Tag Archives: Belief

A Model Church For A Modern World


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A Christian is someone who “has been reconciled to God in Christ. A Christian is someone who by virtue of his reconciliation with God, has been reconciled to God’s people.  This is where the great commandment comes in.  A lawyer asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment out of over 600 commands in the Old Testament.   Without hesitation Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and the second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:34-40)

A church is not a building with a steeple, a church is people.  These are people who have responded to God’s call to be reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus.  A church is a gathering of Christians for the purpose of displaying God’s glory by becoming increasingly like Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:10-11).

“The church is God’s missile of salt and light hurled into the world to proclaim the triumphant message of sins forgiven and lives transformed.” – R. Kent Hughes, Acts

The world craves what God has provided for in the church and offers people a substitute to meet their need.  Each of us crave fellowship and acceptance, so the world offers us the Pub.  We see the mess around us in the world and we long to make a difference so the world offers us the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) to address these social problems.  People crave spiritual connections so the wold offers the Masonic Lodge or Transcendental Meditation or the Horoscope and occult.

In our previous study we saw the first of three truths for our modern world gleaned from the first church at Jerusalem: The Characteristics of a Model Church.

  • The people who make up the church are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (36-41)
  • The people who make up the church are committed to Scripture (42b)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to fellowship (42c)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to being Christ-centered (42d)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to prayer (42e)

In today’s study we want to look at two other truths we glean from this model church in Acts 2:44-47.

THE ATTITUDES OF A MODEL CHURCH (44-47A)

In my younger days I was fascinated with flying and spent a couple years working on attaining a private pilots license.  One of the first things a pilot learns is about how important the attitude of the aircraft is to executing a safe and successful flight.  Attitude simply means the direction you are pointing. In the cockpit there is an instrument called an “attitude indicator” that allows the pilot to see the attitude of the aircraft in relation to the ground.

So what were the attitudes of this model church that allowed them to successfully witness to Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth? (Acts 1:8)

In their relationship with each other they demonstrated LOVE (44-45)

They were unified – They shared the same love, focus and desires with the others in the assembly.

Eph 4.1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

They were selfless – they had all in common, through love they served one another by putting the news of others before their own (Gal. 5:13).

They were giving – Selling personal property to meet genuine needs demonstrated their love toward one another.  We clearly see in verse 46a that they still owned homes 46a, yet they were willing to give up extra in order to meet the needs of those suffering. Day by day demonstrated hospitality to one another. They willing gave to the work of God and the needs of others.

1 John 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

In their relationship with God they demonstrated WORSHIP (46a)

What Is Worship?

“Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven. “ – A. W. Tozer

“Worship is the believers’ response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, and body – to what God is and says and does… Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.” – W. Weirs

These Christians lived lives of worship. Day by day they met formally in the temple and informally from house to house. Worship for them was not an event that happened once a week for an hour.  They lived in an attitude of worship.

In their relationship with their daily circumstances they demonstrated JOY. (46b-47a)

Remember that it was not a popular thing in that day to be a Christian.  The events of Acts 2 are taking place in Jerusalem just a few short weeks after Pilate and the Chief Priests had crucified Jesus Christ!  To publicly step out and identify with this condemned man was not an easy thing.  Remember that soon after this event a great persecution against Christians broke out across the Empire.  In Roman cities people wishing to do business would be required to have a trading license and to obtain it they must declare Ceasar as their god.  To refuse to do so would mean you were unable to do business and you might arrested and used in the gladiatorial games in the colosseum.

Gladness of heart means to rejoice from a sincere heart.  Sincere here can mean “free from rocks,” in other words there were no stones of selfishness in their heart.

Praising God produces joy. Those who fellowship together to exalt the Lord will have true happiness, while those who seek to glorify themselves  will not have lasting joy (Phil. 2.1-2).

IMPACT OF A MODEL CHURCH (43, 47b)

It was an awe-inspiring church (43)

The fear mentioned here is a holy fear,a reverence that controls you because you know God is near. When Jesus visited the region of Gadara and cast the legion of demons from the possessed man the  people of Gadara feared Jesus and begged him to leave their coasts (Lk. 8.37).

This first church was an awe-inspiring church. They took the church seriously because they recognized God was there! (See Acts 5:13).

The people in Jerusalem were not in awe of their facilities, equipment, sound system, choir or church program, but they were in awe of the supernatural character of the life of this church.

Signs and wonders were designed to draw attention to spiritual truth. (Acts 3.6-9). The ability to perform miracles was not given to all but to the Apostles and their closest associates (Acts. 8.13, Heb 2.3-4). Miracles confirmed Apostles as God’s messengers. Today we determine who speaks for God by comparing their teaching with God’s revelation of Scripture.  To the church in Galatia Paul writes,

Galatians 1.8 … if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel… let him be accursed!

It was an attractive church (47b)

Their duties and their character granted them favor with the people (Gal. 5.22-23).  They were open about their faith so all could see and experience their transformed lives.

Mt 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

They evidenced a Spirit-filled life in their character and personal relationships that was extremely attractive.

It was a growing church (47c)

They were engaged in every-day evangelism. Evangelism flows from the life of a healthy church. People were continually being saved as they observed the daily conduct of these believers.

A Greek Philosopher by the name of Aristides wrote the following report to the King about fifty years or so after the events in the Book of Acts.  It is no wonder that the early church made a powerful impact in their world!

Now the Christians, O King, by going about and seeking have found the truth. For they know and trust in God, the Maker of heaven and earth, who has no fellow. From him they received those commandments which they have engraved on their minds, and which they observe in the hope of the world to come.

For this reason they do not commit adultery or immorality; they do not bear false witness, or embezzle, nor do they covet what is not theirs. They honor father and mother, and do good to those who are their neighbors. Whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols made in the image of man. Whatever they do not wish that others should do to them, they in turn do not do; and they do not eat the food sacrificed to idols.

Those who oppress them they exhort and make them their friends. They do good to their enemies. Their wives, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest. Their men abstain from all unlawful sexual contact and from impurity, in the hope of recompense that is to come in another world.

As for their bondmen and bondwomen, and their children, if there are any, they persuade them to become Christians; and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction.
They refuse to worship strange gods; and they go their way in all humility and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them. They love one another; the widow’s needs are not ignored, and they rescue the orphaned from the person who does him violence. He who has give to him who has not, ungrudgingly and without boasting. When the Christians find a stranger, they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as a true brother. They do not call brothers those who are bound by blood ties alone, but those who are brethren after the Spirit and in God.

When one of their poor passes away from the world, each provides for his burial according to his ability. If they hear of any of their number who are imprisoned or oppressed for the name of the Messiah, they all provide for his needs, and if it is possible to redeem him, they set him free.
If they find poverty in their midst, and they do not have spare food, they fast two or three days in order that the needy might be supplied with the necessities. They observe scrupulously the commandments of their Messiah, living honestly and soberly as the Lord their God ordered them. Every morning and every hour they praise and thank God for his goodness to them; and for their food and drink they offer thanksgiving.

Such, O King, is the commandment given to the Christians, and such is their conduct.

(Apology of Aristides, Translated by Rendel Harris, 1893)

Are you a Christian? Does Christ live in you?  If Christ lives in you then you are part of the church! He is producing the fruit of His character in you.

If you have been convinced by the Holy Spirit that you need to become a Christian, you can become one right now!  Like these people in Jerusalem you may be saying, “what shall we do?” (37b)

Repent of your sin, and receive Jesus Christ by faith as your Lord and Savior! (38,36)  A person is not saved by praying a prayer, but often the decision to receive Christ is expressed in prayer.  Cry out to Jesus right now, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!”

Download pdf of A Model Church for a Modern World

The BACKSTORY of Christmas


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In 1979, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visited the city of Kitwe, Zambia.  Old-timers who were present and met the queen still talk about that glorious day!  When you experience a wonderful and life-changing visit by a special or important person, everyone you meet must know the story!

That is why after 2000 years the majority of the world pauses in one way or another to acknowledge Christmas day.  For centuries the world has stopped to decorate, celebrate and help their fellow man. Christmas is a time for giving and family and good-will!   Even those who don’t believe in God often find themselves caught up in the festivities of the season.

During World War I a spontaneous event took place along the Western Front between the British and German troops.  It has been called the Christmas truce of 1914. German & British troops met in no-man’s land on the Western Front to exchange gifts and sing carols.

There is something about Christmas that is extremely powerful!

It all centers around the day that God showed up! Have you ever wondered about the back-story of that visit?  What did God do, and what does it all mean to us?  We refer to the whole event as “Christmas!”

In our text in Matthew 1:18-25 God is continuing to unfold His redemptive plan through the incarnation (God became flesh) of Jesus Christ (v23). God with us!

Down through the pages of OT Scripture God demonstrated that He wants to be with us. From walking with Adam in the garden, to being with Noah in the midst of a perverse generation, to his presence with the people in the wilderness tabernacle and later the temple at Jerusalem. God desires to be with us!

In our text we find the backstory of this great work of God as He became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1.14).

Those who will place their faith in Him will live with Him eternally in His heavenly kingdom. When God became flesh He entrusted the care for His Son to a simple young couple named Joseph & Mary.

GOD USED COMMON PEOPLE (18-20,23-25)

Mary

She was betrothed – in the culture of the day she could have well still been in her teens. In our text a young couple by the name of Joseph and Mary had committed themselves to one another. Their marriage arrangement was according to the Hebrew tradition and involved three steps:

  • Engagement – the arrangement between parents of children. This often took place when the children were still young.
  • Betrothal – at a determined time the couple agreed or disagreed with the engagement. If they agreed the betrothal was immediately binding. The betrothal lasted for one year. When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant they were already betrothed.
  • Marriage – the consummation of the marriage in which the groom fetched the bride to his home which he had worked hard to prepare, and they lived as husband and wife.

She was a virgin (23) – significant that she had not “known” a man! Virgins don’t have babies! (Lk. 1:26-35)

She was a sinner (Lk. 1:47).  In her own song (Magnificat) Mary cries out in adoration to God at the news that she had been chosen as mother to the Messiah:

Lk 1:47 – And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Some believe a doctrine called the “Immaculate Conception.”  This teaching is false, completely unsupported in the Word of God. Mary was a sinner and she needed a Savior – just like you and I need a Savior. She acknowledges that need with her words “my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Joseph

He was a common working man – carpenter by trade, knew how to work with his hands. (Mk. 6:3)

He was a godly man (19).

  • A just man has a commitment to doing right based on his belief in God – No one can be just without belief in God.
  • A just man has a commitment to doing right based on the standard of God’s Word – There is no ultimate “right” outside God’s Word

He was a simple man – did not have high formal education. He was a man of incredible simple faith! He heard and believed!

You might think: well if I had an angel show up and talk with me – I would believe too! Really? We have the words of God preserved for us in a book! Rich man wanted someone to go from the dead to warn his brothers, the answer: they have Moses & prophets, if they will not listen to them, they will not be convinced if someone rose from the dead.

Aren’t you glad! If we all had to wait for a message from an angel we would all likely be in trouble! But we have God’s message – his letter that tells us of his unstoppable love for us!
He was a man of simple obedience. The law was made to protect an innocent man – the guilt were to marry the pregnant fiancee. In marrying Mary, Joseph was in essence assuming responsibility for her pregnancy. He was also assuming a measure of shame. In each case the response of Joseph to each crisis – Obedience!!!

  • Obedience characterized by no questioning
  • Obedience characterized by immediate response.

Application: When God prepares to do a great work and His eyes run too and fro throughout the whole earth – are you the kind of person that God would be willing to use?

GOD USED A MIRACULOUS PROCESS (20,23)

It was a miraculous announcement – angel!

Angels are not human beings who have gone before us. Angels are not all-powerful, but they are powerful spirit beings created to serve God.

Here are 27 facts about Angels from Scripture:

1. They are mentioned 273 times in 34 biblical books.

2. They were all created by God.

Gen. 2:1; Neh. 9:6; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16

3. They report directly to God.

Job 1:6; 2:1

4. They were present at the Creation of the world.

Job 38:1, 4, 7

5. They announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds.

Luke 2:10–14

6. They do not marry.

Matt. 22:30

7. They were created to live forever.

Rev. 4:8

8. Their purpose is to glorify God.

Rev. 4:8

9. Some angels help human beings.

Heb. 1:14

10. Some angels harm human beings.

Mark 5:1–5

11. They are spirit beings.

Ps. 104:4; Heb. 1:7, 14

12. They are invisible beings.

Rom. 1:18–32; Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:9

13. They are innumerable.

Deut. 33:2; Ps 68:17; Dan. 7:9–10; Matt. 26:53; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 5:11

14. They possess intelligence.

Dan. 9:21–22; 10:14; Rev. 19:10; 22:8–9

15. They possess will.

Isa. 14:12–15; Jude 6

16. They display joy.

Job 38:7; Luke 2:13

17. They display desire.

1 Pet. 1:12

18. They are stronger than men.

Ps. 103:20; 2 Thess. 1:7; 2 Pet. 2:11

19. They are more intelligent than men.

Dan. 9:21–22; 10:14

20. They are swifter than men.

Dan. 9:21; Rev 14:6

21. They are not omnipresent.

Dan. 10:12

22. They are not omnipotent.

Dan. 10:13; Jude 9

23. They are not omniscient.

Matt. 24:36

24. Some are cherubim.

Ezek. 1:1–28; 10:20

25. Some are seraphim.

Isa. 6:1–8

26. The majority remained true to God.

Rev. 5:11–12

27. They will join all believers in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Heb. 12:22–23

It was a miraculous pregnancy – virgin conceives (Is. 7:14)

Source of the pregnancy is the supernatural Work of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary.

Lk. 1:34-35 – Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 – And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

The importance of the Virgin Birth!

John MacArthur writes, “The virgin birth is an underlying assumption in everything the Bible says about Jesus. To throw out the virgin birth is to reject Christ’s deity, the accuracy and authority of Scripture, and a host of other related doctrines central to the Christian faith. No issue is more important than the virgin birth to our understanding of who Jesus is.

If we deny that Jesus is God, we have denied the very essence of Christianity. Everything else the Bible teaches about Christ hinges on the truth we celebrate at Christmas—that Jesus is God in human flesh. If the story of His birth is merely a fabricated or trumped-up legend, then so is the rest of what Scripture tells us about Him. The virgin birth is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth. Anyone who rejects Christ’s deity rejects Christ absolutely—even if he pretends otherwise (1 John 4:1-3).”’

GOD KEPT AN AMAZING PROMISE (19-23)

The Promise that Assured Joseph

An instruction not to fear the social stigma (19b).

An instruction not to fear trusting his wife. (19c)

The promise of a Savior that Assures us!

Immanuel = God with us!  God came to be with us! God came to rescue us! God came to make what is wrong, right!

No wonder Christmas is a time for joyful celebrations! God is with us! He knows us, he feels what we feel, he understands our weakness, He knows how to sustain us!

Heb. 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

His Identity – Jesus (21)

He was the prophesied One. Would be a descendent of David (20).

What are the chances of prophecies of Messiah coming to pass by chance? The odds of one man (Jesus or any man) fulfilling only “eight” Old Testament Messianic prophecies was one chance out of one with “seventeen” zeros after it (100,000,000,000,000,000)! And Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies of Scripture!

He would be a Son – Son of Mary and Son of God!

He would save his people!  We need a Savior! We need someone to rush in and deliver us… someone big enough and wise enough to rescue us!  He will save them from their sin!

