Sunday, December 10, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "The Genealogy of Jesus"

“The Genealogy of Jesus”
The Gospel of Matthew
December 10, 2017 :: Matthew 1:1-17 

This is the first message in our new series which will be on the Gospel of Matthew.

I wanted to have a fancy schmancy title for the series like we did for Gospel Roots or the Truth of the Gospel in Galatians, but I haven’t thought of one for Matthew yet. I’ll keep working on it, but for now we’ll just call it “The Gospel of Matthew” which is exactly what it is.

Let me tell you why we’re going to study Matthew next.

It’s my brother’s fault.

At Thanksgiving while we were eating a delicious turkey dinner, I was telling my brother Andy that we were really close here to finishing our series in Galatians and the Gospel Roots series, and he asked me what was next.

And I told him I didn’t know.

I started to list the books that I have preached through in the last 19 and a half years. For example, I have preached through the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John.

And I told him that I expected to preach a few messages about Advent and Christmas and then start something new in the new year.

I told Andy about having finished The Books of Kings at the beginning of last year and that I didn’t think it was quite time to go back to the Big Story of the Old Testament yet.

I said, “I just don’t know what the Lord would have me do next.”

And he turned to me and said, “Well, it seems like December would be a perfect time to start the Gospel of Matthew with the birth of Jesus and everything. And you haven’t done that one yet.”

And I’m like “....yeah, yeah, that would be a perfect time to start Matthew...”

And a few weeks later, here we are.

So if you enjoy the Gospel of Matthew, you can thank my brother Andy. If you don’t, you can blame him! I’m sure I will blame him at times as I’m writing messages! What are brothers for, anyway?!

The Gospel of Matthew is a wonderful book full of spiritual treasure. We are going to learn all kinds of glorious things as we study it together.

Matthew is a theological biography of the Lord Jesus Christ written, I think, by one of His very own disciples, Matthew/Levi. A man whose life was radically transformed by knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’s life, His example, His teaching, His amazing sacrifice on the Cross, and His Resurrection–Matthew gives us a marvelous, inspired perspective on all of these things.

It’s the most Jewish of the four gospels. It may have been written specifically to reach the Jews with the gospel. Matthew quotes the Old Testament again and again and again, and one of his favorite words is the word “fulfill.” There are like 60 Old Testament references in this book, and Matthew shows how Jesus fulfills them all.

This book has it all. Remember those parables we learned about at Family Bible Week? There’s tons of them in here. There’s also prophecy. If you enjoyed last week’s message on the Return of Christ, wait till we get to Matthew 24 and 25! And there are miracles, and there’s the Sermon on the Mount, and there’s the Great Commission, our marching orders to make disciples. And there is Jesus’ promise to build His church.

We’re going to learn so much about Jesus and how to follow Him in these sacred pages.

I’m really excited to get started.

And the book even starts out really exciting.

It begins with a 17 verse genealogy! 

Eh. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to get all that excited about genealogies.

They’re kind of “meh” for me.

My Mom loves them! I asked her a simple genealogical question yesterday about our family tree, and I got a long impassioned answer back with three attachments!

I don’t know how you feel about genealogy, but the Jews of Matthew’s day would feel more like my Mom does than like I do when they encountered the opening words of Matthew chapter 1.

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham...”

That would have caused them all to sit up and pay attention.

“Did you say genealogy?”

“About whom?”

“Jesus? Who is that?”

“Jesus Christ [or Messiah] the son of David, the son of Abraham?”

Those are big words!

Those are big claims.

We’re used to those words, but imagine being a first century Jew and hearing them for the first time.

“Who do you think this person is? Who is this book about?

By dropping those names, you’re saying that this Jesus person is ‘the goal and climax of Israel’s history’” (Craig Keener’s phrase).

You’re saying the Messiah has arrived, and He’s on the scene.

This week, my son Andrew turned 16, and we went down to the DMV for him to take his knowledge test to get his learner’s permit to start driving.

And the guy behind the counter would not take my word for it that Drew was Andrew Charles Mitchell, aged 16.

He wanted documentation. He wanted proof. He wanted his credentials to be presented. He wanted I.D.

This genealogy is one form of ID for Jesus.

It’s a presentation of his legal and royal and spiritual credentials.

A presentation that would have gotten the attention of a first century Jew.

It’s not arranged like we do genealogies today. It’s not focused on dates or chronology or shoehorning in all of the irrelevant data that he could find.

No, instead, Matthew carefully arranges his material and deliberately presents it in a highly stylized way to make his theological argument. It’s good history, but it’s history done a different way than we are used to.

It’s fascinating, when you study it, to see what Matthew includes and what he leaves out.

I mean, the genealogy in Matthew 1 is significantly different in places than the genealogy in Luke chapter 3. And they are both the true genealogies of the same man!

I used to think that it was because Luke was Mary’s genealogy, and Matthew is Joseph’s. That’s possible, but I think unlikely.

I think they’re both Joseph’s genealogy, but Luke’s goes through the biological DNA line and Matthew goes through the line of royal succession and then they meet at the end. (And there are probably some Levirite marriages in there, too.) They are both really good history, but they are tracking it in a different way than we are used to doing.

To get what Matthew is saying, we’ve got to learn to think like a first century Jew.

We’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who has been waiting a very very very long time for God’s promises to be fulfilled, God’s perfect king to come, and God’s salvation to be accomplished.

And for four hundred years, there has been no Scripture. No prophetic voice breaking the silence.

And now Matthew comes on the scene and writes, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham...”

Notice in verse 1, that Matthew makes 3 big claims about Jesus.

He says that Jesus is:

- The Christ
- The Son of David
- The Son of Abraham.

And then he sets out to prove that, and really does in the opposite order.

Son of Abraham, Son of David, The Christ.

What I want to do is step down through these 3 kind of paragraphs or sets of genealogies and for each one, make one major point of application for our lives today.

In verse 17, Matthew is going to say that he’s given us 3 sets of 14 generations.

And that’s, maybe, so that we can memorize them. Like a mnemonic device. Or maybe he’s actually emphasizing something else by doing it that way which I’ll try to show you in a little bit.

But let’s take the first one (verses 2-6) that starts with Father Abraham.

And that’s interesting that Matthew starts there. Luke actually starts with Jesus and then works all the way back to Adam and God!

Matthew flows the other direction, and he starts with Abraham.

Remember Abraham? We’ve talked about him a lot this year in connection with the book of Galatians.

He shows up for the first time in the book of Genesis.

Abraham is called by God to leave Ur and to go to what we now call “The Promised Land.”

Why is it called that? Because God promised it to him!

Do you remember the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.

If you know your Old Testament, the book of Matthew will make a lot more sense than if you’ve never read your Old Testament.

What did God promise Abraham?

Offspring, Land, and Blessing.

And the whole big story of the Old Testament is the long and winding path to see those promises fulfilled.

Isn’t it? Genesis. At the end of Genesis how many people in Abraham’s family? 70. How much land do they own? Just a burial plot. They are actually living in Egypt.

How much blessing. A little bit. A lot more to come.

God promised that all of the nations on Earth would be blessed through Abraham and his seed.

What did Galatians teach us about that?

Galatians 3:16, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is...[whom?] Christ.”

Because Jesus is THE Son of Abraham:

#1. HE WILL REALIZE ALL OF GOD’S PROMISES.

He’s the One.

He’s the One through whom all of God’s promises will be realized.

That’s what Matthew is claiming.

Matthew is saying, “We’ve found the One that fulfills Genesis 12, and Genesis 15, and Genesis 18, and Genesis 22.”

We’ve been waiting a long time, but the Son of Abraham has arrived.

There are lots of sons of Abraham. But that’s not what Matthew is saying. He’s not saying that Jesus is a Jew. He is saying that Jesus is THE JEW.

And that all blessing is found in Him.

He starts to give the line. V.2

“Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,”

Those names should be very familiar to you. If they aren’t, go read Genesis again.

The promise is given, and it’s passed down. First to Isaac and then (not to Esau) but to Jacob, and then to all of Jacob’s sons.

How many sons did he have?  12. The twelve tribes of Israel.

But Matthew singles out one of them. Judah. Why Judah, why not Joseph?

Because it’s through the tribe of Judah that the ruler will come (see Genesis 49:10). The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Do you remember a few years ago when we tracked that lion together?

It’s Jesus.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, then? V.3

“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar...”

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Hold up there. That’s very unusual. Back in that time, it was very unusual to include the names of women in a genealogy. You might include a queen or two. We saw that back in the Books of Kings.

But this lady dressed up as a prostitute to trick her wicked step-father into siring these twins to carry on her line and to carry on the promise.

You don’t see that very often in a genealogy.

And in the holy Scriptures, no less!

That’s different. Why do you think that Matthew includes this lady who (while not acting righteously was acting more righteously, according to Judah, than he was!)?

And she was a Canaanite!

Why did she make it into Jesus’s genealogy?

You know what? There are 5 women in here. Not just Tamar. And they are conspicuous.

Four of them are foreigners. At least 3 of them were sexually promiscuous and their children weren’t necessarily what we call quite “legitimate.”

In many ways, they were used. They were treated shamefully with very little representation and advocacy and basic dignity.

They probably would have used the hashtag “Me, too” were they on social media today.

These woman are in the bloodline of the Messiah. And Matthew wants to show us that. Why do you think?

Keep following the line. V.3

Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, [We’ve gotten into the times of Exodus and Numbers now] Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab...”

Are those names familiar to you?

We’ve reached the books of Joshua and Judges.

By the way, Matthew is skipping lots of names. He isn’t trying to give you every single link between Abraham and Joseph.

There are hundreds of years going on here.

And that’s normal. The word for “father” or “begat” in the old King James English can also mean “grandfather” or “great-grandfather” or “ancestor.” It shows line-of-descent, not necessarily just one step in that line.

We don’t have a good word for it in English. “Was the father of” is the best we can do right now.

Same thing with “whose mother was” in verse 5.

Rahab the prostitute. Do you remember her from the book of Joshua?

She hid the spies. She believed in the God of Israel. She let the spies get away and they came back for her. And she became a part of Israel.

In fact, she married into Israel. Her descendent was an upright man named “Boaz.”

Remember Boaz from the book of...what?  Ruth. V.5

“Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.”

Now, before we get into David, let’s remember what Matthew is proving. All along, Matthew is showing that Jesus is the Son of Abraham par excellence.

And because He’s the Son of Abraham, He will be God’s instrument to realize all of God’s promises for Israel and for the nations!

In other words, Jesus is where the blessing is.

God is faithful. God always keeps His promises.

And He’s made some big ones. And sometimes it seems like they’re never going to come. You might be feeling that right now...

But those promises are all YES and AMEN in Jesus.

He will fulfill them all.

So this is a call to be patient and to, like Abraham, trust God and wait on His promises to be realized.

And believe that they have arrived in the coming of Jesus.

Don’t go anywhere else. Jesus is where the blessing is.

Now, this next set of genealogies is very important to Matthew.

This is where his telling of the story diverges from Luke’s and (to some degree) from 1 Chronicles, as well.

And I think it’s because Matthew wants to emphasize the royalty of Jesus.

He is the Son of David, par excellence.

In verse 6, David is called “King David.”

He’s the only one in Matthew’s genealogy to have his title listed. There are many other kings, but he’s the only one called “King” in this list.

And I think that’s important because in verse 1, Matthew made a big deal about Jesus being the Son of David.

In other words, He’s the King...of Kings!

Right? He’s the fulfillment, not just of Genesis 12, 15, 18, and 22.

He’s also the fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7.

Remember when we studied 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel a few years ago?

Sometimes we call it the Davidic Covenant?

That King David would have a descendent that would be the King that would reign over Israel perfectly? And have an eternal kingdom?

“Great David’s Greater Son”

Do you remember these? Thumbs-up or Thumbs-down from the Books of Kings?

They just had one job, lead the nation in covenant faithfulness.

How many were two thumbs up? Not very many?

How about David. Sometimes. But look at verse 6 again.

“David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife...”

Matthew had to put that in there!

Bathsheba. Mrs. Uriah. David was a murderer and an adulterer.

That was the lowest point in his behavior, and it led to the lowest points in his life.

How about Solomon?

He was pretty good for a while there. Building and dedicating the temple. Writing those Songs and Proverbs, exercising that phenomenal wisdom.

But then he just about lost it. Marrying all of those wives. Bowing down to other gods.

I like to think he came back and that Ecclesiastes tells us the story.

But he wasn’t two thumbs up. V.7

“Solomon the father of Rehoboam [thumbs down, the kingdom splits], Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.”

Those names should be familiar to you. We just went over all of them (and the rest that Matthew skips over) in 2016.

Like a broken a record.

So many thumbs down.

A few bright lights. A little thumb up every once in a while. Asa, Uzziah, Hezekiah, Josiah.

But so many thumbs down. And down. And down until the exile was inevitable.

But they were the kings! And where there is a kingly line, there is hope.

Do you remember last year’s advent readings and sermons?

They were based on Isaiah 11. The Trudes read it to us last week again.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

Jesus is the Son of King David.

And because of that:

#2. HE WILL RULE ALL OF GOD’S KINGDOM.

The exile will come to an end.

The book of Lamentations will be reversed.

His kingdom will come and it will last forever.

Isaiah 9!  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”

That’s what Matthew is saying with this genealogy!

He’s saying that the time of thumbs-down kings is over.

Because their perfect descendant has come.

When the kings are at their best, they reminds us of Jesus.

And when the kings are at their worst, they reminds us of why we need Jesus.

And Matthew says, “Here’s Jesus!”

The King has come!

And His rule and reign will be perfect.

He’ll reign in righteousness.

I long for that. Don’t you?

My personal application of that beyond longing for the return of the King is to submit myself again to His Lordship.

Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth. He says that at the end of Matthew.

And that means that I should act like it. I should obey everything that He has commanded of me.

Because His reign and rule are perfect. I can’t go wrong by following Him. It’s always the right thing to do.

Repentance and redirection in submission is always appropriate before the King of Kings.

Skip down to verse 17. I want to show you one other thing about Jesus being the Son of David. Verse 17 says, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.”

Now, I always thought that meant that he was saying that’s all the generations there were. But he’s actually saying that’s all of the generations I’ve listing for you in each of those 3 eras.

He’s saying, did you catch how I did that? I selected 14 generations. That’s 7 times 2. A doubled perfect, and there is three of them. So much perfection. Perfection is on the way.

And those three eras? From the Abrahmic Promises to the Davidic Promises, to when it all fell apart, to when Jesus came to put it all back together.

He’s saying, “Now it’s show time!”

And there might be another hidden message there. I don’t believe in very many hidden messages in the Bible. I think God put them all right there in plain sight.

But I also think that the first readers would catch subtle stuff, too.

Like the fact that in Hebrew, letters have a numerical value, and the number 14 is the numerical value of the name....want to guess?  DAVID.

And which is the fourteenth name in Matthew’s genealogy?  King David.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Jesus is the Son of David. And because of that, He will rule all of God’s kingdom forever.

One last set. Verses 12 through 16.

See if you know any of these names.

“After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

Most of those names don’t appear anywhere else in Scripture.

Some of you know Shealtiel and Zerubbabel.

Zerubbabel rebuilt the rubb-ible when they came back from the exile.

Most of the men from verse 12 through 15 are unknown to us.

There was no Scripture being written during their lifetimes.

God was silent. The Old Testament was over, and the New had not yet come.

But God was still at work.

Quietly. Very very quietly.

A man named Joseph got married to a woman named Mary and adopted her son.

We’re going to learn next week that before they every came together, she was found to be pregnant.

The word “whom” in verse 16 is feminine.

Jesus was born of Mary, but not of Joseph.

He was the husband of Mary but not the biological father of Jesus.

He was the adoptive father of Jesus.

The legal father of Jesus.

And all of these men who came before him lent their Abrahamic and Davidic lines of succession to him.

And this One was born, Jesus.

Born of a virgin.

Another woman in the genealogy!

But not a promiscuous one. A pure one.

She had never laid a man and yet she gave birth to a son.

The son of Father Abraham.

The son of King David. V.16

“Who is called Christ.”

And because He is the Christ:

#3. HE WILL RESCUE ALL OF GOD’S PEOPLE.

That’s what "Christ" means.

It means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”

It means the Rescuer, the Redeemer that was promised.

Jesus is the Christ!

I believe that Matthew shows us whom Jesus is from to show us whom Jesus is for.

I read a tweet this week from Pastor Sam Allberry.

He says, “Matthew’s genealogy includes the outcast, scandalous, and foreigner. The family Jesus comes from anticipates the family he has come for."

That’s why the women are in there.
That’s why the Gentiles are in there.
That’s why the notorious sinners are in there.
That’s why there are people in there that nobody has ever heard of.

Because Jesus came for the unexpected.
Jesus came for the unlikely.
Jesus came for the unknown.
Jesus came for the undeserving.

Jesus came to redeem the lost.

Remember Galatians 3:28? “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Doesn’t matter who you are.

Doesn’t matter whether the world values you or not.

Doesn’t matter if you pretended to be a prostitute or you were a prostitute or you went to visit a prostitute or you killed a woman’s first husband.

Doesn’t matter if you are from this nation or that nation.

Doesn’t matter if you are a natural born citizen or a immigrant.

Doesn’t matter if you’ve been thumbs up or thumbs down.

Jesus has come to rescue you.

That’s what Matthew is saying with this family tree.

That’s what Matthew is saying with Jesus’ genealogy.

He’s saying that Jesus is going to realize all of God’s promises, reign over all of God’s kingdom, and rescue all of God’s people who repent and put their faith in Him.

He did it by dying on the Cross and then walking out of His tomb.

Jesus is the Christ.

And so may He get the glory.


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Monday, December 04, 2017

Sunday, December 03, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "Ready and Waiting"

“Ready and Waiting”
Gospel Roots (1892-2017)
December 3, 2017 :: Hebrews 9:27-28

This is the last message in our Gospel Roots sermon series. Last week, we completed our series on Galatians. Next week, we’ll start a brand new sermon series. This week, we are completing our other series on the foundational values that have shaped our church family for the last 125 years.

Our Gospel Roots.

It’s been a great year to look back on what has been most important to our congregation.

First, the Gospel itself. Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

Then singing the gospel in corporate worship.

Sharing the gospel in evangelism. Seeking the Lost.

Being a praying church. The church that prays together.

Being a church that stands on the Word of God.

Remember the Swedish catchphrase for that?

“Var står det skrivet? Where stands it written?” Show me in the Bible.

Being a missions-minded church and supporting the people whose pictures are on our fridges.

Being a loving church family that supports and cares for each other.

Being a church full of servants who use their gifts in ministry.

Being a free self-governing congregational church whose members are a royal priesthood, making the big decisions together under Christ for this church.

Being a church that is a heir of the Protestant Reformation, taking our stand on the Gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone.

And being a church that trusts that God even in times of trouble. Putting our faith in His steadfast love and His mercies that are new every morning.

That’s our church.

It’s at least the church we’ve aspired to be over the last 125 years. That’s the church we want to be. The church we have been when we’ve been at our best in God’s grace.

And today, I have one last gospel root to emphasize, and it’s very important.

We have, in our 125 year history, emphasized the return of Jesus Christ.

This world is not all there is. Jesus Christ is coming again, and He’s going to bring His kingdom. And the glory of the Lord will fill the earth like the waters cover the sea.

Jesus Christ will come back, and He will change everything.

He will restore everything to how it was supposed to be in the beginning.

And even better!

He will bring justice.

And He will bring salvation.

That’s actually what the song “Joy to the World” is all about. By Isaac Watts?

We sing it at Christmastime, but it’s actually about Jesus’ second coming. Not His first!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing!

No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace, and make the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.

This church has always believed in the second coming, and it’s been one of the threads woven throughout the fabric of our century and a quarter together.

And it goes back even further than that. Do you remember the Lay Bible Readers movement that we’ve mentioned several times this year? The old Swedes in Sweden who wanted to read the Bible for themselves? Well, they rediscovered the importance and encouragement that comes from believing in the second coming.

In his book This We Believe, Dr. Arnold T. Olson the great EFCA President from the last century, wrote, “...even in the old country, as these future immigrants to our shores began studying the Bible, there was kindled a little flame of hope in their hearts. Christ’s coming was not only to judge to the Christian it was a hope, a blessed hope, a much to be desired event. So there was added to the main points of discussion in prayer and Bible study groups...another question: What does the Scripture teach about the last things and the coming of the Lord? Lay preachers became zealous prophets warning the sinner and the backslider and exhorting the saint to make ready for the sure and soon return of Christ. It caught fire” (pg. 313).

Remember this guy?

He is not a Civil War general those he looks like it. This is Frederick Franson.

Frederick Franson was the Free Church leader who was always looking for missionaries.

And he visited our church in the late 1800's, when our church was only 5 years old, and we made him a promise to support those missionaries...until when?

Until the Lord returned.

I’m pretty sure that our forebears couldn’t have imagined that we’d still be doing it 125 years later, but that was the promise.

Until the Lord returned.

Franson was so passionate about missions because he was passionate about the return of Christ. Doctor Olson wrote that Franson’s "missionary conferences were also prophetic conferences. The great burden of his appeal for missionary volunteers was the urgency of the hour. Not only were souls dying, but the Lord was coming. No time could be wasted...‘as the King’s business required haste.’ The Gospel had to be preached until all the ends of the earth” (pg. 313).

It was in that kind of a church culture and spiritual movement that our particular church was born. In the original constitution, our founders called upon all of the members to have “entrusted themselves to the Lord...and to persevere and come to the final fulfillment, namely at last to be transformed with Christ in Glory.”

And the theme of Christ’s return has permeated the teaching of our church for 125 years.

I read in our history book that we used to have Watch Night services on New Year’s Eve that we shared with the Lanse Baptist Church.

I remember when I first got here listening to audiotapes that were still here from Pastor Kelly preaching on the return of Christ.

And I’ve tried to keep up the tradition by regularly talking about the second advent.

I was encouraged last Summer when I was going through our doctrinal statement with Nathan  and Matt , that they both felt like they had learned about Jesus’ return through the ministry of this church.

And Bea and Raph Johnson put at the end of the 100 year history and Lita copied it again at the end of our 125 year history, “May we serve [the Lord] with renewed vision and effort until He comes! Even so come, Lord Jesus!”

Those are just a few of the ways that this doctrine has worked itself into the life of this church.

So, what is the doctrine? Let’s look at Hebrews 9:27 and 28.

Yes, that was all an introduction. But don’t worry. The sermon itself will be very short. Hebrews 9:27&28.

I think this passage of scripture forces us to ask two very important questions.

Very simple questions, but very important ones.

Here’s number one.

#1. ARE YOU READY?

Specifically, are you ready to face the judgment of God?

Look again at verse 27.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment...” Stop there.

That’s a pretty big opening clause isn’t it?

Humans are destined to die, how many times?

Once.

And after that comes what?

Judgment.

If you have the King James Version, it says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”

How do you feel about appointments?

I generally like appointments, as long as they aren’t with doctors or dentists!

But this says that everybody has an appointment with death. And, unless we are aprt of the generation alive when the Lord returns, we’re going to keep that appointment!

One of my favorite stories from Peter Marshall, the late chaplain of the US Senate is the story of a servant of a merchant in ancient Baghdad. I’ve told it many times myself.

“One day the merchant sent his servant to the market.  Before very long, the servant came back, white and trembling, and in great agitation said to his master: ‘Down in the market place I was jostled by a person in the crowd, and when I turned around I saw it was Death that jostled me.  Death looked at me and made a threatening gesture.  Master, please lend me your horse, for I must hasten away to avoid Death. I will ride to Samarra and there I will hide, and Death will not find me.’ The merchant lent him his horse and the servant galloped away in great haste. Later the merchant went down to the market place himself and found Death standing in the crowd. He went over and asked,‘Why did you frighten my servant this morning? Why did you make such a threatening gesture?’‘That was not a threatening gesture,’ Death said,‘It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.’”

We will all show up for our appointment with death.

But really, that is nothing. What is an even more terrible thought–after our death–we will face judgment.

God is saying in His word that we are all destined to face the judgment of God.

Are you ready?

How could anybody be ready?

We are sinful and unholy, rebels against God’s perfection.

We have all fallen short of the glory of God.

How could we be ready?

You know the answer to that, right?

Is the answer on your tongue? Do you still have the taste in your mouth of the bread and of the cup?

Verse 28 tells us how someone gets ready.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people...”

That’s the only way that we can face judgment and survive!

That phrase “take away the sins” should remind us of Isaiah 53.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

That’s why we started with communion.

Are you ready to face judgment?

So many are not ready!

The only ones who are ready are those who are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

Those who have put their faith in Jesus and Jesus alone.

To those are justified, counted as righteous in Christ.

There is no reincarnation and do-overs.

There is only death and judgment. And you and I will fail that judgment if we are outside of Jesus Christ.

That’s why this church preaches Christ. Because He is the only One Who can save us.

The gospel says that Jesus has come to make us ready to face death and judgment.

That’s the point of Christmas.

But this letter says more. It says that Jesus will come again to bring salvation. V.28 again.

“...and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin [not this time], but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Second and last question.

#2. ARE YOU WAITING?

Because this actually says that you can know that you’re ready if you know you are waiting.

The people who get the salvation that the returning Christ is bringing are those who are (King James) “looking for him” (ESV) “eagerly awaiting him.”

They are the ones who have faith and hope in Jesus so that they long for His appearing.

You can know that you’re ready if you know you are waiting.

So, how do you know if you’re waiting?

What does waiting look like in the Bible?

Isn’t not just sitting around and twiddling your thumbs.

The eager expectation and watching and waiting in the New Testament is a very active sort of thing.

We are to be busy for the Lord while we wait for Him.

The EFCA Statement of Faith puts it this way:

We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service, and energetic mission” (Article #9).

I think that says it well.

Godly living. You know that you are waiting if you are growing in godliness.

Your faith in Christ and your hope for His return motivates you in sanctification.

1 John 3 says, “ [W]e know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

So we fight against temptation and sin because we know that Jesus is coming back.

And we keep gathering together for this kind of corporate worship and mutual edification in Christian community.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing [they’ve dropped out of church], but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Church becomes more important as the Return of Christ gets closer.

Sacrificial Service. In Evangelical Convictions, our explanation book for the EFCA Statement of Faith, the authors write about how being watchful means that we are energetically serving the Lord. They say, “Being watchful does not mean that we should sit out on the porch like a lonely dog, pining away until our master returns. Instead we are to live with the certainty that Christ is coming, and when he does we will be held accountable for how we have lived. Jesus compared our situation to that of stewards responsible for the master’s estate (Matthew 24:45-51) or to financial managers entrusted with the master’s money (Matthew 25:14-30). We have a job to do, and when our Master returns, he will reward his servants for their faithfulness” (pgs. 229-230).

I just preached on that last month at the Deep and Wide Conference [based on this message from 2 years ago]. How we are to do our jobs, our work, faithfully in light of the coming of Christ.

Did you do that this week?

Did you do your job faithfully because you know that Jesus is coming back and coming back soon?

Energetic Mission. Just like Frederick Franson told us over a hundred years ago, we need to get the gospel out because Jesus is coming back soon!

I don’t know when.

Nobody knows when!

The worst kind of preaching on the end times is the kind that gives you the idea that you know when it’s all going to happen.

We don’t. Our Lord Jesus said that He didn’t even know when it was going to happen!

Our Sunday School just read Acts 1 last week.

"‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ “He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.’”

That’s not for us to know.

So we need to be humble about it. Very humble it.

By the way, I love that about our approach to the end times in the EFCA.

We believe they are very important to study.

We believe that it’s very clear that Jesus was will return, His return will be personal and bodily. Just like He left, He will come back. Not some invisible return or just a spiritual return.

We believe that it’s important to study all of the details about the End Times, Daniel Revelation, the Olivet Discourse, the books of Thessalonians. It’s all over the Bible, and it’s all to be studied and believed.

But we also believe that there are a lot of details that are hard to understand and hard to synthesize. Hard to put into order. It hasn’t happened yet, so there is a lot to try to get straight.

And Christians have disagreed over the finer details of eschatology for a very long time.

Like every other area of ministry, we agree on all of the essentials and we allow people to disagree on the non-essentials, on the secondary things.

Not that both are true but that we extend grace and try to help each other to see what we each see there.

To use the big words, we have people who believe in pre-tribulationalism, mid-tribulationism, pre-wrath, and post-tribulationalism, and probably other positions. Some believe in "pan-tribulationalism" that it will all pan out in the end!

And we all get along!

And like I told you this last Summer, we are considering opening our doctrinal stance just a little wider by no longer requiring premillennialism.

I’m a committed premillennialist, but I don’t think it’s an essential like the other things in our statement of faith. I think it’s secondary at best.

And I love that we’re talking about all of this.

Because it’s all in the Bible, and it’s all important.

And we need to study it and learn it and to stay humble about it at the same time.

This “waiting” in verse 28 is not setting dates. It is staying busy and staying watchful and purifying yourself and staying in fellowship with others.

And it’s longing for Jesus to come back.

Longing.

Do you long for Jesus to come back?

You aren’t ready if you don’t have some desire for Jesus to return.

In the second to last verse in the Bible Jesus prophesies His own return. Revelation 22:20. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’"

And the very next words are our response.

"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

Are you waiting?

I’ll bet you are wondering what is the artifact in the box for today.

I don’t have one.

There is nothing in the box because this isn’t really about our past.

It’s about our future.

And our future is glorious.

I do have a couple of pictures though. Of things from the past that point to the future.

Does anybody recognize this?

This is the time capsule from the 100th anniversary celebration. It's a 50 year capsule, set to be opened in in 2042.

25 years ago, the folks here (many in this room) buried that time capsule.

Anybody remember what’s in it? That’s before my time.

Probably some pictures? Maybe some letters. Somebody told me that there was some Kids for Christ stuff in there.

If the Lord holds off and gives me life, I hope to be present at the opening of that time capsule in another 25 years. I’ll be 69 years old that year, and if I’m retired, I hope the church invites me back to witness it.

I’ll recognize a lot of those names.

That’s the future.

Here’s another set of time capsules that we have buried.

My son is very familiar with all of these as he’s helped with the mowing at the cemetery for the last several years.

These are all time capsules, as well.

Not that we will dig them up, but that the Lord will.

Because one day each grave will be opened and the Lord will give His people new resurrection life.

Not as zombies. But as glorified saints and citizens of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Philippians 3:19&20.

“[O]ur citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

The Thessalonians were concerned about their loved ones who had died before the Lord returned.

They knew the Lord was returning and soon, and they were worried that those whom they had buried were somehow missing out on the resurrection.

So this is what Paul said to assure them and what I’ll end with for us today. 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep."

No, they have first dibs!

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

“Encourage each other with these words.”

Don’t let go of the return of Christ.

Keep it in front of you.

It’s our blessed hope.

His coming changes everything.

And makes it all worth it.

Let’s all be ready.

And let’s all be waiting for Jesus to come again.

***

Previous Messages in This Series
01. Jesus Christ and Him Crucified
02. Sing!
03. Lost and Found
04. The Church That Prays Together
05. Where Stands It Written?
06. The People On Your Fridge
07. I'm So Glad I'm A Part
08. Not In Vain
09. “It’s Our (Other) Middle Name!”
10. Here We Stand (Reformation Sunday)
11. Steadfast


Saturday, December 02, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Resisting Gossip Teaching Series Now on Vimeo

Rejoice with me!

The videos we created a few years ago to go with Resisting Gossip Together have now been uploaded to my Vimeo channel and arranged into an album. [They are already available on YouTube.]

So if Vimeo is your preferred site for watching and sharing video, you can now watch and share the 10 teaching videos, an introduction/trailer, and the blooper reel. Enjoy!

And one of the great things about Vimeo is that in addition to being watchable and shareable, they are also downloadable from this site so you can take them places with no internet!

Thank you again to Spencer Folmar of Third Brother Films for creating them and, especially, to CLC Publications for making these available free to the public!



Monday, November 27, 2017

Recommended Resources on the Book of Galatians



I have been truly blessed with a wealth of rich resources as I've studied Paul's letter to the Galatians this year for my sermon series, The Truth of the Gospel. Here is a list of some of the best of the best.

Commentaries:

Timothy George, Galatians (New American Commentaries, Vol #30, Broadman).

George's commentary is readable, warm, pastoral, comprehensive, sharp. He has a deep understanding of the text but also of the history of interpretation of the text. A genuine pleasure to read. My favorite this year.

Martin Luther, Galatians (The Crossway Classic Commentaries, ed. McGrath & Packer)

A classic! Luther was a champion exegete and a strong preacher of God's Word.

Douglas Moo, Galatians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

Moo's is the best commentary for laying out the various interpretative options at every point. More academic, not much application.

Warren Wiersbe, Be Free: Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality (David C. Cook)

Weirsbe's book is a good entry-level read for beginners.

Thomas Schreiner, Galatians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

Schreiner's is the best commentary for understanding the structure and content, also has application. If I could only buy one for preaching, this is the one I'd probably get.

John Stott, The Message of Galatians (The Bible Speaks Today, IVP)

As usual, Stott's writing is rich, sagacious, incisive, and concise! Stott knew the Word and had a wonderful way with words. Probably the best all-round commentary for laymen.

Free Audio Resources:

The Gospel Coalition 2017 Conference was on the Reformation; the plenaries were Galatians chapter by chapter. Listening to them pushed me over the edge in deciding to preach Galatians this year.

Mitch Chase has been insightfully preaching through Galatians this Summer/Fall.

Douglas Moo taught through Galatians in 8 very indepth lectures. I have listened to them all 3 times and some of them more than that. Moo was my constant earbud companion this year.

Doug Moo has also recorded 15 lectures on Galatians for Biblical Training. I have not been able to listen to these yet.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ”

“The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
November 26, 2017 :: Galatians 6:11-18

We’ve reached the closing paragraph in Paul’s letter to the churches in the region of Galatia. And he doesn’t just say “goodbye” like he normally does.

He started this letter with a bang, and he ends it with a bang, as well.

Our series is called “The Truth of the Gospel” because that’s what was at stake in Galatia.

I hope that over the last fifteen messages in this series, we’ve all come to realize just how important it is to hold on to the gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

No other gospel saves. No other gospel satisfies. No other gospel is true.

But the Galatians had been tempted to believe a different gospel.

False teachers had infiltrated their ranks and begun teaching that to be justified (to be declared righteous on the last day) a person must observe the Mosaic Law. And they taught this was true for Gentiles, not just Jews! Basically Gentiles must become Jews, the males through the mark of circumcision[!], to be declared righteous before God.

And that’s just not true!

That’s a different gospel.

And Paul says that it is really no gospel at all.

It’s not good news!

So for chapter after chapter in Galatians, Paul has been dismantling this false gospel, laying out the truth of the true gospel and its implications, and pleading with the Galatians to hold fast to the truth of the gospel.

And as he writes his last paragraph, he’s still doing it.

Paul carries this campaign to the very end of his letter.

Because he does not want to fail. He does not want to lose them!

He wants them to cling to “The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

That’s our title for today, “The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul mentions the cross in verse 12 and again in verse 14. And what he says about the Cross is of the utmost importance.

Isn’t verse 11 interesting?

“See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!”

Most of the time, Paul probably used a secretary, or the big word for it is an “amanuensis” that is that Paul would dictate his letters to a friend or teammate who would write it all down for him. And then he would sign it to authenticate it in his own hand.

We see that in his other letters like Romans for example. Paul dictated Romans to an amanuensis named Tertius (Romans 16:22).

But this letter, and I think what he’s saying is that this last paragraph is personally written down by Paul himself.

He’s not just signing it. He’s writing out this last paragraph in great big letters.

Why big letters?

Well, it could be because his eyesight was failing. That could have been part of the illness that had laid him low and kept him in Galatia.

But I think it’s because he really wants them to get this.

He’s saying that he’s underlining this. He’s putting it in italics. He’s writing it in 88 point font!

“See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!”

Listen up, people! Pay attention. Heed my words. This is important!

And what is his last message? What does he want them to hear?

The same thing he’s been saying all along.

Don’t give in. Don’t back down from the truth of the gospel.

Don’t fall into the trap laid by the false teachers.

Let me put it this way in point number one of two.

#1. DON’T MINIMIZE HIS CROSS.

Don’t minimize the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is going to draw a stark contrast between the way of salvation that the agitators are proposing and the way of salvation that Paul had been showing them through the Cross of Christ.

And only one of those ways can be true. V.12

“Those who want to make a good impression outwardly [literally, “in the flesh”] are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.”

Paul is saying, “Those guys want you to be circumcised. They are pushing you to be circumcised. Why?”

Why do they want that?

They say that it’s for your good.
They say that it’s for your salvation.
They say that it’s what the Bible teaches.

But Paul knows better. Paul knows what is behind this false teaching.

It is cowardice.

He’s already said in this letter that’s also greed and pride.

But here he points out that they are doing this (v.12) to “avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.”

If you elevate the Law of Moses, then you won’t get into trouble.

Sure. You can believe in Jesus if you want and you can even believe in his Cross if you are quiet about it. But don’t emphasize that!

That will get you in trouble.

Emphasize the Law of Moses. And you can fly under the radar of the leading Jews.

Emphasize the Law of Moses. And you can fly under the radar of the ruling Romans. And be treated as just another Jew.

Just get circumcised. Emphasize that.

And nobody gets hurt.

They are saying, “Just minimize His Cross.”

Don’t make such a big deal out of the Cross of Jesus Christ!

Make a big deal out of the Law of Moses and how you are going to obey it.

After all, it was given by God!

But that’s the very thing that Paul says we must not do.

Remember Galatians 2:20?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Does that sound like he’s minimizing the Cross?

What does the next verse say? Galatians 2:21? It’s just as important.

Paul said, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

That’s the point of this whole book.

Don’t set aside the grace of God by trying to add anything else to it.

Including even the Law God gave to Moses.

And, of course, we still try to do this today.

We humans are always trying to add to what Jesus did for us.

We try to interject ourselves into the equation.

We say, “It can’t be that easy. I’ve got to do something to earn this.”

“I’ve got to play my part in my salvation, right?!

I mean, it was my sin. I’ve got to pay for that somehow, right?

I’ve got to help get myself out of this.”

No. You don’t. You can’t.

And neither could they. Neither could the false teachers. V.13

“Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.”

It doesn’t add up.

Those guys who are pressing for you Gentile Christians to get circumcised? They don’t even live up to what they preach. They don’t keep the law.

Sinners can’t keep the Law in that way. He’s been saying that all along in this book.

The Law can only get you condemned. It can’t save you. It never was meant to.

They’re just a bunch of hypocrites. They just want to add you as another notch on their gunbelts.

So they can boast. So they can brag that they won you over.

So that they can count your foreskin on their pile.

Don’t let them. Don’t give in to them. Don’t become one of them.

Don’t minimize the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, it will be easier if you do.

You will be able to fly under the radar.

But it will be all wrong.

You will get the glory that only Jesus should.

So don’t go there.

Paul wouldn’t go there. Look at verse 14.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Don’t minimize His cross.

#2. BOAST IN HIS CROSS!

Maximize His Cross!

What a crazy statement Paul makes here.

Think about what He’s saying.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...”

That’s like saying, “May I never boast except in the electric chair that killed my Lord.”

“May I never boast except in the lynching of my Savior.” [To paraphrase Clarence Jordan's The Cotton Patch Gospel: Paul’s Epistles (repr.; Macon, GA: Smith & Helwys, 2004), 101.]

“May I never boast except in the humiliating, torturing, shaming, painful public execution of Jesus Christ.”

What a thing to glory in!

The Greek root word for “boast” here is “kauchaomai.” And it means to boast about something, to take pride in something, to rejoice in something, to glory in something.

To say something is the absolute best and to be so happy to be identified with it.

We all glory like this.

I think a good example is how many people feel about their sports teams.

Like if I said, “WE ARE!”

Most of you would instinctively respond, “PENN STATE!”

That’s a kind of kauchaomai.

To love something and stand in it and be identified with it and rejoice in its strength.

It’s what many of us feel when we hear the Star Spangled Banner and we see the flag go by. “Yes! Kauchaomai!”

But Paul says that all of that counts for nothing.

All of that should be, at best, a distant second place. So far back there you can’t even see it from here.

And what should be in first place is the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Everything else should be minimized.

Our ethnic or racial identities.

Our family pride. I love being a Mitchell. It was great to be with Mitchells for Thanksgiving. But it’s nothing to boast in.

Our national identity. I love being an American. But it’s nothing to boast about.

Our personal abilities. Our strengths. How smart we are. How rich we are. How athletic we are. How popular we are.

How many likes and shares and follows we have.

How sharp we dress.
How perfect our lawn is.
How big our house is.

Even how good we act.

Especially how good we act!

We don’t boast in our goodness. Our good behavior.

That we do the right things.

So much moral preening and virtue signaling.

We are always saying, “I would never do that!”

No. If we boast, we boast in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Which destroys all of our other boasts.

Remember what Dave Catanzaro preached back in February? Ephesians 2:8&9.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can [what? kauchaomai. So that no one of us humans can] boast.”

God has set up salvation in such a way that He is the only One that gets to boast. He is the One who has done all of the work and gets all of the glory.

And if we boast, and we glory, and it’s only in Him.

And what His Son did for us.

Boast in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!

That’s why we sing about it every single Sunday here.

That’s why we come back to the Cross in every single sermon.

That’s why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every month like we’ll do next week.

That’s why we talk about the Cross so much.

Because it’s our only boast.

Do you boast in His Cross?

Is His Cross the only thing that you are trusting in, hoping in, rejoicing in?

I think we are tempted to boast in so many other things.

And we’re tempted to give a nod to the Cross but to find our identity and strength in just about any other place.

I mean, who wants to boast in the suffering death of Jesus?

The Cross looks like weakness, shame, disgrace, and pain.

But it was that weakness, shame, disgrace, and pain that saved us.

He took on the punishment that we deserved.

Our sins they are many, but His mercy is more.

That’s where we got that mercy!

Boast in His Cross.

Because His Cross changes everything. Look at that last phrase in verse 14 once again.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

When Jesus was crucified, we were crucified to the world. And the world was crucified to us.

There was a fundamental change in our relationship to the world.

Now the world does not have a controlling influence over us.

The world’s approval and attraction are broken for us.

The world has no controlling power over us any longer.

We are crucified to the world and the world to us.

Martin Luther said this about Galatians 6:14 “Paul regards the world as damned, and the world regards him as damned. He abhors all the doctrine, righteousness, and acts of the world as the poison of the devil. The world detest Paul's doctrine and acts and regards him as a seditious, pernicious, pestilent fellow and a heretic.”

We are no longer friends with the world.

His Cross has made us enemies with the world.

So when we boast in the Cross, we should expect opposition from the world.

And we shouldn’t chase after the world any longer. We shouldn’t care what they think, what they feel, what they are going to do to us as long as we are following Jesus.

We are dead to the world.

And the world is dead to us.

Now, of course, we are also supposed to love the world like Jesus loved the world. We want those in the world to repent of being in the world and join us boasting in the Cross.

But we “do not love the world or anything in the world.” Like John said in 1 John 2:15 “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

And we’re dead to that.

We boast in the Cross.

We don’t boast in our flesh but in His flesh broken for us.

That’s the point of verse 15.

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”

It’s not whether or not we are circumcised that counts.

What counts is if we are changed by the Cross.

Notice he says that it’s not circumcision (which we would expect) non uncircumcision. We aren’t supposed to boast in the fact that we know better than getting circumcised.

There is nothing wrong with circumcision if you do it for the right reasons!

Ethnic reasons. Traditional reasons. Medical reasons.

But not for justification!

Not for boasting in.

We boast only in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”

Are you a new creation?

What does that remind you of?

I hope it reminds you of 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“[I]f anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

If you are in Christ Jesus and trusting in what He did on the Cross, you are a new creation. And you are a part of the whole new creation that is going to come.

Are you in Christ?

Are you trusting in Christ alone?

That’s what counts.

What counts is being transformed by Jesus Christ.
What counts is being a new person because He was crucified for you and me.
What counts is being part of the firstfruits of the world to come.

Not whether or not you are circumcised.

Boast in His Cross.

Because His Cross changes everything.

Paul prays that this be true for everyone who sees the truth of the gospel. V.16

“Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule [all who keep in step with this pattern of teachings], even to the Israel of God.”

That’s an interesting phrase, “the Israel of God.” It might mean ethnic Israel. So Paul is saying “peace and mercy to all who believe that it’s Cross that matters and I hope that those who are Jewish believe it and get included. Like I did!”

Or I think it’s a bit more likely that he means that these people who believe in and boast in His Cross are the true Israel of God.

They aren’t just Israel in the flesh, they are Israel at heart.

They are what Israel was always supposed to be. Like the “Jerusalem above” in Galatians 4:26.

Either way, Paul is saying that this is where peace and mercy come from.

They flow from the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And only from the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us boast in Him.

Even though it will cost us in the short run.

It sure cost Paul something. Look at verse 17.

“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”

Paul was pretty banged up from being persecuted.

The false teachers wanted to avoid persecution for the Cross of Christ (v.12), but Paul did not avoid it. He walked right into it. And he limped right out of it.

Paul never stopped boasting in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he paid for it dearly.

In a later letter, Paul would describe how he got these marks. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 this afternoon and see what he went through.

Paul was stoned not far from Galatia.

I don’t mean he took drugs.

He had rocks thrown at him. He was drug outside the city, and they thought he was dead. What must have he have looked like after that?

“Don’t give me a hard time,” he says.

I’ve put my skin in this game. I’m branded as a slave of Christ Jesus.

I’m serious about this.

I didn’t duck the persecution.

I took what comes when you boast in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And I don’t regret it.

He is worth it.

Jesus is worth it.

Boast in Him and His Cross.

Even if it costs you your life!

Because that’s where true life is.”

With his last big stroke of the pen, Paul is still trying to convince them to put their faith in Jesus Christ and in His CrossWork alone. V.18

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.”

Grace! That’s been the theme of this whole book.
And grace and peace have been his prayer for them from the beginning.

Where does grace come from? V.18

From “our Lord Jesus Christ,” flowing from His Cross.

May that grace be with your spirit.
May you take that to heart.
May grace be the theme of your life.

Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.”

He still believes they won’t give in to this false teaching. He still calls the Galatians “brothers.” Paul believes that they will hear the truth of the gospel and reject the false gospel and glory and boast the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Amen.


***

Messages in this Series:
01. To the Churches in Galatia
02. Turning to a Different Gospel
03. Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy
04. So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You
05. Acting in Line with the Truth of the Gospel
06. I Live By Faith in the Son of God
07. You Foolish Galatians!
08. You Are All Sons of God Through Faith in Christ Jesus
09. So You Are No Longer a Slave
10. I Plead With You
11. Abraham Had Two Sons
12. Called to Be Free
13. Keep In Step With the Spirit
Here We Stand (Reformation Sunday)
14. We Will Reap a Harvest