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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Daniel 8:9-14, 23-27; The Little Horn and the End

05/22_Daniel 08:9-14, 23-27; The Little Horn and the End; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220522_dan08.mp3

In the third year of Belshazzar, the final king of the Babylonian empire, about 11 years before Babylon fell, Daniel, transported in vision to Susa, the future capital of the Persian empire, was given a vision of the coming Medo-Persian ram who under Cyrus the great would rise as the next world power and defeat Babylon and rule for over 200 years. But the Greek goat under Alexander the great would fly at Persia in great fury and in three short years crush Persia and rule the world. Alexander died at the height of his triumph, in Babylon, at the age of 33, and over the next 20 years his generals would push and pull until his empire was divided to the four winds of heaven, Cassander ruling Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus ruling Thrace and much of Asia Minor; Seleucus ruling Syria and the east; and Ptolemy ruling Egypt. [Map]

We are going back and forth between the vision given to Daniel at the beginning of chapter 8, and the interpretation given to him by the angel Gabriel at the end of chapter 8. We are going to pick up today with the focus of the vision, the little horn of the Greek empire

Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. 5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. 9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land.

The angel interprets in verse 19

Daniel 8:19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great— but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

One of the four kingdoms that emerged out of Alexander’s empire was the Seleucid dynasty ruling Syria and the east. The eighth Seleucid king was Antiochus IV, who was not expected to take the throne. He had served in place of his father as hostage in Rome for 14 years after his father’s defeat. His older brother Seleucus IV Philopater had acceded the throne. Seleucus arranged for the exchange of his own son Demetrius as hostage to release Antiochus, but when Seleucus was murdered, Antiochus seized the throne through flattery and bribes.

Antiochus promoted Greek culture, attempting to Hellenize conquered peoples, founding Greek cities, instituting Greek education, and building temples to the Greek gods. He took the name ‘Epiphanes’ which means ‘manifest’ (he was nicknamed ‘Epimanes’ ‘the mad’ by his Jewish enemies). He had coins minted that read ‘king Antiochus, God manifest’. [coin]

Antiochus encouraged the reform party in Israel that supported Hellenization. Antiochus had installed the wicked Menelaus as high priest, at whose request and for a bribe Antiochus had the legitimate high priest Onias III murdered in 170 BC.

After being forced to leave Egypt in 169 BC, he returned to Jerusalem and plundered the temple.

There had been repeated conflict between the Seleucids and Ptolemies over Israel, and finally in 167 BC Antiochus took Jerusalem by force and required its Hellenization under penalty of death.

1 Maccabees

The book of 1 Maccabees records what happened:

1 Maccabees 1:10 From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king… 11 In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.” 12 This proposal pleased them, 13 and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. 14 So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, 15 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.

…20 After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. 21 He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. 22 He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. 23 He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures which he found. 24 Taking them all, he departed to his own land. He committed deeds of murder, and spoke with great arrogance.

…29 Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force. 30 Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. 31 He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. 32 And they took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle.

…41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that each should give up his customs. 43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50 “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.” 51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city. 52 Many of the people, every one who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.

54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, 55 and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned him to death. 58 They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities. 59 And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks. 62 But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63 They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64 And very great wrath came upon Israel. [RSVA]

The Little Horn

Daniel saw in his vision:

Daniel 8:9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

And the interpretation given by the angel:

Daniel 8:23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great— but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”

The Stars of Heaven Trampled

From Daniel’s vision we see that the little horn would throw down even some of the host of heaven, some of the stars.

In Genesis (15:5), the Lord promised Abraham that his descendants would be multiplied as the stars of heaven. Daniel 12 says:

Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Philippians 2 says

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing,15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Often in Scripture stars are connected with angels, but in this passage, it is clear that the stars are the faithful saints who will be trampled. Gabriel gives the interpretation; he will destroy mighty men and the people who are saints.

Against the Prince of the Hosts

This arrogant little horn would attempt to become as great as the Prince of the hosts; he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes. He made himself out to be God manifest on the earth, he usurped the authority of God, changing the laws of God, defiling the temple of God, abusing the people of God.

The Discipline of God

And yet we read that his power grew great, but not by his own power. A host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression; when the transgressors have reached their limit. God raised up Antiochus to discipline his wayward people, because of their transgressions. God sets a limit for transgressors. God gave his people over into his hand;

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?

How Long? 2300 Evenings and Mornings

In verses 13 and 14 the question is posed ‘How long?’ How long will this atrocity be allowed? And this is not just a rhetorical question expressing the longing of our hearts. It is a legitimate question with a concrete answer, because the Lord is merciful.

Psalm 85:5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?

Jeremiah 3:12 …“‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever.

(14) And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” 2300 evenings and mornings, the same kind of language that describes the days of creation. 2300 days, just short of six and a half years. God is angry with his people when we are disobedient, but he will not be angry forever. There is a limit. History doesn’t provide all the exact dates, but it seems this fits with the general time frame from the murder of the legitimate priest Onias III in 170 BC to the death of Antiochus in 164 BC, as reported by the Maccabees:

2 Maccabees 9:5 But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no relief and with sharp internal tortures —

Perspective of Daniel

Keep in mind the perspective of Daniel. This vision was given in about 550 or 551BC, about 55 years after Daniel and his friends were ripped from their homes in Israel. The temple had been destroyed and lay in ruins for 36 years. This vision assumes an end to captivity, a return to the land, a rebuilt and functioning temple, and that the people of God will still stray from the Lord their God and bring further punishment on themselves.

The Appointed Time of the End

It is amazing how precisely the details of this vision fit the unfolding history of what we know of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, so much so that unbelieving scholars insist that it must have been written as history after the events had taken place. This is predictive prophecy, fulfilled in Antiochus. But it is bigger than that. I think Gabriel alerts us to this when he says in his interpretation:

Daniel 8:17 …But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” …19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end.

Three times the angel says that this is ‘for the time of the end’. Some take this to mean the end of the Jewish persecution under Antiochus, but the language seems bigger than that, more absolute; the very end.

The language of ‘the transgression that makes desolate’ connects with the same language in 11:31 that is also talking about Antiochus, but it also connects with the language of 9:27 and 12:11 ‘ the abomination that makes desolate’ which Jesus points to as still future from his perspective;

Matthew 24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place ( let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

There is also a connection between the little horn of chapter 8 and the little horn of chapter 7. The little horn of chapter 7 comes out of the fourth empire, not the third, and replaces three of the ten horns of the beast, whereas the little horn of chapter 8 emerges out of one of four horns of Greece; so these horns are clearly different. But they are both called little horns, inviting us to compare them. The little horn of chapter 7, the final Antichrist, is judged by the Ancient of Days and burned with fire, and the kingdom is given to the saints of the Most High. The little horn of chapter 8, Antiochus, is broken, but by no human hand. But this is not the end of the persecution of God’s people.

Antiochus is given as a shadow of something even darker that is to come, that according to Jesus and Paul was still future (2Thess.2:3-12).

Antiochus, Anger, and the Glory of God

What are we to do with all this? Daniel had an extreme emotional and physical reaction. He was sick for days. This ought to make us angry. A glory stealer like Antiochus makes us angry; his main offense is against God and his sanctuary. He makes us angry with righteous indignation; not angry or offended because we were wronged, but because God was wronged. Something in us rises up and wants to defend the glory of God.

We are outraged that after the Babylonian captivity, after God uses Cyrus to return his people to the land and restore the temple, still they will persist in disobedience. Still they will allow themselves to be deceived. Still their hearts will turn away, to such an extent that it is necessary to give them into the hand of Antiochus.

God must punish sin, and yet God is eager to show mercy to the humble and contrite in heart. God is still the rescuer and defender of his wayward people.

We are rightly outraged, and God uses this to show us our own hearts; how often do our hearts go astray from the one and only God, and we bow to idols? How often are we deluded by our own sense of importance, setting ourselves up in his sanctuary to be worshiped, stealing his glory? God is passionate for his own glory; he is jealous. He wants what is best for his people, and allowing our hearts to wander is not what is best for us.

Antiochus displays the glory of God, he reveals to our hearts that the glory of God is worth defending, worth fighting for, but we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And this points us to Jesus and our need.

Isaiah 53:6 ​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.

***

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

June 12, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 7:15-28; Persecution of the Saints

05/01_Daniel 07:15-28; Persecution of the Saints; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220501_dan07_15-28.mp3

Daniel 2 and Daniel 7

In chapter 2 we saw Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a multi-metallic statue representing four Gentile kingdoms reigning over the earth up to the time when a stone cut out without hands strikes the feet of the statue, crushes the kingdoms of this world to powder, and grows to be a great mountain filling the whole earth. Daniel interprets that:

Daniel 2:28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. …

Now in Daniel 7, Daniel has a dream of four great beasts rising up out of the sea, a vision of four beast-kingdoms stretching from Daniel’s own day all the way to the end of time when the Ancient of Days establishes the eternal kingdom of the Son of Man.

God is giving Daniel, one of his chosen people, in captivity in Babylon, one of seemingly very few Israelites who remained faithful to the Lord God, a vision of the future. Daniel had been in Babylon 51 years. The temple had been in ruins for the past 32 years. Things are not looking good for God’s people. They may get worse before they get better, but there is a glorious future for God’s people, and the kingdoms of the world, although powerful and fierce, will all bow to the ultimate King of kings and Lord of lords.

This vision of chapter 7 was given in the first year of Belshazzar. Belshazzar was the wicked king who 15 years later would end his reign in an immoral party blasphemously drinking from God’s own holy vessels. Daniel rebuked him for his failure to learn from the humbling experience of his father Nebuchadnezzar (5:22-23). Instead he lifted up himself against the Lord of heaven. The handwriting on the wall pronounced that he was weighed in the scales and came up short. If this is the kind of ruler who had come to power, what would that mean for God’s people?

Daniel 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. 2 Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4 The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. 5 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ 6 After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

In chapter 2, Daniel interpreted to Nebuchadnezzar his dream statue.

Daniel 2:38 …you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.

Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, Medo-Persia under Cyrus, then Greece under Alexander the Great.

Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

In Nebuchadnezzar’s vision:

Daniel 2:40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these.

Daniel’s vision continued:

Daniel 7:8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

Whatever this last kingdom, it was different from the other kingdoms, and it extends to the judgment at the very end of time.

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.

Daniel 7:11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

There couldn’t be a greater contrast between the Ancient of Days silently seated in judgment and the big mouth of the little horn who was ceaselessly speaking great things. He was able to uproot three other horns, but that whole final beast, horns and all, was decisively killed, destroyed, and burned with the fire of God’s judgment.

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.

Nebuchadnezzar’s image had feet and toes made of iron mixed with clay.

Daniel 2:34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,

The crushing stone is the divine Son of man coming on the clouds with great glory.

The Saints Win!

Daniel 7:15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

Daniel was troubled by what he saw, so in his vision he asked for the truth and he was given the interpretation. The four terrible beasts are four coming kings. But we win in the end. The beasts and their reign of terror will be decisively destroyed. The saints of the Most High will be given the kingdom without end.

The Fourth Beast and its Horns

But this didn’t satisfy Daniel.

Daniel 7:19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions.

Daniel is troubled by the uniquely destructive fourth beast, and its horns, especially the arrogant little horn. It seems the scene continued to unfold before Daniel.

The Little Horn Prevails …Until

Daniel 7:21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them,

This is deeply disturbing. This proud little horn with eyes like a man and a boastful mouth not only uprooted three other horns, but it made war with the saints and overcame them. I thought the saints were given the kingdom forever, forever and ever. How could they be defeated? The little horn prevailed over the saints, but only for a time.

Daniel 7:22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.

There is persecution in store for the people of God. We are not always victorious in the short term. The three Hebrews who refused to bow to the image were thrown in the superheated furnace, but came out without even the smell of smoke. Daniel, who would not cease praying to his God, was thrown in the den of hungry lions, but the Lord shut the mouths of those lions, and he came out without a scratch. In both cases, pagan kings gave glory to God. But this will not always be the case. Not every king will willingly bow the knee. Many followers of Jesus have been burned to death, and devoured by lions. But God promises to be with us in the fire, and he will honor those who resolve ‘but even if he does not deliver us, we will not serve your gods or worship the image you have set up’ (3:18).

In Daniel’s vision, the arrogant little horn makes war with the saints and overcomes them. Evil wins. Wickedness prevails. The saints are defeated. Until. Until the Ancient of Days came. Until every wrong is righted and justice is brought about.

The Saints Given up to Persecution

Further interpretation is given.

Daniel 7:23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. 24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. 25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

This fourth kingdom is different; devouring, trampling, crushing. The ten horns are ten contemporaneous kings, and another blasphemous king will put down three of the ten. This coming king will speak against the Most high, and shall wear out the saints. ‘Wear out’ means to afflict, specifically in a mental sense. This one will intend to usurp the authority of God, who alone:

Daniel 2:21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;

The saints will be given by God into his hand. In chapter 1 God gave the king of Judah into Nebuchanezzar’s hand. Because of disobedience, because of sin, to discipline, to refine, to purify, to work all thing together for good to those who love God. To display his own glory. Because he is God.

How Long?

But they are given into his hand only for a set amount of time; for a time, times and half a time. In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar was given the heart of a beast until seven times passed over him, likely seven years. The designated period here is ‘a time, times, and half a time’; three and a half periods of time.

This whole scene overlaps with what we read in Revelation 13:

Revelation 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” 5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

In Daniel’s vision, the prior beasts were allowed to live on for a season in the succeeding beasts until the final beast is destroyed. This beast in Revelation is a composite beast, having characteristics of the lion, the bear and the leopard. This beast too what given a mouth uttering proud blasphemous words. It was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months, which equals three and a half years. It was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. Some will be taken captive, some will be slain; the saints are called to persevere, whatever comes. This seems to be the same period of time spoken of in Revelation 12, where the woman Israel is nourished for a time, times and half a time (Rev.12:14) or 1,260 days (Rev.12:6), which is 42 thirty day (lunar) months; while the dragon made war “on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev.12:17).

All the fury of hell will be unleashed on the saints of God, and God will give the saints into the hand of the evil one, they will be defeated, but only for a time, times and half a time. God revealed these things so we would be prepared. Jesus said:

John 16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 ​…Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. … 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. … 33 …In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Here’s the end of Daniel’s vision:

Daniel 7:26 But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. 27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’ 28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”

Four times it is reaffirmed in this chapter that although the beast will be terrible and his persecution of the saints real, the kingdom of the coming Son of man, which is the kingdom given to the saints, will never end.

What’s the point?

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

How much do you treasure your relationship with the Son of man? Is it enough to outweigh the sufferings of this present time?

***

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

May 3, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 7:15-18; Who Receives the Kingdom?

04/24_Daniel 07:15-18; Who Receives the Kingdom? Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220424_dan07_15-18.mp3

In Daniel 7, an exiled Jew in captivity in Babylon was given a comprehensive vision of the Gentile nations who would rule over God’s people, depicted as ravenous beasts, extending to the very end of time, when the Ancient of Days takes his seat on his flaming chariot throne to judge the nations, and one like a Son of man comes riding on the clouds, and to this divine cloud rider is given an eternal kingdom, that all the nations of the world bow to worship him.

We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at this centerpiece of Daniel, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man; in New Testament terms God the Father and God the Son. The Son, (Phil.2:5-8) although he was fully equal with his Father, humbled himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and because he was obedient even to the point of death, even 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.

Last time we looked at the parallels between this vision of the one like a Son of Man given to Daniel, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John, where the one seated on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, is holding a scroll, with which to judge the nations, and a search is made for one who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals. No one was found worthy in heaven or on earth or under the earth, except the Lion of the tribe of Judah who had proven himself victorious. He was presented before the one seated on the throne. But when John turned to look, he did not see a mighty lion, but rather a lamb standing, as though it had been slain. The Lion of Judah conquered by becoming a sacrificial Lamb who laid down his life for others. When the slain Lamb took the scroll from the hand of the Ancient of days, all heaven worshiped him:

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

YHWH the cloud rider, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, is presented before the Ancient of Days as the Son of Man slain for the sins of his people.

Who Receives the Kingdom?

I want to ask one question of our text today; Who receives the kingdom? To whom does the Ancient of Days give the eternal kingdom? The answer to this question seems obvious given what we have read so far.

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.

It is to this one like a son of man that the Ancient of Days gives dominion and glory and a kingdom; his kingdom and his dominion is eternal; it will never pass away.

This title ‘the Son of man’ was by far Jesus’ most consistent way to refer to himself in the gospels. When put under oath by the Jewish high priest in his mock trial;

Matthew 26:63 …And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 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.”

The religious leaders took it as blasphemy; the one they believed to be a mere man making himself out to be God (Mt.26:65).

In John 13, before Jesus humbled himself to wash his disciples’ feet, it says:

John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,

As Jesus moved resolutely toward his death, he was fully aware of who he was; that he is the one who had come down from God, that he was returning to take his seat at the right hand of his Father, and that the Father had given all things into his hand.

In John 17, Jesus prayed to his Father:

John 17:4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Jesus eternally existed as God, equal with his Father, he had come to bring glory to his Father, and he was eager to return to the glory he had with his Father before he created all things.

Jesus the King

Throughout his ministry, Jesus proclaimed ‘the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand’ (Mk.1:15), because he, the King had come.

The wise men from the east came seeking the one who was born king of the Jews (Mt.2:2). Just before his glory was revealed on the mount of Transfiguration, Jesus said:

Matthew 16:28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

To Jesus, the Son of Man, belongs the kingdom. It seems his disciples were continually arguing about who would be greatest in his kingdom (Mt.18:1).

On Palm Sunday, Jesus presented himself as the humble King on a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 (Mt.21:4-5). Before Pilate he acknowledged that he was indeed a king, but his kingdom was not from this world (Jn.18:36-37).

In Revelation, Jesus the Lamb, Jesus the Word of God is called ‘King of kings and Lord of Lords (Rev.17:14; 19:16)

To whom does the Ancient of Days give the kingdom? It is to the Son of Man, to him:

Daniel 7:14 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.

The Saints of the Most High Shall Receive the Kingdom

But keep reading in Daniel 7!

Daniel 7:15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

Wait! I thought it was to the divine Son of man that the Ancient of Days gave the kingdom? But here it says ‘the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’ Which is it? Is the kingdom given to the Son of man forever, or is the kingdom given to the saints of the Most High forever and ever? Who are these saints of the Most High?

Saints and Holy

First, what is a saint? The word ‘saint’ is a form of the word ‘holy’. Holy means unique, separate, distinct, set apart. God is holy; he is utterly unique, in a class by himself. Places can be holy, a specific location set apart for worship. Things can be holy, like the things that are set apart for use in the tabernacle or temple of God. Time can be holy, specific days set apart for the worship of God. The beings we call angels are sometimes called ‘holy ones’, set apart, devoted to God and to his service and glory. God’s people are called to be holy;

Leviticus 20:7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. …26 You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

God’s people are called saints, holy, chosen and set apart to belong to the Lord as his own treasured possession.

Paul addresses his letter to the church in the city of Corinth this way:

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

The church is made up of people who have been sanctified or set apart in Christ Jesus, people who are called to be saints. And this is no special class of extra holy people wearing halos who have attained to some degree of meritorious moral and spiritual amazingness. Listen to how Paul addresses the saints in 1 Corinthians 6.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

To inherit the kingdom of God, you have to be righteous. He gives the laundry list of bad people who do bad things and says that these kinds of people will not inherit the kingdom of God. But pay attention to what he says next:

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

There is hope for every flavor of sinner. This is the transforming power of the good news. The blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to wash away every sin, every stain. We are all unrighteous. No one is righteous before God, no not one. But we can be made righteous, we can be justified in the name of the Lord Jesus. We who are unholy can be set apart, made holy, sinners can be called saints, transformed by the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Inheritance; Identity not Performance

Notice that in this passage Paul is talking about saints inheriting the kingdom of God. Only the righteous, only saints washed in the blood of Jesus will inherit the kingdom.

There was a man who ran up to Jesus and asked him “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk.10:17). This is an interesting question, because doing and inheriting don’t seem to go well together. Laborers get wages. An inheritance is based on your identity not your performance. The inheritance goes to the one who is born into a position as the heir.

Jesus turns this man’s attention to himself. He asks ‘why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’ In effect he is asking this man if he really is recognizing Jesus for who he truly is. Only God is good. In calling me good, are you acknowledging me as God? Then he points the man to the commandments. The commandments were given not as a ladder to climb to show how good we are; they were given as a mirror to show us just how far we fall short. No one is truly good except God himself. But this guy is so performance based that he thinks he is doing well, although he has a nagging suspicion that he is missing something essential. Jesus points it out. He says ‘you lack one thing.’ There is stuff in the way of that one thing, and it needs to go, but that is not the one thing. Get rid of whatever is in the way of the one thing. Jesus says ‘I am the one thing you lack’. Get rid of whatever is hindering you from following me, and come, follow me. Jesus invites the man into a relationship with him as the only good God, who can wash sinners clean and make them saints.

Born into the Right Family

Remember, workers get wages. Inheritance is based on your identity. You are born into an inheritance. This is why Jesus tells Nicodemus “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn.3:3). To enter the kingdom, to obtain the inheritance, you must be born into the right family.

Listen to what Peter writes:

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In God’s great mercy, while we were dead in our sins, he makes us alive, we are born into his family, and we are born into an eternal heavenly inheritance.

Heirs through Adoption

The Bible uses language of the new birth, it also uses language of adoption; we are adopted into God’s family as sons of God.

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. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

This is amazing! Jesus redeems us with his own precious blood, he pays our price in full so that we can experience adoption as sons, and if we are adopted as sons, we are included in the inheritance!

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The inheritance is based on identity not performance. This is staggering. God gives us his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, and that makes us adopted children of God and heirs of God. And that makes us co-heirs with Christ the only begotten Son of God. The inheritance that Jesus has by right is given also to us.

Who Receives the Kingdom?

Let’s go back to Daniel and look at the question we started with; who receives the kingdom?

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.

Jesus the divine Son of man receives the kingdom and dominion and glory from his Father. But then we read in verse 18:

Daniel 7:18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

Those of us who are in Christ, born again by the Spirit of God, adopted into his family, we become heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. What he inherits we inherit. We are called saints, washed clean and made holy by the blood of Jesus Christ. We, the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.

***

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

April 26, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 13:12-14; Trinitarian Blessing

04/18_2 Corinthians 13:12-14; Trinitarian Blessing; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20210418_2cor13_12-14.mp3

Paul has shown the Corinthians what authentic ministry is. By his life and teaching he has marked out for them and for us the way of the cross. He leaves them with this final exhortation.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Paul addresses the wayward Corinthians affectionately as brothers. He gives five commands: rejoice, be restored, be comforted, think the same, make peace; and he follows these commands with a promise, the promise of the presence of God, that the God of love and of peace will be with us. God with us – the motive and power to live in unity, to reconcile, to be courageous, to find true joy.

The Holy Kiss

Then he gives us another command.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

We firmly believe that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable, and we want to heed James’ instruction:

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

So greet one another with a holy kiss. What do we do with a command like this? Here’s what we don’t do. This is the word of God. We don’t just squirm for a moment because it sounds uncomfortable and then move on and forget about it. We want the word of Christ to dwell in us, to change us, to change our behavior, to change how we relate to one another.

Here’s what else we don’t do. We don’t lift this out of its context and take it as biblical license to pursue our passions and make moves on someone we might be interested in. Note it says ‘one another’; that means everyone, no exclusions. Note, it also says it is to be ‘holy’; not impure, not selfish.

Here’s what we do. We need to look at a command like this in its context; its historical context, its cultural context, and the context of the letter in which it appears. This is a letter that is almost 2,000 years old, it was written by a Jew who became a follower of Jesus and it was written to a church planted in a Roman colony on the Achaian peninsula.

This is not the Song of Solomon (1:2) kind of kissing (there is a place for that, and God takes pleasure in our enjoyment of his good gifts to us). The holy kiss is commanded in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, and also in 1 Peter.

Jesus, in Luke 7 rebuked the Pharisee Simon who invited him over, for failing to give him a kiss.

Luke 7:44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Jesus points to a number of cultural customs that are foreign to us in the West today. It was appropriate hospitality to offer water for washing the feet, and to welcome with a kiss. Simon was rebuked for being inhospitable and rude to his guest. The kiss, on alternating cheeks, even today in the middle east, is used as a greeting, an expression of welcome and respect.

In Corinth, the culture was stratified. There were wealthy patrons and those who were indebted to them. There were slaves and those who had gained their freedom. There were rich and poor. And in 1 Corinthians Paul rebuked the divisions among them, especially at the Lord’s Supper:

1 Corinthians 11:21 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.

Those kind of divisions are eradicated at the cross. They do not belong in the church. We are to welcome one another. No one is to be excluded because of social or economic status. Because of Jesus we can ‘in humility count others as more significant than ourselves’ (Phil.2:3). We are commanded to extend welcome, extend hospitality to those we might naturally be uncomfortable with, because we are really no different; we are sinners saved by the undeserved kindness of an extravagantly merciful God.

All The Saints

2 Corinthians 13:13 All the saints greet you.

Often Paul sent greetings from specific individuals or groups. But here he makes the greeting universal, reminding this church that they are not on their own or in a class by themselves; rather he connects this church to the wider body of Christ. You are part of something bigger than you.

The word ‘saints’ is the same adjective translated in the previous phrase as ‘holy’; they are to greet one another with a holy kiss, and all the holy ones greet you. We enjoy a holy unity with every other believer made holy by the blood of Christ, ‘Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Rom.15:7).

And we are to express that unity in a tangible way.

Trinitarian Blessing

Paul concludes the letter with this blessing:

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

As Paul opens every one of his letters with some variation of ‘grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’, he closes every one of his letters with some form of the benediction ‘grace be with you’, or ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you’. But here in 2 Corinthians he expands this to include a blessing from God the Father and from the Holy Spirit.

This is a rich trinitarian blessing. He places the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit in parallel phrases, on an equal level, and he attributes each respectively as the source of grace, of love and of fellowship. God is the source of every blessing, and he asks specifically that God’s undeserved grace would flow to them through Jesus, that God’s love would be poured out from the Father, and that fellowship would be experienced as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

There is Only One God

It was in light of plain statements like these, and in response to false teachers who began to teach things about God that contradicted the plain teaching of God’s word that the early church formulated the doctrine of the trinity.

The Scriptures clearly teach that there is only one God, that he has always existed, that there were no Gods before him and there will be no Gods after him. God will not share his glory with another (Is.42:8; 48:11). When Jesus was asked about the great commandment,

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The Lord our God, the Lord is one. There is not two Gods or three or many; there is one. You shall have no other gods before him (Ex.20:3).

Three Persons are God

And yet it is clear from the Scriptures that Jesus claimed to be God; in John 10, when Jesus said ‘I and the Father are one’, ‘the Jews picked up stones again to stone him.’

John 10:32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

The Jews understood what he was claiming, and they considered it blasphemy. Jesus in many ways on many occasions claimed to be God, did things only God can do, and received worship as God.

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of the Lord or the Spirit of God. In 1 Corinthians we are told:

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

God’s temple is inhabited by God the Spirit. In Acts 5, Peter accused Ananias of lying to the Holy Spirit, and in the next breath he said that he lied to God (5:3-4, 9).

The Father is God, Jesus claims to be God, and the Spirit is God.

The Father is not the Son is not the Spirit

But it is also clear from the Scriptures that Jesus is not the Father or the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father or Jesus.

Jesus regularly prayed to his Father. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit descended on him like a dove, and the Father spoke from heaven.

These are the Scriptural data which must be held together; there is only one God; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God; but the Spirit is not Jesus or the Father, and Jesus is not the Spirit or the Father. There is one God who eternally exists in the three distinct and unconfused persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. No confusion of persons, no division of substance. Three in person, one in essence or being, they three share the God-ness of God.

John begins his gospel:

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

The Word, who at a point in time became flesh, had eternally existed both with God and as God. He is and always was himself fully deity, and he is and always was in fellowship with his Father, in a relationship of one person with another. Jesus said:

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

Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as ‘the helper, whom’ – note the Holy Spirit is a whom not a what; a he not an it. The Father will send the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. Three divine persons; one eternal God.

Enjoy the Truth

The truth of the one who is three is not esoteric and theoretical, not something for academics alone to ponder and defend. This is a truth to be enjoyed. By the church. By everyone. Paul calls down a blessing on the church from these three who are one.

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Grace, God’s undeserved unearned favor and kindness, when we justly deserve his wrath and hell, finds its source in the once-for-all wrath propitiating substitution of Jesus, the Christ, the Lord in my place, paying the debt I own and crediting me with his own perfect righteousness.

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.

Grace, the grace of the Lord Jesus extended to me, undeserving sinner. We are given ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (4:6). ‘Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image’ (3:18).

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Jesus said ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (12:9).

Love, the infinite love of the Father, ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction’ (1:3-4). It is God in whom we hope, the God who raises the dead (1:9-10); God who is faithful to all his promises (1:18, 20). God commanded light to shine in the darkness of our hearts (4:6). God through Christ reconciled us to himself (5:18). It is God who said

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

God desires to dwell among us, to be with us.

2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

God is the God of love (13:11) and the love of God is extended to you!

Fellowship, intimacy, communion, union with God and one another brought about by the Holy Spirit of God. It is the Spirit who gives life (3:6). The Spirit of the Lord brings freedom and transformation (3:17-18).

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

We are given the gift of the Spirit who lives in our hearts; we are established, anointed, sealed. The Spirit is given as the guarantee (5:5) of one day being at home with the Lord.

It is ours to enjoy the present fellowship we have with the Spirit, and the fellowship created among us because the same Spirit lives in each of us.

In the Old Testament, God commanded that his threefold name be placed on the people of Israel in blessing:

Numbers 6:24 YHWH bless you and keep you;

25 YHWH make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

26 YHWH lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Let us make this our prayer: may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

***

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

April 23, 2021 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prayer and Unity (Ephesians 5-6)

01/21 Re-Oreinet; Prayer and Unity (Ephesians 6); Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20180121_prayer-unity.mp3

2 weeks ago we looked at prayer as intimacy; enjoying our blood-bought fellowship with God, listening to his word, talking with him, enjoying his presence.

Today I want to look at Ephesians 5 and 6, being filled with the Spirit and spiritual warfare and prayer in the Spirit.

Being Filled with the Spirit

Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit. What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? We tend to import into the passage ideas about some supernatural religious experience, some ecstatic feeling. We might think of casting out demons and prophesying and doing mighty works, forgetting that Jesus said that some who did these things in his name had no relationship with him, and therefore were not filled with the Spirit (Mt.7:21-23). Instead of importing ideas from outside, we ought to start with what the passage itself actually says.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

…15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

This passage contrasts being filled with the Spirit with being drunk with wine. When you are drunk, enough of the alcohol has gotten into your bloodstream that it begins to affect the way you think and the way you act. Being filled with the Spirit must mean that enough of the Spirit has gotten into us that our actions and our thinking begins to be affected by the Spirit.

In the immediate context of this passage, being filled with the Spirit is walking in wisdom, making the best use of the time, knowing the will of the Lord. Being filled with the Spirit has to do with how we address one another, and how we address the Lord. Is there a song in your heart? Is there a nautral overflow of joy that just must express itself? Are you thankful? Always and for everything? Being filled with the Spirit will be seen in our interaction with other people. This passage goes on to give instructions to wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters. How we interact with the people in our lives will show if we are filled with the Spirit.

John’s letters make this really clear. His language for a Spirit controlled life is ‘walking in the light’. You can’t claim to be a Spirit filled person walking in the light if you hate your brother (1Jn.2:9,11).

In Galatians 5 Paul tells us to ‘walk by the Spirit’ (5:16) and be ‘led by the Spirit’ (5:18) and contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5, walking by the Spirit and being led by the Spirit look like not gratifying fleshly desires, but instead walking in love and the other things that are characteristic of the Spirit. This life of love and joy and peace, this walking by and being led by the Spirit in Galatians 5 must at least overlap with what Paul says in Ephesians 5 about being filled with the Spirit.

Spiritual Warfare

We have these instructions in Ephesians 5-6 on the relationships between wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters, and then this passage on spiritual warfare. Again, we are inclined to import into this passage a bunch of what we think spiritual warfare is. We tend to think it has to do with demonic activity and a sense of spiritual oppression and doing battle with the enemy. We may tend to romanticize it and imagine ourselves dressed in armor, sword in hand, skillfully swinging and dismembering the demonic hordes. It may be all that, and the text does invite us into the imagery, but we tend to divorce it from its context. This passage is a reminder that ‘we wrestle not against flesh and blood’ (6:12). Connected with the context, that means that your wife is not the enemy. Your husband is not the enemy. Your children or your parents are not the enemy. Your employer or your employees are not the enemy. The other people in church are not the enemy. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Our flesh and blood relationships are not the enemy. In our relationships, especially in the midst of relational conflict and tension (and by the way, it is normal to have conflict in relationships), we need to be reminded who the real enemy is, and that the enemy seeks to control how you respond to all these people in your life.

Instead, we must be Spirit controlled in all these relationships. We need to stand firm in gospel truth, in our blood bought righteousness, in gospel readiness to be at peace, forgiving as we have been forgiven, in believing Jesus and not believing the lies of the enemy, in in our salvation that is undeserved, all of grace, fighting the lies with the truth of the Word of God.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Praying in The Spirit

But the passage doesn’t end there. In fact there is another part of the weaponry that is essential. Or maybe this is what all the armaments are for, this is the field on which the battle is fought. This is the battle. All the armor is equipment to get ready for this battle. Take up the armor that you may withstand and stand firm. Stand therefore …praying.

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

Through all prayer and petition, we are to pray at all times in the Spirit. What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Again, we could import our own ideas of what this means, that it is some super-spiritual supernatural state. But the text says that we are to pray in all times in the Spirit. So this can’t be some special state state of prayer that wouldn’t be safe to do while we were driving our chariot to work in the moring. This text indicates that our every prayer is to be an ‘in the Spirit’ prayer.

Access through Jesus in the Spirit to the Father

So what does it mean to pray in the Spirit in Ephesians? First, we must remember that all the practical exhortations in the second half of Ephesians (4-6) are built on the gospel truth laid down in the first half of Ephesians (1-3). All the imperatives (or commands) are built on and grow out of the gospel indicatives (or statements of truth). So this command to pray at all times in the Spirit must be built on a foundation of gospel truth.

Ephesians 2 lays out the good news of God’s resurrecting power at work in dead sinners to make us alive as a gracious gift (2:1-9). We who were separated, alienated, strangers, without hope and without God have been brought near by the blood of Christ (2:12-13).

Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Through Jesus, through his once for all sacrifice, through his grace, we now have access to the Father. Our access is in the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit can only begin with blood-bought access to the Father through Jesus in the Spirit. Jesus said ‘no one comes to the Father except through me’ (Jn.14:6).

Into One Body In One Spirit

So praying in the Spirit means access; that through Jesus we have access to the Father in the Spirit. And praying in the Spirit connects us horizontally with other believers.

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

We are all baptized into one body in the one Spirit. And our access to the Father is in this one Spirit.

Paul alludes to this in Ephesians 4.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

There is a blood-bought unity of the Spirit with other believers, a unity that frees us to bear with one another in love, with all humility and gentleness, with patience. It is in this unity of the Spirit that we must come to the Father in prayer.

So praying in the Spirit is both a vertical and a horizontal thing. We have access to the Father through Jesus in the one Spirit. And we have a horizontal unity with all other believers in the one body in this one Spirit. So together, in unity with every other believer in the Spirit, because of what Jesus did, we have access to the Father.

So prayer is never a solo activity. It is never just you and God. Of course you can pray alone. You should, as Jesus said, go into your inner room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret (Mt.6:6). You can pray alone, but when you pray, you are never alone. The triune God is with you. That is the only way prayer works. You pray to the Father through Jesus in the Spirit. And in the Spirit you are united with every other believer. There is a connection, in the Holy Spirit, with all believers. As Hebrews says, ‘we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’ (Heb.12:1).

For All the Saints

So there is an aspect of praying in the Spirit that connects us with all other believers. But Ephesians 6 tells us that we are to pray ‘for all the saints.’ Praying in the Spirit is both praying with all the saints and for all the saints. Let me ask you, what believers does this leave out? Is there anyone that you shouldn’t be praying for? Is there anyone you find it difficult to pray for? Someone you disagree with? What about brothers and sisters in other Christian denominations? Maybe they believe differently than you on some secondary issues. Maybe they worship differently. Maybe they are wrong. Do you confront them or speak out against them? Are you praying for them? Maybe they don’t even recognize you as a believer. Can you still pray for them?

What about someone who has offended you or wronged you? Someone who has hurt you deeply. And they don’t even acknowledge that they did anything. Can you pray for them? And I don’t mean you should pray Psalm 35 over them:

Psalm 35:4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor… 5 Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away! 6 Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!

Can you sincerely ask God to bless them?

Are there people you think are doing just fine and don’t need your prayers? Paul the apostle makes it explicit in verses 19-20 ‘pray also for me.’ Paul needs their prayers. We all need prayer. We need each other. Pray for all the saints.

Always,

Note how we are to pray. It is to be full-time prayer. At all times. That means all kinds of times. When things seem to be going smoothly, pray. When things are difficult and messy and broken, when things seem hopeless, pray.

It is to be alert prayer. Attentive, Watchful. Pay attention. Pay attention to the needs of others. Be aware that the enemy is seeking to divide and to destroy. Be on guard, and pray.

It is to be persevering prayer. Don’t give up. Keep on knocking, keep on asking, keep on seeking. Don’t give up. Persevere in prayer for all the saints.

But I Can’t

You might be saying ‘I don’t think I can pray like that. There’s people I don’t think I can honestly pray for. I don’t think I can be alert and persevere in prayer. I can’t pray at all times. You are right. You can’t. There is no way you can. And that too is part of what it means to pray in the Spirit. Ephesians 6:10 says

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

Be strong in the Lord. It is not your strength, not your ability, not your watchfulness, not your perseverance. It is the strength of his might that is at work in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure (Phil.2:13). You can’t. But in his strength, in his Spirit, you can.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

…18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Remember, you have been invited in. You have access, blood-bought access to the Father through Jesus in the Spirit. You are in a battle, and it is not against flesh and blood. So stand your ground. Stand firm, praying.

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

January 22, 2018 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 1:1-2; Authority, Identity, Community

10/08 2 Corinthians 1:1-2; Authority and Identity; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20171008_2cor1_1-2.mp3

Paul makes his words count. Every word is significant. I want to invite you to read with me, to meditate with me on the words of holy scripture.

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul begins even in the greeting to address some of the issues he will take up in more detail in the remainder of his letter.

Paul, Apostle

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle [1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος]

As we will see later in this letter, Paul’s role as apostle was under attack in Corinth. Here in the introduction he simply states the facts as they stand. In other letters he refers to himself as a bond-servant or slave of Jesus Christ; here an apostle. The first word is ‘Paul’; the second ‘apostle.’ Apostle means sent; one sent out as a witness and representative carrying the authority of the one who sent him.

The office of Apostle was one who bore witness to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. When the 11 apostles in Acts 1 decided to select someone to fill Judas’ place, they gave these criteria for who was qualified:

Acts 1:21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

So an Apostle, one of the 12, had to be an eye witness of Jesus’ ministry, from his baptism through his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Paul was not one of these original 12, but he was uniquely appointed by the Lord Jesus as:

Acts 9:15 …a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

Paul was personally sent by Jesus himself. In 1 Corinthians 15, in defense of the physical resurrection of Jesus, Paul lists the eyewitnesses; Peter, the 12, a group of 500, James, all the apostles, and then he says:

1 Corinthians 15:8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Paul did not consider himself worthy to be called an apostle. He was not worthy. (None of them were!) But he was called to serve as an apostle by God’s grace. God is a God who gives good gifts to those who do not deserve them. God’s grace made him what he was.

Of Christ Jesus

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus [ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ]

Paul was an apostle of Christ Jesus; the Messiah Jesus. Christ is the Old Testament title of the anointed one, the promised, long awaited, hoped for King. In Corinth in Acts 18:

Acts 18:5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.

The fulfillment of the whole Old Testament, the long awaited Messiah was Jesus.

By The Will of God

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, [διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ]

Paul was apostle of Christ Jesus through or on account of the will of God. Paul traces his apostleship back to God’s will, not his own. He was no self-appointed apostle; actually it was against his own will; he was, in his own words ‘a persecutor and an insolent opponent’ (1Tim.1:13) of the followers of Jesus, but Jesus apprehended him on the Damascus road and enlisted him in his service. Paul was ‘convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth …in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities’ (Acts 26:9-11). Jesus took this one, chose this one, appointed this one to be his witness. Paul didn’t sign up for this. His conversion was, in the words of John 1:13 ‘not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ God blazed from heaven and knocked Saul down to the ground, blinded him, and when he had his full attention asked “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked “Who are you, Lord?” to which the Lord responded “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-8; 26:13-15). Paul was an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.

Timothy Our Brother

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, [καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς]

Timothy was a partner in ministry. Paul and Silas recruited him on the second missionary journey in Lystra, a city in Galatia (Acts 16:1). Timothy rejoined Paul shortly after he came to Corinth (Acts 18:5). Later he sent Timothy and Erastus from Ephesus into Macedonia (Acts 19:22). In the writing of 1 Corinthians, Paul expected Timothy to visit Corinth (4:17; 16:10), probably from Macedonia. He refers to him as

1 Corinthians 4:17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

He considered Timothy as almost equivalent to himself. If Timothy were there, he would remind them of Paul, Paul’s ways, Paul’s methods in ministry. Timothy was his co-worker. Paul wrote two New Testament letters to Timothy to encourage him. Here, to the Corinthians who knew him well, he is simply referred to as ‘Timothy the brother.’

It is worth noting that Paul included others in ministry. He did not often work alone, in fact it seems he did not like to work alone. When he escaped from persecution in Berea and was brought to Athens alone, he gave a ‘command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible’ (Acts 17:15). It says ‘Paul was waiting for them in Athens.’ When he came to Corinth, he quickly connected with Aquila and Priscilla, while he continued to wait for Silas and Timothy. Paul writes in this letter about his travel to Troas to preach the gospel, but ‘my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them…’ (2Cor.2:13).

Paul did not fly solo. He strategically included others in ministry with him. He used life and ministry as an opportunity to disciple, to pour into others, to encourage them in the faith, to equip them for ministry. He gave them opportunity to step out and do ministry. He entrusted to them significant responsibilities. He multiplied his own ministry by investing in his co-workers. Timothy was well known to this church, and he is with Paul as he writes to this church.

To The Church of God Existing in Corinth

2 Corinthians 1:1 …To the church of God that is at Corinth, [τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ]

Paul writes to the church of God that is at Corinth. Paul is careful to identify who this church belongs to. It is not his church, even though he planted it. It is not Apollos’ church, even though he watered it. It is not Gaius’ church, even though it appears to have met in his home (Rom.16:23). It does not belong to any prominent local leader. It is the church of God. It is God’s church, God’s gathering, God’s assembly. God owns it. It belongs to him. It exists for God, to bring pleasure to God. The church exists primarily to honor God. The church is to meet together to glorify God.

This is the church of God that is at Corinth. The church of God which exists in Corinth; which has has its being in Corinth. God’s church is a global church that includes every true Jesus follower throughout history. That is the universal church. Here he is looking at God’s church as it exists in Corinth. This is a local geographical temporal expression of the broader church of God. God’s church is made up of local churches in specific places. It should have been a stunning evidence of grace that God’s church took root and began to have a local existence in a wicked city like Corinth. God encouraged Paul through a vision when he was at Corinth, telling him ‘I have many in this city who are my people’ (Acts 18:10). It is a beautiful thing when God’s universal church expresses itself in a new location. Do not cease to be amazed at God’s glorious grace that we can say that God’s church exists in Ephraim; God’s church exists in Gunnision Utah.

With All the Saints Who Exist in the Whole of Achaia

2 Corinthians 1:1 …To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: [σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ·]

Achaia included the entire isthmus and the nearby city of Cenchrea where a church in mentioned in Romans 16:1; doubtless there were many believers and even home churches scattered around this Roman province whose capital city was Corinth. Paul addresses not only the church in the capital city, but all the believers in the whole region.

Notice how he addresses them. The saints; literally the holy ones; the set-apart ones. Paul is not now addressing a subset of the church, the really spiritual ones. No, each and every born again believer in Jesus is referred to here as holy, set apart. Remember, it is all of grace. It is not through effort and sacrifice that we attain to the level of saint. It is God”s free gift to those who don’t deserve anything, and yet he says ‘you belong to me; you are set apart as my own prized possession.’ This is not based on performance or personal righteousness. This is grace. We find this beautifully expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ Notice the personal effort in that verse? It’s not there! It says nothing about what they did. It says everything about what God did to them. God takes a sinner and washes him and sets him apart and clothes him in Christ’s own perfect righteousness; he takes a sinner and makes him a saint.

From the two letters we have that he wrote to this church in Corinth, we learn that this church was a mess. There was sin in the church. There was division. There was immorality, idolatry, pride, greed. He says in 1 Corinthians that ‘when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse (1Cor.11:17). It would be better if you didn’t gather as the church at all! And yet Paul does not address his letter ‘to all you messed up sinful wretches in Corinth’. No, he calls them by their true identity. You are saints. You may not be acting like saints right now, but you are holy. You have been made holy by the precious blood of Jesus. And I am going to write to you so that by God’s grace you will grow in holiness. He writes to the church of God; to the saints.

Grace to you and Peace

2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace to you and peace [2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη]

This is standard letter writing form in the ancient world. From; to; greeting. The usual Greek greeting was χαίρειν (Acts15:23) – be well; be glad; the equivalent of our ‘hello’. Paul takes χαίρειν and makes it χάρις ὑμῖν; grace to you. Grace – all God’s good gifts freely given to undeserving sinners. He takes the usual greeting and infuses it with precious gospel truth.

Grace; all the good from God you don’t deserve, and peace. Shalom is the typical Hebrew greeting. But it is much more rich and deep than our word peace. It means so much more than the absence of hostility. It carries the ideas of wholeness, well-being. It is the positive experience of all is well. God’s peace comes as a result of God’s grace extended to sinners who have no hope outside of him.

From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.]

Grace, this good gift freely given; and peace, a right relationship with God comes to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. God is our Father; Jesus taught us to pray ‘Our Father…’ Because, as Romans 8 and Galatians 4 and Ephesians 1 teach us that through the new birth we have been adopted into his family. We can now legitimately call him Father. He chose us to be his own children. God is personal, he cares deeply about us, we can enjoy relationship with him.

Grace and peace come as good gifts from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord – κύριος in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament translates the Hebrew YHWH, the personal name of God, the self-existent one; the one who is. Jesus is Lord; YHWH, fully God, equal to his Father, yet distinct from his Father.

Jesus is here identified intimately with his Father; God’s free gift of grace, and the subsequent peace with God we enjoy are given to us by both the Father and the Son. They together are the givers of these precious gifts we enjoy. Paul asks God to pour out his grace and subsequent peace on this church, who, like us is in desperate need of it.

What greater gifts could we desire than a restored relationship with God, a new identity, a new purpose, a new community,

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

October 8, 2017 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 16:1-4; Generosity to the Brothers

06/21 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 Generosity to the Brothers; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20150621_1cor16_1-4.mp3

1 Corinthians 16 [SBLGNT]

1 Περὶ δὲ τῆς λογείας τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους, ὥσπερ διέταξα ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιήσατε. 2 κατὰ μίαν σαββάτου ἕκαστος ὑμῶν παρ’ ἑαυτῷ τιθέτω θησαυρίζων ὅ τι ἐὰν εὐοδῶται, ἵνα μὴ ὅταν ἔλθω τότε λογεῖαι γίνωνται. 3 ὅταν δὲ παραγένωμαι, οὓς ἐὰν δοκιμάσητε δι’ ἐπιστολῶν, τούτους πέμψω ἀπενεγκεῖν τὴν χάριν ὑμῶν εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ· 4 ἐὰν δὲ ἄξιον ᾖ τοῦ κἀμὲ πορεύεσθαι, σὺν ἐμοὶ πορεύσονται.

1 Corinthians 16 [ESV2011]

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

Today we are going to talk about giving, about generosity. About what you ought to do with your money. Not because I want your money, but because that is where we are in the text. We are in the last chapter of 1 Corinthians, and Paul says a few brief words here about money.

1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

He starts out with ‘now concerning’. These words show up six times in this letter, and they answer questions the Corinthian church had asked Paul about.

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

In 7:1, he answers questions about marriage and in 7:25 about singleness. In 8:1 he answers questions about idolatry. In 12:1 he answers questions about spiritual people. Here in 16:1 he answers questions about the collection for the saints, and in 16:12 he answers questions about Apollos.

Now concerning the collection for the saints. We need to look at this collection, and understand what it was, what it was not, why it was happening, what we can learn from it, what we need to adjust in our own thinking and practice so that we can be conformed to the image of Christ and bring much glory to God.

The Collection for the Saints

First, this was a collection. It was bigger than just one person’s generosity. We find out that the churches in the province of Galatia are participating in this collection. We find out in Romans 15 that the province of Macedonia is participating in this collection, and now Paul is inviting Corinth, in the province of Achaia to join in this collection.

We are told that the collection is a collection for the saints. It is not a collection for humanitarian aid to unbelievers. It is specifically destined for brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul started this letter out addressing:

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

They were divinely appointed, called to be saints, holy, set apart. This does not mean that they were perfect. Far from it. The church in Corinth was a particularly unloving church. Paul addresses issues of immorality, marital unfaithfulness, greed, pride, self-centeredness, idolatry, disunity, and doctrinal confusion. And yet he addresses them as saints, set apart. They are in the process of being sanctified, being made holy. Christ Jesus would use this letter in the lives of his saints in Corinth to bring about their sanctification. He is using this letter in our lives to bring about our sanctification, to make us holy, set apart for his use.

This collection is specifically for the saints, believers, brothers and sisters in Christ. Galatians 6 says

Galatians 6:6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. …10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Do good especially to the household of faith. And we find in verse 3, and in Romans 15 that this gift is intended for the poor saints in Jerusalem. We know from Acts 8, after the stoning of Stephen,

Acts 8:1 …And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Any followers of Jesus in Jerusalem would find it difficult merely to survive. So this collection was for the saints in Jerusalem.

Did you know it is about 817 miles from Corinth to Jerusalem as the crow flies. Google maps says that it takes about 33 hours to drive the 1837 miles via E80. In the first century that would have been a significant journey. And the believers were encouraged to care about what was going on in another part of their world. The believers in Corinth are informed about the situation 800 miles away in Jerusalem. No internet, no cell phones, no radio, but they cared about their brothers and sisters whom they had never met, who lived so far away. Not only were they informed, but they were expected to do something about it. They were expected to take action.

This is not the first collection for the saints in Jerusalem that Paul was involved in. We read in Acts 11

Acts 11:29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Paul and James on the Gospel and the Poor

Paul was passionate about practically meeting the needs of the poor. In Galatians, where Paul is defending the gospel, the truth of his gospel and the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, he states that although he received the gospel directly from Christ through a revelation, he submitted the gospel he preached to the leaders in Jerusalem to be sure he was not laboring in vain. He says:

Galatians 2:6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

It is quite possible that Paul met with James and Peter and John during the same visit to Jerusalem recorded in Acts 11 (c.47 AD) when he delivered the gift to the brothers in Judea. They preached the very same good news message that forgiveness of sins is through the finished work of Christ as our substitute on the cross, and that eternal life comes through simple faith in Jesus, depending on him and holding fast to him. This James, who writes in his letter that ‘faith without works is dead’, agreed with Paul on the message of good news that all the apostles proclaimed. “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” Both James and Paul believed that salvation was by God’s grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, and both James and Paul agreed that God’s grace would not leave a person as they were, but would so transform them that they would think and feel and act and desire and prioritize in radically different ways.

The Source of Christian Generosity

Christian generosity is rooted in God’s generosity to us.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

Our love, our giving, our generosity is all a response to his love for us. James tells us

James 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Every good gift comes from God. He willed to give us new life, to birth us through the good news of Jesus. God is the ultimate giver, giving unmerited gifts to unworthy sinners. Listen to what Romans tells 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?

God gave us the ultimate gift, Jesus. He gave us his own Son. If he did not withhold the best, his most precious, most treasured, most beloved only Son, surely there is nothing good he would withhold from us. Romans 11 says:

Romans 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Every good thing comes from God. God is no man’s debtor. No created being will ever indebt God to them. God gets all the glory because God is the limitless source and supply of all gracious gifts. In 1 Corinthians 2 we see:

1 Corinthians 2:12 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.

God must give us the gift of his Holy Spirit for us to even begin to be able to comprehend the riches of God’s marvelous grace lavished on undeserving sinners.

All our giving is merely a shallow reflection of the overwhelming abundance of what God has first given to us.

Beyond Local Giving

Notice that this collection for the saints in Jerusalem is above and beyond the regular local giving that goes to support the ministry of the local church. Paul made it very clear back in chapter 9 that

1 Corinthians 9:14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

He says in 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

So this giving was not to replace or reduce the giving for the needs of the local ministry.

Mechanics of Giving

1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

How did this giving work? We see that Paul gives very specific instruction. He tells them to put something aside on the first day of the week. Why the first day of the week? This is one of the first pieces of evidence that the early church began to meet together on the first day of the week rather than the last. Paul assumes that setting aside the money on Sunday would make sense to his readers and need no further explanation.

He says that each of you are to put something aside. He expected every believer to be involved in this act of generosity. This was not for the few who felt called or led to give. He assumed total involvement, total participation. There were major class distinctions in Corinth, but Paul doesn’t limit the giving to the rich only. He expects rich and poor, upper, middle and lower classes all to participate in the contribution.

He encourages them to begin to accumulate the money over time. This is not a one time special offering; this is a weekly discipline that he expects of his readers. He wants no last minute scramble to scrape together available funds. He expects a sizable amount to be accumulated over a period of time. They are to store it up. The word used here is the word ‘to treasure’. Jesus said

Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

They are to set aside weekly and treasure up wealth not for themselves but in order to bless others.

The amount a person is to set aside is not specified. He simply says ‘as he may prosper’. Whatever you have is a gift from God. God is the one who provides, who causes you to prosper. There is no stated amount, not even a suggestion. He leaves it entirely up to the individual. He says of this offering in 2 Corinthians 9:

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

Paul uses no high pressure manipulation tactics. He clearly communicates what he expects, and he leaves it up to them to decide how much they will treasure up.

Paul is careful to set this up in a way that is above reproach. The money is not for him; he won’t even touch it. They are to decide what to give, they are to treasure it up, they are to designate who is to deliver it, and some of them are to actually travel to Jerusalem with or without Paul to deliver it to its intended recipients. The local congregation has total control over their funds and they are to personally see that it goes where it is intended.

Attitude and Motive

Paul expects everyone to participate in this collection for the saints, but he has been clear that the proper motive and attitude are essential. He said in 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

There is a possibility of giving everything for the wrong reasons and it is a big zero. If giving is motivated by a desire to be thought well of by others, to appear generous, to impress, to earn something, if giving comes from any motive other than love, simply desiring to do good to others, it is worthless.

Listen to the attitude of the churches of Macedonia toward giving:

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

Their giving was evidence of God’s grace that had been given to them. Their giving came out of an abundance of joy. Their giving also came out of extreme poverty. It was sacrificial. But it was not under compulsion. It was voluntary. In fact, they begged for the favor, literally for the grace of fellowship in the service to the saints. This is a whole different way to look at giving. This is not natural, this is supernatural, Spirit wrought. This is love because we have first been incomprehensibly loved.

Let me read to you as we close a passage from Acts that describes the spontaneous and overflowing generosity of the early church. Listen and imagine what this might look like in our communities if we began to love like we have been loved.

Acts 4:32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

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

June 21, 2015 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 1:1-3; The Saints in the Church in Corinth

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121104_1cor1_1-3.mp3

11/4 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 The Saints in the Church in Corinth

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

Letter Introductions

Paul is writing from Ephesus to a church he planted across the Aegean Sea about three years earlier. Paul had sent them an earlier letter, which they had totally misunderstood. It has been reported to him from several sources that there are some serious issues in Corinth that demand his attention. This church has sent him a letter asking some practical and doctrinal questions. Today we will examine the first three verses, the greeting of the letter. Typical letter writing form in that culture started with the author’s name, then the recipients, then a greeting. Paul’s letters follow this general form, but are theologically rich, and he often lays groundwork for the key themes he will address in the letter.

Author; The Call of Paul

The first thing we have in the letter is the introduction of the author.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

Paul introduces himself as one who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. The word ‘apostle’ simply refers to one who is sent by someone to do something. The one sent is sent with the authority of the one who sent them. In Mark 3 we are told:

Mark 3:13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.

The twelve were chosen by Jesus so that they would spend time with Jesus. He would send them out to proclaim the good news, and he would give them his authority. Paul claims to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. As an apostle of Jesus, he writes to this church with the authority of Jesus. But being an apostle was not his idea. He did not have as his life’s goal the aspiration of attaining the office of apostle. Actually, his life’s goal was much different.

Acts 8:3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Saul had approved of Stephen’s execution. Saul’s life goal seems to be to annihilate all the followers of Jesus.

Acts 9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

This is the context of his call to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

Acts 9:3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

Saul was not seeking an experience with Jesus. And Jesus didn’t show up with an appealing offer persuading Saul to become an apostle. Jesus is King, and he gives commands. Saul was not invited to follow Jesus; he was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. And he would be shown “how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16).

Paul writes because it is his God given duty to write and he writes with the authority of Jesus, not his own. And he does not write alone. To include someone else as co-author of a letter was highly unusual in Paul’s day. But Paul makes this his regular practice. In 8 of his 13 letters he included someone as co-author; Timothy, Silvanus, Sosthenes, the brothers who are with me. Paul did ministry as part of a team. He was not out on his own. Here he includes Sosthenes as co-author of the letter.

Sosthenes is introduced as ‘our brother Sosthenes’. He must have been someone well known to the Corinthian believers. The name Sosthenes only shows up twice in scripture, here and in Acts 18:17, the account of Paul’s first visit to Corinth. In Acts 18, Sosthenes is referred to as ‘the ruler of the synagogue’ who was seized and beaten in front of Gallio’s tribunal when the case against Paul was dismissed. Apparently Sosthenes was appointed ruler of the synagogue after “Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household” (Acts 18:8). This Sosthenes, if he also believed in the Lord, and was with Paul in Ephesus, would be familiar to the church in Corinth and need no further introduction.

Recipients: The Church of God, sanctified saints

Paul now tells us who the letter is written to.

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth,

This is amazing on several levels. This is Corinth. Corinth boasted temples to Aphrodite, Poseidon, Apollo, Hermes, Venus-Fortunata, Demeter, Asklepios, Isis, and one dedicated to the Pantheon or ‘all the gods’. There was a temple to Octavia, embodying the imperial cult of Rome. Corinth was a thoroughly pagan city with a reputation for luxury and immorality. It was into this city that Paul had brought the good news of Jesus Christ, and now he could address a letter to ‘the church of God that is in Corinth.’ The gospel had triumphed. There was now a church of the one true God in Corinth!

This is also amazing because of what we know was going on in the church in Corinth. From this letter, we see that there was division, factions, disunity, dissatisfaction with Paul’s leadership, open sexual immorality, incest, arrogance, public litigation among members, questions about marriage, participation in idolatry, abuse of the Lord’s table, misuse of spiritual gifts, lack of love, and even doubt about the doctrine of the resurrection. This was a church characterized by self-centeredness, pride, and autonomy. They were a moral and doctrinal train-wreck. Things have gotten so bad in this church that Paul says “when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse” (1Cor.11:17). And yet Paul addresses his letter ‘to the church of God that is in Corinth’. Although it is a church in crisis, permeated by serious problems, it is a real, genuine church. We would do well to remember, when we see flaws in this or any other church, that there is no perfect church, and even Corinth, with all her problems, was an authentic church, a church God loves, a church for whom Christ died. Although Paul founded the church, he does not refer to it as ‘my church.’ It is not Apollos’ church. It is not the people’s church. The church belongs to God. It is ‘the church of God that is in Corinth.’

Sanctified in Christ Jesus

But Paul doesn’t stop there. He says:

1 Corinthians 1:2 …to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints

He addresses the church as those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. ‘Sanctified’ in the grammar of this sentence is a perfect passive participle; the perfect tense referring to a past completed action, the passive voice referring to something that is done to someone, rather than something that they themselves do. This is “not an obligation to be fulfilled, but a state which already exists in them, and that in virtue of a previously accomplished fact” (Godet, p.42). The messed up, self-centered, divisive, arrogant, sinning believers in Corinth are those who stand permanently sanctified in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to be sanctified? The word literally means to be set apart. The furniture in the temple was dedicated, consecrated, or set apart to be used exclusively for God. A priest couldn’t take the altar of incense home and use it as an end table in his tent. He couldn’t take some of the holy incense and give it to his wife as perfume. All the furniture in God’s house had been sanctified or set apart for God’s exclusive use. The incense altar was made of wood overlaid with gold. Some of the same wood may have been used as firewood or to make kitchen utensils for someone’s home, some of the gold may have been made into jewelry; the table was made from common materials, but it was anointed with oil to set it apart to God, and once it was set apart, it could no longer be used for common things. Paul addresses the church in Corinth as ‘those sanctified in Christ Jesus’. How were they sanctified? In Acts 26, Paul is recounting how he was appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles,

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Jews and Gentiles alike are sanctified or set apart by faith – by believing in Jesus. Paul refers to his calling in Romans 15

Romans 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

The furniture in the tabernacle was anointed with oil to set it apart to God. We, who believe in Jesus are set apart by the Holy Spirit, who comes to live in us as God’s seal and guarantee when we believe (2Cor.1:22; 5:5; Eph.1:14).

Later in this chapter, Paul points the Corinthians to God as:

1 Corinthians 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

God made Jesus our sanctification. In Jesus we are set apart for God’s exclusive use. In chapter 6, Paul points the Corinthians to their history as unrighteous, sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers, and he says:

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

These Corinthians who trusted Jesus were set apart, made holy.

When you look at a brother or sister in Christ who is flawed and imperfect, who might be bugging you, irritating you, frustrating you, someone you are ready to condemn and criticize, stop for a minute and realize that you are looking at someone who is set apart, sanctified in Christ Jesus.

Called to be Saints

Paul addresses

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints

Paul takes the same word he used of his calling in verse 1 and applies it to all the believers in Corinth. Just as Paul was divinely selected and appointed to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, so each one who makes up the church in Corinth was divinely selected and appointed, called to be saints. Remember God’s encouragement to Paul to keep on preaching in Corinth because “… I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9)?

This word ‘saint’ is the root of the word translated ‘sanctified’. A saint is not a larger than life stained glass hero with a halo. Each of the Corinthian believers, including the guy who was sleeping with his mother-in-law, is here called a saint. A saint is one who has been sanctified, or set apart. This describes not performance but position. Paul says in 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Your position, connected to Christ by believing, united with Christ, abiding in Christ, means that you are set apart. You are a new creation.

This is the polar opposite of performance based religion. Religion says that you need to live up to the standard. Members of our group act like this, so if you don’t act that way, then you’re not part of our group. Once you start acting like we act, we might let you in. Paul starts out by affirming that these sinners are indeed members of the group. You believed. You have been sanctified in Christ Jesus. You are called saints. Membership in the group is not contingent on behavior. Nothing can change your position in Christ. And now that you know who you are and whose you are, this will have natural implications on how you live. You have been set apart in Christ Jesus, you are called to be set apart, and since that is your identity, then a set apart life will flow from your identity in Christ.

Together with all in every place

But Paul is not satisfied in making sure they each know their identity in Christ. Remember, one of the major issues in the Corinthian church was factions and divisions. Paul demands that they be connected to the larger church, the body of Christ.

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

It is healthy for us to see that we are connected to a bigger group. We have a natural tendency to think that we are right on everything, and that we are smarter than everyone else and that we do church better than everyone else. We might even be tempted to think that we are the only ones who really get it. We are inclined to separate from those who don’t see things exactly as we see them. This is pride, and it is sin. The Corinthians need to see that they are a small part of a much larger group. They are connected with all those in every place, they are saints together with all those in every place. They are members of a global community. What is the connection? What is the one thing that binds us all together in one body?

Those who Call upon the Name

We are those who call upon the name. This phrase is really interesting, because it has a rich Old Testament background. As far back as Genesis 4 (v.26) we see people begin to call upon the name of YHWH. Frequently in the Old Testament, this phrase is used to describe one who worships the one true God. In Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal, he challenges them:

1 Kings 18:24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” …

To call on the name of a god is to look to them for help. We find similar phrases that help us fill in the meaning; ‘love the name of the LORD (Is.56:6); fear the name of the LORD (Is.59:19); trust in the name of the LORD (Ps.20:7: Is.50:10); run to the name of the LORD (Pr.18:10); give glory to the name of the LORD (Is.24:15). In Psalm 116 the Psalmist says:

Psalm 116:4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Joel prophesies:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. …

Peter quotes this passage in Joel when he preaches the good news about Jesus in Acts 2 (v.21), and several times in Acts the believers are referred to as those who call on Jesus’ name (9:14, 21; 22:16). In the New Testament, calling on the name of YHWH becomes calling on Jesus as Lord.

Paul quotes Joel in Romans 10 (v.13) where he argues that God extends salvation to everyone who believes. He explains ‘calling on the name of the Lord’ as

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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Jesus is YHWH, God of the Old Testament, the Lord. Jesus is King. He was crucified in our place, and God raised him from the dead. Paul takes us backward through the process of a missionary being sent to preach Jesus, and those who have never heard hearing, believing and calling on his name.

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Jesus is our God and King. We are dependent on him. We call on his name for everything we need. We who believe in Jesus are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are just a small part of a much greater body. All believers everywhere have one King and his name is Jesus.

Blessing

What in ordinary letters was just a simple greeting, Paul turns into a rich blessing.

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

May you experience the richness of God’s blessing that you haven’t earned and don’t deserve; may you enjoy the wholeness and well-being of a satisfying relationship with your Creator; this only comes from God our Father and Jesus, the Messiah, our King.

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

November 4, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment