Most recent Sermons on Sermon Cloud All Time
Sermons about Korniotes
Romans Chapter 5 Verses 1 – 2 • Two of the most wonderful verses in all of scripture, Paul opens this new chapter with a profound therefore… • Whenever there is a therefore, always think to yourself, ask yourself, “what is it there-for?” Therefore what? Well therefore, in other words, in light of…in light of the marvelous truth that Paul has shared in the previous four chapters…the truth that has absolutely set him free and what’s more, entirely set him on fire. • You ever find a deal that is so good that you become somewhat of a spokesperson? Recently I began to fly Spirit Airlines. I bought the ticket because it was the only flight out late night so that I could go to Madison’s school program. She was going to be signing man and I had to be in Texas the next morning and I was not going to miss her performance! • And so I booked the flight and it was odd. Very cheap ticket but I had to go online and pay for my bags, even my carry on…and I had to pay for my seat. That is their business model. Cheap ticket initially but you pay for everything, your seat included. Well I discovered that to fly first class, the price difference was only $15 and so I said, “hey…bigger seat…I’m in!” After it was all said and done, round trip the entire cost including first class was about $250. • Then I went. New plane. High Tech plane at that. Large, super reclining seat…smooth flight…it was awesome. I proceeded to tell everyone at the office about Spirit Airlines man! The deal. The seat. The cool plane…it was just too good to keep to myself! • Well paling in comparison is my story to the love and the realness that had entered into Paul’s heart through God’s abundant grace. You know Paul was always after that. Why do you think he was so zealous as a Pharisee? Why do you think that he spent countless days and long nights studying the scriptures with Gamaliel being brought up as a Hebrew of the Hebrews? Because he was after truth…but he settled man…he settled for religion when after all of his studying, all of his tutoring, all of his testing and professing…he didn’t find it man… • It was only after he was made blind man…only then was he able to see…Saul of Tarsus, encountering Jesus on the road to Demascus…God touches him and says see as you’ve seen…no more…and Paul was born man…born into a relationship with Truth Himself…filled with God’s unrelenting, unearned and unrestrained love…and what he almost forgot he was looking for…arrived in a moment…. • Truth that is so good that he is just poured out bent on telling the world…that just like Abraham, just like Moses, just like David, he has found grace man…he has found what every human heart is looking for…he found The Way…the One that all of scripture points to…the Truth…the very Son of God risen from the grave…man he found the life…the Messiah…the Savior of the entire world…and man he says here…in light of all that…therefore having been justified by faith… • Not earning it, not learning it…not even discerning it…simply being declared righteous is literally what that word “justified” means in the Greek…simply by God’s open and public declaration by the perfect sacrifice upon Calvary’s cross and the proof of His sufficiency in that the grace could not hold Him…check this out…through my redemption in Jesus Christ alone, I have peace with God! • You can never have the peace of God in your life until you have peace with God folks…why? Why is life void of peace other than simply being saved, citizens of heaven…the sure steadfast promise of inheritance sealed up in your heart of hearts…well, it’s simply really…this world in its fallen state is actually arranged in such a twisted and distorted fashion…that peace is fleeting… • This world is not able to offer you and I peace. From birth, throughout all of history, babies and children and adults have been taught existentialism…be all that you can be…you can do anything that you’d like, if you simply put your mind to it…you have the freedom for the pursuit of happiness as all men are created equal…nothing wrong with that at all! That is pure and good…the problem is…we aren’t. • From birth man, growing up, science projects, school electives, class elections and talent shows…we have all been encouraged and this world system allows each person to see the world uniquely…differently…creatively…and therefore there is no universal truth of how things ought to be…Movies are made without endings, paintings are completed and hung as masterpieces and they are pointless or chaotic which allows the viewer the right of interpretation…to craft their own perspective or resolve. In a world ruled with righteousness, love and purity…this is wonderful. • But in our world, existentialism (which is the only way man in an apple-eaten state can be) this results in disunity and that disunity drives isolation. Isolation indefinitely leads to defense and eventually aggression. The chips are stacked from birth in this fallen place…but Paul has found…peace. Jesus said in John 14, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives…My peace is actually real. It begins and ends at peace with My Father.” • Paul searched his whole life for peace…maybe you’re searching today. Peace from the booze, peace from the pipe, peace with your children, peace with your wife…peace with your coworkers…please hear me…peace is not to be sought out, its to be freely received. What you need is peace with God yourself. You need your heart opened to relationship with the Father through the indwelling Spirit of Him who accomplished your rescue. What you need is surrender man…and until you’re ready to simply believe in Him, trust in Him…even if it costs you greatly…there will be no peace… • But Paul, stoned several times, shipwrecked three times, beaten with rods three times, often laboring without sleep or food, thrown into prison time and time again, well accustomed to being cold and naked…yet his heart cry…I am full, man…the power of peace piercing mightily through any hardship that would befall him… • And notice verse two, the wonderful trifecta of faith…Paul has been given the peace that he’s always thirsted for and faith has also delivered access man and so he rejoices! The inexpressible, inexhaustible wonder of the man or woman filled with the Holy Spirit! They have peace, they have access and they rejoice! • And not only that, Paul would say…but they are unreasonably strong man…look at the next verse… Romans Chapter 5 Verse 3 • “Glory in tribulations?” Paul that’s unreasonable! Of course it is…unreasonable to the short-sided…to the one who is concerned with convenience and comfort rather than wisdom and abiding stability and strength! The child of God sees deeply into the circumstance and trusts God at His word man! Gives God the place of God in their lives! What a novel idea and by watching God be continually continually continually faithful…always always always true to His Word and enjoying even what Paul would call the “fellowship of suffering,” in Philippians 3, when its only you and the Lord man…no one else knows, no one else sees…the pain man that comes from simply suffering for righteousness sake…when you have outs but all of them are unfaithful and so you choose God’s way, even to your own hurt as David would write in Psalm 15… • You know what you find? No one comforts like Him…no one grows you up like Him…no one is faithful like Him…and that kind of faith in tribulation…well Paul tells us here…is power. The storm hits, you stand. The circumstance crushes, you surge! The hearts of the people melt, just like they did at Jericho…yet Joshua marched forward to an impossible victory! Following after the Ark of the Lord. Paul says here bowing the knee to Jesus and honoring all that He is all that He had done…solidifies the lasting and eternal peace with God from which comes access to the Father and a heart filled with rejoicing…so when the storm comes…faith’s face flourishes! • What does it look like? Is the faith real? Enter test…hard times…hard nights…hard people…and the face is exposed (faith’s face)…what’s the faith really look like? Is it real or just sensationalism? Do I really believe? Am I really empty of self? Do I really trust in the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength? The truth is…we don’t know…not without difficulties…not without tribulation and therefore Paul glories, why? Because he sees…perseverance man…and his faith…even to himself…is proven genuine…and most of all, worship occurs. Romans Chapter 5 Verse 5 • And so perseverance reveals the inward work of the Holy Spirit…and character shines forth. Integrity, strength, honor, power, love…a sound mind…you never know what’s in the sponge until you squeeze it…but once character in Jesus advances…blooms just like fruit on a well rooted tree and your heart is filled with hope! • Why? Because you’ve waited on the Lord…you’ve trusted in the Lord and therefore the Lord has an opportunity to show you His love and power and faithfulness. If you trust in self and hope in self then what opportunity does God have? And then when God shows up, you miss Him! You’re eyes are on you! You get the glory! And so very often God withholds His blessings, His provision…He had to! Lest you misunderstand that He is Jahovah Jirah…The Provider…that He is Jehovah Rapha…The Healer…that He is Jahovah Shalom…The peace in not only the situation but the only real peace there is…not you man…and God desires for you to make it…not fail or falter…He desires for you to live and live abundantly…not settle for the scraps when He has prepared for you sufficiency! • Hope in self is forever fickle…”Oh I hope that this comes about…but I fear it won’t.” It’s a fearful hope…this word that Paul uses here, the kind of hope that we are filled with by God is completely different…literally it means, “anticipation of a sure thing…in pleasure!” • It does not disappoint, not while you’re hoping and not at the end of the matter…and that kind of hope is, as Paul says here, “poured out in our hearts.” Not rationed, not enough for today, not enough for this test, not enough for this tribulation…MAN POURED OUT by the Holy Spirit who was earned by us? NO! Given to us! How? Why? • By Jesus giving Himself. We had no hope….we couldn’t even hang out with the Holy Spirit because before Jesus giving Himself and dying for our sins, in our place, we were enemies of the Holy Spirit…but God so loved you and so loved me that He gave His Holy Son…and by that gift, we receive another…the communion in our hearts with the Holy Spirit. Romans Chapter 5 Verses 6 – 8 • Paul had found life…a deal so good, he was set ablaze. And today he stands in the eternal presence of God Almighty when if left to himself, he would be banished to outer darkness where the fire is not quenched and there is incessant weeping and gnashing of teeth…know who said that, Jesus…why? Because He is desperate for you to be with Him. So desperate, that He paid the highest price…He died to set you free. • Call upon His name! You’re so thirsty! All of this trying and reaching….what has it gotten you? You can’t even sleep through the night, your mind is tormented with dis-rest and peace is missing…what’s holding you back? God has not stopped calling to you since the day you were born…you even heard Him once, didn’t you…hear Him again, today…and come alive. Its time you were declared righteous and its time you enter into the power and peace of Your Father who loves you so much!
Romans Chapter 4 Verse 13 • “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world…” Now remember the week before last, Paul had just finished educating the church there in Rome, the believers and his brethren, that the blessedness of God which he describes way back in Chapter 3 verses 21 – 26 as the righteousness of God apart from the law is through faith alone in Jesus Christ and therefore justification through redemption that is in Jesus is available to all and on all who believe!” The gospel, the promise, accessible to all! • He presented the matter theologically…the doctrine of justification, “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned,” right…remember the supporting precept? That Greek word for “redemption?” That all of mankind, slaves to sin having inherited a fallen state, a sin nature from our common father Adam, have been set free, released as it were from the power and the penalty of sin, by the purchase of our new Master Jesus Christ with His own blood however that purchase, that redemption was not from one master to another but the price Jesus paid, the redemption that has been provided, is unto freedom, man… • And then Paul goes to make his case historically and heroically as he delivers to them undeniable, irrefutable, absolutely tangible proof that the root of the root, (remember?), not only has the law (speaking of Moses) been satisfied in that man indeed has fulfilled the law, the Man Christ Jesus that is…but Paul also describes the righteousness of Abraham was indeed by faith…simply believing God, man…and then even David, their great king…Paul shows them how David could even have been described as a “man after God’s own heart.” Because he surveyed his life, and he saw great sin, great unholiness and yet by faith he trusted in God’s imputed righteousness through the promise of the coming Messiah and he wrote, “blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin!” • David said, “I can’t keep the law, I’ve got no chance of being righteous in the presence of a holy and perfect God…but God has made a way…a way for my sins to be removed from me as far as the east is from the west…oh how blessed, how amazed and joyed is the man whom trusts in the Lord!” • And so Paul has made the case very well that the righteousness of man is a promise of God fulfilled in Jesus Christ, not a payment from God for man’s following of the law…no…God’s love, His salvation, His rescue is no payment to man for services rendered…but His promise to His creation that He swore by Himself through His own blood… Romans Chapter 4 Verses 13 – 15 • I love the idea that practical Paul presents here. Practical Paul. As we read through Paul’s epistles, we find a man that can articulate the deep truths of God with immense excellence and intelligence, but what we also find is that Paul is able to present the same deep theological truths in simplicity. • He says here, “if righteousness is found in man…then faith is bankrupt. No need for it. Walk it out bro, you got this…” But as he’s already presented theologically, historically, heroically, practically…that’s simply not the case. And he gives us a great practical idea here in that he says, “for where there is no law, there is no transgression.” • Now remember, there’s a bit of a clever trick involved whenever Paul goes this route…whenever he makes a statement implying, “no law.” We’ve seen this before haven’t we? Reminds us of Chapter 2 verse 12 doesn’t it? And the Jews there in Rome would immediately get this whereas we could easily miss this…the truth that “no law” this idea of “lawlessness” is impossible in a world, a cosmos, a creation of the God of order. • He stated earlier that whether one has heard of the law or not that built into them is a law unto themselves…God’s law written on their hearts and made manifest by their conscience and so all men are completely without excuse whether they’ve read the law or not if they do not bow the knee to their Creator. • And so this idea presented by practical Paul is that because there is a law and because man is unable to keep the law, we have no other option but to break it… • Years ago, when the Susan B. Anthony dollar was issued, no one could get rid of them. No one wanted them! Folks like the paper money. It’s light, it doesn’t make noise when you walk…but one bank in Georgia was selling out! Moving immense numbers of the coins! And so the feds sent a team to find out why and they discovered that the banks simple secret was a sign on the window that read, “Susan B. Anthony dollars available. Limit two per customer.” They interviewed the bank manager and you know what he said? “People kept sneaking back in hoping to get MORE than their LIMIT!” • That’s what the law does man…It not only undermines faith but it also underlines failure because in our busted state, unable to keep the standard of the law, we have not other recourse…but to break it! • And so Paul says you better believe and you best be very happy believer, Jew, my brethren that righteousness does not come by you “trying your best” but it is God’s promise man through Jesus. Because that is the only way we can be certain, the only way that we can have any solid hope that we are saved. Because if redemption was predicated on me or my works or my efforts or my faithfulness…if salvation and justification was predicated on any of that then I could never ever be certain you see because day by day…what happens? I…Fall…short. • But Paul says no no no, justification, salvation, redemption, my freedom, man…it is by faith because if it was by works…look we would always wonder if we were really saved. We would walk around beat up, cast down and filled with fret…but when we understand that our salvation, our inheritance in heaven is not based on anything we do or don’t do other than simply believing…just like Abraham, just like David…then salvation becomes something we are not afraid of losing every week. • I love what Courson says…he says, “Salvation: the Father thought it. The Son bought it. The Spirit taught it. The Bible brought it. Satan fought it. But, glory to God, by His grace, we got it!” And by grace, through faith…man we can be certain! Romans Chapter 4 Verse 16 • And so Paul uses that wondrous all inclusive word here, “all.” Not just to the Jew, but also the gentile… Romans Chapter 4 Verses 17 • And what is available to all?...LIFE! God is in the very business of raising the dead man…just like Paul says here, “God gives life to the dead,” your Bible might say “He quickens,” and I dig that because put that though together, life…quickly and what do we get…the rest of the verse…”He calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” In other words, God doesn’t see me how I am, but as I forever will be! He declares it! Just as He declared the light and the light was! He declared the earth and the earth was…He declares me clean and clean I am…quickly! • I see my failings, I see my flailings, I see my falterings, I see my futility…God says quickly turn from all of that stuff and live! I see beauty! I see a masterpiece! I see the love and salvation of My Son all over you so come to life! Leave sin behind and watch what I will do with your life! I will cause you even to see others not as they are in their humanity but as they are in My grace! Man what a tattoo mark of one who is walking with the Lord…patience, kindness, no envy, nothing to prove, their courteous, polite, not easily provoked, taking no pleasure in sin but rejoicing in truth…strong man…bearing all things, believing God in all things, hoping in all things, enduring…never failing…the resume of one who is closely and quickly following after God in intimate relationship with Him…all found in 1 Cor 13. • Look here, Paul tells us Abraham had discovered this… Romans Chapter 4 Verses 18 – 22 • One thing I notice in all that Paul credits to Abraham, all the wonderful fruit of the Spirit that Abraham showed as He believed God and pressed into Him…as Abraham was strong, unwavering, fully convinced of God’s faithfulness and therefore God counted to him for righteousness…one thing missing, one thing that is almost always missing in the life of one who is utterly dependent upon Jesus Christ for their sufficiency… • No where in this wonderful scripture set did Paul say that Abraham understood how God was going to do it…Abraham did not count his own body dead or Sarah’s womb dead but he believed God…unwavering, but not once did God say…”Abe, this is how I’m going to do it…” • Isn’t it interesting that we demand the “how?” God has promised you life, He has promised you peace, He has promised to bring you into the fullness of His will and His presence and yet so often, we pull back…demanding the how. Why? Why would you say we do that? I’ll tell you why…we lack faith. God tells us to do something…He tells us so clearly in His Word how to conduct our lives, our selves, our days, our decisions and yet so often I see so many not willing to simply take Him at His word and their lives are filled with turmoil and tough nights…hard days and situations stacked with difficulty and confusion… • When God’s ways are all together past finding out. His knowledge and wisdom…His plans…unsearchable…and the requirement children…is faith. Trust in Him! We call ourselves the church, we speak of ourselves as His followers yet as our neighbors offend us we take matter into our own hands! As our husbands and our wives fall short of what we think we need…we take matters into our own hands! As a situation is clear in the Word of God…we cut corners to protect our homes, our jobs, our cars, our television service… • Television service? Someone in here knows what I’m talking about. You haven’t given to a charity, given to a friend in need, given to God’s work in months but you keep paying that TV bill…you count the questionable items each year on your taxes to make sure you get that extra couple of bucks back in your return…this business is worse than dangerous. Man anytime you make a move outside of God’s direction, and you know it…that eery feeling of “oh I wonder could this be wrong,” or “I’m the only one that will ever know,” man that is God’s pre-installed design in you to bring you into faith! • You’re trying to keep that money coming, keep the house, pay the rent, keep the TV, keep the car…but acting unfaithfully, I’m telling you…mark my words…you will lose it and more…but if you just trust God…trust Him at His Word…not understanding the “how” its not yours to understand anyway…if you did you wouldn’t even need faith…but if you just confess you sin of disbelief and call out for God to help your unbelief…just as that broken man did in Mark 9:24, then God can work with you man…He can work with your life! • I call it “batting left handed.” Its not natural…not at all…it’s called sowing to the spirit man…and once your life is filled with trusting God and not even questioning His plan because just as Abraham did not waver in unbelief…then pretty soon you will find yourself and your life strong, filled and strengthened in faith and a life that gives glory to God…not just you thinking you do but others testifying that you do! Ever ask someone…does my life bring God glory? We may be surprised at how we’ve fooled ourselves… • But man that is what I’m after…unwavering, surging with strength faith so that I might bring God glory trusting God not only at His promise but all the way to the performance of the promise and therefore not just proclaiming myself righteous but being the real deal man…filled with the righteousness of a sure and powerful God! • And Paul says that was Abraham my brothers…my fellow Jews, my fellow believers…even you non-believers…that was him but he wasn’t some super man…he was just like you and me…this is also God’s will and plan for you…to find faith apart from the law and then walk in righteousness as God becomes more than a fact, more than an idea, but the very leader and liberator of your life! Romans Chapter 4 Verses 23 – 25 • And so right before Paul tears off into Chapter 5 to teach them and us on the joy by faith in God’s grace, hope and glory, he delivers the simple gospel…one last time. That Jesus was delivered up, He endured the cross, the crown of thorns, the shame, the sneering of the people…because of our offenses…not just our offenses yesterday, but even today…and the offenses in our weakness we will commit tomorrow…sin in total man…He took upon Himself and gave up His perfect life so that He might shackle my sin to the grave and allow me to go free as He was raised for my justification… • Understand, no law is comparable to the love I have for the Lord…for what He’s done…that while I was His enemy, yet He still set me free…not only free to live alive now in such a way, such a form that sin has no legitimate power over me….just the power that I give it…not only to live alive not but also free to live forever man without the penalty of my sin! • If you wrote me a list of rules, do’s and don’t regarding what April finds acceptable and unacceptable…I’d follow them closely…if I didn’t love her…but you see my love for her, my heart filled with desire for her and identity in who we are as one…needs no list…needs no law…man I will exceed that list a million fold…and so the law is overcome man…overcome by relationship…by love you see… • And that is what God did for us. That He so loved us and desired us…that He made a way for something so much more powerful than the law…so much more effective and freeing…He made way for relationship…and it cost Him everything…but even so…even as Jesus prayed in the Garden, nevertheless…Our love for them is so great…this cup cannot pass…even as it cost Him everything, His heart broke for us…to save us man…to rescue us… • Once you glimpse that…once your heart opens to the Lord and His Holy Spirit in light of all that He has done…Paul says here to the Jews, and to us…the law is fulfilled…life enters and relationship with the Father will lead you into all things that pertain to life and godliness…and all of that, because of His great love for you and for me.
The Book of Revelation is not a difficult book to understand. It’s laid out quite nicely, succinctly, chronologically even beginning in Chapter 1 with John upon the Island of Patmos, exiled for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (Chapter 1 Verse 9). And instead of complaining against God for his circumstance, he tells us that he is in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…and I dig that…why? Well because it is when you are sowing to the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, taking up your cross and denying your flesh as Jesus commanded…it is then that you hear, man…your ears are unclogged, your heart is unhindered (its only then that you are unstoppable!) and John tells us in verse 10 of Chapter 1 he heard a loud voice, as of a trumpet behind him and he responds…he turns and looks and he sees One like the Son of Man…hair like wool and eyes like a flame and this Son of Man identifies Himself as the First and the Last, the One who was dead and yet behold…is alive forevermore. Only One Person in all of history fits that bill. And so John opens His Book with a glorious vision of Jesus Christ…there with him, exactly precisely where he should be so that he would receive great revelation, man. And Jesus lays out the entirety of the revelation for him right?…there in Chapter 1 verse 19. Jesus says, “write the things which you have seen.” We just covered that. He has seen Jesus, man, in His glorified state and John writes us such a wonderful description there in Chapter 1. Then Jesus says, “write the things which are,” speaking of the church…or more precisely, the church age found in Chapters 2 and 3 and John lays out for us the 7 descriptive churches of Asia Minor. Descriptive? Yes, descriptive of the progression of church history beginning with that first church plant in Ephesus around 33AD and culminating with the last church, the church of the Laodiceans which began around the mid 1900’s and continues today. The lukewarm church. The church that has one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake man…the commodity of Christianity rather than the all consuming fire of Christ…where Jesus stands at the door and knocks because He is without the church. And as we marched together through Chapters 2 and 3, we watched as God rolled out the scroll of church history from Smyrna, the early persecuted church, to Constantine’s Pergamos which led to what we know today as Roman Catholocism in the church of Thyatira. On to the reformation church in the church of Sardis and arriving at the faithful church in the church of Philidelphia. What made them so faithful man? Jesus told us in Revelation Chapter 3 verse 8…you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name…and as we completed our study through the history of the churches, as Jesus said to John, write the things which “are,” as the church age had begun at the time of John’s revelation, we saw that the first three churches, Ephasus, Smyrna and Pergamos were gonzo…off the scene and no longer in operation today…but the final four churches, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea are all on the scene when? When the Lord returns! You see they are all in operation today and how do we know that? The Lord speaks to these churches, unlike the first three churches, in terms of His coming and in terms of the Great Tribulation! Then Jesus said to John, “write the things which will take place after this.” And where do we find the “after this?” Or the “meta tauta” in the Greek? Revelation Chapter 4 verse 1…begins with “meta tauta.” And what a wonderful scene it is as John sees a door standing open in heaven and a trumpet blast and immediately he is in the spirit in heaven man (one minute alone and desolate, the next, in heaven!) a wonderful picture of the rapture of the church as John describes a heavenly scene for us in Chapters 4 and 5. And we are so comforted as the Great tribulation begins in Chapter 6 and carries through Chapter 19 because how many times is the church mentioned during this time? ZERO times, that’s right! Why? Because the church is gone…the meta tauta has begun…the after this is commenced…after what? After the church age man… So entirely simple…and we’ve been studying now the Great tribulation for weeks. Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9 describe for us the calamity that has come upon the earth as God’s righteous wrath is poured out on a Christ rejecting world. And for the last few weeks as we’ve looked at Chapters 10 and 11 we’ve seen great wonders as we’ve approached the mid point of the Great Tribulation. The mighty angel and the little book in Chapter 10 and the two witnesses in chapter 11 culminating with the scene going back into heaven as John’s attention is fixed upon the temple of God…and the wonders that he sees continue in Chapter 12. Chapter 12 Verses 1 – 2 • Folks have divided for centuries on the subject of who or what this woman is however contextually, as we’ll see as we move through this Chapter, I believe that it is quite clear that this woman represents the nation of Israel. First, look at verse 1. John says that he sees a great sign, or your Bible might say, “a great wonder.” It’s the word semeion in the Greek and literally means a token or a symbol… • And what’s even more interesting is that we have seen this before haven’t we? Sun, moon, twelve stars…and this is why I lean towards this great sign or great wonder, this woman as John sees her…as being Israel herself. The wife of God as described by Hosea and Isaiah…it’s all the way back in Genesis 37…Joseph dreams a dream… • In Genesis 37:9, Joseph tells his family, “look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” And the Bible says that as he told it to his father and his brothers they scoffed at him saying, “what is this, shall your mother, and your father and your brothers indeed come to bow down to earth before you.” So they knew it…who the 12 stars were…the 12 tribes of Israel and the sun and the moon represented their parents, specifically Jacob himself as the sun…and Jacob of course had his name changed by God to Israel. • And so not only does this work contextually, but also it works considering the entire counsel of God’s word. The Bible is always the best commentary on the Bible and so I believe this wonder, this sign, this woman to be Israel and notice she is about to give birth and of course through Israel came the Messiah, Jesus…the one who would defeat sin and Satan…and coincidentally…well look at the next verse… Revelation Chapter 12 Verse 3 • The dragon man…a type, a sign, a wonder, a symbol of Satan himself and actually what John sees invokes all kinds of implications such as from where the antichrist will reign as John sees seven heads wearing seven crowns possibly referring to the city that throughout history has been called the City of Seven Hills or Rome…and ten horns referring to Satan’s political base, the ten nation confederation that will emerge from the revived Roman Empire which will be led by the Anti-Christ (Daniel Chapter 2)…. Revelation Chapter 12 Verse 4 • And so no doubt this dragon is most certainly Satan as we know that Satan was chief of all created beings in heaven. The angel of light, the angel of worship…the musician…and when he launched his rebellion against God, one third of the angels sided with him and were cast out of heaven…and to where were they cast? Jesus said in Luke 10, “I saw Satan fall to the earth,” and here the stars, the fallen ones, those cast from heaven are cast…to the earth… • And notice, the dragon waits on the baby, for what purpose? To devour Him as soon as He is born…understand, since time began, Satan has been hard at work strategizing and plotting and planning how to thwart God’s plan of redemption. In your life too! God’s very plan for you life…His will for your freedom and your hope…Satan wants it man…like a screaming baby in a toy store, he demands it! And we cannot be ignorant to his ways the Bible would say but we should take up the armor of God man…prepare…be ready…so that when he strikes…we are, as it were, caught up in God… • So why is he after this child of Israel? Well its simply really…if he can stop Israel then there’s no Jerusalem and if there’s no Jerusalem then how is it that Jesus could return to rule and reign over His people from where…Jerusalem!? Consequently, Satan is no match for Jesus…and so what does Satan do? Attacks His kids man…you and I and especially the Jews so as to keep the Messiah from returning to Israel…why? Because at that time its GAME OVER for him…he knows that. He has known from the beginning and now survey history and understand the horrible mystery of anti-semitism! Why such aggression and hatred for the Jew throughout history, even continuing today? Now you know right? Take out the people, take out the place…capture the promise…but he will fail, desperately… • And as the time draws nearer…we’ll see Satan doing just that…desperately…attacking the Jew, attacking the church…attempting to stifle his own demise…but he fights from a position of defeat…a position of weakness…and he is no match for the Holy Spirit man…no match for the church…take up the whole armor of God and stand, why? Because you are able… Revelation Chapter 12 Verses 5 – 6 • Jesus told the Jews in Matthew 24 that when they saw the abomination that causes desolation that they should flee…run for it man because hostility like they have never seen is about to be launched against them by the AntiChrist and we know that occurs at the mid-point of the Great Tribulation…we’ve looked at that in weeks past as we’ve studied through Revelation and notice here John says that the Jews will flee into the wilderness where they will be for 1,260 days or 3.5 years…and meanwhile it’s Wrestlemania in heaven!!! Revelation Chapter 12 Verses 7 – 10 • Such an odd truth but certainly one found in Job Chapter 1 and here in Revelation Chapter 12 that Satan somehow still has access to heaven but notice…no longer as John says here his place was no longer and he was cast to the earth, cast down as it were and by who? Michael! I love that! Jesus doesn’t have to toy with little old Satan…he’s no match for the Lord you see and so it’s like He says, “Michael, handle My light work!” And then Michael says, “for sure, Lord…” because who is that proclaiming condemnation upon Satan and great glory unto the Lord in verse 10? • Well, the loud voice says, “our God and His Christ,” it’s Michael! And his message is sure! “Now has come”, not now is created or now is originated…it never was interrupted…but rather in the Greek there the idea is “now is finished” or “now is historically fulfilled” and thus Satan is cast down…”the serpent shall bruise His heel but He shall squash the serpent’s head,” remember Genesis 3:15? From the beginning of mankind, man…here it is, condemnation and defeat finally pronounced upon Satan and now more than ever his condition is made clear…that he is out, man…found out…he is overcome, yes by Jesus but look, also…creation! Even YOU, you’re more than a conqueror according to Romans 8! Revelation Chapter 12 Verse 11 • Satan is overcome! More literally conquered in the Greek. It’s that word nikao and how is he dominated, knocked out, pinned? By the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony, AND…they did not love their lives to the death. What an interesting combo man! I even see the Triune God in that victory statement! • The obvious first…the blood of the Lamb…oh man, that is Jesus of course right! By His taking upon our sin in His perfect form, even as a man, He has become our propitiation unto God the Father…the worthy sacrifice and in Him we are made entirely clean and the power and the ultimate penalty of sin is demolished in the life of the Spirit filled born again rescued child of God…and then the word of their testimony…Jesus said in Acts Chapter 1 that you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me eeeeeerywhere! • Man that boldness here, the word of their testimony so powerful even to overcome the wiles of the devil, that speaks of the Holy Spirit just pumping man…flowing! And then they did not love their lives to the death! Something so odd here…you know what word is used here by Michael for love? Its agape! Man how telling! • Not they weren’t fond of their lives…phileo…because that wouldn’t jive with Jesus man…He said that He came that we might have life and life abundant…man zoe life…surging life…life filled with the power and the presence of GOD! But that they will not agape mortal life, not the temporal glory of a fallen creation but their hearts yearn, their minds are focused, their actions are concentrated…on the life that is to come! That speaks of God the Father man! And so you have those that overcome…rescued by Jesus, filled with the Spirit and committed to the plan, purpose and glory of God on high! • And they crush Satan under their feet man, just as it says in Romans 16:20…like a roach….crunchy even…and they rejoice! Revelation Chapter 12 Verses 12 – 17 • Many here have guessed at what is meant by the eagle’s wings…could be America helping out Israel but I doubt it…You find in several other places in the Bible this imagery of an eagle but it is always God speaking of His divine provision for His people…Exodus 19:4 and Deuteronomy 32…and so I believe this is simply God providing miraculous protection for His people while the enemy is sick with wrath against them… • And notice when he does not prevail against her he turns to the next best thing…those that have given their lives to the Lord during the Great Tribulation and man that is just one of the distinctives of the enemy. If he can’t get you, then he’ll go after them…your children, your husband, your wife, your friends…but he is not to be feared, he is to be overcome…by the blood of the Lamb, the word of testimony and absolute eternal perspective. • Notice step one. Before you are rescued by Jesus…you’re lost. Open your hearts and lives to the Lord, man…How much love does it take to give All for you? All of it, man…all of it. God loves you so much that He gave…He gave all…and through His sacrifice, His suffering, His sufficient offering, you are able to be freed. Free, man…and what’s more…once free…you go hulk style all over the evil around you! You become a weapon of freedom…by learning, growing, deepening your intimacy with God…one on one…by refusing the waste of sin and coveting the indwelling of the Spirit and then the vision of heaven is opened to you. The Matrix as it were…eternity fills your days…and abundant life…abounds. Won’t you call upon Him tonight? • He’s waiting for you…
Impossibilities are all around us. We experience them everyday and truly, what is considered entirely impossible, improbable and unfeasible has in many ways become part of our everyday lives. Man flies. Impossible right? Bees fly. That one’s even scientifically impossible right? You can be very present with someone on the other side of the planet, and yet remain right here in Colorado. Impossible, right? You can run 50 MPH while sitting in a comfy chair. Impossible…right? Someone said it was. A pair of brothers once looked up into the sky and purposed to touch the top of the clouds, and many stood by and said…not possible. A man once dreamt of traveling a days journey in an hour without having to board a train…and as the design of the automobile was described…many stood by and said, not possible. And all of those folks that stood by and saw the difficulty rather than the power and promise of a sovereign God…all of those folks, were entirely right. It is indeed impossible for man to fly. It is indeed impossible for a person to be in two places, or three, or four at once. It is indeed impossible for a person to run 50 MPH while resting comfortably in a cushioned seat…but Jesus looked into the eyes of His concerned disciples once and He said to them, “With men, truly this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” You see we serve a God that takes what is impossible (in the power and perspective of man) and He brings it to pass for His glory. Sarah conceived in her old age at the promise of God. Joshua beheld the mighty walls of Jericho crumble at the promise of God. Rahab, the prostitute entered into the lineage of the Messiah…Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel…the Bible is full of wondrous stories of God crossing out the word impossible in the hearts of those that would believe Him. Mary was told the impossible by Gabriel, the angel…that she would be found to be with child but not by a man…but by the Holy Spirit…and that child would be the Messiah. And the Bible says in Luke 1:37 that Gabriel talked with her and when she appeared concerned and confused, he reminded her, “Mary, with God nothing will be impossible.” Her response, “Behold, look upon me, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word!” And by that impossibility, all men behold the glory of God on High! Moses knew about impossibilities. He was left in a river as a baby with the hope against hope that he would be found and cared for…and he was. Later in life he was called by God to free his people. An insurmountable impossibility…especially when everything seemed stacked against him, the situation so bleak and hopeless…well…Turn over to Exodus Chapter 14, Verses 5 through 31. God accomplished the impossible…when the Egyptian army was behind them and the vast Red Sea was before them…right when they were out of routes, out of options, void of all hope…God made the waters stand as walls and once His people were safe, God washed away their enemies. You see we serve a God that reigns over all impossibilities…your situation, my situation, our marriages, our careers, our church… Before Christmas this past year, 2012, we had a visitor at the church. A visitor that came when no one was here and completed a task that no one had scheduled. We received a letter at the beginning of January notifying us that the city had concerns regarding the use of this building as a church and they had been informed by the Fire Marshall that the building was not up to code for our use. Now when we moved into this building, we accepted it as is…meaning we did not require the owner to make any alterations and that we would utilize the space as it was currently laid out…however what was not completed at the time of taking possession was a code inspection. And so, ok…no big deal…we enlisted the support of an architect and we analyzed the space per the Fire Marshall’s request and we concluded that the wall separating our unit with Nick’s next door was not rated correctly for Assembly use. It is a one-hour demising wall and per the code it needs to be a two-hour demising wall…very costly, but required… And so we updated the drawings for the space noting the change in order to meet code and we submitted to the city. Very shortly thereafter, we received a several page rejection letter noting several additional concerns by the city… You see in the time that we had taken to meet with the landlord, the architect and the general contractor…the city had pulled the International Building code and conducted a full assessment of this space for “Assemby Use.” Their new letter to us included adding a bathroom, a utility sink, a water fountain…and a sprinkler system. The cost to alter the wall was estimated by our landlord to be around $15k total and now with these new requirements, the bill was most likely 10 times that. Now we would not be responsible for all of it…just the alterations to our space, but still, approximately half of that is on us…and so we prayed. I reached out to a few of my pastor friends at other churches, filled them in, and asked them to pray. We started to look around just in case we received a cease and desist notice from the city. April and I looked at 20 places…warehouses, schools, gutted retail spaces, we even looked at vacant churches that were for sale. But after speaking at length with an agent I learned that a bank will not lend to a church unless we put 40% down! So that wasn’t an option at all…and all of the spaces we looked at…nothing was right, not even close. And so, we prayed man…and continued to serve the Lord and seek His will…One day Lezli sent me a brochure for a building that is not too far from here…much larger, already coded for a church and so I contacted the listing agent…they wanted upwards of $10k a month including rent and common area fees…I didn’t even go and see it…I simply replied, thanked them for their time and told them that if they’d take half of that, we would be willing to come see the property. They immediately declined and that was that. Meanwhile, God was working wonders in this place! Not only was church just going so well and such a blessing and so alive, but He was adding to the church…many of you have only been coming since the beginning of the year! What an encouragement from God to keep going…walk by faith man! I’m with you! I’m always so encouraged when someone brings their neighbor or their co-worker… God was also working in the heart of the gentleman at the city and even bringing alongside of us wonderful servants from other churches. God provided a great friend and brother to me, a man by the name of John Kauffman who attends Calvary Castle Rock…he is a very astute general contractor and he and I went and met with the city to address their letter and find out if there is anything we missed…well there was…if we could get the occupancy down below 300 people then we wouldn’t have the requirement to install sprinklers! Boom! A way forward! The sprinklers were by far the bulk of the cost! So encouraging! And so John and I went to work with the architect and together we devised a floor plan that changed our “Waiting Area” to an “Entry Way” and thus dropped our occupancy count to less than 300! Awesome! I felt like Moses raising his staff before the Red Sea man…I was preparing to see the water part and for the entire nation of Calvary Cherry Creek to go forward! I was pumped! And so we redid all of the plans. Adding the bathroom, changing the wall, adding the sink and the water fountain and changing the waiting area to an entry way…and we submitted to the city! I hand delivered them I was so psyched! Man just celebrating. Meanwhile, I had met with the Embassy Suites over here right down the street and man God gave us such favor in their hearts. Just in case the city wanted to shut us down, the Embassy would be happy to have us…they have beautiful large great rooms and several smaller meeting rooms…it would work just wonderfully! They were so awesome that they even opened up their lobby and common area and said, “hey, just worship right here!” Man this was awesome. Not only did we have a clear way forward for our current space, we also had a backup plan that was great! I slept well… Then a few weeks ago, I got a call. The agent for the space that Lezli found, in an unexpected and unsolicited action, called me up to tell me that they’d accept my offer…I was confused…this was odd…well, we aren’t interested…we’re staying right where we’re at…it was a voicemail and I purposed to return their call the next day and decline their acceptance. Then I was like, “God, You’re so good…You know me so well…how fearful and worrisome that I am…You’ve even given me a backup plan to our backup plan…thank you, Father…” The next day, I receive a letter from the city. They rejected our resubmission. Their response was that they cannot allow the waiting area to be called an entry area due to the bar walls…the only way we could do that would be to complete the half walls in the back of the sanctuary, making them full walls…and oh by the way, once you do that…there are a whole new set of concerns regarding ventilation…in fact….there’s a whole new set of concerns anyway regarding plumbing, electrical and ventilation already before your resubmission. My heart dropped. The city was again requiring sprinklers and we were sunk. The waters didn’t part. I looked back, the Egyptians were getting nearer. My heart dropped. And so, we prayed. April, Scott and I went to the space that Lezli had found…huge, setup for a church, several classrooms and offices, large sanctuary…and my faith failed. I said in my heart, “God, don’t let me get my hopes up…” and you know what He said to me…”let them rise...” And so, we prayed. Now our prayers turned to our current owner. You see we’re in a three-year lease. We’ve only completed one year. And the owner would be looking forward to the next two because our payments escalate each year…that is how we negotiated this lease so that we could afford it…and so we prayed. For us not to have to do all of this work we’d either have to buy out the lease for about $100k plus a personal guarantee that I signed to incentivize the owner to lease to us…or they’d have to release us…It’s kinda like you owe someone over $100k, and you ask for them to forgive the debt…at this point, I’m again standing as Moses in front of a very raging Red Sea. And so we prayed. The staff prayed. Pastor Andy at Antioch and Pastor Mark at Antioch, they prayed. Pastor Sam Park at Calvary South Denver Prayed. Pastor Dave Love, Pastor Ed Taylor, our lawyer Sam…even Cody…praying for God’s impossible provision. And God told me to talk to the landlord. I laid it all out. All that God had done, all that we had faced and finally our humble request, to be released…and his response was simple and short…put it in writing and I’ll get the owner involved. And so I did. I laid out all of the issues, all that we had done but most importantly I sincerely apologized for all of this…our desire has always been to be faithful stewards of what God has provided. We’ve paid every bill in full, on time…we’ve sought to not just abide by our lease but exceed the requirements by serving our neighbors, our landlord and owner and caring for the facility as unto the Lord… I sent the email. The response, short and sweet. “Matt, the owner would like to discuss this with you.” I trembled. I began to prepare. Should I write it all out…what I would say, mix in some Bible verses and work on voice inflection so that I may come across correctly…God said “no.” He reminded me that the just shall live by faith…and that I am to walk by faith and not by sight…and so I rested and I prayed…full of fear and wrought with worry…I’m so weak man… Then the owner called. “Matt, I am wrecked by your email. Your heart blows me away and I wanted to tell you that in person.” I’m like “what”!? God calms me in the first moments of the conversation. We had been praying for God’s impossible provision, God’s favor in the situation and also for God to give us favor in the heart of the owner…He delivered much more. The wind began to stir the waters…and they began to part. The owner of this space that we worship in this morning…is a Christian. On fire for the things of God and a strong brother in the Lord. He ministered to me man…God is so good. And finally he said, “whatever your church needs, we will do. You are released!” The waters parted man…we prayed for a house, God provided a mansion! Even when all of this was just stewing, I said to April, if God does this…we will have no reason at all to ever doubt Him in this ministry…this situation is IMPOSSIBLE…but man so easy for God! Your situation today…IMPOSSIBLE but man with the pinch of faith of a mustard seed, the mountains move, the water parts! We will finish out May here and then beginning June, we will be meeting less than 1 mile west on Arapahoe in a facility that is absolutely amazing. A place that we can stay in and grow in…no problem! The Lord says in Habakkuk 1:5, “look, watch and be utterly amazed for I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told!” For sure God! For sure I believe You! And as I look back to December when all of this began, I would have done everything that I did…all the planning, all the meetings, all the praying, all the seeking, all the writing…I believe faith has feet and as faithful stewards we ARE to do all that we can do…but man I would have done it all with so much less fear…God is our leader, not me. God is our Father, not me…He is so good and so compassionate, ready and willing to save and all He asks is for us to follow Him. We will follow you God. You are wondrous. Your ways past finding out. Your provision is impossible yet you provide richly and abundantly to anyone who would turn to you. This church turns to God. We will trust Him. We will not waver. We will fulfill His will for this ministry and no matter the worry, the fear, the fret, the anxiety…all of those things are suffering…no matter what we are to suffer…WE WILL FOLLOW…through the red sea, parted on both sides, into the promised land of His will and presence… Rejoice with me! In Jesus’ name!
Revelation Chapter 11 Verses 11 – 12 • So the beast that ascended out of the abyss has made war against the two witnesses and has killed them. And the Satanic Christmas has continued for three and a half days; and then something crazy happens. As the world watches on…from their televisions, from their computers, from their smart phones and iDevices…these two that have been lying dead in the street of the great city Jerusalem…stood on their feet. • And John doesn’t tell us that they uttered anything but we do have a hint of something here in the Greek. John says that “the breath of life from God entered them,” (your Bible may say “the Spirit of life.”) Either translation is fine really but understand that word there in the Greek for “breath” or “Spirit” is pneuma…a word that is used 385 times in the New Testament and it is specifically used to describe the Holy Spirit in most of its contextual applications. • Mary was found with child by the Holy Spirit (pneuma). I baptize you with water, John proclaimed, but there is One coming after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal I am not worthy to strap …He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (again pneuma). Jesus said, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (once again pneuma). • That’s just one puzzle piece here in the Greek that we use to put together to get a picture...The other is that word “life” which is a specific word. A word that means much much more than heart beating, lungs expanding, muscles working…man that word in the Greek is a wonderful word…a word that means “surging with abundance…power…purpose…sufficiency…,” it’s that word that we’ve heard so many times before from Jesus Himself, “I have come that they might have life…and have it abundantly.” Zoe in the Greek. Life not just alive but life as God has intended, purposed…life as God desires for you and for me…not just the mundane routine of the day, but the excitement of eternal perspective and the power of the Most High just flowing! • And so what the world sees here that causes them to get so out of whack and afraid is not just these two stand to their feet and rub off the dust of the three days…no…by John’s description they are most likely perfectly healed…perfectly powerful…standing not just up…but tall and strong! Filled John writes here with the pneuma zoe ek theos…the Holy Spirit of surging life from God Himself! And the world trembles man! • And that is precisely what you are after! Deep down, why you’re here now, why you pursue God in your own time at home in your devotions and prayers…why you fellowship on Sunday mornings in church…we are all in hot pursuit of the power and purpose and love and grace and intimacy that comes only through the Holy Spirit of God filling us up! These two witnesses are a picture, an example of precisely what you’re looking for…and exactly what you can be right now! • John says they rose man! Filled with the Holy Spirit. Alive in absolute power and abundance. Standing tall and strong and completely healed…and notice, God is speaking directly to them as John says “they heard.” He didn’t say the world heard. He didn’t even say that he heard. He said “they” heard. Man they have an intimate, real, active, alive connection with God the Father and they hear Him! How wonderous it is to hear Him! • And notice God commands the impossible…they proceed to complete the impossible. God says “come up here” and they take off Iron Man style. Absolutely and unequivocally impossible yet without hesitation, filled with the Holy Spirit…all of a sudden “impossible” bows to them…all the while…their enemies watch and wonder…and are filled with fear. • I know it’s impossible to get along with your boss. I know it’s impossible to serve your neighbor. I know it’s impossible to love your spouse and serve them…its impossible for you to lead worship, or not only go street witnessing…but go alone! It’s impossible for you to teach the Bible you might say…but remember, Jesus said with men…you and me plugging along, it is impossible…but with God…not so…all things are possible. Impossible will come and bow at your feet when God is surging through your veins man…and then you hear Him, the command is seemingly impossible, and guess what, effortlessly you begin to soar! • Man that is what we are all after! To be more than just dust taxiing through life…so how? What’s the deal? What’s the cost? Again, these two witnesses are a good picture…they were beat up man…emotionally and physically, ostracized even…left out, not invited to the party and then when hard times come upon them…the world rejoiced…and the same will happen to you when you step out of this culture for the sake of the Lord. When you take a stand man and start living in the Kingdom…no I don’t want to hear your dirty joke…no I’m not interested in talking bad about the boss…no I can’t work late, I have a family to pastor…yes I’m going to church several times a week and yes I’m carrying around my Bible…do you want to pray with me? Do you know the Lord? Can I tell you about Him and what He’s done? • What’s going to happen? The same thing that happened to these two…but don’t forget, don’t lose heart…three and half days later, they rose man…healed…surging…and when you begin to live counter-culturally and as a light for the Lord, man a spring in your step will come…joy in your heart will arrive…you’ll find yourself revived man and the approval and presence of the Lord will be upon you! • If you find yourself stagnant in your walk today…witness! Find opportunity to talk about your faith and watch your countenance soar! Watch the life, zoe life, return man! Jesus said that He came to save us and to seal us and to give us abundant life and then He told us how…go and make disciples! So get at it and you will stand to your feet again! Surging with strength and the Holy Spirit and alive again man…hearing from the Lord and busting through impossibilities! Just like these two witnesses… Revelation Chapter 11 Verse 13 • An odd statement by John for sure when he says here that the rest of the world was afraid and so they gave glory to God. Understand, this is not worship…this is, in a better translation, acknowledgment of power…in the Greek the word for glory is doxa, same word for the glory ascribed to Solomon by Jesus…the same word as the glory of the world as shown to Jesus by Satan upon the exceedingly high mountain. And so understand they are not worshipping here, they are simply acknowledging here, after seeing the two witnesses and hearing their testimony, they believe you see…they just don’t repent. They don’t have faith…they have not placed their hope and trust in God…they just acknowledge Him as fact at this point…the condition of many who today consider themselves Christians… • And John, seeing their continued depraved condition, knows that there is yet more calamity coming…. Revelation Chapter 11 Verses 14 – 15 • The mid-tribulation point of view would say that this is the point at which the church is raptured however I cannot agree with that perspective for several reasons that we have already covered as we have studied the Book of Revelation in depth, line upon line, throughout the past months. However here is even one more reason why I ascribe to the Pre-tribulation rapture…notice here is the last of the seven trumpets…and notice this one is not sounded by God. • Turn over to 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4. Look at verses 16 – 18. Please note that Paul tells us here who’s got the trumpet…God. But over here back in Revelation Chapter 11, the trumpet is not being sounded by God, it is being sounded by an angel…and Paul would say comfort eachother. Comfort? Yes, just as Jesus said, (Luke 21:36), “pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Escape these things you see, not escape some of them…where is the comfort in that? That’s concerning! Horsemen and desperation and wars and half of mankind destroyed…comforting…psyche! • And so I believe quite firmly that is not the point of the rapture of the church as some would suggest but an angel and notice the loud voices in heaven sing out, “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,” which is an interesting look at the persons of God however this is a quite poor rendition of the Greek, in my opinion. • What John actually heard here was, “the kingdoms of this world are becoming…” the verb in the Greek is in the aorist active indicative tense which means it is an event that is so certain, it is spoken of as already occurring, however not yet come to pass…We see this in other places of the Bible such as Isaiah 53…”He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised by our iniquities…” Isaiah writes in seemingly the past tense there doesn’t he? Why? Because it is an event so certain, it was as if it had already happened. • You know what else is like that? God’s provision. God’s presence. God’s deliverance. His strength and His wisdom. Whatever situation we are in tonight, rest assured that His faithfulness is so sure, you can right now, even in the midst of the situational storm and circumstantial struggle, right now you take God’s faithfulness right to the bank! Count on it! And that is the song sung here by the angels…that God’s kingdom is coming man…we all have prayed it haven’t we? And simply in the fact that God’s kingdom is proclaimed…there is great great worship! • Tribulation still going on…hardships all around…but God’s kingdom is proclaimed man…and wondrous worship erupts…same goes for us…look at what John sees… Revelation Chapter 11 Verses 16 – 18 • Those who destroy or more literally, “those who corrupt,” check out what happens to them…the time is come for them to be destroyed…however those who serve the Lord and are filled with wisdom, they are rewarded! Take heart…those of you who reject corruption and decay and stand in a place tonight of pain for the sake of righteousness, your reward is coming…and it will be worth it… Revelation Chapter 11 Verse 19 • Hey check it out…we found the Ark! Ah I know that the Ark on earth was simply a copy of what was in heaven but man don’t people just get so enthralled and preoccupied with things like this? Where’s the Ark, is the shroud real, could these be the actual nails that held Jesus on the cross…what a waste of time…get the real deal man…set your hearts and minds on things above…that’s where its all hidden by the way…everything you’re looking for that we already talked about…its all hidden man in the very presence of God… • Your wonderful blessed marriage. Your powerful witness to those you work with. Your purposeful ministry to your family and friends. Your own sufficiency…its all waiting for you in heaven with the Father, and you can tap in right now through the blood of Jesus man…direct access right to the Holy of Holies in heaven, because its open to you if you’re heart is open to Jesus.
In the previous chapter, Paul presented something that went way beyond radical. No doubt the Jewish reader would interpret Paul’s epistle as heretical. Without a doubt the unbelieving heathen would have had eye brows raised to the sky in shock as they, (along with their religious and pious Jewish neighbor), read that salvation does not come from keeping rules and regulations…from trying to be “good little boys and girls,” from trying to be mystical or spiritual…but by faith, apart from the deeds of the law! Well then, “for what purpose was the law given?” his readers must have wondered! Years ago a Hindu philosopher came forth after a ten year silence and declared to his followers at an ashram (a Hindu religious retreat) in India that the whole world runs by the Ten Commandments. Even the completely estranged from God, the Hindu who worships everything…millions of gods…can read the law and make that correct observation. And that is correct by the way…just not complete. Paul said that the law is not made void through faith but rather it is established! It is completed! It is satisfied and the debt is put to rest! Paul presented the completion of the picture for the heathen, for the religious, for the entire world in revealing that the sole reason that the law was given was to show people that they are desperate sinners…we can’t help but sin because sin is not so much what we do…it is our condition! And in that condition, our works cannot make us right and so we, us, all of us…are in desperate need of a Savior. “We’re not voiding the law,” Paul insisted, “we’re fulfilling the very reason for which it was given…to make you see your need for a Savior and to drive you to the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ…because His work…has settled the debt!” So after arguing theologically in Chapter 3 that justification and salvation come simply by believing, Paul makes his point historically and heroically here in Chapter 4. Heroically? Yes, now he takes his truth and he strikes at the root of the root within the hearts of the religious elite. Jesus, when rejected publically and being resisted openly by the Jews, actually there in John Chapter 5 verse 16, John writes that, “the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill Him,” when that was going down, how did Jesus plead with them? He proclaimed that in Him there is no condemnation…no accusation…but only life…and then He told them that there is one who accuses them…Moses! What? Right there in John 5 verse 45…Moses in whom you trust, in other words, the law…it does not save you, it accuses you! And oh by the way, the law and everything that Moses wrote about, mighty Moses in whom you boast and trust, all that he wrote about…was about Me, Jesus proclaimed! But Paul is going to go even deeper. All the way to the one whom they called their father…Abraham. The root of even Moses! The predecessor to the law…the primary character in the story of God’s dealings with the Jew…and so he begins his history lesson…practical Paul, there in Chapter 4. Romans Chapter 4 Verses 1 – 3 • Verse 1 is worded by the translators in an awkward way and so looking at the original text in the Greek, what Paul is saying here is more practically phrased, “think about our father Abraham…do you think that he observed and progressed in the things of God according to his works?” • And immediately the thoughts of the Jews would go to the recorded and traditionally-taught works of Abraham. Was it when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees at the command of God, a place of sophistication and wealth to go to a place of risk…that he knew nothing of just because God commanded him to go. Was it then that God declared Abraham righteous? No. • Was it when Abraham took his son Isaac to Mount Moriah in order to offer him as a sacrifice just as God had commanded…was it then that God declared him righteous? No. And what’s interesting is that these Jews knew these stories, this text, these Genesis accounts front and back. If they were Jews in any middle to upper level of their communities then they had the entire Book of Genesis memorized! And so they were probably with Paul completely as he brings to their remembrance when precisely Abraham, their father, their hero, the root of their confidence and trust…Moses…was declared righteous within the pages of scripture. • It’s Genesis 15; they know that! God declared Abraham righteous when Abraham simply believed Him. It’s not works folks, Paul is pleading. It’s not our own external righteousness Paul is even exposing historically. Those things are good. Those things will be there but understand, and we know this, the mind and the hands and the feet and the intentions and the actions and the works…they are all slaves to what? The heart! • If I say I love my wife and then I don’t pour my life out to learn her and to serve her and to protect her and to please her then I lie! In my heart there is love for sure…but it is for me! If a person says they love God and yet they live their life patterned after precisely what cost Him everything then folks, they lie…and John would write in 1 John that the truth is not in them man…they have a heart condition you see… • The heart is the origin, the place, the connection point where true belief either exists as shown by its servants (the mind, the hands the feet, the works) or it doesn’t exist as shown by its servant…works. And Jesus told us to watch for this. Look out for this. That we would know who does love the Lord, who are His disciples by their lives man…we can identify you see by their abiding in the Word and their peaceful, graceful after taste…that wonderful power that comes from just being free. • Jesus said that in John Chapter 8 verses 31 and 32. “If you abide in My Word (speaking of works man…works driven by what is in the very heart of a person…the Word) if you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free!” It all begins in the heart man. • Paul says, think about it. Abraham was not pronounced righteous when he was doing something spiritual or sacrificial. He was pronounced righteous by God when he simply believed. That is why he left Ur. That is why he was ready to offer up Isaac…not because he was a good man…but because he believed God, trusted Him…his life simply followed suit. His works simply obeyed his heart. And it’s the same with us. Romans Chapter 4 Verse 4 • So think of it this way, and we talked about this last week. If Abraham would have been counted righteous for any of his acts of obedience…for leaving Ur of the Chaldeas, for sacrificing his son Isaac…then salvation would be his reward. In other words, God would owe him…which completely nullifies grace. Simply not the case. • Works are good. Following the Lord and obeying Him will certainly brings about blessing…because in doing as the Lord has commanded, He is well able to bring you into circumstances of abundant life! • Works are natural for the believer, for the righteous. Good works and a life that honors God will just flow man…a manifestation as we talked about of what is in the heart…but the works don’t make you righteous….your righteousness makes ya work! You don’t HAVE to love your neighbor, you get to and in that there is freedom. You don’t have to read your Bible, you get to and in that there is wisdom. You don’t have to come to church, you get to and in that there is blessings! • And so you see it’s Abraham’s belief man, his trust in God that produced these wonderful acts of obedience…it’s faith alone…the works are just the fruit on the vine…not the vine itself. Paul clears it up for us in verse 5… Romans Chapter 4 Verses 5 – 8 • So Paul is just churning and burning here. He is preaching such a powerful sermon right now to his brethren the Jews! Our father Abraham got this y’all, are you better than Abraham? Nope. Our hero Moses got this my homies, are you better than Moses? Nope. Well guess what, our king got this to, David. Has there ever been a king so great as King David? In the eyes of the Jew, not a chance…and so Paul just delivers what I like to say is the conversion catalyst! I wonder how many Jews hit their knees in bankruptcy after reading this and opened their hearts to God’s grace apart from works and the righteousness that even David spoke of which is only found in Jeshua Meshiach! Jesus Christ! • Paul gives us such a wonderful wonderful practical, theological and historical hope and truth! He says our lawless deeds are not simply outweighed by our lawful deeds, he says they are forgiven! The word there in the Greek is aphiemi which literally means, to be put away as in a divorce…in God’s righteousness apart from works, apart from the law…our sinful fallen state has been utterly cast away from us in the eyes of God. But how Paul? • Through the everlasting and sufficient covering of sin…covering of sin? Yes that is lingo that the Jew would readily understand. Lingo that David used in Psalm 32…but how could all the sin of all men of all time be covered in one sacrifice? The Jews would know, the scripture would foretell, the prophets would proclaim…by the perfect and eternal sacrifice of God Himself providing the Lamb…just as the angel spoke to Abraham upon Mount Moriah… • And then the gift, the blessed assurance, the hope, the firm and unchanging truth that Paul had found that Saul had missed…verse 8, how filled with joy and approved of God the Father is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin…and the implication is rather than sin being imputed…given freely, counted on his account…rather than sin…righteousness! • And now for you Jew, for you gentile, for us, for all men and women who would believe in Jesus Christ and be filled by Him, God’s blessings are given eternally and immediately on the basis of God’s abundant grace and not on the basis of my good works and THAT WAY, He and His loving blessings…His presence, His truth, His hope, His joy, His power…are always available to me. • I mess up, but He doesn’t. I sin, but He never did. I fall short, He ascended into heaven! And so in Him, being born again by His indwelling Spirit, even though I am a busted formation of dirt, the breath of life from God in me is restored to all of the glory of the perfect garden and I am alive unto Him. Knowing Him, talking to Him, hearing Him, watching Him, hanging out with Him, just being near to Him who created all things and near to Him whose glory fills not only my own heart to overflowing but every place that I go! He is forever all around me why? Because the door is never shut! I can always come to Him on the basis of God’s grace towards me… • And that is utterly apart from works. That is the root of works Paul has pled. That is to place your belief and life in Jesus Christ and be saved from all of this toil and tragedy…and walk with Power on High!
Revelation Chapter 11 Verse 3 • When you look at this statement literally in the Greek, what John wrote was not exactly, “I will give power to my two witnesses,” but rather, “I will give my two witnesses.” Notice how in your Bibles the word “power” is in italics? That indicates that the Bible translators have added that word for the sake of contextual understanding…and truly in context we do need to understand that these two witnesses are very powerful. We’ll read about that in just a moment… • But it strikes me that even in the midst of an utterly lost world, filled with haters and backbiters and rejecters of God…here He is…giving. You see this throughout the Bible. One of God the Father’s primary character traits. “For God so loved the world, that He gave…” We serve a longsuffering and loving Father, man. And it just strikes me still right here that even though the world is full of men and women that refuse to repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts (all of those things we read back in Chapter 9 verse 21), God’s grace shows up! • So unlike man. I mean think about it. Someone out there, out there in the world, you don’t know them, even if you did you wouldn’t associate with them because of their lifestyle, what they’re in to…and they steal your son, your only son, your only child…and they torture him, mock him, use him and abuse him, and then…they murder him. And as they stand in your presence, they remind you arrogantly that they are not sorry…and so you give to them? Wouldn’t happen would it? God is so much higher than man. He is so much stronger than man. His love is unsearchable and His ways are past finding out… • And here He is, in the midst of the Great Tribulation, once again…giving. And John writes here that He has sent two witnesses into the world and their mission is to prophecy three and a half years, clothed in sackcloth. The garment of affliction. Why? Because the world will hate them. While the temple is being built, while the false peace of the ruling elite is upon the earth, here are these two proclaiming that the “emperor has no clothes!” John says they will prophecy which literally means in the Greek that they will speak the truth! • This temple…is the temple of Satan! This ruler is the Anti-Christ, this world is about to fall…you have all been deceived! And the world will hate them man…because in proclaiming the truth there will also come the proclamation of God’s condemnation upon their actions and their lifestyles. And folks, we see it today, people will not tolerate that, will they? • But who are these two? We can only speculate. The Bible doesn’t name them. But the prophecy is given in Malachi Chapter 4 verses 5 and 6 of God sending Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord and his mission will be to turn hearts…and so many have concluded that one of the prophets could be Elijah. In just a moment we will read how these prophets have the power to spit fire, dragon style in order to consume their enemies, and that does remind us of Elijah who had the power to call fire down from heaven to consume his enemies. • And you may recall that Elijah was raptured in the Old Testament. In other words he was just taken by God, he didn’t see death, why? Maybe because God had further work for him… just as Malachi prophesied. And so one of these witnesses could be Elijah himself returned. But what about the other one? We’re really speculating now…I can only offer you my thoughts. I tend to lean towards this being Moses. Why? Well first of all, on the Mount of Transfiguration who was there with Jesus? Elijah and Moses…right. And in the Book of Jude we are given clues about Satan wanting the body of Moses for some reason. Why? Maybe he knew…and wanted to stop Moses’ return. Just a few thoughts. We really don’t know who these two are because John doesn’t name them…it’s not like he’s seen photographs of Moses or Elijah so maybe he just doesn’t recognize them… • But notice, it is also interesting that God sends two. That’s kinda His way if you survey the Bible. He sent two spies into the promised land to scope it out, He sent two angels into the empty tomb of Jesus, Jesus Himself sent out His disciples two-by-two in Mark 6:7…why? Well, 2 Corinthians 13:1 says, “let everything be established upon the witness of two or more.” And so maybe God desired for them to be heard…without slander from the Jews…because according to their law…having two witnesses rather than just one would demand audience. • Maybe because Jesus said, “where two or more are gathered, behold I am in their midst.” Interesting thought because as we continue to read we will see that these two witnesses are also a fulfillment of prophecy concerning the presence of the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 4. Revelation Chapter 11 Verse 4 • Notice, the quotations have ended. The angel is no longer speaking so this is John continuing the description and what interests me the most here is yes that what John says here is prophecy fulfilled, but what I notice is that John knows prophecy. What do you mean, Matt? • Look, the two olive trees and the two lampstands are references to a vision Zechariah had that he recorded for John and for us in the fourth Chapter of his Book, hundreds of years earlier. The vision speaks of the oil that flows into the lamps situated in the Most Holy Place in the temple. You see for the presence of the Lord to remain, the lamps had to be continually lit…the oil supply had to be uninterrupted, and oil of course is a picture, a type of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. • Well the angel there in Zechariah four showed Zechariah a vision of two olive trees that continually supply oil into the Most Holy Place…and the meaning was that God’s presence with His people will be something that He will provide, not man and thus the most quoted verse in Zech 4:6, “not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts…” • And John looks upon these two witnesses and whispers through his pen, “there they are.” But the detail that interests me the most here is that the quotations have ended and therefore we know this is John just telling us what he saw and understood and man I just dig that because the fact is if John didn’t know the Book of Zechariah, man he would have missed this whole scene! He would have gone and popped some popcorn and grabbed his soda and watched but no, he’s getting so much more out of this…and because of what he got, man WE get! • And the same goes for us! All day, God’s faithfulness and works are all around us…lining entirely up with His word but we miss so much because we simply don’t know His word! And because we miss, our wives miss, our kids miss, our neighbors miss…not John! He knows the word of God and when it comes to pass, man he is blessed. And he blesses us! • He might just have skipped the next verse set where we see their detailed description if he wasn’t so hype about who these two were…look at what John records for us… Revelation Chapter 11 Verses 4 – 6 • A few additional clues here. James tells us in James 5:17 that Elijah prayed and it did not rain for 3 and a half years. And who was it that pronounced the plague on Egypt that turned the water into blood? Yup, Moses…just some clues. The Bible doesn’t tell us by name who these two are… Revelation Chapter 11 Verses 7 – 8 • Notice they aren’t approached, they are untouchable until they finish their testimony…and I see many applications here. One, that you and I cannot be harmed until an appointed time. Two, each person in this room has a testimony to give, a testimony of purpose and redemption that will set many souls free. And third, probably the most controversial, I see these two having great power and being very well protected, until they stop breathing fire. And I believe that is what has happened to the church and what happens to ministries all the time. And it’s tragic. • Someone gets saved. Comes alive. On fire, burning hot for the things of the Lord and eternity. And then it gets hard. People turn against you. Not everyone approves of you anymore. Folks don’t like being held accountable. And so you soften up the message. Begin to be preoccupied with filling seats and such, and before you know it…the testimony of the church is watered down, why? Because the cares of this world and the approval of men has become the testimony, not the all consuming fire of Jahovah God…and the beast makes war against the church…wrong! It should be the other way around! We should be storming the gates of hell man and overcoming the wiles of the enemy! Right? What has happened to us? What has happened to Jerusalem? • It’s so dark and different by now that John calls it Sodom and Egypt! Why? Sodom, all kinds of sin! Egypt, all kinds of idolatry. What happened? Well it already happened! They rejected Jesus man. Not only Jesus as their Messiah but they rejected His work in their hearts and lives…and the result…is always Sodom and Egypt. Where is Sodom now? GONE. How is Egypt now? Utter turmoil. Such is the life of the one who disallows the power, presence and leadership of Jesus. • And notice, they kill the olive trees. The supply of the Holy Spirit, the endless flow of oil, they kill them… Revelation Chapter 11 Verses 9 – 10 • Understand, for hundreds of year no one could accept that all peoples, tribes, tongues and nations could see these two lying dead there on the streets of Jerusalem. When Chuck Smith began teaching the Bible verse by verse, he had to imagine a way for this to be possible. Then in 1965, Early Bird was launched into orbit. The first commercial communication satellite and then shortly after in 1967, the first national network of satellite television was created called Orbita in the Soviet Union. Then Anik 1 was launched in North America in ’72 and finally Ekran , the first direct-to-home geostationary satellite was launched in 1976. • Now, not forty years later, thousands “eyes in the sky.” Isn’t that interesting that we call a satellite an “eye in the sky?” Whose eye? Everyones’ man! And now there is no more imagination needed…we, this generation, us…we are seeing it with our own eyes! Precisely how Revelation Chapter 11 verse 9 will unfold…on our big screens in our living rooms! John couldn’t see this, have this in his day. Chuck couldn’t have seen this when he started preaching! It’s us! This generation! The stage is set! All is in order. And the Lord’s return…the calling up of His bride into heaven…right now! • And do you know what is going to happen when all the Jesus freaks disappear? The world will rejoice! Why? No more accountability! No more of this God talk! No more of this prophecy…just like they do when the beast slays the two witnesses…they have a Satanic Christmas of sorts…and this is the only time we read of the people rejoicing in the Great Tribulation. “Hey, the ones who made us uncomfortable with their truth, leave them in the gutter and let’s celebrate because they are dead!” • If you feel beaten down and left out…man YOU rejoice, you’re in good company! And keep reading! Get into the word of God and you’ll be encouraged, strengthened because what we’ll see next week…is that you can’t keep a good man down. Though a righteous mans falls 7 times, he will rise again but the wicked stumble and are knocked out cold when difficulty strikes. Proverbs 24:16. Next week we’ll keep reading and we’ll see these two rise again with the breath of life from God Himself!
Romans Chapter 3 Verses 19 - 20 • So by now the Jews are in upheaval. Paul has broken down how the unrighteous heathen has a problem and that same problem is shared by the self-righteous Jew. And right before he gets into what true righteousness is, how a man truly can be restored to a right relationship with God the Father…he delivers the knockout punch. • “You see my friends,” Paul would say, “the law, the ten commandments, the Mishna, the hundreds of particular do’s and don’ts that the Jews had extrapolated from the ten commandments and the Torah, (the first Five Books of the Bible, or the Books of Moses), you’re not made right by them, you’re made wrong by them!” • Made wrong? Yea, made wrong and not only the contemporary to Paul Othrodox Jew that sought to follow the law but also contemporary to us religious…anyone who has established a false idea, a false righteousness based upon works. Well how’s that? I thought that if you lived your life well, were gracious to the poor, went to church and said your prayers before bed…you know stayed out of trouble and really tried to do well…I thought that is good. Well it is! There is certainly value in all of those things in that God is able to bring about His purpose and plan for your life. Through those types of things God orchestrates our moments to bless us and reveal more of Himself to us. • I mean if all you’re ever doing has been to ignore the poor and not attend church and not ever acknowledge God in prayer then how is God going to bring blessings in your life such as the pure tears of a hurting person as they eat the first meal they’ve had in weeks…or the shear priviledge of fellowshipping with other believers in church…He’s not…you’re boxing Him out by your lifestyle, you see…and so those things are good, they are wonderful, they are essential in your life as you seek the Lord…but those things don’t wash your sins away…that’s the issue. Following the law was never the purpose of the law and that is the heart of what Paul is saying here to us… • In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that we may have the external regulations down pat but sin remains within us. Sin is not what we do…sin is who we are. Man is fallen and estranged from God and therefore the law was never to make a person right, that would actually trample the righteousness of Jesus under foot…don’t need Him…but rather the law was to reveal to us, all of us, that no matter our religiousity, no matter our pure intentions, no matter our self-generated and self-perceived goodness…we can’t do it. We can’t keep it. We all fall short and its interesting here Paul uses the phrase, “that the world may become guilty.” • Become? Better stated, that all eyes would be opened…opened to what? A specific and unique Greek word. Another one here in the Book of Romans that you will not find elsewhere in the entire Bible. It’s the word hypdikos (paa-di-kas). It literally means “one who has lost their suit.” We all as one have been weighed, we have been measured and we have been found wanting…the writing is on the wall man…what wall? The wall of our hearts. We all know don’t we…that we’re sinners and we fall short of perfection… • The law of what to do and what not to do would have God chasing us around all of the time like a wild dog off of a leach…I just witnessed this with the family a few days ago…we came around the corner on a street and we see this dog just running for it with a grown man sprinting after it yelling “Fifi nooooooo” as it got closer to the road that we were on…that is not God’s desire for His children! That is what religion teaches though. Paul would say to the Jew, that is what following the law will get you, a tight leash…but instead, His desire from the very beginning has been for us to not be in bondage to the law but alive unto Him! • But we have a problem don’t we? hypdikos (paa-di-kas). We know we have fallen short of perfection, we all even though we strive to be good, we strive to do well, we all still make mistakes and we all still have the disease of sin within us… • Well the Jew knew it too but they made their boast in circumcision, they boasted in the external keeping of the law…they were so meticulous and calculated in all that they did, in every move they made…to the point that they had fallen into self deception that fooled them into believing that when they stood before God they could demand entrance into heaven based on their own righteousness…Paul pretty much pukes here and he says, “shut up!” He does! It’s right there in verse 19, the translators have just been PC…he says, “pas stoma phrasso,” and the translators tell us that means “every mouth stopped,” but what he’s saying here is “shut yo mouth!” • Why? Because that insults the very goodness and love and grace of the Father that has saved him and us you see. That is to stand in front of the righteous King, and reject the loss of His Son for the sake of your own merit. No no no, I’d advise you to, well just as Paul said here, shut your mouth... • And that is the type of righteous indignation that Paul expresses elsewhere in his epistles of those who would take suit even against eachother. Those that would be offended by a brother or a sister in Christ and then when offense is not considered in light of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, how you yourself are in need of much much much grace…you know what happens? Sin. And sin brings division, strife, death, regret and loss. Not innocence, sin never brings innocence. Accusation never brings innocence. It only always brings…guilt! Maybe not immediately, but it’s a coming… • You’re all upset at someone, maybe they corrected you (that’s typically how folks in a church get offended), maybe they didn’t open the door for you, maybe they sat in your seat (oh the horror!), do you think that bitterness you’re allowing will bring about innocence and life? You’ve forgotten bro, you’ve forgotten ‘lil sister that we are all sinners and that Christ showed us what it is to honor Him in that He laid down His life for His friends. You’re in sin…and death is at the door man. Time to love hard, serve for real, and let the Spirit live through you…let the Spirit lead you…lead you right on into victory! • That’s Paul’s plea here…they’re not guilty alone you see…they are godless heathens but you jews, you religious elite are self-righteous mirror worshippers! Circumcision, the law…its all good…but you’re not! • And then practical Paul delivers the smelling salts… Romans Chapter 3 Verses 21 – 23 (and into verse 24) • The Jew, the heathen, the Muslim, the Mormon, the Budhist, the deist, Paul says to all and on all…righteousness is within reach…justification has arrived but quit looking to the law, Paul would say to his Jewish brethren…quit looking to a man, Paul would say to the Muslim and to the Mormon and to the Budhist…look somewhere he would say to the heathen! And that somewhere, is a Someone…Paul delivers the answer to the fret of all mankind right here…righteousness of God, peace with God, justification and redemption…is apart from the law > all laws > and is through faith in Jesus Christ! • Justification man…just-as-if-I-never-sinned. No other name under heaven by which man must be saved. Why? No other name under heaven has ever even claimed to have that power! Judaism, goods outweigh the bads…Islam, goods outweigh the bads…Mormonism, keep to the doctrine and covenants, Catholocism, faith AND good works…all of them! Dealing with everything but the issue of man is utterly fallen and must be utterly redeemed…not by the work of fallen man but by the work of Perfection…or better said…Perfection Himself. • Being justified in through placing your hope, trust…your life in the hands of Jesus Christ does not only mean that your sins are forgiven…that is mercy…it doesn’t only mean that God just loves you and blesses you even though you are a mess…that is grace…it means much much more than that…it means your sins are forgotten! Satan brings accusation against you and God the Father opens the book and says, I have no record of that! That is only only only ONLY found…Paul says it here…quit trying to be good enough Jew, quit suppressing it heathen…you both know that deep down your hope is on wishy washy shifting sand…that clearing away of your sin just-as-if-you-never-had-sinned in the first place…only found in Jesus Christ! • Paul says no matter what, in all men there is no difference. Jew or gentile, black or white, male or female, young or Chin…no difference. Whether you keep to the law or whether you’re a rebel without a cause…all have sinned, all have fallen short of the glory of God…”but now” he says there in verse 21. NOW! Now what? Romans Chapter 3 Verse 24 • Did you catch that? Now what, Paul? What’s the price, what are the rules? If its not the law, if its not circumcision…then tell us, how can we have this justification? Paul says, “freely!” But that’s not just a price tag on our contribution…it is also the destination! What! • You can’t earn it! You can’t learn it! You can’t steal it and you can’t make a deal for it! Paul said back in verse 21 that this righteousness apart from the law is what? REVEALED! Bingo! • How can I grow in my understanding of you? One would awkwardly say it this way, “how is it that the secrets of you, the rhythm of you, the deep secrets of you, how is it that those things are able to revealed to me?” The answer? Relationship! Being with you, talking to you, watching you, staying tight with you…man I will learn the secrets…we will begin to know eachother…the deep truths of you, what makes you tick…all those things are revealed! • I cannot buy information about April. Information that’s worth anything. How can I know her, how can I love her, what does she love, what does she hate…I can buy information that tells me what she likes…but not what she loves you see!? That can only be revealed by my drawing near to her, seeking her…see that? And Paul says here that true, genuine righteousness is not for sale, but it is free…What’s the cost, what must we do, what are the do’s and don’ts they ask… • Paul says here in verse 24, this justification that doesn’t just deal with sin…it erases it…that doesn’t just procure the favor of God and the blessing of God…it restores it to all of its grandor and purity…its free by His grace through redemption…revelation…relationship with and in Christ Jesus. • But what did you mean by destination? We are freely justified by Jesus…all of the law, all of the prophets, all of the Old Testament heros and types were not meant to save us but rather to point us to the Savior and by Him, and Him alone are we made right, for ever in the sight of God the Father and all of eternity…and therefore the gift of God to man…man’s salvation is free…the free gift of God…BUT…by this redemption we also arrive at free! We call it freedom! • Freedom from what? Freedom from decay man, regret…loss…death, stack it up! There’s so much! And the reader would have perceived this readily by what Paul wrote. You see Paul used a specific word here for redemption. There are three words he could have used. • Agorazo means redemption in the Greek. It is a word that draws the picture of a transaction. This slave is $10,000, pay the $10,000 and you have paid the redemption, paid the price for this slave. Congratulations, you have redeemed a slave, bought a slave and now they are your slave. Not the word Paul used. • Exagorazo means redemption in the Greek. It is a word that draws the picture of a final transaction. Congratulations, you have bought a slave and you will never again sell him. Congrats on your new slave for life. Not the word Paul used. • Apolutrosis. Specific word. Odd word to the Jew and the Greek. Hardly ever used. It means redemption in the Greek but it speaks of a slave being bought with the sole purpose of elevation. The sole purpose of making that slave a part of the family and giving him a portion of inheritance. Buying a slave…without rights, without means, without hope, without family…simply to set him free…to give him or her all of those things…never to be sold again. That is the word Paul uses here. • Jesus said in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” Redemption found in the law is redemption to the law, Jews. From one tyrant to another. Redemption found in self is redemption to self. From one tyrant to another. Redemption found in the cults is redemption to the cults. From one slave master to another. Redemption found in Jesus Christ is redemption unto absolute everlasting and eternal freedom and inheritance in the very house and family of the Father of all eternity. • Free to you because the price was paid already…by the precious blood of God Himself…His only Son…all He ever had that was just His…there in verse 25… Romans Chapter 3 Verse 25 • God set forth Paul says there….God gave Him to us…because that was the only way…God set forth Jesus as a propitiation by His blood…what is propitiation? Just what we’ve talked about! Beyond mercy, beyond grace, beyond any law…Jesus restored us man…Jesus has become our worthy sacrifice because He was and is and will always be the only One righteous so that Paul could say here that God has passed over our sins…Jesus has paid the full price, purchased us all for the purpose of setting us free… • Not covering the sin like the law did…not ignoring the sin like the heathen did…not outweighing the sin like all the religions try to do…erasing the sin man…God has moved on you see…that is the thought here…we use the word forgotten because that is all we have in the limitations of human understanding…but the idea is that Jesus has walked you into the courtroom of righteousness and although there is one who has kept a book of all the wrong that you have ever done…that book is not permitted as evidence…and the judge dismisses all charges due to a lack of evidence…and then He sits you right next to Him upon His wonderful bench…amazing. THAT is propitiation…and it is only by Jesus, God makes that clear in verse 26. Romans Chapter 3 Verses 26 – 31 • Paul places the “and so” upon the conversation for us…after shedding light on the state of fallen man, even in light of the laws they believed they were keeping, he comforts them…in Jesus Christ, God Himself, the Messiah…my brothers the law is established. • Galatians 3:24 says that the purpose of the law from the mountain top with Moses to the Book on your laps was always and forever will be to bring us to Jesus Christ. Therefore placing out trust in Jesus, exercising our free will of choice to commit our lives and plans and purposes to Him…to place our faith in only Him…the very purpose for which the law was given is utterly accomplished. How’s that? • The law was a debt. A debt that no man could pay…and so it stood. Mankind must accomplish all of these things perfectly, lest mankind be estranged from God. Because perfection cannot dwell with imperfection. And so God became a man, and just as through one man, sin entered…through One Man sin was defeated. The law was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He humbled Himself, took on the form of man, walked as we walk, hungered as we hunger, suffered as we suffer, loved as we love…yet without sin. • You shall have no other Gods before Me. He didn’t. You shall not make for yourself any idols. He didn’t. You shall not take My name in vain. He didn’t. You shall remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. He did. You will honor your father and mother. He did. You will not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, not bear false witness, not covet…these things never even entered in His heart. And the law observed, the school master watched…and upon Jesus’ gift of His body and blood for all of mankind…the law looked upon creation and sighed with relief and rested… • Jesus said it is finished. Your slavery. Your separation from your father…it is finished. Walk with Him into the courtroom of your heart…your day…your life…your eternity…don’t go it alone…take His hand, walk with Him…and be free…NOW.
We have seen great calamity upon the earth ever since the beginning of Chapter 6 and the time of the Great Tribulation. Horrific scenes such as the four horsemen we saw at the beginning of Chapter 6 and with them came a false peace upon the earth of sorts, where one man would come onto the scene and assume power and have an answer… And answer to what? Well poverty, currency, economy, politics, foreign relations…and answer to why millions of people just vanished…but his answer will involve evil…as the red horse will bring war, or as John puts it…it will be acceptable for people to just simply kill people… The black horse rides in bringing desperation, if you recall, but not for everyone…John tells us that the black horse doesn’t harm the oil and the wine…giving us a hint that there is an elite group, or nation, or peoples that are just fine during this…in other words…at peace. And its humanistic in that regard, because peace is relative isn’t it? Haven’t there been so many on the scene through the years touting and protesting for “world peace?” Well what if two argue over a parking space somewhere? What if two fight on the screen and we herald it as sport? What if two nations, two small nations, continue with aggression while the rest of the nations just chill. Would all of those situations be called “world peace?” Wouldn’t the entire world have to be peaceful and resting for the term “world peace” to be correct? The obvious answer is “yes.” And so “world peace” is a fassade, it is a trick you see…so that those in luxury and comfort can stand in judgment over the rest of the world crowning themselves “progressive” and superior in intellect and thought because they are out there parading on the platform of “world peace” that is not possible in a world that contains sin! And so too, this time, this tribulation, although there is death, there is desperation, there are even horrid signs and wonders such as the locusts that have come out of the abyss there in Chapter 9 that are grotesque and given power to wage a 5 month long zombie apocalypse upon the earth…even as the earth itself is struck by fire in the form of hail eating up the vegetation and even the sun is struck there in Chapter 8…even so, there will be a pseudo peace upon the earth. Because there will be one operating under the power and the influence of Lucifer himself that will seemingly have all of the answers. He will have direction that seems rational, plausible and although it entails the rejection and killing of people, that will be completely acceptable to the decrepid and deceived folks that are left upon the earth. You don’t thing that is possible? That an entire people will approve of mass killings? Have you studied history? But remember, the oil and the wine will not be harmed…and a false peace, an elite peace of sorts will reign…what will that look like? We don’t have time for a complete, in-depth study on eschatology but we have time for a little one. During this period of time, the Great Tribulation, the 7 year period right before the end of all things, the Antichrist will head a confederacy, an elite group, and according to Daniel Chapter this confederacy will consist of 10 nations. At first, he will pretend to be Israel’s deliverer, he will have the answers to the ethnic tensions between the Jew and the Arab that have existed ever since Issac and Ishmael, the brothers…one the father of the Jews, the other the father of the Arabs, both sons of Abraham. According to Daniel Chapter 9, the Antichrist will make an alliance with the Jew and after he has conquered the nations from the south, north and east, with the popular support of the entire world…at that moment, as detailed for us in Daniel Chapter 11, he will reveal his true evil character and his hatred for Israel and for God. How will he do it? Just as Jesus said he would in Matthew Chapter 24. Under the guise of Israel’s protector and deliverer, he will enter into the rebuilt temple and will commit the abomination of desolation, and this will occur at the midpoint of the Great Tribulation. Jesus said in Matthew 24, “therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of thought Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)…run.” And all those listening to Him would have looked puzzled…the abomination that causes desolation? That already happened. Antiochus IV, the Syrian King…who named himself, took the title “Theos Epiphanes,” which literally means, “manifest god,” was written of by Daniel…this Syrian king ruled between 175 and 165 BC and Daniel tells us in Daniel Chapter 11 that Antiochus Epiphanes gained his throne by “coming in peaceably and seizing the kingdom by intrigue.” Wow, sounds familiar. Daniel continues in Chapter 11 of his book to tell us of the excursions of Antiochus into the adversarial nations surrounding Israel under some sort of agreement or covenant with the nation of Israel but then in verse 28 of Daniel Chapter 11 we read how Antiochus broke that treaty and turned against his previously established holy covenant which concluded with him desecrating the temple which we read about in verse 31 of Daniel Chapter 11. So what was Jesus saying? Precisely what Daniel would go on to say after laying out the story of Antiochus in Chapter 11…that Antiochus was just a type…a type of one to come. And the one coming, would do the same thing! And so Jesus said, “when you see,” referring to a future event and then what did Matthew add? “Let the reader understand.” The reader? Oh yes, so in other words this revelation from Jesus given during this conversation in Matthew 24 was not for them that heard it but rather for us who would read it and unpack it how? Revelationally…by studying the Revelation of Jesus Christ! By having the Word of God, open on our laps, our minds aware and awake to the times in which we live and our spirits alive by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We are the readers. This is the revelation! But that’s only half the story… As we get into Chapter 11 and onward through Chapter 19, we will see the second half of the Great Tribulation. We know that we are at the halfway point by the clues given to us here in Chapter 11, the number of days and such…and in that we know that the antichrist is making his way right now, into the temple to betray the nation of Israel, proclaim himself to be god and commit the abomination of desolation within the Holy of Holies… But meanwhile, in heaven is John and the rest of the church and John is about to interact with yet another angel… Revelation Chapter 11 Verse 1 • So John is told by the angel to measure the temple of God, the altar and even those who worship there. This presupposes, or implies, that there indeed, at this point in the Great Tribulation a functioning temple! Precisely aligned with the prophecy of Daniel, the teachings of Jesus, the writings of Paul… • And its interesting today, right now…on the scene…we can look it up online and see the pictures, watch the videos…there are institutes in Israel that are supporting by folks all around the world that are making preparations for the fourth temple. And guess what, they’re about done… • The garments of the priests, complete and hanging on hangars…just waiting…the breastplate of the High Priest, the golden grown that he is to wear…all ready. The Holy Temple Visitors Center…can you believe this…opened just a few weeks ago! March 27th! Ready to go! We got the garments, we got the crowns, we got the procedures, we got the animals for the sacrifices, we got the applause of world as money is flowing in, we even have the Visitors Center!!! What else? What about the priests? Yep, got them too! Two Yeshivas, or schools, have been open for years training young men with the last name “Cohen” and what does “Cohen” mean in Hebrew? “Priest!” Check out templeinstitute.org when you get a chance. You’ll see all of this and it’s amazing! • Why rebuild the temple we might ask of the nation Israel? I mean the people have lived without a temple for nearly 2,000 years, and seem to be doing fine without one. Well here’s why. Out of the 613 divine commandments that you find in the Torah, one-third of them or 202 are totally dependent on the existence of the temple and the Orthodox Jewish community believes that the current state of Judaism is what it is, and they use the term spiritually bankrupt, because of their lack of a temple. They have instituted “remembrances” in place of the missing commandments and believe that in order to restore Judaism to its magnificence and fully restore the Jews as a nation to God, the temple must be rebuilt. • Does this mean that we will see the temple rebuilt before the rapture of the church? Is this what we are to look for? Not necessarily, why? Because there is a rather large obstacle in the way; A mosque known as the Dome of the Rock. But, huge but here, just in recent history a discovery and a conclusion has been made that unpacks the end times scenario with clarity…look at verse 2… Revelation Chapter 11 Verse 2 • How long is 42 months? You got it, 3 and a half years. Mid-way point in the Great Tribulation. • What is meant here by “leave out the court which is outside the temple, because it has been given over to the gentiles, or the heathen?” Until only a few years ago, no one really knew. • You see in the late 600s, a man named Omar built a mosque on the 35 acre platform over the rock believed to be the site where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son. However right about that time, a man named Mohammad emerged on the scene proclaiming that an angel had appeared to him and dictated to him new revelation and he presented the Quran, exalting himself to the position of God’s only prophet…and what does the Quran say of Abraham? That it was Ishmael that was the chosen son of Abraham who was nearly sacrificed at that site… • When was Genesis written? Who wrote the Book of Genesis? Moses right? When did Moses die? Around 1400BC. So 2000 years later, what has been written from antiquity and is fact regarding Abraham, Issac and Jacob…is now Abraham, Ishmael and Esau? And it was an angel that did all this…you got it, a fallen angel. Paul warned us about this in Galatians Chapter 1, well before it happened in the year 600 AD. • But now this site, which was believed to be the original site of the Jewish temple, had been claimed by this new religion, Islam as their most holy place which renders a rebuilding of the Jewish temple impossible because the Muslims would immediately invade Israel if anything happened to that mosque, what we know as the Dome of the Rock. • Ah, but about thirty years ago, after spending 16 years studying the temple mount area, a physicist and archeologist at Hebrew University named Dr. Asher Kaufman came to some remarkable conclusions. In 1983 he released the results of his findings within the March/April issue of Biblical Archaeological Review. In that he declared with sound evidence and conclusive analysis that while the Mosque of Omar has been assumed for years to be built directly over the site of the Jewish temple, the actual location of the Jewish temple foundation is one hundred meters to the north! • What is one hundred meters to the north of the Dome of the Rock? A small gazebo like structure, below which was found, and is now exposed, bedrock of the original temple! Now why is bedrock important? Because the rock upon which the Mosque of Omar is built is very jagged and uneven…it doesn’t even make sense to build upon it…but one hundred meters to the north…flat, leveled…perfect for a structure you see… • And not only more logical, Kaufman’s conclusion reveals other answers to mysteries that have been set aside for centuries…You see according to the Mishna, the highly esteemed book of Jewish oral traditions, when the priest stood in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he could look through the veil, through the door, and see the Eastern Gate directly before him. • In 1970 it was concluded once and for all that the original Eastern Gate is directly below the present Eastern Gate…now guess what you cannot see directly from the Dome of the Rock? You got it…however go 100 meters to the north…the Eastern Gate is in plain view! • What does all of this mean! It means that the Orthodox Jews are very active and excited! Why? Because the temple can indeed be rebuilt and the Dome of the Rock can certainly remain right where it's at! And you know what that would make the mosque location? The outer courtyard of the temple or more traditionally stated, the Court of the Gentiles! • Now can you believe that there’s even more…one last knockout punch that absolutely assures us that God’s Word is on point?! The angel says there to John in verse 2 that the court has been “given” to the Gentiles. Notice he doesn’t say that they took it…its that word didomi in the Greek literally meaning “given with permission” kinda like a gift… • Here’s the mind blower! During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Israelis launched a preemptive strike against the Arabs and recaptured the city of Jerusalem. General Moshe Dayan could have easily booted the Muslims off the perceived temple mount at this time saying, “you lost, too bad, get out…” I mean it was a war! The Jewish nation had won…they had overcome the Arabs entirely! But he didn’t do that! • In a gesture that he himself never explained, he let them retain control of the 35 acre parcel. Thus, the outer court of the temple remains today, check it, “given” to the gentiles. • Amazing isn’t it! How history catches up the Bible. How succinctly true and on point the scripture is? I’m so encouraged by the details of the Bible man and how they are all so perfectly on point! One further detail and then we’ll close…and get into the two witnesses next week… • Who will rebuild this temple? Who will be the one to declare the peaceful, world-peace solution of coexistence there with the Jewish temple right next to the Muslim temple…you guessed it…the AntiChrist man…that will most likely be a huge part of his peace plan but they will not live happily every after…only 42 months says the angel…and then the AntiChrist will betray everyone except himself, just as Lucifer did in heaven…and the second half of the Great Tribulation will commence which we are at the very cusp of in our study through this wonderful book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
In Chapter 1, Paul addressed the unrighteous heathen. The ungodly character trait of the carnal minded man that lives out his life suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and serving self…and in that we looked in depth at who indeed is being served. Just like Eve was not serving herself when she took of the apple, right? She was indeed serving the serpent, she was serving the enemy. Such is the condition of the heathen. In Chapter 2 Paul deals with the self-righteous hypocrite. Talking about hey you who condemn the heathen for stealing, yet you steal…and the hardness of your heart towards the things of God has led you into trusting in works rather than living a lifestyle of repentance…which is absolutely inevitable when one is cognizant of the goodness of God. So Paul has gone from zero-righteousness, to self-righteousness and now he will address in Chapter 3 genuine righteousness. And there’s only one kind of that…only one place that true righteousness is found…Paul calls it out in Chapter 3 verse 21, “the righteousness of God.” And what is it? This righteous of God? A most shocking statement to the Jew, a most shocking statement to the cults, a most shocking statement maybe even to some of you today, Paul says there in verses 21 and 22 that “the righteousness of God is revealed…apart from the law…which is through faith alone in Jesus Christ!” Paul declared in Chapter 1, “Creation condemns the unrighteous.” He proclaimed in Chapter 2, “Conscience within a man condemns the self-righteous.” And in Chapter 3, we will hear him say that the law itself even condemns the ultra-righteous Jew. One man living life worshipping evil, completely given over to the things of evil. One man living life worshipping self, and one man living life believing they are right by who they are, what they do…all of them, dead wrong…because the reality is, man is made right by who Jesus is and what Jesus has done! Paul is leading us in the fundamentals, man. And he continues that lesson for us here in Chapter 3. Romans Chapter 3 Verse 1 • Paul is one of the most practical guys we’ll find in scripture. He just told the Jews that having the law does not justify a person. It is in the keeping of the law that one may find justification. Ah, but he is leading us to an end isn’t he…because in just a couple of verses, in verse 20 he will say that no flesh is justified by the law. It’s an impossibility! • So what is he saying here to the Jew and to us? That physical circumcision really has no value in just the ritual itself. It is the circumcision of the heart…spiritual circumcision that is the real will of God in a person’s life…cutting away the things of the flesh. • Therefore, if a person is really walking after the Spirit, though he may not have had the physical rite of circumcision, still God counts what is in his heart. And so if circumcision doesn't really do anything for me, if having the law doesn't really do anything for me as far as giving me a righteous standing before God…if the Jew is on the same level as the gentile, then the question would naturally arise, and Paul brings it up in chapter 3, verse 1. What good is it? • So Paul answers there continuing in verse 2… Romans Chapter 3 Verse 2 • You gotta imagine how that any Jew reading this letter from Paul by now would be so messed up that their clothes are torn, ash is on their head and they’ve probably even plucked their beards out! Circumcision is useless now? Having and following the law is useless now? The gentile dogs have righteousness equal to mine? The sky is falling, man! • But Paul puts up an umbrella here, lest the Jew be drowned in sorrow…I mean their whole life, from birth even, they’ve been taught how to be quite different than their gentle neighbors…especially in Rome where gross idolatry is rampant, and now Paul is asking them to declare bankruptcy on who they are…who they have raised their children to be…who they have aspired to become…and that is precisely what being born of the Spirit is all about! • We are not right with God because we are good little boys and girls. We are not blessed of God and given an inheritance in heaven because we simply believe as fact that He is Jahovah, Yahweh, God of all the ages. We become the family of God when we are born again by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit… after not just believing that God is but by receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “who is My mother, who are My brothers?” and He stretched His hand out towards His disciples and He said, “here they are, for whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12) That’s family talk. • And what is the will of the Father in heaven? Or maybe better said this way, what kind of person is on the finger end of Jesus’ outstretched hand as He identifies His disciples? John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed,” and the kicker, “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” • We must declare bankruptcy on self. On selfish ambition, self-filled concessions we have made with sin thinking we are covered by some “special grace, some sort of grace that says even though sin continues, so too does closeness with God.” When the Bible is so very clear that submission to God’s plan and repentance of sin, turning away from it and turning on to the things of God, is our only path to relationship with Him. • But you see, so many find that so difficult that they miss relationship and settle for religion. But that breaks the heart of God because just as I desire to know my children, even more so, eternally more so, God the Father desires to know His. • His will was never for the Jew to be a battery powered law-abiding robot…no. His plan was to bless them by revealing Himself through them…you see it was never about them. It was never about Abraham…it was always, in all ways, about Jesus Christ. The Word made flesh. And Paul is pulling out all of the stops to lead the Jew, and even us today, in utter bankruptcy out of our own righteousness which is filth in the presence of a holy God and into the righteousness that is only to be found in Jesus Christ…that’s called brokenness in Biblical terms…so that we might simply place our hearts in the hands of the One who bears the scars of our freedom. • And so Paul here pops open his umbrella and comforts the confused Jew. What advantage? Much! And in every way…but chiefly, or most importantly, the oracles of God, or better said, the Word of God, the truth of God was committed unto them and that is a tremendous advantage! Never underestimate the advantage of having the Word of God! • The entire race of mankind actually owes a great debt to the Jewish people, why? Because not only was it through them that the Oracles of God were given to the world, but it was also through their painstaking effort that the Word of God has been preserved for centuries upon centuries…what is their profit them? Much Paul says! Romans Chapter 3 Verses 3 – 4 • Paul is saying here that the oracles of God, the Word of God is just that…God’s Word, man, and really, in the reality of it, even if someone, anyone, anytime, anywhere doesn’t believe God’s Word…their unbelief, or maybe even your own unbelief, doesn’t make God’s Word less true at all! Man will still reap what he sows always in accordance with God’s Word, believer and non-believer alike. • That is one of the things that has strengthened my faith over and over again as the years have passed because no matter who the person is, no matter even what my own personal situation or circumstance is, God’s Word is always true. What God’s word says will come to pass. Consistently, every time. Why? Paul tells us here, “the faithfulness of God is effective, man!” Nothing changes that. It has never changed and never will change. Not for one moment through the entire history of time has God been unfaithful. He keeps His promises and His Word, in every situation, is true! • And that is why when there are issues in my life or in yours’, I turn to the faithfulness of God. What does the Word say? Your marriage struggling? Ephesians says “wives, come under the covering and leadership of your own husbands as unto the Lord, and husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” There it is. The answer for every marriage! • Your young children misbehaving and disobedient? Proverbs 29 says to discipline your child and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. Hebrews 12:11 tells us how, with pain. Hebrews 12 says for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Proverbs 13 says whoever spares the rod hates his child but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. And while that diligence in discipline persists physically, the Bible says spiritual discipline must also be there. Proverbs 22 says to train your child in the way he should go and when he grows old, that will be his way. Invest in your children, man. Discipline, Bible reading, prayer, that is all investment…and it is non-negotiable if you desire your children to not only delight your heart but make it in a terribly darkening world… • Hey but if you’re not willing to love her husband, if you’re not willing to respect him wife, if you’re not willing to spank them dad, if you’re not willing to read the Bible with them mom…then guess what, even so…God’s Word will be true…and your marriage will be a mess and your children will be a mess. • Oh but submission to God’s Word, God’s faithfulness will produce what Paul says here in the end of verse 4, you will overcome…the only only only question is are you going to follow man (which last I checked we are all of the order of man) which Paul says here everyone is a liar, or are you going to choose to follow God, who Paul says here, and we know, is true? • Now, how on earth are you going to choose God’s Word and truth over the lies of this world if you yourself have no idea those verses that we just covered even exist? So be in the Word of God, devouring it, investing in your family and your children and God Himself…that’s what time in the Word is man…it is investment, storing your treasures where they cannot be stolen…and when the time of judgment comes, just like it says there in verse 4, you will overcome. Romans Chapter 3 Verses 5 - 8 • Paul anticipates the question…he understands his audience and the Jews reasoning would have been then why not do as we please since God’s righteousness will prevail? This is just the kind of counter-intuitive, ridiculous and outright silly type of arguments that you will encounter when you are sharing the wonderful faithfulness of God and His abundant grace. • You know, you give a truth of God to someone, and that person maybe on the street, maybe in the office, maybe even in the mirror begins to give hypothetical cases or they begin to try to reason out with the human intellect. No, doesn’t work that way. God is bigger than our intellect. It’s a heart connection He desires, not a connection of agreement, He wants hearts cause the heart drives us…and so God’s truths…they are understood in the heart, not the mind. But the carnal heart of a person living after their own affections always tries to mold God into their own image rather than allowing God to transform them into His image… • This is the particular argument that Paul is saying. Here I am. God declares that all men are sinners and that the grace of God abounds to sinners, and God loves to show His grace in the forgiveness of sinful man. Therefore, by my going out and sinning, I am giving God an opportunity to show His righteousness through faith and His glorious grace. Or by my ignoring my wife and being a calloused towards her, I’m giving her an opportunity to grow…pastor said growth only comes through difficulty! And so my unrighteousness really is magnifying the righteousness of God, therefore, why would God judge me for being unrighteous? I am just showing how good He is when He forgives. And Paul says, man you have got it all wrong and you’re condemning yourself… • In fact Paul speaks in a particularly serious tone here and he says something that is found nowhere else in all of scripture. He uses the phrase, “condemnation that is just.” Wow! Twisting scriptures man, taking the truth of God and manipulating it for personal justification of sinful indulgence and lifestyle…results in condemnation. It’s actually the word krina in the Greek, which could also be translated, damnation…and that condemnation, that destruction…is just. That’s scary. Why? • Because Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 12, “every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but one…you see one will receive what we could call just condemnation…and that is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” This is it. Rejection of the Word of God man. Rejection of Jesus Himself as it says there in John Chapter 1 that the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst men. Twisting the word, wrapping human postulation around God’s Word and justifying why we are the way we are…man this is the only place you find this language in the entire Bible…that business will bring about just damnation. • Upon our marriages. Upon our families. Upon our careers. Upon our churches…because we have rejected the truth for the lie and we sleep well at night having justified in our minds why we are not following Jesus…let that be not so here, amongst this body of Christ. In Jesus name. • But it is our natural bent. To defend our sinful nature and to justify our independence from God. When He has created us wonderfully to need Him…and to depend upon Him…but we condemn ourselves as we run…and here Paul tells us God’s indictment against all men…look at verses 9 – 20. God is hereby declaring the condition of man apart from God… Romans Chapter 3 Verses 9 – 18 • Did you catch the details of that indictment? First of all that it includes all men…Verse 9 started out that whether Jew or gentile we are all under sin man…and we would be swift to defend ourselves against these charges…that all of man, all of us, are void of righteousness…that none of us understand or seek after God…that we have all turned aside to error. Our hearts are deceitful and we are bent, we have a bad habit, and its called destruction…we collect misery like baseball cards and peace flees…why? Because we do not heed God’s Word…we have not the capability to… • So what are we to do? The Jew would ask this of Paul, we would ask the same…what are we to do…we’ll see this in depth next week, as Paul answers that question for us…but the answer is found in the second half of Chapter 3…through faith in Jesus Christ…justification freely enters and redemption arrives… • Through Jesus man, knowing Him, loving Him, trusting Him, drawing near to Him, accepting His truth and rejecting our own rational lie…we CAN be righteous and intimate with a holy God…we CAN understand and see His salvation…we CAN seek God…We WILL not be destroyed by misery but rather WE WILL destroy IT! And peace will be the after taste of our days…as we by His indwelling Spirit, trust in His Word and follow hard after Him…