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2 Corinthians 4:6; The Creative Power of Authentic Ministry

08/19_2 Corinthians 4:6; The Creative Power of Authentic Ministry; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20180819_2cor4_6.mp3

Paul is describing authentic Christian ministry; giving reason why he does not lose heart, get discouraged, give up, burn out. Ministry, the ability and opportunity to serve others, is a gift. It is God’s mercy to sinners.

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

He describes his methods; he does not use shameful hidden methods; he refuses to water down, add to, or distort God’s word. He speaks plainly, openly, with integrity.

He recognizes there is an adversary to the truth, a powerful enemy who seeks our eternal destruction, who would cast a veil over the hearts and minds of people to keep them from seeing the truth.

2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

He lays out the simple message he does proclaim; the person of Jesus, the Christ, the Lord, and he explains his role as a minister of the gospel.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 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.

Verse 6, our subject today, he gives us the creative power of authentic ministry, the ultimate ground of his confidence in gospel ministry, why he is content to openly proclaim the truth, to not adjust the message to suit his audience, and why he does not lose heart even in the face of seeming ministry failure. We proclaim Jesus, and God speaks and shines light in hearts that are veiled and blinded. God is powerful to overcome the darkness. Authentic ministry is ministry God speaks through to accomplish his purposes.

God Said

The ministry Paul is talking about is primarily a speaking ministry; he simply and plainly heralds the Lord Jesus Christ. He proclaims. He uses words to communicate truth. He communicates simply, openly, plainly. His ministry is ministry of the word; he administers God’s word to people. He communicates God’s truth. He communicates the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ as Lord. Ministry is speaking, proclaiming, communicating truth, to reflect our God who is a communicating, speaking God. Verse 6 begins ‘because God said.’

Don’t ever let this cease to amaze you. Our God is a speaking God, a communicating God. He could have left us wondering, guessing, groping in the dark. But he spoke. He communicates who he is, what he is like, what he requires, how we can have a relationship with him. Our God is a speaking God. We speak because he has spoken.

The Power of The Word

And his speech has power. When God speaks, things leap into being. That which did not exist comes into existence. Psalm 33 says:

Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. …9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

By his word, by the breath of his mouth, by his speaking, at his command, everything came into being. The heavens and all their starry hosts, universes, galaxies, all breathed out by him. Hebrews 11 says:

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

The universe created by the word of God. That which is visible came out of that which is invisible, the spoken word. God’s word is creative! God’s word has power! Romans 4 talks about

Romans 4:17…the God …who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

God calls, God speaks, and things that do not exist come into existence! This is absolute power! Everything God says happens.

This is what we are asking when in the Lord’s prayer we ask that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. May we respond to your word with unhesitating and absolute obedience, the way your word causes even things that do not exist to be for your pleasure.

Out of Darkness, Light Shine

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”

God commanded ‘out of darkness, light shine!’ Any idea what passage Paul is referring to here?

The first thing that comes to mind is creation, where ‘God said Let light be, and light came into existence’ (Gen.1:3). Darkness was over the face of the deep, and God said “Let there be light.” and there was light. Genesis 1 is clearly in mind here, because God is creating light out of darkness. And he does it with his word. He speaks, and it comes into being. 2 Corinthians 4:6 starts out ‘the God who said’ and Genesis 1:3 starts out ‘and God said’. But in Genesis 1, God says ‘let light be or exist; in 2 Corinthians he says ‘let light shine’ – a different verb. And Genesis 1 takes place at the beginning of creation, before humankind exists; where 2 Corinthians is talking about God shining light into human hearts made flesh. So while Genesis 1 is definitely in mind, there may be other passages in mind as well.

There is another passage that includes darkness, light, and the same verb ‘to shine’ that we find in 2 Corinthians 4. It is Isaiah 9. You are probably familiar with the well-known Christmas passage Isaiah 9:6:

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9 begins by pointing us to ‘Galilee of the nations,’ and verse 2 says:

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Here the subject is people, people walking in darkness, upon whom the light shines. And in the context of Isaiah 9, the light shining is the child born, the son given, whose name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Matthew 4:13-16 quotes Isaiah 9:1-2 and says that it is fulfilled in Jesus. The light shining in the darkness of human hearts is Jesus!

In Isaiah 60 we see this same theme again of light coming into darkness, and it is the glory of the Lord on people.

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

The light that overcomes the thick darkness is the glory of YHWH rising. What we proclaim is Jesus Christ as Lord; YWHW.

John’s gospel begins this way.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Jesus is the true light that shines in the darkness, that gives light, that was coming into the world. Notice in John’s gospel that he names this one ‘the Word.’ The Word gives life and light. It is the speaking one, the communicating one, the one we proclaim; Jesus Christ the Lord.

Paul takes a thread from Genesis 1 where God brings light into existence that did not exist by his powerful word, and ties it together with Isaiah 9, where the promised Son of God shines light into the deep darkness of humankind, and Isaiah 60 where the light is the glory of YHWH.

The Means of Conversion

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

Paul is talking about confidence in gospel ministry, and he points to his own conversion, and he invites us to think of our own conversion. The God who said ‘out of darkness, light shine!’ has shone in our hearts.

Do you remember? Do you remember when the lights came on for you? I grew up in a Christian family, in a Christian church, attending camp and Sunday School. I knew all about Jesus, and Samson and Delilah and David and Goliath and Adam and Eve and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Paul and Timothy. I knew all about creation and Babel and the ark and the tabernacle and the disciples and the miracles and the cross and the resurrection. I knew that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I knew it. I saw it all in living color on Mrs. Dean’s flannel graph. I even believed it. But I remember when I got it. When it came home to me. When the lights turned on. When God shone in my heart to give the light of the knowledge of Jesus. I felt the weight of my sin, and I was a grievous sinner at the ripe age of seven. I had been feeling the weight of my sin, but now I saw that Jesus took that sin – my sin. He died in my place. For me! He loved me and gave himself up for me. He was pursuing me. He wanted a relationship with me! I finally got it, and I wanted it. I wanted him! I embraced his forgiveness. I embraced him. How did it happen for you? When did the lights come on?

Paul invites us to look at our own conversion, our own transformation, our own new birth, as something God did. God the Creator spoke light into existence in our hearts and our blind eyes began to see! People talked ’till they were blue in the face, explained, clarified, answered questions… nothing. But when God said ‘let light be,’ then the lights came on.

The Creator God has shone in our hearts and we saw. We can take confidence in gospel ministry because we experienced God’s illuminating power. And we know he can turn the lights on for anyone!

Paul is confident in proclaiming plainly the simple message of Jesus Christ as Lord; he does not lose heart, because he is confident that God is at work shining in dark and veiled hearts to illuminate Jesus to them.

Romans 10 is helpful here. Romans 10:13 says:

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And then he goes on to explain:

Romans 10:14 How then will they 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? …17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Salvation comes through calling on Jesus in faith. Faith comes through hearing the word proclaimed. But not all who hear believe. God must turn the lights on. Proclamation is necessary, but it is not the decisive thing. God must be speaking in our speaking to create light in the hearts of those who are blind. Paul said in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 1:21 … it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. …23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

How is it that the folly of what we preach becomes the saving power of God and the wisdom of God? Through the God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ shining in our hearts to give light. We can confidently proclaim the simple message of Christ crucified, Jesus Christ as Lord, confident that God will open blind eyes and conquer hard hearts. We cannot ‘claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God’ (2Cor.3:5)

The Glory of God is the Glory of Christ

Let’s look again at what we see when God shines in our hearts.

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

What is it that we see? It is the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Let’s pair this with what our enemy wants to keep us from seeing in verse 4. What the enemy wants to blind us to is what God overcomes by his creative word to give us the light of knowledge. Paul states the same thing in different words, and the pairing of these two verses sheds even more light on Jesus.

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

What our adversary wants to keep us from seeing is ‘the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’

2 Corinthians 4:4——————————–2 Corinthians 4:6

In their case the god of this world————-For God, who said,

——————————————————- “Let light shine out of darkness,”

has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,—-has shone in our hearts

to keep them from seeing———————–to give

the light of the gospel—————————the light of the knowledge

of the glory of Christ,—————————of the glory of God

who is the image of God.———————–in the face of Jesus Christ.

‘The light of the gospel’ is ‘the light of the knowledge.’ what is the content of this knowledge, this good news? ‘The glory of Christ’ is ‘the glory of God’. Paul as plainly as ever identifies Christ with God. The knowledge of the glory of God is the good news of the glory of Christ. The glory of Christ is that he is very image of God. The glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

Christ.

O Lord, open our eyes to behold the good news of the glory of Christ the image of God; let us see the glory of God in the face of our Lord

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

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August 19, 2018 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 4:5; The Essence of Authentic Ministry

08/12_2 Corinthians 4:5; The Essence of Authentic Christian Ministry; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20180812_2cor4_5.mp3

Paul is defending his ministry, teaching us what authentic Christian ministry is. There are so many counterfeits. In Paul’s day, and in ours, many claim to be serving Christ, doing ministry, even sincerely believe they are serving Jesus, but sadly they fall short. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This is a terrifying prospect; to spend your life believing you are serving Jesus, to discover that in his estimation you have been a worker of lawlessness. But we don’t have to wonder, and we don’t have to worry. Both Jesus and Paul tell us clearly what authentic Christian ministry is.

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 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.

So far he has told us (in chapter 3) that authentic ministry is new covenant ministry; ministry that gives life, ministry that writes by the Spirit of God on the tablets of transformed hearts of flesh, ministry that brings righteousness, that brings transformation, that brings freedom, ministry that lasts.

These are some of the effects of authentic ministry; but what is authentic ministry? What does authentic ministry consist of?

A Proclaiming Ministry

The first thing we need to notice about authentic ministry is that it is a proclaiming ministry. Authentic ministry communicates a message with definite content.

Many today like to say that we just need to show love. After all, ‘they will know we are Christians by our love.’ First of all, this is not a fully accurate quotation. The passage referred to is

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It is not just generic love that this passage talks about, but specific love toward specific people. It is not just any love, it is Jesus’ love. And it is not love toward everyone; it is love toward one another; toward other disciples of Jesus. We are to love fellow followers of Jesus with the same kind of love with which Jesus loved us.

Authentic ministry must be characterized by love, both toward fellow believers and toward unbelievers. But that love must have content. It must have shape and contour and boundaries. It must not be fuzzy; it must be defined. Love must be defined by truth. We are to show love, and we are to show it by speaking truth. Authentic ministry is a proclaiming ministry. It communicates clearly and plainly the truth.

What is the content of authentic ministry?

