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 April 5, 2015.
As everyone knows, today is Easter. Easter is the celebration of the singular greatest day in all of history. No day compares to what took place 2000 years ago when Jesus’ disciples went to the Garden were they had laid his body and found the stone rolled away, and they heard from the lips of Angels, “He is not here, but has risen.” In those words lie all hope.
Some of you who sit here today, have “celebrated” Easter in your entire life, however you have never CELEBRATED Easter. Your celebration up to this point has been vanity, for you have not been struck in your heart by the words “He is not here, but has risen.” You have yet to experience the full and complete weight of that reality as it relates to you eternity.
To grasp the hope found in the resurrection, we must understand death. Death exists because sin exists. This is crucial to understand. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” Therefore, when kids ask, why do people die? The answer is because it is God’s punishment for our sin. It is the penalty for our rebellion. It is the consequence for rejecting the Author of Life.
The next question is where did this sin come from? It came into the world through the first man, Adam.
What is interesting is that the first thing that physically died on this planet was not Adam or Eve. Yes, they died eventually, but not immediately. The first creature that died is found in Genesis 3:21.
From that point on we begin to see a pattern of animal sacrifices begin.
Why is this important? Why should you care about the animal sacrifice in garden , the lamb sacrifice of Abel, the ram sacrifice of Abraham, the Passover lamb sacrifice for Egypt, the consecration sacrifice of the Priest, and the yearly sacrifice on the Day of Atonement? The reason is because of Hebrews 10:1.
The Day of Atonement is just a symbol, it is an outline of the true object. This is also true for the Passover Lamb, the ram of Abraham, the lamb of Abel and the sacrifice in the Garden of Eden. Each of these things are a form of a greater reality. What is this greater reality? What is this good thing to come?
Single Offering of the Body
It is the good news of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 5, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me.” The good thing, the true substance, the object that cast the shadow is the body of Jesus Christ. This is why John the Baptist says in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jesus is object that cast the shadow that we see in the Garden, with Abel, with Abraham, with Moses, and with Israel. All of these shadows point to the substance of the single offering of the body of Jesus Christ.
This is the reason why Jesus came to earth...to die. He did not come to be a good moral teacher, or to lead a conservative political party. The Son of the Living God left the glory in Heaven to be the single sacrifice for all of humanity, to have his flesh torn apart and to bleed out so as to cover the shame of wretchedness, to die in our place, to cause death to Passover you, to atone for our sins.
And the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross is not like the shadow that was cast before it. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God has power. Jesus accomplished what no sacrifice accomplished before. The sacrifices of the shadow could not perfect those who draw near. This is why year after year after year these sacrifices of Israel continued, because they didn’t work. Look at verse 4, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.“ This was not their purpose. Their purpose is to point to Christ, for it is only the blood of Jesus that can take away our sins.
Perfected for All Time
Look with me at verse 12-14, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Let’s read it one more time and let these words sink in.
Once again, we see a single sacrifice. The death of Jesus happened one time and one time only. It is blasphemy to say that Jesus is sacrificed over and over again. What did Jesus do after he offered his body for sin? He sat down. Now compare this to verse 11, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” But when Christ offers his body, instead of continueing to stand, what does he do? He sits down. Why?
Because when Jesus offered himself the work was completed. It was done. There was nothing left to do to pay for your sins. The blood of Christ was sufficient to pay your debt to God. This is why Jesus cries out “It is finished” right before he dies on the cross. He had accomplished what he set out to do.
Which is what? To perfect you. Verse 14, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” It is by the single offering of the body of Christ that you go from sinner to sinless. 1 John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” It is not our blood and sweat that takes away sin. It is only the blood of Jesus that has this power. Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” It is the blood of Christ that provides redemption, that provides forgiveness. It is grace alone. Romans 3:23, “or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” The one and only way that you are justified before God is through redemption that is found in the blood of Jesus. There is no other way to deal with your sin issue. The body of Christ is the only solution, He is your only hope, and his body is sufficient to pay for all your sins.
Why is this important? It is important because some of you have been taught by false teachers. Some of you have sat in a religion that does not preach and teach Hebrews 10, 1 John 1, Ephesians 1, Romans 3. You have been wrongly taught that Jesus sacrifice was necessary, but that it was not sufficient.
Do you hear the difference? Necessary and sufficient are not the same words. There difference makes all the difference. You have been wrongly taught that you have to atone for some of your own sins; you have been wrongly taught that Jesus’ blood didn’t perfect you for all time; you were wrongly taught that you have not been justified by grace. Instead you were told that you have to perform some penance to absolve you from your sins, whether that be hail Mary’s, the Lord’s Prayer, communion, confession, church attendance, etc. The Bible speaks of none of these things having the power to pay for your sin. No sacrifice that you perform can pay the debt that you owe God. The bible is abundantly clear that it is Christ alone; so stop attempting to earn your forgiveness, for you can’t. Instead find refuge in the single sacrifice of Christ
The Resurrection is the Proof
So what does this have to do with the resurrection? How is the empty tomb connected to the sufficient work of Jesus Christ on the cross? Everything.
No legitimate scholar debates the life of Jesus. It is almost universally excepted that Jesus existed. It is not a question of his existence. The question is, “Is He the Lamb of god who comes to take away the sin of the world.” That is what each one of you have to determine. Who do you say that Jesus is?
If his bones lie in a tomb, then eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die, but if he has risen, and He has overcome our greatest problem, death, then I encourage you to listen to what he has to say.
The Lord’s Supper
Today we will celebrate the sufficiency of the body of Christ by remembering what he has done for us by eating bread and drinking juice.
This table is open to every follower of Christ. However, if you have not turned and placed your faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, then this table is not for you. However, I pray that by the Grace of God someday it will be.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on February 22, 2015
Turn with me to Philippians 2:12-13. Today we will be looking at only two verses, and it will take as all of 45 minutes to do it. So we are going to get right to work this morning.
So with that said, if you run into an apparent paradox in the Bible do not reject it. Instead, recognize that the Bible is not the problem. You are, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you mine the depths of God’s truth. When you do this, you will most likely find that the deeper you dig, the greater the treasure you will find.
So let us start with the paradox. In verse 12 we see Paul telling the Church in Philippi to “work out your own salvation.” This is a command. Paul is telling them to work, to do something. He places the obligation, the responsibility on the people. Then in verse 13, in the same sentence, Paul says, “it is God who works in you.” Paul is saying that God does the work.
Is Paul schizophrenic? He starts his sentence with us doing the work, and ends the sentence with God doing the work. Which is it? Is it us, or is it God? At first glance, we believe that these positions are mutually exclusive. We believe that they cannot both be true. It has to be one or the other, but not both.
Why? Because when we read the Bible we wrongly superimpose our finite, our limited knowledge over the Bible. We wrongly have a tendency to Lord over God’s word. We wrongly approach the Bible as if we are god, and we therefore then attempt to shape God’s word to match our view of reality. This is not the way you read the Bible. We should not twist the Bible to match our metanarrative, the Bible that should shape us to match God’s redemptive narrative. For it is the Bible that is the revelation of true reality. We must humble ourselves beneath the Word of God and allow it to refine us. We must be willing to accept difficult truths, even if we don’t understand it initially.
So today I encourage you, to start from that position, as position of humility as we attempt to mine the depths of the reality that we work out our salvation, and God works out our salvation.
Next, lets us talk about the foundation of this text. We are focusing on only two verses, and there is a risk that when you do this, you read it with blinders on. We must recognize that these verses are not on an island. They are a part of a letter. They are part of a flow of thought. Verses 12 and 13 have a foundation under them, so let us spend some time looking at that foundation. The foundation begins in Philippians 1:3.
At that moment, Lydia is saved. Salvation has come into her heart. She is eternally secure in the arms of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus paid for all her sin; past, present, and future, and she has been given the righteousness of Christ. This is the great substitution. Christ takes our sin, and we take his righteousness. This is why Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” For those who are in Christ, the gift of salvation is received at the moment of faith. This is why Paul can confidently say in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
It is a guarantee that all who are in Christ will be brought to completion. We will all reach the end. We will endure. We will persevere. If you don’t persevere, that means that you were never in Christ. That God never began a work in you, but you were just fooling yourself.
However, for a true follower of Jesus, in between the beginning and the end is the Christian walk. And this is what Paul starts to discuss in Philippians 1:27.
And it is this foundation that Paul lays out before he says in verse 12, where he says, “work out your own salvation.” Why is this important? Because Satan would love for you to read verse 12 as saying, “work for your salvation.” Satan would love for you to think that your salvation is dependent upon what you do, as if salvation is something to be earned. But we all know that salvation is a gift of God’s Amazing Grace, not a wage.
So what does verse 12 say? It says we are to “work out your salvation” not “work for your salvation.” To work out your salvation means that you already have salvation. God, at the moment of conversion has taken out your heart of stone and given you a heart of flesh. At the moment of conversion God has birthed you into spiritual existence. At the moment of conversion God has made you a new creation. At the moment of conversion God has adopted you into his family. And this is who you are at your core. However, this does not mean that immediately upon conversion that you will perfectly, without sin, outwardly display this inward reality.
In between justification and glorification, there is sanctification. Meaning, that in between you being declared not guilty through Christ and being perfectly like Christ in Heaven, there is a life of transformation that occurs. We call this transformation sanctification, and this is the Christian walk. This Christian walk has two sides to the coin, your role and God's role.
Work Out Your Salvation
Let us begin by talking about our role. This text makes many grace based Christians flinch. They see work and think there must be a typo, but rest assured it is not. This word work is an active word, not a passive. Paul is telling us that we play a substantial part in becoming who we already are. Becoming like Christ in obedience is not something that just happens, but something that we make happen. And this is not the only place we see text like this in the Bible. In fact later in this letter Paul says this:
And why does God come and reside in us? What is His reason? What is His purpose? What does verse 13 say? He lives in us “to will and to work for his good pleasure.” This is amazing. God is in your heart making you will and work. Are you tracking? God is changing your desires. He is changing your delights. He is changing your loves. He is changing you from the inside out.
So how does this look practically? It looks like Bryan and Amy Speed waking up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to read the Bible and pray. It looks like James donating over a $1000 so others can go on a mission trip. It looks like Freddie willing to travel to the other side of the planet and risk his safety so to encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ. It looks like 30 people cramming the front of our Church on Wednesday night equipping themselves to make disciples. It looks like Paul sitting chained to a Romans guard and preaching Jesus Christ to the entire imperial guard.
All of these actions are evidences of the salvation that we have already received. When Christ truly comes and takes up residence in your heart he changes you. You want to pray, you want to read the Bible, you want to share the Gospel, you want to go on mission trips, you want to wash each others feet, you want to cut off your right hand if it causes you to sin. You want to strive, press on, strain, work out, and fight the fight of faith to be like our King. Our King who obeyed to the point of death on a cross.
Over the years I have heard people say, slow down, don't take on too much, you are going to burn out. I have even had people tell me that they believe I am trying to earn my way to Heaven. When I hear those things I want to say, get behind me Satan. Because what I see in the Bible is verse like 1 Corinthians 15:10.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 11, 2014
Open you Bibles to Philippians 1:3-11. Last week we began our journey through the book of Philippians, and we focused our attention on how the Church in Philippi began. In doing so we examined Acts 16 where we saw Paul, Timothy, Silas, and Luke setting sail and landing on the continent of Europe with the express purpose of sharing the Gospel to anyone they could find. This path of obedience led them to a Jewish business woman named Lydia. Upon God opening her heart, Lydia was the first convert in the continent of Europe. And from that point the Church in Philippi began.
Today we are going to continue to examine this relationship. So let us read out text, pray and see what God has to say to our hearts this morning.
This intimate relationship that he has with these people is not a superficial one. It has roots, it has strength, it is authentic and it produces in Paul joy. Verse 3 and 4, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,” Every time he brings to mind, when he remembers these people he experiences joy in his life. No matter where he is, what he is doing, how hard his circumstances are, when he closes his eyes and remembers the people in Philippi his heart rejoices.
Let me ask you, do you have someone in your life like this? Is there someone that no matter how bad of a day you are having, you can close your eyes and picture them in your mind and instantly joy washes over you? For many of you, you might say yes, but I am guessing the ones that bring you joy are your children, maybe your spouse. But what about your Church? Take a moment and look around at the people in this room. Do you yearn to be with them? Do you have an affection of Christ for them. Do you rejoice when you walk in these doors and see their smiling faces?
I don't know about you, but I have been to some Churches that have broken my heart. You walk in, and everyone is mindlessly going through the motions, like robots. No one is conversing, no one is smiling, no one looks like they want to be their. They look like slaves tied the the pews; burdened by the requirement of attending Church. It is a sad, sad picture. For Church is not suppose to be that way. Church is to be alive, vibrant, flourishing, hopefully, exciting, and abounding in love, both towards God and towards each other.
The assembly of God's people in worship should be like a shining city on a hill, whereby outsiders will be either repelled by it like cockroaches or drawn to it like moths to a flame. And the love of God and the love of others should be the fuel to that fire, as I hope we will see today. So with that, let us look at why did Paul love these people so zealously.
Partnership in the Gospel
Which brings me to the question, how many of us have unsaved people in our household? I am guessing every single one of you. Perhaps they are not living in your house, but I am sure that everyone has aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws that do not love Christ; relatives that are destined to Hell if God does not open up their heart. What are you doing to save them? Are you praying every day for their salvation? Are you praying that God would open up their heart to receive the gospel? Have you proclaimed the gospel to them? Have you shared your testimony with them? Have you sat down and opened up the Bible and talked about who Jesus is and why they should care? I will be the first to admit that I have failed miserably. In fact, my lack of boldness and courage makes me sick! My lack of love for their souls makes me sick!
When God saved you, he did not mean for you to be a hoarder of His grace. You are meant to be a conduit of his grace. He saved you to be about his work. You are the God ordained means to a God ordained salvation.
What is the next thing we see after everyone in her house was saved? She persuades Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke to make her home their gospel headquarters. She didn't just ask them to come by for an hour to hang out, she asked them to stay. This was going to be the new home base. This was going to be the brick and mortar for the Church, and she did this without hesitation.
Think about this. Lydia appears to be a single, jewish, business women and within a short time meets four random men down by the river and insists that they stay at her house. Who are these guys? Can you trust them? What baggage do they bring to the table? Are they wanted? What will people think? Is her house clean? Does she have enough food? What about her business? What about the mouths she has to feed? None of that seems to cross her mind. Once God opened up her heart and made Jesus preeminent in her life, everything else was trivial. She instantly leveraged what she had to offer for the sake of the expansion of the Kingdom, no matter what the cost.
This radical love of Lydia, however, was not isolated. If you continue reading in Acts 16 we see a second story of conversion. Look at Acts 16:25-34. Paul and Silas found themselves in some hot water and ended up being beaten and thrown in jail.
After the jailer placed his faith in Christ what happened? He took them home, washed their wounds, feed them and introduced him to his household which, once again, led to his family being saved. Just like Lydia, we see instant partnership in the Gospel, right out of the gates. And once again, let's not forget that the jailer did this at a great risk. What do you think his Roman boss was going to think about this jailer taking the prisoners home and giving them a bath, feeding them, and having a big joy filled party?
Don't forget that this was the same guy who almost killed himself because he thought he had let the prisoners escape, talk about pressure at work. That guy that almost committed suicide because he was having a bad day didn't exist anymore, he was now a new creation in Christ. God had taken out his heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. A heart that instantly loved God and loved his new brothers in Christ. He no longer cared about what people thought, or what consequences he would be facing tomorrow at work, his primary focus was on the good news of Jesus Christ.
Partakers of Grace
So let us ask why. Why do we see such a radical step of faith in the partnering of the Gospel in the lives of the jailer and Lydia? Flip back to Philippians 1 and look at verse 7.
And in light of the love of God that he lavishes upon us, there is only one logical, consistent, fitting, or worthy response, and that is for the love of God to break forth like a river busting through a dam and washing everyone down stream. Who cares about your job, who cares about your business, who cares about what the neighbors are saying, who cares about what your family might think. You want everyone to experience Christ. And this is exactly what happened for Lydia and the Jail. The question is, has it happened to you, or are you just going through the motions?
Paul's Prayer and My Prayer
I do not want Cornerstone Church to go through the motions. I can't do it. I can't survive as your Pastor emotionally if we just play Church. Your partnership with me in the Gospel is a means of grace that flows straight to my heart, and produces in me joy. My prayer today, is Paul's prayer.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 30, 2014
Today we come to the end of a two month sermon series on the Doctrines of Grace. To end our series I want to review the doctrines, briefly, and then I want to talk more about why understanding these doctrines matter in your day to day Christian walk.
So in review, the Doctrine of Grace are primarily about God's sovereignty in our salvation. Meaning that from beginning to end, it is God who saves. God gets all of credit for for our salvation, and therefore God gets all the glory.
The acronym for the Doctrines of Grace spells TULIP. Let us quickly go over each doctrine. First there is Total Depravity. This doctrine summarizes the Bible's teaching that man is a sinner. That our hearts our desperately sick, that nothing good dwells in us, that every intention of our heart is only evil continually, that all our “righteous deeds” are like filthy rags, that we are wretched; therefore we have no ability in ourselves to save ourselves or come to Christ. Jesus said it very clearly in John 6:44 that , “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
Which leads to the next doctrine we talked about, Irresistible Grace. Irresistible Grace is the drawing of a wretched sinner to Jesus by God. It is the shining of the light of Christ into a sinners heart by God. It is the Holy Spirit blowing into our life, birthing us into spiritual life. It is God circumcising your heart. It is God taking out the heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. It is God giving us eyes to see and ears to here. It is God opening our hearts to pay attention to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the God's overcoming our resistance to Him by his irresistible grace, we are without Hope to repent and place our faith in Jesus Christ.
This begs the question, how does God decided whose life he will pour out His irresistible grace? He does this by His Unconditional Election. This is the “U” in TULIP. Unconditional Election is the understanding that God, before time began, chose whom would be adopted into his family to be holy and blameless before Him. That God chose whom would receive His grace. This decision is a sovereign decision, meaning that God makes this decision with no outside influence. He is the only truly free decision maker in the Universe. God has mercy on whom he has mercy. This is not based on what we do, it is based on God's free, sovereign will.
Next we examined Limited Atonement. This is the Biblical doctrine that Jesus was sent to rescue the elect, the ones chosen by God. This teaches that Jesus actually saved a specific people. That his death was a particular death, with a personal application. Jesus did not die for an opportunity to be saved, but that actually saved people. Limited atonement is the teaching that Jesus came to die for his sheep and that there is no greater love that to lay down your life for a friend.
Lastly, we looked at the overwhelming passages that point to the wonderful truth that when God begins his work in you, He will complete it to the end. This is the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, otherwise known as eternal security. This teaches that when you are adopted into God's family, He doesn't later kick you out. He doesn't give you eternal life and then say, just kidding. He doesn't open your eyes, to close them again. He doesn't love you, then send you to Hell. Perseverance of the Saints is the reality of the forever love of God.
These are the Doctrines of Grace. The question we will now address today is, why does it matter? I would argue that it matters immensely. As I stated before, other than my conversion, there has been no greater revelation in my life than the Sovereignty of God.
In this sermon series I have already spoken of two reasons as to why the Doctrines of Grace matter. First, God receives all the glory in our salvation. When we accept the truth of the Doctrines of Grace in our lives we are left with only one response, to praise God for His glorious grace. The second result we examined last week is that the Sovereignty of God is the catalyst to the Great Commission. Like Christ who was sent to rescue His Bride with victory guaranteed, we as his brothers and sisters, take the baton and go to all nations to bring in the sheep that are scattered abroad, knowing that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation and Jesus' sheep will hear his voice.
Today, I want to continue to discuss why embracing the Doctrines of Grace matter. These doctrines are not academic. They are doctrines you should build your life upon. Today, I have ten reasons why I believe that we should care about these doctrines.
We must remember that God's Word is His revelation to man. Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:4 that it is God's Word that is bread to our souls. Jesus then tells us that in John 17 that it is God's Word that sanctifies us. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3 that God's word is what equips us and makes us competent for all good works. The Doctrine of Grace is are doctrines of God's Word. The doctrines are not academic, they are much needed rations for this spiritual battle we find ourselves in and we must allow them to have their full effect upon our hearts and minds.
“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.”
I did a lot of driving this weekend and we had a cd with Chris Tomlin's new song Waterfall on it. Perhaps you don't know this but Tomlin is a Calvinist, but in this song he says, your love is like a waterfall. And I was dwelling upon this phrase in connection to my sermon today and I thought, yes this is true, if you see the waterfall like Niagra Falls and not the the Cascades of the Maquoketa. It is the overwhelming and powerful love that pummels us and causes us to respond with reciprical and radical love for God and radical love for others.
I recall one man who told me that he hated the weekends because he was always worried that he would lose his salvation. Whether it be thinking the wrong thought, watching the wrong movie, saying the wrong word, you name it. He never had peace in his heart. Does this seem like freedom? No it sounds like a prison.
And it is from this lowly state that God can begin to use us for His purposes. It is this posture of humility that gives us the ability to wash each other's feet, put other's interest before ours, take the log out of our eye, and acts as a guard against our sinful desire to lord over our brothers and sisters in Christ.
All Christians pray like a Calvinist. Every single one of you. If you wanted to be consistent with your claimed theology of free will, then you would not pray for peace and comfort and revivals and conversions, because free will claims that God has no control over those things. But something deep inside us knows that this is not true. The Holy Spirit groans inside of us to pray for hearts to break for Jesus, and this is a prayer that we need to pray more often.
As we stated earlier, I want us to be praying about the month of December. I want each of us to pray like a Calvinist. Pray that God would open the eyes of your neighbors. Pray that God would draw them to Jesus. Pray that God would cultivate their hearts and make them good soil to receive the Gospel. And pray like you believe He can do it.