27 January 2014

HE IS THE LIGHT AND WE ARE HIS CHILDREN


John 8:12-20

Light is a powerful thing! It has many wonderful qualities. It transfers energy. if it were not for sunlight, the earth would be very, very cold, and there would be no life. keep in mind, there is quite a bit of life in caves, where there isn't any light. It transfers information, allowing us to, with our eyes and brain, interpret where things are in relation to other things, and how that's changing. The celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles plays as prime background to our Lord’s teaching, in this chapter and the one before it. Why? This extravagant claim that Jesus makes in this portion of scripture, stands just before the description of the lighting of the four huge lamps in the temple’s court of women and of the enthusiastic celebration that took place under the light. The Mishnah which is the Jewish oral writings says “Men of piety and good works’ danced through the night, holding burning torches in their hands and singing songs and praises. The Levitical orchestras cut loose, and some sources attest that this went on every night of the Feast of Tabernacles, with the light from the temple area shedding its glow all over Jerusalem.” In this context Jesus declares to the people, “I am the light of the world.”

What a prime time to announce this biblical truth, especially in a time where people who were so caught up in false worship and idolatry and sin was running wild in the streets. See! What Jesus said would have raised some eye brows and caused the people to murmur among festival or crowd. What Jesus was implying is that the worlds, like the Israelites, desperately need this light. First! What is the purpose of the sun to our whole solar system?
  • It’s the center our light
  • It’s the center and source of heat
  • It’s the center of our life
  • It’s the center of fertility

For instance, the sun is 93,000,000 miles from the earth. If a baby would start flying to the sun at birth and travel 150 miles per hour, this baby would be nearly 71 years old upon arrival. Also, astronomers estimate that the diameter of the sun is 109 times that of the earth. Its output of energy is 70,000 horsepower per sq. yd. per minute. Lastly, the temperature at the sun’s surface is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. What’s amazing about this portion of scripture is that the sun, in spite of its greatness, is not the "Light of the World." The "Light of the World" is the Son of God. What Jesus is claiming to these people is that He is all those things and much, much more. Remember what John wrote at the beginning of his gospel? John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The glory and expression of the Godhead was seen in Christ, which is full of endless grace and truth! But what was the reception of such glory?

What was the response from the world and the people of Israel? Well we see the answer to that question right before John explains that this glory came down from heaven to dwell with us. John 1:9-11 say “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 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.” The world doesn’t know Him or care to find out! people of Israel wanted nothing to do with Him. The great majority of people don’t understand the value of their own soul. See the darkness of sin and bondage still hovers over the earth and this darkness still clouds the heart of men and women. This is a sad picture of our culture, or neighborhoods, our country even around the world today.

What Jesus said some 2000 years ago, still resonates this truth to pour culture today! They culture still will not except that Jesus is the source of life and that they need this light as they need the Sun in our solar system to survive. There are two groups or types of people, Jesus addresses with this heart issue of belief. The question I want to ask you this morning which group do you fit into? The groups are………Those who know they need this light and they follow Him by faith. Those that chose to remain ignorant as they stumble in the darkness.
Let’s look at the first group!

THOSE WHO KNOW THEY NEED THIS LIGHT AND FOLLOW HIM BY FAITH

Look what Jesus says because we see promise after promise for those who trust in this Light! "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (v12) First, what does that look like when Jesus says “I’am the Light of the world?” Matthew Henry said “Jesus Christ is the light of the world. The visible light of the world is the sun, and Christ is the Sun of righteousness. One sun enlightens the whole world, so does one Christ, and there needs no more... Christ is the fountain of light, enlightening every man. What a dungeon would the world be without the sun! So would it be without Christ by whom light came into the world, without this glorious light we would still be living in darkness! Darkness of:
  • Deception
  • Sin
  • Wickedness
  • Pride
  • Ignorance
  • Selfishness
  • Bitterness
  • Anger

Jesus being that light illuminates our desperate need for light! By acknowledging that we need this light we see the promise of this statement! “……..He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (v12) This light [Jesus Christ] is our source of living! To follow Christ is to commit ourselves completely to him as LEADER, SAVIOUR and LORD of our life. This means we submit to Him in every matter of life both doctrinally and practice. Seeking Him and His word and not this world to find answers to my problems or situation in life. Submitting and realizing that he knows what’s best for me because He is my source of living, my source of character, my source of eternal hope.