Not Preaching Ourselves

He starts by clarifying emphatically what authentic ministry is not; ‘we preach not ourselves.’ There are two words for preaching or proclamation in the New Testament, and they overlap in their meaning. Both words indicate a herald announcing a message from the king, bringing a proclamation or a declaration. One word, sometimes translated evangelize or preach the gospel, leans more in its emphasis toward the content of the message as good news and the joy in the delivery. The other word, found here, leans more in its emphasis toward the weight of authority of the messenger, as one sent or commissioned with a message that carries the weight of authority of the one who sent him.

The herald does not promote himself. It’s not about the messenger. A herald doesn’t speak of his own authority, the message is not about him, he doesn’t draw attention to himself. It is not from him or about him or for him. He speaks with authority, but it is the authority of the one who sent him. He does draw attention, but he is to draw attention to the message, to the proclamation of the king. He delivers a message, but he does not determine the content of that message. He must be faithful to transmit the message accurately.

Be very wary of ministries that are self-promoting, where much attention and focus is on the minister or the ministry; look at us, look at what we are doing for the Lord.

Christian ministry should smell more like the ministry of John the Baptist.

John 3:26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Do you smell the genuine humility here? It’s not about me. It was never about me. I have this ministry not because I am so great, not because I am better at this than others; I have this ministry by the mercy of God. It is all a gift. It is all about him; he must increase. My joy is complete when people turn away from me, forget about me, and follow Jesus.

What we proclaim is not ourselves.

Proclaiming a Person

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake

What we proclaim is Jesus Christ. Authentic ministry proclaims a person. Listen to what he said back in chapter 1

2 Corinthians 1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, …

The content of our proclamation is not primarily what; it is whom. We herald a person. Authentic ministry announces a person. We proclaim Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28 says ‘him we proclaim.’ We want people to know a person. We get to introduce people to Jesus. When Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, he didn’t waste a lot of time on the governmental structure of the kingdom or the external manifestation of the kingdom. He said ‘the kingdom of God is among you’ because, he, the King, had arrived. The king was present, walking, living among his subjects. Jesus defined eternal life in John 17:3 in terms of relationship; knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ. Paul considered everything rubbish because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Phil.3:8-10). Knowing him is different from knowing of or knowing about him. Knowing him indicates personal relationship. This is why Jesus says to those who do many things in his name ‘depart from me, I never knew you’ (Mt.7:23).

John the Baptist rejoiced when his followers began to follow Jesus, because that is what real ministry is about. We want to see people following Jesus. We don’t want people following us. We don’t preach ourselves. We want everyone to follow Jesus. We proclaim a person; him we proclaim.

Christ Jesus as Lord

Of course, if we are proclaiming a person, then it is essential that we tell the truth about that person. We must accurately represent the one we herald. To misrepresent the one we claim to be heralding would be to fail both our Master and the ones we claim to be serving. We proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord. Jesus, YHWH is salvation; the name communicated by the angel to Mary and Joseph. Jesus, born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the historical person raised in Nazareth. Jesus proclaimed as the Christ, the promised Messiah King of the Jews. Christ Jesus the Lord; to Roman ears, the divine emperor-king; to Jewish ears, YHWH of the Scriptures, the great I AM. John understood his role as preparing the way for YHWH, the Lord. As heralds of Jesus, it is essential that we get Jesus right. Immanuel, God with us, come in the flesh to save us from our sins; Jesus crucified for our sins, buried, resurrected, who is alive today!

Proclaiming Ourselves as Your Slaves for Jesus’ Sake

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake

Authentic ministry is ministry that points away from self to Jesus, that draws attention to Jesus, turns the focus to Jesus. Paul here lays out the appropriate role of the minister in authentic Christian ministry; we don’t proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord; but ourselves your slaves because of Jesus. We are not the master; Jesus is the master. We are his slaves, and as his slaves, he has called us to serve you. Already in chapter 1 he made it clear that he did not consider himself a lord over them, but rather a fellow worker with them.

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

Back in 1 Corinthians, when the church there made too much of its favorite leaders, Paul said:

1 Corinthians 3:5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.

…21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Christian leaders are servants assigned by the Lord. All the leaders of the church in a sense belong to the church. God has given them to the church for her good.

And Jesus made clear his expectations for Christian leaders

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Christians are to serve one another, to slave for one another. The path to greatness is down not up.

The Prosperity Gospel

There is a strange teaching that is very popular in some areas today. It goes something like this: as Christians, we are children of the King. Our Father owns everything. If we are the king’s kids; we should live like it, we should act like it, we should be treated like royalty. This is dangerous, and it is false. It blurs the line between the already and the not yet. Already we are adopted into the family of God, but not yet has it appeared what we will be. And it ignores the clear teaching of Jesus.

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

…20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Yes we are adopted into his family, and yes, we will be treated like him, however presently that looks primarily like persecution. Yes we will rule and reign with him one day, provided we are willing to suffer with him now. Romans 8 makes this connection.

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

It is a dangerous and deceptive lie to tell people that if they follow Jesus, everything will go well for them in this life. We are not to expect to be treated as kings. We are to expect to be treated as slaves. We are to follow Jesus, and he came not to be served, but to serve, to give his life for others.

For Jesus

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake

We are to serve others but not to please them. We must make it our aim in our service to others to please him. Our tendency is to look for approval from the ones we serve. We will be disappointed. We must keep our eyes on our one Master and Lord. Often when we serve others for their good, we have to give them what they don’t want. We have to give them what they need. They might need potent but distasteful medicine. They won’t like it. But we don’t serve to win the approval of the ones we serve. We must in everything make it our aim to please him. We do it all for his sake. In our proclamation of him, we refuse to practice cunning. We refuse to tamper with God’s word. We plainly proclaim the truth. We proclaim Jesus for Jesus’ sake. We serve others for Jesus’ sake.

Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

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

August 14, 2018 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Names of Jesus

03/27 Names of Jesus; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20160327_names-of-jesus.mp3

This is Resurrection Sunday. It is a day to celebrate Jesus, the victory Jesus accomplished on the cross, the triumph of the empty tomb. As we have been studying who God is, and last week we looked at some of the names of God, I thought it would be fitting this week to look at some of the names of Jesus. Who is Jesus? This is such an important question. This is an eternity altering question. Who is Jesus? Paul warned in 2 Corinthians 11:4 of those who preach another Jesus, a different spirit, a different gospel. Jesus himself warned of false christs who would lead others astray (Mt.24:24; Mk.13:22). We want to know Jesus, Jesus as he really is, as he reveals himself to be. One way to learn about Jesus is to look at the names he is given. There are something like 200 names and titles given to Jesus in the Scriptures. We will only scratch the surface of who Jesus is today, but it is my prayer that by looking at Jesus, we will deepen in our affection and appreciation and worship of him.

The Word, The Only Son, Immanuel

At the beginning of John’s gospel, Jesus is introduced to us by a different name.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus is the Word. The Word, The Logos, the Divine expression, divine reason. Before anything was made, Jesus the Word was in the beginning with God. He was distinct from God, in relationship with God the Father; ‘the Word was with God.’ And Jesus is of the same Divine nature as his Father; ‘the Word was God.’ Jesus, the Word, is the Creator of all that is. Jesus the Word has life in himself; he is the living one.

John continues in verse 14:

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. …18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Jesus the Word was not flesh. He was invisible Spirit from all eternity with his Father. He became flesh at a moment in history and dwelt among us. He became human. He is the only God who is at his Father’s side. He is the Word, the self-expression of God. Jesus is the one who makes God known.

The Only Son [μονογενής]

Jesus is the only Son from the Father. Jesus has an exclusive unique relationship with his Father. The word in John 1:14 and 18, and John 3:16 and 18, as well as 1 John 4:9 is μονογενής the only Son, or only begotten, the one and only, the unique Son. John 3:16 says:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

1 John 4:9 says

1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

Jesus is the μονογενής, the one and only. He is the Son, in unique, eternal, and unparalleled relationship with his Father.

Immanuel – God With Us

In Matthew 1 we find another name, this one drawn from the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14

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

Jesus is the virgin born Son, and his name is Immanuel, God with us.

Alpha and Omega

In Revelation 22, when Jesus says he is coming soon, he claims:

Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, or the A to Z, in the words of Isaiah 43:10 “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” and 44:6 “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”

These names speak of who Jesus is, his nature, his essence. He is the Word who was with God and was God, the Creator, the Eternal One, the Alpha and Omega, the One and Only Unique Son of the Father, Immanuel, God with us.

Anointed, Messiah, Christ

Psalm 2 tells us of YHWH, the Lord, and his Anointed.

Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, … (cf. Acts 4:26)

In Acts 4 the disciples apply this title, the Anointed, to Jesus. In Hebrew this is Meshiak, or Messiah. In Isaiah 61, we see the verbal form of this word:

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; (cf. Luke 4:18)

Jesus applies this Scripture to himself in Luke 4. In John 1, when Andrew persuades his brother Simon to follow Jesus, he says “We have found the Messiah (which means Christ)” (Jn.1:41). When Jesus is speaking to the woman in Samaria,

John 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

In Matthew 16, Peter responds to Jesus’ question ‘who do you say that I am?’ with the confession “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt.16:16). In Acts, the disciples ‘did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.’ (Acts 5:42). Jesus is God’s Anointed one, the Messiah in Hebrew, the Christ in Greek.

Son of David

God made a promise to David in 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 7:11 …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.

This sounds a lot like Solomon, David’s son, who built the temple in Jerusalem, but if you read this carefully, this is much bigger than Solomon. Solomon’s kingdom was not established forever. In fact, as a consequence of Solomon’s idolatry the kingdom was torn from him and divided under his son Rehoboam, (1Ki.11-12).

In Isaiah 9, we find the promise of a child to be born, a son to be given who will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The government will be on his shoulder, and we are told:

Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

And when the angel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary he used the language of this promise to point to Jesus.

Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

When the people saw the miraculous signs done by Jesus, they asked “Can this be the Son of David?” (Mt.12:23). When Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds were shouting ““Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt.21:9). Jesus affirmed their ascription of this title to himself, but it is worth noting that he pushed on their expectation and understanding of this title. In Matthew 22, Jesus challenged their thinking,

Matthew 22:42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (cf. Psalm 110:1)

Jesus is not denying that the Christ is the physical descendant of David. But he is challenging their thinking that the Christ is merely another human king in the lineage of David. If this were the case, why would David refer to him in Psalm 110 as ‘my Lord’? It would be awkward for David to refer to Solomon or Rehoboam as ‘my Lord’. Jesus is physically descended from the blood line of David, but the Scriptures indicate that he is greater than David; he is David’s Lord.

The Lord

Mark begins his gospel introducing

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” (cf. Isaiah 40:3)

John is the fulfillment of Isaiah 40, preparing the way of the Lord. What is interesting about this name “Lord” is that when we look back at Isaiah, we read “prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Is.40:3). Prepare the way of YHWH; make straight a highway for our Elohim. This title ‘Lord’ is connecting the Old Testament terms YHWH and Elohim to Jesus.

When Saul is blinded and knocked down and hears a voice from heaven, he said:

Acts 26:15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

The Lord from heaven is Jesus. In Acts 2, Peter declares:

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ …36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter is quoting Joel 2:32, ‘everyone who calls on the name of YHWH’. This is the basis for Paul’s statement in Romans 10

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.”

Jesus is YHWH, the Lord, the Son of David, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. He is the prophet who is to come, who will speak the words of the Lord (Acts 3:22-23; Deut 18:15-19; Jn.6:14; 7:40). He is our Great High Priest, our one Mediator between God and man (Heb.4:14; 1Tim.2:5). He is our King, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1Tim.6:15; Rev.19:11-16).

Son of Man

Out of all the names of Jesus, the way Jesus most often referred to himself is ‘the Son of Man’. This title is found 81 times in the gospels, always on the lips of Jesus. In comparison, the title ‘Son of God’ is used 26 times, and all but 4 of those are someone else referring to Jesus; Satan, demons, the Pharisees, the centurion, an angel, or his disciples.

In response to the interrogation of the high priest asking if he was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, the Son of God, Jesus responded:

Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

This name is taken from Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days seated on his throne of judgment at the end of time in Daniel 7

Daniel 7:9 “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10 ​A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

Then in verse 13,

Daniel 7:13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 ​And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

This one like the Son of Man was given everlasting dominion by the Ancient of Days to rule over all the peoples of the earth. He came with the clouds of heaven. This is how Jesus describes himself under oath to the high priest; “the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” This one like a Son of Man speaks of his kingdom authority seated at the right hand of his Father on high, ruling all the kingdoms of the earth, but it also speaks of his humanity, his humility, his identity with mankind. Jesus is God from all eternity, but he became a man. He became one of us. He stooped down to identify with us. Remaining what he was, he became what he was not; being very God, he took on flesh and became a man.

Jesus of Nazareth; Nazarene

In Matthew 2, we are told:

Matthew 2:23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

In the ancient world, people were often distinguished from other people of the same name by their hometown. Although born in Bethlehem, Jesus grew up in the town of Nazareth in Galilee.

John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Nazareth apparently had a reputation. Nothing good comes out of Nazareth. No prophet arises from Galilee (Jn.7:41, 52). Jesus was despised and rejected. Jesus came to the outcasts. Jesus identified with the nobodies.

Cornerstone, Stone of Stumbling, Rock of Offense

Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22 to the chief priests and Pharisees.

Luke 20:17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Jesus is the cornerstone, but he is also a rejected stone. Peter connects this imagery with Isaiah 8 and 28.

1 Peter 2:6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (cf. Is.28:16) 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” (cf. Is.8:14)…

Paul writes to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

Peter declares before the Jewish leaders:

Acts 4:10 …by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—… 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

There is no other name but the name of Jesus by which we must be saved.

Savior / Jesus

The angel announced to the outcast shepherds in the hills outside of Bethlehem:

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Jesus is a savior to outcasts. In Matthew 1, the angel connects this role with his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus means YHWH Saves. He came to rescue sinners. Broken. Needy. To those who think they are fine on their own, they find him to be a Stone of Stumbling, a Rock of Offense, nothing good, despised and rejected. But to those who know they need him he is a Rock, a Sure Foundation, the Cornerstone, Salvation.

The Resurrection / Firstborn from the Dead

Jesus tells a dear friend grieving the loss of her brother:

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus claims to be the resurrection. He told his disciples on multiple occasions that he would be betrayed, suffer, be crucified, and that he would rise again. Colossians 1 and Revelation 1 calls Jesus the Firstborn from the Dead. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul ties the resurrection of Christ the Firstfruits to our hope of resurrection

The Name Above All Names

Jesus humbled himself even to the humiliation of death on a cross.

Philippians 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is the name above every name. Every knee will bow one day to Jesus.

Do You Know Him?

I want to close today with a story from the book of Acts. In Acts 19, extraordinary things were being done in the name of Jesus.

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?

We have looked at a few of the many names of Jesus today. We have seen something of who he is. But it is very dangerous to know something about Jesus, and not know Jesus. These Jewish exorcists knew of Jesus, and attempted to use his name. But they didn’t know Jesus, and it didn’t end well for them. There is power in the name of Jesus, but you must know Jesus, you must be known by him, you must be in relationship with him. Do you know him? You must know him as Lord and God, as the Only Son of the Father, as King of kings, as your Anointed Prophet, Priest and King. You must experience him as Rock and Redeemer, as your Savior, as your Resurrection and your Life. To know of Jesus and not to know him is probably the most tragic place to be. I pray that none of us will ever hear those terrible words from the mouth of our Lord: ‘I never knew you’.

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

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Knowing God, occasional, podcast, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Indictment of Christmas

12/21 Indictment of Christmas; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20141221_indictment-of-christmas.mp3

This is the season of Advent, a Latin word that means ‘coming.’ This is the season we focus on the coming of Jesus into the world. We can take this opportunity to search our hearts and open our lives to Jesus. I was reading an advent devotional that caught my attention. It said “Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight”. An indictment!

Coming

How is Christmas an indictment? For that we need to look at the reason Jesus came. But before we look at the reason, it is important to note the bare fact that he came. Jesus came into the world. That implies that he came from somewhere. He did not have his beginning here. He came from outside our world. He existed before he was conceived. Especially in the gospel of John, Jesus makes it clear that he was uniquely sent by his Father. Not sired, but sent. He was born into this world at a specific point in time, he made his appearance, and that is what we celebrate at Christmastime, but that was not his beginning. In fact Jesus claims to have no beginning.

John’s gospel opens with:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

In verse 14, we see

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.

So Jesus, the Word, the only Son from the Father, was in the beginning. He didn’t begin, he simply was. He was with God, and he was God.

Jesus states in:

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Not ‘I was’ or ‘I existed’ before Abraham, but ‘I am’, I exist. He is identifying himself with the eternal God, who had no beginning and will have no end. Jesus ‘is’. He always was, he is, and he always will be, or as Hebrews tells us

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Just before he is crucified, in John 17, Jesus prays to his Father:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

So Jesus, who eternally existed as God together with his Father, at a point in time came. He was born into this world as a human baby. He became something he was not before, he became flesh. He came. This is what we celebrate at Christmastime. And his coming is an indictment.

Indictment

Indictment (noun)

-Law: A formal accusation initiating a criminal case, presented by a grand jury and usually required for felonies and other serious crimes.

-Any charge, accusation, serious criticism, or cause for blame.

Sinners

How is Christmas an accusation, a charge, blame for serious crimes? For that we must look at the reason stated for why Jesus was sent or came into the world. In Luke 5, Jesus tells us:

Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (cf. Mt.9:13; Mk.2:17)

Jesus did not come for the righteous. Some people who thought of themselves as righteous, religious leaders and such, were offended that he would associate with people they considered unworthy, dirtbags and scum. We know from verses like:

Romans 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;

No one is righteous. Not even the self-righteous. No, not one is righteous. Jesus did not come for the righteous. He came for sinners. So if his coming is to have any significance in your life, if it is to mean anything at all to us, you and I must agree with his indictment of us that we are sinners. We are not righteous. As John tells us

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

In Luke 5, Jesus also calls us sick.

Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

Lost

We are sinners, and we are sick. That is why Jesus came. Luke 19 contains another indictment:

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

We are lost. We can’t find our way. We don’t know which way to go. We might search and grope along and try to find our way in the dark, but we cannot. Once I was lost in a system of caves for several hours. I was trying to hurry and took a wrong turn and ended up in an unfamiliar part of the cave system. It took some time, and a process of elimination, but eventually we narrowed down which tunnels were not the way out and which one was, and we were on our way out when we met the rescue party that was coming in to find us. That is not the kind of lost Jesus is talking about – given enough time and a good head on your shoulders, and maybe a fresh set of batteries, you will figure it out. You have lost the way but you can find it again. No, we are lost. Hopelessly lost. Desperately lost. We have never been on the right path, we have a warped sense of direction, and we don’t even understand what the destination is. We cannot seek and find God. He must come to seek and find us. He came to seek us and to save us, because we need to be rescued. If we are not saved by Jesus coming to us, we will remain lost forever.

Condemned

John 3 tells us:

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

God sent his Son into the world to save us. The eternal Son, who was sent by his Father, is the means through whom we can be saved. What do we need to be saved from? What is the danger? This verse tells us that the danger is condemnation. As we have seen there is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned (Rom.3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Rom.6:23). 2 Thessalonians describes this condemnation:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven … 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

So we are sentenced to eternal punishment unless we are somehow rescued from God’s just condemnation. Romans 8 tells us how.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 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.

God sent his own Son to do what nothing else could do. The law can only condemn. That is the purpose of the law, to point out our faults, failures, and shortcomings. Jesus never sinned, but he was sent by God in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was sent by God for sin, to condemn sin in the flesh. Human sin demanded a human sacrifice. Jesus became flesh, became human, so that he could meet the righteous demands of the law. My sin was condemned in his flesh. 2 Corinthians tell us how.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus became sin. My guilt was transferred to him. He who knew no sin became sin for my sake. This is why Jesus came. This is why he was born in Bethlehem.

Slaves

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.” (cf. Mt.20:28)

Jesus, eternal God come in the flesh, had every right to be served. He could have come demanding to be served. He could have arranged to be born in a palace and pampered. Instead he was born in a cave, a stable for animals, his parents laid him in a stone water trough. He was a manual laborer for most of his life, and during his three years of ministry, he was homeless and dependent on the generosity of others. He had nowhere to lay his head (Mt.8:20). But that was no accident. That was by divine design, for he came not to be served but to serve. The King of glory, who possesses everything and needs nothing, came to give us freely what we could never get for ourselves. He came to serve us. Not to be a genie in a bottle that answers our every whim, but he came to serve us in the way we most need to be served. He came to give his life as a ransom. That is yet another indictment. We were slaves. We were in bondage. We sold ourselves into the power of a cruel taskmaster who would not let us go. Jesus paid the price we could never pay to set us free to serve him. The price he paid was not monetary, it was not a trade for any goods or services. He gave his very life as a ransom.

Guilty

That means that our offense was so great that nothing but death would satisfy the demands. He gave his life as a ransom. His life in exchange for our life. Do you ever feel guilty? I mean really guilty? Guilty to the point that you feel you need to go turn yourself in, realizing that you fully deserve the death penalty? Not just guilty before the civil authorities, but before the God of all the earth?

To be honest, most of us probably don’t feel guilty before God. That thought may never have occurred to many of us. Think about it this way. Kings and governments require some kind of tax or service from their citizens in exchange for the protection and provision they offer. Citizens are expected to contribute to the good of the society. If a citizen expected to receive benefits from the blessings the king provides while at the same time refusing to honor or thank the king for those blessings, and instead working for and serving an enemy of the king, we would consider treacherous and treasonous. That is our condition. We breathe his air and eat his food and drink his water, we are warmed by his sun and enjoy his benefits, but we don’t honor him or give him thanks.

Jesus told a story about a landowner who…

Mark 12:1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.

Is the demand of the landowner unreasonable? Who invested time and energy and resources into developing the piece of property so that it would be fruitful? What should the attitude of the tenants be toward the master?

Mark 12:2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

God treats us with generosity, provision, patience, kindness, We respond with greed, presumption, selfishness, dishonor, disrespect. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (Jn.3:16). He came to his own and his own did not receive him (Jn.1:11). Our ingratitude, dishonor, disregard for the Master is treasonous. We are guilty.

Good News

So Christmas is an indictment. It points out to us how bad we are, and how desperate our situation is. Paul says:

1 Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. That is an indictment. If I will benefit in any way from the coming of Christ I must admit that I am sinner. But this is also good news. Yes I am guilty and lost and a slave and a sinner and condemned. But that is the point of Christmas. Jesus came to rescue sinners.

Under Law

Galatians tells us

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

We were under the law. The law was meant to show us how far we fall short of the standard. To be under the law is to be under the crushing weight of condemnation because we fail to keep the law. Jesus came to buy us out from under the obligation of the law. He came not only to buy us out from under the condemnation of the law, but to bring us into a totally new relationship with God, a relationship not based on law. He came so that we could be adopted into his family as sons.

Take Away Sin

1 John tells us why Jesus came.

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

Jesus came to take away our sins. Not only to remove the guilt of sin, but to conquer sin in us.

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. He appeared in order to take away sins. The devil is at work enticing us to sin and then accusing and condemning us when we sin. Jesus paid the price in full for every sin, taking the sting of guilt and condemnation out of our sins, stripping sin of its power over us, and weaning us from our desire to sin.

Love

This is an indictment of our true condition, but this is love.

1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

God made his love known by sending his Son as an indictment against sinners. “Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior” [John Piper “Prepare the Way of the Lord!” – Solid Joys Devotional; from Taste & See article Nov.25, 1985]. God sent his Son to be the wrath-appeasing sacrifice for our sins. God sent his Son on a rescue mission to the lost, to the broken, to the guilty and condemned. God sent his Son to take away our desire to sin and transform our hearts so that we begin to enjoy God for who he is. God sent his Son so that the dead might have life.

What a wonder this is! The first link between my soul and Christ is, not my goodness, but my badness; not my merit, but my misery; not my standing, but my falling; not my riches, but my need. He comes to visit His people, yet not to admire their beauties, but to remove their deformities; not to reward their virtues, but to forgive their sins. O ye sinners, I mean you real sinners, not you who call yourselves by that name simply because you are told that is what you are, but you who really feel yourselves to be guilty before God, here is good news for you! O you self condemned sinners, who feel that, if you are ever to get salvation, Jesus must bring it to you, and be the beginning and the end of it, I pray you to rejoice in this dear, this precious, this blessed Name, for Jesus has come to save you, even you! Go to Him as sinners, call Him “Jesus,” and say to Him, “O Lord Jesus, be Jesus to me, save me, for I need Thy salvation!” Doubt not that He will fulfill His own Name, and exhibit His saving power in you. Only confess to Him your sin, and He will save you from it. Only believe in Him, and He will be your salvation.” [C.H.Spurgeon, Christ’s Incarnation, p.15-16]

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

December 21, 2014 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 12:1-3; Belief and the Spirit

08/24 1 Corinthians 12:1-3 Belief and the Spirit Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140824_1cor12_1-3.mp3

1 Corinthians 12 [SBLGNT]

1 Περὶ δὲ τῶν πνευματικῶν, ἀδελφοί, οὐ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν. 2 οἴδατε ὅτι ὅτε ἔθνη ἦτε πρὸς τὰ εἴδωλα τὰ ἄφωνα ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε ἀπαγόμενοι. 3 διὸ γνωρίζω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ λαλῶν λέγει· Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται εἰπεῖν· Κύριος Ἰησοῦς εἰ μὴ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ.

1 Corinthians 12 [ESV2011]

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now Concerning

In chapter 12, Paul signals with the words ‘now concerning’, that he is moving on to address another topic that the Corinthians had asked him about in a letter. Back in chapter 7, he said:

7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote:

There he addressed abstinence, celibacy, and marriage; in 7:25 he said ‘now concerning virgins’; in 8:1 ‘now concerning things offered to idols’; here in 12:1 ‘now concerning the spirituals’; in16:1 ‘now concerning the collection for the saints’; and in 16:12 ‘now concerning Apollos’. These are issues about which the church had written asking specific questions, to which the Apostle responds. Paul moves back and forth in this letter between issues that they had raised by the Corinthians in their letter to him, and reports which had come to him from others. We do not know exactly what the questions were, but we have the benefit of Apostolic teaching on the issues.

The Spiritual Ones

To understand what the question was, we have to look at what Paul wrote to answer their question. He introduces this section with a somewhat ambiguous phrase ‘now concerning the spirituals’ [τῶν πνευματικῶν]. This adjective built on the noun [πνεῦμα] ‘spirit’ could mean ‘the spiritual things’ or it could mean ‘the spiritual people’. And in the context it is used both ways. In verse 4 he mentions [χαρισμάτων], the usual word for spiritual gifts, literally ‘grace-gifts’, built on the word [χάρις] ‘grace’. In verse 3 he refers twice to what is spoken ‘in the Spirit’. In verse 7 he talks about the various manifestations of the Spirit that are given. In 14:1, he exhorts them to be zealous for the [πνευματικά], especially to prophesy. So ‘the spiritual things’ or manifestations of the Holy Spirit, grace-gifts, fits the context. But in 14:37, where he is concluding this section on [πνευματικῶν], he refers to anyone who thinks he is spiritual, clearly referring to a spiritual person. Back at the end of chapter 2 he contrasts the natural person with the spiritual person, and in 3:1, he laments that he cannot address the Corinthians as spiritual, but as fleshly, mere infants in Christ.

We know that pride and self-seeking were major issues in Corinth, a desire to impress others and be thought well of, to seek to advance one’s own status and standing in the community. There were divisions between rich and poor, wise and foolish, strong and weak, There was a severe vacuum of love, a lack of care and concern for the good of the other that repeatedly surfaces in Paul’s instructions to this church.

In these chapters, Paul addresses the diversity of the gifts given by the one Spirit, the mutual need of the different members for one another, the worthlessness of all the gifts without love, the essential purpose of the gifts to build up the church, and the priority of gifts that build up the church over gifts that build up the individual.

So we could re-create the Corinthian questions something like this: What is the measure of true spirituality? Some thought they were spiritual because they manifested more obviously supernatural gifts like speaking in tongues. They may have looked down on those who did not have such outwardly supernatural gifts as if they had not attained the same height of spirituality. Those without the showy gifts began to feel second rate and useless, unimportant appendages who did not have anything to offer, who simply didn’t belong. Those who didn’t possess these showy gifts may have even questioned the validity of those supposedly supernatural manifestations of the Spirit that were flaunted by some in their congregation. What about those so-called gifts? How are they to be used? Who are the truly spiritual ones?

Outline and Structure

Paul speaks to these issues with skill and pastoral wisdom. He addresses them as brothers, a term of affection, and he lays some theological groundwork before he confronts the abuses and improprieties in the way they treat one another. This is very similar to how he addressed the issue of idolatry back in chapters 8-10. He began in chapter 8 by clarifying the underlying theology that was foundational to the issue. Then in what seems at first glance to be a digression to another topic in chapter 9, he illustrates the principle of foregoing ones own rights out of service to others for their good. Then in chapter 10, he comes back to the issue with some very clear and direct commands that he expects them to understand and obey.

Here in chapters 12-14, Paul’s tactic is similar. In chapter 12, he lays some theological groundwork for the issue. In chapter 13, the love chapter, which many see as an out of place insertion in the middle of a discussion on spiritual gifts, he holds up the fruit of the Spirit as more essential to the Christian life than any particular manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. Then in chapter 14, he comes back to the issue of spiritual gifts with some very direct commands on how we should conduct ourselves and treat one another relating to spiritual gifts in the church of God.

Let’s look at this introductory section together:

12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Paul appeals to their desire for knowledge. He does not want them to be uninformed. He says ‘I want you to understand’. And he refers to their previous life of ignorance in idolatry. You recall, when you were pagans, before you heard the gospel and believed, you were led astray to unspeaking idols.

Idolatry

Idolatry was a significant part of life before Christ, and continued to be a struggle in first century Corinth, as is evidenced by chapters 8-10. Idolatry is centering one’s life around anything or anyone other than God. Sports or leisure or power or status or wealth or things or recreation or relationships, anything other than God that becomes the focal point of life is an idol. And idols cannot deliver on what they promise. Money cannot buy happiness. Things break. Experiences leave us longing for more. Relationships cannot bear up under the weight of expectations and ultimately disappoint.

The prophets of the Old Testament have much to say about the idiocy of idolatry.

Habakkuk 2:18 “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! 19 Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise!Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it 20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

The foolishness of idolatry is glaring. Our Creator God invites us to find our satisfaction in him alone, and we turn from him and go searching for pleasure under every rock and tree and hole in the ground. Romans describes the rebellious sinful idolatry of all humankind this way:

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

We all tend toward idolatry in our hearts. Our desires lead us astray. We trade in the glory of knowing the immortal God for fleeting glimpses of his reflection in his creation.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; …

However we were led, we were all led astray.

Jesus is Lord

12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, in relation to your question of what is spiritual, I do not want you to be uninformed; I want you to understand. No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed”. Jesus spoke of the Spirit’s coming in John 15 and 16.

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 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit of God will always bear witness about Jesus and bring glory to Jesus. No one who is spiritual would ever speak evil about Jesus. This would be unthinkable for any follower of Jesus to say.

3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Notice that the apostle uses the language of inability. No one is able, no one can.

When Peter made his confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus said:

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you. The confession of the identity of Jesus as God is not of human origin. The recognition of Jesus for who he is is a supernatural revelation from the Father through his Holy Spirit.

This was clearly Paul’s own experience, as he was ‘still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord’ (Acts 9:1) when Jesus interrupted him on the road to Damascus.

Paul pointed this direction earlier in this letter when he:

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. …4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

He goes on to say that the rulers of this age did not understand the gospel,

1 Corinthians 2:8 … for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

The good news of what God has prepared for those who love him, the gospel of the crucifixion of the Lord of glory for us and for our salvation, these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

We have received the Spirit of God so that we might understand the God’s gracious good news. Without God’s Spirit we could not understand the gospel. This is what he goes on to say in the next verses.

1 Corinthians 2:13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The natural person, the person who has not experienced the work of the Holy Spirit supernaturally revealing that Jesus Christ crucified is good news for us, this person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God. He rejects the gospel because it is foolishness to him. He thinks it stupid. He is not able to understand the gospel, because the good news is spiritually discerned. The spiritual person who understands is only spiritual because the Holy Spirit is at work in him revealing Christ and the beauty of the gospel to him.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul points to the blindness of unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

They are blind and cannot see the light of the good news of the glory of Christ. Only a sovereign omnipotent God can overcome this spiritual blindness and create light in the midst of darkness.

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

God is the one who gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He shines in our hearts and opens our blind eyes so that we can see the truth and beauty of the gospel.

Paul says here in 1 Corinthians 12 that:

12:3 …no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Of course this does not mean that no unbeliever can mouth those words. Mockers can mouth the words. Hypocrites can mouth the words. Pretenders can mouth the words ‘Jesus is Lord’. Jesus himself warned of this.

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

It is possible to call Jesus Lord out of a heart of unbelief in him, seeking to do things for him to earn his favor, refusing to depend on him alone for what he has done for us. Amazingly, in this passage, those who were not known by Jesus are not only calling Jesus Lord, but they are manifesting some of the same spiritual gifts that the Corinthians thought marked them out as spiritual. Even these apparently spiritual acts could be bad fruit from an unbelieving root.

It is not merely vocalizing the syllables, as if they were some kind of magical incantation, that has any effect. Romans 10:9 says:

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.

This confession that Jesus is Lord is evidence of a Spirit wrought transformation of my hard heart. When I say ‘Jesus is Lord’, I am owning him as the one to whom I pledge my allegiance, the one to whom I owe all my devotion, the one to whom I will ultimately answer. He is the one under whose authority I now gladly bow. He is my Lord, he is my King, my only Master, and I would have it no other way. I have been given new affections, new desires, desires to obey and submit to Jesus, affections for Jesus, longings to please him, hunger to worship him, eagerness to gather with his people, to walk with him, to know him. I cannot genuinely celebrate the Lordship of Jesus without the transforming life creating work of the Spirit. Belief, the basic confession of Jesus as Lord, is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work in my heart.

12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion:

Do you see what Paul has done here? The Corinthians are asking about grace-gifts and wanting to know who are the truly spiritual ones. He has leveled the playing field. There are no more spiritual or less spiritual believers. Every believer is spiritual, because belief is the work of the Holy Spirit. No spiritually blind spiritually dead person can truly say ‘Jesus is Lord’. The Holy Spirit creates life in a dead heart and opens blind eyes so that a sinner can see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and believe in him. This saving faith, believing in Jesus as Lord, is evidence of Holy Spirit transformation, evidence of true spirituality.

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

August 24, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 11:27-34; Judgment and Discipline

08/17 1 Corinthians 11:27-34 Judgment and Discipline ; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140817_1cor11_27-34.mp3

1 Corinthians 11 [SBLGNT]

27 Ὥστε ὃς ἂν ἐσθίῃ τὸν ἄρτον ἢ πίνῃ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως, ἔνοχος ἔσται τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ κυρίου. 28 δοκιμαζέτω δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἑαυτόν, καὶ οὕτως ἐκ τοῦ ἄρτου ἐσθιέτω καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ποτηρίου πινέτω· 29 ὁ γὰρ ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων κρίμα ἑαυτῷ ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει μὴ διακρίνων τὸ σῶμα. 30 διὰ τοῦτο ἐν ὑμῖν πολλοὶ ἀσθενεῖς καὶ ἄρρωστοι καὶ κοιμῶνται ἱκανοί. 31 εἰ δὲ ἑαυτοὺς διεκρίνομεν, οὐκ ἂν ἐκρινόμεθα· 32 κρινόμενοι δὲ ὑπὸ κυρίου παιδευόμεθα, ἵνα μὴ σὺν τῷ κόσμῳ κατακριθῶμεν. 33 Ὥστε, ἀδελφοί μου, συνερχόμενοι εἰς τὸ φαγεῖν ἀλλήλους ἐκδέχεσθε. 34 εἴ τις πεινᾷ, ἐν οἴκῳ ἐσθιέτω, ἵνα μὴ εἰς κρίμα συνέρχησθε. Τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ ὡς ἂν ἔλθω διατάξομαι.

1 Corinthians 11 [ESV2011]

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Intro:

Paul is correcting problems in the church in Corinth. The Corinthians were self centered. They thought very highly of themselves. They were proud. One would put himself above another. Each was looking out for his own interests. Their actions and attitudes were out of step with the gospel. Things were so bad in Corinth that Paul tells them ‘when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse’, specifically in relation to their celebration of the Lord’s supper. Christ commanded his followers to remember him with bread and wine. But what the Corinthians were doing, one going hungry, another getting drunk, divisions, factions, despising the church of God and humiliating those who have nothing was worthy of judgment.

Paul lays out the problem in verses 17-22, he rehearses the history of the institution of the Lord’s supper by Jesus in verses 23-26, and then in verses 27-34 he gives his conclusion and corrective action for fixing the problem.

Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice for others. The Corinthians took what they wanted and neglected the needy among them.

Jesus humbled himself, surrendering his rights so that we could live. The Corinthians wanted recognition and honor, and they got it by humiliating others.

Jesus poured out his own blood as a new covenant agreement between us and God, securing our transformation by the Spirit. The Corinthians acted as if they were unchanged and failed to evidence the fruit of the Spirit.

Jesus loved the church and died to make her his own. The Corinthians despised and divided the church, even in the act of gathering together for worship.

Jesus is coming back for his church. That is intended to be a joyful celebration. The Corinthians instead are making it an occasion for judgment.

Communion is to be a proclamation of our Lord’s death. Our attitude, how we treat one another, is to preach the good news to those around us. We are to display the cross in our lifestyle, in everything, and especially in our celebration of communion.

Judgment

Paul warns then, that eating the bread or drinking the cup of the Lord unworthily brings guilt concerning the body and blood of the Lord. This passage is riddled with judgment language. Verse 28 encourages self-examination, then in verses 29-34 there are 7 occurrences of the word ‘judge’ or related words.

29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning [judging] the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned [judged] along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.

This is meant to sober us. The Lord is coming. Jesus said in John 5 that the Father…

John 5:27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Peter tells his readers:

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

In 2 Thessalonians we get a glimpse of Jesus that we may not often think of:

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

This is serious. Jesus will inflict the fiery vengeance of eternal punishment on those who do not obey his gospel.

Is this meant to scare us? Yes. Yes it is. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is passage is a warning to us so that we will examine ourselves and avoid judgment.

Unworthy

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

I do not want to be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. I do not want to incur judgment by despising the church of God. What does it mean to eat or drink in an unworthy manner? Aren’t we all unworthy? Romans tells us in absolute terms:

Romans 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

…20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

…23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We are all condemned under sin. Not one of us is worthy. Jesus tells us:

Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

and

Mark 10:18 …No one is good except God alone.

James tells us:

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

‘Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.’ Any sin is a sin against the one who gave the law. Just one sin makes me a transgressor of the law. So who is worthy? No one. No not one.

But this verse does not tell us that we must be worthy. We are not worthy and we cannot become worthy. This word is an adverb, not an adjective. An adjective modifies a noun, which would mean that the ‘whoever’ who eats and drinks would need to be worthy. But this is an adverb, which modifies the verbs in the sentence; eat and drink. It is translated ‘to eat or drink unworthily, or in an unworthy manner’. To be unworthy and to partake unworthily are very different things. Can we who are unworthy, partake of the Lord’s supper worthily?

That is the goal of Paul’s admonition. He wants us, sinners saved by grace, to examine ourselves and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup of the Lord in a worthy manner. So what does this mean? First, to participate worthily necessitates that I acknowledge my own unworthiness. To eat broken bread that symbolizes the Lord’s body given to me and to drink the cup which reminds me of his blood shed for me, all the while denying that I have done anything worthy of death is a gross contradiction. The whole reason Jesus came to die was me. My sins nailed him to the cross. To deny my own helplessness and desperate need for a Savior while receiving the symbols of his sacrificial death would be to eat and drink in a most unworthy manner.

Remember the story of the prodigal son? The son came to his senses and recognized his own unworthiness.

Luke 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’

It was this son, who acknowledged his sin and his own unworthiness that the father ran with compassion and embraced and welcomed home. It was the older son who remained outside and refused to come in, who said:

Luke 15:29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, …

Examine Yourself

Paul’s command is to examine ourselves. Come to your senses. Realize that you are only ever a sinner saved by the riches of God’s grace. Recognize that you are not being treated as you deserve. Acknowledge that it is the extravagant love of the Father who sent his only Son to be the sin bearing substitute for my sins that we celebrate. We are unworthy recipients of the lavish generosity of a merciful God. Examine yourself, see yourself as you really are, a rebel convicted of treason, sentenced to death, but extended pardon and adopted as a son of the very King against whom you revolted. ‘Examine yourself and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.’ Do not examine yourself, conclude you are unworthy and decline. Examine yourself, agree with him that you are unworthy, and gladly receive his unmerited offer of grace!

Discerning the Body

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Here is more clarification on what it means to eat or drink in an unworthy manner. To partake unworthily is to eat or drink without discerning the body. The form of the word ‘judge’ here translated ‘discerning’ has a prefix that means to separate or make a distinction, to differentiate, to evaluate discerningly. Paul used this word back in chapter 4 this way:

1 Corinthians 4:6…that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Who judges between one and another? None of you have a right to be puffed up, to consider yourself better than anyone else. Everything you have is a gift. You might be rich, you might be poor, but whatever you have is a gift from our good God. If your sins are forgiven, that is not something to boast about as if you are better than someone else; you have received unearned grace from our generous God. But in this verse what we are to differentiate or evaluate discerningly is ‘the body’ The body, in the immediate context is the body of Christ which is given for us. That body is absolutely unique. God the Son took human flesh so that he could stand in our place as the perfect substitute. He who knew no sin became sin for us (2Cor.5:21). As we come to Jesus and trust in him, believe on him, we become one body, as Paul said back in chapter 10:

1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

When we participate in the body of Christ through faith, we together become his body, the church. In the next chapter, he will go on to deal more with the unity of the body:

1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 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.

…25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

The Corinthians were dividing between rich and poor, those of status and those with none, those who were powerful and educated and those at the bottom of the social ladder. But the real division is between Jesus and us. He is Lord, we all are his servants. He is guiltless and we all are guilty. We owed an infinite debt, and he paid our debt in full. To fail to discern the body in this sense is to eat and drink judgment on ourselves. We miss the whole point of why Jesus came and what he accomplished, the very thing we are to be remembering as we celebrate the Lord’s supper.

29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Discipline

This is a serious issue. There were tangible consequences in the church in Corinth. Many were weak and sick, and some even died. This was serious, and Jesus intended to get their attention. If we judge or evaluate ourselves discerningly, we would not be judged by the Lord. When we are judged by the Lord, it is not final condemnation. We are being trained as his children. Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

The purpose of this parental training is to prevent our final condemnation. “we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” this form of ‘judge’ has a prefix that means to judge against or to sentence, to condemn.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

The prospect of sickness, weakness, even death because of our sin may seem scary, (and the bible is clear that not all sickness, weakness or death is a result of sin; see the book of Job), but if it is because of our sin, we can thank God for loving us enough to not leave us in our sin and ultimately condemn us. If we are truly his children, if we are in Christ, adopted into his family, he will be faithful to discipline and train us in the way that we should go.

In John 5, where Jesus talks about the Father giving him the authority to judge, he says:

John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. …24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

‘Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death into life.’ There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Son gives life. Those who hear and believe have eternal life. They have passed from death to life. They will never come into judgment. It is after this that he says:

John 5:28 …an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

So those who have done good are those who have believed, because they have already been given life. They have done good in response to the transformation of the Holy Spirit. That is what the New Covenant in his blood is all about. Those who have done evil are those who have not believed in Jesus.

John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

They are condemned because they have not believed. Their works are evil because, no matter how good they seem, they do not honor God, they do not receive his gift or give him thanks.

Final Instructions

Paul gives his final instructions on this issue.

33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

When you come together. This is Paul’s corrective for his opening statement:

1 Corinthians 11:17 …when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you…

Now he says when you come together as a church, in your regular celebration of the Lord’s supper, wait for one another. Wait for one another in the sense of receiving one another, welcoming one another, eliminating the divisions where one feels he is better than another, where one goes hungry and another gets drunk. Receive one another as God in Christ has received you. The gathering of the believers is to celebrate the cross in word and in deed. We must sacrifice our own rights, our own desires, for the good of the other, just as Christ laid down his rights and died for sinners to make us his. If you are hungry, if you are showing up simply to satiate your appetite with a complete disregard for Christ and for those for whom he died, then stay home. Eat at home. Be a glutton at home. But don’t despise the church of God and eat and drink judgment on yourself.

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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

August 17, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Proclaiming the Lord’s Death

08/10 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Proclaiming the Lord’s Death Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140810_1cor11_23-26.mp3

1 Corinthians 11 [SBLGNT]

23 Ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ᾗ παρεδίδετο ἔλαβεν ἄρτον 24 καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ εἶπεν· Τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι, λέγων· Τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίνητε, εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 26 ὁσάκις γὰρ ἐὰν ἐσθίητε τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον πίνητε, τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετε, ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ.

1 Corinthians 11 [ESV2011]

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Paul is confronting the Corinthians abuse of the Lord’s supper. Communion was celebrated regularly in the church. The communal meal had become an occasion for discrimination against the poor, where the rich flaunted their luxury and let those who had nothing go hungry. In the first section (17-22), Paul expressed his horror and consternation over their outrageous practices. What they were doing was not in step with the gospel, the message of the cross. So once again he brings them back to the sacrifice of Jesus for others. For the Lord’s supper to truly be the Lord’s supper, it must be an expression of the gospel, not only in word and symbol, but also in the way they treat one another. The gospel is not only a message to be believed, but also a lifestyle to be lived. The good news of a crucified Messiah must define the Christian life.

In this section, (23-26) Paul takes them back to the event, to the history of the Lord’s supper to inform and correct their actions. It is a faulty theology, a flawed understanding of Jesus, who he is, what he came to do, that manifested itself in the abuses that were happening in the church. Then, in verses 27-34 he gives his corrective instructions.

If we keep our eyes on Jesus, it is easy to follow him. It is when we look away that we veer off course.

The Lord

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you,

Paul received from the Lord. LORD in the Old Testament is the translation of YHWH, the great I AM, God’s proper name. The New Testament writers refer to Jesus as the Lord. The word ‘Lord’ means the sovereign, the king, the one in authority. In the next phrase he refers to the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Master. Jesus is the King. He is the one who has all authority. He is the one we are to follow. He is the one we must obey. He is the one who dictates what takes place in his church and the celebration which he instituted for us to remember him by. The Corinthians need to be reminded who is in charge of the church. The people with influence thought they could run the church however they wanted. They needed to be reminded that Jesus is Lord. He is in charge, he alone is the Lord of his church. Paul, the Apostle, is still under orders. Paul is authorized to pass on only what he has received from the Lord Jesus.

Delivered

What Paul received from the Lord, he delivered to the churches. He faithfully handed over that which he had been entrusted with. He had been given the truth of an historical event. This is what he passed along to the churches.

This word ‘delivered’ is the same word translated ‘betrayed’ later in this verse. ‘The Lord Jesus, on the night he was delivered up…’. This is the word used in the gospels to describe what Judas did. But it is also the word used when the chief priests and elders delivered Jesus over to Pilate (Mt.27:2, 18), and of Pilate delivering Jesus to the soldiers to be crucified (Mt.27:26).

But this is not the only way this word is used.

Romans 4:24 …It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

In Romans 8, we are told that it was the Father who delivered Jesus up to be crucified for us.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

This fits with what we are told in Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses this word ‘delivered up’ to translate the last phrase of verse 6. It reads ‘and the Lord delivered him up for our sins’. Down in verse 10 we read:

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Judas delivered up Jesus to be crucified, but God the Father delivered up his only Son to bear our sins on the cross. We see this in the preaching of the Apostles in the book of Acts

Acts 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

And in the prayers of the early church.

Acts 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

We see yet another side of this in some of the New Testament letters.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And 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.

The same word appears here. Jesus delivered himself up for me.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Judas delivered Jesus up, the chief priests delivered him up, Pilate delivered him up, but ultimately God the Father delivered up his only Son, and Jesus willingly delivered himself up for our sins.

This night of all nights, when Jesus was delivered up, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, the fulfillment of the passover sacrifice, in the last passover celebration with his followers,

23 …the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Gave Thanks

Jesus thanked his Father for his good gift of provision. Every good gift comes from God, and Jesus was determined to recognize the giver. Jesus, on the night he was being delivered up to be crucified, gave thanks to God. God is the one who provides for all our needs, and God is the one who provided the ultimate sacrifice for us to take away our sin. And Jesus, who would soon cry out ‘my God my God, why have you forsaken me’ thanked his Father for this provision.

Bread Broken

Jesus took bread and broke it. Bread was a common part of every meal. Bread was broken so that it could be shared. This flew in the face of the Corinthian selfishness of the ones who had plenty gorging themselves while those who had nothing went hungry. The Corinthians were taking, taking the best for themselves and leaving some to go with nothing. Jesus was taking, taking bread with thanksgiving, breaking it so he could give it all away, knowing there was plenty for all. Jesus said ‘this is my body which is for you’. The commemoration of this selfless act of sacrificial giving had become an opportunity for self centered gluttony and greed.

Jesus offered his own body for others. This was the ultimate selfless act, forfeiting his own life to save the lives of countless others. His own physical body was to be broken, crushed under weight of all our sins. Jesus’ death was in essence a substitution. He gave his body for us. He put himself in our place. We deserve to be separated from a good God for eternity, but instead he, the eternal Son was separated from his Father. His death was for me, his body was broken for me.

In Remembrance

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Jesus commands us to break bread together as a church in remembrance of him. What does it mean to remember someone? In a memorial service, we call that person to mind, reflect on who they were, what they accomplished. Is this what Jesus meant when he told us to ‘do this in remembrance of me’? Certainly that is part of it, but is that the whole story? If we look back to the Old Testament, we get a clearer picture of what it means to remember.

In Genesis 8:1, we are told that ‘God remembered Noah’. Does this mean that God was preoccupied with other things while the ark was bobbing around on the surface of the water and it suddenly dawned on him that Noah and the animals were in there and might need some help?

Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

Are we expected to believe that God had forgotten about his promises for about 400 years until the people started groaning? When we are told that God remembered Noah, it meant that he was beginning to act for the sake of the one he remembered. When God remembered his covenant promises with the patriarchs in the exodus generation, it meant that he was about to leap into action appropriate to the promises he had made. Remembering involved acting in a certain way. To remember Jesus, who sacrificially gave his life for others, means not only to reflect on him, his character, and his sacrifice, but also to act in a way that corresponds with his sacrifice.

When Moses addressed the generation about to enter the promised land, the generation that had been born free in the wilderness, he said:

Deuteronomy 5:15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

That generation had never been slaves in Egypt. But as Moses instructs them how to treat slaves, he asks them to remember that they were slaves in Egypt. Looking toward future generations, Moses gave instructions

Exodus 13:8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’

These future generations celebrating passover had never been slaves in Egypt. But they were part of God’s people, and what God had done for their ancestors, he had done for them. They were to so identify with the exodus generation that they could say ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me.’ In a much more direct way, we can say ‘it is because of what the Lord Jesus did for me when he set me free from my slavery to sin’.

New Covenant

25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Just as Jesus had taken bread, gave thanks, and served it to his disciples, saying ‘this is my body which is for you’, now he takes the cup of wine and says ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood’. To understand what Jesus says, we need to understand what a covenant is, and what makes this covenant new. A covenant is a binding committed relationship. Covenants were entered into through a solemn ceremony involving the shedding of blood. Animals were cut in half, and the two parties making the covenant would walk between the animal halves, saying ‘if I do not keep my promises, let what was done to these animals be done to me.’ God made a covenant with his people when they came out of Egypt. The people promised ‘all that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient’ (Ex.24:7). God warned Moses that the people will ‘whore after foreign gods, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them; they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant’ (Deut.31:16, 20). Israel went astray in their hearts. They broke God’s covenant with them. But in Jeremiah 31, God promised to make a new covenant with them.

Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 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.”

Forgiveness of sins, and God’s law written on their hearts. Ezekiel puts it this way:

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.

A new heart and a new spirit, God’s Spirit inside, causing them to walk in his ways. No longer external regulations, but now internal transformation. And Jesus says that this new covenant, is the new covenant in his blood. Jesus instituted the covenant, not with the blood of animals, but with his own blood poured out in death. Now that the Holy Spirit is living inside, we have God’s power to love him above all else and serve him with our whole heart. Our desires are being transformed so that we want to do what pleases him. The Corinthians in their selfishness, were acting exactly contrary to the new life of the Spirit, which is a life of self-sacrificial love for others.

Proclaiming the Lord’s Death

25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

In eating the bread and drinking the cup we preach the message of the cross. The word ‘proclamation’ is most often used of the preaching of the gospel. From the beginning of this letter, Paul pointed us to the preaching of the cross, the good news of Christ crucified. Now he says that in a right participation in communion, we preach the gospel. How is it that our celebration of the Lord’s supper can be an act of proclamation? Paul was very clear in his rebuke, that when one goes hungry and another gets drunk, that is not the Lord’s supper. But when we remember Jesus by contemplating his life of self sacrifice and conduct ourselves with the good of others above our own, when we joyfully forgo our own rights so that others can know Christ, when we are willing to lay down our very lives so that others can hear the gospel and be saved, when we remember him by acting in the way that he would act, then we have become a living proclamation of the death of our Lord. We have become a living illustration of the cross, where love expresses itself in self-sacrifice for the good of others.

Until He Comes

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

This is not indefinite. There is a termination point for this way of remembering Jesus. Jesus is returning. Physically, bodily he will come back. Jesus told many parables about a king who went away for a time and then returned. He was very clear as to how the servants of the king are expected to conduct themselves in the absence of the king. The Master will return. He will find either evidence of self centered pride, or of a life devoted to the Master, transformed by his Spirit, displaying his character.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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

August 10, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 11:17-22; Come Together For The Worse

07/27 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 Coming Together for the Worse; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140727_1cor11_17-22.mp3

1 Corinthians 11 [SBLGNT]

17 Τοῦτο δὲ παραγγέλλων οὐκ ἐπαινῶ ὅτι οὐκ εἰς τὸ κρεῖσσον ἀλλὰ εἰς τὸ ἧσσον συνέρχεσθε. 18 πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ συνερχομένων ὑμῶν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ ἀκούω σχίσματα ἐν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχειν, καὶ μέρος τι πιστεύω. 19 δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι, ἵνα καὶ οἱ δόκιμοι φανεροὶ γένωνται ἐν ὑμῖν. 20 συνερχομένων οὖν ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ οὐκ ἔστιν κυριακὸν δεῖπνον φαγεῖν, 21 ἕκαστος γὰρ τὸ ἴδιον δεῖπνον προλαμβάνει ἐν τῷ φαγεῖν, καὶ ὃς μὲν πεινᾷ, ὃς δὲ μεθύει. 22 μὴ γὰρ οἰκίας οὐκ ἔχετε εἰς τὸ ἐσθίειν καὶ πίνειν; ἢ τῆς ἐκκλησίας τοῦ θεοῦ καταφρονεῖτε, καὶ καταισχύνετε τοὺς μὴ ἔχοντας; τί εἴπω ὑμῖν; ἐπαινέσω ὑμᾶς; ἐν τούτῳ οὐκ ἐπαινῶ. 23 Ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ᾗ παρεδίδετο ἔλαβεν ἄρτον 24 καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ εἶπεν· Τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι, λέγων· Τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίνητε, εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 26 ὁσάκις γὰρ ἐὰν ἐσθίητε τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον πίνητε, τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετε, ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ. 27 Ὥστε ὃς ἂν ἐσθίῃ τὸν ἄρτον ἢ πίνῃ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως, ἔνοχος ἔσται τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ κυρίου. 28 δοκιμαζέτω δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἑαυτόν, καὶ οὕτως ἐκ τοῦ ἄρτου ἐσθιέτω καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ποτηρίου πινέτω· 29 ὁ γὰρ ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων κρίμα ἑαυτῷ ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει μὴ διακρίνων τὸ σῶμα. 30 διὰ τοῦτο ἐν ὑμῖν πολλοὶ ἀσθενεῖς καὶ ἄρρωστοι καὶ κοιμῶνται ἱκανοί. 31 εἰ δὲ ἑαυτοὺς διεκρίνομεν, οὐκ ἂν ἐκρινόμεθα· 32 κρινόμενοι δὲ ὑπὸ κυρίου παιδευόμεθα, ἵνα μὴ σὺν τῷ κόσμῳ κατακριθῶμεν. 33 Ὥστε, ἀδελφοί μου, συνερχόμενοι εἰς τὸ φαγεῖν ἀλλήλους ἐκδέχεσθε. 34 εἴ τις πεινᾷ, ἐν οἴκῳ ἐσθιέτω, ἵνα μὴ εἰς κρίμα συνέρχησθε. Τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ ὡς ἂν ἔλθω διατάξομαι.

1 Corinthians 11 [ESV2011]

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Paul is dealing with issues in the church in Corinth. In chapters 1-4, he addresses divisions who rally around different leaders. In chapters 5-6 he deals with sexual immorality and lawsuits among believers. In chapter 7 he answers questions related to marriage, singleness and remarriage. In chapters 8-10 he speaks to issues of idolatry. In chapter 11, he teaches about roles for men and women and proper attire in the gathering of the church, and then he deals with misuse of social and economic status in the celebration of the Lord’s supper. In chapters 12-14 he addresses the misuse of spiritual gifts in the gathering of the church.

Throughout this letter, he has brought them back to the cross as the defining principle of the Christian life. Followers of Jesus must imitate his self-sacrificial service to seek the good of others and not their own good.

Coming Together for the Worse

Paul started out this chapter by saying

11:2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.

Now he says:

11:17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. …22 …What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

Paul started this letter addressing “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” and he gives “thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” Now he says ‘I cannot praise your, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.’ This is serious! Every church has problems, but imagine a church so dysfunctional that the verdict of the apostle is that you do more harm than good when you meet. It would be better if you all just stayed home. His goal is not to send them all home, but to correct the issues so that when they come together it will be beneficial to all. What could be so harmful as to draw this condemnation from the apostle?

The Nature of the Church

First we need to examine the nature of the church. Paul says ‘when you come together’. He uses this verb ‘come together’ 5 times in this passage, and twice more in chapter 14 referring to the meetings of the church. In verse 18 he says ‘when you come together as a church’; literally it reads ‘convening in church’, but the word ‘church’ means an assembly, so we could translate ‘convening in assembly’ or ‘gathering in congregation’ because ‘church’ never refers to a building or a place, but people gathered together. If we look back to Acts 18, when Paul first preached the gospel in Corinth, he went to the synagogue and reasoned with them every Sabbath until he was rejected, then he went next door to the house of Titius Justus and stayed 18 months teaching the word of God among them. When Paul wrote to the Romans from Corinth, he mentioned

Romans 16:23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you….

So the whole church consisted of all the believers in the city. Wherever they gathered together in assembly, that was the church. Without official buildings, the gathering of believers was often hosted in someone’s home.

Roman Architecture

It will help us to understand a little bit about the architecture of a wealthy home in Roman Corinth. The typical domus or Roman home was built around an atrium or central hall that often had a shallow pool at the center to collect rainwater. This connected to a second open courtyard called the peristylum which would enclose a garden. Various rooms would open into the two courtyards, one of which would be the triclinium or dining room, where honored guests could recline and be served.

In contrast to this, the working class would live in insulae, a complex of simple one or two room rented apartments used primarily for sleeping.

It is into this divide between the few rich believers and the many who had nothing who all gathered together in a well-to-do home as the church that Paul writes.

Divisions

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

Paul started the letter in 1:10 addressing divisions. Those were divisions centered around following a favorite leader or teacher. The divisions or factions he mentions now in chapter 11 are divisions between the rich and the poor, those who go hungry and those who get drunk, those who have much and those who have nothing. These divisions surfaced at the communion table. The division had been reported to Paul, and he now writes to correct it.

Verses 17-22 criticize the problem, verses 23-26 recount the tradition of the Last Supper which should guide them, and verses 27-34 give instructions to correct the abuses of the Lord’s Supper.

Acts 2:42 tells us what the early church was devoted to.

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

They prayed together, they learned together, they enjoyed community together, they remembered Jesus in the breaking of bread together. In our passage it seems at least implied that they ate the Lord’s supper whenever they came together as a church. This was not an infrequent problem that Paul addressed.

17 …when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

The Necessity of Divisions

There are different ways we could understand Paul’s statement about the necessity of divisions. Most have understood him to be teaching the God ordained necessity of divisions in the body so that the true believers may be distinguished from the false. But there are some problems with this understanding. Paul doesn’t seem to praise anybody in this passage. If there are some that are ‘genuine’, Paul doesn’t recognize them or commend them. In chapters 1-4 he doesn’t have anything positive to say about divisions. If it is inevitable, even necessary that divisions occur to purify the church, then why would it be ‘for the worse’ that they come together? In Jesus’ parable of the weeds (Mt.13) when an enemy sowed weeds in his field, and his servants offered to pull up all the weeds, the master said:

Matthew 13:29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Another way to look at this statement is that Paul is being somewhat sarcastic, taking up the claims of the arrogant Corinthians, as he has done before in this letter. The Corinthians themselves may have been claiming that they were genuine or tested and approved, and that the divisions were necessary so that they would be recognized for who they are. They are actually willing to promote the divisions so that the elite may be admired. If this is the case, Paul turns their word back on them later in the passage, telling them in verse 28 that each should test or examine himself for genuineness to avoid a negative judgment.

Not the Lord’s Supper

Paul is very clear in his next statement.

20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal.

They claim to be celebrating the Lord’s supper. Paul is decisive. Whatever it is you are doing, it is not the Lord’s supper. The Lord’s supper is the supper belonging to the Lord, hosted by the Lord, where the Lord Jesus is honored. Instead, each one devours his own supper. Communion was observed in the context of a community meal. There is a sharp contrast between that which belongs to the Lord, and that which belongs to each one. This is your supper, not the Lord’s. There is nothing at all resembling Jesus in the way they come together. Paul is outraged.

21 …One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

Paul is specifically rebuking the homeowners. Those who had nothing lived in the tiny rented insulae, where there was no kitchen to prepare their own food. They were forced to buy food at one of the local shops. The wealthy homeowners would have their servants prepare a sumptuous feast in their own kitchen. There is evidence of the upper class serving different qualities and quantities of food and wine to guests of different social strata. What may have been happening in Corinth is that the more wealthy guests were invited to recline in the triclinium and be served the best foods, while those who were poor were left to sit or stand in the atrium and survive on whatever meager scraps might be left over.

This situation may have been aggravated by a regional famine. This would create an even more desperate situation for the poor, and an even greater opportunity for those who had means to care for those in need.

One goes hungry. Another gets drunk. This is not the Lord’s supper. This is an outrage. They may have used bread and wine, they may have given thanks, they may have said the right words, but their conduct and their attitude, their treatment of one another contradicted the very Lord whose supper it was.

Oppressing the Poor

James paints for us the picture:

James 2:2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? …6 But you have dishonored the poor man….

Throughout the Scriptures, God says he will defend the rights of the poor. In Deuteronomy God said:

Deuteronomy 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Proverbs tells us

Proverbs 14:21 Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor. …31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

Proverbs 21:13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.

In Isaiah 58 God describes the kind of fast that he approves:

Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Isaiah 61 points to the good news of the coming Messiah

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To oppress the poor is to deny the very gospel that Christ came to preach.

Jesus said

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. …48 I am the bread of life. …51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Lord’s supper is intended to remind us that Jesus gave himself for us so that everyone who believes in him will enjoy eternal life with him. To act selfishly in the Lord’s supper is to despise the church of God which he bought with his own blood. To claim to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for sinners while at the same time discriminating between the haves and the have nots is to act inconsistently with the gospel. Paul said in chapter 10 that

1 Corinthians 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

Here the inconsistency is just as glaring. You cannot eat at the table of the Lord who offers himself freely to all who would humbly receive, and exclude some based on their social status. In the church of God, the church that belongs to God, each one has been purchased by God with the same infinite price. Each one is God’s treasured possession. Each believer, rich or poor, can say ‘Christ loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal.2:20). To treat one sinner saved by God’s grace differently than another is to deny the gospel. To humiliate some as if they were second rate is to act contrary to the gospel.

Let No One Seek His Own

Repeatedly in this section Paul has laid out the maxim ‘let no one seek his own, but that of the other (10:24). The Lord’s supper of all places, where we are reminded of the cross, where Jesus laid down his life for the lost, should be the place where we are reminded of our own need and his generous supply, where we are knit together in unity as sinners together receiving the benefits of a gracious Savior. In the Lord’s supper, of all places, we should open our hearts to one another.

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

July 27, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Theology of the Incarnation: Humanity

12/15/13 Theology of the Incarnation; Humanity; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20131215_incarnation-humanity.mp3

We are taking a few weeks to stand in wonder at the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. We want to know him, to know who he is, to know all that we can about him, so that we can worship him rightly. We are looking at probably the greatest mystery the universe has ever known, the theology of the incarnation, that God became a man. Last time we looked at the full deity of Jesus, that he always existed as God, fully possessing all the characteristics of God, equal to the Father and in perfect fellowship with his Father for all eternity. We saw Jesus as Creator of all that is, the divine Word who spoke everything into existence. We saw Jesus the omnipotent one, to whom all of nature and even the demonic hordes must bow, the sovereign one. Jesus, immortal, who has the power of life in himself, Jesus, all-knowing and unlimited by space and time. Jesus, the Son, sharing all the characteristics and attributes of deity with his Father, equally worthy to be worshiped with his Father.

Outline

Today we are going to look at Jesus in his humanity, and next week at how these two natures, humanity and deity, are united in one person forever. I want to warn you that these three messages go together and each one is incomplete without the others. Focusing on the divine nature of Christ to the neglect or dismissal of his true humanity is one of the earliest heresies of the Christian church. The Apostle John wrote:

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

There were many in the early church who attempted to deny the full humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. John calls them deceivers and against Christ. The early creeds put it this way: ‘Jesus …very God of very God, …who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, …and was made man’ (Nicea, 381). In order for Jesus sacrifice to be of infinite value to save us, he must be fully God. In order for Jesus to legitimately be our substitute he must be fully human. A savior not quite God is a bridge broken at the farther end; while a savior not quite man is a bridge broken at the nearer end (H.G.C.Moule, F.F.Bruce). The church fathers put it this way ‘remaining what he was, he became what he was not’. The Son of God, continuing in undiminished deity, became what he had never been before, a real human being. This is what the bible teaches.

The Supernatural Conception

John’s gospel tells us that the Word who was, who existed in the beginning with his Father, the Word who existed as God,

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.

The Word, the eternal I AM who had always existed became something he had never been before. He became flesh [σάρξ]. The invisible God became carnal, God who is spirit became embodied.

John tells us that the Word who became flesh is the only Son from the Father. We know Jesus as the Son of God, but that title is open to misinterpretation. The Jews expected a merely human messiah, and Greek mythology told of occasions where one of their many gods would come down and have relations with a mortal and produce superhuman offspring. John is careful to make it clear that Jesus does not fit into either of these categories. Jesus is not merely human, he is the self-existent God who created everything who became man. Neither is he some hybrid half-god half-man produced by an illicit relationship. He had always existed as God and this one, the eternal Son, has now become also fully human. Jesus is one of a kind, the only one who pre-existed with the Father. This one, really truly became flesh. He didn’t just appear in the form of a human, as angels sometimes do, he really truly became genuinely irreversibly human.

The angel Gabriel said it this way to Mary:

Luke 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

You will conceive in your womb; that is how all babies are normally conceived. With a placenta and an umbilical cord, cells dividing, DNA replicating, organs and limbs developing. Morning sickness. Stretch marks. Movement. You will bear a son; not an alien, a baby boy. Birthed in the normal natural way. Labor pains, contractions, water breaking, umbilical cord cut, messy. The song is wrong; ‘no crying he makes’. With that first gulp of oxygen from this planet his lungs begin to function. He cried. He nursed. He burped. Spit up. Long sleepless nights. Messy diapers (or swaddling cloths).

Mary’s question was one of biology and morality.

Luke 1:34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 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.

Mary’s question is ‘how will this be since I have not known a man? She understood what precedes conception, and for conception to take place, there has to be a father. This is the miracle. No human father would be involved. Her morality would remain intact. The Holy Spirit of God would supernaturally place the divine seed inside of her.

Matthew’s gospel records it this way:

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.

In Matthew’s gospel, it is Joseph that has the questions. Mary is pregnant. He naturally assumes the worst.

Matthew 1:20 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).

He is assured that her purity is intact. The origin of this child is supernatural. The Word became flesh. But everything else about this child is as normal and natural as any other child. The birth is inconvenient. The timing is inopportune. The circumstances are terrible. The visitors were probably an awkward intrusion.

Natural Development

They had him circumcised on the eighth day (Lk.2:21), which tells us that he came with all the standard equipment that every other baby boy is born with. And I’m sure he cried then.

Luke tells us that his growth and development was normal and natural human development.

Luke 2:40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

He nursed. He had to be fed. He rolled over. He began to crawl. He stood up. He took his first step. He learned to eat. He learned to walk. He learned his aleph-bet. He was taught to be quiet in church. He was taught to read the Torah. He learned how to relate to other people. He learned how to relate to God. He had to grow up just like every other boy had to grow up. There was only one unique difference with Jesus. He never once sinned. In everything he pleased his heavenly Father. He got left behind in Jerusalem when he was 12. He was submissive to his parents.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Doctor Luke tells us that he developed intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially like every other human. The Quran and the non-biblical Infancy Gospel of Thomas have the boy Jesus doing mischievous miracles, cursing, healing, and breathing life into clay birds. But this clearly contradicts the historically reliable biblical accounts. When Jesus changed over 100 gallons of water into fine wine at the wedding in Cana, we are told this was the first of his signs (Jn.2:11). When he returned to his hometown of Nazareth claiming to be the fulfillment of Scripture, those who saw him grow up took offense at him.

Matthew 13:54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”

Jesus was so normal, so ordinary, so familiar, so human, that his own townspeople refused to believe that he was anything more than a mere man.

Human Limitations

We see Jesus in the gospels as fully human. He thought, felt and acted in a fully human way. His human body was subject to the same limitations that we all have.

Jesus had an ordinary human mind. As we have seen, Jesus learned. He increased in wisdom. He asked questions in order to find out information he didn’t know. When a woman touched him in the crowd, he asked “who touched my garments?”. In conversation with a demon-possessed boy’s father, he asked “how long has this been happening to him?” In response to questions about the timing of the end of the age, Jesus said:

Mark 13:32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Jesus had ordinary human emotions. In John 11, we are told:

John 11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

At the death of his friend, not only did Jesus ask “where have you laid him?” but it says:

John 11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. … 35 Jesus wept.

When Jesus predicted that one of his own disciples would betray him, it says “Jesus was troubled in his spirit” (Jn.13:21). Looking toward the cross, he said “now is my soul very sorrowful, even to death” and he begged his Father to remove the cup from him (Mk.14:34-35). Luke tells us:

Luke 22:43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

From the cross, Jesus cried out:“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt.27:46).

Jesus had an ordinary human body. At the beginning of Matthew, we are told

Matthew 4:2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

And after the temptation, Jesus was so physically weak we are told:

Matthew 4:11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well and asked her for a drink, it describes his physical condition this way:

John 4:6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

In Matthew 8, Jesus was so exhausted from a day of ministry that he was sleeping right through a great storm. After his scourging, Jesus was apparently so weak that the Roman soldiers compelled a man named Simon to carry his cross for him.

Jesus’ body was real. And he really died a violent human death of public execution. John tells us after his death,

John 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

Real physical human blood. Real physical human death. In a real physical human body. Mark tells us:

Mark 15:44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

A Roman centurion verified the real physical death of Jesus. His dead physical human body was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen and laid in a tomb. The women came Sunday morning with spices to anoint the dead body of Jesus (Mk.16:1), because they fully expected that his body like any other dead physical body would begin to decompose and stink.

When Jesus presented himself alive to his followers, he made a point to demonstrate that he was really bodily physically there.

Luke 24:36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

Providentially, Thomas was absent from this first appearance of the risen Jesus to his disciples. Thomas refused to believe unless he could handle real evidence.

John 20:26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Jesus ascended bodily, physically into heaven, where he is now bodily, physically seated at the right hand of the majesty on high. He promised that he would bodily, physically return to this earth.

The Importance of His True Humanity

Why is this so important? Why do the gospel writers give so much evidence to demonstrate that Jesus was really truly human? According to the Apostle John, the true humanity of Jesus is essential to Christianity.

Substitution

The author of Hebrews gives us several reasons.

Hebrews 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

God the Son took on human flesh so that he could experience human death as a legitimate substitute for sinful humans. In order to die in the place of humans, he had to be himself human.

Hebrews 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

Animal sacrifices could never take away sin, because animals are not human, created in the image of God. Jesus took on a human body so that he could substitute himself for us.

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.

Jesus partook of flesh and blood so that he could destroy the consequences of sin, death, by dying. He did not become an angel to rescue angels. He became human to rescue humans.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

He had to (notice the language of necessity); he had to be made like his brothers in every respect (being sort of human or partially human would not be adequate; he had to be fully human); he had to be made like his brothers in every respect in order to carry out his role as our great high Priest making propitiation for sin. To bear the wrath of God against the sins of mankind, he had to be a man.

Sympathy

The next verse gives another reason he became a man.

Hebrews 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Jesus really truly experienced temptation, so we can go to him for help when we are tempted.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Because Jesus in every respect has been tempted as we are, we can confidently come to him to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Obedience

Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 calls Christ the last Adam or the second man. Where Adam was placed in paradise with all of his needs met and he disobeyed, Jesus, driven into the wilderness and literally starving to death, fully obeyed his Father. He lived his whole life in perfect obedience. He was even obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Paul says in Romans 5:

Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Because of Jesus’ perfect obedience as a man to his Father, his perfect righteousness as our substitute now makes us righteous.

Mediator

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

For Jesus to truly mediate and be the spokesman both for God and for men, he must be both fully God and fully man.

The old creed says it this way: (would you say it with me?)

[We believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

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

December 15, 2013 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment