughly the same. The three words I chose are believe, love, and worship.

Last time we looked at what it means to believe – to believe the gospel, or the good news of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners. To believe means to entrust ourselves to the faithfulness of another. We put ourselves in the hands of Jesus and depend on him to carry us safely to the other side. The bible frequently calls the followers of Jesus simply ‘believers’. Believing is the opposite of earning. Belief is the door through which we enter into a relationship with God.

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

Belief is also the lifeblood that sustains and energizes the Christian.

Galatians 2:20 …the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

So the first and most important part of being a follower of Jesus is believing. I must depend on the good news of Jesus’ sacrificial death for my sins as my substitute. Then, the Christian life is a life of believing, depending, trusting; walking by faith.

My second word is ‘worship’. Today I want to consider what it means to worship as a Christian. Not all worship is Christian worship. It has been said that we as humans are worshiping creatures. The question is not if we will worship, but what or whom we will worship. We were created to worship. All of life is worship. We worship without realizing we are doing it. Worship is choosing to spend our resources – like time, energy, money, attention, affection – on the things or people we categorize as valuable or ‘worthy’. This is why Jesus had so much to say about money – because it reveals what it is that we treasure. A simple evaluation of how we budget these various resources will prove very revealing of the true condition of our hearts. Some worship things like leisure or pleasure or learning or power. Some worship people, like parent or spouse or children or hero. As Christians, we believe that there is only One who is truly worthy. How we live our lives – how we choose to spend our time, into what we pour our energy, what we do with our money, to what we give our attention, what it is that we delight in – these things will reflect and reveal what we believe about who or what is worthy of worship.

Today I want to glance quickly at some of the biblical data that demonstrates that we were created to worship God. Then we will look at worship in four categories:

1. a gospel relationship with God – the prerequisite for worship;

2. fear of the Lord – the root of worship;

3. knowing God – the fuel for worship;

4. prayer, song and drink – expressions of worship.

Created to Worship

We were created to worship. Isaiah 43 speaks of:

Isaiah 43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” We were created to worship and bring glory to God. One day all people will fulfill their purpose and bring the worship to God that he deserves: Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. (cf. Ps.22:27,29; 66:4; 102:22 ; Is.66:23…)

When asked about the most important commandment of all:

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ What you love is what you worship. In another context, Jesus said: Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”

Our bodies are meant to worship God with.

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Our gathering together as believers is for the purpose of worship.

Romans 15:6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

God alone is to be worshiped. His wrath is revealed because:

Romans 1:21 …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. … 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up …

We were created to honor God as God, to give thanks and glory to him, to worship and serve him, to acknowledge him. Failure to do this is falling short of doing what we were created to do, and incurs the just penalty of the wrath of God who must defend the honor of his great name.

A Gospel Relationship with God – the Prerequisite for Worship

And we all fall short of giving God the honor and glory that he deserves. We worship self as God and ignore the all-glorious Creator of all things. This is why a gospel relationship with God is the prerequisite for worship. We have brought shame and dishonor to God’s name and we cannot make that right. God had to take action himself to clear his character from the reproach that we his creatures caused. God sent his own Son to pay the infinite penalty we owe and to demonstrate his own righteousness (Rom.3:25-26). The cross was a display of just how infinitely evil our God-belittling God-dishonoring attitudes and actions are. The good news gospel message is that Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin” – our sin of dishonoring and disregarding God – “and live to righteousness” – the right valuation and regard for the infinite value and worth of our great God (1Pet.2:24). “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is.64:6) in God’s sight because our good works are intended to make us look good. Worship is designed to bringing honor and glory to God; to make God look good. To worship, we must turn away from our own righteousness and pursue God’s righteousness, which comes only through faith in the finished work of God for us. A gospel relationship of being “reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom.5:10) is a prerequisite for any kind of worship that is acceptable to God.

The Fear of the LORD – the Root of Worship

The author of Hebrews exhorts us to gratefulness that comes from receiving a gift; he says:

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Acceptable worship, coming out of a gospel relationship with God through the finished work of Jesus for us, is worship with reverence and awe. These terms, ‘reverence and awe’ and the reason given ‘for our God is a consuming fire’ point us to the fact that the fear of the Lord is the root of acceptable worship. If I understand the gospel – that I am saved from God’s wrath that I have earned by a costly gift that I did not deserve freely given to me – that should stimulate in me the proper awe and fear of God ‘the Consuming Fire’. We are told throughout the bible that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is also the beginning of all true worship.

In Revelation 14, the content of the eternal gospel proclaimed by the angel is:

Revelation 14:7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Fear God, give God glory, worship God. These three descriptions of our right response are also linked together in Revelation 15:

Revelation 15:4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Fear, glorify, worship God, because God is holy, because his acts are righteous. God passionately defends the honor of his great name. The question is rhetorical: who will not fear and glorify you? The answer: all nations will come and worship you. There is an attractive awesomeness about God that compels us to worship him when we see him for who he is in all his rugged power and blazing glory. This brings us to our next point; knowing God is the fuel for worship.

Knowing God – the Fuel for Worship

A child has no fear of falling because he is ignorant of the effects of gravity and the consequences of falling. That’s why parents hold their children’s hands tightly when visiting the Grand Canyon. As we grow in our understanding and experience of the power of gravity, we gain a healthy respect and fear of falling, and we hold on tightly. This is how it is with God. If we are ignorant of him, we have no fear of him, we don’t realize the danger, and we cannot worship him. Getting to know God is the fuel for worship. Is you passion for worship cooling off? Here is the diagnosis: you have turned your eyes away to look at other things. Here is the sure remedy: study God. We get to know God by listening to him tell us what he is like. He communicates to us through his word, the bible. Take up and read! Study! Meditate! Memorize! Scrutinize the text. Jesus said we must worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn.4:23). Pursue a deeper, more comprehensive, more intimate knowledge of God by listening carefully to what he has said. Spend your time and energy and money and attention pursuing God, and your affections will be stirred, and you will worship. To experience the exhilaration of standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, you have to get yourself there. That takes time and energy and money. You can read a book about it or look at pictures, but it’s not the same. That’s second-hand. If you want to enjoy the majestic precipice, you personally have to go. There are lots of good books that will point you in the right direction and give helpful advice. They are useful and I praise God for them, but they are not enough. You have to go. You cannot have a second-hand relationship with God. You have to get to know him yourself.

Let me say just one thing about corporate worship; worship as the church, the body of Christ. So easily we can slip into the mode of critics rather than participants. How was the worship today? Good? A little off? Disappointed? I wish they would… I like how they do it better… It is so easy to become a critic. Corporate worship is the sum of all the parts. Corporate worship is a gathering of believers who worship together. Worship is a verb. It is what we do. And it starts long before Sunday morning. If knowledge of God is the fuel for worship and corporate worship is the sum of all its parts, then in what way is my personal study of God, my understanding and awe and appreciation of God contributing to our corporate experience of worship? If I just couldn’t ‘get into worship’ today, then I need to go home and get on my knees and open my bible and let God open my eyes afresh to who he really is!

Prayer, Song and Drink – Expressions of Worship

This brings us to our final category, expressions of worship. We often think of and even refer to the singing that we do in church as ‘worship’, and it is. But worship is not limited to what we call ‘worship music’. The singing we do in church should be worship, and it can be a direct form of worship. The songs we choose to sing together are expressions of worship directed to God, or songs that declare awesome truths about God that we sing to each other and to ourselves to stimulate us to worship. This can be worship, but it can also be what Jesus condemned when he said:

Matthew 15:8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Is.29:13)

It matters that we choose doctrinally sound theologically rich gospel centered expressions of worship to sing together, but it also matters where our hearts are at when we sing them. In singing together we can choose to worship God, or we can offer lip service and allow our affections to drift to other things. When we see this, when we realize that worship goes beyond and behind the outward forms and is about what is in our heart, then we can see that worship extends to so many other areas of life. As we already saw, knowing God through bible study is fuel for worship. Hearing the bible preached can be an experience of worship, as we come to God expecting him to speak to us, giving him our time and attention with hearts eager to obey. As he unfolds to us new truths about himself, we find ourselves celebrating and glorifying him in our hearts. Prayer is another direct form of worship. When we talk to God, our conversation should be saturated with praise to him for who he is and what he has done for us. But even the asking part of prayer can be worship. When we come to him with our emptiness and our brokenness and our needs, we worship him as the all-satisfying one, the one who is able to fix us, the one who is able to do something about our situation, the one who hears, the one who cares deeply, the one who is wise and will do what is best for us. When we come to him with our questions and our frustrations, he is honored, because we come to him as the one who holds the answers. When we really get hold of this truth, we can begin to see that for the Christian all of life is worship.

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

Even menial ordinary everyday repetitive tasks can be turned by the believing heart into worship. Eating, or drinking, or whatever else you do can be done to bring glory and honor and praise to our great Creator and Redeemer and Friend. Every moment of every day can be spent doing what we were created to do as we saturate our hearts with the truths of our gospel relationship with God, as we deepen our fear of the Lord, as we permeate our minds with a bible saturated intimacy and knowledge of God, we can acknowledge and honor him with grateful awe-filled worshipful hearts in all things. Eating, drinking, all of live as worship!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 3:7; God Honoring Conduct – Husband Honor your Wife

03/15 1 Peter 3:7 God honoring Conduct; Husband Honor your Wife

3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives– 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing– 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

We’ve been looking at Peter’s instructions on how to glorify God in daily life (2:12), especially if you find yourself in less than ideal situations. His focus is on proclaiming the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light (2:9) by living in such a way that unbelievers see our God exalting good works and want what we’ve got. He’s pointed to our relation to governmental authority and urged us ‘for the Lord’s sake’ to give honor and submit (2:13-17). He pointed to the situation of servants or employees and urged us to be mindful of God as we endure sorrow while suffering unjustly (2:18-20). He pointed us to Christ as the supreme example of one who suffered the ultimate injustice and continued entrusting to God who judges justly (2:21-25). Then he addressed wives who had husbands who were hostile to the gospel (3:1-6). He instructs them in how to win their husbands to Christ without a word by a lifestyle that lets the inner beauty of a submissive God-exalting heart shine through. His argument is from the greater to the lesser. If women with husbands who are hostile to the gospel ought to respond to them in an attitude of graceful submission, how much more those who have husbands that share their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, submission to authority in no way implies inequality or inferiority. This will be clear in the next verse. The authority structure in the marriage relationship is not a result of the fall, but rather has its roots in the created order. God created man and God demonstrated that it was not good for man to be alone, so he created a suitable helper – and boy do we need help! God made man as male and female – in his own image and he created them together to rule over and care for his creation.

But the roots of the ‘equal in personhood but submissive in role’ relationship of husbands and wives runs even deeper than the created order. It finds it source all the way back to the triune God who created us. The Son, although equal with the Father in every way, voluntarily and joyfully submits himself to the will of the Father. Jesus said:

John 8:28 …I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 …I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

Luke 22:42 … not my will, but yours, be done.”

This in no way indicates that Jesus is inferior to his Father in any way. It is this relationship of the Father’s gracious purposes and the Son’s willing and joyful submission in full unity and equality that the marriage relationship is meant to display.

This truth of scripture is being attacked in our culture, the same way God’s truth was attacked all the way back in the garden. Satan said to Eve ‘did God actually say…’ and there are bible scholars today that are asking that question ‘did God actually say that wives are to submit to husbands?’ And it couldn’t get much clearer than our text: ‘wives submit to your own husbands … as Sarah obeyed Abraham’. The next thing the snake said was it’s not true – ‘you will not surely die’. Yes, God may have said that, but he certainly didn’t mean it. This is a medieval relic leftover from a very different time that has no relevance for us today. We can accept the serpent’s lie to our own harm and the harm of our relationships, or we can submit to the authority of God’s word and humbly receive what God has to say to us as wise and loving instruction from the one who invented man and woman and the marriage relationship. That’s what I hope to do today.

In verse 7 he turns his attention to the husbands. Husbands, too can either bring glory to God by their conduct, or bring reproach to the name of Christ by the way they conduct themselves, especially toward their wives.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Peter starts out saying ‘likewise‘. This is the same word he has used in 3:1 to address a new category of readers. He has addressed citizens and slaves and wives, and now he addresses husbands. The difference from these other categories is that here he is addressing the person with the authority rather than those who are under authority. Because of this, he does not use the word ‘submit’ or ‘be subject’ as he did with the other three groups. He says ‘husbands, because it falls upon you to lead, you must lead in this way’.

The first thing he says is ‘live with your wives in an understanding way’. The assumption is that the husband and wife are cohabiting. That should go without saying. You can’t follow these instructions if you have separated. The model is clear from Genesis – leave your father and mother and cleave to your spouse. One man and one woman until death do us part. Cling to one another. Be one flesh – in all that that means. God says ‘do not deprive one another’ in 1 Corinthians 7:5. His instructions here are specifically to the husband:

He says ‘husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way’. Literally it says ‘live with your wives according to knowledge‘ – there are things you need to know and can know about your wife that will make your relationship go well. There is an inclination in many books and seminars to exaggerate and highlight the drastic differences between men and women to the point that there is no hope for ever understanding the opposite sex. I think this is a reaction to our culture – a culture that has eliminated any difference between the sexes and demanded equality on every level. I think this is an over-reaction. You will never ever be able to understand women, so just resign yourself to live together peaceably. Give up hope of ever understanding your wife. Stop wasting effort on understanding her and just follow these 27 steps to achieve a better marriage. According to this text that is wrong and bad advice. Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. Peter tells us to live with our wives ‘according to knowledge’. There must be some attainable knowledge that he expects us to embrace that will help in our relationship both with our spouse and with God.

Men, here’s what you need to know about women. Here’s what the bible says. Truth #1 She was created by God; handmade by God; therefore she has inherent dignity, value and worth – so treat her with the respect that is due to God’s creation. Treasure her. Thank God for her. When God was done, he said it is ‘very good’. Don’t disagree with God on that one. Truth #2 She was created by God to be your helper – so let her help – you need help – she finds God given purpose when she helps – that doesn’t mean she was created to make your lunch and wash your dirty underwear and bring you a beer from the fridge as you hold down the couch. She was created to rule creation along side of you. She’s probably better than you are at a lot of things. Let her function in her strengths. You can fall off either side of the wagon here. This doesn’t mean you can abrogate your authority in the home and say ‘she’s better at leading than I am, so I’ll just sit here on the couch and let her lead’. God gave you the responsibility to lead, so step up to your God given responsibility and learn from God what it looks like to lead in a way that gives him the glory. Truth #3 Woman was taken from man’s side – so she is different but complimentary – she has what you lack. There ‘s a piece of you that is missing, and she has it. When you marry her, you become whole. She completes you. You are strong in areas that she is weak; she is strong in areas that you are weak. So value the part she plays in your relationship. Honor her for who God created her to be. Recognize you are incomplete without her. Truth #4 She is a sinner in desperate need of the grace and forgiveness of God – just like you are. She has inherited Adam’s fallen corrupt self-centered sinful inclination – just like you did. So be patient with her. Encourage her. Lovingly point her to Jesus. Pray for her. Truth # 5 She is an individual. She has a unique fingerprint, one of a kind DNA. There is no other woman on the face of the planet just like her. And you have an exclusive relationship with her. No one else has the legitimate opportunity to get to know her like you do. So get to know her. Become an expert on you wife. Find out what blesses her, what pleases her, what brings her delight – and do those things. Find out what annoys her, what irritates her, what frustrates her – and stop doing that. Talk to her. Listen to her. Hear her. Get emotionally involved in her life. Find out her strengths and encourage her in them. Find out her weaknesses and shelter her.

Live with her ‘according to knowledge, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel’. Husband, you are to honor your wife. She is worthy of honor and you are to give her that honor. Treat her with dignity. Value her.

Honor in God’s sight belongs to those who are or make themselves last or least in the eyes of the world;

Mark 10:42-45 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

If your wife has voluntarily sacrificed of herself to serve you, she is great in God’s sight and she will be honored for that.

I want to look for a moment at what Peter calls women here: the ‘weaker vessel‘. Ladies, you might have been offended when we read that. Don’t be. Hear what he says. He calls you a vessel – that’s a container used to carry something. This metaphor is used throughout scripture to refer to human beings. In Genesis 2 we are told that God formed man out of dust and filled him with the spirit or breath of God. We are containers made to carry God’s image.

Isaiah 64:8 ‘We are the clay, and you are our potter’

2Timothy 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

2Corinthians 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. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Our purpose as vessels or containers is to carry God’s image; to hold the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; as Peter has put it ‘to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

The text says that the woman is the weaker vessel. She’s not the weak vessel as opposed to the strong vessel. She is weaker – husband, you are weak. Both husband and wife are frail vessels used by God for his purposes. The word here translated ‘the woman’ is found only here in the New Testament – it could be translated ‘the feminine one’ This may refer to average physical strength. Or the wife may be considered weak because of her role as wife. By marrying, she has accepted a position which is in submission to her husband, and she has made herself vulnerable and subject to exploitation [Hiebert, p.206].

The reason stated for husbands to give honor to their wives is because they are fellow-heirs of the grace of life. This is a radical statement for a first century Jew living in Rome to make. Women in their culture got no inheritance. Yet Peter boldly proclaims that wives are joint-heirs of the grace of life. Within the marriage relationship, the roles of husband and wife are complementary and different. But individually in their standing before God they are equal. They are accepted by God on the same basis. They believe in the same Savior, are redeemed by the same ransom, live by the same grace, and look forward to the same eternal destiny. Wives share with their husbands in the ‘inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you’ (1:4). In fact, Peter has already addressed the situation where a wife is on her way to heaven without her husband if he remains hostile to the gospel, but the hope is that she would bring him to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. She, like any individual, is saved by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The result is given in the final phrase of the verse: ‘so that your prayers may not be hindered‘. The implications of this are massive! If you do not live with your wife in an understanding way giving her honor, then your prayers will be cut off. God will not listen to you. Your relationship with your spouse directly impacts your relationship with God. God puts such a value on the husband/wife relationship that he will interrupt his own relationship with someone in loving discipline to get their marriage back on track. This is a specific restatement of a general biblical truth.

Matthew 5:23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Our horizontal relationships have direct implications on our vertical relationship with God. Do you feel distant from God? Feel like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Consider your attitude toward your spouse.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

March 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment