my salvation

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  1. Exodus 15:2
    The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
    Exodus 15:1-3 (in Context) Exodus 15 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  2. 2 Samuel 22:3
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent men you save me.
    2 Samuel 22:2-4 (in Context) 2 Samuel 22 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  3. 2 Samuel 23:5
    “Is not my house right with God? Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part? Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire?
    2 Samuel 23:4-6 (in Context) 2 Samuel 23 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  4. Psalm 13:5
    But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
    Psalm 13:4-6 (in Context) Psalm 13 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  5. Psalm 18:2
    The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvationmy stronghold.
    Psalm 18:1-3 (in Context) Psalm 18 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  6. Psalm 27:1
    Psalm 27 ] Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
    Psalm 27:1-3 (in Context) Psalm 27 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  7. Psalm 35:3
    Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am yoursalvation.”
    Psalm 35:2-4 (in Context) Psalm 35 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  8. Psalm 35:9
    Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.
    Psalm 35:8-10 (in Context) Psalm 35 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  9. Psalm 40:10
    I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness andsalvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
    Psalm 40:9-11 (in Context) Psalm 40 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  10. Psalm 62:1
    Psalm 62 ] For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
    Psalm 62:1-3 (in Context) Psalm 62 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
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“What are the different names and titles of Jesus Christ?”

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The Nature of Christ
Chief Cornerstone: (Ephesians 2:20) – Jesus is the cornerstone of the building which is His church. He cements together Jew and Gentile, male and female—all saints from all ages and places into one structure built on faith in Him which is shared by all.

Firstborn over all creation: (Colossians 1:15) – Not the first thing God created, as some incorrectly claim, because verse 16 says all things were created through and for Christ. Rather, the meaning is that Christ occupies the rank and pre-eminence of the first-born over all things, that He sustains the most exalted rank in the universe; He is pre-eminent above all others; He is at the head of all things.

Head of the Church: (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23) – Jesus Christ, not a king or a pope, is the only supreme, sovereign ruler of the Church—those for whom He died and who have placed their faith in Him alone for salvation.

Holy One: (Acts 3:14; Psalm 16:10) – Christ is holy, both in his divine and human nature, and the fountain of holiness to His people. By His death, we are made holy and pure before God.

Judge: (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:8) – The Lord Jesus was appointed by God to judge the world and to dispense the rewards of eternity.

King of kings and Lord of lords: (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16) – Jesus has dominion over all authority on the earth, over all kings and rulers, and none can prevent Him from accomplishing His purposes. He directs them as He pleases.

Light of the World: (John 8:12) – Jesus came into a world darkened by sin and shed the light of life and truth through His work and His words. Those who trust in Him have their eyes opened by Him and walk in the light.

Prince of peace: (Isaiah 9:6) – Jesus came not to bring peace to the world as in the absence of war, but peace between God and man who were separated by sin. He died to reconcile sinners to a holy God.

Son of God: (Luke 1:35; John 1:49) – Jesus is the “only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Used 42 times in the New Testament, “Son of God” affirms the deity of Christ.

Son of man: (John 5:27) – Used as a contrast to “Son of God” this phrase affirms the humanity of Christ which exists alongside His divinity.

Word: (John 1:1; 1 John 5:7-8) – The Word is the second Person of the triune God, who said it and it was done, who spoke all things out of nothing in the first creation, who was in the beginning with God the Father, and was God, and by whom all things were created.

Word of God: (Revelation 19:12-13) – This is the name given to Christ that is unknown to all but Himself. It denotes the mystery of His divine person.

Word of Life: (1 John 1:1) – Jesus not only spoke words that lead to eternal life, but according to this verse He is the very words of life, referring to the eternal life of joy and fulfillment which He provides.

His position in the trinity
Alpha and Omega: (Revelation 1:8; 22:13) – Jesus declared Himself to be the beginning and end of all things, a reference to no one but the true God. This statement of eternality could apply only to God.

Emmanuel: (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23) – Literally “God with us.” Both Isaiah and Matthew affirm that the Christ who would be born in Bethlehem would be God Himself who came to earth in the form of a man to live among His people.

I Am: (John 8:58, with Exodus 3:14) – When Jesus ascribed to Himself this title, the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy. They understood that He was declaring Himself to be the eternal God, the unchanging Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Lord of All: (Acts 10:36) – Jesus is the sovereign ruler over the whole world and all things in it, of all the nations of the world, and particularly of the people of God’s choosing, Gentiles as well as Jews.

True God: (1 John 5:20) – This is a direct assertion that Jesus, being the true God, is not only divine, but is the Divine. Since the Bible teaches there is only one God, this can only be describing His nature as part of the triune God.

His Work on earth
Author and Perfecter of our Faith: (Hebrews 12:2) – Salvation is accomplished through the faith that is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and Jesus is the founder of our faith and the finisher of it as well. From first to last, He is the source and sustainer of the faith that saves us.

Bread of Life: (John 6:35; 6:48) – Just as bread sustains life in the physical sense, Jesus is the Bread that gives and sustains eternal life. God provided manna in the wilderness to feed His people and He provided Jesus to give us eternal life through His body, broken for us.

Bridegroom: (Matthew 9:15) – The picture of Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride reveals the special relationship we have with Him. We are bound to each other in a covenant of grace that cannot be broken.

Deliverer: (Romans 11:26) – Just as the Israelites needed God to deliver them from bondage to Egypt, so Christ is our Deliverer from the bondage of sin.

Good Shepherd: (John 10:11,14) – In Bible times, a good shepherd was willing to risk his own life to protect his sheep from predators. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep, and He cares for and nurtures and feeds us.

High Priest: (Hebrews 2:17) – The Jewish high priest entered the Temple once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people. The Lord Jesus performed that function for His people once for all at the cross.

Lamb of God: (John 1:29) – God’s Law called for the sacrifice of a spotless, unblemished Lamb as an atonement for sin. Jesus became that Lamb led meekly to the slaughter, showing His patience in His sufferings and His readiness to die for His own.

Mediator: (1 Timothy 2:5) – A mediator is one who goes between two parties to reconcile them. Christ is the one and only Mediator who reconciles men and God. Praying to Mary or the saints is idolatry because it bypasses this most important role of Christ and ascribes the role of Mediator to another.

Rock: (1 Corinthians 10:4) – As life-giving water flowed from the rock Moses struck in the wilderness, Jesus is the Rock from which flow the living waters of eternal life. He is the Rock upon whom we build our spiritual houses, so that no storm can shake them.

Resurrection and Life: (John 11:25) – Embodied within Jesus is the means to resurrect sinners to eternal life, just as He was resurrected from the grave. Our sin is buried with Him and we are resurrected to walk in newness of life.

Savior: (Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:11) – He saves His people by dying to redeem them, by giving the Holy Spirit to renew them by His power, by enabling them to overcome their spiritual enemies, by sustaining them in trials and in death, and by raising them up at the last day.

True Vine: (John 15:1) – The True Vine supplies all that the branches (believers) need to produce the fruit of the Spirit— the living water of salvation and nourishment from the Word.

Way, Truth, Life: (John 14:6) – Jesus is the only path to God, the only Truth in a world of lies, and the only true source of eternal life. He embodies all three in both a temporal and an eternal sense.

“The Greatest Story Ever Told Part 2

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Saint Luke the Evangelist. Russian Eastern Ort...

Saint Luke the Evangelist. Russian Eastern Orthodox icon from Russia. 18th century. Wood, tempera. Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. He is considered one of the Four Evangelists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“In the days of Herod…etc.”  This is a prologue.  It is important for Luke to write this prologue because this is the classic way of writing in the Greek world.  Any philosopher, any theologian, any educator, any historian in the ancient world who was of high quality who wanted his volume to stand on the shelf with the classics would start his writing with such a prologue.  Herodotus did it.  Thucydides did it.  Polybius did it.  Even Josephus did it.  And Luke does it.

These four verses, in fact, are one long unbroken sentence, one sentence, written in Greek originally and written in the polished style of Greek that is known as literary classical Greek.  The rest of the gospel of Luke is written in the common Greek, but not the prologue.  Luke did this, I think, because he wanted to establish the lofty literary character of this work.  It is such a high quality of Greek, by the way, that it was obvious that Luke was highly educated.  If it didn’t tell us in the Bible that he was a physician, we would assume that he had had some kind of high level education because of his handling of the classical form of Greek.

By using this kind of Greek as he introduces his gospel, he is claiming a place for the gospel as a classic.  He is claiming a place for the gospel as a serious work, as a true work of literary, historical worth to be given attention by the most sophisticated and highly educated Gentile or Greek reader.  Luke is claiming a place for Christianity among the classics.  He’s claiming a place for Christianity on the stage of world history.  And while much of the New Testament literature was written for the church and therefore the common people, Luke had in mind the world and he wanted to make sure that he included those who were at the very highest levels of education.  As I said, other Greek writers used a very similar prologue.  In fact, the format here is very, very common to ancient Greek classical writing.

In this prologue he talks about his…his sources, as any good historian would.  He talks about other accounts that have been compiled.  He talks about eye witnesses and servants of the Word who have handed them down.  This is not something He has invented.  He has…he has carefully investigated, verse 3 says, and researched everything carefully from the beginning.  He is concerned about actual history.  He is concerned about precision as he says in verse 4, “exact truth.”  And so, this prologue is very important in establishing Luke as a legitimate writer.

Now, as we approach the prologue, I have to confess again, as I did earlier to you, that Luke is never mentioned in this gospel and he’s never mentioned in the prologue.  But we’re going to learn everything we can learn about him, even though he’s not mentioned here.  Now if you’re saying, “Well wait a minute, it says it’s the gospel according to Luke right before verse 1,” but that’s not in the actual text of Scripture, that was placed there because of the conviction of the church that in fact he did write this, although nowhere in his gospel and nowhere in the book of Acts does he personally identify himself as the author.

Now that’s an interesting dilemma for us.  But it makes for fascinating history to dig into it.  By the time we’re done with these four verses, not today but today and next time, by the time we’re done with these four verses you’re going to meet Luke the physician, Luke the historian, Luke the theologian, and Luke the pastor.  To me, this kind of adventure in trying to dig into the Scripture and find what isn’t immediately apparent there is the real fun of Bible study, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

It nowhere mentions Luke’s name and yet its clearly said it’s the gospel according to Luke, how did they come to that conclusion?  Let’s begin, first of all, with looking at Luke the physician…Luke the physician.

Now the only thing that is a reference to the author in the first four verses is in verse 3.  “It seemed fitting for me,” that’s all we have is “me.”  That leaves us with a rather open-ended question…who is me?  Me…who is it?

“The Greatest Story Ever Told,” Part One

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Cover of "The Greatest Story Ever Told"

Cover of The Greatest Story Ever Told

The gospel of Luke is one of four New Testament gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…four narratives of the life of Jesus.  They are monumental.  They are inspired by the Spirit of God.  They tell the great, great, story of salvation.  But Luke’s is unique.  I like to call it a persuasive gospel, and you’ll understand why as we work our way through the beginning of this wonderful work of Luke

In a summary, or a synopsis, it is the story of God’s plan to save sinners from eternal hell through the coming of His Son Jesus Christ to earth to die and rise again from the dead.  Let me say that again.  That’s the summary of the best of all stories, the greatest story ever told.  It is the story of God’s plan to save sinners from eternal hell through the coming of His Son Jesus Christ to earth to die and rise again from the dead.  The story is true.  It is actual history.  It is without equal in its impact and its power.

In fact, not all the simple and complex legends of ancient cultures, not all the mysteries of past civilizations, the fanciful, supernatural legends of the Greeks, the stories of deities, false gods and all kinds of tales of people that exist in the traditions of tribes and nations, the best of our own culture from Bierwolfe(??) through Shakespeare to modern writers,  Aesop’s insightful fables, not all of them combined can even begin to approach the truth and the power of the story of Jesus which is the only story that can, has and will change the eternal destiny of millions of people.

This story is called good news.  The word “gospel” means good news.  It is the best news that man has ever heard because it is the news of salvation from sin.

So I say, next to Paul, Luke is the most powerful writing force in the New Testament, and yet he is basically unknown.  I don’t think in my life I’ve ever heard a sermon about Luke.  His historical narrative spans over 60 years.  It starts with the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Jesus, and it ends at the end of the book of Acts which is volume two of his writings, it ends with the gospel being preached at Rome which means the gospel has extended to the world.  No other writer wrote so comprehensive a history of Jesus and His impact.  No other writer goes all the way from the John the Baptist to the gospel having reached the capital of the Roman Empire.  He is the most complete story teller of the saga of salvation in the New Testament,

This is real history accurately recorded.  It is sound theology logically developed.  Luke identifies what he writes  in verse 4 of chapter 1 of exact truth…exact truth.  It isn’t fantasy, it isn’t his own spiritual musings.  It isn’t some effort on his part to concoct a tale or to build a legend.  What he is giving is history and theology that is exact.

Let’s listen as Luke begins his gospel.  “In as much as many have…and I’m reading from the NAS here…In as much as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and servants of the Word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus, so that you might know the exaThat is what we would call a prologue.  Actually the story begins in verse 5, “In the days of Herod…etc.”  This is a prologue.  It is important for Luke to write this prologue because this is the classic way of writing in the Greek world.  Any philosopher, any theologian, any educator, any historian in the ancient world who was of high quality who wanted his volume to stand on the shelf with the classics would start his writing with such a prologue.  Herodotus did it.  Thucydides did it.  Polybius did it.  Even Josephus did it.  And Luke does it.ct truth about the things you have been taught.”  Stop right there.and he is mostly unknown to us.

 

“What does it mean that Jesus is the ‘first-born’ over Creation?”

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Francesco Albani's The Baptism of Christ

Francesco Albani's The Baptism of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a letter to the church at Colossae, the Apostle Paul gave an intriguing description of Jesus. In it, he explained Christ‘s relationship to God the Father and to creation. Some have claimed that Paul’s description of Christ as the first-born of creation means that Jesus was created — not eternal, not God. Such a doctrine, however, conflicts with the rest of the Bible. Christ could not be both Creator and created; John 1 clearly names Him Creator. Let’s take a careful look at the passage where Jesus is called the first-born.
Colossians 1:15-21 “And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
Jesus is God Christ’s relationship to His Father begins with the phrase “the image of the invisible God.” The word “image,” meaning copy or likeness, expresses Christ’s deity. This word involves more than a resemblance, more than a representation. He is God! Although He took on human form, He has the exact nature of His Father (Hebrews 1:3).
The “Word” of John 1:1 is a divine Person, not a philosophical abstraction. In the incarnation, the invisible God became visible in Christ; deity was clothed with humanity (Matthew 17:2). God is in Christ: visible, audible, approachable, knowable, and available. All that God is, Christ is.
Jesus is Lord of Creation The description “first-born of all creation” speaks of Christ’s preexistence. He is not a creature but the eternal Creator (John 1:10). God created the world through Christ and redeemed the world through Christ (Hebrews 1:2-4).
Note that Jesus is called the first-born, not the first-created. The word “first-born” (Greek word “prototokos”) signifies priority. In the culture of the Ancient Near East, the first-born was not necessarily the oldest child. First-born referred not to birth order but to rank. The first-born possessed the inheritance and leadership.
Therefore, the phrase expresses Christ’s sovereignty over creation. After resurrecting Jesus from the dead, God gave Him authority over the Earth (Matthew 28:18). Jesus created the world, saved the world, and rules the world. He is the self-existent, acknowledged Head of creation.
Finally, the phrase recognizes Him as the Messiah: “I will make Him [Christ] My first-born, higher than the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27).
Six times the Lord Jesus is declared to be the first-born of God (see Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18; Hebrews 1:6; 12:23; Revelation 1:5). These passages declare the preexistence, the sovereignty, and the redemption that Christ offers.
Thus, the phrase “first-born of all creation” proclaims Christ’s preeminence. As the eternal Son of God, He created the universe. He is the Ruler of creation!
Recommended Resource: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll.

What is Sin?

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Pastor John McArthur

What is Sin?

Genesis 3:1-7

We are involved in a study of origins and looking at the book of Genesis. I would encourage you to open to the third chapter of Genesis. We have gone through Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and we have studied the text of those two chapters and we have launched from those texts to study other matters of Scripture to try to fill in our understanding and that will be the case of Genesis chapter 3.

Genesis chapter 3 is familiar to us. It is a chapter that deals with a serpent in the Garden and temptation and forbidden fruit and a woman who was deceived and a man who followed her in violating God‘s Word and God’s command. Then talks about a curse and the price that was paid for that disobedience. Familiar to most everybody to one degree or another is the record of Genesis chapter 3.

And at the very outset I want to just lay down a simple statement that we’re going to build on all the way through, and that is this…Genesis 3 is an accurate historical record of what actually happened in the Garden. You may wonder why I’m saying that. The reason I’m saying that is because most people who comment on Genesis 3 turn it into something other than a historical account of a real event. It is as the Word of God says it is.

Now this chapter, before we get into the chapter, is going to take us some time just to prepare ourselves for it. This chapter may well be the most important chapter in the Bible, certainly it is true that if you don’t understand this chapter you don’t understand the rest of the Bible. You cannot understand the solution to the problem unless you understand the problem. You can’t understand the cure unless you understand the diagnosis. You will never be able to understand God’s remedy for this world if you don’t understand the malady under which this world lives and functions.

As I say, it may well be the most important chapter in the Bible because it explains absolutely everything about our universe and about life in that universe and all of us who live in it. It explains everything about why things are the way they are, why we are the way we are and what God is doing in history and why He’s doing it in terms of salvation. Genesis 3 explains the human dilemma. All the problems of the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account. I’ll say that again, all the problems in the universe, physical problems, spiritual problems, moral problems, social problems, economic problems, political problems, all the problems in the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account.

This chapter then is the foundation of any true and accurate world view. And without this foundation every and any world view is utterly wrong. If you do not understand the origin of sin and its impact based on Genesis chapter 3, then your understanding of the world is wrong. Everything then is misunderstood. Everything is misevaluated. Everything is misread. Everything is misdiagnosed and hopelessly incurable.

You see, if you go back to the end of chapter 1 it says, “And God saw all that He had made and He had made all that has ever been made so He saw the whole created universe and behold, it was very good.” When God completed the original creation, everything was very good. But frankly, folks, everything in our world now is very bad. It is anything but good and it has been anything but good through all of human history. When God completed His perfect creation it was very good because there was no disorder, there was no chaos, there was no conflict, there was no struggle, there was no pain, there was no discord, there was no disease, there was no decline, there was no death. Now we all live our whole lives with all of that. Life is defined by disorder, chaos, conflict, struggle, pain, discord, disease, decline and death.

We look at the physical world around us and we see it decaying and tending toward disorder and chaos, disintegration and death. That’s the law of entropy, the second law of thermodynamics that matter continually tends to break down toward disorder. The physical world is breaking down. This is frightening to people when they take a look at, for example, the interplanetary world or the celestial world, the world of heavenly bodies and they begin to fear that as big chunks keep hurdling through space they have a likelihood that they will at some point collide with this planet in a collision that will literally blast us in to non-existence.

And we watch in the national world, just the history of civilization and we see the cycle of rise and fall and rise and fall and rise and fall. We look in the animal world and there is this incessant process of struggle and death.

We look in the human world and every human relationship is a struggle. Human life is a struggle. As soon as life is conceived in the womb, it begins to live and die at the same time. It begins to grow and decay at the same time. And in the spiritual and moral world, everyone finds it easier to do wrong…have you noticed? It’s much easier to do wrong. In fact, it’s really impossible to do righteous things. Even when you do right humanly, you generally do it to feel better about yourself which is an ill-conceived motive. It’s much easier to do evil than good. It’s much easier to float down on the moral sewage than it is to buck the tide, stay above it. Hatred and crime and war, perversion, wickedness, those things just come with life.

So we have to ask a question…if we come to the end of Genesis 1 and everything is very good and we take a look at things, we have to ask the question…what’s wrong with this picture? What is wrong here? This is not the way it was at the beginning. Even going through chapter 2 you really have only an expansion of the created work of God on day six. Chapter 2 just expands on the creation of man and woman that’s mentioned from verse 24 down through the end of chapter 1. So you could put verse 31 at the end of chapter 2. It was really at the same point in terms of God’s creation. God saw that everything that He had made, including man, including woman, including the Garden where He placed them all that’s described in chapter 2 and it was all very good.

But we look at the world today and it’s not very good. Evolutionists really amuse me. They are clueless about this because they’re living under the self-deception that man is getting better, that he’s improving. The idea of evolution is that man starts from simplicity and mutates upward into complexity. That he starts from a very low and minimalistic level of intelligence and mutates upward to a greater intelligence. That he starts at a base level morally and he moves up to a higher and higher level morally.

But the fact…the fact of just life itself, the truth about man is a refutation of evolution. Because the fact of the matter is, man isn’t getting better, he’s getting worse. He’s accumulating iniquities at a rapid rate and with technological advances he is accumulating wretchedness faster than ever. Man did not begin at the bottom of the moral ladder and slowly by psychological evolution rise higher. That’s just not true. In fact, if you study human history basically there hasn’t been really any change. Men are morally no better than they were in the past and I suppose in some ways no worse than they were in the past. You can trace the patterns of wretchedness through all of human history. But the advancements that have come technologically and by science through the centuries have only enabled man to escalate and exacerbate his corruption.

What has gone wrong? If man began at the top, as Genesis 1 and 2 would tell us, and everything was very good and man was created in the image of God, he started at the top and he’s been plunging down through the abyss of darkness headed for a deep bottom ever since…what went wrong? What happened here? This isn’t the way it was in the original creation. The downward plunge doesn’t seem to be able to be stopped. It’s like man has fallen from heaven without a parachute and he’s plunging at break neck speed toward hell with nothing to stop him. And his life is basically defined by wickedness and evil in every aspect, every relationship.

What happened is recorded for us in Genesis 3. Let me read you the first seven verses. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field in which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden God has said you shall not eat from it, or touch it lest you die.’ Now the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die.'” You know, what’s death? There’s…no such thing existed. “‘For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate. And she gave also to her husband with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked and they sowed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”

That’s how the third chapter opens. By the way, you might be interested to know the word “sin” doesn’t appear in the third chapter. But this is where it entered into our world. This was it. When Adam and Eve, tempted by the serpent in the garden disobeyed God, everything went from being very good to being very bad.

In Romans chapter 5 is a statement that we’ll go back to in weeks to come as we study this issue. In Romans chapter 5 and verse 12, listen to what the Bible says, “Therefore just as through one man…that’s Adam…sin entered into the world and death through sin and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” There is the New Testament commentary on the event that I just read you. Through one man, Adam, sin entered into the world and death through sin…the ultimate measure of decay. And so death spread to all men because all sinned. When Adam sinned, we were all there. We were in his loins. We were his progeny. We have all come from Adam and Eve so we inherit what theologians call original sin. When Adam sinned, we all went down because we’ve all come from Adam.

At the end of chapter 2 you’ll notice that the man and his wife were naked and not ashamed. There wasn’t anything to be ashamed about because there was no sin. There were no evil thoughts. Nothing to be ashamed about. But you come to the end of the record I just read to you, in verse 7 the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. All of a sudden there was shame.

Why? For the first time in their existence they had wicked thoughts. Never had a wicked thought before. Apparently it had something to do with their sexuality. All of a sudden there was shame where there was no shame. This is the great indicator from their viewpoint that they had sinned. And the indicator from God’s viewpoint comes when He says in verse 16 to the woman, “I’ll multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, you’ve eaten from the tree which I have commanded you saying you shall not eat from it, cursed is the ground because of you. In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall grow for you. You shall eat the plants of the field by the sweat of your face. You shall eat bread till you return to the ground because from it you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Now when God curses them, it’s quite interesting. Those curses really are physical. There is a curse on the woman’s pain in childbearing and on her conflict in her marriage. There is a curse on Adam in the fact that he no longer is going to be able to just pluck the wonders of Eden, he’s going to have to cultivate the ground, he’s going to have to fight the thorns and thistles. He’s going to have to sweat to bring forth his bread. And he’s going to ultimately die.

But those things really don’t say anything about the moral change that took place. You know, really didn’t say too much. It becomes very apparent real quick. First of all, Adam and Eve felt shame and shame is a function of guilt and guilt is a function of sin and somehow they had thoughts of wickedness and were so embarrassed by those that they sewed together some leaves to cover themselves. They brought forth two sins in chapter 4, one of them murdered the other one. And the rest, of course, is history.

The Fall occurred at some point between the sixth day of creation when everything was very good, and when Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain because Cain was born a sinner. The Fall had to occur before that, we don’t know when. We don’t know how long they enjoyed Eden in its glory. But once they fell, they were changed, they were altered and they passed on fallenness and sin to every human being that ever lived because they’ve all come from Adam and Eve.

When Adam sinned he brought death on himself and everybody else. And we’re all born to die. We all inherit what I like to call the death force…the death force. And as I said, the moment a baby is conceived it starts to grow and die at the same time. And we battle all through life to keep the death force from being triumphant for as long as we can.

We not only inherit death, we inherit sin because we were all there in Adam. That’s the first thing I want you to understand, that’s original sin. There’s another aspect to it, imputed sin. We’ll talk about that later.

See, in our time if you don’t understand that, you cannot explain the human dilemma. You can’t explain that not only did this effect man’s moral life and therefore every area of relationship, but it effected the ground, it effected the material universe, the physical universe. And Romans 8 says the whole creation groans under this curse. The reason there is disintegration, death and all of that in the entire universe goes right back to Genesis chapter 3. So we’re going to be looking at Genesis 3 to see all the things that we can see to help us understand this amazing event.

The evolutionist, the psychological evolutionist, sociological evolutionist has a big problem because if man is getting more and more capable, if he’s getting more and more noble, if he’s mutating upward and he has now reached a place where basically good and actually getting better, why is it that society is not changing? Why is he morally worse?

Well, evolutionary psychologists say there must be something wrong with his environment. And it all boils down to…I’m not bad, but you’re bad and you make me bad. So in this evolutionary process some of us are going up and others, I guess, are going down. Fairly selective approach.

Psychologists reject sin because they want to exalt man and they want to eliminate God. So because they reject sin they have no explanation for why man is the way he is. They miss diagnose him totally so they offer no help. And what do we do? We try to come up with harsher penalties, the…what is it, the three-strike law, three felonies in a row and you go to jail and they throw the key away. We bring back the death penalty. But nothing can end the reign of terror, nothing can end the reign of corruption. You can’t do it with counseling. You can’t do it with psychotherapy. You can’t do it with Prosac. You can’t do it because the issue is sin. The issue is, we’ve all inherited a corrupted nature.

Carl Meninger clinic wrote this, “In all of the laments and reproaches made by our seers and prophets, one misses any mention of sin, a word which used to be a veritable watchword of prophets. It was a word once in everybody’s mind, now rarely if ever heard. Does that mean that no sin is involved in all our troubles? Is no one any longer guilty of anything? Guilty, perhaps, of a sin that could be repented and repaired and atoned for? Is it only that someone may be stupid or sick or criminal or recovering or asleep? Wrong things are being done…he writes…we know. Tares are being sowed in the wheat field at night. Is no one responsible? Is no one answerable for these acts? Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge and even vague guilt feelings but has no one committed any sins? Where indeed did sin go, what became of it?” End quote. By the way, that’s in the book he wrote called Whatever Became of Sin?

And, of course, there’s just no interest in the public forum in talking about sin today. I mean, that is absolutely archaic. Sinful nature? To say that people are corrupt at birth? To say that they inherited a wicked nature from their parents because they were all genetically, as it were, in Adam? They were all there and sinned in Adam in his loins and everything that came out of that cursed man and that cursed woman bears that curse? Unacceptable. To say that people are all born with an evil bent, that they are all born with a desire to violate the law of God and to dethrone God and replace them with themselves, to say they are incapable of doing anything good, to say they are rotten to the very core, that everything about them, everything they think, everything they say and everything they do is only evil continually, to say their heart is deceitful and desperately wicked…frankly, folks, that is just not acceptable in the public forum.

Our culture has really declared war not only on sin because they don’t want anything defined as sin. Everything is just a life style choice, nothing is a sin. So our culture has declared war on sin and consequently declared war on guilt. The very idea of guilt is considered medieval, obsolete and certainly unhealthful. There was a mega best seller twenty years ago by Wayne Dyer, Dr. Wayne Dyer, it was called Your Erroneous Zones. And he said the most useless of all erroneous zones is guilt. He said, “Guilt…quote…must be exterminated, spray cleaned and sterilized forever.” We have to get rid of guilt. And he says here’s how you do it. Quote, “Do something which you know is bound to result in feelings of guilt. Take a week to be alone. If you’ve always wanted to do something, despite the guilt engendering protestations from other members of your family, these kinds of behavior will help you tackle that omnipresent guilt.”

In other words, if you feel guilty about certain things, do them and just keep doing them till you don’t feel guilty anymore. He says, “Defy your guilt, spurn your husband, spurn your children, attack that sense of self-disapproval head on. Do something that is sure to make you feel guilty and just keep doing it till you don’t feel guilty anymore. Refuse to hear the cries of conscience, the duties of family responsibility, the appeals of your loved ones. You owe it to yourself. Sear your conscience.” Nobody treats guilt seriously anymore.

You know, when people feel guilty nowadays, it’s because they ate too many French Fries. Those are the guilty pleasures. There was a headline in an advice column that caught my eye. It summed up the universal counsel of our generation, the headline said, “It’s not your fault…it’s not your fault.” Stop blaming yourself. The article said, “Your compulsive behavior is not your fault. Refuse to accept the blame. And above all, do not blame yourself for what you can’t control. Heaping guilt on yourself only adds to your stress, low self-esteem, worry, depression, feelings of inadequacy and dependence on others. Let go of your guilt feelings.” And that ubiquitous Ann Landers has said, “One of the most painful, self-mutilating time and energy consuming exercises in the human experience is guilt. It can ruin your day or week or your life. It turns up like a bad penny when you do something dishonest, hurtful, tacky, selfish or rotten. Never mind that it was a result of ignorance, stupidity, laziness, thoughtlessness, weak flesh or clay feet, you did wrong and the guilt is killing you. Too bad, but be assured, the guilt you feel is normal. Remember, guilt is a pollutant and we don’t need any more of it in the world.”

You don’t want to feel bad about anything. Boy, what a serious issue this is because you cut off people from the possibility of repentance. I love that story of the guy in New York city who…you’ve probably heard it, you read about it or heard it on the news. He robbed a store and the store owner grabbed a gun and shot him and paralyzed him so that the lower part of his body he was paralyzed and he was then confined to a wheelchair. When the case came to trial, the attorney for the robber who had been shot by the man took the case on the basis that this man who shot him did not understand that the man who committed the crime was a victim of society. That he was driven to crime by his economic disadvantages.

The lawyer said he now is a shooting victim of the insensitivity of the man who shot him. And he said because of that man’s callous disregard of the thief’s plight as a victim, the poor thief is going to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He deserves some compensation. And the jury agreed. And the store owner paid a huge settlement.

What always fascinates me when I think about the story is within two months, the man was arrested committing another armed robbery in his wheelchair.

A woman who abused and brutally killed her own infant was acquitted of all charges because she had PMS. And you all remember the San Francisco City Supervisor who was murdered. And when the person went on trial, it was a famous Twinkie defense, the fact that he was not responsible for what he did, he was acting irrationally because he ate too many Hostess Twinkies. And the famous Twinkie defense was born.

We have so much of that in our society. Similar tactics, passing blame away from us. And when children are disobedient they say they’re hyperactive or they have Attention Deficit Syndrome, or whatever other syndrome they could invent so they could sell people the drugs they want to sell them. And when somebody commits moral sin they say they’re addicted to sex and then they’re recovering sex addicts. And we have to remember, like AA, you’ll never really recover so you’re whole life you’re recovering so don’t feel bad if they slip up here and there. It’s just an addiction.

Everything wrong with mankind is described as some kind of an illness. And you know that, that’s just the way the world chooses to avoid the issue.

So we alone, I think, as Christians who understand the Bible and believe the Bible, we get it. We’ve got all these people trying…all the politicians, and all the moralists, and all the educators and all the university people, and all the sociologists and everybody trying to fix society…and it can’t ever be done by these people because they don’t ever deal with the reality of what is in the heart. All humanity…all humanity, nobody escapes, has a vile, rebellious, corrupt nature. The thought life is corrupt. The emotions are corrupt. The will is corrupt and the behavior is corrupt. And Genesis 3 is crucial to understanding that.

By the way, you’d be interested, there are some things that are not in Genesis 3. The word “sin” is not there. And the word “Satan” is not there. We’ll say more about that as we get in to the text itself.

But the rest of the Scripture makes it very clear. There’s not even any statement there as to the fact that the sins of Adam were passed down. It’s very apparent because immediately in the next chapter you have conflict and murder among the two sons of Adam and Eve. But we have to understand the rest of Scripture to interpret Genesis 3. So when we go through Genesis 3, we’re going to be looking at some other passages to help us to interpret them. It’s really important for us to have a good biblical doctrine of sin.

As I often like to do in studying the Old Testament, I’ve got some Jewish sources cause I wanted to read about what the Jewish scholars, rabbis and commentators of Judaism think about Genesis 3. Interestingly enough, Judaism as such has always rejected the existence of sinful depravity in man inherited from Adam. They reject that. Basically they believe that what Adam did, Adam did and he did it because he chose to do it. And Cain and Abel, they did what they did because they chose to do it. And that’s how it is, there’s no…there’s no depravity that passes down. There’s no imputation of guilt to us because of the sin of Adam by God. That was just an isolated situation in his case and we have the choice to do right or to do wrong. And that’s how they maintain salvation by righteousness because they don’t have a doctrine of depravity. They don’t have a doctrine of original sin. They understand Adam’s sin as affecting Adam. And the rest of us all have the same choices, either to obey God or disobey God, that Adam and Eve had and we don’t inherit anything from them. That is not what the Scripture teaches.

For example, according to Isadore Epstein(?) in a publication called “Judaism,” from Pelican Press back in 1959, Isadore Epstein says, “Judaism denies the existence of original sin. True, the idea that the sin of Adam had brought death on all mankind is not unknown in Jewish teaching, but the references invariably to physical death and is not to be confused with the spiritual death from which in Christian doctrine none can be saved except through faith in the risen Savior.” Isn’t that interesting?

They understand the message of Christianity and they want to cut it off at the front end. They want to deny original sin so that they can deny that men are in a condition which requires Jesus Christ to be their Savior. And the quote closes, “Man can therefore achieve his own redemption by his own penitence.” He doesn’t need a Savior. You get rid of the Savior and you get rid of original sin. Everybody makes his own choice, and if you have to make a bad choice, just tell God you’re sorry and make more good choices than bad choices and your good choices will outweigh your bad choices and you’ll get in to heaven.

Kasudo(?), the Jewish commentator that I read so frequently says, “The central theme of Genesis 3 does not aim to give a philosophical explanation of the origin of evil in the world,” end quote. So what he’s saying is typical of the Jewish commentators, this has nothing to do with the origin of evil in the world. This is one man and one woman, they made a choice and everybody else is in the same situation.

But they’re wrong. Scripture clearly indicates this is where evil began. And it is the New Testament that is most definitive. And again, you have to know that verse, Romans 5:12, that’s the key verse. When Adam sinned, everybody sinned in Adam. And when Adam received the penalty of death, we were all then sentenced to die.

Christian Scientists tell us that sin is an illusion. It’s not. The liberals tell us that sin is really finiteness, to be human is to error. And the dualistic philosophers tell us that sin is the flesh as opposed to the spirit which is pure.

Now those are all wrong. We will get a biblical understanding of sin in our study. Let me give you a definition of sin at this point. Sin is any personal lack of conformity to the moral character of God, or the law of God.

Then sin is a disposition of the heart, it is a bent. It thinks evil, it speaks evil, it acts evil and it omits good. Let me give you those four because those are the four ways in which you sin. You sin by thinking evil, speaking evil, acting evil or omitting good. You sin when you do, when you say, when you think or when you don’t do, say or think what God commands you to. So it is commission, as you’ve often heard, or omission.

Now, before we look at the seven verses, I want to give you a broad look at the subject of sin as it is outlined in the Bible. And then we’re going to come back and see how it originated. Before we look at the story of Genesis, how it all originated, I want you to have an understanding of the theology of sin because this is essential for our understanding. Then when we go back into Genesis, we’ll be able to see clearly where the root of all of this began.

And I guess the best way to do this is to suggest to you that I want to answer just five questions, okay? Five questions…I don’t think I’ll get through them all tonight, but I’ll do a couple of them. And this is pretty familiar stuff, but we’ll just lay a foundation. I never know who’s listening to this or who might hear the tapes, or who might hear the radio program and I want to be sure we cover these issues.

The first question is…what is sin? And I’ve just given you a definition…what is sin? Now we know what sin is. It is any violation, any violation of the character or law of God, the moral character or the law of God. Summing it up, 1 John 3:4, 1 John 3:4 says, “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Sin is the transgression of the law. That is…that is one definition of sin. Another way to translate that, everyone doing sin is doing lawlessness, anomia, lawlessness.

In other words, it’s ignoring God’s law, it’s violating God’s law. That is sin. Any violation of God’s law is sin. Sin and lawlessness in that Greek construction of 1 John 3:4 are identical. It’s living as if there was no law of God, calling your own shots.

It’s further defined in Romans 14:23, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Anything that you do that isn’t done as a direct act of faith in God is sin. In Romans 14:23, to know to do right and not do it is sin. In 1 John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.”

So, the Bible gets around that issue in many ways. When you do something that goes against real trust and faith in God, that’s sin. When you know to do right and don’t do it, that’s sin. When you know something pleases God, something that God has commanded, you don’t do it, that is sin. All unrighteousness is sin. All sin is lawlessness. And all of those things are just coming at the same issue that sin is any violation of God’s moral character or His law. To put it another way, sin is going beyond the bounds that God has established. That gives us a substantial understanding of sin. As you go through the Bible you’ll find all kinds of words. I’m not going to go through all these Hebrew words and all the Greek words of sin. There are just many, many of them. It’s enough to know that sin is defined as any breach of God’s law.

Now where is God’s law revealed? Scripture…right? Scripture. So we have a problem in our society today, folks. We…we don’t believe that man is innately a sinner, we think he’s basically good and something happens to him environmentally. But if we do believe that…if we do acknowledge that he does evil, how do we define that evil? What is our standard for what is evil? What is it? Well once our standard for evil in America, our standard for morality in America was established by the Bible, right? By the Bible, I mean, that’s what the nation was founded on, that’s what basically our laws were written on. Our view of morality, our view of crime, our view of justice all came out of the Bible. And once there were certain behaviors that were considered to be against the law. And that’s changing…that’s changing rapidly, changing in the sexual realm, it’s changing in the homosexual world. It’s changed, of course, in the world of abortion, euthanasia. Boy, watch…watch what happens with the genetic engineering that’s going to come in the very near future as they now can determine the ability to handle the genes and decide who gets born and who doesn’t, and etc., etc.

As we continue to move down deeper and deeper into the morass of sin and dislodge ourselves from any set standard, being the Word of God, we have no way to define morality anymore except to take a survey…right?…to take a survey. That’s what you do. The politicians do it. They give back what they think the constituencies would vote for. They want to get elected so they basically say…I believe this…because they polled the constituents and that’s what they say. And that’s how we develop our morality. And you watch, as our society sinks deeper and deeper into sin and distances itself consistently and completely from the Word of God, it’s going to be harder and harder to define morality. There won’t be anybody who can walk into a court and hold up a standard. You can’t walk into a court today and hold up the standard of the Bible as the standard of morality. All we have left is tradition and tradition will be overthrown by surveys, it will be overthrown by vote, it will be overthrown by referendums, it will be overthrown when the people want to overthrow it. So it’s not going to get any better, it’s going to get worse..the reclassification of behavior. We don’t have a standard.

How do you go to a generation like that and tell them they’re sinners? Based on what? Based on what standard am I a sinner? And you say, well on the standard of the law of God, on the standard of the Bible. The Bible is not our standard. I think we have no other choice but that to hold the Bible up as a standard and to say to the sinner…it is the standard. And because it is the Word of God and it’s up to you to determine by reading it carefully and thoughtfully that it is not the Word of God. That’s the challenge I put out…Oh, you don’t think the Bible is the Word of God, have you read it? Have you studied it? Are you really sure about that? I never had anybody say to me…Yes, I’ve studied it thoroughly from cover to cover and it’s not the Word of God.

But I don’t think we have anywhere else to go because this is the standard. We’re just not going to have a society anymore propped up by biblical standards. And you watch the continual escalation that goes on as we redefine morality in terms of popular referendum, popular vote and survey. That redefining of morality without a standard leaves our society in a death dive because sin is breaking God’s law. Sin is violating God’s moral character. And there’s no where to know that except on the pages of Scripture. And if you don’t believe the Scripture establishes morality, righteousness and unrighteousness, then you have no standard and you have no definition of sin. That’s the real…that’s the real issue in our society today. How do we tell our society about a Savior who will save them from sin when their definition of sin is basically non-existent?

What is sin to them? You tell them it’s a violation of the law of God. Well, where is that? Well it’s in the Bible. I don’t believe that.

But, you know, it’s still the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses, right? So I don’t equivocate, I just keep preaching the Bible and let the Spirit of God take it and use it to convict the hearts.

So what is sin? Sin is a violation of the law of God. It’s a violation of the moral character of God and His laws as revealed on the pages of Scripture…that is sin. That’s all we need to say about it…that’s all we need to say about it.

You say…You study the Bible and you’re going to find out what God commands us to do and not to do, you’re going to find out the essential elements of God’s nature. And whenever we violate those, we sin.

Now let’s go pass the definition for just a moment and look at the nature of sin just briefly. The nature of sin. First of all, sin is defiling, I’ll just give you a few things to think about. Sin is defiling. These are things that characterize sin, not defining it but characterizing it. This is kind of how it manifests itself. It is a violation, yes…that’s what it is. But how it shows up, it first of all is defiling. It is a pollutant. It is to the soul whatscars are to a beautiful face, what stain is to white silk cloth. It is ugliness across the face of beauty. It is a…it is a kind of ugliness that is defined in Scripture in very graphic terms. In 1 Kings 8:38 sin in man’s heart is compared to ugly, oozing sores from a deadly plague. In Zechariah 3:3, Joshua, the high priest’s sin is…is..is like a filthy garment that’s being worn by a person. When you go down in the inner city somewhere and you pass by the street people who have lived in the same clothes and slept in the same clothes on the street for years and that’s the filthy garments that are a picture of sin. Sin scars the image of God and man. Sin stains the soul. It degrades man’s nobility.

Interesting statement is made in Zechariah, the prophet Zechariah, talking about sin…there’s so much about it, of course, all through the Bible, but in Zechariah chapter 11 and verse 8, there’s a very interesting statement where God actually says there is a loathing. He says, “Then I annihilated the three shepherds in one month for My soul loathed them,” is what it actually says, “My soul detested them and they also detested Me.” Sin causes you to hate God and loathe God and God says My soul loathed them…My soul loathed them and they loathed Me. And when a sinner sees his sin, he sees it as defiling. He sees it for what it is. Ezekiel 20 verse 43 says, “And there you will remember your ways and all your deeds which you have defiled yourselves and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things you’ve done.”

When you really look at yourself you see the defiling of sin and you loathe yourself. Sin pollutes, sin defiles, sin corrupts. Paul calls it in 2 Corinthians 7:1 the filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Thomas Goodwin, the Puritan, wrote, “Sin is called poison, sinners serpents. Sin is called vomit, sinners dogs. Sin is called the stench of grave, sinners rotten sepulchers. Sin is called mire, sinners pigs.” It is defiling, degrading, it stamps the devil’s image on the human soul.

Sin is, secondly, rebellion. It is not only defiling, it is rebellion. It establishes not only a defilement and a filth and a pollution and a corruption, but it establishes a life of rebellion. It is by its own nature, as Leviticus 26:27 says, “Walking contrary to God.” It is just walking in constant opposition, in constant rebellion.

A sinner tramples on God’s law, tramples on God’s character, willfully crosses God’s will, affronts God, spites God, mocks God. And the Hebrew word for “sin,” one of the Hebrew words, pasha, signifies rebellion. Is it at its core rebellion. That’s what it was for Lucifer. That’s what it was for Eve. That’s what it was for Adam. That’s what it is for all of us.

Perhaps a good definition, Jeremiah 44:17, “But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes forth out of our own mouth.” That’s it. God, we will do exactly what we want to do.

Sin is God’s would-be murderer. Sin would not only unthrone God but ungod God and replace Him with us. If the sinner had his way, God would cease to be God and the sinner is the only god in his world. So sin is defiling and sin is open, incessant rebellion.

Let me give you a third one, we’ll pick up here next time. Sin is ingratitude. I mean, everything we have, everything we are is from God. We live and move and have our being in God. Acts 17:28 says, “He makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, sends rain on the just and the unjust.” He’s given us everything. And Romans 1, Paul says, “That the wrath of God is revealed from heaven because when they knew God they didn’t glorify Him as God, neither were thankful,” verse 21. Sin is just ungrateful.

All the food the sinner ever eats, God gave him. All the air the sinner ever breathes, God gave him. All the joys the sinner ever experiences, God provided. All the love he ever experienced in the human world, everything, all of his senses are from God. All of the pleasures of life to meet those senses are from God. Every beauty of life is from God. It is God who has given wisdom to us. He’s given wisdom to the mind of every human being to think and feel and work and play and rest that life might be full and useful. And it’s God who made us love and made us laugh and made us cry. It’s God who gave us special skills and abilities to excel in some areas and to know some measure of self-respect and value. It’s God who gave us the capacity to care for each other and have relationships. It’s God who providentially preserves us from getting every disease and dying every death. God literally surrounds the sinners with mercy. They abuse them.

It’s like Absalom, you know, he…as soon as David, his father, had kissed him and embraced him, he went out and plotted treason against His father. So the sinner eagerly takes the kiss of God that God provides in the created world and embraces God’s graces and God’s mercy and then betrays Him by being the friend of God’s enemy, Satan. Sin is serious ingratitude. It’s damning ingratitude. And the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against that ingratitude.

Sin is defiling. It is rebellion. It is ingratitude. Well, a few more and a few more questions next time, then we’ll start to look at the text.

Father, tonight we’ve just really begun our study in what is such an unhappy subject to be considering and yet so necessary. We have to understand the heart of man, we have to understand our own hearts, have to understand our sin, its severity, its incurable power from the human perspective. We have to understand its pervasiveness, its deadliness. We have to understand sin because it’s the defining element in our universe. It’s why things are the way they are. It’s why the creation is no longer very good but very bad. It’s why everything dies. Father, we have to understand sin because, most of all, it’s why we need a Savior. And You’ve sent Him, even the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that sin is humanly incurable but You have sent Jesus to save His people from their sins. And You save sinners who repent and ask You for forgiveness. What an amazing reality that as bad as sin is, as defiling, corrupting as it is, as openly rebellious as it is, as ungrateful as it is You still forgive it when the sinner comes and asks, even as we heard give testimony to in baptism tonight. We want to understand the world and we want to understand it the way it needs to be understood and that’s the way You see it and we are able to if we follow Your Word and we know what’s wrong in our world, we know what’s wrong in the lives of people, we know what it is…it’s sin and there isn’t any human solution. But there is a divine one. May You bring many, many sinners to repentance and salvation. Use us to that end, we pray in the name of Your Son and our dear Savior. Amen.

The Book of Acts was likely written between 61-64 A.D.

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Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quar...

Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: The Book of Acts does not specifically identify its author. From Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-3, it is clear that the same author wrote both Luke and Acts. The tradition from the earliest days of the church has been that Luke, a companion of the apostle Paul, wrote both Luke and Acts (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11).

The Book of Acts was written to provide a history of the early church. The emphasis of the book is the importance of the day of Pentecost and being empowered to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ. Acts records the apostles being Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the rest of the surrounding world. The book sheds light on the gift of the Holy Spirit, who empowers, guides, teaches, and serves as our Counselor. Reading the book of Acts, we are enlightened and encouraged by the many miracles that were being performed during this time by the disciples Peter, John, and Paul. The book of Acts emphasizes the importance of obedience to God’s Word and the transformation that occurs as a result of knowing Christ. There are also many references to those that rejected the truth that the disciples preached about the Lord Jesus Christ. The lust for power, greed, and many other vices of the devil are evidenced in the book of Acts.
Key Verses: Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:4: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:19-20: “But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’”
Acts 9:3-6: “As he [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”
Acts 16:31: “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’”
Brief Summary: The book of Acts gives the history of the Christian church and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as the mounting opposition to it. Although many faithful servants were used to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, was the most influential. Before he was converted, Paul took great pleasure in persecuting and killing Christians. Paul’s dramatic conversion on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-31) is a highlight of the book of Acts. After his conversion he went to the opposite extreme of loving God and preaching His Word with power, fervency and the Spirit of the true and living God. The disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses in Jerusalem (chapters 1–8:3), Judea and Samaria (chapters 8:4–12:25), and to the ends of the earth (chapters 13:1–28). Included in the last section are Paul’s three missionary journeys (13:1–21:16), his trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea (21:17–26:32) and his final journey to Rome (27:1–18:31).
Connections: The Book of Acts serves as a transition from the Old Covenant of law-keeping to the New Covenant of grace and faith. This transition is seen in several key events in Acts. First, there was a change in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, whose primary function in the Old Testament was the external “anointing” of God’s people, among them Moses (Numbers 11:17), Othniel (Judges 3:8-10), Gideon (Judges 6:34), and Saul (1 Samuel 10:6-10). After the resurrection of Jesus, the Spirit came to live in the very hearts of believers (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16), guiding and empowering them from within. The indwelling Spirit is the gift of God to those who come to Him in faith.
Paul’s conversion was a dramatic example of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New. Paul admitted that, prior to meeting the risen Savior, he was the most zealous of Israelites and was blameless “concerning the righteousness of the law” (Philippians 3:6 NKJV), going so far as to persecute those who taught salvation by grace through faith in Christ. But after his conversion, he realized that all his legalistic efforts were worthless, saying he considered them “rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:8b-9). Now we, too, live by faith, not by the works of the law, so there is no boasting (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Peter’s vision of the sheet in Acts 10:9-15 is another sign of the transition from the Old Covenant—in this case the dietary laws particular to the Jews—to the New Covenant’s unity of Jew and Gentile in one universal Church. The “clean” animals symbolizing the Jews and the “unclean” animals symbolizing the Gentiles were both declared “cleansed” by God through the sacrificial death of Christ. No longer under the Old Covenant of law, both are now united in the New Covenant of grace through faith in the shed blood of Christ on the cross.
Practical Application: God can do amazing things through ordinary people when He empowers them through His Spirit. God essentially took a group of fisherman and used them to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). God took a Christian-hating murderer and changed him into the greatest Christian evangelist, the author of almost half the books of the New Testament. God used persecution to cause the quickest expansion of a “new faith” in the history of the world. God can and does do the same through us—changing our hearts, empowering us by the Holy Spirit, and giving us a passion to spread the good news of salvation through Christ. If we try to accomplish these things in our own power, we will fail. Like the disciples in Acts 1:8; we are to wait for the empowering of the Spirit, then go in His power to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
Recommended Resources: Acts 1-12, MacArthur New Testament Commentary by John MacArthur. Acts 13-28, MacArthur New Testament Commentary by John MacArthur. Acts NIV Application Commentary by Ajith Fernando. The Book of Acts, New International Commentary on the New Testament by F.F. Bruce. Acts, Holman New Testament Commentary by Kenneth Gangel.

 

“What were the different missionary journeys of Paul?”

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Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna) Adam and Eva are represented bellow Jesus-Christ Ceiling painting made by Daniel Gran (1694-1757). Post-processing: perspective and fade correction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The New Testament records Paul taking three missionary journeys that spread the message of Christ to Asia Minor and Europe. The apostle Paul was a well-educated, leading Jew named Saul. Living in Jerusalem just after Christ’s death and resurrection, he did his best to destroy the Christian church. He even participated in the execution of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 7:55–8:4).
On his way to Damascus to find and imprison more Christians, Paul met the Lord. He repented, turning in faith to Jesus Christ. After this experience, he attempted to persuade Jews and Christians about his life-changing conversion. Many doubted and shunned him. Christians such as Barnabas, however, accepted and spoke up for him. Paul and Barnabas became missionary partners.
On three separate missionary journeys—each several years in length—Paul preached the news of Jesus in many coastal cities and trade route towns. The following is a brief chronicle of these missionary journeys:
1st Missionary Journey (Acts 13-14): Answering God’s call to proclaim Christ, Paul and Barnabas left the church at Antioch in Syria. At first, their method of evangelism was to preach in the town synagogues. But when many of the Jews rejected Christ, the missionaries recognized God’s call of witnessing to the Gentiles.
Because of his bold testimony of Jesus, Saul the persecutor became Paul the persecuted. Those who rejected his message of salvation through Jesus Christ tried to stop and harm him. In one city, he was stoned and left for dead. But God spared him. Through trials and beatings and imprisonments, he kept on preaching Christ.
Paul’s ministry to Gentiles brought controversy over who could be saved and how to be saved. Between his first and second missionary journeys, he participated in a conference in Jerusalem discussing the way of salvation. The final consensus was that the Gentiles could receive Jesus without submitting to Jewish traditions.
2nd Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36-18:22): After another stay in Antioch, building up the church there, Paul was ready to take a second missionary journey. He asked Barnabas to join him, revisiting the churches of their first missionary journey. A disagreement, however, caused them to split. God turned this dispute into a positive, for now there were two missionary teams. Barnabas went to Cyprus with John Mark, and Paul took Silas to Asia Minor.
God providentially redirected Paul and Silas to Greece, bringing the gospel to Europe. At Philippi, the missionary team was beaten and imprisoned. Rejoicing to suffer for Christ, they sang in jail. Suddenly, God caused an earthquake to open the doors of the cell and free them from their chains. The amazed jailer and his family believed in Christ, but the government officials begged Paul and Silas to leave.
Traveling on to Athens, Paul preached to an inquisitive audience on Mars Hill. He proclaimed the only true God whom they could know and worship without man-made idols. Again, some sneered and some believed.
Paul taught those who believed in Christ and established them in churches. During this 2nd missionary journey, Paul made many disciples from all backgrounds: a young man named Timothy, a businesswoman named Lydia, and the married couple Aquila and Priscilla.
3rd Missionary Journey (Acts 18:23-20:38): During Paul’s third journey, he fervently preached in Asia Minor. God confirmed his message with miracles. Acts 20:7-12 tells of Paul at Troas preaching an exceptionally long sermon. A young man, sitting in an upstairs window sill, went to sleep and fell out the window. He was thought to be dead, but Paul revived him.
Once involved in the occult, the new believers at Ephesus burned their magic books. Idol-makers, on the other hand, were not pleased with their loss of business on account of this one true God and His Son. One silversmith named Demetrius started a city-wide riot, praising their goddess Diana. Trials always followed Paul. The persecution and opposition ultimately strengthened true Christians and spread the gospel.
At the end of Paul’s third missionary journey, he knew he would soon be imprisoned and probably killed. His final words to the church at Ephesus display his devotion to Christ: “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:18-24).
Some Bible scholars see a fourth missionary journey as well, and early Christian history does seem to attest to the idea. At the same time, there is no explicit evidence for a fourth journey in the Bible, as it would have occurred after the close of the book of Acts.
The purpose of all of Paul’s missionary journeys was the same: proclaiming God’s grace in forgiving sin through Christ. God used Paul’s ministry to bring the gospel to the Gentiles and establish the church. Paul’s letters to the churches, recorded in the New Testament, still support church life and doctrine. Although Paul’s missionary journeys caused him to sacrifice everything, they were worth the cost (Philippians 3:7-11).
Recommended Resource: Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit by Charles Swindoll.

“Why did God send Jesus when He did? Why not earlier? Why not later?”

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Resurrection of Christ

Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Smith's later theology described Jesus and God...

Smith's later theology described Jesus and God the Father as two distinct physical beings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law” (Galatians 4:4). This verse declares that God the Father sent His Son when “the time had fully come.” There were many things occurring at the time of the first century that, at least by human reasoning, seem to make it ideal for Christ to come then.
1) There was a great anticipation among the Jews of that time that the Messiah would come. The Roman rule over Israel made the Jews hungry for the Messiah’s coming.
2) Rome had unified much of the world under its government, giving a sense of unity to the various lands. Also, because the empire was relatively peaceful, travel was possible, allowing the early Christians to spread the gospel. Such freedom to travel would have been impossible in other eras.
3) While Rome had conquered militarily, Greece had conquered culturally. A “common” form of the Greek language (different from classical Greek) was the trade language and was spoken throughout the empire, making it possible to communicate the gospel to many different people groups through one common language.
4) The fact that the many false idols had failed to give them victory over the Roman conquerors caused many to abandon the worship of those idols. At the same time, in the more “cultured” cities, the Greek philosophy and science of the time left others spiritually empty in the same way that the atheism of communist governments leaves a spiritual void today.
5) The mystery religions of the time emphasized a savior-god and required worshipers to offer bloody sacrifices, thus making the gospel of Christ which involved one ultimate sacrifice believable to them. The Greeks also believed in the immortality of the soul (but not of the body).
6) The Roman army recruited soldiers from among the provinces, introducing these men to Roman culture and to ideas (such as the gospel) that had not reached those outlying provinces yet. The earliest introduction of the gospel to Britain was the result of the efforts of Christian soldiers stationed there.
The above statements are based on men looking at that time and speculating about why that particular point in history was a good time for Christ to come. But we understand that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), and these may or may not have been some reasons for why He chose that particular time to send His Son. From the context of Galatians 3 and 4, it is evident that God sought to lay a foundation through the Jewish Law that would prepare for the coming of the Messiah. The Law was meant to help people understand the depth of their sinfulness (in that they were incapable of keeping the Law) so that they might more readily accept the cure for that sin through Jesus the Messiah (Galatians 3:22-23; Romans 3:19-20). The Law was also “put in charge” (Galatians 3:24) to lead people to Jesus as the Messiah. It did this through its many prophecies concerning the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled. Add to this the sacrificial system that pointed to the need for a sacrifice for sin as well as its own inadequacy (with each sacrifice always requiring later additional ones). Old Testament history also painted pictures of the person and work of Christ through several events and religious feasts (such as the willingness of Abraham to offer up Isaac, or the details of the Passover during the exodus from Egypt, etc.).
Finally, Christ came when He did in fulfillment of specific prophecy. Daniel 9:24-27 speaks of the “seventy weeks” or the seventy “sevens.” From the context, these “weeks” or “sevens” refer to groups of seven years, not seven days. We can examine history and line up the details of the first sixty-nine weeks (the seventieth week will take place at a future point). The countdown of the seventy weeks begins with “the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem” (verse 25). This command was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C. (see Nehemiah 2:5). After seven “sevens” plus 62 “sevens,” or 69 x 7 years, the prophecy states, “the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” and that the “end will come like a flood” (meaning major destruction) (v. 26). Here we have an unmistakable reference to the Savior’s death on the cross. A century ago in his book The Coming Prince, Sir Robert Anderson gave detailed calculations of the sixty-nine weeks, using ‘prophetic years,’ allowing for leap years, errors in the calendar, the change from B.C. to A.D., etc., and figured that the sixty-nine weeks ended on the very day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, five days before His death. Whether one uses this timetable or not, the point is that the timing of Christ’s incarnation ties in with this detailed prophecy recorded by Daniel over five hundred years beforehand.
The timing of Christ’s incarnation was such that the people of that time were prepared for His coming. The people of every century since then have more than sufficient evidence that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah through His fulfillment of the Scriptures that pictured and prophesied His coming in great detail.
Recommended Resource: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll.

“What did Jesus mean when He said ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’ (John 11:25)?”

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Raising of Lazarus. Jesus calls out Lazarus fr...

“I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25) is the fifth of the seven ”I am” statements of Jesus. Lazarus was dead. Earlier, Jesus had heard that His good friend was sick, but instead of going to visit Lazarus, Jesus “stayed where he was for two more days” (John 11:6). He explained to His puzzled disciples that the sickness was “for God’s glory, that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (v. 4). After Lazarus died, Jesus began a journey to Bethany, Lazarus’s home. Significantly, when Jesus informed His disciples that Lazarus was dead, He simply said His friend was “asleep, but I am going there to wake him up” (John 11:11).
Outside Bethany, Lazarus’s sister Martha went out to meet Jesus. “If you had been here,” she said, “my brother would not have died.” Such was her faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Jesus replied by assuring Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha responded again in faith: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” At this point, Jesus makes His fifth “I Am” statement in John’s gospel, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and He follows it with a call to faith: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:21-24).
When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He was claiming to be the source of both. There is no resurrection apart from Christ, and there is no eternal life apart from Christ. Beyond that, Jesus was also making a statement concerning His divine nature. He does more than give life; He is life, and therefore death has no ultimate power over Him. Jesus confers this spiritual life on those who believe in Him, so that they share His triumph over death (1 John 5:11-12). Believers in Jesus Christ will experience resurrection because, having the life Jesus gives, it is impossible for death to defeat them (1 Corinthians 15:53-57).
The grieving Martha wished that Jesus had arrived earlier so He could have healed her brother. And when Jesus spoke of resurrection, Martha assumed He was speaking of “the resurrection at the last day.” In both statements, Martha reveals that she considered Time an insurmountable obstacle. In effect, Martha was saying, “It’s too late to help Lazarus (the time is past), so now we must wait (allow more time).”
Jesus shows that neither Death nor time is an obstacle to Him. Outside the tomb, “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ The dead man came out” (John 11:43). It’s one thing to claim to be the resurrection and the life, but Jesus proved it by raising Lazarus, who was four days dead. Truly, with Christ, death is but “sleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Death has no dominion over Him who is Life itself, nor does death have dominion over those who are in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Because He lives, we live. Because He is Life, we have life eternally.
Jesus’ statement that He is the resurrection and the life provides a godly perspective on several spiritual matters. Martha believed that the resurrection is an event; Jesus showed her (and us) that the resurrection is a Person. Martha’s knowledge of eternal life was an abstract idea; Jesus proved that knowledge of eternal life is a personal relationship. Martha thought victory over death was a future expectation; Jesus corrects her, showing that victory is a present reality.
After presenting Himself as the resurrection and the life, Jesus asks Martha an all-important question: “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26). May Martha’s answer be ours as well: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world” (verse 27).
Recommended Resource: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll.