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 Men's and Women's Breakfast on June 20, 2015
Open your Bibles to Hebrews 12:1-4. Let us read it, pray, and then wrap up or study on God's Design for Men and Women.
We forget that to be a Christian is to first and foremost recognize that we are sinful, fallen, desperately sick, broken creatures. Our life, prior to being born again is out of step with our Maker. When God births us into spiritual existence, our new inclination is to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The power of the Gospel is to justify and to sanctify. Meaning that the death of Christ sufficiently pays for all of our sin, and there is nothing left for us to do so as to be reconciled to God. However, the Gospel does not merely justify us, it puts us into motion towards becoming in sync with God's will.
The gospel breaks the chains of our sinfulness and gives us freedom and desire to pursue what pleases God. This is the essence of or text this morning to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” This morning I want to talk about two things 1) The Race and 2) the Weights.
So what is this race that we are running? First, let us understand that the terrain for this race is not the streets of gold found in Heaven, but the muck and the mire of this World. God has ordained that the starting line for our life in Christ begins in a fallen world. This is not a perfect illustration but it may help, it is as if we are running in sand. And not only are we running in sand, but people watching us run are not predominately fans of ours. They are hecklers, scoffers, booers, perhaps at times, even obstacles. For some people, the race actually becomes a gauntlet of sorts.
This was the case for the cloud of witnesses that surround us that are spoken about in Hebrews 12:1. These cloud of witnesses are listed in Chapter 11 we are told their stories involve lions, sacrifice, war, torture, mockery, flogging, chains, imprisonment, afflicted and mistreated. Despite all those difficulties, they endured, they kept running the race.
So what race were they running? They were running the race of faith. It is a race that centered around the promises of God. To each of them, the word of God was proclaimed, God's will was revealed, strategy and design were laid out before them, and each one of them had a choice to make in their life, believe God and run the race, or not believe God and blend into the world.
We have spent months soaking in Biblical text seeking the will of God when it comes to men and women. Our study has led us to one single reality, God has a specific design for men, and God has a specific design for women. Both male and female are equal before God. God loves men and women equally and delights in men and women equally, but we have different callings.
I don’t know how you can walk away from this study and think otherwise, for we looked at scripture after scripture from the beginning to the end and it all pointed to an intentional God with an intentional design. Starting in the Garden, running through the Old Testament, examining the words of Jesus, looking at the early Church, reading the letters of Paul, and studying the remaining letters. All of it pointed to an unchanging God who has ordained unchanging roles.
So the question is no longer what does the Bible say about my role as a man, and my role as a women, for we know what its says. The question is, are you willing to run the race of faith when it comes these roles, when it comes to God's design? Are you willing to trust in God’s plan for you as a male, and God’s plan for you as a female? Are you willing to trust in God’s designed for marriage? Are you willing to trust God’s has designed for the home? Are you willing to trust God’s design for His Church?
At this point, this is really the question before us. Will you chose to run the race of faith? We have stared in the mirror of God’s Word, will we turn and forget what we saw? Will we run the race, or will we go sit in the stands? Or perhaps we will run for a little while, and then we will give up because it is just too hard in this day in age? Maybe the Word of God will sprout up in our lives, but it will be chocked out by the cares of this world, or persecution from your family and “friends.”
What I want to do this morning is to convince you, or remind you, that God’s design for male and female is not a burden, it is not a punishment. It is a design that God declared in Genesis 1:31 to be “very good.” That word good in verse 31 is “tob” which can be translated to pleasing, well, pleasant, delightful, glad, joyful, delicious, sweet. God’s design for men and women is a design that fits. It is a design that complements. It is a design that is harmonious. It is a design the best displays what God desires to be displayed.
I think we as Christians forget this. We see the walk of faith only as difficult, and we fail to see the joy, and peace, and fullness of a life when you are surrendered entirely to your Father. We forget that God promises that truth sets us free, and that there is freedom in implementing God’s design. We fail to recognize the fruit that will come from a life planted by the streams of God’s Word. We must recognize that the weight of this life, is not obedience, but disobedience.
What is the must regular response to the question, how have you been? “Busy.” That is the main response. “We are really busy.” You can see it in people's eyes, they are scattered in their lives and scattered in their hearts. This is a weight upon their shoulders. It drags them down. It makes the race of this life wearisome. I can't help but think the main reason for this is that we are out of sync with God's design for our lives.
Instead of men being at home and leading their wives and children, they are working 50+ hours a week, golfing, watching endless sports, or wasting their life away in a man cave. Instead of men stepping up and leading Church's they shrink in the back and make jokes about the women doing it. They send them out into the world to make money so that you can have a bigger truck. Men are universally failing to be the men that God designed them to be. Gone seem to be the days of valiance. Homes and Churches are now full of 40 year old adolescents.
Women, you have bought into the lie of feminism that equality means being the same. Equality does not mean the same. There is no doubt that men and women are different. Why in the world did we think we can fit them into the same mold? You have pursued the path of man, and you are now doing twice as much work and burning the candles at both ends. Your kids are being raised by secular strangers, and you and your husband are always fighting because the house is always a wreck, you never eat as a family, and the two hours you get the your children is spent carting them around to keep up with the world. And at the end of the night, the last thing you are thinking about is intimacy.
With all this said, we wonder why marriages don't last. And we wonder why Church's are slipping into liberalism, where anything goes. We have ignored, rejected, or twisted the Word of God.
But it doesn't have to be this way for us. We don't have to go the way of the world, and be deceived. We can chose today to lay aside every weight that is clinging to us and run the race that God has expressly set before us. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. God hardly ever calls us into things that are easy. The life of a Christian is described as a fight of faith. We must work out our salvation. We must strive down the narrow path. We must pick up our cross and follow Christ.
So this is my call as we end this series. Each of you make a concerted effort to live out what you have been studying. Pray that God would reveal to you areas that are out of sync with God's will. Then take steps in your life to fulfill God's design for you as a man and a women. It doesn't have to be all at once. Each month do something that moves you in the right direction.
Men, start seeing your home as your Garden of Eden and stand guard against Satan's attack on you, your wife, and your kids. Pay attention to what is on the TV, Computer, mailbox, and phone. Set loving rules and boundaries. Be willing to lay down your life for your wife by reducing your work hours, eliminating your TV time, or giving up a hobby or two. Start leading your family in prayer and devotionals. Look for ways that you can step up to the plate at Church. Encourage other men to be men. Make the choice to stop being apathetic, and instead choose to be a fellow solider in Christ.
Women, think about how you can come up along side and help your husbands and the Church. Be Holy Spirit like, who comes and goes without being seen, but you know that he was there because you can see the effects. Think about how you can make the dance more beautiful. Unleash your God given creativity and live, not as a slave to feminism, but as a slave to Jesus Christ. Make your home a gospel centered home, focus your attention on training up your children in righteousness. Love your husband, encourage your husband, respect your husband.
Lastly, let us, let God be God. Let us submit to Him above all. Let us not think we are entitled to a certain way of life that we believe is the best. Let us run the race of faith and trust in God's design, let us trust in God's Word, and let us endure for the joy that is set before us when we stand in the presence of our Maker and we here him say well done good and faithful servant.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 14, 2014.
Open your Bibles to Matthew 4:12-17. Let us begin by jumping right into our text. As I stated last Sunday, during this Advent season we will be using Matthew 4 to launch each sermon. So let us read it, pray and then see what God desires to show us in His Word this morning.
My intent last week was for each of you to feel the weight of the darkness of this sinful world, and to recognize that the present darkness that surrounds us is not some childish game of hide and seek, but that it is a foretaste of what is waiting for every man that does not have the light of Christ dawn upon their heart, Hell.
We briefly discussed how this darkness originated in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve chose to reject God’s authority over them, and to instead listen to Satan, the Prince of Darkness. Because of their rejection of God’s Lordship over their life, God withdrew from humanity, and it was plunged into spiritual darkness and live in the shadow of death. Therefore every person that has been born on this planet has been born with a darkened heart into a darkened world. If the Bible was broken into a four part play, the fall man would be Part 1, the domain of darkness.
Today I would like to begin with Part two of this play. If I were to name part 2, I would name it, “A Glimmer of Hope.” I have asked you to do this before here at Cornerstone, but I want you to imagine for a moment the first night that Adam and Eve spent outside the Garden of Eden. This experience would have a completely new for them. They would have no home, no food, no protection. Prior to the fall their sleep would have been easy and peaceful, but those days for Adam and Eve were now over. After they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were cast out of the Garden and separated from the presence of God and were living independent of Him in the midst of the darkness.
We don't know the details of what night one was like, but I want to use your imagination. What would that night look like if it were you? For me it would be a night of shame, brokenness, fear, anxiety, lostness, and tears. Perhaps the first several hours after being cast out of the Garden Adam and Eve just walked in silence. Too devastated to talk. Perhaps due to physical and emotional exhaustion they picked a place so as to try to get some sleep. I can almost picture Adam and Eve clinging to each other, surrounded by the darkness of their new reality; perhaps cold, hungry, worried, and staring off into the pitch black night, and running over in their minds the last 24 hours of their life. For the first time they felt the weight of the darkness, the weight of their sin.
Let me ask you something? Have you had those nights? Have you laid in bed with the world pushing down on you? Broken, lost, afraid, ashamed? I am guessing you have. I know I have. Your mind races with worry and fear and sadness. You try to forget the day, weeks, or months, but you can't. It is like the darkness of the world is pursuing you, crouching at your bed, ready to pounce. For me, some of those dark days are best described as spiritually suffocation. It was as if the darkness was pushing into my chest. In that moment you feel as if there is no hope.
If I were to guess, night one for Adam and Eve was not an easy one. Now imagine, Adam turning to Eve in the middle of the night and saying, “Eve, are you still awake?” Eve says, “Yes, I can't stop thinking about what God said. It keeps ringing in my ears.” Adam responds, “Me too. Eve, did you hear what God said to the Serpent? 'I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.' Who do you think God was talking about?”
The words I just referred to, in that fictional dialogue, are actually found in Genesis 3 when God was pronouncing judgment against the Serpent, Adam and Eve. This seed of Eve, that God declared would crush the head of Satan, was the only glimmer of hope spoken of that day. All other words by God after the fall were words of judgment, except this promise of a future and mysterious seed of Eve, that would be a He, would strike, bruise, crush, gape (Depending on what version you have) the head of the serpent. And likewise in the process of striking the head of the snake would have his heal bruised by the snake. Who is this man? It is none other than Jesus Christ, and this is the first explicit prophecy of a suffering savior who would be victorious over sin and death.
Think about this for a moment. God created Adam and Eve and gave them everything. They rebelled against him and chose to listen to the Devil instead of the Potter. God had every right to banish them to Hell, but he didn't. He punished them, clothed them by the shedding of blood, and gave them hope in Christ. What an amazing God, and what amazing Grace! Despite the world being plunged into a dominion of darkness due to Adam and Eve's rebellion, God still provided a glimmer of Hope.
On Fridays, I meet with Freddie Jones at McDonald’s. We usually get done around 7:00, and sometimes I head into work right away, but sometimes I drive up to the Rotary Lodge in Wapsipinicon State Park to pray and read the Bible. This Friday, I decided to drive up there and spend some time with the Lord, and I walked out into the grass and I looked out upon the River and Trees, and I could barely see them because of a gloomy, gray, ominous fog that had descended upon the country side near Anamosa. It was one of those mornings, when you look out the window, you would rather just go back to bed, for it was just an ugly morning. But off in the distance, through the fog, I could see a light piercing through the gloom, just like what I would imagine a lighthouse would be like, a beacon of Hope. And I thought to myself, what a great picture of night one in the dominion of darkness. God had pronounced judgment and cast them out of his presence due to their sin, and gloom and anguish descended, but off in the distance God places a light. The light of His Son, Jesus Christ.
When Adam and Eve stepped into the darkness of their sin, Jesus was there. Why? Because Jesus has always been there. He is eternal. He was in the beginning with God and he was God. It was through Christ that Adam and Eve were made. It was through Christ that the Garden was made. It was through Christ that Satan was made. After he made Adam and Eve, He watched them reject God's authority over them. He watched them choose to follow the lies of Satan instead of the truth of God. He watched them chose darkness over light. And this was not surprise to Christ. For nothing surprises God. He is all knowing, all powerful, all present. He is Sovereign God.
From the beginning of time, Jesus knew his role within the Trinity, to be Hope for the helpless. For in Jesus was life, and the life was the light of men. Before the darkness of this world had its beginning the eternal light of Christ was already burning brightly, and in the fullness of time, His light will shine brighter than the sun. However, for Adam and Eve it was merely a glimmer of Hope.
As Redemptive History progresses, this glimmer of hope, the light of Christ comes closer and closer and brighter and brighter as the ages pass. With each passing generation, more rays of His light pierce through the fog and give Hope to those who have faith in God, to those who have faith in the seed of Eve.
This foreshadowing of the Light of Christ is found throughout the Old Testament. I would argue that the light of Christ is seen in the rainbow, whereby light shines through the water of God's wrath. The Light of Christ is seen in Exodus 13 as the pillar of fire that leads Israel by night out of the slavery of Egypt and into the land of milk and honey. The Light of Christ is seen in the God designed tabernacle and the temple in the seven lamps that illumined the Holy Place, the transition between the Courtyard and the Most Holy Place of God. We see the light of Christ more personally in specific prophecies.
As the years pass, and the darkness of this world continued to reign, God in his goodness, continued to provide glimmers of Hope. In the midst of gloom, anguish, and shadow of death that loomed over all creation, the light of Christ would stand forth as the beacon of man's hope. As the morning dawn of Christ approached so did his light. Listen to the words of the Father of John the Baptist, Zechariah, when John was born. At this time Jesus would be about three months conceived.
Then of course there was the star that camped out over Jesus that lead three random gentiles across the desert so as to worship this young boy. And listen to these words of Simeon, when Jesus was eight days old and presented at the Temple so that he could be circumcised:
What is the Bible about, you could answer this many ways, but one way is that this book is a testimony of the Light of Christ. This book is a single story bout the Light of Christ conquering darkness. From the first glimmer of Hope that was given by God to Adam and Eve to John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, it was all about Jesus Christ, the only answer to the darkness. There is no other light.
The first Christmas was about the dawning of light. A light that would lead humanity out of darkness and into the presence of God. All of history, all of creation, had been waiting for this moment, when Jesus wold burst forth upon the scene. It was a reality that made angels sing, Shepherds rejoice, and wise men to travel from afar.
And it was this glimmer of hope that God had given Adam and Eve on their first night in the domain of darkness. So what does this have to do with you? Everything.
In a way, our life story is very similar to the story of the Bible. We were all born into this domain of darkness. Like Adam and Eve we rebelled against God, and deserve God's judgment because we love the darkness, we love to make our own rules, we love to live independent of God. However, this darkness has only produced pain, anxiety, loneliness, lust, brokenness, greed, and lostness.
However, somewhere along the way, God put before you a glimmer of Hope. God proclaimed to you the Light of His Son. Maybe it was your parents reading the Bible to you, or a family in the community bringing you to Church, or someone at work sharing their testimony, or a gideon Bible in some random hotel. Whatever it was, the light of Christ was put before you, and like a moth to the flame, for some unexplainable reason, you were drawn to it, until the light of Christ broke dawn and shown in your heart.
If you do, if you chose to stand in the light of Christ, then everything is different.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 7, 2014.
Turn with me to Matthew 4:12-17. Today we are beginning a new sermon series at Cornerstone Church, so for those who are visiting today, you picked a perfect opportunity to come. It is my hope that what you hear today will draw you back next week to find out more about what God has to say to you this Christmas season.
The title of this sermon series is “The Weight of Darkness.” The purpose of this series is to help you feel the magnitude of what we are celebrating in Christmas. I worry that December, for many of us, becomes white noise, in that we have so much going on and so much familiarity when it comes to the Christmas season, that we fail to feel the eternal weight of the reality that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. The text that we will use for the next four messages is Matthew 4:12-17. So let us read out text, pray, and unpack what it says.
Because most people do not believe this child is relevant to their life. They do not see how a man that was born 2000 years ago on the other side of the planet changes anything for them. This is why Christ is no longer in Christmas. People are rational creatures, they make decisions based on pros and cons. When looking to Christ they see no benefit, but only cost. God made us reasonable, therefore we pursue what we believe to be the highest reward. And for the world, Jesus is not the highest reward, therefore he gets tossed to the curb. The reason people do not see Jesus to have value is that they do not feel the weight of darkness.
God uses this the theme of darkness throughout scripture, from beginning to end. It is like a thread that weaves its way through each book of the Bible. If you have time, do a word study on darkness, it is very interesting.
In general we all know what darkness is, it is merely the absence of light. If there is light, then there is no darkness. The more light that shines the less darkness there is. Perhaps some of you have been in a cave before and you or your guide turns out all the lights so that you can experience the darkness. Deep in the earth with no street lights, headlights, building lights, stars or moon, you experience full darkness and it is dark. You can almost feel the weight of the darkness. It is immediately uncomfortable.
It is this contrast between darkness and light that God uses to help us understand the relationship that exists, or does not exist, between God and man. The analogy of darkness and light is easy to understand. For God is light and the absence of Him is darkness.
The reason for this darkness is sin. Because of man's sin, God has withdrawn from the world and therefore darkness reigns. This domain of darkness began when the in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God. To continue with my cave illustration, they followed the Prince of Darkness, Satan, into the mouth of the cave. And ever sense that moment, humanity has been stuck in that cave. Every child that has been born sense that time has been born in that cave, in the darkness.
Here is the problem. You would think that we would want to come out of the cave and get out of the darkness and live in the light, but that is not the case. We love the darkness. Jesus says this plainly in John 3:19.
Darkness Produces Futility
One consequence of this darkness is futility. The word in the greek is mataioō, which means vanity, empty, foolish, useless, no purpose. A person who lives in darkness is all of these things.
I want you to go back and think about standing in that cave again, with absolutely no light. Then I want you to imagine me asking you to bake me a cake. Could you do it? Absolutely not. You would wander around for hours looking for flour, eggs, milk, a bowl, a spoon, the oven. Measuring when be near impossible. You could spend weeks and weeks trying to make this cake and and you would fail every time. Why? Because you are in darkness.
This is the reality of you if you live independent of Christ, the light. Jesus says that “apart from me you can do nothing.” Absolutely nothing. I don't care how much money you make, what mountains you have climbed, what degrees you hang on your wall, it is all worthless, apart from Christ. On judgment day all those things you have done independent of Christ will be burnt to ashes.
Without the light of Jesus Christ, you are wandering around aimlessly, everything in your life is meaningless. Your marriage, your job, your home, your hobbies, your existence is empty, it is void. You are wasting your life.
What is interesting is that everyone can feel it. We can all feel the longing for purpose. We want our life to have meaning. We don't want to be some random event in the cosmos. We want our lives to count for something.
This can only happen if you walk out of the darkness and to the light of Jesus Christ. For it is only in laying down your life at the foot of the cross that you will have life, and have it abundant. It is only Jesus who can give you purpose. It is only Jesus who can lay out the plans He has for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, and to give you a future and a hope.
As long as you live in the domain of darkness, as long as your foolish heart is darkened, everything you do, is eternally pointless.
Not only that but this darkness is oppressive. It is like a weight pushing down on our chest, suffocating us. This darkness produces in us, anxiety, fear, depression, and anger. We try to numb the pain with drugs, alcohol, food, jobs, sex, entertainment, money, and stuff. But these things are merely treating the symptom, not curing the disease. The pursuit of earthly pleasures just intensifies the darkness.
The only thing that pushes back the darkness is the light of Jesus Christ. Darkness flees from his presence. If you are tired of carrying the weight of darkness in your life, cry out to God that he would shine the light of Jesus into your heart today.
I want you to walk down memory lane and think about the worst you have ever felt. A time when you cried yourself to sleep, maybe even a time where you desired to die. Now imagine that pain magnified by thousands and experiencing it for all eternity. Meaning in a million years, you are not any closer to that pain ending. That is Hell. That is the outer darkness, and that is waiting for each and every person who chooses to love the darkness, instead of the light of Christ.
There are two ways out of this present darkness of this world. One way leads you deeper and deeper into the cave until you reach the dungeons Satan, the lake of fire. When you arrive, you are there forever. I wish this on no man.
The second way out of the cave is through the blood of Jesus Christ. This is what his coming to this earth achieved for us. Emmanuel came to free us from the chains that imprison us to the domain of darkness, and place us instead in the Kingdom of the Beloved Son. A kingdom that is exploding with light and truth and joy and life, and this is why we celebrate Christmas. This is why the coming of this child is good news of great joy. This is why Jesus is relevant to your life.
If you believe that you are currently living in darkness, seperate from God, do not wait for tomorrow, cry out to God and beg him to shine the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ into you heart right now. Beg him to open up your eyes to the reality of the darkness that surrounds you and the beauty that is Jesus. Plead with him to open up your heart to receive the Gospel seed so that you can bear fruit to His Glory and your good. Do not wait for tomorrow, for tomorrow you may wake up in Hell, and in Hell there is no hope.