Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 24, 2015
Open your Bibles to Matthew 1:18. Tonight we are concluding our December sermon series, titled “The Incarnation of Christ.” As I have said repeatedly, the purpose of this sermon series is to fix a problem in many of our hearts. This problem is perhaps summarized best by Jesus himself. In Matthew 15 Jesus says,
For those of you who have been with us over the last several weeks we have focused on attention on three things so far. 1) The birth of Jesus is the birth of God, 2) All of history exists because God desires to display his glorious grace through His Son, and 3) Christ humbly accepted this assignment from God because he loves His Father and He loves those who believe. Today, we will look at another angel and tackle the question of how is the birth of Jesus relevant our lives. Why should we care about the birth of some Jewish baby 2000 years ago? With that question in mind, turn to Matthew 1:18-25.
Shall Call His Name Jesus
The verse that I want us to focus on tonight is verse 21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The name Jesus in Greek is “Iēsous” (ē-ā-sü's). Iēsous is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.” Therefore the name Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation.” It is important to remember that the name Jesus was not selected by Mary or Joseph, but was handpicked by God himself.
This means that God desired that every time someone referred to His incarnate Son, he wanted them to think about the phrase Jehovah is salvation. Why? Because this is why Jesus was born, to implement God's plan of salvation. Jesus says it about himself in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” This is the primary purpose of the incarnation.
Salvation from Sin
For people who have never been exposed to Jesus, this name, this statement that the primary purpose of Jesus is to save, should lead them to ask one question, save us from what?
Thankfully, the angel tells us in verse 21, “for he will save his people from their sins.” The essence of Christ incarnation is to save people from their sins, but what does this mean? First let us start with the question, what is sin? One way we can answer this is with 1 John 3:4.
In regards to these laws, every single person who has ever existed has broken these laws of God. God tells us explicitly that “no one is righteous, no not one.” In 1 John 1:8 it says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.”
I am constantly amazed by how many people think they are good. You and I are not good. Jesus himself says that no one is good, except God. Every one of us on this planet is a sinner.
Why is this? Because we are born this way. Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” You are a natural born sinner. It is not something you had to learn, it is your predisposed condition. Why? Because of the fall. When Adam disobeyed God in the beginning he plunged humanity into a state of sin. Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—“ Therefore, the Bible is abundantly clear. You, I, and all of humanity since time began have the problem of sin.
However, this may lead you to another question, what is so bad about sin? In fact, some of you in this room may enjoy your relationship with sin. Sin makes you feel good. You enjoy getting drunk, you enjoy cussing and using the Lord's name in vain, you enjoy lusting for people not your spouse, you enjoy counting your money and coveting the things of this world. You see no problem with sin.
And there is a perfectly logical reason for this. You see no problem with sin, because you cannot see. You are spiritually blind.
So what are you blind to? What are you not seeing? You are blind to the realities of God. You are blind that the God who is your creator is not casual about your rebellion against him. He is a Holy God. He is a just God. And He is not amused by your rejection of Him
This is bad news for us, for we have already established that we are sinners, that none of us our righteous. Does this mean we deserve Hell? Absolutely. Our sin against an infinitely Holy and Eternal God demands a punishment that fits the crime, anything less than Hell would be an injustice at the highest level.
So what are we to do? What hope do we have? It is this child who was born 2000 years ago. It is Jesus, Jehovah is Salvation. God, is a Holy and Just God. He hates sin. However, God is also merciful and loving. God provides a way in which we can be saved from our sins, and this way is His Son, Jesus. He is the only way. Being good will not save you, going to Church will not save you, being Catholic or Protestant will not save you, being a rich American will not save you. Only Jesus saves. This is why Jesus was born. As John the Baptist rightfully said, “Behold the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world.” Jesus is our only hope.
Save His People
So is that it? Is the gift of Jesus for all people? Is the fact that Jesus was born, lived a perfect life, crucified and resurrected from the dead mean that all of humanity will be saved? No, what does the angel say? Verse 21, “for he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus does not save all people. Only His people. So who are his people? Jesus tells us.
If you have embraced Christ as your one and only hope, then Christmas should be a time of deep and heartfelt joy, for you were destined for God's wrath, but Christ has pulled you from the flames and secured you in his arms for all eternity.
Christmas is not about presents, lights, or food. Christmas is about salvation. Christmas is about the perfect love of God made manifest if the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 15, 2015
Today marks our third Sunday on our sermon series on Marriage. As I have stated in the past, when I preach topically, like I am doing on marriage, I like to build upon each sermon. The reason I do this is first, because the topics are so immense, and second, to give perspective and foundations to what God is laying out in His Word. Very few people recognize how logically connected the Bible is. It is a book built upon premises that lead to one conclusion. So with that in mind, let us begin by reviewing what we have learned so far.
First, we began in the beginning and we observed from Genesis 2 that God is the creator, implementer, provider and joiner of marriage. Marriage is God's institution, created by Him for His will. We do not have authority over marriage. Culture does not have authority over marriage. Government does not have authority over marriage. Marriage is God's and God's alone.
With this in mind, last week we asked what is God's purpose in creating marriage? And not only that, but why did God, not only create marriage, but why did He make it so intertwined with the human condition? Why do all people, throughout all time, long for marriage? The answer as we saw in Ephesians 5 was the God created marriage to be a living display of the Gospel.
When we ended last week we spent a brief moment talking about that monumental effect this understanding should have on your marriage. Recognizing that the ultimate purpose of your marriage is to be a living image, or display, of the bond between Jesus and his Bride should change every detail of how your marriage operates. Today we will unpack some of those things.
What is the Gospel?
To start, if marriage is designed to display the Gospel, then the first thing we need to do is to understand the Gospel. It is one thing to say our marriages display the Gospel, it is another thing for your marriage to ACTUALLY display the Gospel? So, what is the Gospel?
The Gospel is this: We are all sinners. We have all rejected and rebelled against God. The punishment for our sin is death and the wrath of God. However, because God is love, he sends His Son Jesus to save us from this wrath. He saves us by living a sinless life and then dies in our place and absorbs God’s wrath as our substitute Because Jesus is sinless, and because He is the Son of God, He overcomes sin and death and is resurrected from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God. He then promises us forgiveness and eternal life with Him if we repent (turn) and place our trust in Him as our Lord and Savior. Now many of you may ask, how does marriage reflect what I just said? In two significant ways: Covenant and Grace.
Covenant of Marriage
Let us begin by talking about covenant. When someone is born again and places their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they are forgiven. We are all familiar with this basic Christian principal. But what is going on when we place our faith in Christ? Why are we forgiven? Why does faith in Christ appease God’s wrath? Likewise, why do we receive eternal life and all of the rewards of Heaven? Romans 6:4-5 tells us.
And it is this union with Christ that saves us. We become one with Jesus and he can therefore take our punishment and we can receive his righteousness. Without this unity the exchange of our sin for His righteousness cannot occur. And we see this principle of union with Christ throughout the Bible.
This union is one that is not done by the will of man, but by the will of God. He is the one who fuses Christ with his Bride. You can see this in Jesus' High Priestly prayer to His father in John 17. In this prayer he is praying for us. Jesus prays in verse 20 and 21:
Jesus is asking God to make the elect Bride, the Church, one with Him. It is God who unites. And this bonding of God cannot be broken. Once you are united to Christ and become one with him you cannot be separated. This is one of many reasons that the Gospel is such good news, for what God has joined no one can separate.
In Genesis 2:24 it says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The Hebrew word for “hold fast” is debaq, which means to cleave, adhere, to be glued. When God chose to create and implement this institution of marriage, he did not create it to be casual; He created it to be binding.
In Matthew 19:5-6 Jesus reiterates this by saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” The Greek word that Jesus uses to quote Genesis 2:24 is kollao, which means to glue together, cement, fasten firmly.
And this is why we speak of marriage, not as a contract that can be easily broken, by as a covenant that withstands. For a covenant is not built upon terms and conditions, but is instead built upon a promise. For God, His covenant to us through Christ is that he will never leave us nor forsake us. This is the promise of the New Covenant sealed with the blood of the Bridegroom.
Likewise our covenant to our spouse should be the same, a promise that we will never leave nor forsake them. A covenant marriage is not susceptible to the ups and downs of life. A covenant marriage is built upon a promise, not upon a bank account, or busy schedules, or fleeting beauty. And it is a covenant marriage that displays the Gospel. On the other hand, a contractual marriage that is casually entered into and easily broken is a not a display of the Gospel, but instead is a display of the deception and lies of Satan. Hence why Satan spend so much time trying to destroy your marriage.
Covenant marriage is why we have vows during wedding ceremonies. The purpose is for the husband and the wife to make unconditional promises to each other. They are to declare that no matter what happens in this life, I promise to cleave to you, to hold fast to you...no matter what comes our way. Divorce should never be a word on the mouth of a Christian. Paul addresses this exact issue in 1 Corinthians 7.
The bottom line is that if you are married, you stay married. Now because of many of your hard hearts some of you might be saying, “Phil, you don't know what I have to put up with. You don't know my story.” And your right, I do not know your story, but God does, and his Word does not have a loop hole. However, many of you are looking for one.
One loop hole I have heard over and over again is the one that says, “But doesn’t God want me to be happy?” This type of question is a child of the health and wealth prosperity Gospel. It is the belief that God is a candy machine and he exists to make your life comfortable. This worldly way of thinking is the wide gate and easy way that Jesus tells us leads to destruction in Matthew 7:13.
When you read the Bible do you ever see God say take the path that makes you the happiest? No . When you read the Bible you see Jesus say pick up your cross, lay down your life, count the cost, put your hand to the plow, let the dead bury the dead, renounce all that you have. God desires his children to be obedient.
And this is what so few people understand, it is out of our obedience to God that true and eternal joy flows. All other happiness is counterfeit to the joy of being in step with your Creator's will.
The Power of Grace
And this leads us to the second way that marriage displays the Gospel. From beginning to end, the Gospel is all about Grace. This relationship with Christ is initiated, sustained and completed by the Grace of God. We deserve God's wrath, but we are given His Grace.
Grace is the backbone of the Gospel and it is the backbone to your marriage. Not only do you need the grace of God in your weakness, but you need to display the Grace of God when your spouse is weak. What do I mean by this?
What I mean is that marriage should be grace unleashed. The grace of God should be pouring into our lives and pouring out of our lives. What your spouse needs almost more than anything from you is your forgiveness when they fail to live up to your expectations, when they miss the mark, when they sin against you. And I am not just talking about the small sins like chewing with your mouth open, or nagging, or showing up a few minutes late, but I am talking about the big sins too, like adultery, drug abuse, an accidental death of a child. There is no sin too big for God to forgive, and there should be no sin to big for us to forgive.
However, because you are a sinner, in the midst of your spouses sin, you will want justification. You will want your pound of flesh. You will want vengeance, but what your spouse needs to see is not your wrath, it is God's grace. You need to forgive as you have been forgiven. And not only does your spouse need to see it, but your children need to see it, and your co-workers need to see it, and your neighbors needs to see it. This is how marriage is a display of the Gospel, it should be a display of grace.
And just like obedience, grace towards your spouse is not the end of the story. Grace in marriage produces fruit. This is the amazing power of grace, it transform, not only you, but your spouse. Loving your spouse when they are unlovable makes them become more loveable. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. The next time your spouse sins against you, instead of biting their head off tell them that you love them. I guarantee those three words ringing in their head changes the entire mood of the night.
Now at this point, many of you may again be looking for a loop hole and saying, “But what if they never change?” How long should I forgive my spouse?” This same question was posed to Jesus.
Obviously, Jesus is not being literal here. Instead he is saying that you never stop forgiving. Forgiving, for a Christian, is like breathing, you never stop until your dead.
In conclusion, marriage is a living display of the Gospel. How? In two fundamental ways. First, it is a display of a covenant promise that we will never leave nor forsake our spouse. And second, marriage should be saturated in Grace. If the Church would embrace this two fundamental truths, our marriages would not be in lock step with the the world, but instead our marriages would stand out as salt and light in this decaying and dark culture.
So like all sermons, the ball is now in your court. You can reject what I have said and continue down the path of a casual/self-centered/angry marriage and see how that works out for you, or instead put your faith in God's good design for marriage, trust Him, and bear the fruit of God's blessings, 30, 60 and 100 fold.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on August 9, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 5. Today we are continuing our journey through the Book of Psalms. Before we begin unpacking our text, let me say something that I have said before, but it is good to remind ourselves of these things. The Bible is God's Word. It was written by God through the instrument of the hands of man. Because the Bible is God's Word, and God does not lie, the Bible is inerrant and infallible, or to say it another way, the Bible is true, and incapable of being untrue.
Many Christians would say Amen to the statement that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, at least until they read certain passages; for there are many text that may run afoul of humanities pre-formed, and wrong ideas of who God is and what are His purposes.
With this in mind we must recognize what the Bible is. It is the infallible and inerrant Word of God that has been given to us, so that we understand who God is what His purpose are. The reason God has given us this book of is to reveal truth about Him and His purposes. So when we read passages in the Bible that we don't like, the problem is not with the Bible, it is with our sinful hearts. We are the ones who must submit to what the Bible says, and not make God submit to us. This is the reason for infallible scripture, to correct our fallible minds.
With this in mind, let us read God's Word with the foundation that it is true, and then ask God to humble our hearts to receive his revelation, and then, and only then will we be able to benefit from the sanctifying Word of our Father.
As we can see, Psalm 5 is another Psalm written by King David. Up to this point we have focused on David being God's anointed King of Israel and we have also discussed the sinfulness of David, and its consequences. One thing we haven't talked about is the one thing that is commonly mentioned about David and it is found in 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22.
In today’s passage we see David praying in the morning. Verse 3 says, “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” This sacrifice of David is a sacrifice of prayer. In fact, the Hebrew root word behind “I prepare a sacrifice for you” is the word “arak” which is most commonly used to describe laying out wood for a sacrifice. In fact this same root word is used in Genesis 22:9 when Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order (arak) and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.”
So in the case of David, we see a ritual of morning worship, whereby David lays out His prayers before the Lord in anticipation of communion with him. This picture of morning communion with the Lord through prayer is not one exclusive to David. I love this quote by Martin Luther, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” And it doesn’t stop with Luther, listen to how Jesus began his day, one that was filled with more stress that we could ever imagine.
And when you do pray, do not make it only about the routine, so that it is robotic, whereby you go through the motions. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Your prayers must come from your heart. They must be authentic, just like David’s. He described his prayer life as one of groanings and cryings.
For me, I find it helpful to picture my children when they come to me with problems. My little Ezra is so precious. She has a heart just like her mother, which I cherish. She will come to me in the midst of her pain and she will be an absolute mess. She buries her face into my chest and just sobs, and I can’t understand a word she says, but my heart breaks for her. Why? Because she is really in pain. And her authentic crying has the capacity to move me into action to care and nurture her, and to give her the love she longs for.
And we likewise, must approach our God in prayer with this type of child like faith. Authentic. Raw. Humble. Dependent. And then when we do, we must likewise by like David and watch for the hand of our Father to move across the tumultuous waves of our lives.
Who are You Praying To?
However, the question rises, do we see God in the same way David sees God? When we pray, do we have the same vision of God as David? My guess is that we do not. My guess is that many of us have created in our mind, not the true understanding of God, but instead a comfortable understanding of God. We have in effect turned the Potter into the clay and molded him to our likings, to our sinful hearts. When we pray we are in effect praying to an idol, not the God who is.
Why would we do this? The simple answer is that we are fallen creatures. Sin has blinded us to the ultimate reality of the Universe, that being, who is God. We cannot see him for who he truly is. However, because we are created in his image, we have a knowledge that he is there, but we suppress the ultimate truth of His glory. It is as if we are in a dark room and we can sense a presence, we know that Someone is there, but we just can't make out who it is.
So if this is true, and it is, how are we to have a true understanding of this God, who we know is there, but cannot see? The answer to this question is revelation. The only way by which we know who we cannot see is by Him revealing himself to us. Once again, imagine yourself in a dark room, and you sense that presence of Someone, so you call out, “Who is there?”. Then out of the darkness you here a response,”I AM, here.” You then say, “Who are you?” The Person then begins to reveal to you, who he is. The only reason you are able to know the person who has been with you in that dark room the entire time is because that Person has chosen to reveal himself to us.
So how does God do this for us? Simple. The revelation of God is the Word of God. This is why the Bible exists. The Word of God is light shining out into the darkness of your life revealing to us who God is. The more you spend in God's Word, the more you will see of God.
John Calvin in his famous work, The institutes of Christian Religion said this about the Word of God, “For as the aged, or those whose sight is defective, when any book, however fair, is set before them, though they perceive that there is something written, are scarcely able to make out two consecutive words, but, when aided by glasses, begin to read distinctly, so Scripture, gathering together the impressions of Deity, which, till then, lay confused in our minds, dissipates the darkness, and shows us the true God clearly.”
So to get back to our original question, how is it possible that we would have a wrong understanding of who God is, the answer is simple, we fail to put on our glasses so that we can see Him who stands before us.
The God in whom David cried out to is described in verse 4-6, “or you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. 5The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 6You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”
Is this the God you love? Is this the God you worship? Is this the God you pray to? A God who hates all evildoers? A God abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man? When you approach the Sovereign God of the Universe do you recognize that he does not delight in your wickedness, and cannot dwell with and form of evil? I fear for most of us this God never crosses our mind. Instead when we pray to God, we see God as a funny old grandpa that sees the sin of this earth of silly, funny, inconsequential, or no biggy. Let us be clear, this is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is zealous for righteousness.
The God of the Bible pays out the wage of death for sin, no matter how small that sin is. The God of the Bible is one who killed thousands if not millions of people during the flood for one reason, “
The God of the Bibles is the one who designed and created a little place that we know of as Hell. This place is described as eternal torment, utter darkness, a place that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And this place exists for one reason only, to be the final destination for angles and people who have sinned against God and stand condemned before him. Let us be clear, Hell was not created to hold sin. It is a place created to hold sinners.
This type of talk makes us feel uncomfortable. We don't like to see God this way, but this is the way David saw God in the morning as he laid his troubles before Him. As he approached God in the morning, the focus of David was on the Holiness of God. It was as if David when walking into the presence of God was like Moses walking up Mount Sinai with its lightning, thunder, clouds, smoke and trumpet calls. It was as if David when approaching God was like Isaiah, in Isaiah 6 when he saw God high and lifted up with Seraphim worshiping him so powerfully that it shook the foundations of the Temple. Who when being in the presence of this awesome God cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). It was as if David was like Peter in Luke 5:8 that upon seeing the Glory of Christ, “ fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” It was as if David was like Paul who in Romans 7:24 who cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
In my opinion, we, myself included, have a small and distorted view of God and his passion for his Holiness. God is totally serious about his glory. He will not be mocked. If you continue to chose to rebel against the righteous God he does not just hate the sin and love the sinner. He hates the evildoer, and He will not hesitate to send any of us to Hell.
Jonathan Edwards, a man who I will never hold a candle to, but I grow to love more and more as I read his works wrote a famous sermon that is credited to sparking the Great awakening. It is entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In that sermon he says this: “The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready to string and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.”
This is the God in whom David prayed to. But thankfully for David, and for us, that is only one side of the coin of who God is. For if it was, David, and I, and all of you would have a very painful eternity.
God of Steadfast Love
For God is not just a God who hates evildoers, he is also a God who has steadfast love.
This is how David starts his morning in prayer, dwelling upon the Holiness of God and the abundance of his steadfast love. To say it another way, David begins each morning praying the Gospel to the God of the Gospel. With this understanding, you can start to see how David was a man after God's own heart, not that he was perfect, but that understood that the only means by which he had any chance with a Holy God was to seek refuge behind the shield of God's love.
So what was the effect of this type of mourning prayer? Verse 11, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,” How many times have we seen this? Over and over and over again, God continues to reveal to us that joy springs from the fountain of Jesus Christ. As we stated last week, we spend our days seeking joy in empty things, let us instead have hearts like David and start our morning in prayer dwelling upon the steadfast love of our Lord in the face of Jesus Christ.
This week I heard a quote form John Piper who said some thing to the effect of understanding our depravity is crucial for our joy because every day that we don't wake up in Hell is a good day. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Preached at Riverview Park in Cascade, IA on July 19, 2015.
Open your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. This week the kids have been learning about the Gospel. In light of that, I will be preaching about the Gospel. To do this, I will be using 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. So let us read our text, I will pray that God would give us understanding, and then we will get to work.
I have titled my message, “The Open Statement of the Truth.” I get this title from verse 2. Paul is speaking about his ministry of sharing the Gospel to unbelievers and he says in verse 2, “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
For those who don’t know who Paul is, he was the chosen instrument of God to take the message of Jesus Christ to the world. He was the first person to take the Gospel to the continent of Europe. Paul was a Church planter, and Paul’s church growth strategy was to simply proclaim the truth of the Gospel. He goes from place to place and openly declares Jesus Christ as Lord.
As he says in verse 1, he does not participate in disgraceful or underhanded ways, he does not use cunning to trick people into believing, and he does NOT mess around with the Word of God. He simply preaches the Gospel.
Why would Paul be so willing to simply proclaim the Gospel? Why would he place so much faith in a simple open statement of truth? The reason is because this truth is like no other truth in the Universe, for it has the ability to penetrate into the heart of man. You can see Paul’s understanding of the Gospel in Romans 1:16.
Now here is the problem. Some of you, if not many of you in this park, do not know what the Gospel is. No one has ever shared with you the Gospel, nor have never read the Bible to see the Gospel for yourself. Which is a major issue if the GOSPEL is the power for salvation. For if you don’t’ know the Gospel, then you will not be saved.
And because of that if I were to ask you today, “Are you going to Heaven or Hell?” Most likely, all of you would say Heaven. If I were to ask you, “Why do you believe this?” Some of you would say, “Because I go to Church.” Folks, going to Church is not the Gospel. A building has no ability to save your soul from Hell. Never once does Jesus say go to the Church and you will be saved. Not once. Brick and mortar has no special power over you soul.
Others of you may say, “I am going to go to Heaven because I am good person.” Unfortunately, the Bible says the complete opposite about you. Romans 3:12 says, ”No one does god, not even one.” Jesus himself reinforces this truth in Luke 18:19 when he says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except god alone.” No one is good enough to get to Heaven. Every single one of us on this planet has sinned, and our sin is enough to send us to Hell.
So do not for once think you are going to Heaven because you go to a building, and participate in a certain liturgy. Nor should you think that you are going to Heaven because you are “good.” Neither one of those things are the Gospel. However, Satan would love for you to believe this, for if you do, you will spend eternity with him.
So today, I am going to proclaim the open statement o f the truth, and my prayer is that you would have ears to hear, and would accept the Good News and place your faith in Christ Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior, if you haven't already.
God is the Creator
Let us start with verse 6. It says, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” Where does this verse come from? It comes from the beginning, Genesis 1. In the very beginning, before there was creation, there was God. He existed before space/time.
Scientists love to talk about a “Big Bang,” which is the scientific explanation of where the Universe came from. Scientist believe at the moment of the big bang there is what is called singularity. Singularity is the existence of infinite density and infinite temperature, and in that moment of singularity there is no existence of the laws of physics, and it was from that moment of singularity that all the Universe came from. What science can’t tell you is what is behind the Big Bang? What caused the Big Bang? What is infinite in density and infinite in temperature? What can exist outside all of the laws of physics?
However, the Bible does. God has told us explicitly how it all began. The Infinite, Eternal, Sovereign God is the force behind all of Creation. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” Paul in 2 Corinthians 4 is reminding us of that reality in verse 6. He is reminding us that God is the Creator. God is the Potter. God is Sovereign, and the evidence of this reality is all around us. Look at the sky. Look at the grass. Look at your hand. Look at your children. Look at a bumble bee. Creation screams that it has a creator, and logic screams this as well.
Just think about it. Everything that has a beginning has a cause. We call this cause and effect. For example, at one time this amphitheater did not exist, but now it does. How did it get hear? This amphitheater was built by builders. How do I know this? Did I see them build it? No. The reason I know that builders built the amphitheater is because it exists. The builders were the cause of this existing. Likewise, as we look around, how do we know that this world was built? Because all things that exist have a cause.
Humanity Is Blind
However, here is the problem, we fail to thank God. We fail to give him the praise that is due his name. Instead of giving God glory, we instead give other things glory, like ourselves.
I think verse 4 tells us why, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” Because of the deception of Satan and the subsequent fall, humanity is blind. This is the reality for who have ever lived. Because of Sin we fail to see God as God and therefore give Him the glory he deserves. Therefore instead of living for Him, we blindly live for other things.
And because of this blindness we have made a mess out of the world. From day to day we leave a wake of disaster behind us: Murder, abortion, sexual immorality, drugs, drunkenness, coveting, divorces, lying, the list can go on and on. The world is an absolute mess. However the worst is found in verse 3, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing”
The biggest issue in our life is sin. But why? What is so bad about living in sin? Why can’t we live our life our way? The reason is because God is a just God and he will not ignore our rebellion against him.
Imagine being in Wal-Mart and seeing a father with his 5 year old son The child is whining and complaining because he wants a gun. The father tells him “No, you cannot have a gun, you will hurt yourself.” Then imagine the 5 year old turning to the father and flipping him off and grabbing the gun and run out of the store as he attempts to load it with bullets. Then imagine the father shrugging it off, or laughing about it. Would you think he is a good Dad? Of course you wouldn’t, so why do we assume God shrugs off our sin.
God is our Father in Heaven and he is a Just God. Each one of us will stand in judgment before Him. The coming judgment of God was one of Jesus’ most common messages during his three year ministry. He was constantly warning people about the coming judgment.
For those who do not believe in the Gospel, your destiny is found in verse 3, you will perish. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” And this perishing is not just physical death, but it is eternal death, Hell. Every single person who does not accept the good news of Christ is guaranteed to live all eternity in a place that Jesus described as “eternal torment.”
Once again, why do I say these things? Because it is an open statement of the truth. It is what Jesus proclaimed, it is what John the Baptist proclaimed, it is what Peter proclaimed, it is what Paul proclaimed, it is what the early Church proclaimed, it is what the entire Bible proclaims, and it is what all Christians today should proclaim. People must hear the bad news before they will accept the good news.
Christ is the Glory of God
So what is the good news? The good news is Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the good news. This is why the Angles proclaimed to the Shepherd's in Luke 2:10 regarding the birth of Jesus, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The good news is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The answer to your biggest problem, sin and death, is not found in a building, it is not found in a ritual, it is not found in yourself. It is found in Christ alone.
This is the whole point as to why Jesus came into the world, to save sinners like you and like me. Jesus said of himself in John 14:6, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
God sent Jesus into the World to fix the world's problem, sin. He was a rescue party of one, sent behind enemy lines to rescue his bride. And the way He rescued her was to live a perfectly sinless life and then lay down his life for her. Jesus was the only person to walk this planet without sin. He was perfectly righteous. He then died on the cross, and God the father, poured out all of his wrath against sin upon His Son.
As John the Baptist rightly said in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! “ Jesus took away our sin. All of it. He paid every last cent for the sins of the world, past, present and future. For those who trust in Jesus, there is nothing left for you to do to pay for your sin. No penance. No purgatory. Nothing. Christ has done it all. This is why Jesus cries out on the cross “It is finished.” This is why the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. This is why the author of Hebrews says that Jesus, our great High priest, sat down after ascending to Heaven. Because all the work was completed. This is why Jesus says in Mathew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is why Jesus says in John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is why in Hebrews 10:14, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” One sacrifice. Perfect. Forever. This is why it is called grace, for it is entirely a gift.
And this is what the world, and perhaps some of you are blind to. Look again at verse 4, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” According to this verse, what does Satan desperately not want you to see? The “gospel of the glory of Christ.” What is the gospel of the glory of Christ? It is that Christ did all the work, and paid for all of our sin, therefore he gets all the glory.
The only thing left for us to do is it believe. That's it. This is how we receive the gift of Jesus' payment for our sins, and his righteousness.
The question I have for you today, in the sight of God, is do you believe in Jesus? Do you place your trust in his life, death, and resurrection? Do you have faith in the sufficiency of his sacrifice, and that on the third day he rose from the grave?
It is my prayer that today, just like it says in verse 6, shines in your hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Let's pray.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 12, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 2. Today marks our second week of our Summer of Psalms. Next week we will take a short break while we are at the park and I will be preaching the basics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Next Sunday would be an excellent time for each one of you to invite someone who is not a follower of Jesus Christ. As for today, however, we will be examining Psalm 2. Therefore let us read, pray that God would open they eyes of our heart, and examine the Word of God.
As we look at Psalm 2, we can see that there is no indication of its Author. Some Psalms have the Author listed at the beginning, but Psalm 2 does not. Having said that, Peter in Acts 4 tells us who wrote Psalm 2 and he credits it to two authors, David and the Holy Spirit.
First, let us begin by talking about David. David was the second King of the nation of Israel around the time of 1000 B.C. He was chosen by God through the Prophet Samuel to replace King Saul. We see the narrative of this story in 1 Samuel 16.
Upon David taking the throne of all of Israel, God began to use David to subdue the enemies of Israel. And this is the best way to understand the role of David. He was not a defensive King, but instead an offensive King. He did not sit around waiting for the attacks of the surrounding nations, he moved forward and conquered.
Interestingly, the first place David conquered was none other than Jerusalem. We see this documented in 1 Chronicles 11:4
Foreshadowing of Christ
When David was writing this Psalm, he was writing in the context of his life. He saw these words in Psalm 2 as applying to him and his role as Israel's King. Having said that, many of you know that the Old Testament is a foreshadow of Christ, and this is especially true for David. David is considered a type of Christ. By this I mean that God used David to point to the coming of the Messiah. And as we read Psalm 2 from the other side of the cross, we can easily see this deeper meaning. This Psalm is not just about David, it is about Christ. In fact, it is primarily about Jesus, and secondarily about David. We know this because of Acts 4 that I mentioned earlier. If you recall, I said that Psalm 2 had two authors, David and the Holy Spirit.
So please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 4. Acts 4 is the narrative of the early Church right after the ascension of Jesus into Heaven. In Chapter 3, Peter and John were arrested for preaching the Gospel. In Chapter 4 we see them making their defense before the council, the same people who voted to crucify Jesus, and before these rulers Peter says in verse 11 and 12, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menc by which we must be saved.” After this statement, the council threatened Peter and Paul and told them to stop sharing the gospel. Now look at verse 23.
Peter makes it very clear, Psalm 2 is all about Jesus. And as you look at the words of Psalm 2, this, to us seems obvious. Verse 7 says, “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Words like this remind us of verse like John 3:16 which say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Likewise in verse 2 we see the word “annointed” which in Hebrew is “”mashiach”, which is the word Messiah. So, like Peter who stood on the other side of the cross, it is clear that Psalm 2 is about King Jesus.
So the question is, what is it telling us? I belive it is telling us four things 1) God's Enemies, 2) God's Sovereignty, 3) God's Victory, and 4) God's Appeal.
Look at verse 1-3, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
Since the moment of Jesus arrival over 2000 years ago, the world has hated his name. In Isaiah 53:3, we are told he was destined to be “despised and rejected by men” Right out of the gates there was a hit put on his head by Herod. Even his hometown of Nazareth tried to throw him off a cliff.
Jesus was very tuned into this reality. He says in John 15:18, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” The raging of the world against Christ is as old as the world itself, whether it was raging against the shadow of Christ or raging against the substance of Christ. Whether it was Nero, Diocletian, Joseph Stalin, or Kim Jung Un, it is nothing new. It is estimated that 70 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the death of Christ.
We, here in America, have been living in a bubble. The rage of nations is something that we are not familiar with, at least not firsthand. However, I believe this is changing. You can sense the rage rising in our news, our work, our communities, an even our families. Having said that, there efforts to destroy Christ, as it says in verse 1, is vanity.
Look at verse 4-7, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”
God's laughter is not comedic. God's laughter is one of absurdity. The nations have no clue who they are waring against. If they did, they would not fight, but instead lay down their arms. God is infinitely powerful, and the nations are nothing compared to God.
As it says in our text, God has decreed that Christ is to be on the throne. The decree of God is not like a decree of man. It is a guarantee. It is locked in stone. It is a decree that will become reality. Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.“ Isaiah 46:9-11, “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose”
No matter how hard ISIS fights, no matter how many Christians are locked up and murdered in North Korea. No matter how much Iran hates Christians and Jews, God's sovereign plan of Christ on the throne will not be defeated. As we read in Hebrews 12 today in Sunday School, it is a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.
In fact, the victory is already ours. Verse 8-9 says, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Upon the cross Jesus was victorious. In Matthew 28:18-19 Jesus speaks of this victory when he says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ” The work is over, Christ is on the throne. Not only was it decreed by God, but it was fulfilled in Christ. And some day, one way of the other every knee will bow to Christ. The question is not will Jesus be King. The question is will you submit before it is too late.
Which leads us to God's gracious appeal, which in my opinion is the primary purpose of Psalm 2. God has laid out his Sovereign Plan before us. He is not hiding the ball. He has determined and proclaimed that the Universe will revolve around his anointed, only begotten Son. And not only will the Universe revolve around Christ, but he will rule. He will be King. This is the will of God. This is the purpose of Creation.
Failure to accept God's will, failure to submit to God's plan of Christ-centeredness results in perishing. This is the second week we have seen this word, perish. We saw it last week in Psalm 1 when God said “but the way of the wicked will perish.” Now in Psalm 2 we see perishing as the destiny of those who fail to kiss the son.
Failure to receive eternal life will not be because of lack of warning, it will be because of the lack of submitting. The only way in which we, or anyone else on this planet avoid the wrath of God, is by loving Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life, no one gets to the father but through him (John 14:6).
This Kiss of the Son is not a kiss of Judas, which was a kiss of hypocrisy. Instead the Kiss of the Son is one that is more like the sinful women in Luke 7:38 which says, “and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.”
Kissing the son is humbling ourselves and embracing him for who he truly is and what he truly has done for us. It is recognizing that he is a suffering King, who died in our place. It is recognizing that he is the anointed Son of a loving God, who was sent to ransom a wretched people for his own possession.
So in summary, what is Psalm 2 about? It is about God's soverign plan that cannot be defeated. It is about the Messiah who will reign. It is about the gospel message of God's love through His Son. It is about proclaiming these truths to the nations that rage. We should see Psalm 2 just like Peter saw Psalm 2. After he quoted Psalm 2 what was his prayer? “And now, Lord, look31 upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”