29 January 2013

MY LAMB SACRIFICE



John 1:29-34

In one sentence we have the essence of the Christian message……“Behold the Lamb of God” What do you think of when you here that statement in the scriptures?
  • I think of pain and suffering
  • I think of sin
  • I think of the gospel
  • I think of what an amazing Saviour
  • I think of grace
  • I think of the joy it brings
  • I think of the humility of Jesus

I’m reminded of that hymn…….
“There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinner plunged beneath that flood
Lose all there guilty stains”

Isa 53:6-7 “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. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” As Kent Hughes said “Christianity is a bloody religion” But through that blood there is grace, mercy and forgiveness. Let’s read the text! [v29-v34]. John has been crying out as a voice in the wilderness, a testimony that has reached the ears of the Religious Leaders [The Sandhedrin were the main governing body of the Jewish nation. They were controlled by the family of the High Priest.]

John has just finished answering the questions by the religious leader….
  • Who are you?
  • What then are you Elijah?
  • Are you a Prophet?
  • Why do you baptize then?

He gave them his answer! "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness...". I baptize you with repentance..." There is One coming who none of us are worthy to tie his shoes!! There is One coming who will be the greatest sacrifice for all of mankind. The Bible says the next day all these things that he was proclaiming came true. (v29)  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The Lamb of God is here…..the Lamb that would be slain for the whole world
Our Savior our Lamb's Supper. There are 2 important truths or promises for us to understand this morning!


1. THE LAMB WHO CAME TO BE SACRIFICE FOR SINNERS

The Pure and undefiled Word came to be my sin Sacrifice, your sin Sacrifice! "The Lamb of God". All through Israel’s history God had revealed clearly that son and separation from Him could be removed ONLY by blood sacrifice. There was NO forgiveness of sin granted by God apart from an acceptable substitute dying as a sacrifice. This statement must have pierced the conscience of every Jew….because they naturally associated a lamb with there history. Why? Because a Lamb signifies......A required sacrifice.....A burnt offering for sin of the people

The Lamb sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac

Gen 22:11-16 “But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am." And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram (which is a male sheep) caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided." Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son”

The Passover Lamb, for the nation of Israel

Exo 12:5-14 “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.  Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.  And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.  Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's Passover. 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.”

The Jewish required a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness for sin

Lev 5:5-7  'And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing;  and he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin. 'If he is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD, for his trespass which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering.”

A Lamb that would be lead to the Slaughter

Isaiah 53:5-7 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 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. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.”

The nation wanted a King, a Conqueror…but all that was sent was a Lamb. But not just any Lamb…….a Lamb that would deal with sin once and for all. As the Hebrew writer said “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Heb 10:4-10

He takes away the first which is the animal sacrifice and the Second being the atoning work of Christ. Our perfect sacrifice for sin. See the sacrifice of animals was a temporary requirement, did not mean you became sinless. It was only to be done until the Perfect Lamb Sacrifice came to pay God's required debt once for all nothing but the blood of Jesus. John the Baptist used this expression as a reference to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, to atone for the sins of this created man and woman. As we read in Rev 5:11-14 “……I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"  And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us! “For the World” means “All humanity in general, reaches all human beings without distinction (national, racial, and ethnic boundaries)” 1 John 2:2 “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world”
  • For me rebellious and hostile lifestyle towards a holy God
  • For my unregenerate family and friends
  • For Hitler/ Stalin/ Osama
  • For murder/rapist/ adulterer/the disobedient child
  • For the man who killed thousands a baby each year
  • For you and your wicked rebellion

His grace is sufficient for everyone but it only benefits those who are His. For the every sinful act I’ve done or will be committed! The Lamb [Jesus] came be a willing sacrifice for all of them.
  • That’s grace!
  • That’s a love that surpasses any human understanding!
  • That’s the gospel truth


2. THE LAMB WHO CAME TO PROVIDE FORGIVENESS FOR ALL

The Lamb came to deal with the Sin issue, to provide forgiveness for wicked and rebellious created children. [you and me]. This does not mean universal salvation for the whole world as some would proclaim these days.

He came as a Lamb to provide forgiveness for the lost! “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

Paul said He offers forgiveness through His blood on the cross! In Eph 1:7 Paul said “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”

This is the Lamb of God, who is always ready to forgive a sinner! In Ps  86:5 “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”His forgiveness is for those who trust in His Son completely! Though He came to provide this forgiveness for all or that it is sufficient for all it only benefits the elect. Unfortunately scripture says He would be rejected by many ".... 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.” Mark 12:10. As we've already seen here in John's opening remarks to his gospel! “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” John 1:10-11. Dear Stephen said to the religious leaders "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,.” Acts 7:51-52. And sadly the end result is eternal suffering “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thess 1:8-9. 

In [v29-v30] "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'
  • Why do we believe this statement?
  • Why is He our Perfect sacrifice for sin?
  • Why is He the only One who can forgive?

By what we see in the next few verses! The Sprit descending from Heaven…this is the promise or conformation that this is the true Messiah. [v33-v34] “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God." How did John know ahead of time that Jesus was the One? In Luke’s account we read “And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased." Luke 3:22
  • My Beloved Son
  • My Only Begotten Son
  • My Lamb of God
  • My Perfect Sacrifice
  • My Son of Man who comes to be a ransom for all! But received by few!

As the late great John Calvin said "Since no man is excluded from calling upon God the gate of salvation is open to all. There is nothing else to hinder us from entering, but our own unbelief."

"In his book “Written In Blood” Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. She had a rare blood type which she shared with her little brother. The fact that he had recovered from the same disease two years earlier made the chances of success even greater. The doctor carefully explained all this to the little boy, pointing out that without the transfusion his sister would die." Would you be brave and give your blood to your sister?" the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip began to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister."

The two children were wheeled into the hospital room - Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. He smiled at his sister, the watched as the blood traveled out of his body, down the clear plastic tube. Johnny's smile faded, and as he lay there feeling weak he looked up at the doctor and said, "Doctor, when do I die?' Johnny thought that giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. Yet because of his great love for her he was prepared to pay the price."

That’s sacrificially grace for one another…but the ultimate sacrifice is found in the only begotten Son of God “the precious Lamb of God” all because we need a sacrifice for our rebellious lives.
  • Sin affects the very heart of every individual in this world
  • Sin affected the Nation, the prophets down to the apostles and church
  • Sin makes us incapable of changing the future or the present or repaying for the past.

We desperately need a lamb sacrifice! This is what John was proclaiming “Behold the Lamb of God” who came to save sinners from spiritual death [separation]. This is why He came "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost". As Jesus said to the disciples when He told the story of the prodigal son“....... I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10. And it’s only possible through the precious, spotless, perfect Lamb of God!

23 January 2013

YOUR SPIRITUAL IDENTITY



John 1:19-28

Everyone around the globe including myself wants to be known or associated with someone or something. For example.....
  • We want people to know who our favourite sports team is.
  • We want people to know our favourite music and books.
  • We want people to now our education by our accolades that we hang on our walls.
  • We want people to see how successful we are by the size of our business or how successful we are at our employment.
  • We want people to see how beautiful our family is through Facebook or photos we hang on our walls.
  • We want people to see what kind of person we are by what we wear, how we talk and how we behave others.
If  this isn't true! That we really don't want people to know anything about us, then why is Twitter, You Tube and Facebook so popular? We are a society [human race] of people trying to stand out or fit in with the crowd…But how is it when it comes to the things of God we blush or hide ourselves from the people we try so hard to impress with our own lives? See there is nothing wrong with having a successful business, pictures of our families or a favourite sports team “Go Leafs”But I never ever want these things to overshadow where my true identity is found…..in Christ Jesus. The question could be asked with what we see here in this portion of John’s letter! Who are you?” Some would think this is a rude and pushy question! But I think it’s a really good question to  ask John and especially to the church today. Think about it for a moment!

There’s this straggly man on the scene who is speaking loudly to the people that is before him. And to top it off he was preaching repentance and the pending dome for those you disregard his message. So it makes perfect scents to ask this question. Let’s fast forward some 2 thousand years. What if a total stranger came up to you and asked that same question “Who are you?” What would you say? Now be honest because God knows your heart! The people were being stirred, challenged, confused with this strange man from the wilderness. This son of Zechariah was preaching to the people about the coming Messiah!  Remember Jesus’s isn't on the scene yet. And the religious leaders are counselling and trying to figure out what this man is doing and try to prove with unorthodox religious practices! See John was the first witness called by the Apostle John to testify to the truth of Jesus.

Look at the opening verse in [v19] “this is the testimony of John”“Testimony” by definition is “to testify” What was he testifying too? In Matt 3:1-12 we read about John’s ministry and his encounters with the opposing. “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.  And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Picture John saying these things to the high elite Religious leader? It’s not surprising that they would ask the question in [v19] “who are you?” Again remember this is the first time someone has spoken about the coming Messiah to the masses in Nation in over 400 years. John was to pave the way for the Saviour…. As a farmer preparing the fields for the Harvest. So they ask John the question “who are you” and John the Baptist responds [v20] “I am not the Christ” Basically what John is saying is “I’m not the One whom our patriarchs spoke of” Why? John knew his subordinate position or role as the forerunner….not the superstar or main attraction. We understand his role [ministry], by what John says in [v27] “he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

But this answer did not satisfy the religious leaders, so they dug a little deeper with their questioning! So they asked him “Are you Elijah?” [v21] Why would they ask this question? Well the bible speaks about Elijah returning before Jesus’ earthly kingdom. In Mal 4:5 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” Do you know that even today many Jewish people leave an empty seat at the table for Elijah when they celebrate the Passover? Even in Malachi 3:1 we read “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. This was speaking of John not Elijah!

So I can see why they would ask such a question…..John had similar characteristics to Elijah. They both were hairy to some extent! John wore a camel hair coat, while the bible says Elijah was a hairy man, and they both warned people of the coming judgement. John was not Elijah…at least not in a literal sense, but in the same likeness of spirit and power with a message for the people of God. Same could be applied to you and me as God’s children or earthly representatives to the King. Remember what Paul wrote the church in Corinth in his second letter? 2 Cor 5:17-21 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

But the religious leaders were still not satisfied with John’s answer. So they ask him “are you the prophet?” [v21] Again I can see why they would ask such a question after so much silence from God previously. See they would have asked this question by what they read from Moses….Deut 18:15-18 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' And the LORD said to me, 'They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” These men thought that John might have been Jeremiah, Isaiah, or one of the other prophets resurrected. Reason being they were saying that about Jesus! In Matt 16:13-14 “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is? “And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

But I love John’s answer………… “No!” [v21]. Can you picture the frustration from these so called educated religious men? Look at their response! [v22] I’m sure the level of frustration was being exhibited by the tone in their voice as they ask the question again with why they needed an answer! “So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" And I love the directness and humility in John responds [v23] I’m just a “voice” not even a man worthy of honor proclaiming the good news that is coming. John treated his ministry as only a voice not a mna worthy of honor or fame. So they asked him a different question [v25] “why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophets?” Again John responds with directness and humility [v26-v27] 

It wasn’t strange, rude or out of the ordinary to ask a question like this? Why? John was different! John’s ministry was to prepare the people for the everlasting Sustainer who would cleanse their sins completely for all eternity [past, present and future]. As the promise said in Heb 9:28 “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” This is good news and that’s what John was sharing with his people……preparing the way for the Saviour [Jesus Christ]. This was John’s hope……this is our sustaining hope each and every day as we wait eagerly for His return. Living on the promises of God found in His word [His truth] through the gospel that saves.
  • We are very much like John!
  • We are different, strangers, foreigners in a waste land of sin.
  • We are a people today who are doing the same thing with the Gospel "a voice".
  • We are a people who are to point lost sinners to the already finished work on the cross.
  • We are a people who are to spread the good news or pave the way so that people can find forgiveness and restoration and most of all eternal life.
  • We are a people who are to plead with sinners about the pending dome for those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ.
  • We are a  people with a testimony of the grace already been given as John was a testimony of the grace coming to mankind.

Again we are very much like……..John, Elijah, and the prophets! The set apart ones crying out to a world that is hardened and evil and wants nothing to do with the One who saves to the uttermost. We may be strangers with a message that is unacceptable and hostile to sinful world……but never forget it’s this same message that saved you and set you apart. Our identity is hidden in the light of truth found in Christ! Our identity makes us unique and unusual like John…….don’t be surprised when someone asks you that question “who are you?” My question for us is “has anyone asked you that question lately?”

15 January 2013

JESUS IS ________ [PART 5]




John 1:1-18

There is a story about a man who was desperately lost and the only way to be found was through the gospel, but this man was blind by his own sinfulness. “Back in the seventeenth century, a young boy was born into a Christian home. For the first six years of his life, he heard the truths of the gospel and he was loved. Sadly, though, his parents died. The orphaned boy went to live with his relatives. There he was mistreated and abused and ridiculed for his faith in Christ. The boy couldn’t tolerate that situation, and he fled and joined the Royal Navy. In the navy, the boy’s life went downhill. He became known as a brawler, was whipped many times, and participated in some of his comrades’ being keel-hauled. Finally, while he was still young, he deserted the Royal Navy and fled to Africa, where he attached himself to a Portuguese slave trader. There, his life reached its lowest point. There were times when he actually ate off the floor on his hands and knees. He escaped and then became attached to another slave trader as the first mate on his ship. But the young man’s pattern of life had become so depraved; he couldn’t stay out of trouble. As the story goes, he stole the ship’s whiskey and got so drunk that he fell overboard. He was close to drowning when one of his shipmates harpooned him and brought him back on board. As a result, the young man had a huge scar in his side for the rest of his life. After that escapade, he couldn’t get much lower. In the midst of a great storm off the coast of Scotland, when days and days were filled with pumping water out of the boat, the young man began to reflect on the Scripture verses he had heard as a child. He was marvellously converted. The new life of John Newton found is reflected in his own heartfelt words, familiar to millions now:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound—
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.”

Newton’s experience put into words: the ultimate point that is found in Paul’s letter…….“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Rom 3:23-24. JESUS CHRIST IS EVERYTHING! This Infinite God became finite, the Invisible became visible. But all the while never ceased, never stopped being a holy and sovereign God. Phil 2:6 “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,”. Fully God and fully man at the same time. 

Look what it says in [v14] “Word became flesh and dwelt amoung us” to tent or encamp, that is, (figuratively) to occupy (as a mansion) or (specifically) to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol of protection and communion): - dwell. God took up residence among his people [sinners who desperately needed saving] because he loved them.

Someone or you might ask…..
  • Why did the Lord Jesus do this?
  • Why did He leave Heaven and come to earth?
  • Why would He do such a thing?

The answer is simple…..
  • To bring light to mankind to show us our sinful behavior
  • To reconcile mankind to Himself
  • To bring salvation to those who believe, so that we could be called children of God"

But most of all to display His wonderful grace and truth to a fallen and depraved world. James Boice said "if God had simply taken Adam and Eve in the moment they sinned and cast them into the lake of fire, He would still have been just; and the angels could still have sung,
“Holy, holy ,holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was,
and is, and is to come” Rev 4:8

Remember, God does not owe man anything, but He gives mankind a measure of His grace. Therefore, all the blessings that mankind enjoy are the result of God's wonderful Grace. The Lord is full of grace and truth and John gives us the answer to the all-important question. Why did the Lord Jesus come to us in the Flesh?There are three things we see in this passage that displays the glories of the Son.

JESUS DISPLAYS HIS GLORY BY HIS GRACE TO A FALLEN GENERATION OF ANY AGE [V16 - V17]

“fullness we all received” [v16] Fullness which means “repletion or completion” the superabundance of grace that has been displayed by God towards mankind, especially believers [the ones who are His] has always been sufficient in all circumstances. We as a human race are all under His common grace. What do I mean by that? If you are an unsaved person or a saved person, we are all recipients of God's common grace. Whether we or they want to acknowledge it or not! If you enjoy good health, that's common grace. If you enjoy the comforts of home and plenty of food to eat, that's common grace
If you have a good job and are able to hold it down, that's common grace. There is not one person on this earth that isn't a recipient of God's wonderful grace. 

“Grace” means…“the unmerited favor of God toward humanity.” The Scofield bible says "grace is the kindness and love of God". R C Sproul says “Loving a holy God is beyond our moral power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands. Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds His holy love in our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him... To love a holy God requires grace, grace strong enough to pierce our hardened hearts and awaken our dilapidated souls.” Philip Yancey says “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more, there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” As the apostle Paul said in Eph 1:6-8 “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,”

What does it mean to receive His Grace?This is what John the Baptist was proclaiming to the people. The bible says "He cried out" (means) he called out loud, the One I speak of is full of grace. Like what Paul said to Timothy in 1Tim 1:14 “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” What are the special blessings the believer has that the unsaved doesn’t?
  • Eternal life
  • Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • Fellowship with other believers around the world
  • A joy and peace that surpasses all understanding
  • Communion with God through prayer and worship, baptism and the Lord's table
  • An overflow of grace, wisdom and loving kindness by our Lord and Savior

JESUS DISPLAYED HIS GLORY THROUGH HIS TRUTH, TO A FALLEN GENERATION OF ANY AGE [V17]

God's nature is Truth, God's salvation truth was fully revealed and accomplished through the truth that is in Jesus Christ. Eph 4:21 “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:” “Truth” means…a reality, a fact, certainly to what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man. Listen to this wonderful truth. ….this should make us bow our heads in humility. This is what grace gives. Himself! In John 14:16-20 Jesus said “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

But before Jesus said this, He only asks 3 things from His children…..Ask Me, Love Me
and Obey MY Truths! John 14:14-15 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. "If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Believing God's truth in the Gospel, by which one receives His saving grace.There is no salvation grace except to those who believe the truth of the gospel message. As John said "crying out" proclaim to the world the word of truth is coming full of grace and truth. Remember the Law cannot save you! It merely convicts sinners of their inability to keep perfectly God's righteous standards! Rom 3:20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Paul also said "The Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith" Gal 3:24. We are only saved by His wonderful grace, by which we believe His truths found in Christ Jesus [the gospel]

JESUS DISPLAYED HIS GLORY BY REVEALING HIMSELF PERSONALLY [V18]

“Word became flesh” God took on flesh to display and represent His glory in Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus Christ that the Father is revealed to created man and woman. John's gospel says "No one has seen God at any time" The greatest example is Moses pleading with the Lord. In Exo 33:17-23 “So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." And he said, "Please, show me Your glory."  Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen." Jesus said in Matt 11:27 “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” In the original this is, neither knoweth which means "anyone" the Father except the Son. This means that is, no man or angel clearly and fully comprehends the character of the infinite God; no one but the Son, the Lord Jesus. “the One who is in the bosom [side] of the Father”……this phrase gives us a understanding of the intimacy with the Godhead.  This is the same intimacy we have if you are a child of the Living God. In Isa 40:11 he wrote “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.” In the New Testament we read in John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. This great Shepherd…….This great God has shown His himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. This perfect infinite God cares so much for you and me it isn’t funny! It’s amazing grace. He decided to display Himself for mankind by coming in the Flesh as (v14) The disciples asked Jesus? Show us the Father! And Jesus responded in this manner……John 14:6-10 “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”

The God who created the Heaven and the Earth and everything in it; came as a man to display….His sovereign grace and truth to a world that rejected Him, denied His authority and curses His name still today. What can we take home in this passage?
  • That He loves you with an infinite amount of grace.
  • That He is the one who completes your grace to each trying day.
  • That His grace overflows with the riches that come from scripture.
  • That His grace super-exceeds our desires and expectations.

In the Old Testament God set His tent with Israel through his gracious presence in the Tabernacle and then later in the temple……And even revealed Himself in some Pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ. What’s more amazing is that throughout eternity God will again take up residence with His redeemed and glorified children. Let me close with this passage….Rev 21:3-5 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

“and from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace”

Jesus is the glorious and gracious one!

14 January 2013

JESUS IS___________ [PART 4]





John 1:1-18

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” These were the famous words by Friedrich Nietzsche when he wrote his book “The Gay Science” What I find disturbing and sad; is that these words still echo the streets of our community and cites around the globe today! To this present world God is dead and they are quite content in that ignorance. Listen to some other comments about God, “When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life.” Sigmund Freud. “God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” Voltaire. “If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever.” Woody Allen. I’m not going to keep this to myself! This was a really hard week! Having to read through all this garbage about the One I love dearly! To know that there are people out there [many] who think God is a joke….a fake….a liar…..and a mad up story to help the weak and feeble people is really sad. And what’s more amazing is that God came to this earth any ways to show the love from the Godhead.

We come to a portion of John’s opening letter that grieves my heart; reason being is that I was one of them for nearly 30 years! Look what John wrote [John 1:9-11This reminds me of a story I came across this week……“A poor family was farming some land during the depression. There was one son in the family and the parents wanted the best for him. They scrimped and saved so they could send him to college. After he has gone for a year or so, his parents, who loved him very much longed to see him again. They sold some things, saved their meager income and went to visit their boy. When they arrived on campus, poorly dressed in their simple and plain farm clothes they spotted their son with some other boys. The father ran to him and called out, “Son, son it’s your father.” The boy looked at his dad with no sign of recognition. The father repeated his words. “Son, it’s your father and mother. We’ve come to see you.” The boy no doubt embarrassed by his parents’ poverty turned to the other students and said, “I don’t know who this is. He must be crazy.”

You and I may hear that story and think there could be nothing more horrible but we just
read the ultimate rejection. In [v11] we read these painful words, “He came to his own people, and even they rejected Him." Jesus Christ is rejected on a daily basis! I Read this passage and I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Mark’s gospel! Mark 12:1-11 “And he began to speak to them in parables." A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture: " The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" Sadly this is continuing to happen even after what Jesus did accomplished [His death and resurrection]. Before we look at this a little further….I want to ask you a question! WHERE HAS GOD BEEN REJECTED? Usually the first thing that comes to mind is schools and governments! Sadly God was never in either of those institutions…..history tells the story! How about our homes? Is our homes obeying the commands given to us in Deut 5 and 6?

How about our own personal lives?
  • How about when things are going well or comfortable?
  • How about when finances are good?
  • How about when were in good health?
  • How about when our marriage is relatively peaceful and happy?
  • How about when our children are all grown up?

Think about those statements for a moment! We tend to put God on the back burner when things are going well......
  • When we have enough money in the bank
  • When our health seem good
  • When our marriage is doing fine
  • When our children are gone

Sadly sometimes the only time you [we] don’t reject God is when all these things are falling apart and our lives a mess! This should never be in happening in our lives……but it does and when this happens we’re no different than the people that John writes about.

Why was Jesus rejected in His time? When you look at the cults of this world they all have one major thing in common. They reject Jesus for who he claimed to be and was “the God man”. Rejection is a harsh word….it almost has the same feel or meaning as hate. Rejection by definition is “The act of throwing away; the act of casting off or forsaking; refusal to accept or grant.” What’s amazing is that Jesus knew in eternity past that this world and His own [Jews] would reject Him........That’s grace church family! As I said Christmas morning during the devotion time “don’t you find it amazing that the angels went to common men to proclaim the good news and not the high priests, the religious leaders or the ruling government?” Why? He knew their hearts would reject him. What’s amazing until your salvation God knew you would reject Him as well. This why you get mixed emotions about this passage …….why won’t the world listen to the good news? Why didn’t the Jews embrace the Messiah? We read over and over again in the Old Testament about their rejection, despite the clear testimony of those who proclaimed this promise........

Deut 10:16 “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”

2 Kings 17:14 “But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God.”

Neh 9:29 “And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey.”

Jer 7:26 “Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.”

Sadly we continue see this progression throughout the Old into the New….a complete disregard or rejection of the Incarnate Christ. The same thing is happening today! Families, marriages, children, churches, nations are rejecting the true God of the Bible for a substitute to appease their own conscience! Or worse they love their sin and do not want it exposed….we call this willful blindness and complete ignorance to desperate need of saving grace.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTING GOD?

LEADS MEN TO FOLLOW THEIR OWN DEVICES

Jer 2:13 “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

LEADS PEOPLE TO PUTTING THEIR TRUST IN MAN

Jer 17:5 “Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.”

PROVOKES GOD TO FORSAKE MEN

Judges 10:13 “Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more.”

PUNISHMENT WILL BE SEVERE

Heb 10:30-31 “For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

IT ENDS IN ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM HIS GRACE AND MERCY

2Th 1:8-9 “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,”
This world is heading into the path of despair and sorrow for all eternity all because they would not recognize the One who created them.

But there still hope for the lost….the ones who rejected Christ! [v12-v13] This is the promise to hold dear to your heart this morning! He is the one who saves…..Praise His Name! He is the one who calls you out of darkness and ignorance. He is the one who displayed the love of the Godhead by coming in humiliation [taking on the form of a man]. He is the one who gives eternal to whom He chooses. If receiving eternal life required our performance, none of us would make it, as Gods standard is perfection. No matter how hard we try to be good enough, each of us has sinned and fall short when measured by Gods standard of perfection… “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [v13]  “who were born, not of blood [racial or ethnic heritage] nor of the will of the flesh [personal desire] nor of the will of man [man-made systems], but of God. See there is nothing that we can do to in order to find or attain salvation!
  • It’s not about working our way to Heaven
  • It’s not about serving in a church
  • It’s not about growing up in a Christian home
  • It’s not about your ability to attain salvation
  • It’s only by the overflowing grace of God unto sinners that anyone of us is saved.

Martin Luther said “The sun is not dimmed and darkened by shining on so many people or by providing the entire world with its light and splendor. It retains its light intact. It loses nothing; it is immeasurable, perhaps able to illumine ten more worlds. I suppose that a hundred thousand candles can be ignited from one light, and still this light will not lose any of it's brilliance... Thus Christ our Lord, to whom we must flee and of whom we must ask all, is
an interminable well, the chief source of all grace... Even if the whole world were to drawn from this fountain enough grace and truth to transform all people into angels, still it would not lose as much as a drop. This fountain constantly overflows with sheer grace.” Don’t overlook this promise with contempt or ignorance as the Jewish nation, Pharisee’s and as the world did and still does day. Acknowledge who is and never reject that wonderful truth. God came to this earth as a man to save men and women form there sin. How? By baring there sin and shame….dying on a cross and defeating the grave! Don’t reject this greatest gift……because the consequences will be devastating in the end