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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Sanctuary, Separation, Adoption

05/12_2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Sanctuary, Separation, Adoption; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20190512_2cor6_16-18.mp3

Paul in chapter 6 is addressing the Corinthians head on in their lack of affections for him, and ultimately for the Lord. In chapter 5 he implored them on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God (5:20). In chapter 6 he appeals to them not to receive the grace of God in vain (6:1).

2 Corinthians 6:11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

He continues by directly addressing the problem; they were constricted in their affections because of their partnership with false teachers, who at root are unbelievers. They are to sever their connection with these unbelievers.

Then he asks five rhetorical questions, the obvious answer to each being an emphatic ‘nothing!’

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols?

And then he makes this bold assertion at the end of verse 16:

…For we are the temple of the living God;

We are counted righteous in Christ. We are the children of light. We are new creation in Christ. We are believers, trusting in Jesus; dependent on Jesus. We are the temple of the living God.

This is not the first time the Corinthians have heard this stunning affirmation. Back in 1 Corinthians 3 he said:

1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. …16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

This is stunning language. You are God’s temple. God’s Spirit dwells in you! It is even more staggering when you understand that there are two different Greek words for ‘temple’ in the New Testament. The more common word [ἱερόν] is the word that is used when we read that Jesus overturned tables, healed, and taught in the temple. ἱερόν refers to the whole temple grounds, including the courtyard. But this word [ναὸς] is more specific; it is the word for the sanctuary itself. This is the word where Zechariah was confronted by the angel while offering incense in the temple, where the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, when Jesus, referring to his own body, said:

John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

You are the temple sanctuary! Where none but set apart and properly purified priests could enter; you are now the temple sanctuary.

In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul said

1 Corinthians 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? …19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul uses the temple imagery to argue against divisions in the church; in 1 Corinthians 6, he urges personal moral purity, because God dwells in each believer individually. Here in 2 Corinthians 6 Paul points to the church as the end-times fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, an identity which demands holiness.

For: Identity Transforms Association

Paul says ‘for,’ because. Separation is demanded because of what we are. This is the foundation for not being unequally yoked. Notice, the foundation for what we do is who we are in Christ. It is not the other way around; we do not become the temple because we live holy lives. We live separated lives because we are the temple.

We are the temple of the living God. This is no false God of the pagans; this is the living God of the Bible! He is the one who has never not existed. He is the author and origin of all life, the life giver, the living one.

Notice also, Paul says ‘we.’ He places himself alongside us, his readers, and says ‘we’. This is not ‘I’ have it all figured out and ‘you’ need to get your act together. Paul and the believers in Corinth are together, they are on the same side of the equation. They are fundamentally the same. They are righteousness, they are light, they are in Christ. They are believers – those who are trusting in the finished work of Jesus. Paul is pursuing reconciliation, both reconciliation of the Corinthians to God, and to himself as apostle. They need to live out the truth of the gospel; they are one in Christ. They together are the temple of God. They need to act like it!

As God Said: Leviticus 26 and Ezekiel 37

Paul stitches together a patchwork of Old Testament promises to paint a composite of who we are, intermixed with the appropriate response of separation.

2 Corinthians 6:16 …For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

This is a mashup of verses from as diverse places as Leviticus, Ezekiel, Isaiah, 2 Samuel together with some other Scriptural echoes. Some are exact quotations from the Greek Old Testament, some are paraphrases, reworded to fit the context here.

Indwelling and Covenant Identity

2 Corinthians 6:16 …“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This is an overlay of Leviticus 26:11-12 with Ezekiel 37:27. Rather than following the Greek translation, it seems Paul made his own translation of the Hebrew. Literally, we could translate Paul’s Greek as ‘I will indwell in them’. He is emphatic, duplicating the prefix ‘in’ with the preposition ‘in’.

God says ‘I will indwell in them, and walk among them.’ This echoes Eden where God walked with man in the garden, but so much better! The Lord told his disciples that the Holy Spirit is with you and will be in you. He walks with us, among us, but he lives in us! He will never leave us! Stop for a moment and just let this soak in. We, you and I, the church, we are the temple of the living God.

‘I will be their God and they shall be my people.’ This is the language of the covenant. God redeemed his people out of Egypt to be in relationship with him. He literally would pitch his tent in the middle of their camp and live with them. He entered into covenant relationship with them. He would be to them their God, and he would take them to be his people.

Leviticus 26 begins by reiterating the prohibition against idolatry and promises blessings on those who walk in his ways. God says

Leviticus 26:11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

In a passage where he commands that they be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, he quotes a passage which reminds them that God has shattered their yoke of slavery.

Ezekiel 37 comes in the context of the new covenant promises of Ezekiel 36 where God says:

Ezekiel 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 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. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 37 is the vision of the valley of dry bones, where God’s Spirit is able to give life to the dead and make their dry bones live. The second half of Ezekiel 37 points to the re-uniting of the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah under one King. God will cleanse them of their idolatry (v.23), and

Ezekiel 37:26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

Paul takes this text from Leviticus 26, immediately after leaving Egypt, promising blessing to those who walk in his ways, and stitches it together with Ezekiel 37, written from the despair of Babylonian captivity after centuries of disobedience, but pointing to a future hope of God again dwelling with his people. Paul addresses the Gentile church in Corinth and uses these texts to support his assertion ‘we are the temple of the living God.’

Therefore: Response of Separation; Isaiah 52

2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,

Paul adds an introductory ‘therefore’ to Isaiah 52:11. This added ‘therefore’ is critical to understanding what Paul is doing here.

Notice, everything in the quotations in verse 16 consists of promises of what God will do.

2 Corinthians 6:16 …For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This is extremely one-sided. God indwells in us. God walks among us. God will be our God and take us to be his people. This is all God. That’s where Paul starts. Then he connects it to an exhortation to us with ‘therefore.’ Because this is true. Because you are already the temple of the living God. Because God has made his dwelling in you, because God walks among you, because God is your God and has taken you as his own people, because all this is already true, therefore. There is an appropriate response on our side. We must respond to what God has done. God is the initiator. We are always only the responders. Because of what God has done, therefore, we must reciprocate.

Isaiah 52 looks forward to the exiles at the end of the Babylonian captivity. God demonstrates that he is present, he reigns, he returns, he has comforted, he has redeemed, he alone saves. He says in verse 2 ‘loose the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion’; This is God who sets his people free from an oppressive yoke of bondage.

Isaiah 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD.

In this context it is clear that this is not a pride thing, as if we are above others, better than others. God’s people were in captivity to a foreign nation because of their sin, their idolatry, their disobedience. It is in spite of their rebellion, in order to display the glory of his own glorious name, that he saves, at great personal cost to himself (see Isaiah 52-53).

We also see that this is not a burdensome command, as if we reluctantly have to deny ourselves and part with our treasured pleasures. Think of a slave finally freed from oppressive bondage. They are eager to take a bath, to wash away any residue of their slavery and be finally rid of it all. This is the absurdity of Lot and his wife; they are being rescued from a wicked place and from the Lord’s judgment, and they don’t really want to leave.

Adopted by the Almighty; Ezekiel 20; 2 Samuel 7 and Isaiah 43

Paul goes on,

2 Corinthians 6:17 …then I will welcome you,

This phrase seems to be lifted from Ezekiel 20:34

Ezekiel 20:34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out.

Gather in the Greek is this word welcome; literally ‘receive into’. This too comes from a context of God’s people rescued from their enemies, brought in, brought home.

2 Corinthians 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

This is simply stunning! Paul takes the Eden and temple metaphor, that God walks with us and dwells in us, and turns it to a family metaphor; adoption. We are welcomed, not only as created beings, not only as servants, but as loved children.

This comes from 2 Samuel 7, where David desires to build God a permanent house in Jerusalem, and God reverses this and promises that he will build David a house.

2 Samuel 7:11 …Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.

This points beyond Solomon to David’s greater Son, whose throne will be established forever, who is indeed the Son of God. Because we are in Christ, we are sons of God through faith (Gal.3:26). Paul changes this to plural and even adds daughters, likely an echo of Isaiah 43:6 where both sons and daughters appear together.

His closing phrase, the third different way he states that this is what God said, likely comes from the context of 2 Samuel 7:8

2 Corinthians 6:18 …says the Lord Almighty.”

This is the typical LXX translation of ‘the Lord of hosts’ or ‘Lord of armies’; YHWH Tsabaoth’ (Rom.9:28, Jam.5:4)

Conclusion

This is a staggering passage. Paul calls us, Gentiles, the church ‘the temple of the living God.’ And he backs this up with God’s word; God’s promises to ‘indwell in us’ to walk among us, to be our God and take us in covenant relationship to be his people.

Because of these staggering promises he exhorts us to throw off the yoke and walk in freedom; go out from their midst, be separate from them, touch no unclean thing.

And he sandwiches this exhortation with more astounding promises; And I will welcome you, I will be a Father to you, You shall be sons and daughters to me.

Stand in awe of God’s promises. Look at who you are, who he has called you to be. And be who you are. Live free. Don’t be entangled again in a yoke of bondage.

***

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

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May 13, 2019 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20180520_2cor3_6.mp3

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?

Ministers

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.

Covenant

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.

forgiveness

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 ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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

1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Glorify God in Your Temple

10/20 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Glorify God in Your Temple;Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20131020_1cor6_19-20.mp3

1Cor 6 [SBLGNT]

19 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν ναὸς τοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν ἁγίου πνεύματός ἐστιν, οὗ ἔχετε ἀπὸ θεοῦ ; καὶ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἑαυτῶν, 20 ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς· δοξάσατε δὴ τὸν θεὸν ἐν τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν.

1Cor 6 [ESV2011]

1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Again, in the context of a severe rebuke, in the context of sin and selfishness and sexual immorality, against this dark backdrop, we have a most beautiful reminder of the gospel, the good news, and a pointer to the ultimate purpose for which we were created, and to which we have been rescued.

Apparently the Corinthian believers were claiming under the banner of Christian liberty that they were free to live immoral self-centered, greedy lifestyles. Paul is quick to point out that those who continue in willful disobedience to Christ, those who refuse to follow Jesus, give evidence that they are not part of the family of God, and will not inherit the kingdom. He points them past the mere thought of what is permissible to ask what is profitable, what is beneficial. He warns that so-called liberties can lead us into bondage to sin, proving that what we might flaunt as freedom may become for us another form of slavery. He raises our sights beyond merely gratifying our physical desires, to realize that what we were really made for, that only which will fulfill our innermost desires, is the Lord. We were made to enjoy relationship with our Creator. He points us to the human sexual relationship as creating a one flesh union, and he parallels the intimacy of that union to our union with Jesus, which brings us into, not a one flesh union, but a one spirit union with him.

Do You Not Know?

In verse 19, the Apostle asks the eighth of ten ‘do you not know’ questions in 1 Corinthians. Christian doctrine has practical implications. What we believe affects how we live. The problems in the church are evidence that they have not grasped the implications of biblical truth. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? These are basic truths that he had taught them as new believers in Jesus. They ought to know this.

Indwelling Spirit

Even in the Old Testament Scriptures, we see the coming of the Holy Spirit anticipated in passages like

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

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 promised that there was a day coming that he would put his own Spirit in his people.

We hear Jesus saying:

Luke 11:13 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!”

Jesus told his disciples:

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit, who had been with them,would come to live inside of them. This is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies that God would put his Spirit within his people. This was a promise worth waiting for. In Acts 1, Jesus,

Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Jesus had said in John 7:

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This became the evidence in the New Testament church of genuine faith in Jesus. This was a major argument for allowing Gentile believers who had not been circumcised into the church. In Acts 10, Peter argues:

Acts 10:47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

In Acts 19, Paul asks an isolated group who had only been baptized with the baptism of John:

Acts 19:2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

Paul had already told the Corinthians in 3:16

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

In that passage, he was addressing the Corinthians as a body of believers, who together were indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Here, in chapter 6, he is referring to each individual believer, specifically to their physical bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?…

This was a fulfillment of what Jesus said to the woman of Samaria about the place of worship.

John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

No longer in the temple in Jerusalem. Not in the temple in Samaria. Now we worship the Father wherever we are, in spirit and truth, in the temple of our bodies. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is God Omnipresent

This passage provides strong evidence for the full deity of the Holy Spirit. “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” A temple is the place where God lives. If being indwelt by the Holy Spirit constitutes our bodies as a temples, then the Holy Spirit must be fully divine. This also argues for the everywhere presence of God. How could Paul in Ephesus, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, write to the believers in Corinth who are also indwelt by the same Holy Spirit? How could we believers in Utah be indwelt by the same Holy Spirit who fills the believers in the underground church in China? God is Spirit, and God is everywhere present. Each of our bodies, together with the bodies of every believer in Jesus, serve as temples of the Holy Spirit who is within you.

The Spirit a Gift from God

Paul tells us that all this is a gift. The indwelling Spirit is from God.

Jesus continually used the language of giving in relation to the Holy Spirit. A gift is different from wages. There is nothing we could ever do to earn the right to have the Holy Spirit reside in us. Jesus described his Father as loving to give good gifts to his children. God is the giver and we, undeserving recipients receive his gifts.

Jesus told us that his Father would be the one who would give us the Spirit. This tells us that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father. Here again is another pointer in the Scripture to the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons, each equally divine, each everywhere present, yet there is only one God. In this passage, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, whom you have as a gift from God the Father, and we are each members of our Lord Jesus, having been joined to Jesus.

This is why it is so important what we do with our physical bodies. Your body is meant for the Lord Jesus. Your physical body will be resurrected by the Father. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not desecrate the temple with anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit. Do not do anything with your body that would be inappropriate to bring Jesus into. In the context, Paul is warning against sexual immorality which is unthinkable for the one who belongs to Jesus.

You Are Not Your Own

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

This is a strong statement in today’s culture. We take pride in our freedom. Paul is in no uncertain terms declaring that if you are a follower of Jesus, you are no longer free. You are not your own. We want to be autonomous. We want to be able to do what we want to do, when we want to do it, and nobody can tell me what I can and can’t do. Paul says here that you are not your own. You are no longer in charge. You are not master of your own destiny. You do not have the freedom to choose even what you do with your body. In fact your body is no longer your own. You belong to someone. You are owned. You are possessed and occupied by someone. What you do with your body is no longer yours to decided. Of course, the bible never describes us as moving from freedom and autonomy into slavery to God. The way the bible always describes our situation is moving from hard bondage to a cruel taskmaster into slavery to Jesus.

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

The bible does describe this service to Jesus as true freedom, not the freedom to do whatever we want, including the freedom to destroy ourselves. The bible describes service to God as the freedom to be what we were created to be, the freedom to love and serve and worship our good Creator.

Bought With A Price

We are not our own. We are owned by God and occupied by the Holy Spirit. Paul backs up this assertion with the fact that we have been purchased by Jesus Christ. He says ”for you were bought with a price.” This word ‘bought’ is unique. It means ‘to buy in the marketplace’ and it is used in the gospels for buying food, supplies, property, cattle, and items of value. This is one of six places in the New Testament where this term describes God purchasing people for himself. In chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses the issue of slavery and freedom and says:

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.

In 2 Peter he describes the incongruity of false teachers,

2 Peter 2:1 …even denying the Master who bought them…

In Revelation this word is used 3 times to describe those who belong to God. In chapter 5, the price paid is specified.

Revelation 5:9 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 [bought] people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Jesus paid the price for us by his own blood.

Peter uses the more common word for ransom to describe the price paid.

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Gomer

We are not our own. We were bought with a price. In order to help us understand our purchase, God has given us the picture of Hosea. God told Hosea to take a wife out of prostitution. After she had become his wife and borne children to Hosea, she apparently left him and returned to her life of prostitution. She ended up on the auction block as a slave. Hosea was told to go and buy her back again. She did not deserve his love. She was rescued. And after she returned to her former way of life, she deserved the humiliation and shame she suffered. But her husband came to the marketplace where she was being sold, paid the price to buy her back, covered her shame, and brought her home to himself. That is the condition we were in. We were unworthy, unlovable, offensive, full of shame, and all of our own doing. Yet God loved us. He paid the ultimate price to buy back what was rightfully his. He brought us to himself to be his own treasured possession.

Our Ultimate Purpose

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

What is our response to be? How should we respond to God’s unfathomable grace? We cannot be proud. We cannot draw attention to ourselves. What do we think of Gomer? We don’t think much of her. She is not the main character of the story. She is humbled, but she is loved. What do we think about Hosea? We are amazed at his love, his forgiveness, his grace. We see his character shine. That is the purpose of our purchase. We are not the main character in the story. It is not all about us. God’s character, his love, his forgiveness, his mercy and grace is on display.

We cannot act as if our life is our own to live as we wish. We sold ourselves into slavery, but we were bought back with the precious blood of Jesus. If by God’s grace we have become followers of Jesus, we must follow Jesus. We must listen to what he says and do what he tells us. He is our Master and Lord. He is our king. We must submit to his authority.

How can I glorify God in my body? I can use my body for things that honor God. I can say with Joseph, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen.39:9). I have been purchased with a great price for a great purpose. My body is meant for the Lord. I can live with purpose. My purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him. I am now free to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. I am free to love my neighbor as myself.

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

October 20, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 30:22-33; The Holy Anointing Oil

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20120527_exodus30_22-33.mp3

05/27 Exodus 30:22-33 The Holy Anointing Oil (40:9-15)

We are coming to the end of the instructions for the elaborate tent in which God will symbolically dwell with his people. After all the things are made, they are to be made holy or set apart for God. The people also, who will serve him as priests, are to be set apart as holy to the LORD. This is what the anointing oil is for.

Exodus 30:22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, 24 and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. 25 And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. 26 With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, 27 and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28 and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. 30 You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 31 And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32 It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33 Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’”

Then in chapter 40, we see God’s instructions for applying this oil.

Exodus 40:9 “Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. 10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. 11 You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water 13 and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14 You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15 and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”

Everything in the tabernacle was to be anointed with this special oil.

Practical Uses of Oil

In our culture we don’t think of using olive oil for much outside of cooking. So it might be helpful to look first at some of the practical uses of oil in biblical times. Oil was considered a treasure (2Ki.20:13), highly valued for its many uses. Of course, oil was used for cooking (Lev.6:21), and was included with most of the sacrifices. We already saw that pure beaten olive oil served to fuel the lamps that illuminated the holy place (Ex.27:20). Oil was also applied to people and to things. Oil was applied to metal and leather objects to prevent them from rusting and keep them in good working condition (2Sam.1:21; Is.21:5). There were medicinal uses for oil. Oil was applied to people’s heads to kill lice. Oil was used to treat wounds and soften scabs (Is.6:1; Lk.10:34). Oil was applied to newborn babies (Eze.16:9). Oils were used to treat the sick (Mk.6:13; Jam.5:14). Oil was used to keep the skin soft and beautiful (Esther 2:12; Ps.104:15) Perfumed oil covered odors and made things smell good (Sol.1:3). Oil, wine and grain were evidence of God’s blessing.

Oil for Consecration

Oil was also used for consecrating, or setting something or someone apart for a specific use or duty. In this passage in Exodus, we see both the furniture and the people of the tabernacle set apart to God by the application of the sacred anointing oil. This particular formula of oil and fragrances was to be used exclusively for the tabernacle. It was not to be duplicated or used for any common thing. It was not to be put on anyone but the priests. We are told in verse 32 that it is holy, and it is to be treated as holy. This distinctive smell was to be associated exclusively with God’s presence.

Kings were also to be set apart for service by anointing with oil. We see David anointed to be king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16.

1 Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward…

Jesus the Anointed One

The Hebrew word for anointing is where we get the word Messiah, which means ‘the anointed one’, or ‘the one set apart to God’; it is translated in the Greek as ‘Christ’.

We see Jesus, who fulfills the role of the promised Messiah, who holds the title of the Christ, speak of his anointing in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth.

Luke 4:17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus here claims to have been set apart or anointed by God for service. But we are not told anywhere that Jesus was ever anointed with oil. Jesus was anointed with the Spirit. One chapter earlier, in Luke 3, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism, and in chapter 4 verse 1, he is described as ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ and as ‘led by the Spirit’. In verse 14 he returns victorious from temptation ‘in the power of the Spirit’. And then he reads from Isaiah 61 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me.’ and he says ‘today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’. Jesus is the anointed one, the Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit. When Peter preaches in Acts 10, he points out:

Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

God anointed Jesus, not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit. Notice that the triune God is at work here; the Father anoints the Son with the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One, perfectly fulfills the roles of anointed prophet, priest and king. As prophet, he speaks God’s words to his people. As priest, he brings God’s people into God’s presence through sacrifice. As king, he rules over God’s people with justice, righteousness and compassion. Jesus is the Anointed One, the anointed Prophet, Priest and King. He is anointed, not with fragrant oil, but anointed by his Father with the permeating presence of the Holy Spirit.

This anointing oil had several spices blended together to make a pleasing aroma. Listen to how Isaiah describes the various aspects of the Spirit’s role in the life of Jesus.

Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

What a fragrant aroma is this! Wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, the fear of the LORD. Isaiah goes on to describe the outflow of the Spirit-empowered life of Jesus in righteousness, equity, justice, faithfulness. Jesus is our great example of what the Spirit-controlled life looks like.

Spirit Poured Out on Believers

God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit. But did you know that this anointing with the Spirit is the New Covenant blessing that comes to us who believe in Jesus? Jesus, our great High Priest, was anointed by his Father with the Holy Spirit, and we, chosen to be ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’ (1Pet.2:9), are also anointed as priests with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told his disciples that his Father would send the Holy Spirit.

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Imagine! ‘It is to your advantage that I go away’. Jesus is telling his disciples that he is leaving and where he is going they cannot yet come. They don’t fully understand what he is saying, but sorrow has filled their hearts. And then he says ‘it is to your advantage that I go away.’ What could be better than having Jesus, in person, physically here with us? Better than having Jesus physically here in our presence is having the blessing of the Spirit living inside of you. ‘It is to your advantage that I go.’ Do we, followers of Jesus, believe him?

In Acts 1, the resurrected Jesus is commanding his disciples to wait for the promised Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” …8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus says his followers will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Not merely anointed, poured on the head, flowing down on the beard and on the robes, but immersed in, totally submerged in, drenched with the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament prophesies we see promise of the New Covenant blessing of the Spirit poured out.

Isaiah 32:15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 39:29 And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”

Joel 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

These various Hebrew words for ‘pour out’ carry the idea of ‘pour out until nothing is left’ or ’empty out’; ‘pour out or flow like molten metal’; ‘pour or gush out’; the idea of abundance and generosity is captured well by the New Testament word ‘immersed’ or ‘baptized in’. God promised that he would pour out his Spirit on his people, that he would put his Spirit within them.

All Believers Have the Holy Spirit

The Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

Jesus fulfilled his promise to his disciples at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. But who does this promise apply to? Is it for the original disciples only, or is it also for us? What are the requirements for receiving the blessings of the Holy Spirit? Peter extended the invitation to everyone.

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

To repent is to have a change of mind and heart, to turn; to turn away from what you were hoping in and holding on to and placing your trust in something different. Turn away from your own good works and self-righteousness and turn to Jesus for forgiveness of sins, and Peter says ‘you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’. But what about water baptism? Does this verse say that water baptism is a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit? No. Water baptism was the outward act that represented the inward change of heart. We see this later in Acts. Peter was called to bring the good news of forgiveness by trusting in the finished work of Jesus to the Gentiles.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.

Peter proclaimed the good news, and the hearts of his hearers responded by turning to Jesus with faith. Immediately, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. They had not been water baptized. They had not done anything.

Acts 10:46 …Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

Remember, Jesus said that his followers would be baptized or immersed in the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a physical picture of this spiritual reality. These Gentiles who believed in Jesus were evidently immersed in the Holy Spirit. Everyone there could see evidence of his presence in their lives. Peter is arguing that the symbol (water baptism) be allowed because the reality that it pictures (Spirit baptism) had already happened. This is the consistent teaching of the New Testament.

Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It is not the washing with water that matters, but the washing of regeneration – the new life created by the Holy Spirit. And notice, this is not done sparingly or reluctantly. God pours out the Holy Spirit on us richly, lavishly.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 1 that God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing; and then he goes on to list: election, predestination, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, inheritance; and he goes on to say:

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

When you heard and believed the good news of salvation in Jesus, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Every believer in Jesus has every spiritual blessing in Christ; every believer has been immersed in the Holy Spirit. No exceptions. Paul tells us in Romans 5:

Romans 5:5 …God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

And he tells us in Romans 8

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him

If God’s Spirit does not dwell in you, that is evidence that you do not belong to Christ, because everyone who belongs to him has God’s Holy Spirit poured out on them. The anointing oil marked off and set apart things and people as God’s, and gave them a distinct fragrance. God sets us apart as his by pouring out his Holy Spirit on us.

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

The Spirit as a Guarantee

The Holy Spirit is never withdrawn from the believer. The verses in Ephesians tell us that when we heard and believed the gospel, we:

Ephesians 1:13 …were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

A seal and guarantee is of no value if it can be withdrawn. The Holy Spirit is God’s down-payment on our final salvation. As we saw last time, salvation is past, present, and future. We have been justified, we are being sanctified, and we will be glorified. God’s Holy Spirit is the guarantee that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil.1:6). We have, not a thing, but the person of God the Holy Spirit living in us as his own seal and guarantee.

We see this also in:

2 Corinthians 1:21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

2 Corinthians 5:5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

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

1 John 2:20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One… 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you…

The Spirit in us makes us part of Christ’s body, the church.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

The Spirit Transforms

If we have the great advantage of the Holy Spirit poured out on us, living in us, setting us apart for his service and sanctifying us, then as there was in the early Gentile believers, there should be observable evidence of God the Spirit living in us.

God promised:

Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The Spirit of the living God cannot fail to accomplish his purposes in us. He will produce.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. …25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

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

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 25:1-9; 35:4-36:7 – The Gift of Giving

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20120226_exodus25_1-9.mp3

2/26 Exodus 25:1-9 The Gift of Giving (Ex.35:4-36:7)

God has rescued his people. He has saved them by a mighty demonstration of his power. He has redeemed them. He has brought them to himself. He has instructed and taught them what it means to be in a relationship with him. God now gives them the gift of his presence. God will take up residence and dwell among his people. God here instructs his people to build the tabernacle, a sanctuary, a holy place, not because he needs a home, but so that they will understand what it means to have a holy God living among them, and so that they will know that he indeed is dwelling with them. If I were to ask you what the book of Exodus is about, what would you say? I would expect to hear things like ‘God rescuing his people from Egypt’ or ‘the ten plagues’ or ‘the ten commandments’; but if we look at what is most important based simply on what gets the most pages of text devoted to it, we would have to say that Exodus is about the tabernacle; about God dwelling with his people. In the next seven chapters, we have detailed instructions as to how this structure is to be constructed. Then we have two chapters narrating how the Israelites made up their own way to worship and in the process violated their covenant with God. God mercifully forgives their transgression and renews his covenant with them, and the rest of the book details how they faithfully constructed the tabernacle according to the divine specifications. The book concludes with God’s awesome presence coming to dwell with his people. So Exodus is about salvation and rescue and deliverance, and Exodus is about the giving of God’s law, but a major focus of Exodus is God’s gracious presence with his people. God’s stated purpose for the Exodus was ‘that they may serve me’ or ‘worship me’ (Ex.4:23; 7:16; 8:1,20; 9:1,13; 10:3). So we have come to the focal point of the book.

Exodus 25:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. 3 And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, 5 tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

This section (25-31) starts with the invitation to give to supply the materials for the construction, and then moves through the construction from the most important things that are closest to God’s presence and works its way outward away from the presence of God. The section that records the actual building of the tabernacle (35-40) also starts with the collection of the materials, but then proceeds in the sequence of actual construction. This is God’s invitation to give.

Notice a few things about this invitation to give. First it is entirely voluntary. There are other places where giving is commanded, like the tenth that goes to support those who labor in service to the Lord (Num.18:24), but here all are given the opportunity to contribute, but it is to be purely voluntary. ‘From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me’. If your heart doesn’t move you to give, then don’t give. When Paul was talking about collecting a special offering to help the destitute saints in Jerusalem, he said:

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Paul highlights the abundant generosity of those in Macedonia:

2 Corinthians 8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints– 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

“Begging earnestly for the favor of taking part” in this offering!

Flip over to Exodus 35 and we’ll see how the people responded to God’s invitation to give:

Exodus 35:4 Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. 5 Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, 7 tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, 8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 9 and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. …

20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the LORD’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25 And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

…36:3 And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 4 so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5 and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.

We see such an overwhelming response of eager participation that Moses had to restrain the people from giving by a command, because they brought too much. “Whoever is of a generous heart; everyone whose heart stirred him, everyone whose spirit moved him; all who were of a willing heart; all the women whose heart stirred them to use their skill; all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring anything brought it as a freewill offering; they still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning; the people bring much more than enough!”

So this offering was to be voluntary and joyfully given. We also see that this offering was specific. God stated exactly what was to be given. Not your worn-out couch and your jeans that don’t fit, not the winter boots you never wear and that big old television that you replaced with the latest technology wide-screen. God specified exactly what was needed, and it was to be the very best. Gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, the finest dyed fabrics and skins, oils and wood products. The people were to worship God in the way he specified, not in whatever way they chose.

So the offering was to be joyful and voluntary, it was to be only what God specified, and it was given to God. God told Moses ‘you shall receive a contribution for me‘. Moses was to facilitate the giving, the materials went to God’s appointed Spirit-filled craftsmen to do the actual building, but the giving was giving to God. God was the one who asked, and God was the one who ultimately received the offering.

But let’s remember, lest we have the attitude when we give that we are helping God out and meeting some deficiency in him, Paul reminds us in Romans:

Romans 11:35 “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.

And James reminds us:

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

So anything we give belonged to God already, he entrusted it to us to use as wise stewards of his resources, and we are simply returning a portion of it at his request. Jesus told a parable about the wicked tenants of his vineyard who acted as if what they were entrusted with belonged to him (Mt.21; Mk.12; Lk.20). It didn’t end so well for them. Here in Exodus, we could ask, where did the people get all this stuff that they donated? After all, they fled as fugitive slaves from Egypt. Remember back in chapter 3, God said:

Exodus 3:21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

And we see this fulfilled in Exodus 12:

Exodus 12:35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Now God is asking for a portion of what he had given them to be freely and voluntarily given back to him.

To Dwell In Their Midst

Let’s look again at the purpose for all this giving.

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

God’s intention was to create a holy space in which he would bless the people with the gift of his presence. That is why precision had to be taken in following his instructions. This, remember, is to be a replica of the heavenly presence of God, literally a piece of heaven on earth. Soldiers on the move would camp around the tent of their king. God himself is coming as King to pitch his tent in the middle of his people. The Commander of his army comes to sit enthroned in the center of the war-camp of Israel. The purpose of the tabernacle was the presence of God with his people. This points us to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in the gospel according to Matthew:

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

The tabernacle was a picture of God dwelling with his people that finds its fulfillment in Jesus. This portable sanctuary was replaced in the time of Solomon by a more permanent structure, the temple. Jesus said:

Matthew 12:6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.

Something greater than the temple! What was Jesus claiming? In the beginning of the gospel of John, we are told of Jesus:

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 word ‘dwelt’ is directly connected back to the tabernacle. We could translate it ‘the Word became flesh and pitched his tent, or tabernacled among us. In John 2, when questioned about proof of his authority for cleansing the temple:

John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” …21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus referred to his human body as a temple. He became flesh and tabernacled among us. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. Something greater than the temple is here! This is indeed good news.

But it doesn’t stop here! Biblically, we can take this concept of God dwelling with his people one step further. Jesus said

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, … for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Then Jesus says:

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Paul pointed us in Colossians1:27 to “the hope of glory, which is Christ in you.” He tells us in Ephesians 3:17 “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Jesus went on to say:

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.

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, taking up residence in you! Paul in Ephesians 2 describes the the people who make up Christ’s church as:

Ephesians 2:19 …fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 describes himself as a skilled master builder laying the one foundation – and that one foundation is Jesus Christ. He warns us not to lay any other foundation, and he warns us to take care how we build on that foundation. He goes on to say:

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you [corporately] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

You, the people in whom God resides, you all, who as a group make up the church, are God’s temple. In 1 Corinthians 6, he applies this to the individual believer who is tempted with sexual immorality. He says:

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

In 2 Corinthians 6, arguing for purity and separation from partnership with that which is not of God, he says:

2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

We are the temple of the living God. God has made his dwelling in us, the church, in us, believers.

Contributions for the New Covenant Temple

Now let’s bring this back around to the invitation to contribute, and ask, in light of the temple now being us, those in whom God dwells, in what way can we contribute to the construction efforts today. How can we contribute to the building of God’s church today? And when you hear the word ‘church’, please try to retrain yourself to think, not of a building, but of people. God’s church is made up of people. How can we be a part of building a dwelling place for God in the hearts of people of every tribe and tongue and nation (Rev.5:9)?

First, as Jesus commissioned us, we can go:

Matthew 28:19 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.”

And second, we can send. Paul points us to the good news for every nation:

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. …13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And then he asks the question:

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

May our giving and our going be glad, voluntary, joyful, eager participation in the privilege of giving and of serving. In our giving and our serving, may it be to God and not to man. May our giving be a giving back to God out of the abundance of grace that has been poured into our hearts. And may we savor the awesome presence of God, Father, Son and Spirit, who makes his home in us today. 

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

February 26, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment