27 April 2015

CAN YOU TRULY PRAY THIS PRAYER?


1 Thess 3:9-13

Prayer, what is it? And what is good for? Before we try and answer those questions, let’s look at what the bible says about prayer. First, it’s a command from God….. “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6. Second, it is to be offered by us to a holy God…… “Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray.” Psalm 5:2. Third, we have the privilege to pray only through the saving grace of Christ…… “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Eph 2:18. Fourth, it is to be done through the Spirit…… “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 20-21. Fifth, it’s lifting up one soul to God…….. “Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” Lam 3:41. Sixth, it’s to be offered with sincere lips…… “ O LORD, attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.” Psalm 17:1. See prayer is something that we have as a privilege, not a right but a blessing that has been freely given to us by a holy God through the finishing work founded in the gospel. That’s what prayer is church family; a command, recognizing who is our God, a privilege through the saving work of Jesus Christ, a genuine desire through the work of the Spirit and its exalting God because we desperately need Him for everything.

So what is prayer good for! The answer is found in this portion of Paul’s letter! Let’s read (v9-v13). We need to understand as we read any letter by Paul that he is a passionate, zealous, loving and jealous man of the gospel, who is very transparent; whether he is speaking, writing or praying. This is how we are to be in the church! Transparent and open [an open book] not to gossip or point fingers but to come along side and help and lift each other up to a holy God who desires His children to walking together  hand in hand in the gospel. The prayer that Paul gives here in these short sentences is something I want you to think about as we dissect this beautiful prayer. Can you pray this prayer for those in this sanctuary? Paul exemplifies for us that we can and should pray this for one another. Why? Paul knew prayer is a vital piece to the Christian life and its one of the pillars of the church.

As Luke penned these words “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42. So I ask you again! Can you truly pray this prayer, for those who are seating in this sanctuary? Paul was a man who willing shared…. his doubts, hopes, concerns, joys, sorrows and weaknesses. But the most profound thing Paul loved to share was his prayer life. Through his prayers we can see into the heart of a man’s love for God and his love for God’s elect children. As one Theologian said “a genuine love for Jesus produces a profound love for the church, and you cannot love God’s church if you do not love God’s people." Paul shows us how you and I ought to pray for one another…the reason we pray! So we are going to see how you and I can answer that question that I put before you this morning! Can you pray this prayer?

WE ARE TO BE PASSIONATE IN OUR PRAYERS FOR ONE ANOTHER.

Paul’s loved those people dearly and praying for these people meant the world to him. (v9-v10). The emphasis in (v10) “day and night” is not so much on what time of day he prayed, but rather on how fervent he was in praying for them. E. M Bounds spoke of this kind of passion when praying! “The praying which makes a prayerful ministry is not a little praying in as we put flavor to give it a pleasant smack, but the praying must be in the body, and form the blood and bones. Prayer is no petty duty, put into a corner; no piecemeal performance made out of fragments of time which have been snatched from business and other engagements of life; but it means that the best of our time, the heart of our time and strength must be given” We often don’t take prayer seriously and we sometimes –pass it off as meaningless and why bother! Paul’s fervency in prayer is the pattern we should be following, whether it’s privately and corporately. Think about when you child asks you for something, you will never hear them beat around the bush when they make their request. They let their parents know exactly what they want and how badly they want it. But given the lack of fervency and passion in some of our prayers, no wonder many of them go unanswered. We lack the zeal and passion when we pray and we treat as a duty, rather than a passion to lift each up, to a holy God. Are you prayer constantly for one another on a daily basis? If you’re not…… you better keep listening to this letter from Paul. If you are…….you better keep listening to this letter from Paul.

WE ARE TO BE PERSISTENT IN OUR PRAYERS FOR ONE ANOTHER.

Praying earnestly or exceedingly helps us to understand the intensity or the focus of our prayers as we see here with Paul. It’s the idea of not being distracted or wandering in your thoughts as the disciples did in the garden. Jesus said this “And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matt 26:40-41. The emphasis of Paul’s prayer resolves around his “need” or desire for God to “direct” his way back to them. Again as we read here in (v11) “….direct our way back to you” we have already seen in the previous chapter (2:18) “…we wanted to come to you.” What I find amazing with this prayer is that Paul didn’t have a long list of things or names to fill the air with his prayer time. He had one desire! To be with them. As one writer said “Paul’s prayers were specific, persistent and always focused.” 

“direct” is the idea of conducting one straight to a place, and not by a round-about course. He didn't ramble on or have a list to go through as you would if you went shopping. He was focused [persistent] on this burden and the burden he had for this church. It’s the same way we should approach prayer for one another. Where have we seen this kind of persistence? In Luke chapter 11 we read “And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, or a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:5-13

Persistence conveys the idea of “urgency, earnestness, boldness and relentless” It’s the idea of someone begging on the streets for food or money. Jesus, always taught a healthy prayer life is persistent and specific. We come boldly, not arrogantly! But boldly to the throne with our praise and petitions. We are to do the same when we pray for one another. Though we may not get the answers right away, we must preserve with the specifics and wait for His good timing.

WE ARE TO BE PURPOSEFUL IN OUR PRAYERS FOR ONE ANOTHER

Spiritual growth was Paul’s deepest desire for these young in the faith Christians. Even though this was a faithful church and walking in the right direction, Paul was always concerned for the spiritual well-being with his prayer focused that they would grow deeper and stronger each and every day. We see that in (V10) “that we may see your face, and perfect what was lacking in your faith?” It’s the idea that I “might render it complete, or fill up anything which is missing.” It’s not that Paul thought the church was wishy-washy; he just wanted to see them grow stronger spiritually. So he prays this very specific and purposeful prayer! (v11-13). That you may increase more and  more by His sovereign grace…“abound in love”  gives the idea that their love to be enlarged and made abundant, taken together gives the meaning of"increase to overflowing"! “Agape love” by definition is….. the love of choice and of serving with humility. It is the highest kind of love, the noblest kind of devotion, the love of the will (intentional, conscious choice) and not done for appearance or motivated by emotional attraction. Clearly this was not a loveless church, as we read in the opening remarks of Paul’s letter. (1 :3)

Can you pray this prayer for one another?

Remember what Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 1:34-35. In John’s small letter he said this “If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 1:20-21. Though this is something will never reach this side of Heaven, but it’s something we need to strive for and pray for each and every day. As you grow in your relationship with Christ, you will also be growing in your love for one another. “May the Lord cause you, may the Lord make you increase” in your love for one another.

Charles Swindoll, identifies at least four ways that we can express this kind of love to one another.
  • Listen to others, including those who hold viewpoints with which you disagree.
  • Demonstrate grace by looking past people’s “faults” to see their strengths.
  • Recognize the value and dignity of other human beings, regardless of their background [But I would also include age]
  • Show God’s love by selflessly serving and sacrificing for others.

That’s how we can increase in loving one another! Seeking the interest of others over ourselves. That’s what it mean s to love others as Christ loved you! But Paul also prays that the Lord would “establish your heart blameless in holiness” This is an example of a walk worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ. That you may be established, and be without blame in the Day of Judgement. Can you pray this prayer for one another? This world wants to conform and entice us into its mold…..so this is where we need to purposefully pray for one another…fervently as Paul did for these believers. The world says “in order to get along you must go along” And Paul cry’s out in his prayer that the Lord “establish their hearts” by not being conformed to this present evil world system. It’s the idea of walking worthy for the glory of Christ, not man. Paul wrote this to the church in Rome. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rom 12:2. In 1 John 2:15-17 we read this “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

In order to walk worthy, your heart needs to be established, it needs a daily helping from God. Remember, this isn't the process to becoming holy or some formula to achieve sinless perfection. Why? To everyone who is of the Elect, is seen by God, as holy and blameless. This is only made possible through the finished work found in the gospel. We see that truth in letter of Job “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Job 1:1. Believers are to walk (live) in such a manner that we will not justifiably produce the reproach of others. As one writer said “Even if a charge would be made against us, that the charge could not be maintained.” Our position in Christ before God is blameless but Paul's prayer speaks of our daily walk and his desire for it to be blameless in holiness. So the purpose of Paul’s prayer is that they “Stand”, that they “Live” in the light of their holiness. And the motivation for doing this is the reminder in (v13b) “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all the saints.” This should be our motivation for “faithful living" This should be our prayer for one another each and every day to live faithful for Him and His glory. Instead of fearing His coming as so many will, our lives are to exemplify His return and we should stand with joy and rest knowing His return is imminent. Walking worthy as we await our King. This was Paul’s desire that they would excel more and more in their walk with Christ. Our pattern and purpose of prayer for one another shouldn't be any different than Paul’s. This is how we should be praying for one another! Sadly though, we tend to tear each other down more than lift each other up! This is where you, this were we, need to change.

So again I ask! Can you pray this prayer? Do you truly love the people that fill this sanctuary? Do you truly love one another enough to make time daily and intercede to a holy God on behalf of someone? Do you truly care more about the soul rather than trying to out spiritualize someone who is lesser than you? Do you care at all?

Can you pray this prayer!

Our Heavenly Father,

“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” 1 Thess 3:11-13


I pray these things in Jesus Name……..AMEN!

12 April 2015

WHY NOT ME LORD?


1 Thess 3:1-10

Have you ever pondered the question! Why me? Have you ever asked yourself! Why me LORD? Why do You allow so much pain and suffering to happen to your children around the world? Why do You allow me to go through fruitlessness from time to time? Why do You put me through such pain and anguish with the people whom I’m supposed to love and share the truth with? Why do You harden the hearts of so many people, especially those whom are the closet to me? Isaiah penned this “….And He said, "Go, and say to this people: "'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Isa 6:8-10. Why Lord! Why? To be honest, there is no easy answer to that question! Except answering it this way! Why not me?

Paul knew that trials and tribulations where part in parcel to the Christian life. Why? (v3)  “we are appointed”  or  “we have been destined to it” We are appointed by God’s divine providence, in that we will face all kinds of affliction in this life. See, Paul knew that there was no escaping this! Why? (v4)…… In the NKJV it says “in fact” which means you and I will suffer for His name sake.” What does that look like today in our community?
  • For some, it might be not getting a promotion at work.
  • A certain group of friends at school.
  • A relationship that is unevenly yoked whether it’s personal or physical.
  • The unexpected death of a child or a spouse.
But remember as Jesus said ".... I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matt 10:16. Jesus said this “Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you......” John 15:20. Yet again we see the under-shepherds heart this morning for his children. It’s the old saying “before a child can walk, he must learn to stand.” It’s the privilege as a parent to teach your child so many things, especially when they walk for the very first time. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Paul was like a father to these people!  We can say he was a “Spiritual parent” who was forced or hindered from being with his children once again. See Paul’s heart and passion was to be with them! As we have seen in the previous chapter. He wanted to help them to learn how to walk or stand when trials of life came crashing down. Look what it says in (v1) “we could no longer endure it” . Literally means “I could no longer tolerate, I’m unable to continue in ignorance of how my precious converts are surviving “

What couldn't you endure (tolerate any more) Paul? Answer: Paul was very concerned for their faith and their spiritual walk! They were under heavy persecution and animosity towards Biblical Christianity (the Gospel). They were going through things we could never understand as a local church here in Canada. They were being ostracized from family, friends, and communities. This was a great concern for Paul. He couldn’t be with them for purposes of his own…….. going back to (1 Thess 2:18). Not only did Satan hinder Paul from coming to them. But he also knew Satan was the Tempter He is always trying and testing, for the purpose of causing failure! (v5). Paul wasn’t ignorant to Satan and his crafty methods! See for Paul to be away from his spiritual children was “very unsettling”  Which means it caused him to worry, be disturbed or it was very troubling for him? It’s like the idea…….When you toss and turn all night long in bed because it’s too hot to sleep. When someone is angry with you and you want to resolve the situation and their not willing. When you worrying about that important job interview in the morning to provide for your family. When you have to take that all important 3 hour exam for school to get your grade average up. When a loved one is suffering and there is nothing you can do about it! Because you are too far away to be with them.

Paul feared the worst about their faith....He feared that they would swap their loyalty to Christ for personal comfort to avoid persecution. So what does Paul do about this unsettling in his heart? He sends Timothy Why do you think Paul sent Timothy? Look what Paul says in (v2)
  • Timothy was a brother: a strong spiritual brother who is saved by God’s grace
  • Timothy was a minister of God: a true called minister of the truth
  • Timothy was a fellow labour of the Gospel: a man dedicated to God and the Gospel.
You never send a baby, to do a grown-ups job!

Timothy was a godly example and soldier of Christ. Paul had a great faith in him to go comfort and encourage his spiritual children. Timothy was like a son to Paul. When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, he starts off by saying “To Timothy, a son in the faith”Interesting to note! Timothy and Titus, where the only ones to received this special expression from Paul. “True son” is better translated “genuine faithful child” which emphasizes Paul’s role as spiritual father to Timothy, which is why he sent him.
Paul trusted Timothy, and he also knew he could handle himself, if he fell into the hands of the adversary the Temper. Timothy you must go and establish and encourage my loved ones! Paul was not concerned for their: health, wealth, self esteem or your best life know! Paul was concerned for their spiritual well-being, during such hard and troubling times….just as it should be for every pastor or spiritual leader of the church. See, it’s so much easier to run and hide and blend in with the crowd, then to stand and face whatever comes your way! Like the disciples did in the garden , as Peter did in the court yard….just as Adam and Eve did when they listened to the lies from Satan, himself. I’m the first one to say “No one likes to be persecuted or to face trials every day” It’s not like we go out each and every day looking for persecution or troubles. But we have to realize that is going to happen!  But be of good cheer as Jesus said “fear not” Matt 10:28-33 we read “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Let me ask the question again! Why does a holy and loving God, allow us to go through such trials and tribulations? Why does He allow things to go wrong in our lives?

For example:
  • Why did You allow for me to lose my job of 25 year?
  • Why did You allow me to get hurt in that accident?
  • Why did You allow for my house to burned down?
  • Why do You allow children to be murdered?
  • Why do You allow for churches to be burned and people killed for their faith?
  • Why didn’t You stop the killing at the University in Kenya?
  • Why didn’t You stop 9/11 from happening Lord?
  • Why do You allow my classmates to reticule me in school for being a Christian?
  • Why do You allow people in my community to make fun of me all the time for being a Christian?
  • Why do You allow people to hurt us?
  • Why is my marriage in such a mess?
  • Why has my child stepped away from the faith that I hold so dearly to my heart?
  • Why is my mom or dad dying of cancer?
  • Why don’t people like me?
  • Why is so hard to be a Christian, Lord? Why?
The answer that keeps coming back to me over and over again!  Why not me; why not you? Think about: What right do I have to ask an all merciful, all gracious, all sovereign and just God, that kind of question? Again the answer that keeps coming back to me is….why not me? We always need to remember before we question the sovereign God of the Universe.
  • He is the One who saved us from the death we all deserve.
  • He is the One who saved us from wrath that is yet to come.
  • He is the One who saved us in spite of our fleshly desires.
  • He is the One who saved us by His grace by putting His only Begotten Son on the cross in our place.
  • He is the One who saved us from an eternity of torment and pain, which is where I belong.
See, God allows these things to happen in our life for one reason, and one reason only! So that He gets the glory in your suffering! Do you realize it’s a gift to suffer for Christ? Phil 1:29 “For to you it has been granted (approved, arranged, decided) on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”. Peter said this “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:16-17
If this means we have to endure suffering here on earth! I’m willing to live with it and not complain about 24/7. Why? Because He saved me from what I deserve, the same judgement to “those who do not obey the gospel of God” Look at what Timothy said for Paul, or reminded these believers to encourage their young faithful hearts. (v3-5) “no one should be shaken by these afflictions Literally means: “do not lose heart, stay strong”. Why? Because of what Paul said next “we are appointed to this” This is all part of God’s plan for His children. God wills that we face afflictions, trials, tribulations for His sake.....Why Me Lord? James said it the best My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”  James 1:2-3. Jesus, even said this to His disciples, when He explained the parable of the 4 seeds that fell on the ground! “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” Matt 13:20-21

When we are faced with trials and tribulation! It’s for the purpose of seeing your faith!
  • A true believer will count the cost and follow by faith to whatever end.
  • A true believer will continue even if it hurts physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • A true believer will persevere through whatever is put before him or her for our growing and ultimately for His glory.
That’s why Jesus says the one that falls on good ground will grow……Some hundred fold, Some sixty, Some thirty. The evidence of a true believer is that you will continue to grow! Are you growing this morning? Are you growing more today, than when He first grabbed a hold of your heart and changed you for your good and His glory? Can you say “the Lord has always been transforming me into the image of the Son?
  • Even in times of trials!
  • Even in times of success!
  • Even in times of silence!
  • Even in times of draught!
As Paul said in (v3) “that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.” God is always working and directing us closer to Him each and every day! This was Paul’s unsettling concern for these new believers that he loved and missed dearly. But what do we see next! (Look at v6) Timothy delivered the news that would give Paul a sense of peace and joy in his heart. News that brings composure....news that would remove all that unsettledness..That test is over! I can get some rest now! Knowing my children are ok! Paul found this highest sense of ministry joy, (1 Thess 2:20) this is where see “for you are our glory and joy” come alive for us. His spiritual children were walking and growing in the truth of God’s word even in times of trials and suffering. (v9). It like the same expression of gratitude the Psalmist had when he said “How can I repay the LORD for all His goodness to me” 116:12

I can attest to what Paul is saying here and the concern he has for God’s people! This should be every pastor’s heart around the world this morning! This should be your heart as well as we walk this Christian life together as a church. When I see people in the church loving the Lord more than life! I can say with Paul: My heart is filled with joy seeing you glorify Christ in your suffering. My soul feels blessed with your passion for one-another and  the true Gospel you serve. My desires become your desires as we grow deeper in your relationship with Christ. My prayer life is stronger day and night because of your faithfulness to Christ and His church. I can pray the same prayer that Paul does here in (v11-13) as we will look at next week, Lord willing! Nothing on this earth should encourage us more than to see brothers and sisters grow in His grace, even in the midst of their suffering. As the 2 Moravian missionaries boarded a ship…..these were the last words that they cried out to their fellow believers who were staying at home “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”

My Sunday question: Is your faith enduring today, even if causes you to suffer for His name sake? Are you saying in your heart! Why Me Lord? Or Why not me Lord? We must stand fast (full of faith) in a world that hates and is going against everything we hold dear in the Christian life:
  • Biblical Morality
  • Raising and having Children
  • Biblical Education for our Children
  • The Family
  • The Freedom to pray and share the Gospel with others
  • The God of the Bible
The only way we will ever increase is by staying close to Him and the help of one another in our trials and tribulations by the Power of His grace. As Matt Chandler said “your house may be built on the rock, but that doesn’t (exempt) that doesn’t mean the rains won’t come” But as we stand together and encourage one another, we can say “Bring on the rain for the glory of His name.”                     

04 April 2015

A GUILTY MAN SET FREE IS THAT JUSTICE?


Matthew 27:15-25

Let’s take a journey back to a Roman prison cell in Jerusalem, some 2ooo years ago. It’s dark, very cold and damp, it's dirty, and you feel so lonely even though your shackled to other ruthless criminals. It’s filled with all types of critters (snakes, bugs, spiders, rats). It’s filled with other men who are about to face the same destiny as you are! TO SUM UP THIS EXPERIENCE! It’s not a very comfortable place to be to say the least! But there is a reason why we are there in this dark lonely cell. THE COURTS THE LEGAL SYSTEM OF THE DAY FINDS THIS MAN GUILTY OFMurder, a Theft, for being an Anti- Roman revolutionary, a rebellious person who is against the government. The sentence or final judgement for this man is DEATH! The form  of punishment is an old rugged cross. See! A person is nailed to this piece of wood through his hands on each side.....then they nail your feet together so that your posture is hunched over position! Which makes it hard to breath in and out as you hang their to die a slow and painfully. You stand in the position for many hours in the hot sun... until you give up your last breathe! (Modern Doctors would call this effectuation). NOT A VERY PLEASANT WAY TO DIE! IS IT?

According to Roman culture this was only reserved for the worst of criminals. The Jewish people forbid this form of punishment; they thought this was cruel and barbaric. The Jewish people believed this to be a curse from God. In Deut 21:23 it says “He who hangs is accursed of God” NOW THAT’S GO BACK TO THE DARK LONELY CELL OF THIS MAN
  • He is guilty without a shadow of doubt in a court of law.
  • He deserves and will be put to death for his wicked act according to Romans rules.
  • He has his spot reserved between to thieves! Why? He is a worst kind of criminal.
  • He is the very type of person the cross is reserved for.

SO IMAGINE WITH ME FOR A MOMENT YOU’RE HIM! You’re sitting in this cell waiting with great fear and anguish for the sound of keys to take you to your death.....the final resting spot called Calvary (translates: The Place of a Skull). You’re sitting in your cell hopelessly as you wait for them to call out your name next. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS RACING THROUGH HIS MIND AT THIS MOMENT? Nothing but complete fear! I don’t care how wicked a person can be; you are going to be extremely petrified for what is about to take place. But something happens that is completely changes the course of history for this man and for all humanity for that matters!
  • Your sitting in this cell chained to other criminals
  • You’re hearing the sound of people chanting louder and louder “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”
  • Your heart beat is getting quicker and quicker
  • Your blood pressure begins to rise
  • Your stress level goes through the roof
  • Your fate is closer than it was 5 minutes ago
  • Your about to take the long walk up the hill
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THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU HEAR THE SOUNDS OF KEYS GETTING LOUDER AND LOUDER! You know in your heart, you know in your conscience it’s time! The guard opens the door and yells out your name “Barabbas, Barabbas, come forward! You are free to go!”
You stand their stunned, speechless, and amazed! You ask yourself the question: How can this be? Is this a some kind of sick Roman joke? You’re thinking to yourself, they released me for someone else! But, this wasn't uncommon to take place during this time of year (The Feast of Unleavened Bread). This was a Roman tradition for the Jewish people during Passover. IN JOHNS GOSPEL IT SAYS "But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" Then they all cried again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!".........” John 18:39-40. But a man the likes of Barabbas, a notorious murderous rat, versus this Jesus fellow…no way! A guilty man is set free, is that justice? A murderer is about to be let go for the acts he has committed...is that Justice? A criminal is about to walk away a free man......is that Justice? A menace to society is free to walk wherever he wants to. Is that Justice? THE BEST ANSWER I'VE HEARD TO THIS QUESTION IS BY CALEB AND SOL. Which is where I got the title for my message and the quote that hangs on the wall in my office. “A guilty man set free on the account of another. Is that justice? No! That’s grace!”


SEE! GRACE IS DEFINED THIS WAY ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE: Appropriately, this is the free unmerited love and favour of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:8-10. A state of reconciliation to God Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:1-2. It’s a source of our calling? But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,” Gal 1:15. See it was by grace that Jesus took this man’s place that day! See it was by grace that Jesus allowed all these events to happen, which lead Barabbas to be released by Pilate. WHY? BECAUSE THIS SHOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED, RIGHT!
  • That’s not fair! That’s not justice!
  • What is wrong with this situation!
  • What is wrong with our society or our justice system!

Barabbas is a murderer and rebellious man to society according to (Luke 23:19). Mike Andrews is a wretched sinner who’s heart is deceitful and wicked (Jer 17:9). You are a lost sinner who needs Christ according to His written Word (Rom 3). Jesus didn't do anything wrong, which makes this grace for fallen man seem so much more personal and absolutely amazing! Why? Because...In Mark’s Gospel.........PILATE SAID “Why, what evil has He done? Mark 15:14. In Luke’s Gospel...........PILATE SAID "You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.  Luke 23:14-15. The Apostle Peter, would write years later "WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH"; 1 Peter 2:22. The Apostle Paul Wrote “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor 5:21. Jesus showed such overflowing grace and love for fallen mankind...........Jesus took our place by humbling Himself for or sin by dying for you, me and Barabbas

JESUS’ DEATH WAS VOLUNTARY

Phil 2:6-8 it sayswho, 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.”
  
JESUS’ DEATH WAS UNDESERVED

Isaiah 53:9 penned these wordsAnd they made His grave with the wicked (the guilty, condemned, ungodly) But with the rich (the nobleman's tomb Joseph of Arimathea) at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit (false, guile) in His mouth.” There was no reason for Jesus to face this kind of persecution. An innocent man died for the sins of the whole world

JESUS’ DEATH WAS APPOINTED BY GOD

Isaiah 53:10 we read this painful reminder “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.” This was the only way to fulfill the Father’s requirement for sin. The pleasure - God's gracious decree for the salvation of mankind shall be effectually carried out through the offering of His Son. As John Piper said “Jesus was not swept away by the wrath of uncontrolled men. He was bruised by his Father. Why? To resolve the tension between the Father's love for his glory and his love for sinners.”

JESUS’ DEATH WAS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE FOR SIN

“Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU DID NOT DESIRE, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME.  IN BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES FOR SIN YOU HAD NO PLEASURE.  THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME— IN THE VOLUME OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME— TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.' “Previously saying, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING, BURNT OFFERINGS, AND OFFERINGS FOR SIN YOU DID NOT DESIRE, NOR HAD PLEASURE IN THEM" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Heb 10:5-10The old sacrificial system was removed to bring the second “ONCE FOR ALL” All things are satisfied, complete through the Son Jesus Christ.

This was the only possible way for us to be reconciled to God. Jesus had to be forsaken, abandoned, and deserted by His Father so that we could have life! According to John’s Gospel. For three hours Jesus was feeling the weight of all mankind's sin, the weight of Hell poured onto Him. The cup of wrath was being poured out onto His body, soul, and spirit. As He was separated from the presence of the LORD. WHY? BECAUSE OF THIS STATEMENT “A guilty man set free on the account of another. Is that Justice? No that’s grace”. WHAT AN AMAZING GOD WE SERVEHe humbled, He freely, He fulfilled, and He Satisfied the Father’s anger to take the place of a guilty person, so that we can be reconciled back to God though His death on a cross! To make this more personal! In the book “Jesus On Trial”  By James Boice & Philip Ryken

Philip Ryken told his personal story of a Good Friday service he attended! He said this “when I attended a play based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the most dramatic scenes came at the end of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, when the religious leaders began to call for Jesus to be crucified. Suddenly, some people sitting in the audience joined the mob, shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” While our attention had been drawn to the action on stage, some of the actors had slipped in from the back of the auditorium and had taken their seats among us. The effect of their shouting was to implicate the audience in the death of Christ. It was as if we ourselves were calling for his crucifixion. My first impulse was to quiet them down. “No!” I wanted to shout “Stop! You can’t kill him! He’s innocent!” But then I remembered that I was a guilty sinner, and that Jesus came to die for my sins too. In that moment I realized that even if I didn’t want Jesus to be crucified, I needed him to be crucified, because my salvation depends upon his cross. And so I laid down my resistance. I took my place in the guilty mob and said in my heart, “Crucify Him! Yes, Crucify Him, if he will be crucified, for I am a sinner who needs a Saviour.”

CAN I ASK YOU THE FRIDAY QUESTION! Are you guilty for what you have done? Are you free by the Blood of the lamb? Are you saying in your heart if you were there “Crucify Him, Crucify Him?” “A guilty man set free on the account of another. Is that Justice?
No, that’s grace” 


(Revision) I quoted saying Joseph went with Abraham in my audio sermon. I meant to say Issac. Sorry and God bless! SDG