The Federal Headship of Adam and Christ

Before we talk about sanctification we need to bridge a gap. We need the assurance of salvation. Then we will be prepared to obey. Now, there is going be an objection to our text today. If we talk about being a sure of our salvation not only today, but tomorrow, five years from now, and for all eternity, there's going to be an objection. There will be some who say “If you give people assurance of salvation before they die, they will abuse that assurance. They're going to use that as a ticket into heaven.” Remember there is a difference between the popular phrase “once saved always saved” and “eternal security” or being “secure in Christ.” I don't like the idea that if you just pray a prayer you can get the “assurance card” in your back pocket. Salvation is so much bigger than that. However, if I am to preach this passage correctly, there should be some, who do not understand the grace of God, who responds with a common objection. Romans 6:1 anticipates this. “What shall we say then are we to can continue in sin. That grace may abound?”

That is the objection. Upon hearing Romans 1-5 some will say “If that's true if I'm assured of my salvation then I'm going to go all and just sin all the more so that I can make much of grace!” And Paul says “Absolutely not!” The Biblical teaching on grace exposes the preacher to such accusations. Some will hear it wrongly and in their flesh, they're going to say “Well if that's true then I'm going to live the way I want.” But if we're going to preach the gospel faithfully, we have got to run that risk. While some misunderstand, others will see. To the eyes the Holy Spirit opens, they will stand in awe.

Now, let's look at Romans 5:12-15. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses even over those who sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. The sermon titled today is “Federal headship of Adam and Christ”. What does that mean? Federal headship is another way of saying covenant headship of Adam and Christ. That is what is being established here in these three verses. What Adam did was counted as something that we did. In the garden of Eden, God established with Adam a covenant of works. Adam was given a garden with only one “No.” There was only one restriction “Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you do it the day of the day you eat of it you will surely die.” At the time of that covenant, Adam was morally upright. He was created upright and pure in the garden and Eve along with him. It was a garden of innocence. Until Adam sinned. And out text says “sin came into the world through one man,” but the consequence of the sin of one man came to all. Death came to all men.

Let me ask you a question. “Are you going to die?” Why? Because of the sin of Adam. Our passage tells us that something is being established in Adam that we need to be made aware. What Adam did he did as our representative. That's why all people die. The consequence of sin falls on all people everywhere throughout the history of the world. This is covenant headship. What Adam did, he did as a representative of humanity and we are held responsible.

All who were born after Adam, come out of the womb as sinners. Adam was a representative and we were united to that work in him. We have all made our choice. Therefore, we are not free. We are born bound in sin and need to be set free. We were born in moral bondage. We cannot look at Adam and Eve and say “I would have done better.” The Bible tells us, we would have done the same thing. Adam sinned against God and Eve threw his wife under the bus. He even blamed God for his sin. He blamed Eve and God for his actions and the Bible tells us that that's the same thing we have done. Every person who's ever existed has chosen themselves over God in the garden of Eden. Therefore, death has rained since the fall.

Paul labors to make this point. Even before the law of Moses was given death still reigned from Adam to Moses. Death rain because people were lawbreakers. Even before the Mosaic Law came and clarified all the sins of humanity death was the result. Headship is the reason. Paul wants us to see is that Adam was a type of Christ. “Adam was a type of the one who was to come.” As Adam was a federal head or a covenant head, Jesus is going to be a covenant head also. What the second Adam does is going to affect people in a similar manner as Adam's action. That's the argument. That's what the Holy Spirit is bringing out.

We don't live in a world that understands federal headship. One way to think about is a sports team. On a team, if somebody breaks the law of the coach the whole team is held responsible. That is the idea. It only takes one knucklehead on the team. One person disobeys and everyone has to run line sprints. That's is one person representing the entire whole. And this is what's happening with Adam in the garden. That is what is going to happen in Christ. Paul is going to bring some clarification to us now.

Now that federal headship is established we are going to make a transition in verse 15-17. Instead of talking about the entire human race, we are making a shift in the discussion. We are now talking about two groups of people in the entirety of the human race. We are making a switch from the word “all” to the word “many.” And then, later, we're gonna switch back to the word “all.” If we don't understand the structure of this argument we're going to get confused. When Paul says all and when he says many what we should be asking questions. Paul is it all or is it many? Why are you saying all in Adam and then many in Adam and many in Christ? Because in verses 12-13 Paul is simply establishing federal headship, one person representing all people. Now we're gonna see a shift. look at verse 15. “But the free gift is not like the trespass for if many died through one man's trespass.” Is it many who died through one man's trespass or is it all who died. Paul would you please tell us. Because at first, he tells us it's all. And then he says “many.” We are now switching to two groups of people, many in Adam, and many in Christ.

“For if many died through one man's trespass much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abound for many.” If many died through one man's trespass who is he talking about? Adam. His work affected his “many.” So also, Jesus work affected his “many.” We know have two men who represent two groups of people. There are only two people who have ever lived in the world, Adam and Jesus. What do these representatives do for their group of people? To whom do you belong?

Now, look at verse sixteen. “The free gift is not like the result of the one man's sin for the judgment following the one man's trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if because of one man's trespass death reigned through that one man. Much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through that one man Jesus Christ.” So what followed Adam's sin? Condemnation and judgment. But even though transgressions grew and sin abounded. Jesus came. What follows Jesus life? What does it result in? Justification, life, and righteousness. And it all comes through that one man Jesus Christ. It doesn't come from the many. It comes from Christ and Christ alone. If there's going to be righteousness on the scene, if there's going to be justification on the scene, if there's going to be life and forgiveness of sins on the scene, if there's gonna be assurance of salvation on the scene, it's not going to come from people. It's going to come from Jesus as the representative of his people!

Verse 18 brings it all together. Paul explains in greater detail exactly what he means. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men so one act of righteousness leads to justification in life for all men.” Now, this is the point. And if we don't get the structure we're gonna all become universalist here. Universalists take this verse right as their foundational verse. They say “See! It says all! All means all and that's all all every means.” Well, not all the time! There is a reason we are not universalist! All does not always mean all and every. Say you go on a to trip to Florida and you see a sign that says “all beaches this way”. You understand that means all the beaches in this community. You know that it's not all the beaches in the entire world. What we see in verse 18, is a designation for the two groups of many. This is not saying that everyone will be justified. What it is saying, is that Adam did something for all of his many and Jesus did something for all of his many. This is not a verse about universalism. It is simply saying all who are in Adam and all who are in Christ. The same results are coming to them because of what Adam did for them or because of what Jesus did for them. The question becomes “Who are you in? Adam or Jesus?” Adam's trespasses lead to this condemnation, Jesus obedience leads to justification. Who are united with?

It is worth noting. Because of verses 12-14, if you are in Adam that is not God's fault. Being in Adam is because of your sin. We've made a decision. All who are in Adam have. God is not to blame for sinners being united with Adam. Sinners are. In Adam, all willfully reject God. The Serpent and the woman were more dazzling to Adam and his people than God was. That slimy Serpents lies dazzled his eyes and the fruit on the tree he desired more than his heavenly Father. God was not enough.

But for those who were united with Christ, there are pretty staggering conclusions. If you buy grace, repented of your sins and trusted in him, there are staggering realities about what Christ has done for you. Because if you are in Christ, then everything he did is counted as yours. If you are in Christ then righteousness and justification are for you. By that one man's act by, Jesus did as a federal head. Just as Adam was a covenant head, so is Jesus! What Jesus does applies to all who are in him. He is their representative. If you belong to him what he did is counted as what you did. Jesus' active obedience in his life, obeying his heavenly Father even to the point of death is counted as yours! He gives you his life! This is your life. Everything he has done, everything he accomplished belongs to you. It is yours. You will be called a very son of God because you are in Him! His life was lived as a representative for his people so his people could be counted as living a perfect life. His death was counted as my death. If you're in Christ you have received the punishment for your sins because Jesus died for you and his death is counted as your death! God will not punish you for that which he already punished Christ! God has already brought judgment upon his people because Jesus died in their place. His death is count as your death. Death as judgment is not yours if you belong to Jesus. He died in your place. The wrath of God came down on him instead of coming on you. You're a child of God and you're united to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Adam failed in a garden. Jesus prevailed in a garden. Jesus said “I will obey. I will go. Not my will but Yours be done.”Adam, In that garden of Eden, said: “Not your will my will be done.” When he was tempted by the Enemy, Adam agreed with him. Jesus, the second Adam, when tempted by the Enemy believed God and quoted God's Word. He trusted God. Jesus our faithful big brother, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the second person of the Trinity, came to do the will of his heavenly father. Beloved, as surely as Jesus obeyed in that garden by saying “Not my will yours be done” you are counted as the very man or woman who prayed that prayer. That prayer in that garden he prayed as a representative.

I love this quote by R.C. Sproul Jr. Commenting on these very things he said, “Adam said don't blame me blame my wife. Jesus came and said Don't blame my wife, blame me! Adam said “God it's your fault! You gave me that woman!” Jesus came and said “I love that woman and I'll die for. I'll take responsibility! Don't blame her, blame me! We are united with our Beloved!

What you may be wondering is “how did I become united with him?” If you don't know Jesus this morning, how do you get in union with him? Because if you're sitting and thinking through these things you ought to be thinking “I don't want to be in Adam! I want to be in Christ!” How do we get in Christ? I want to throw us on the mercy of God! I want to go down deep this morning. Not as in “Hard to understand” just deep into the grace of God.

How and why is a person in Christ?. Think about it! Consider your conversion. I can trace this back thirty years to when I was a five-year-old boy. I was convicted of sin. I felt weird on the inside and I was so embarrassed because my mom was a children's church director. I remember just feeling awful when I went in and talked to my mom and dad. I said, “I want to be saved.” That's when I was converted. I believe that. I think that's when the Holy Spirit of God changed me and I was saved by God's grace. But my life with God and my union with Christ didn't start then. My union with Christ has ancient origins. It did not start in 1989, it started way before that before I ever knew anything about God. I want us to see this, about union with Christ today. The fount of all the glorious treasures in Christ flow from this doctrine of union with Christ. Everything flows from being united in Christ.

Where does this all start? Where does it begin? How far does the grace of God go back? It goes all the way back! Let's consider Eph. 1. We're gonna look at two supplemental texts. Ephesians 1, and first Corinthians 1. We are asking the question “How do I get united with Christ.? How can I become a union with him? How can I belong to him? What are the mechanics of it? Where does it start? Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ.” We have our words: in Christ. “With every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” My life with God did not start in 1989, it started before the foundation of the world before I was born! I want to throw us on the mercy of God this morning, and this is what Union with Christ does. Because we are told why we are in Christ. It is because God chose us to be in him! He chose you beloved! Not because of anything in us that God got God's attention! He chose us before we were born and it's not as if God looked through the corridors of time and get gathered all those that that looked better than everyone else and said: “Okay, I'm going to pick them!” Oh no! We were in the mess of humanity just as messed up like everyone else! By the sheer grace of God, he chose you. He chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world! “Even as he chose us before in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, He predestined us.” God's love and predestination are not opposed to each other because God tells us they're not opposed to each other. If you love God's love then we are to love predestination. If you love predestination then we are to love God's love. For those who love God's love, we must love what we're told to love. He predestined us in love. Predestination is about God's love. And he did not predestine you simply to forgive your sins. He chose you for more than justification. He predestined you for adoption. He wanted you in his family! “In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. According to the purpose of his will.”

This is all deeply personal. God loves you. And he sent his Son to rescue his enemies to make family them family and bring them to the table of God. We are in Christ because God chose us to be in Christ. He predestined you for this purpose. Your salvation was planned from eternity past. And if you're in Christ, it's solely by the grace of God. When somebody asks you “Why you're a Christian.” Inside, what we should say “By God's grace! I can't tell you a reason why other than God's grace! I can't tell you something about myself. I can't tell you something I did when I was five years old. I can't tell you it was something in me at all! The only reason I can stand before you and say I'm a Christian because God has been merciful to me!” Charles Spurgeon said so wisely, “If God didn't choose me I would have never chosen him.” And if God had not chosen me I would have never chosen him.

But he loved me first so I love him. He has been so kind to me and I have not deserved it in any way. Not more than the most heathen person in all the world. I mean like the major pillars of evil in our world. When we look at Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, or Osama Bin Laden, and the people throughout the world who have done all these terrible things. I can look at them and turn my nose up or I can say I would be the same place as them for eternity if it was not for God's grace! God has been so kind to me.!

First Corinthians 1:30-31 says the same thing. “And because of him”, which is God, because of God “because of him, you were in Christ Jesus.” Why am I in Christ Jesus? Because of God. That's why you are in Christ. Because of God! “He became to us. Wisdom from God. Righteousness and sanctification and redemption so that as it is written let the one who boasts” boast in the fact that I've got it together? Boast in the fact that I've taken God's grace and ran with it in better ways than anybody else has? Boast in that I have figured out apologetically why God exists and why should I repent of my sins and trust in Jesus? No! Boast in the Lord! Give glory to God who is kind and merciful.

Your salvation brothers sisters were secure before you took a single breath! In His tender love, He did not wait for you to clean yourself up. He came to you. And he saved you and it was not because of you in any way! To be in Christ is to be a recipient of the sheer pure grace of God. For we did nothing to earn it or get it. He has lavished it upon us! Martyn Lloyd-Jones said “If I am put into Christ, then it was I who was crucified with Him I died with him. I am raised with him and I am in the heavenly places with him. I am in Christ that is the way we should look at it, and as long as we do this with certainty and assurance we will never be shaken.” You are in Christ beloved you are in Christ!

To the non-Christian reader. How does that Grace get applied? How does that union get applied to a person like you? It was Alistair Begg who once said “When we call people to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus. We tell them what the Bible tells them and we believe it! Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” And with everything in me, I believe that. With every ounce in me, I believe that because the Bible tells me. Whosoever will come to Christ will be saved by Christ. Anybody out there, it doesn't matter who you are what you've done, if you will come to him he will save you. And I hope you understand the paradox of what I'm saying. You should be thinking “It sounds like you're talking out of two sides your mouth.” That's okay, we need to affirm all of the Bible says. When the Bible says “Anyone or everyone, it means anyone or everyone!” Come to him and drink in the river of life. If you will, you will be saved. And if you are saved by Jesus, you will one day discover, as you walk through that door, just as Alistair Begg says, “On on side of the door is says “whosoever will come” and we get through the door and look back and over the door it says “You did not choose me. I chose you!” If you don't already, one-day Christian brother or sister you will stand in awe. It's just a matter of time. Nobody gets into this thing because of ourselves. We only get into this thing because of him!

If you will believe this, the rest of your life will be like treasure trove after a treasure trove of grace for you. The hope for the unsaved is not in them as it was not in you. The hope for anyone in this world to be saved is in the very heart of God. It's in God. And he will in no way cast out anyone who will come down. Believe in Him today! Drink of this Fountain. Believe in him and repent of your sins and be assured of your salvation!

Christian, we need to be assured of our salvation. We need to know that we're safe before we get started before we take up arms and go to battle. That's what we see in Chapter 6. So before we go to war with the flesh we need assurance. That's what God has been giving us!

Finally, look at verse 20. “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased grace abounded all the more so that just as sin reigned in death grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The law came to show how bad trespass is truly are. That's what it says. The law came to increase trespasses. So when the law came and it says “Don't covet your neighbor's wife. Don't steal and such. When the law came, people realized “Oh I'm sinning in greater ways than I realized. But notice, no matter how big the increase of sin, grace is greater still! Grace abounds more and more and more. Let me ask you “How much sin is in the world right now?” Turn on that TV and watch the news or get on the internet and read some articles about current events. Get on Twitter and just read what people are saying back and forth between the left and the right. Is there a lot of love right now in this country for each other? There's not is there. Is there a lot of sin in this world right now. It's everywhere we go. Sin is massive. It's all we can see around us. And here's what the Bible's telling us. We're sin increased Grace abounded all the more! God's grace is bigger than any sin in your life and any sin ever committed out there. From the worst of the Holocaust to the worst of sex trafficking. God's grace abounds. Our sins are many. His mercy is more!

We need to know this. If we're gonna walk with Christ all the days of our lives we need to be reminded that his grace is greater than our sin and is greater than any sin out there. His mercy is upon us. He's lavished it upon us. It has a personal application. It has universal application. But this morning brother and sister in Christ lift your head don't be in sorrow. Rejoice in the Lord always! Your sins are many. His mercy is more! Do your sins feel like they're too hard to overcome? He's already overcome them for you! Do you feel like there's no hope for growth and do you feel like you can't hold on? You're in Christ you are his. You belong to the God of the universe not just as some static figure! You belong to him. If that's you that's true. Then lift your head and weep no more. You belong to him if that doesn't prepare you for the battle to take up the sword. I don't know what will! To know that the victory has already been won. It's so glorious!

Beloved, you are sure in your salvation by the work of Christ in Christ alone.

The Cross of Christ and The Love of God

There are several reasons that Christians doubt God's love. Number one, Christians doubt God's love because of their feelings. Meaning, “I am having a hard day today, it does not feel like God loves me today. Therefore, God must not love me. Or maybe he has forgotten about me.” Have you ever felt like God was overlooking you, or that He did not love you in moments like that? Our world values feelings over truth and opinions over facts. Often that error bleeds into the Christian life and we began to value feelings over truth and opinions over facts.

Number 2 reason Christians doubt God's love is circumstances. We live in a soft society that lives in and worships ease. We want comfort, convenience, and a microwave life. Therefore if we don't get what we want right now then my circumstances seem to be telling me that God does not love me. If spiritual growth is slow and the circumstance that is frustrating you is the slowness of spiritual growth, frustration comes and so do questions about God's love. Does God love me when my life is not going well? The Enemy whispers and the flesh agrees “Maybe God is angry with me?! Maybe he is done with me?!”

The third reason we doubt God's love is community. Who are you surrounding yourself with? We know, if we want to be faithful to God's word, we must have non-believers in our lives. But they are not our family. We need Christian brothers and sisters to gather around who will remind us of the truth. Unfortunately, often we find ourselves around believers who do not remind us of the truth. Rather, they bring condemnation by their lack of gospel understanding. If you surround yourself with a community of believers that tell you your life is all about you and your sovereignty, your love, and your Independence, things will go badly. Communities that focus on self-love are communities that unintentionally invite and welcome doubt about God's love.

The fourth reason we doubt God's love is the Enemy and our Flesh. The Enemy knows, that the person who feels unloved is a person who is in a desperate state. Those two things typically go together. Since God has been so kind to us and has lavished his love upon us, it is foundational to the Enemy to attack central truths about the Christian. The Enemy shoots his arrows at places that are so central to us, the heart itself, that we would begin to doubt God's love. The flesh rises and agrees with the Enemy when those arrows are shot.

So what do we do and where do we go when we feel unloved? This is not a gender-specific struggle. This struggle is for men and women, boys and girls. When we are in a place of doubt and the sand is shifting under our feet, is there a firm foundation, is there an anchor, a ballast, a lighthouse? Is there a place that is unmovable and unshakable that we remind ourselves about? When we are in that low place, is there something we can scream ourselves toward to remind us of the truth? Where can we go? Where is the foundation? We need a fixed point!

At any given point in our life, we have a stable place to look. We have solid ground to stand on. We have a lighthouse to bring us home. We have a place to tether our hearts to and our very lives to. I want us to look to that very thing today. We don't have to complain or question if God is speaking to us about his love. He is speaking at this very moment. I want you to remember this passage here today and never forget it. By God's grace, if this is a text we remember for the rest of our lives, the next time we are in a place of doubt, we can go back to that foundation. We can take our eyes and fix them on another place than our feelings or circumstances. So where do we turn, where do we go, to whom will we look?

We have been walking through the book of Romans, and we have dealt with the doctrine of justification. The Supreme court of the entire universe has dropped his gavel, and we have been declared forgiven and counted righteous by grace through faith and not by works of the law. What now? Now that we know we are justified, what else do we need to know for our life in Christ?

Romans 5:6-11

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Starting in verse 6. The work of God in our lives is not based on our strength. That is a really good thing for us to remember. God's work in our life is not based on our strength. Are you not thankful for that? There are times in our life when we feel bulletproof. And there are times that we feel so weak it takes everything we've got to make it through the day. If our salvation today is based on one of those tow circumstances, me feeling bulletproof or me feeling weak. I will never have a firm place to stand. But if God is doing something in your life regardless of you being weak or strong then there is hope! And that is what we are told!

“At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” God's power is not predicated upon human strength. The text says the right time for Christ to come for us was not when we were strong and when we were righteous. The right time for Christ to come for you, what while you were still weak. While we were ungodly, that was the right time for Christ to come. God knows what he is doing and the right time for Christ to come and rescue sinners was not after waiting for sinners to clean themselves up. Yet so often people buy the lie and think “For me to get God's attention, I gotta do some stuff first.” After all, doesn't God help those who help themselves? The lie so many believe is that if a person will simply make a few steps to God, then God will take a few steps to them. But what we are called to know today, is that when we were weak and ungodly, God did not wait for us to become strong and Godly. We did not prepare ourselves or give ourselves ready for him. He saved us in spite of ourselves. What the church in Rome needed to be reminded of is what we need to be reminded of. That the work of Christ is not based on God responding to human readiness or choices. God did not wait for you. He came for you at the right time.

What we see right here, destroys any ideas of a karma based system of living. The “What goes around, comes around” ideas that permeate so much of religious ideas today weasels it's way into Christianity. Many Christians live as if we can scratch God's back to get him to scratch ours. Our if I will just give my all then I can get him to do for me what I want him too. Our passage today destroys such notions.

Our text also destroys any ideas of synergism. Synergism is a doctrine about salvation that says that for you to be a Christian it requires God's work and your work. Or at least human cooperation. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that God did not wait for you to do a single thing. Not a single thing. While we were weak and ungodly, God acted. Our salvation was monergistic. It was the act of God alone that saved you and me. This obliterates the idea that we must first reach out to God. Jesus was not sent to us when we were reaching out, but when we were too weak to reach out and to ungodly to reach out. It was not sinners who called out for Christ to come, but God who sent Jesus for sinners. Sinners killed the Rescuer.

Now let's think through the rationale of all this. We will see how otherworldly it is and how much better it is than anything we could conceive. As we look in verse 7, we are told “Fore one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die.” Now if we were to come up with something that would make more sense. Something that would be understandable. Something that would fit the way our mind works. That is where theology can go wrong. What verse 7 is telling us is the one could imagine a scenario that a person would perhaps die for a good person. It would make some sense if that were to happen. The quality of life could be appealed to. Look how much good that person is doing in the world. Just watch how loving that person is. For a righteous person, someone would dare to die.

Now when we think of the atonement, the way we get all messed up. And the way the Enemy wants us to think is that we did somehow present ourselves in a way that the atonement would make sense. That would explain “This is why God came!” Because I was living righteously. Jesus came to die for me because I was living godly. And after all, I was worth it! When we think that way, we view the atonement as saying something good about ourselves. And if we are wonderful, then perhaps God would do this for us. We could sit back and say “You know, that does kind of make sense.” After all, we can understand a person in this world giving their life for their son or their friends, but not for a scoundrel.

But here is what is so nonsensical in our minds. If we never get the nonsense of this, we will never get the supernatural sense of this. Here is what God did for you at the right time. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sometimes we just blow through verses that we are familiar with. When we do, we miss what is there and we don't look and ask “God help me see this.” Friends, this statement is astounding. There are so many treasures for you in this verse.

Contrast something that would perhaps make sense with this. Contrast someone may be dying for a righteous person with the love of God. What is God's love like? “God shows his love for us.” Notice that God's love is present tense. Let me just ask you this. When did Jesus die for you? Today or two thousand years ago? It was two thousand years ago. So it is a past event. But how does God show his love for us today? His present tense love today love is here for us now. This is our anchor, this is our ballast, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That is the place for weary hearts and confused souls to run. The cross of Christ! This is where his firm and fixed love for you is found. The cross is where we see God loving us and holding onto us!

That means that right now, as you look at your watch, on this date and time, God is showing you his love at the Cross of Christ. No matter what feelings you are dealing with or what circumstances are crashing over you. Fix your eyes to the very love of God. For he is showing you his love right now! The Enemy will shoot his arrows, and your flesh may agree with him. But they are all lies if they are not telling you that God loves you! Look up to that hill to Jesus!

So where will we go when we feel unloved? Into greater and greater despair and pessimism? Into a community of people who will say “Yeah that's tough. What are you doing wrong?' Or will we get people around us who will remind us of the good news? We need people who will say “The cross happened! And God is declaring his love for you right now!”

Why is this so amazing? Because when we were at our worst, when you were in the gutter, when you were doing the worst sins of your life, when you deserved it the least, when we deserved to pay for our sins, it did not cause God to run away from you. It is amazing. Jesus runs toward sinners. That is how God shows he loves you! The cross is God's central love language. You may cry out “But that's not the way I want to be loved! I want him to show me his love in other ways. I want him to answer this prayer. I want him to make this circumstance change. I want him to provide me with this thing or that.” Well, I am sorry, you don't get to dictate the love language of God. We don't get to stomp and say “God if you loved me, you would show me in another way.” We don't get to make our demands as if the cross was not enough. The cross is the greatest love imaginable. All other loves pale in comparison.

What about the gifts God gives. Are they not a display of God's love? He gives them daily. Let me plead with you to not run to his gifts for affirmation of his love. Because there are going to be seasons that those good gifts that our heavenly Father gives seem to stop. There will be times we are tempted to doubt God's love because of what seems like a lack of blessing. Would could wonder, “If he angry with me? Maybe he does not love me anymore?” The Enemy will come and say “Yeah, God has forgotten you. He does not love you anymore.”

That is why I want you to remember Romans 5:8 for the rest of your life. I don't want you to ever forget about the cross of Christ. For it is the Cross of Christ that declares forevermore God's mighty love for us! When we spiritually looked like a Lord of the Rings Orc Jesus died for us. If that is true, there are some staggering consequences.

Now, what doe the love do for us? How does it affect my life? Well, it changes everything! “Since, therefore, we have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” So if it is true that we have been justified by his blood. Then what are the results?

Well first, notice that Jesus blood was effective. This is kind of a sidebar note, but important none the less. We are justified by his blood and not by our choices. Jesus blood we effective for what and who it was intended for. Jesus blood came out with names on it. If you are in Christ, the reason you are in Christ is because he bleed names. He died in your place. If he died in your place then you will be saved and you will not experience the wrath of God. That is our hope, that Jesus actually died for people. Not simply that Jesus died generally for everyone, which he did. But our hope is that he died as a substitution for his bride. Specifically, Jesus died for names. For his bride, the church, you. The reason you are a Christian is that God loved you first. God's love is not impotent, it is powerful to save.

So the line of thought is, if we have been justified by his blood then something more is going to happen. If we have been justified then much more shall we be saved from his wrath and saved by his life? Let's consider these two things. Number one we're saved from his wrath. If we've been justified by his blood then the following is true. Nothing that comes our way is because of God's wrath. If you're a believer in Christ nothing in your life, no circumstance, no difficulty, no disease, no anything can't come our way because of God's wrath. Nothing comes our way because of God's wrath because we are saved from his wrath. That's what the text says. “If we had been justified by his blood much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Hard times are not a sign of his absence. Everything that comes your way, is wrapped and baptized in God's love for you. There is nothing that comes your way that is void of God's love for you. Nothing the enemy comes and tries to destroy. The choices we make that are even sinful. God has a way in his sovereignty to bring about our good. And you may say “How could that possibly be for my good.” I don't know. But the bible says nothing that comes our way is from the wrath of God and that everything that comes our way according to Romans 8:28 is for our good. Everything. In life's sorrows, there are treasures of the love of God there because it's not God's wrath. It's not his anger. God's love is upon us, not his wrath. The interpretation of our lives and the events and they have to be interpreted through the lenses of the cross.

Therefore, nothing that comes our way that's disconnected or dislodged from the love of God and attached to the wrath of God. And if we don't know that will interpret things all wrongly and we'll think that our circumstances are not for our good. We will think “God is angry with me. He doesn't love me.” But if we understand this text, then when my circumstances are bad, we can know that God still loves us. Things are hard. But here's one thing I know for certain no matter how hard it gets. I know that God loves me. I know that I am his and he is mine. I know that he is my Heavenly Father. I know that any disciplinary action that comes down from his hand is not from his anger but from his tender love. I know that no matter where I am or what I'm doing or what sorrow I'm going through or what Joy I'm experiencing God loves me God's wrath is not upon me. We're safe from his wrath.

Now, this is a distinct privilege of the Christian. To the non-Christian, God is angry with you and his wrath is upon you. It doesn't mean the God does not love you. But the privilege of knowing God's wrath has been removed is reserved for God's people. It is a privilege of the redeemed. And if you don't know Jesus, if you have not been born again, you cannot say in the same way as a believer that God loves you. Yes, he loves you, John 3:16 comes to mind. But you cannot say with the Christian that God's wrath is removed from you. The Christian can boldly say, God's wrath is removed from me as far as the east is from the west. It's not coming for me. Friends, I want you to know that today. If you don't know Jesus I want you too. I want you to repent of your sins. I want you to say “God I'm sorry for living my life the way I want to live my life and for doing things the way I want to do.” I want you to trust in Jesus this morning and if, by the grace of God, you do that you can walk out of these doors sure that God's wrath is away from you because of what Jesus did for you.

As if all that was not enough, the Apostle goes on. Much more if these things are true if God showed his love for you that while you were still sinners Christ died for you, and if we've been justified by his blood, therefore much more you'll be saved by his very life. Jesus life is the reason that you were saved and Jesus life is the reason you will be saved tomorrow. Your life is not the reason you were saved, your life is not the reason you're saved tomorrow. If you've been justified the reason you're saved today is that “Much more shall we be saved by his life.” Consider the question, “Why are you saved? By your strength and endurance. Or by Jesus strength and endurance?” Jesus lived a perfect life obeying his heavenly father every moment even to the point of death and beloved that's what you're counted as doing. You're counted as a person who will live your life obediently to your last breath. You're counted as one who will live to the glory of your heavenly Father for every moment the rest of your life. You were saved by his life, not by your future life. You were saved by Jesus past life and where Jesus is right now, the right hand of the father, is where you are, at the right hand of the Father.

Assurance of salvation is so crucial. Only Christianity has this. When we think about “why am I a Christian and how do I know I'm gonna be a Christian tomorrow?” we look to Christ. Because Jesus reigns, because Jesus lived for me, because he died for me, I know my hope for tomorrow is not in me. My hope for tomorrow is in him! I shall be saved by his life! Now, I want to use biblical language here. I don't like the phrase “Once saved always saved.” I just don't like it because it gives the impression that you can pray a prayer and call it “being saved” and then live the way you want to live the rest of your life. And that's not what the Bible teaches. If you're born again your new creature. The old is gone the new has come. It didn't happen through natural choices or decisions it is supernatural. As Paul Washer said, “You can't get hit with a truck and stay the same. If you go outside and get hit by a truck you're going to be physically altered.” Jesus is this holy truck and if you get run over by him you're going to be changed. You can't stay the same. But if you are in Christ this. You're saved by his life. Friends his life is beautiful and it's unchangeable it was perfect he never sinned. That is our assurance. His very life is our eternal security. If you're in Christ, your salvation is in the life of Christ not in your life. That's why your eternity is secure. Because you're not saved by your life you're saved by his life. I know God loves me and as surely I can say that I can say I will be saved by his life. I have been saved and I will be saved because it's not based on me. Our salvation is based on the life of another and we are assured of it.

Now all this otherworldly alien crazy talk. If you're thinking in natural lenses you don't have spiritual eyes to see this is crazy talk. “You don't tell people they're assured of their salvation before they're dead. They have to have motivation. They have to earn it. They've got to want it for when they're dead. You don't tell them this otherworldly nonsense.” See the grace of God is so counter-intuitive to the way that we think we know the world is changed. “You want to change people tell them that it's up to them. The rest of their life they'll get to work!” Christian growth is different. It's not based on earning it's based on gratitude. If we see these things with eyes wide open, and the Holy Spirit opens our \spiritual eyelids and brings this down into our heart we will be changed. If, finally, the grace of God doesn't go in one ear and out the other with a gentle nod following. Explosions of gratitude and joy will follow.

Consider this. When I'm stuck, I've been trying so hard to obey and my sanctification is so slow. I know that I'm not saved by my life, I'm saved by Jesus. When we're happy. We were going along and life is great. We can say “Jesus you're even better than this moment.” We don't need to feel sorry about being happy. We should be happy. If you're happy take that happiness and realize that's a shadow of the happiness we are going to experience for all eternity.

Then look at this, verse eleven “More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Rejoice! Sometimes people make a distinction between happiness and joy. I get what people are saying but biblically happiness and joy are the same things. What Paul is saying, is if we understand all that he is talking about we will rejoice in God. How do we rejoice in God? Well, we are told, “through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Our salvation should produce in us great thoughts about God not great thoughts about ourselves. It should produce worship of God. It should not produce narcissism. When we look to the cross we should never think “Wow I am awesome.” We should immediately be thinking “Oh my, Jesus is wonderful. He is awesome.” He is the one we stand in awe of. God was not standing in awe of us. When we consider all that God has done for us it should free us from great and marvelous thoughts about ourselves and make us worshipers of God! “God, you're amazing that you would save me! God, you are awesome! It was you who loved me when I was unlovable. When I was unlovely you, counted me as lovely.”Your salvation should produce the worship of God. That's God's intention for saving you, making you a worshiper.

Have you ever had moments in congregational worship when you're singing to God and explosions of joy go off inside of you? That's God's intention in saving you. Worshipers of God are happy. He is to make you into an eternal thankful person with eternal happiness. And that is the recipe! God's Grace to our joy. When you know you're saved by his life and not by your life, joy happens because worship happens. Think about such things. When you hear somebody say “Boy the cross just shows you how worthy you are. “After throw up. Say to that brother or sister “I'm glad you're thinking about the cross but you're mistaken, because the cross shows us how glorious and worthy Jesus is! The Cross shows me how gross my sin was and it shows me how astounding God's love is!” It's the self-help world wants you to think otherwise. It wants to strip the cross of its power and tell you the cross is about you. Make no mistake! The cross is for you but it's not about you. People who think the cross is about them can't rejoice. They just become greater and greater self-worshipers. “Look how great I am. That God would do this for me. I'm awesome.” And I don't want you to be like that. There's no joy there, with that version of the cross. But if we see the grace of God if we see this otherworldly good news and when we hear that and understand that Jesus is worthy and it's by him and by his life I'm saved. Well then, I'm certain of God's love for me right now no matter what's going on around me. You're a bulletproof person if you're certain God loves you right now, no matter what.

This changes everything. If you will a million dollars, hey that's great! You can celebrate it right because you are not counting on circumstances to tell you about God's love. You can experience blessing in the right sort of way seeing it as a gift from God but not as a primary demonstration of his love for us. We're not hanging our hope on things going well for us. We can thank God for being so kind as to give us the money we needed or that job we needed but we are not counting on those things to prove God's love for us.

God is so kind. When we think about things, gratitude should rise within us. This is the key to the Christian life and Christian growth. To the Christian life gratitude to praise is the path to life in the full. When you're weary when things are hard when you're complaining to God again. And even this morning as you hear me ranting and raving and whooping and hollering and dancing all over the stage here, even when you hear these truths and explosions and joy of gratitude don't rise out of you, even when you sit here unmoved and you're a child of God, you're still saved by Jesus life not your own. You may say “Well I just don't feel the things that other people are feeling and when they sing they're singing when they think about God's grace. The tears flow but not for me.” If you're a Christian. God's grace and your salvation are not predicated upon the flowing of tears. Maybe this morning you say “I just can't shake this darkness in my soul” God still loves you! He doesn't love you only if you have joy in him. Even if you feel no joy and feel abandoned. Well, Jesus is stronger than all that. He's bigger than all that! He's bigger than you and your feelings. Beloved, you're held by the mighty hand of God and he has you right now. He's stronger than our feelings. He is stronger than our circumstances. He's near you and you are loved. He will never abandon you. Just all the more reasons to praise him. Just all the more reasons to move from gratitude to praise joy in life in full.

Guilt Confusion

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30

In 2016 God opened a door for me to be a Biblical Counselor at a local counseling center. I had been doing pastoral counseling for church members for the previous nine years, but this was new ground for me.

I worked at the center for just one year, specifically with married couples, men, and adolescent boys. Reflecting on my time there brings me joy! God allowed me to sit in a room and hear countless stories from hurting people, addicts, struggling couples, and depressed teens. God brought restoration and healing to many of them and it happened right in front of me. It was both sobering and worshipful!

Clearly, one year as a Biblical Counselor does not make me an expert in the field. What I share, I share as an observer more than as an instructor. Hopefully these observations shared will be helpful. That's what I hope to do. I want to help those in our church or anyone who has been sinned against as they are on the difficult road to healing. I sat with brokenhearted people and I began to observe common struggles. I witnessed what I now call guilt confusion.

What is guilt confusion? Guilt confusion is the state of a person for whom the lines of personal responsibility have become blurred. Time and time again I sat with people who felt guilty for all the wrong things. Many victims felt guilt and shame for their own victimization as if was in some way their fault. It was backward and they knew it, which only added more guilt and shame to what they already felt. It was confusion. The Enemy of our souls and our sinful flesh have a way of adding terrible fuel to the raging fires of shame.

So, on the one hand, hurting people were feeling guilty for sins they did not commit; on the other hand, many of these hurting people started to become what they so badly hated. They were turning into people who were now hurting other people. Personal sin crept in as they were dealing with their own pain. But that sin was stealthy due either to apathy or resignation to the fact that hurt people hurt people. Victims were confused about what they were and were not responsible for- guilt for the wrong things, and no conviction for the right things.

Have you been sinned against? How has that affected you? Do you carry guilt for things that were not your fault? Have you excused your sin because of your false identity as a victim? Loaded questions, I know- but there is hope!

The Gospel of Jesus is practical and helpful. Even when we don't feel comforted by the Gospel, we can take heart because there is grace still. Even when we feel like the Holy Spirit is absent, He is present. Grace is not dependent on its apprehension. It simply is there, because Jesus is there.

Justice

In the life death and resurrection of Jesus, we have a few handles that can bring stability to those who are living in guilt confusion. First, the gospel of Jesus reveals to us that sin is punishable by death and hell. No sin will ever go unpunished. God sees every sin that has ever been committed against you and he is wrathful towards them! The cross and hell show us that God punishes sinners. God sees. There will be justice for the sins that have happened to you.

Restoration

Secondly, the resurrection of Jesus promises future restoration. Vengeance exercised does not bring restoration. We need hope. We need sure promises. When we become Christians, we have those promises now and forever more. We are promised in 1st Corinthians 15 that we will receive restored and resurrected bodies. Innocence lost will be restored. God will actually restore what has been stolen from victims. Restored bodies! Restored joy! Restoration!

If you have internal knots tied from the sins committed against you, in Christ, you can move forward. It does not have to be this way! You won't be in this pain forever. God has promised you restoration. And, for the believer who struggles to find comfort in the justice and restoration promised in the Gospel, there is even more grace still.

Beloved brother and sister in Christ, turn again to Jesus. Come to him! After all, He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew. 11:28-30

Why Christ Church Collective

Two primary reasons rise to the surface when I consider the reasons for the publication of Christ Church Collective. The first: human beings are created in the image of God. The second: God has saved sinners and put them together as the body of Christ.

Our Triune God is a creative artist. If we take, even a moment, to pause and consider imaginative power it took to created the landscapes of the earth and the swirling colors of the skies, that moment could be filled with wonder and worship. The heavens, we are told, were created by his understanding (Ps. 136:5). Genesis 1:1 declares “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Yahweh truly is the Great artist.

With the beauty and intricacies of all the God has created as the backdrop, consider the magnitude of Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Nothing else in all creation was given the title “Image of God”. Not the skies, with the beauty of the Northern Lights. Nor the King of the Jungle or the mighty Clydesdale horse. Only humans, male and female, have been marked with the dignified title “Image of God.”

Therefore, a part of what it means to be human is to be creative. Clearly, we cannot create something from nothing, like God can. But, we can take raw material, or a blank page and graphite, and create. Art takes several forms even if the form is abstract. Painting, drawing, photography, writing, singing, building, and the list goes on. Since Adam and Eve, humans have been taking hold of raw material to work and keep it.

The second primary reason for this publication is that God has saved more than individuals. He saves individuals and brings them together in local places as his family, the very Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4 tells us God has given gifts to everyone in his body. The purpose of these gifts is for the distinguished purpose of edifying the body.

The pastors and leaders of Christ Church, through the publication of this quarterly magazine, aim to provide you, the Imago Dei, with opportunities to use your gift for the edification of the saints. Sadly, out of accordance with church history, many Christians have no outlet to spread their work other than outside the Body of Christ. Gifts, therefore, go ungiven to the Body of Christ because there is no outlet for them to be used.

Christ Church Collective is a quarterly publication that exists to give image bearers a tangible way to use and share their gifts for the edification of the saints and the Glory of God.

Book Review: Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Ray Ortlund

Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel By Ray Ortlund

Let’s start with a massive understatement. People today are confused about marriage. What is it? Who is it for? Who should regulate it? Who defines it? And on and on the questions go. It is natural to expect these questions from people who do not claim the Bible as their authority. But now, more than any other time in church history, the church herself is wandering in confusion marriage. That is why I am extremely thankful for this accessible and profound book by Ray Ortlund, Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel.

In the preface, Outland tells us “This is a book about the biblical view of marriage.” He answers a lot of questions for us in just a few introductory paragraphs. “Marriage is not a human invention; it is a divine revelation. It was given to us.” God invented marriage and, he argues rightly, has authority to define it. God has not given humanity the responsibility or freedom to redefine what he has defined. He gave us a defined marriage. 

We have a tendency to treat marriage as a topic the Bible addresses. But, in this book, Ortlund points out, marriage is the point of the whole of scripture. “It is not as though marriage is just one theme among others in the Bible. Instead, marriage is the wraparound concept for the entire Bible, within which the other themes find their places.” (Pg. 16) What a statement! Genesis starts with a marriage between Adam and Eve. Revelation culminates with a marriage of Jesus and his bride! That’s why he says “The Bible unfolds as a complex but coherent narrative of God gathering a bride for his Son-and he found her on the wrong side of town too. What a story!” 

To accomplish his stated goal for the book, Dr. Ortlund provides four chapters that cover marriage in 1) Genesis 2) The Law, Wisdom, and Prophets 3) In the New Testament 4) Our World Today. With wisdom and grace, the reader is shown the glory of the eternal romance between those bookend marriages. The Bible is coherent in it’s message and scope. Each of the four chapters reveal to us a view of marriage that is defined and clear. No ambiguity. “We therefore assert again that the biblical story is not crowded with multiple and equally legitimate models of marriage, so that its standard in unclear. Jesus himself settle the question.” (Pg. 82)

But what I loved most about this book is that I worshiped God from cover to cover. I was moved by God’s goodness over and over again. And as I I found my affections for Jordan being stirred I couldn’t help but think of the eternal romance. God putting Jordan and I together is as glorious as God putting Adam and Eve together. But my love for her and her love for me is meant to be a message to her/I and the people who know us. Our marriage is a metaphor of a marriage infinitely more glorious than ours. “The eternal romance-not, in the final analysis, the love of the couple getting married but the love of Jesus for us and our joyful deference to him- the eternal love story is why God created the universe and why God gave us marriage in Eden and why couples fall in love and get married in the world today.” (Pg. 100) 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This will be the book I use for premarital counseling and for marriage counseling. If you are married or single, get this book. I have read a countless number of books on marriage. This is my favorite.

I can’t think of a better way to end this review than with a small sample of the great things you will read: “If the Bible is telling us the truth about reality, then the universe we live in was created primarily with marital romance in mind. The heavens and the earth were created for the marriage of Adam and Eve. The new heavens and the new earth will be created for the marriage of Christ and his. bride. The whole of cosmic reality exists as the venue for the eternal honeymoon of the perfect husband with his perfect bride in marital bliss forever and ever. This is the breathtaking claim fo the Bible.” 

 

 

  

Institutional Humility

Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Wow! Apparently, humans have been behaving the same way for a long time. Jesus observed a group of people doing the right things for all the wrong reasons. Jesus did not ignore that! He spoke with clear and direct words. It was not only the Pharisees that needed calling out. I need it as well. When I pause and consider my actions, then remember Jesus words, conviction comes. I have to wrestle with the reasons for which I do the things that I do. Repentantly, I confess, I want my good deeds to be recognized by people. I does not have to be this way! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I desire to walk in humility. The praise of people is a crummy reward compared with the reward of the Father. One more thing.

Clearly, as stated above, Jesus words impact individuals. But what about churches and other Christian institutions? Is it possible for our churches and organizations to do good deeds in order to be recognized by others? When a church does outreach and serve events, what impact to these verses have on the nuts and bolts of the event? I hate to break it to you but Jesus does not honor marketing passes. Churches are called to function with institutional and missional humility. Slapping the name of a local church on everything we do seems like a good idea. But I wonder? Would Jesus turn to us and say "Church beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them." It is quite possible, an institution can receive the praise of people and yet be unknown by God. We should never settle for that! Institutions should want a greater reward than public recognition.

I don't write this today to be correction but to bring encouragement. It has been an honor for me to observe your humility. I am thankful that our congregation desires the name of Jesus to be honored more than the name of our church! As we continue to grow lets keep our hearts in check. May our hearts burn for Jesus to advance His church more than they do for our church to advance. Our reward will be great! 

Preach in the Wilderness?

Matthew 3:1-6 "In those days John the baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, 

     "The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

     Prepare the way of the Lord;

      make his paths straight.""

Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan confessing their sins."

My reading plan had me in this passage today. John the Baptist. Familiar. But there is beauty in familiar things. Sunrises and sunsets, for instance, beauty. Sometimes the Spirit reminds us there is glory in the familiar. This morning was one of those times.  

It's a peculiar scene.  John the Baptist started preaching. Nothing that weird about that. But he came preaching in the wilderness. Now that is odd. The man God sent to bear witness about the Light started preaching to the wilderness. The wilderness! Not that great of a strategy John! He should have known better. If he wanted to reach the city of Jerusalem, he needed to go to the city center! Said/Say some. But as you know the wisdom of God is different than the wisdom of earth! It was the wilderness. 

Who was John preaching to on those first few days of his work? I wonder: "Did he have a target demographic or even a plan? How would anyone hear his preaching? Maybe there was a passerby or some other wilderness hermit?" Who knows? John only knew; God was calling him to prepare the way for the Way that was coming. It is apparent, from John's strategy, or lack thereof, if his life, preaching, and ministry were to be effective God would have to do the work. 

Notice how unattractive this whole episode would have been to the people. The words John is preaching are not inviting. "Repent" has been a repulsive word to every nation and generation. The food he consumed and the clothes he wore went against the food documentaries and pastor fashion websites of the day. To be fair, John was not trying to be repulsive, but his message and his person-hood were not naturally welcoming. He was not out to make friends and influence people. His goal was to be faithful in his calling and let God take care of the rest.

I can imagine the general sentiment of those first hearers "Wild Johnny boy's preaching won't amount to much."  Oh how wrong the experts can be..... As John preached the word, ate honey, and slept, the Word did it all! The Word that was preached in that wilderness, somehow or another, made it to the ears of every sort of person in Jerusalem, Judea, and the entire region. People started coming to John! What?! Yes! God brought people to hear the word and confess their sins. People came. People listened. The people repented and were baptized! Revival!

However, God's unpredictable work was not recognized by some. The spiritual gurus of the day complete with their lineage, religion, formula's and agendas showed up. The good ole Pharisees and Sadducees. John saw right through their external actions and into their evil hearts. Being a child of God is not about being in the natural bloodline of Abraham. It's not about what you can do or not do. It is not about you at all really! It was about being in the supernatural bloodline of Abraham. Being a child of God is a result of the Work of God! Pharisees and Sadducees were not cool with this. Nor are many in our day, preferring the kind of results that come as a direct result of our planning and our work.    

I find this whole episode so encouraging. We need God! I need God! Our church needs God! We need wisdom from above! You have a family member that does not know Jesus? You need God to open their eyes and ears! Do you desire as I do to see the baptismal waters stirred? We need God and his work! 

So settle into whatever wilderness God has called you to today. Eat your locust and honey. Trust Jesus today. Point anyone you can to him! God kids? Point them to the Light. Got neighbors? Point them to the Light! He is working in and through you! The experts ramble on. 

Marriage

On Valentine’s day, my newsfeed is always full of beautiful pictures of couples wanted to display their love to the world. I love it. I am a romantic and I always enjoy seeing other people share words of love for their spouse. However, this year on Valentine’s day I was also thinking about our first year of marriage and about how much of a dose of reality it was for my Shakespeare quoting, rose petal sprinkling heart.

I grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s so obviously I thought the world was my oyster. I sorta thought that there might be a possibility that the concept for the movie Truman Show was actually based on my life and the whole world enjoyed the stage of the Jordan Show. Ok so bringing that baggage into marriage and when my husband wasn’t completing my cute little story, I was a shell shocked. “So, why exactly aren’t you completing me right now?” Because that’s how it’s supposed to go, right?  You get married, then your finally satisfied. Ok maybe it’s when you finish college, have children, get your dream job, dream home, dream car, fill in your heart idol of choice.

This is a very convenient bait and switch from the enemy. “Pursue this,” he says, “this will end your longings.” Then when it does not, he shines the glimmering mirage of yet another empty oasis to lure our thirsty soul.

However, when we put this weight of satisfaction on our marriage we miss the point. We miss the beauty of the gift God has given us. Sorry Jerry McGuire but another human being was never meant to complete you and your lady is gonna seriously suffer for the weight that you’re laying in that statement. Because guess what? Relationships struggle, and we argue, and its painful at times. And anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t in much of a relationship, or they're lying.

But its’t also so so so awesome too. My husband is amazing, like for real amazing. Incredibly patient with me, kind to me, generous with me, super cute, I mean the list goes on and on. But it’s awesome because we get to share a love together. A love that reflects Christ and his Church. So we get to engage in a self-less, other exalting relationship that frees us from our focus on our self. We get to consider the other more significant than ourself and enjoy the other as the gift that they are. Not expecting them to make us happy, although I spend so many days with a smile on my face because of the gift my husband is to me. Not expecting them to be our sense of peace, although God often gives me comfort through my husbands arms wrapped around me. Not expecting them to solve the world’s problems for us, although my husband did just run to walmart for a plunger after our son’s enormous #2 and possibly a hot wheels car clogged the toilets.

Our thirsts will never be quenched until they are drowned in the all satisfying love of Christ, the joy of knowing Him, and the peace of his justification. And on the days that I don’t feel these realities, I don’t blame my husband for his fault in my emotions. I preach the gospel to myself, reminding my heart to look to Christ, the author and finisher of my faith.  

 

by Jordan Sparks

The Cult Leader and The Theological Conservative

Is there a difference between "Scripture vs Scripture" and "Scripture Interpreting Scripture?" I think so.

The shape of the "Scripture vs Scripture" model. Step one is to make the Bible say or not say whatever you want it to say or not say by using the Bible. You just have to put one verse against another verse to discover which verse can be thrown out. It does not matter if you're a theological liberal or conservative, this model works. If that is the kind of "Work" you want the Bible to do for you. Cult leaders can use this method as well as the "Biblical Authority" guy. The real problem lies not with the Bible, but in the heart of the person who only loves some of the Bible.

The better way is the "Scripture interprets Scripture" model. The starting point with this model is the bedrock truth of the sufficiency of all the scriptures. This model never puts scripture against scripture because the Bible is never against the Bible. The goal of the person following this model is to lay down their position and take up the Biblical position. If we are going to interpret the Bible with the Bible then it is going to require us to objectively say "Yes" and "Yes" to the very things others are saying "Yes" and "No" too.

Seek the later. When we come to the Bible, lets not put it against itself or attempt to shape it. Rather, love all of the Bible and be shaped and changed by it.

Sermon Outline: Eph Pt. 26 "Work"

Eph Pt 26
Eph 6: 5-9 "Work"

Intro: Preaching Through Books
Preach passages that may otherwise never be preached. 
Easier To Follow. 
Context. We get the context. 
Can't ignore hard passages. I get stretched. 
Today is one of those passages. 
Vs 5: Bondservants/Slaves. 6 Comments on Slavery
Slaves and Masters Worshiped Together as Members of the Same Local Body of Christ. 
Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, three is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"
Equality in personhood and value in Christ. 
God speaks to Slaves as equals! 
The slave will not be overlooked by God. 
It was not primarily racial. Different form of Slavery than Colonial American Slavery.  John Stott "Slavery seems to have been universal in the ancient world. A high percentage of the population were slaves. ‘It has been computed that in the Roman Empire there were 60,000,000 slaves. They constituted the work force, and included not only domestic servants and manual laborers but educated people as well, like doctors, teachers and administrators. Slaves could be inherited or purchased, or acquired in settlement of a bad debt, and prisoners of war commonly became slaves. Nobody queried or challenged the arrangement. ‘The institution of slavery was a fact of Mediterranean economic life so completely accepted as a part of the labour structure of the time that one cannot correctly speak of the slave “problem” in antiquity
The Bible Condemns Taking Slaves By Force. Colonial Slavery
1 Tim 1:8-11 "    [8] Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, [9] understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, [10] the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, [11] in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
All Christians Share Identity as Slaves to Christ. Romans 1:1 "Paul, a servant (Bondservant) of Christ Jesus"
Being a bondservant of Jesus is true freedom. We are not our own. 
1 Cor 6:19-20 "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price"
We are slaves of Christ and we are Sons of God. 
God gave eternal value and eternal rewards on the work of the Slave.  
The slave was not to work for his master but for his Master behind his master. 
The slave may go under appreciated by an earthy master, but is never overlooked by the God of the Universe.  
Turned the whole system upside down. The slave is to work for Christ. 
Vs 8,9: (Or is Free) This was not just for slaves. This was for Everyone. 
Free. Do the same. No partiality. 
We will view this as Employees and Bosses. 
This is about work. 
Vs 5-7: Two Ways to Work. Work Confusion. 
1. Work for the Attention of Others. Work as a People Pleaser. Work for Your own Glory.
Work is motivated by the eyes who are watching you. Eye-service. Ill work hard to impress my boss. (Papa Johns). Pastors want to appear busy for the same reason. 
Work is your outlet to impress other people. If people are pleased, then you are pleased. Your pleasure comes only to the degree that others are impressed and pleased with you. 
Work for your glory. Why do you do what you do? Are you always searching for humanity to validate your glory? Do you live and work to be know and feel the pleasure of the praise of the masses?      
Work becomes the way to scratch my inch of of my search for significance. 
2. Know superior Glory. The Gospel. Work for the Glory of Jesus. 
vs 5 (As you would Christ) vs 6 (As bondservants of Christ) vs 7 (Render service to God not man)
Jesus is our boss behind our boss. 
We are freed from the suicidal tyranny of living as a people pleaser. 
Free to work for the Glory of another? Our identity does not have to be tied to our work. 
Free to find meaning in our normal routine lives. 
So many feel as if there work is unimportant. 
"I just want to make a difference." 
"What I do just does not matter"
"I can't find meaning in this work"
More times than not, the real complaint is "These tasks don't bring me the glory I want." When you understand the gospel and you see that Jesus is the boss behind your boss, it changes everything.   
Vs 8: Known is Heaven>Known on earth.  
The world may not know or care, God does! 
The first century slave working for the Glory of God lived a more fulfilling and free life than the modern day CEO of a fortune 500 company living and working for the praise of people. 
No matter how ordinary the work. No matter how small the task. If your work never gets you known on this earth. As we live for the Glory of Jesus as slaves to him. 
"Whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or free."
God in heaven knows the names of those who are invisible and nameless on earth. Being known in heaven is infinity more important than being known on earth.  
Ordinary Pastor: Last Page
Vs 9: Bosses "Do the Same"
God gave slaves the dignity of telling their masters "The same thing"
Work for God not for man. 
"Masters" "Bosses", you have a boss, and he is not impressed with your position!
Bosses. Few questions. Do your employees exist for you and to make your flourish? Do you lead expecting them to serve you? Or do you see yourself as their servant, living to see them flourish? Do they exist for your kingdom or do you exist to serve them? 
All of us. If we don't get our glory drowned out by the Glory of Jesus we will live a long life trying to gain glory for ourselves through work. By God's grace lets see the Glory of Jesus and live and work for his glory and honor.  

 

The Astonishing Last Words of Peter

2 Peter 3:18 "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."

 

           The dying man or women chooses their last words with great intentionality. Imagine having only one more day to live. Would you chose your words wisely? Last words carry great weight. The apostle Peter has some last words for us. To be fair, the apostle died after he penned the second letter ascribed to his name. We know the last words contained in 2 Peter are not the last words he ever wrote or spoke. However, to state the obvious, we do have the last Biblical words of Peter. They are astonishing!

           Consider Peter. Jesus called him out of fishing for fish to fish for men. Ole' Pete was one of the 12. We know a lot about this guy right? Peter had his highs and lows. He was consistently inconsistent. He walked on water with Jesus and he denied knowing Jesus. A high and a low. Not long after the whole denying Jesus thing, he preached a sermon about the cross of Christ complete with fire! Three thousand people responded in repentance, faith and baptism. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and guess what? He was still a mess. The Apostle's consistent inconsistency reared it's ugly head again and the reward he got was a Pauline rebuke. Reason? Peter forgot the basics. He forgot the very gospel he so passionately preached. 

           I love Peter's last words. What did Peter need? What did the recipients of his letter need? What do you and I need? 2 Peter 3:18 "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." We need to "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." We need to remember Him! We need to remember that this life is not about gaining glory for ourselves through glorifying ourselves. Our life is to be lived "To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity." 

           The Apostle Peter, wise in his older age, understands what he needs and what others need. It's like Peter says "Here it is! Here is the main point! Here is what I needed when I was younger and what I need right now! Hear this church! You need to grow in the grace and knowledge or our Lord Jesus Christ." The Holy Spirit was making Peter strong. Christian strength is found in those parting words. As tradition tells us, Peter died in strength. He died having grown in Christ. He died living for Christ glory.   

            We would be wise to listen to Peter's parting words. Today and forever, may we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ and live for His glory. 

Swain's Song

You may never have read of Joseph Swain. His life was a short blip on the radar of eternity- only 35 years. But God used Joseph's short life to comfort a distressing soul today- namely my own.

You see, Joseph became a Baptist pastor in 1791 Birmingham, England, after working as an engraver for the majority of his life. His engravings were stunning, but upon hearing the gospel and being baptized by Rev. Dr. Rippon, he devoted his life to pastoral ministry and began to employ a new art; an art that would serve his congregation and many others well: he began writing hymns that point us to Jesus and remind us of the sufficiency of His work the gospel.

It was one such hymn that called my soul to look to Jesus again today, called "Come Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted".

Our lives may be short, but no life is wasted spent in the service of Jesus and His Church. God used the short life of Joseph Swain to pierce my heart with the life-giving, sin-liberating, self-effacing, God-glorifying message of Christ and Him crucified 220 years later. 


Here is Indelible Grace's version of it with music by Kevin Twit. 
I encourage you to sing along and be refreshed by this iteration of the gospel. 
-Andy

 

1. Come ye souls by, sin afflicted, 
Bowed with fruitless, sorrow down; 
By the broken, law convicted, 
Through the cross, behold the crown; 
Look to Jesus; Look to Jesus; Look to Jesus; 
Mercy flows through Him alone.

2. Take His easy, yoke and wear it; 
Love will make your, obedience sweet; 
Christ will give you, strength to bear it, 
While His grace, shall guide your feet
Safe to glory, Safe to glory, Safe to glory, 
Where His ransomed captives meet.

3. Blessèd are the, eyes that see Him, 
Blest the ears that, hear His voice; 
Blessèd are the, souls that trust Him, 
And in Him, alone rejoice; 
His commandments, His commandments, His commandments
Then become their happy choice.

4. Sweet as home to, pilgrims weary, 
Light to newly, opened eyes, 
Like full springs in, deserts dreary, 
Is the rest, the cross supplies; 
All who taste it, All who taste it, All who taste it
Shall to rest immortal rise.

Tag: Look to Jesus; Look to Jesus; Look to Jesus; 
Mercy flows through Him alone.


http://hymnbook.igracemusic.com/hymns/come-ye-souls-by-sin-afflicted
http://www.hymnary.org/person/Swain_Joseph

The Enemy And The Still Small Voice

  Countless times, with Bibles open, I have heard the response "That is not the god I know." I have to admit, I also have said those words. How is it that so many people believe "the god they know" carries more authority than the God of the Bible?
      I believe this error comes down to one major problem. Over the last few decades, we have seen a re-invention of what it means to hear from God. Many Christians have only one category when it comes to hearing the voice of God, "the still small voice." I do not want to diminish the reality of the leading and the speaking of the Holy Spirit, but I do want to point out the obvious. God has spoken! The Bible is the very words of God. We must not miss the obvious. 
      Friends, have you considered that lately? Do you often wonder why you don't hear the voice of God? Can I remind you of something? The voice of God is as close as that dusty Bible. If you want to hear God speak, read the Bible. There is not a single season of life in which you are left without a word from God. He has spoken. But what happens when we miss this truth?
      The Enemy is very crafty. His tactics are the exact same today as they were in the garden of Eden. He still wants people to question God's word. So he whispers. Satan is masterful at convincing people that his whispers are actually the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. That is why so many people in our world today value what "god says to me" over what the Bible says. Friends, if you don't know the written word, you will not be able to distinguish the still small voice of the Enemy with the still small voice of the Spirit.
      Let me plead with you. Read and study your Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand and see Jesus in the Word. God has spoken! Let's follow Jesus example and stand against the lies of the Enemy by saying, "It is written."

Christian. You Should Love The Church

 

Eph 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her"

 

           If you could get a window into my life a decade or so ago you would have heard me say something like this "I love Jesus, but not the church." I don't think I am alone. You been there?  Many of you have gone through similar stages that I went through. You had a bad church experience. We think "It is not supposed to be this way!" So we complain and sleep in on Sundays. Conclusion? "I'll just pray, read my bible, and just do my own thing with Jesus. 

           Until? God open's your eyes and heart to a verse like Eph 5:25. Wow! Jesus loves and gave himself up for his bride the church! This, then, is the question that I (You) are faced with. Am I at liberty to say I love Jesus while slandering and neglecting his bride? Answer. No! So I love the local church. 

           Consider this from a similar angle. My wife is Jordan. I love my wife. Yes she has flaws. Jordan would be the first to admit that. But, she is fantastic! So I ask you. How do you think I would respond if you came up to me and declared "Jared? I like you, but your wife! I don't like Jordan at all." I might just pull out my Kershaw Ken Onion knife and cut you! Wait... Okay not that. But, I would not appreciate your words, as authentic as they may be. 

          There is a better way. Love what Jesus loves. Get connected with the body of Christ. Love Jesus and love his bride. After all, you claim to be a part of it:)    

Waters Far Better

My family and I live in an area that has seven large lakes. One of them is in the town we live in. It even has a small camper’s beach for swimming. Yes, the beach is mostly covered in geese poop, but it’s sand and sun, and we love it, so we go there quite frequently in the summer. It’s also not the clearest lake. It clean, but it’s a lake so you can’t see what you’re stepping on and theirs lots of plant like substances floating around. While I’m swimming in the murky waters, I often start thinking about what’s around me and under foot. Then I start getting very jumpy. The second I feel a floating bout of weeds graze my hand, I sheik and usually jump on my husband’s back convinced that one of those crazy fresh water sharks have found their way to good ol’ Crab Orchard lake. 

 

Stay with me now, my analogy will eventually make sense, but first some background. Growing up I had lots of ideas of what my future would be like. What I will now describe as very specific delusions of grandeur. Yes, I would mask them behind a Christian-ese facade to make them more palpable, but let's get down to it. They were idols in my heart. Things that I wanted God to give me for no other reason than to glorify me. Then real life happened and there aren’t that many similarities between my life and those delusions. We have had seasons of very painful circumstances, loss, and heartache. This can be difficult to navigate in a world that tells you to “follow your dreams,” and “you can be anything.” However, for the Christian woman our heart beats with another cry. “It’s Jesus I follow, and I am His whatever my life may bring.” 

 

There is a quote by John Piper that has spoken volumes to me. 

 

@JohnPiper

Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.

 

Far too frequently these previous ideas have crept back into my mind reminding me of a life much different than my own. It’s on those days I can choose to fear the “what if’s” of life, panicking any time seaweed floats by me. Or I can, by God’s grace, enjoy the depth of God’s love for me that I get to swim in daily. I can fully embrace what God has given me, making the most of every opportunity, realizing I was sovereignly placed for a specific time in the place He has me. 

 

It’s on those ‘dark days of the soul’ that I must be reminded that my heart is unfit for following. 

 

Jeremiah 17:9 English Standard Version (ESV)

 

9 The heart is deceitful above all things,

    and desperately sick;

    who can understand it?

 

Apart from the Spirit, my heart will fall in line with Israel in the book of Hosea; going after lovers to give me bread, water, wool, and flax thinking those things are what I really want. I need God to come again and hedge a wall protecting me from myself. Reminding me that it’s Him, my heart’s first Love, who gives me grain, wine, silver, and gold. God continues to save me from myself; whispering to me His ways are best for me and He has better for me and that “better” for me isn’t silver and gold, but it’s Him! He offers me the best, Himself. 


What freedom there is for the Christian woman who knows God has made her, cares for her, and is sovereign over her. God knows the best for her heart. Why would He give her the soil in which an idol would flourish? He is too good of a Father for that. Instead, much better He gives. He gives us life with Himself, and a promise that He will never leave. Inviting us into waters fully satisfying, far better than we could have dreamed. Today, would you enjoy the all fulfilling waters of a life spent to the glory of God, or will we be so entangled in the idols of our heart that we miss the opportunity to swim.

Jordan Sparks 

Sermon Outline "The Wills of God" Eph Pt. 9

Ephesians Part 9 "The Will's of God"
Eph 1:1,5,9,11
Intro: God's 2 Wills
-All Things to the Counsel of His Will
-Human Double Will. Ice cream and salad
-God's Two Wills. Moral and Sovereign
-Confusion abounds when we only know of 1 Will of God. 
-Suffering: Past answers, Current Comfort, Prep for the Future
-Murder, Rape,Thievery, Child abuse, Sexual assault, Poverty, Divorce, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, -Tornados, Disease, Despair, Hopelessness. It goes on and on. 

1. God's Moral Will (Revealed)
-Gen 2:15-17
-Exodus 20: The 10 Commandments
-Whole OT Narrative portray's Israel breaking God's moral will. 
-Luke 7:30 "But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him."
-Luke 13:34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!"  

Worldview of the Person Who Only Knows of God's Moral Will
1. Human will is the deciding factor in everything. God has so many desires for you and the world if only people would co-operate. From Salvation to blessings in life, it's up to you. God desires these things but end the end your salvation and blessing is up to you. 
2. Satan is truly free. He is the cause of all bad things in the world. God does not these bad things to happen but the Ruler of this world gets his way. 
3. God's favor upon you is as solid as your ability to keep His moral law. 
4. Nations are believed to be saved by God's moral law. Therefore Politics play a heavy role in your worldview. 

2. Eph 1:11 God's Sovereign Will (Concealed)
-Natural/Weather: Ps. 135:6-7, Ps. 148:5-8, Amos 3:6, Is 45:4-7
-Animals: Ps. 104:21, Matt. 6:26, 10:29
-Humans: Gen. 45:7-8, Matthew 11:25, Rom 9:19-21. 
-Satan: Job 1:6-12, Satan gets permission, 1 Sam. 16:14-23,18:10,19:9, 2 Cor. 12:7-8
-Suffering: 1 Pet. 2:21, 3:17, 4:19, Phil 1:29, Exodus 4:11. 
-All things. Is 46:8-11

Worldview of the Person Who Only Know's of God's Sovereign Will
1. Human's choice is an illusion. 
2. Satan is rarely mentioned or talked about. God basically does good and evil and we are all just pons in His master plan. 
3. God's favor upon you gives you a pass to be a jerk or to be lazy in your pursuit of God. 
4. Prayers are only prayers of submission. Passionate pleas of prayer for deliverance, healing, or direction are shunned.  

 
The Cross of Christ is the Key
-Acts 2:22-23, Acts 4:27-28
-The conviction and crucification or Christ was done by lawless men. 
This was the worst sin in the history of the world. He was innocent and righteous and God in the flesh. 
-If God is big enough to be in charge of the worst sin ever committed and make it the most beautiful message in history then we can trust Him in our suffering knowing that He is in charge. 

5 Comforts the Come From Holding Both Wills Together

1. We know by God's moral will that God hates and punishes evil. His wrath is building for all those who break His moral law. His sovereign so he has the ability to punish lawbreakers. 
2. We can trust God's sovereign will even when his moral will is broken. God is ultimately in charge even of nations.  Prov 21:1 "The king's heart is a steam of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it where ever he will."
3. God will grow me up. Spiritual Growth comes through adversity. David said "It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes." Ps. 119:71. And remember Paul's thorn brought humility. 
4. We will experience God through suffering. Ransom in my lap Through our prayers and petitions we Get to sit in our Father's lap through pain. 
5. Even though we break God's moral will daily, by His sovereign will the Word says "No one will snatch them from my Father's hand" Jn 10.

Conclusion
Romans 8:28
Eph 1:11

We Need Justification AND Adoption

Holding justification and adoption together is supremely important. What happens if we fail to hold both doctrines together?

Justification without adoption can lead to a static and impersonal understanding of God. Yes, you will be firm in your understanding of forgiveness, but you will know nothing of sonship. When other people talk about a relationship with God, it sounds weird to you.

Adoption without justification is both impossible and frightening. I have met many Christians who understand that they are a son or daughter of God, yet they know nothing of justification. The danger with this mistake is that it leads to being a person who is always afraid of their heavenly Father. Security is only a solid as today's performance or failure.

Fortunately for us, in Christ we have both!

Ephesians Week 3 Sermon Outline

Ephesians Week 3
Eph 1:1-3
"A People of Praise"

Intro: The Majesty of Ephesians
"This letter is pure music... What we read here is truth that sings, doctrine set to music." 
"Ephesians is today the most contemporary book in the bible, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in place of alienation and peace instead of war."
"The Whole letter is thus a magnificent combination of Christian Doctrine and Christian duty, Christian faith and Christian life, what God has done through Christ and what we must be and do in consequence."
Here we have a shorter Romans with a compounded punch. 

Vs 1-2 Greetings
From Paul. He planted the church. Spent two years with them. 
To The Saints-The Church in Ephesus. 
Important to understand. This was to Christians. The contents of the letter are important for believers. 
Ephesus was a major cultural metropolitan center. 
Grace and Peace to you. We need grace and peace this morning. We need grace and peace for our church. 


Vs 3: Intro: "We Enter Through a Magnificent Gateway" 
3-14 is one sentence in the original greek. 
A sentence that is eternally high and eternally deep. 
The Colorado Sunset. 
Rivers of delight
It's like Mary Poppins bag. More and more stuff comes out! It just keeps coming!  
We learn of the Love of God the Father, what it means to be In Christ, and how the Holy Spirit gives us assurance.
The goal of the sentence is evoke deep outbursts of joy and adoration. 
It's goal is to drowned out the glory of self in the flood of the Glory of God. 
The goal is that this would be like smelling salt to the heart! 
vs 3 Paul shows us the way. 

Vs 3a: Praise be to God! Vs 3 easy to miss
Proper response to the content that is provided? Praise
vs 6 "To the praise of his glorious grace" 
vs 12 "To the praise of his glory"
vs 14 "To the praise of his glory" 
Paul models for us "Praise". Paul leads the way
Praise be to God! 
Why? 

Vs 3b: Who has blessed us in Christ. (Spiritual Blessings Intro)
God has blessed us in Christ. 
In Christ 27 times in the letter. 
In Christ, God has done something for us! 
Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! Stott
What!!!!!! 
God has not held back on us! 
This should evoke praise! 

1 Pet 2:9-10
Vs 9a:What are we? 
Chosen Race, Royal Priesthood, Holy Nation
What for? 

Vs 9b-10: For a Purpose
That! You may proclaim! 
His excellencies! 
He called you out of darkness and into marvelous light
He gave you and identity
He had mercy on you! 
God saved you from yourself and to the praise of his glorious grace! 

We are a people of praise! 
We say with Paul "Blessed be God!" 
We say with Peter "God is excellent!" 

Christ Church

It's an incredible thing when God asks you do something unforeseen. It's also a difficult thing. From that footing of faith and fear, I make this announcement. Over the past 2 and a half years I have been serving at Christian Covenant Fellowship in Carterville. My family and I believed that was where the Lord would have us for a lifetime. However, over the past 6 months the Lord has graciously caused an earthquake of a calling under our feet to shake us from our comfort and drive us to dependence on Him. He has called us to plant a Church. Christ Church of Carbondale, IL. We are planting through the Southern Baptist Convention with Christopher First Baptist Church as our sending church. 


Why are We doing this?


Firstly, because we believe this is what Jesus wants us to do. And secondly, because we want to see lost people reached. We want the gospel to go forth, people to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus. We want to make disciples, that will in turn make disciples themselves.


"But isn't there enough churches already?" Glad you asked.

 

  • In 1900, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans

  • In 1950, there were 17 churches for every 10,000 Americans

  • In 2000, there were 12 churches for every 10,000 Americans

  • In 2004, there were 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans

Tom Clegg and Warren Bird, Lost in America: How You and Your Church Can Impact the World Next Door (Loveland, CO; Group Publishers, 2001), 30, as cited in Planting Missional Churches


According to missiologist Ed Stetzer, there are 120 million undiscipled people in the United States making it the largest mission field in the Western hemisphere and the fifth largest on earth. So the truth is, Carbondale needs the gospel. Bible believing Jesus loving churches aren't able to keep up with the population rate, and there are unreached people in our midst. 

 

  • Carbondale is the most religiously, ethnically, and racially diverse city in Southern Illinois with literally hundreds of nations and people groups represented.

  • The Population of Carbondale 25,902

  • There is only one Southern Baptist Church for every 4,317 people

  • Just under half of the population of Carbondale are between the ages of 18-24

Carbondale, IL is a global community- one in which people from countries all over the world come to live and further their education. Because of the presence of SIU, “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth” have come here. In Carbondale, we have the opportunity of global impact for the Glory of God.  

 

January the 24th will be our first official Sunday gathering. We will be meeting at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries Building at 10 am. For the past couple months, Jordan and I have been praying for God to woo other hearts to this mission. He has promised to provide our needs, and right now Christ Church needs people who believe the bible and are willing to be missionaries in this endeavor. We pray that by His grace, He would do amazing work in Carbondale.

 

Our core team has currently been meeting on Monday nights, preparing together, worshiping, and fellowshipping. Praise be to Jesus that he has brought some amazing people already to be a part of Christ Church! I would like to introduce you to our pastors.

 

Andy Claud

Andy Claud will serve on staff as a pastor, and his primary responsibilities will be musical worship, teaching, and personal discipleship.

(Andy, his wife, Kathy, and their son, Asaph. They are also expecting a baby girl, Elisabeth, in March)

 

Russ Kreuter will be another of our pastors, and his primary responsibilities will include preaching, teaching a small group, personal discipleship.

(Russ and Jenny Kreuter and their three children Ella, Silas, and Luciana)

Jared Sparks

I will be serving on staff as a pastor. My primary responsibilities will be preaching and personal discipleship.

(Myself, and my wife Jordan Sparks and our son Ransom)