Monday, April 09, 2007

Hebrews 8:1

Hebrews 8:1 (HCSB) 1 Now the main point of what is being said is this: we have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

On Wednesday nights, I'm preaching through Hebrews. On Wednesday, April 4, I preached from the text above. I focused on two points from the text.

First, the work of Christ is completed. While the temple priests never sat down because their work was never completed, Jesus Christ work was completed on the cross and there is no further need for a sacrifice for sin to be made! This is the good news of the Gospel. As Christ cried from the cross, "It is finished!"

Second, the position of Christ is assured. He sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. This position is a position of power. In speaking to those who were questioning him during his mockery of a trial, Jesus said, “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64 HCSB) Knowing that our Lord is in a position of power and that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him, we can go in that power as witnesses of Christ to a lost and dying world.

This position is also a position of influence. In Romans 8:34 (HCSB) Paul says about our Lord: Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. What great joy is there in knowing that the Lord himself intercedes on the behalf of believers. We don't need to pray to saints hoping they will influence God for us. God himself, Jesus the Son, intercedes for us.

Finally, this position is a shared position. Paul says in Ephesians 2:6 (HCSB) that: He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus. Revelation 3:21 (HCSB) says: The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne. Somehow, as joint-heirs with Jesus, we will share in what the Son has won for us. We will rule with Christ!

When Jesus rose from the dead, after appearing to and teaching his disciples, he ascended into the heavens and is even now at the right hand of the throne. Because of the work of our Lord we even now cry, "He is risen...He is risen, indeed!" This is the good news of Easter.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Humble Restoration

In a culture where individualism is honored, being a part of a team can sometimes be difficult. The NFL, which finished its season last night with the Indianapolis Colts winning Super Bowl XLI, focuses on teams, not individuals. Yet, there are players who strive to stand out in the crowd...for some not because of their play but for their antics both on and off the field.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says that believers make up the body of Christ. We function as a unit, as a team. When one hurts we all hurt. When one rejoices we all rejoice. But, what happens when one falls, when one willfully sins against the Lord or another beliver? How does the body of Christ respond?

In Galatians 6:1-5, Paul says that those who are spiritual are to restore that brother through lovingly, gently, and humbly calling to their attention their sin and their need to repent. Once repentance has occurred, restoration can then occur. Yet, we've been conditioned that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." In other words, isn't it prideful to point out the sins of others? Isn't that juding?

Ultimately, our goal is the same as our Lord's goal. In Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul says that Christ loves His bride, the church, so much that He gave Himself for her to present her to himself "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless." When we hold each other accountable for sin and for the need of repentance, we are accomplishing the Lord's desire for a beautiful, holy bride! As husbands will not tolerate anyone "messin'" with their wives, our Lord does not want anyone demeaning or degrading His bride. Sin in the church is serious and we must treat it as such.

Again, this is done lovingly, gently, and humbly with the goal of restoration. May our Lord Jesus Christ grant us the privilege of being a part of a holy, blameless bride that will bring much glory to Him!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Fruit of the Spirit

Is an apple tree an apple tree because it produces apples? Or does it produce apples because it is an apple tree? I think the second question is the correct one. I also think that the question can be applied to the lives of believers. We should produce the fruit of the Spirit because we have the Holy Spirit living within us.

As believers, the question is not "what kind of fruit should we produce?" but "are we producing fruit that gives evidence of a Spirit-controlled life?" Do others regularly see within my life the fruit of the Spirit? To I respond to people with the fruit of the Spirit? Are my relationships governed by the fruit of the Spirit?

Hopefully, the answers are "yes." Of course, Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:17 that the flesh is opposed to the Spirit. So, we have a war of competing natures that rages within us. The flesh desires what is in opposition to the Spirit. It will fight, kick, claw, scratch its way into control of my life. But, as a believer, I have surrendered all rights to my life to my Lord Jesus Christ. The flesh no longer reigns in my mortal body. The Lord Jesus does! I am under new ownership and my only desire should be to please my Master. The evidence that I am living in submission to Him will be the fruit of the Spirit for the flesh cannot produce this, only the Spirit can!

Let us each continue to put to death the flesh in order that we may live for Christ! May we humbly pursue Him that we might finish the race before us in anticipation of crossing the finish line in His presence!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Works of the Flesh

Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, war is just a click away. Whether it's the click of a computer mouse or a TV remote, we can see war in all its horror. However, we don't have to go to the far reaches of the earth to see war. For Christians, all one has to do is look in the mirror and there he or she will find a battleground.

Paul says in Galatians 5:17 (HCSB) "For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want." This war fought in the life of the believer is ongoing and sometimes quite brutal. The remants of the flesh put to death by the coming of Christ in the life of a believer tenaciously hangs on seeking to regain control of the believer. Yet, the Spirit living within the believer brings the power of God to overcome the schemes of the devil.

The flesh is not subtle in its work. In fact, Paul says in Galatians 5:19 that the works of the flesh are obvious. The list that Paul gives is not exhaustive. It would be nice to say that here are the 15 sins the flesh brings and no more. However, elsewhere Paul says that those who deny God are inventors of evil (Romans 1:30). Humans continue to invent ways to satisfy the desires of the flesh.

Christians sometimes find themselves succumbing to the temptation of the flesh. As conviction comes, we must readily admit our sin and confess that to our Lord as we turn from that sin and embrace the Lord as our Master and Savior.

As we read the list in Galatians 5:19-21, we must all admit we see ourselves in that list. We stand guilty. What is the Good News? Romans 8:1 (HCSB) "Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus!" The Gospel proclaims that our Lord Jesus Christ willingly took the wrath of God upon Himself on the cross so that the ones believing would have eternal life as they repent of their sins and by faith receive Him as Lord and Savior! May the most obvious things in our lives not be the works of the flesh but the fruit of the Spirit! With Paul let us say with rejoicing:

1 Corinthians 15:57 (HCSB) 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Monday, January 15, 2007

We Are Free!

I was a youth pastor for several years before "growing up" and becoming a Pastor! During those years, it was not uncommon to hear teenagers whining about their parents and then say something along these lines, "I can't wait until I graduate so that I can do whatever I want! When I leave home, no one will tell me what to do!"

Of course, we must recognize that the absence of boundaries is not really freedom. Too often, we think that the "man" is keeping us down and we wish we were the "man." However, I remind people that the greater the leadership responsibility, the less the freedom. In a recent conversation, a friend was lamenting the number of disclosures one must fill out just to run for office. That doesn't sound much like freedom! The most powerful man in the world, our President, may have the least freedom of all Americans!

Paul reminds the Galatians that they have been set free through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, but one must be careful not to allow that freedom to become a license to sin. In fact, people who are truly free in Christ are paradoxically slaves (Galatians 5:13 (HCSB) For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love). Instead of being free to give into the sinful desires of the flesh, we must serve one another! Serving each other through love limits my ability to please myself because I'm thinking of others needs before my own.

The sinful nature of our flesh that stubbornly hangs onto our lives wars against this kind of selfless living. However, Paul makes clear that as we walk in the Spirit, we don't have to give into the desires of the flesh. When we are free from the power of the flesh and free to follow our Lord Jesus Christ...we are free indeed!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Don't Mess With the Gospel

Our American culture values tolerance. We are asked by our culture to sublimate our beliefs in the name of tolerance. Thus, those who hold to values and beliefs which are in opposition to others are to remain silent. The reality is...not everyone in our culture plays by those rules.

In America, it's quite acceptable to espouse many unbiblical beliefs while at the same time denigrating Christians and the Gospel. This is not considered abusive at all. However, have a Christian stand up and say certain behaviors are wrong and all manner of venom is spouted toward that Christian.

Paul, in Galatians 5:7-12, speaks out boldly against a group of people who were purposely attacking the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These people were adding the works of the law to the Gospel of grace. Paul would not stand for it and in some of the most harsh language found in scripture even says that if these people want to depend on circumcision to keep them right with God, why don't they go all the way and castrate themselves! Not quite the tolerance we would expect to see in our culture.

Paul reminds us that we must stand boldly for the Gospel. In Romans 1:16 Paul says he's not ashamed of the Gospel. As believers in a pluralistic society, we must cry out that we are not ashamed to be called Christians. We are not ashamed of the Gospel. We are not ashamed to stand up for that Gospel. And...we will proclaim the Gospel as the truth of God and tell others not to mess with it. They may not believe it, they may dismiss it, but don't mess with it! May our Lord grant that we will have the courage to be light in the darkness of a lost and dying world!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Giving Thanks

1 Corinthians 15:57 (HCSB) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

As we've just celebrated Thanksgiving, I wanted to offer a scriptural thanks. In the context of the passage above, Paul has focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ with special emphasis on the resurrection and the coming resurrection body of all believers. In 1 Cor. 15:58, Paul says that the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But through our Lord Jesus Christ, God has given us victory over sin and death.

The victory we have received through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is something for which we should give thanks. Without this victory, each of us would be enslaved to sin and death. We would be hopeless and helpless. Yet, for those who believe, we have received victory!

As we enter the Christmas season, we are reminded once again that God became flesh and dwelled among us. Jesus Christ, fully God, fully man, lived perfectly according to the law in our stead. On the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on Him who became sin on our behalf. The victory cry, "It is finished!" rang out from our Savior's lips as He made a way for sinners into the presence of a holy God.

May each believer never forget why we have victory. God, through Jesus Christ, has given us the victory, a gift of God! Let's give thanks!