“following” is another word for “believing” As the Israelites followed the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night they trusted in the One who lead them without questioning. In our lives! In our Christian walk, we must do the same even if he takes us places that pull us out of our comfort zones. This reminds me of the illustration Paris Reidhead gave in His sermon “Ten Shekels and A Shirt” This is what he said to a young Christian man “Before God will do anything for you, you know what you've got to do?" So he said, "What?" I said, "You've got to get out of the car, take the keys around, open up the trunk lid, hand the keys to the Lord Jesus, get inside the trunk, slam the lid down, whisper through the keyhole, 'Lord look, fill'r up with anything you want and you drive, it's up to you from now on'" Again, our surrender to His perfect will is what is called for! That’s what it means to follow the Lord Jesus. It’s our duty is to follow Him to the end with no “buts” or “questions” Why? As John wrote in his last letter “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." Rev 17:14. 

To not be left in darkness is to have the blinders of ignorance self-righteousness removed from our lives. As His children we not doubt, or walk with uncertainty when it comes to our home heaven. There are so many religious people and groups who hope or don’t know if they will make it to Heaven or not! This saddens me because these people are still in darkness and they have not tasted the grace that this Light brings! In the Old Testament there are many examples of those who professed they knew they were saved and where they were going. In Job 19:25-27 Job said "I know..." In Psalm 23:4 David said in the "shadow of death, he had fear no evil" In Psalm 17:13-15 "When I awake I will be satisfied with thy likeness" David was sure of the resurrection and of his salvation. In the New Testament we read! Jesus said these words of assurance “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28. The Apostle Paul penned these words of encouragement! “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” To the church of Thessalonica he wrote “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thess 4:13-18. BUT! Sadly as Jesus said to Nicodemus “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19..............................This brings me to the second group!

THOSE THAT CHOSE TO REMAIN IGNORANT AS THEY STUMBLE IN THE DARKNESS.

These men rejected Jesus by what we see in (v13) because they were challenging His witness. See according to the Hebrew Judicial System, truth had to be verified by two witnesses. These men couldn’t and would not believe His witness because of His own testimony. Do you see by contrast? Those who love and follow Jesus trust in Him because He has become light to that person? Here we see when a person neglects His testimony, Jesus becomes darkness to them. The darkness these men had, fill their hearts, is the same sort of darkness that keep the Armies of Egypt form attacking the Israelites as God lead them through the Red Sea. Exo 14:19-20 says “And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.” Do you know how hard it is to walk around in a room without windows when the light is shut off? It’s difficult! This is the heart of many today and those here that Jesus is speaking to! It’s that mentality that “I don’t need your help” ; “I can do it on my own thank you very much”In reality what that tells us about a person is “I love my sin more than you and I don’t need you exposing my your life with your light”They love their darkness more than light!

This is sad because the outcome of this line of thinking is that it leads to everlasting destruction! See, Jesus desires all people come to faith in Him and god takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Listen to what Ezekiel wrote “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live? Eze 18:23
He also wrote “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!" Eze 18:30. Again as these men the saw Jesus as a hindrance to their power and saw Him as an enemy..........But in all reality these men where the enemy! If you or a person does not embrace the truth of the gospel and believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be then you are the enemy because you are a child of Satan and he is your father. Satan, is the father of lies and deceit, who wants to keep you ignorant or blind to the truth as you continue to bath in your sin. The darkness of sin! It’s like the illustration of frog and the kettle “The way to boil a frog is not to put him in a pot of boiling water. If you drop him in the boiling water, he’ll jump out before he’s boiled. So you put him in a pot of cold water, and he’s perfectly comfortable. Then you put him on the stove, and little by little the water gets warm. It’s very pleasant at first. By the time it gets a little warmer, he is swimming around like he is in a frog jacuzzi. But finally, when it’s boiling, it’s too late. His strength has been gradually sapped, leaving him powerless to hop out. That’s how you boil a frog.” The point of the illustration goes as follows…….“The boiling frog gives us great insight into how we gradually move into places and attitudes that are dangerous. We don’t dive right in. We slowly wade in. We start at the shallow end of the pool. And slowly we find ourselves getting in deeper and deeper. But it is so slow that we hardly realize it. Finally, we are in over our heads, struggling to find which way is up." Just like these men that are before Jesus and like so many today, are so in love with darkness that they can’t see the light of day until it’s too late. As one author said “Some people change their ways when they see the light, others only when they feel the heat.”

Jesus is the light of the world! This is your Savior who died for you. He is the One who transforms us, He is the One who leads and guides us. He is Light for everyone who calls upon His name in repentance and faith.  Do you have Him in your life? We desperately need Him, because we cannot do it on our own as the world tries to teach and indoctrinate you to believe.  It's like this story of “A Father went into a toy store to buy his son a gift. The salesman showed him a new educational toy. It came unassembled, but no matter how the child put the pieces together, they wouldn’t fit. You see, the toy was designed to teach the child how to deal with life. Such is the difficulty of a person without God. He is never able to put his life together. A life without Christ is a life of futility [hopeless, senseless].” So the question comes down to this on a Sunday morning! Do you truly have Him in your life? Your answer will determine what group you fit into! Those who know they need this light and they follow Him by faith. Those that chose to remain ignorant as they stumble in the darkness.

20 January 2014

LAY DOWN YOUR STONES


John 8:1-11

Let me start by asking you if you've ever noticed yourself doing this? You see someone, and you judge them right away by their appearance. Maybe they are nicely dressed, they have a nice car, and you think they are a wonderful and successful person. Or you see someone in rip jeans, with a tattoo all over their body, multiple earrings, and you think to yourself "they are someone you don’t want to get near." And yet, by putting labels on people, you limit yourself to seeing them as you think they are, and not necessarily how they really are. We come to a passage that speaks volumes to heart of the natural man and to the Christian at times! Reason being we forget the grace given by our merciful Saviour who died for our sins. I don’t know about you but I find this passage very convicting for the way I treat others at times. The Truth of the matter we are all guilty of sin! We all point fingers at others! We all are guilty of throwing stones at others.

See it hurts when it's on the other foot! When our unrighteousness is pointed out, IT HURTS! This passage or confrontation that Jesus is faced with shows us the love and forgiveness that He displays towards us because of our sin. Let me ask you before we jump into this text! Did you come here with Stones to Throw at Someone Today?
  • Stones of Bitterness
  • Stones of Anger
  • Stones of Hatred
  • Stones of Pride
  • Stones of Prejudice
  • Stones of Revenge

As James 2:13 says “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” If you brought your stones this morning this passage is for you to remind you of the grace that He gives you because of your sin. If you didn’t bring your stones I hope this passage will remind you of the grace you receive every day! This is a confrontation or a scheme to see if they trip up Jesus with their accusations of this woman. First we need to understand something! Sometimes we tend to think of the scribes and the Pharisees as one and the same, but they were not. Who are these Scribes and Pharisee’s? R C Sproul said in his commentary “The scribes were the Jewish theologians who were sometimes called “lawyers” because they were the experts in interpreting the Old Testament law. In other words, “scribe” was a career. By contrast, the Pharisees constituted a party, a movement of conservative religious practice. The term Pharisee means “separated one.” During the intertestamental period, many of the people moved away from zealous obedience to the law of God, so a group of people committed to spiritual, moral, and theological reform banded together in an effort to purify the Jewish community. They committed themselves to zealous and passionate pursuit of obedience to the law, and so they were called “the separated ones,” or Pharisees. They were the Puritans of ancient Israel. But not all Pharisees were scribes. Likewise, not all scribes were members of the party of the Pharisees.”

So what do we see here in this confrontation? Jesus is teaching in the temple which is normal! Then all of a sudden [rudely I might add] a group of leaders barge in with a woman who according to them….caught in adultery! This is big! According to Mosaic Law we read………"If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. "If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones,…..” Deut 22:22-24. Let’s stop and ponder the words by the religious elite “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.” (v4) Hang on a minute there! You cannot read this, without asking yourself, "Where is the man in this adulterous union?" They had been caught "in the very act," and yet only the woman is brought before Jesus. It’s interesting that some of the commentators suggest that perhaps they knew the man. Perhaps, he may have been one of their very own………and they let him go.

In reality we do not know. But this indicates that a double standard was very much in effect in those times, just as it is today. In any case, the scribes and Pharisees did not bring this woman to Jesus because they were zealous on this particular morning to uphold the law against adultery. They didn’t bring her because they were outraged by her behavior and wanted Jesus to clean up Jerusalem. In John’s gospel it’s very clear about their motive “they were testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him” (v. 6a) Can you imagine someone who was truly zealous for the things of God using a person in this kind of a situation to destroy the Son of God or someone you know or love? R C Sproul said in his commentary on this passage [this is important to know] “The Romans permitted significant self-rule in the nations they conquered, but they did not allow vassal nations to exercise the death penalty in capital cases. If someone was to be put to death for a crime in a Roman province, it had to be done through the Roman judicial system. That’s why Jesus was sentenced by Pontius Pilate and not by Caiaphas. The people, who followed Jesus, hated the Roman occupation, so the sly scribes and Pharisees laid a clever trap for Jesus. If Jesus were to say, “Stone the woman,” they would run to the Roman headquarters and say, “This teacher is advocating that we exercise capital punishment without going through the Roman system.” That way they would get Jesus in trouble with the Romans. But if He were to say, “Don’t stone her,” they would run back to the Sanhedrin and say, “This Jesus is a heretic because He denies the law of Moses.” No matter how Jesus answered the question, He would be in serious trouble”

So here they stand before Jesus to get his advice or opinion with the hopes to finally catching Him, so they can arrest Him! With a woman who has been humiliated, terrified about to be stoned. So what does Jesus do in this situation? I love this………..the bible says “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” (v6) Some theologians speculate Jesus wrote…….Jeremiah 17:13 which says “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.” Others say maybe he wrote what he was about to say in (v7) Or maybe He wrote something about being a malicious witness “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” Exodus 23:1. The most popular view is that Jesus wrote the sins of the woman’s accusers. What’s amazing is that these men are stumped! “And as they continued to ask him” (v7a). What does Jesus do? He writes again in the sand, but first He says these words "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." (v7) See, whatever he wrote added with what he said, must have brought conviction to these men because what we see happen next is amazing! These men dropped their stones beginning with whom? The oldest to the youngest! See older people have more sin to remember and reflect upon! There was only one person there who was without sin and qualified to carry out the Law of Moses…………….Jesus. He was the author of that Law, and He would have been perfectly just to carry out the penalty. But we also learn that He also had the sovereign right to have mercy on whomever He would.

And so looking up and seeing no one left to condemn her, He said, “Neither do I condemn you.’ ” But He added, “‘Sin no more.’ ”
  • This isn’t about the Scribes and Pharisee’s
  • This isn’t about adultery?
  • This is about the gospel and grace He gives each and every one of us daily, minute by minute.

The reason I say that! We all adulterous at heart! You might be thinking “no Mike, I’ve never committed adultery on my wife or husband or my boyfriend, girlfriend.” Listen to what Jesus said "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt 5:27-28. Every one of us are guilty of this [with the exception of our younger children] they still say “that’s gross” when they see guy without his t-shirt on! In all honesty! We are like this woman who was brought before Jesus! Today we don’t see it in the same light at adultery! Here’s a list of heart-probing questions (taken from Tim Keller) to help you diagnose your spiritual “other lover” – the thing in your life you’re giving yourself to in the way you should only give yourself to God.
  • What do I worry about most?
  • What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that life was no longer worth living?
  • What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
  • What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
  • What do I lead with in conversations?
  • Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
  • What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
  • What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
  • What is my hope for the future?

Jesus wants all of your life ………Not just Sunday or when you need Him! He is either Lord of your life or He isn't Lord at all. See James 4:4 says “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world [not the world as a whole but the world system of doing things] is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” We as Christians must put away our selfish desires that prevent us from being all that God wants us to be. This is why the Gospel is so amazing and beautiful! Because what Jesus said to this woman is the same thing He says to me and you when you embraced the gospel truth. “Neither do I condemn you.’ ” But He added, “‘Sin no more.’ ” What does that mean? Don’t do this anymore. Be done with this kind of life. Go now in your forgiveness, and sin no more. Those who are forgiven should gladly put aside their sinful ways and walk in newness of life because of what Christ did on our behalf. How can we who are dead to sin go back into what we have been freed from? Rom 6:6-12 say “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.”

Our desire is not to sin………..shouldn’t it? If you can’t relate to those words, then your heart has been hardened, because each one of us comes to God like this woman, guilty, ashamed, naked, and exposed. But the beauty of the gospel is that Christ clothes us with His righteousness, covering our nakedness and shame, and says to us, “Neither do I condemn you.” Why? Because our sin was placed on Christ when he bore our wrath and judgement by the Father. As Shai Linne said in song “Jealous God” “God took His jealous anger out on His Son, so all those trust Him can see like we're supposed to see and be forgiven for our spiritual adultery!

The gospel is filled with grace for sinners like this woman…….like you! There is a story about a girl by the name of Christina, and she lived in Brazil. She wanted the bright lights of the city, as many teenagers do - and she used to talk about it, and fantasise about it, and torture her Mum about it. One day Maria, her mother, went into the bedroom in the morning to waken her for school, and she was gone - clothes taken with her. This is what Maria did: she went and packed a bag, she went down to the bus station and got a ticket to Rio de Janeiro where she believed Christina had gone. Then she went into a kiosk in the bus station, and took as many photos as she could afford of herself, one after the other and put them in a bag. She got the bus, got to Rio de Janeiro, and spent as many days as she could afford with those photographs, putting them all over the place - in phone booths, foyers of restaurants and hotels, toilet mirrors - with the hope that Christina, somewhere, somehow, would see it.

One day, just like the prodigal son, Christina's money had run out and she had lowered her morals to earn a little more. She was walking down the stairs of one of those hotels, and she saw in the corner of the mirror in the foyer a picture of her mother. Her eyes began to fill with tears as she walked up, plucked it down, turned it round, and on the back were these words: 'Christina, whatever you've done, whatever you've been, whatever you've become, come home. Come home'.

That's not just the love of a mother, but that describes the grace of God. Whatever you've done, whatever you've become, wherever you've been, come home. Believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved. Jesus is Speaking to You Today… “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Lay Down Your Stones and….

Hear “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17

Believe “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Rom 10:10

Repent “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” Acts 3:19

Confess “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,” Matt 10:32

Be Baptized “And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

Live Faithfully “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev 2:10

Did Jesus see repentance in the woman’s heart? Like the woman, our sins are known by Christ and will not be hidden when we stand before Him. But He is compassionate toward those who trust in Him. If you have not sought His forgiveness, go to Him now and beg for mercy. Trust me! He will not cast out anyone who comes to Him! Put down your stones and embrace the gospel that saves sinners.

13 January 2014

JESUS THE GREAT DIVIDER


John 7:40-53

There are some things in life that you can be neutral about but Jesus is not one of them. Yet many people around the globe are still trying to be neutral about Jesus. They claim that Jesus was a good man, maybe a even a great man, but that was long ago and in another time and it has nothing to do with how they live their lives. And it certainly does not require that I go to church much less belong to a church. They say, “You don’t have to go to church to believe in Jesus.” In Luke 11:23 and in Matt 12:30 Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”See we need to understand that faith in Jesus always has been and will continue to be a dividing line in this world. In parts of the world today where Christianity is not the major religion it is still very much so. In countries in which Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are the predominant religions, to come to faith in Christ often means being disowned by your family. You may be saying how does that concern me in Canada in the year 2014? Kent Hughes in his commentary states, “Christ brings division to everyday life. We all have experienced this. Maybe we are at the store, in school, or at work, and we are talking animatedly with someone about any number of things – maybe politics or education or sports or even the weather. Then someone says something like, ‘My life has really been different lately because of Christ.’ Suddenly there is a silence and a shuffling of the feet. Someone coughs. Someone else looks at his watch and says, ‘I’ve got an appointment to get to or I’ll be late.’ Another says, ‘Oh, yes I have to go feed the dog. I must be going.’ But in reality the man who said he had to feed the dog did not have a dog to feed and the other person’s appointment was the next day. Yet the mere mention of Christ brings division to life.” Think about that statement for a moment? Did Jesus come to divide? The answer to that question is Yes! Before you lynch me listen to what the scriptures say! Again the question is "Did Jesus come to divide?" YES! Think about it for a moment!

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THE BELIEVER FROM THE UNBELIEVER.

“He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” 1 John 5:10. In John 3:18 Jesus said this to Nicodemus "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THOSE WHO WALK IN THE LIGHT FROM THOSE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12. Paul penned these words “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Eph 5:8

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS.

“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matt 25:32-33

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THE CHILDREN OF GOD FROM THE CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL.

“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10

Why did Jesus come to divide? Answer can be found in Matt 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Jesus also said these powerful words! Luke 12:5-53 “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." He also said “"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matt 10:34. 

What does a sword usually do? It usually cuts or severs whatever it touches with its blade. What a picture of what the gospel does to a person who is converted out of a family who isn’t! Ask a Muslim convert or Buddhist convert what happens when their family finds out they have converted to Christianity………usually a sword comes upon them. Why? All because of ones person’s name Jesus! See our cultures; especially in religious circles are greatly divided when it comes to Jesus. As J C Ryle said as we come to today’s passage in John’s letter…….”How useless is knowledge in religion, if it is not accompanied by grace in the heart.” That is as true then, as it is now; as we come to the text this morning! We see 4 different groups of people who are divided by the presence and name of Jesus! My question for you is…………………Which group do you fit into?

THE PERSUADED AND THE OPPOSED……………….. (V40-V44A)

The Persuaded

These are the thirsty people who listened and accepted Christ’s invitation by coming to Him “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, "Truly this is the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." It’s that drinking of the Living water that only He can provide as he spoke about previously as the Feast Day was coming to a close. These are the people who are the believing remnant of Israel. “……..I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many people.” Micah 2:12. In Luke’s gospel we read “"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

The Opposed

They willfully refuse to believe the claims of Jesus even when the truth was right before their eyes. Why? Look whey said “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" See, they identified Jesus with Galilee, when in reality He was born in Bethlehem. So sad to see the natural ignorance and laziness of mankind on display here in this passage. Sadly these people would rather argue about the Christ then to investigate about the Christ. See, if they had done the research or did a goggle search, they would have discovered that Jesus met both of those requirements in their questioning. Jesus was a descendent of David “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” Luke 1:32. Jesus was born in Bethlehem “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7. But being happy in their ignorance like most of our culture today, they chose not to believe this truth about Jesus any way. 

So what was the result of this unbelief? “So there was a division among the people because of Him.” Some said “Truly this is the Prophet” or “This is the Christ” while others said “no He is not”. We still have this problem today when Jesus is mentioned to a crowd or small group of people. We people all around debating on who Jesus was and is. Talk to a JW, Mormon or a devote Muslim they will speak much differently about Him them you do. This is what divides us from them! Not that were better than them or we desire His grace more! It’s because we believe what the scriptures say about Jesus. See if we speak the truth in love to a lost person like one of the ones I’ve just mentioned a minute ago; they will either become receptive to the message or they become hostile and violent with their words or actions!

THE CAPTIVATED AND THE CONFUSED……………… (V45-V52)

The Captivated

The men who were supposed to arrest Jesus were stunned or fascinated with what He had to say. Look what they said as they returned empty handed “No man ever spoke like this man!”. What they were saying was “This Jesus is more than a man” These men were arrested by the word of God spoken to them by Jesus and rightfully so if your heart has been softened by the power of God through the spoken word. Isn’t that true in your life or mine? You read a passage of scripture and your heart melts or comes under conviction by what you just read. The word of God is powerful to change even the hardest and most stubborn of hearts. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Heb 4:12. It divides your heart to what is right and wrong! That’s a battle in and of itself as we walk in this Christian life. Remember what Paul said “but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Rom 7:23-25. These men were under conviction over what was the right thing to do as opposed to what they were told to do. But sadly this wasn’t good enough for the religious elite crowd, because it only frustrated them more.

The Confused

Jesus caused a great division in the religious circle especially among the leaders. The confused leaders complained and used the excuse….the people don’t understand like we do by using the Law as their pillar for their case against Jesus. “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed." (v49). John MacArthur said what they mean is “the people were considered damned because they did not belong to the elite group nor follow their beliefs regarding the Law. These were religiously trained Levites and Jesus left them stunned and confused. This truth is no different than today! Many people [even ones who claim to be religious] are confused or stunned by the scriptures. Take for example: A devote Muslim, JW, Mormon don’t know what to really do with Jesus that’s why they have concocted their own idea as the religious leaders did some 2000 years ago. This is why the leaders are so hostile towards Jesus because they couldn't rebuke or explain His claims so they made up their own to accuse Him. All because they couldn't see the truth that Jesus spoke of. Sadly it’s not usually the religious who see Jesus first. It’s the lost soul who desperately needs a Savior.

Did Jesus come to divide? Yes Jesus said “………..I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matt 10:34. No matter how you look at Jesus he came to divide…………….. but in a good way!
  • To show us how we can attain eternal life.
  • To show us how we can be reconciled to a holy God through repentance and faith.
  • To show us how we can live as His children.
  • To show us how we can treat and love others no matter the circumstance.
  • To show us how we can love our enemies who hate and oppose the name of Jesus.

He divided us for a good reason! To save you! Remember! You’re either for Him or you’re against Him. To be honest, I would rather be on His side, then be on the opposing side! Wouldn't you? How do I do this when our world, our culture is so divided about the name Jesus? As Howard Hendricks said, "In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering." Stand your ground in regard to your faith in Christ, but be loving about it. Continues to go up stream against the current, continues going up the down escalator, continues to follow Jesus when everyone else walks away. "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." So let me ask you! Are you a true disciple of Christ and have you counted the cost? Are you seeking to imitate Him or are you trying to fit in? Do you fear God more than the world or what your family and friends might think? Are you openly confessing and identifying yourself with Him to others no matter how they think about you? Have or will you forsake your family for Him and the gospel? Are you willing to follow your call even to death? He came to divide you for your good and His glory!

07 January 2014

THE PROMISE OF LIVING WATER


John 7:37-39

Water is the basic component of life. Think about it; life cannot be sustained without water. Human beings are made largely of water. All forms of life die in the absence of water. When scientists want to investigate the existence of life they look for the existence of water. In order to determine whether life exists on Mars they have been probing to find water. Do you know the importance of water to our physical bodies? When our bodies fail to retain the right amount of water, dehydration sets in. It is the water in our body that determines the vitality, strength, and energy associated with daily living. Think about these facts associated with our body and water:
  • The human body is ⅔ water.
  • The body absorbs cold water faster than hot water.
  • By the time you are 70-years-old, you will have required 1½ million gallons of water.
  • Studies show that increasing water consumption can decrease fat deposits. 
  • Water is a natural appetite suppressant.
  • If you loose 2% of your body’s water supply, your energy will decrease by 20%. A 10% decrease in water, you will be unable to walk, and a 20% decrease – you’re dead.

Water is therefore essential to life! I think we get the importance of water! So what is true of the physical is also true of the spiritual. Before we get that we need to understand the significance of why Jesus said what He said! Its feast time! At the heart of the Feast was a daily procession. Priests carrying Golden Pitchers would lead a parade or procession through the city to the pool of Siloam singing the words of Isaiah 12:3, "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." The great crowd of people would parade back to the Temple and the Priests would pour the water from the pool of Siloam down upon the Altar and the people would shout and wave palm branches. This procedure went on for seven days, but on the last day the procedure was repeated with two significant exceptions. First, when the parade of people returned from the pool of Siloam, the Priests would march around the Altar seven times com­memorating Joshua's victory at Jericho. Secondly, the Priests would raise the gold­en pitcher over the silver funnels as they had done each day previously, but this time there was no water — only an empty pitch­er. This signified the disobedient genera­tion that died in the Wilderness. Instead of a shout and the waving of palm branches as the people had done each day, they now stood in silence.

It was in the moment of silence — this moment of bewilderment, emptiness and meaninglessness that ………..Jesus cried out the offer of salvation to those who are thirsty. See, who are those who are thirsty? Because “thirst” is refereeing to……….anxiety of soul, conviction of sin, desire for pardon, longing after peace of conscience. Just as they poured the empty pitcher this would have spoken to broken hearts over the disobedience of there people. We need to understand, spiritual thirst is what Jesus has in mind and what he is concerned with! The same  kind of thirst David had while wandering in the wilderness of Judah, as recorded in Psalm 63:1 “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” We find a similar account of spiritual thirst in Psalm 42:1-2 where we read “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Here we see a promise that will quench our thirst forever! The question is………….Are you thirsty? Jesus said, "If anyone thirsts…"
  • Thirst is a consciousness of an unsatisfied need.
  • Thirst expresses desperation.
  • Thirst will kill faster than hunger.
  • One can go weeks without food, but only days without water.

Are you thirsty?  Are you truly thirsty for God? Can you honestly say you have or have said this morning as the Philippian jailer “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Sadly many today thirst after other things than the salvation offered by Jesus. Some seek.....
  • Other religions that fit their lifestyle and wants
  • Money and fame
  • The pleasures of this world to fill the void in their heart
  • Honor and rank
  • Self-indulgences or lust of the heart

It’s no wonder the bible declares the natural man or woman as “blind”, “asleep” or a “dead” This is what makes the gospel so beautiful! It is the power of God to wake the dead to sight to the blind and what those who sleep and slumber in their sin. Look what Jesus says “Let him come to me” Instead of depending on this ceremony of drawing water let him come to me, the Messiah, and he shall find an ever-abundant supply for all the wants of his soul. Jesus is the foundation and supplier for our spiritual necessities. Jesus is the reliever and delivers for our souls from judgement and Hell. See to come to Christ is to believe and to believe in Him is to come. This is our only remedy for spiritual thirst.......You will never find satisfaction or relief in anything else whether its worldly or anther religion. Remember what Peter said to the Sandhedrin? Act 4:8-12 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED BY YOU BUILDERS, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  

J C Ryle penned these words which I think summarizes this invitation to come! “The remedy may seem a very simple one, too simple to be true. But there is no other remedy that this; and all the wisdom of the world can never find a flaw in it, or devise a better. To use this grand prescription of Christ is the secret of all saving Christianity. The saints of God in every age have been men and women who drank of this foundation by faith and were relieved. They felt their guilt and emptiness, and thirsted for deliverance. They heard of a full supply of pardon, mercy and grace in Christ crucified for all penitent believers. They believed the good news and acted upon it. They cast aside all confidence in their own goodness and worthiness, and came to Christ by faith as sinners.”This is what Jesus is refereeing to when He said “let him come to me” Again, this is what makes the gospel so precious and beautiful! He doesn’t stop their! He seals this truth with a promise! This promise comes with a Helper who will seal you in Christ! Who is this Helper? Jesus answers this question in the verse that follows……..”the Spirit” As the scriptures say in Isaiah 44:3 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Ezekiel 39:29 says “And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.” The Holy Spirit plays a pivotal role in your salvation and in your sanctification! Without Him we would be still dead in our sins and trespasses.

THE HOLY SPIRIT BRINGS CONVICTION INTO THE SINNER’S HEART.

I like how Charles Ryrie explains this “Man needs first to see his state of sin, then he needs to have proof of the righteousness of the Savior who can save him from that sin, and finally he needs to be reminded that if he refuses to receive the Savior he will face certain judgment and condemnation." The Spirit illuminates our sinfulness to our conscience (John 16:8; Acts 2:37-38; Rom 1:19-20). What does the Spirit use to convict our sinful hearts? (Rom 3:20; Gal 3:24; Luke 24:32)

HOLY SPIRIT REGENERATES (CONVERTS) THE SINNER’S HEART.

It is important to remember that it is God through the work of the Holy Spirit who graciously grants us salvation. (Titus 3:5; 1 Cor 6:11). The Holy Spirit is the primary agent through which we are reborn. The Holy Spirit produces in the soul, making one a new man or woman (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:23-24)

THE HOLY SPIRIT RESIDES IN THE BELIEVER PERMANENTLY.

The Holy Spirit in Old Testament times was temporary in nature....for example Ps 51:11. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament permanently takes up residence within the believer at the moment of salvation. John 14:16-18; Rom 8:9....15-16; 1 John 2:27

THE HOLY SPIRIT BAPTIZES THE BELIEVER

The believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, which means that that he has a new life with Christ once for all. (Rom 6:1-4; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:4-6)

THE HOLY SPIRIT SEALS THE BELIEVER

The sealing of the Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee of eternal redemption for the believer. This sealing speaks of a finished transaction in which God has implied ownership of the believer.  (1 Cor 6:19-20; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13 and 4:30). The Spirit as a sealing shows ownership, a completed transaction, authentication, authority and security.

THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLS THE BELIEVER

The filling of the Spirit in the life of the child of God is one of the most important issues. Why? It depends on our complete yielding to the Spirit that dwells in us. (Eph 5:18). We can quench (1 Thess 5:19), we can grieve (Eph 4:30) but we must walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25). The filling of the Holy Spirit ultimately results in: Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), Joyful and sharing hearts (Ephesians 5:19), Thankfulness (Ephesians 5:20), Submissiveness (Ephesians 5:21). 

See salvation or this living water is more than a drink! It’s everlasting and it comes with a promise! Again sadly many miss this truth!
  • People have a problem in quenching the spiritual thirst.
  • They fail to see and recognize that thirsty soul in themselves.
  • They know the emptiness is there but don’t know why.
  • They fail to realize that only God can quench that thirst.

Jesus did not promise a trickle or a stream or a flow…He promised a river. Can you get your mind around this? The Holy Spirit is like a mighty rushing river…a life-giving river. He is like the mighty river found in Ezekiel 47 that produces life wherever it flows. Think about it! The mighty Amazon River finds its origin above the freeze line of the Andes Mountains in South America. There, little trickles of water emerge from the frozen ground and flow down the mountain. One little stream flowing into another little stream until a majestic river is formed. As the river flows it picks up speed and power. It flows for 3,600 miles before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean, where it hits the ocean at a rate of 1.4 million gallons of water per sec­ond and with such force that it pushes fresh water some 60 miles out into the Atlantic ocean. What power! That’s the same power the gospel has when a person embraces Christ!

Jesus did not promise a trickle or a stream or a flow… He promised a river. He promised us the third person of the Trinity. The gospel is a life transforming on going action as He brings you home! That’s what it means to never thirst again! Jesus is enough and it comes with a promise! Maybe this illustration will help? The story is told of a young student who went to his spiritual teacher and asked the question, "Master, how can I truly find God?"  The teacher asked the student to accompany him to the river which ran by the village and invited him to go into the water.  When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, "Please immerse yourself in the water." The student did as he was instructed, whereupon the teacher put his hands on the young man's head and held him under the water.  Presently the student began to struggle.   The master held him under still.  A moment passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under the water.  Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air.  The teacher waited for a few moments and then said, "When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed -- then you shall find God." So let me ask you again! Are you thirsty for this water?