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Entries in Lord (2)

Tuesday
Apr242018

When the Truth is Made Known

Matthew 10:24-26.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on April 22, 2018.

Is it possible to have joy when difficult things are happening to you?  According to Jesus in his “beatitudes” of the Sermon on the Mount, we are blessed when people revile us, persecute us, and say all manner of evil things against us falsely for Christ’s sake.  Then he goes further and tells us to rejoice and be glad for great is our reward in heaven (Matthew 5:10-11).  These are not the words of a man who was protected by privilege and position in this world.  He had grown up labeled as an illegitimate child, and then rejected and mistreated by entrenched religious leaders.  Ultimately he was headed to a cross and yet he tells us we are blessed in such cases and should rejoice and be glad.  How is such an incredible response possible?

It may be easy to dismiss this by saying that it was easy for Jesus because He was God.  But such arguments are themselves a cop-out.  How are we to know that it wasn’t actually harder for Him because He was God?  We can’t because we can only know for sure what it is like to be human.  Jesus was fully human and yet fully God.  So we should dispense with such intellectual dishonesty and recognize that Jesus expects this to be our experience in times of persecution or suffering.  How could he expect this of us?

As we look at the words of Jesus in our passage today, we will find that it is the knowledge that there will be a day when all that is hidden will be brought to light.  This is a scary thing for those who have ulterior motives.  But, for the believer, the day of revelation will be a joyous moment in which all that has been slandered against us will be cast down by Christ Himself.  Let’s look at the passage.

In this world Christians will be persecuted.

Jesus never promised us a rose garden in this life and this passage is one of many that prove it.  The apostle tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” They had been warned by Jesus.  A pernicious mentality has developed among some Christians today.  It is the idea that if we were more like Jesus in faith and power, that we could fix the ills of the world and save everybody.  As wonderful as that idea is, it is not a biblical one, nor is it particularly Christian.  It is not a Christian idea because it purports to put us and the power of our faith above the Lord who bought us with His blood.  Here Jesus makes it clear that those who follow Him are going to encounter persecution in this world.

This will happen precisely because we are not greater than Him.   Jesus uses three different relationships to help us see why we will be persecuted as well.  There is the relationship of the teacher to the student, the lord to a servant, and the master of a house to the members of that household.  The student learns from the teacher in order to be like his master.  If a servant’s master is hated by the world, then so too will the servant.  Ultimately, Jesus is pointing out that if we are in relationship with him then we will experience whatever it is that he receives.  Whatever lot comes to Jesus also comes to us.  The only way to avoid it is to reject Him, or at least to minimize his lordship in your life.

In the end it was the lot of Jesus to be persecuted in this world.  Thus those who follow Him will also encounter persecution.  Sure, it will vary depending on the place and time that you live.  Jesus points out that just as they accused Him of being in league with the prince of demons, so they will accuse His disciples of being evil.    They also called him a heretic that was causing dissension.  He was labeled an insurrectionist and revolutionary.  All of these were false accusations.  

Herein lies the problem.  The above mentioned relationships between us and Jesus, and the Scriptures themselves, teach that the Spirit of God is laboring to make us more like Jesus.  Romans 8:29 says, “For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  So how can it be that Christianity can convert the whole world and create a Utopia by having the power and faith that Jesus had?  Such power and faith led to Jesus being persecuted and killed.  How can it lead us to anything new?  Yes, if Jesus so determines, it could be so.  But here he promises the opposite.  Perhaps the only way it can be is if I am not operating in the same faith and power that He did.

Regardless, notice how verse 25 is worded, “It is enough...”. Jesus puts it in a statement form.  But we should ask it as a question.  Is it enough for me to simply be like Jesus?  Clearly it is enough from God’s perspective because Jesus states it so.  But is it enough for me?  Charles Spurgeon, an English Baptist preacher, said, “God was slandered in paradise, and Christ on Calvary.  How can we expect to escape?”

It is each thing that Jesus was not that draw our hearts away from Him and towards the world; away from the relationships of Teacher-student, Lord-servant, Master of the house-household member.  We are drawn either completely away from Christ, or we are deluded with the fanciful notion that we can have Christ and the world as our teachers.  Friend, recognize today that Jesus really is enough for you.  However, your flesh will not think so, and the world around you will not tell you so.  When the Christian Corrie Ten Boom came out of the German concentration camp of WWII, she had a message for the world.  “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”  He is enough.

In some ways modern society has become “more righteous” than God Himself.  It makes accusations of conspiracy, and rejects biblical ethics and morality.  Don’t listen to those voices that seduce you with becoming greater than Jesus, whether from within Christian circles or from the world.  When Jesus is enough for us, then we will know the peace and rest that God has for our souls and the joy of His Holy Spirit in times of difficulty.

There is a day in which all will be revealed.

In verse 26 Jesus reminds us of a principle that is as sure as any law of physics.  The hidden things will come to light.  This is both a warning and an encouragement.  It is a warning for those who would conceal evil, and an encouragement to those who are falsely accused of such.  All things that are done leave evidence behind.  Even when a person is framed by planted evidence, there will always be some evidence that it was planted, whether we are able to recapture it or not (God can recapture it).  Truth has a way of coming out in the end, precisely because it is real.  So it will be in eternity as all that has truly happened comes to the surface and God gives His judgments based upon reality, truth.

Jesus was not like the secret societies of our days.  He did not teach one thing in public and another to his top 3 disciples.  Sure they received more than the crowds, but Jesus was not publicly worshipping Yahweh, while privately promoting Beelzebub.  The false slander of the religious authorities came from an attempt to hold to two irreconcilable positions: Jesus was doing incontrovertible miracles, and yet He cannot be the Messiah.  Jesus was silent at His trial precisely because He had said and done everything out in the open.  If they were still going to pretend He was evil, what could he say to overturn their minds?  Christians reject those who use secret society techniques, who promote one thing to the masses and another to the inner elite.  This is the way of Satan, not Jesus.  The longer you are with Christ the more you recognize that His teachings do not become different as you draw closer to Him.  Rather, it is you who becomes different, and the teachings of Christ become deeper than we ever imagined.  This is what Corrie Ten Boom found in the depths of an earthly hell:  Jesus was still with her and His love had not abandoned her, even though she was in a place destitute of love and faithfulness.  So as the disciples of Jesus, we have nothing to hide, even though the world accuses us of hypocrisy, conspiracy, and idiocy (granted such do exist under the tent of Christianity).

Jesus tells his disciples not to fear those who make such unfounded accusations because the truth will come to light in some way.  It might not come soon enough to keep me from being nailed to a tree, but it will come nonetheless.  

There is a strength that can be derived from trusting the vindication of God Himself in your life.  Think of it.  God is your defense attorney and therefore you can’t lose.  But when I am my own defense attorney and I am constantly fearful at what others think about me, then I will become trapped by my own double-mindedness.  Draw strength from God’s promised rectification and wait for His timing.  

In fact, worry and fear of what others think or say sidetracks us from the mission of Christ.  Instead we pick up a futile mission of our own.  We will never please all of the people all of the time, in fact not even a majority.  Think of it.  If I am working at “reforming my public image,” it puts me at odds with the Holy Spirit’s work of making me to look like Jesus.  How proud we must be to remake our image so as to avoid what Jesus marched purposefully towards.  The only choices that God gives to us is to embrace the image of Jesus and the persecution that goes along with it, or choose an image that the world will accept and avoid it.  It is not our job to reform our image, but rather, in every way to yield to the Spirit’s call to become more and more like Jesus.

Sometimes God does bring the truth to light in the present.  We will taste some vindication in this life in various ways.  However, our hope goes beyond this.  Few are ever completely vindicated in this life.  Even Jesus has billions who reject His words.  But a day of vindication is coming.  God’s defense of Jesus and those who are following Him never rests.  He will have the final word.

This final vindication will be brought to light when the Lord Jesus comes to reign upon the earth.  As it was in the days of Jesus, so it is today.  Often those who paint the devil on others are most manipulated by the devil themselves.  Jesus and His apostles warned us against judging too quickly, and at the wrong time.  Thus some things, like the hidden motivations of a person’s heart, have to be left up to God.

Humility is a part of following Jesus, and it teaches us to trust in the judgments of God that will be revealed at Christ’s Second Coming.  Romans 8:18-21 says, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the Sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willfully, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  So just who are the children of God and what is their revealing?  He is speaking of Christians and the day of resurrection when we will stand beside Christ in glorified bodies.  It will be clear on that day just who chose wickedness and who chose truth.  It won’t matter what any person thinks, or even if billions of followers shout your praises.  What matters is the judgment of God Himself.  Thus in 1 Corinthians 4:5 we are told, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.  Then each one’s praise will come from God.”  Instead of fearing what people think, we can rejoice in knowing already what God thinks.  In fact the life of a believer, is constantly having fellowship with God by His Spirit.  Instead of worrying about what others think, we only worry about what God thinks.  Thus the adage is true, “You don’t want the wrong people to like you.”

Let’s put our trust in the Lord and grow in living out His righteousness.  This is enough for us, regardless of what the world around us might falsely say about us.  We are in good company, for such they did to the prophets of old and especially our Lord Jesus.  If we suffer with Him then we shall be glorified with Him!

Truth Made Known Audio

Tuesday
Mar192013

The Ongoing Meaning of Jesus II

Today we will continue in Acts chapter 2 and look at verses 33-39.  We have been looking to this text to see the reality that just as Jesus had ongoing meaning to those who thought he was dead and gone; so he has meaning to us today.

Thus Peter continues to remind the crowd about this Jesus whom they had crucified and thought was past history.  That very same Jesus was the source of the spectacle that they were witnessing.

Jesus Poured Out The Holy Spirit

The crowd didn’t know that they were witnessing the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.  But even more spectacular than that is the origin.  Jesus is the source of this spectacle.  He was able to do this because he had been “exalted” to the right hand of God.  Now the word exalted can be compared to “raised up.”  In the resurrection Jesus is lifted up from the grave and restored to life, even a glorified body.  However, the word exaltation is the idea of position, authority, and power.  The man Jesus Christ is put in an exalted position as the Father’s right hand man.  We could think that this is no big deal.  Jesus had such a position in the past.  But, a critical difference has happened and that difference can be seen 1 Peter 3:22.  Here Peter explains that part of this exaltation to the right hand of God is being put over the spiritual powers of the heavenlies.  Again, we can dismiss this as nothing new.  But recognize that Satan and his cohorts have held mankind under their thumbs for millennia and suddenly in Jesus a man is now in authority over them.  This action helps us to see the beauty of the judgments of God.  Thus because Satan had sinned against mankind, in Jesus, God raises a man up to be their judge.  The justice of this cannot be overstated, nor can the sting to those spiritual powers who despise mankind.

It was in this position of authority that Jesus is given the right to pour out the Holy Spirit.  This had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.  Peter specifically quoted from the prophet Joel in verse 17.  God would pour out the anointing of His Holy Spirit upon all flesh, and not just a few.  Thus the Anointed One of God would be called Christ or Messiah not just because he would have the Holy Spirit, but he would also pour out the Holy Spirit upon all.

The Father Has Promoted Jesus

In verses 34-36 Peter quotes from Psalm 110.  Here David testifies about the coming messiah.  Notice that the grammar of what David says points to 3 different beings.  “The Lord (being #1 God) said to my Lord (being #2 David and being #3 his Lord).  However, Peter points further to the reality of what happened.  David did not ascend into heaven.  These two things together make it clear David was speaking of the Messiah who would come from his lineage.  Though he would be a descendant of David, he still saw the Messiah as his Lord.  The Messiah would be greater than David in power and authority.  He would be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Thus David testifies of the Messiah being made to sit at God’s right hand while his enemies are made to be his footstool.  This is a picture of total subjection.

The promotion of Jesus is to the position of Lord.  This means the master, king, or owner.  Especially in the context to who he is speaking, Jesus has been made King of Israel.  But from Scripture we know that his Lordship is greater than just that. 

He is also promoted to the position of Christ, or Anointed One.  This Jesus operated in the power of the Holy Spirit and now is pouring out the Holy Spirit upon his followers.

Here is the clincher.  “You Crucified” him.  The crucifixion put them at odds with this amazing news about Jesus and the amazing spectacle of what was happening with his followers.  The Israelites had waited for centuries for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  And, now when it shows up it is happening by the one whom they killed.  It is like hearing that your team is going win all your life and then when the team win you realize that you are wearing the losing team’s jersey.  They are in a bind.  How did we end up on the wrong team?  The cross reveals the depths of our rebellion against God.  In Jesus, the Father has over-ruled the wisdom and righteousness of man.

“Fixing” Our Rebellion

In verses37-39 we see that the crowd is “cut to the heart.”  This conviction of sin is necessary before receiving the “fix” to the problem of sin.  Sometimes we are too quick to tell people what they should do.  If they haven’t been “cut to the heart” with the terrible reality that they are sinners before God and under doom of His judgment then the “fix” won’t do them any good.  Here we see people who realize their plight and want to know if it can be fixed.  What is your response to this problem?  No, you didn’t kill Jesus.  But you are still a sinner and thus wear the jersey of the rebels.  We are in rebellion against the God of Creation.  You refuse to accept such news and walk away.  Or, you could humble yourself and ask God for help and direction in making things right.  Thus, throw yourself on the mercy of the court.  There is a third thing that some do.  We can look like we are turning to God, but in reality we are creating our own “fix” and expecting God to bless it.  There is only one way to have peace with the Father and that is what Peter is getting ready to explain.

The beginning of the answer is to repent.  That means to turn from our path of rebellion, whether we knew we were in rebellion or not, and begin to cooperate with God’s plan.  It is leaving my sin, wisdom, and pride behind and embracing the righteousness, wisdom and humility of Jesus.  Then Peter tells them to be baptized in the name of Jesus.  Now the main effect of baptism is that it is the way that we identify with Jesus.  Baptism is a public recognition of our own sin and need for cleansing.  However, to do so in the name of Jesus at that time would have been unthinkable.  Jesus was the rejected “heretic.”  All this is for the “remission of our sins.”  This means our sins will be sent away from us.  All those who accept this offer will be blessed by God with the freedom of knowing he forgives our sins and separates us from them. But more than that he pours His Spirit out upon us in order to take up residence within us and empower us to live for Him.

Final Thoughts

Being at odds with God is still a problem in the 21st Century and it will continue to be on into the future.  However, God in His mercy has provided a “fix” for you.  However, it is His only offer.  Won’t you believe in Jesus today?  Won’t you repent of your rebellion against the God of heaven and identify with Jesus through a water baptism that is symbolic of the new life God is giving you?  Don’t hesitate or put it off any longer.  Now is the day of salvation for you!

Ongoing Meaning of Jesus 2 audio