Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 26, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 3. This is our third Sunday walking through the book of Psalms. For those who are visiting, we are currently in a series entitled “A Summer of Psalms.” Up to this point we have covered Psalm 1 and 2, and today we are going to unpack Psalm 3. With that said, let us read our text, pray, and then examine the Word of God together.
Background of David and Absalom
The circumstances of surrounding David and Absalom are found in 2 Samuel. Perhaps the first place we should begin is by recognizing that King David was a great King, but he was also a great sinner. It appears that the main struggle for David was sexual immorality. Many of us are most likely familiar with his adultery with Bathsheba, but unfortunately this was just the tip of the iceberg. It is not entirely clear how many wives and concubines David had. In 2 Samuel 5:13 it merely says, “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.”
One of these wives was named Maakah. She was a daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. From this marriage came David’s third son, Absalom. Also from this marriage came a daughter named Tamar. Now stay with me, David’s first son was Amnon. Amnon came from David’s marriage with Ahimoam of Jezreel. This is where the sexual immorality of David starts to have its generational effect. In 2 Samuel 13 we are told that Amnon, David's first son, lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. His lust was so great that he tricked her into believing that he was sick and when he had her all to himself he forced himself on her. 2 Samuel 13:14 says, “being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.” So like his father, David, he was not able to control his sinful urges. Immediately after Amnon lay with her, his lust turned to hate. Verse 15 says, “Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”
A short time later, Tamar’s full brother, Absalom, found out what Amnon had done, and he hated him for it. His hate against Amnon burned in his heart for two years until, the sin that was crouching at his door overcame him, and eventually Absalom seized an opportunity and ordered his servants to kill Amnon. So as Cain killed Abel, we see Absaolom kill Amnon. The murder of his brother caused Absalom to flea to his Grandfather’s home, Talmai King of Geshur, and he remained there for three years.
Eventually Absalom returned to Jerusalem, not to seek forgiveness, but to instead seek the throne of his father, David. This may be a good time to talk about Absalom’s appearance. We are told in 2 Samuel 14 that Absalom was extremely handsome.
Because the majority of Israel seem to have sided with Absalom, David was forced to flee Israel with the remnant of those who were faithful to him. This journey out of Jerusalem was of great sorrow.
Foes and Faith
Out of this difficult circumstances the Holy Spirit inspired David to write Psalm 3, and hopefully this context gives more weight to the first two versus that we see in Psalm 3:
Most likely we have not experienced the depth of David's circumstance, but I am guessing almost all of us have had trials that have allowed seeds of doubt to be planted. Perhaps it is a cheating spouse, perhaps cancer, perhaps financial struggles, perhaps a broken home. In the midst of our difficulties, we start to focus on the mountain that stands before us and it begins to block out our sight of God. Each day it feels like fiery arrows are being shot one after another at us, and we begin to wonder if God has forgotten about us, or even if there is a God. The battleground goes from being waged in our circumstances to being waged in our hearts, and the fight becomes ultimately a fight of faith. This is what was happening with David, as those around him spoke lies into his life.
One thing we can rest assured, you are not alone, for this is the life of a Christian. To be a follower of Christ does not mean that we are immune to diseases, free from financial burdens, or that everyone likes you. The preaching of Joel Osteen, and the health and wealth prosperity Gospel is a false teaching. When you read the Bible, this is abundantly clear. When you are God's chosen, like David was, life becomes harder. Prior to salvation the world loved you, for you were one of them. However, the minute you turned from the world and followed Christ, the current of this sinful world started to work against you. You started to swim upstream. On top of this, you know have enemies.
Cry Aloud to Yahweh
We are to do exactly what David did. Verse 4, “I cried aloud to the Lord.” The Hebrew word for the LORD when in all caps is the word Yahweh. This word comes from Moses's interaction with God at the burning bush when God declares himself to be the “I Am.” Yahweh who has no beginning and new end. Yahweh who is so great that he cannot be defined except by his own essence. Yahweh who created the heavens and the earth. Yahweh who flooded the world. Yahweh who struck down the Egyptians. Yahweh who we learned in Psalm 2 anointed David as King over Israel. In the midst of David's weeping on his walk to the Mount of Olives, he took his eyes off the circumstances and placed them on the Sovereign Lord.
I cannot help but see the similarity that exists between these events in Psalm 3 and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest. Just think about the parallels. Christ is the rightful heir to the throne, however Satan, a creature, created through Christ had rebelled, seeking the throne for himself. Eventually the opportunity arrived and Satan entered in Judas, who then betrayed Jesus. Judas then leaves to amass a small army of foes to arrest Jesus, and what does Jesus do?
In the midst of their circumstances, what did David and Jesus do? They prayed. In the difficulty of the moment they sought the strength that was from above, and Yahweh who lives in Heaven, on his holy Hill, heard their cry and answered. He had not forgotten about them. He had not turned his back. He answered their prayer, but how.
How did God answer? Did he reign down fire from Heaven? Did he reduce the number of foes? Did he allow the cup to pass? Did he change their circumstances? No. For David, God shielded him and sustained him.
The Fight of Faith
We have an enemy that is crouching at our door. When trials and tribulations come, as they always do, the battle over our heart begins. And this the is real battle. Satan desires to sift you and cause you to shrivel underneath your circumstances and drop your head and doubt the power and strength of God. Satan wants to destroy your peace, cause sleepless nights, and steal your joy. And when he does, we are not called to just weep, but to fight. We must fight the fight of faith, and this fight takes place first and foremost on our knees. We must utilize that armor that God has provided and cry out to him for a larger shield of faith so as to protect us from Satan's fiery arrows. Do not be a victim of your circumstances, but instead be victorious through the Grace of God.
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.”
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on May 17, 2015.
Open your Bibles to Philippians 4:4-7. This is the second Sunday that we are in this text due to its immense relevance and truth to our lives. As always, there is a lot of ground to cover, so lets get right to it and read our text, pray, and allow God to speak to us in our need.
Last week we talked exclusively about joy. Verse 4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” We saw that we are designed for joy. Our hearts and souls crave joy. Every decision you make in life is filtered through the question, will this make me happy?
Unfortunately, humanity, because of sin, pursues joy in the wrong place. We look for joy in things of this world, instead of the One who created the world. God designed us to find joy only in Him. As we said last week, the chief end of man is to glorify god and enjoy him forever. This confession is supported by passages like Psalm 16:11.
Good and Bad Concern
The Greek word for anxious is merimnaó. This word can be used positively or negatively. Early in this letter Paul used it in a positive way when he was speaking about Timothy in Philippians 2:20, “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned (merimnaó) for your welfare.” Obviously when Paul uses the word merimnao, he is speaking of good qualities of Timothy.
However, in out text for today, Paul is talking about the negative form of merimnaó . Which means to be worried, distracted, “to go to pieces.”
I believe this distinction is important for us to understand. We need to recognize that there is a God glorifying concern. It is a concern that drives us to love people. It is a concern that Timothy and Paul had for the people of Philippi. It is the same concern I have for each of you, and my wife, and my children; specifically my concern “for your progress and joy in the faith.” The reason I think this is important is because I believe too many people take “Don’t worry about it” too far; the “let go and let God” philosophy of discipleship can lead to apathy and isolation within the body of Christ. So as we talk about anxiety, understand we are not talking about the Godly concern, compassion, and love that we are called to have for other people.
Do Not Be Anxious
What Paul is talking about in our text is the bad anxiety. In fact let’s start the same place that we started last week with the recognition that this is a command, “Do not be anxious.” This means that being anxious is against the will of God. It is a sin to be anxious.
So once again, like last week, let’s ask the question, do you think of anxiety this way? When you are worried about money, relationships, health, your job, tornadoes, persecution, etc. do you recognize that God is not pleased by your anxiety? Do you recognize that Jesus died to pay for you sins, one being your anxiety? Let’s look at some other passages that supports this command not to be anxious.
Here is a quote from John MacArthur, “Worry is the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet it is a sin that Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other.”
And today we see the command of God telling us to not be anxious about anything. This means don’t be anxious about your job, your finances, your health, your children, your retirement, your life. We are a nation of worriers. We live in the most affluent place and the most affluent time in all of history. We are the cream of the historical crop, yet we walk around afraid of our shadow. I have never once lived in a house that didn’t have food in the cupboards. I have never once gone to a closet that had empty hangers. I have never once gone without medicine for myself or my family. I have never once gone to bed worried about neighborhood bombings, or someone kicking down my door to take me hostage. And I am guessing that very few of you have either, however we run around like the sky is falling.
You of Little Faith
Why? Because we lack faith in an all-powerful, all knowing, all present, all loving, Sovereign God of this Universe. We have taken the God Who Is, and shrunk him down to the God we want him to be, and because of that, our lives are a wreck. We don’t believe that God is in control. We don’t believe that he has the power to change hearts, move mountains, heal disease, provide bread, or calm the storms. We don’t believe the God of the Bible.
We forget that Jesus himself says in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” If God is control of the falling of a sparrow, he is control of your life. Trust him.
We forget what it says in Ephesians 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” All things include your current circumstances. Trust him.
We forget the promise of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Whether you recognize it or not, if you love God your struggles, no matter what they are, are being used by God for your good. If you do not love God, then this promise is not for you, because all things will actually work towards bad, namely your destruction in Hell.
How crucial are these text! We desperately need to remember these words when our marriages are hanging by a thread, when we lose our job, when we get the call from the doctor, when our lives are falling to pieces. So how do we do it?
We Pray with Gratitude
Verse 6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The answer to your anxiety is to pray with thanksgiving.
This is important, the text doesn't just say pray, but pray with thanksgiving. This is crucial. And I am guessing that very few of you implement this. My guess is that you are really good at praying and making your requests known to God, but rarely is your heart full of gratitude. Most likely you are so focused on your problems, the last thing on your mind is to be thankful, but this is exactly what you must do.
So how might this look? Lets say I go to the doctor and they tell me I have cancer. That night I am laying in my bed and can't sleep because I have a thousands thoughts running through my mind. My wife, my kids, this church, the chemo, the finances, the uncertainty, etc. Then I start to pray:
“Father, I am a wreck. I don't know what I am going to do. Thank you for being with me in this time of difficulty, and thank you for hearing my cry. Father, I am worried about my wife and kids. They are so precious to me. Thank you Lord for blessing me with me. Thank you for putting them in my life. If something happens to me, please be with them. Father, I am not sure how this is going to work with Cornerstone. I don't know if I will be able to keep up the pace. You are doing so much good in those people's heart, and they are so on fire for you. I praise you and thank you for all you have done. Will you keep doing it? Father, I am scared about dying. I am scared of the pain and the uncertainty surrounding it. Father, thank you for the life that you have given me. Thank you for all the days that you have blessed me with. Thank you for creating me and sustaining me up until this point. Father, if you do decide that I should die. I thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending him to die on the cross for my sins, thank you for pouring out your wrath upon him, so that I could be forgiven and have eternal life in your presence. Thank you that death is not the end, but the beginning. Thank you for the glory that awaits me in your presence. Thank you for loving me and never forsaking me.”
When I pray that way, what do you think is running though my mind at the end of that prayer? More of God's Sovereignty and less of my anxiety. When I put my worries up against His blessings, His goodness vastly overshadows my problems. When I pray with God-centeredness, my perspective on my situation changes. I quickly realize that God has always been in control and will always be in control.
This is what I love about this text, it is so practical. When we implement this strategy of praying with thanksgiving, our prayers are being answered just by the formula of our prayer, and the pinnacle of the formula is gratitude for Jesus Christ. There is no greater blessing in our life the the gift of God's Son. No matter what you have going on in your life, if you pray to God with thanksgiving in your heart for the gift of Jesus Christ then the peace of God will descend upon your mind and your heart. Why?
I have no doubt that this is was how Paul lived his life. Remember, when Paul wrote this letter, he was not skipping through the tulips, he was walking thought the valley of the shadow of death, chained to a Roman guard. He had way more “problems” then most of you will ever experience, and it was the Soverign Love of God that sustained him in the hardest of times. I have no doubt that this is how all the apostles lived, for they had to. Our lives are pleasure cruises compared to theirs. Listen to what Peter says.
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.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 23, 2014
Open your Bibles to Romans 10:13-21. We have designated today as Missions Sunday. It is my hope that in the years to come we will have multiple missions Sundays each year, so that we can continually remind ourselves of the primary commission by Christ to the Church, go and make disciples.
I chose today to be our missions Sunday because last week I concluded my teaching of the specific Doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as the five points of Calvinism. Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. With this doctrines under our belt I want to now direct your attention to over the next two weeks to the fruit that grows out of embracing these Biblical truths of God's Sovereignty.
I have already spoken of one result of the Doctrines of Grace, that being the praise of God for His glorious grace. This is a product of believing this doctrines because the more we realize that it was God who chose and saved us, the more we glorify him. God does all the work through Christ, therefore God through Christ should get all the credit. I believe this is the chief product of embracing these biblical doctrines; however, it is not the only product of being a Calvinist.
Today we are going to look at another result of believing in the Sovereignty of God, specifically that the Sovereignty of God is the Catalyst to the Great Commission. With that said, turn with me to Romans 10:13-21. Let us read out text, ask God to open up the eyes of our heart, and see what God wants to show us.
The Gospel is the God ordained means of a God ordained end. It is the way by which God achieves the redemption of his sinful, yet elect, children. The Gospel is the ordained net for the elect. This is something people can get hung up on when they are first exposed to Calvinism. They believe that if the elect are 100% guaranteed to be saved, then why share the Gospel with them. This thinking is called Hyper-Calvinism, and it is dead wrong. For Hyper-Calvinism is the view that all who are to be saved will be saved and the Gospel therefore does not need to be offered to the world. Therefore no one is sent, no one preaches, no one hears, and no one is saved.
Make no mistake, Paul was not a hyper-Calvinist. This is obvious by his life and his words. Other than Jesus, Paul was the greatest missionary ever to walk the planet. Just to give you another taste of how passionate Paul was about people believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Look with me at Romans 9:1-3.
How many of you can say this? How many of you would be able to say, without lying, that you would spend the rest of eternity having the wrath of God poured out on you, so that your relatives could be with God? How many of you have stayed up late at night in anguish and weeping for the salvation of your neighbors? What would cause Paul to feel such a burden for the lost?
This answer is simple. Jesus Christ. Christ is the cause of this anguish and sorrow. Paul was filled with the Spirit of Christ and therefore what broke Jesus' heart broke his heart. The same Spirit that caused Jesus to lay down his life, caused Paul to lay down his life. Paul's willingness to bear the wrath of God so that others could be saved is exactly what Jesus did when he came to earth and died on the cross. Jesus bore our transgressions and sins and was smitten and chastised by his Father so that we may be healed. Other than Christ, Paul had the most beautiful feet on the planet for everywhere he went he heralded the good news, scattering the seed of the Gospel wherever he went. Whether in the synagogues, in the town square, in prison, or in his home. Paul was a man who loved the lost.
Here is the kicker, if you are an authentic Christian, if you are born again by the Spirit of God, then the same Spirit of Christ that lived in Paul lives in you. The same power that compelled Paul to be willing to go to Hell for the lost, dwells in you, and is ready to be unleashed in your life. The question, is what is holding you back?
In Romans 10:1 Paul reiterates basically the same thing as in Romans 9:1.
I want you to think about Paul's life. From the moment Christ chose him as an apostle, the world hated him. He was beaten, stoned, drug out of town, shipwrecked, whipped, imprisoned, and lied about. Why in the world would he continue to walk down this lonely and difficult path? Because no man is left behind. The foundation to Paul's missiology is God's sovereign election; God's choice of whom will receive mercy. Paul embraces the words of Jesus in John 10:16.
Imagine, the alternative. Imagine if instead of believing in the election of the saints, you believed that it was up to man to determine who is saved and who is not. After getting beat up in one town, would you go to the next? No, you wouldn't. Why go through the trial if there is no guaranteed pay off? But instead think if you viewed each town as a prison, and inside each prison was a POW (prisoner of war) waiting for God's marines to drop in and use the gospel key to unlock the prison's gates. This is how Paul saw the mission field, freeing captives.
It is interesting, the fallacies that humans fall into when it comes to Biblical truth. I would be curious to know how many of you when driving home from one of the past sermons, have said, “If everything is predetermined, than what is the point?” You say this because you think destiny produces apathy. But this is not the case, for destiny does not produce apathy, destiny produces action.
It was the sense of destiny that drove Napoleon across Europe. It was destiny that pushed Michael Jordan to become the best basketball player of all time. The pregame destiny speech is proclaimed in high-school locker rooms across the nation every Friday night. It is destiny that has driven men to ask women out on dates since dating existed. Make no mistake the sense of fate is a very powerful motivator, and this is not by accident. This is one reason why I believe Jesus said these words before he ascended into heaven.
I believe this is why, when looking back on the history of the Church we see a landscape scattered with Calvinist who risked their life for the lost. Sine we are talking about Calvinism let us begin with John Calvin. It is estimated that John Calvin and his spiritual family in Geneva were responsible for planting over 2000 churches in France. Then there was the Calvinist John Eliot, who was the first missionary to the American Indians. He was followed by David Brainerd, whose diary is perhaps the most influential missionary books other than the Bible. It was the book that inspired William Carey, another Calvinist, who is know as the founder of modern day missions. Likewise there is Calvinist, Adoni Judson, who was the first American Missionary to India. Not to mention the missionary George Whitefield, an Englishman, who made multiple trips across the Atlantic to partake in missionary journeys through New England preaching unashamedly the Gospel of Christ to 8,000-12,000 people at a time. And don't forget about David Livingston, the well known missionary to Africa. In all of these men, there was a common thread of Calvinism.
And regarding today, perhaps the most well know Calvinistic preacher, John Piper, is simultaneously perhaps the most missions minded preacher that I know. His passion for global missions is contagious and his book Let the Nations Be Glad has inspired numerous pastors and missionaries in regards to going and proclaiming the Gospel to the lost. One of those people being David Platt, who is another radical Calvinist. Plat just recently became the President of the International Missions Board. He lives and breathes missions, and yet, he is a Calvinist.
I find it interesting that many people like to say that Calvinist don't care about missions. This is absolutely false. The evidence is the exact opposite. For since the beginning of the Church age, it has always been those who believe in the sovereignty of God in the salvation of men that have led the charge to go and proclaim that Gospel to the lost and bring the sheep home.
And this makes sense, for the biggest obstacle of sharing the Gospel is your wrong understanding of how someone is saved. If you believe that salvation comes through your ability convince them to believe, then of course you wouldn't share the good news of Christ because you are afraid of not saying the right thing. But if instead you believed that it is not your words that make disciples, but instead the power of the gospel, then you will sow the seeds wherever you go, for it is your destiny.