Our lives have been messed up by sin! We have gotten ourselves into situations: Relationship situations, work situations, personal situations! Though it may look a hopeless tangle – He came to deliver us!

God is with us!

The birth of Jesus, the long-awaited Lamb who would save His people from their sins!  God selected a simple young couple from a little village called Bethlehem to care for the Baby Jesus. A young virgin girl and her young carpenter husband.  What grace!

Won’t you believe God’s message to you this Christmas and receive Jesus as your God? He can be YOUR Immanuel – God with you!

I Am The Door


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Owners of the house come through the door! If you see someone climbing through the bathroom window in the dark of night – its a pretty good possibility that its either your teenager trying to sneak home after curfew or it is a thief!

We moved to Kitwe in May 1993 and moved to a house on Lukanga Drive. One morning in late November I woke, and walked down the hall toward the kitchen. As soon as I opened the door to the main part of the house I knew that we had been visited by thieves. The dining window was pried open and the burglar bars broken and twisted back. Our few possessions had been ransacked and anything deemed valuable was gone – tools, office equipment, kitchen wares. I was particularly angry when I saw my Bible and family devotional lying in a puddle outside the broken window.

Thieves didn’t break in out of love for us.

They didn’t come to bless or encourage us.

They came to steal. They came to take what didn’t belong to them for their own selfish purposes. They were thieves and that is what thieves do!

That is exactly who these religious leaders of Israel were: thieves and robbers!

They were false shepherds! They had demonstrated that by the way that they treated the blind man who Jesus healed (9:34). This man had experienced an unprecedented healing and had come to the obvious conclusion – this man Jesus came from God! No one could heal one born blind unless he came from God. The Scribes and Pharisees cast him out of the temple – excommunicated him – for saying so!

Jesus now points out obvious conclusions about these men! They are false shepherds!

Our text in John 10:1-10 Jesus draws undeniable conclusions regarding the religious leaders of Israel. The sheepfold in our text speaks of the nation of Israel and specifically Judaism.

How do you know who is a true shepherd of the sheep? The Shepherd comes to the sheep though the door. The shepherd knows the sheep and the sheep respond to their voice and follow the shepherd.

THE PURPOSE OF THE DOOR (1-5)

In ancient Palestine the sheep fold was usually made of piles of stones in a circular or share fashion with thorn branches around the top. Sometimes the fold was made from weaving together thorn branches. There was one doorway into the fold. Shepherds would bring their flocks together in one common pen such as this for the night. One of the shepherds would build a fire and lay out his bedroll and sleep across the opening of the pen. Anyone, or anything going in our out would have to pass through him.

Thieves targeting the flock would sneak up and try to break through the enclosure to steal the sheep, or slaughter one or two.

The owner of the sheep had rightful access to the fold and to the sheep. In the morning the shepherd would enter the fold and call out to his sheep. The sheep who belonged to him would respond to his voice and gather together to follow him out to the pasture.

The door is protection for the sheep (1)

Sheep are weak creatures! Sheep cannot fend for themselves, they need someone to look after them all the time. They need protection.

Mt. 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

Sheep are simple creatures! You can teach dogs tricks and you can train horses but not sheep! They are pack animals and easily get lost. One sheep will follow another, and if one jumps off a cliff the whole flock will follow.

Sheep are defenseless creatures! Leave a cat or dog in the bush and they will turn wild and fend for themselves. Leave a sheep in the bush and they will get killed. They do not have sharp teeth or claws and cannot defend or protect themselves.

The door is proof of who is shepherd and who is thief. (2)

A shepherd comes through the door! Simple as that!

The shepherd comes through the door because he cares for the sheep. When a shepherd realizes that even one is lost he will search until he finds it.

Mt. 18:12-13 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.

The door is the point of access to the fold (3-5)

There is only one way into the fold and that is through the door!

The Shepherd has rightful access to the fold (3a). The shepherd knows the sheep. He knows them by name (3b). There is an intimate relationship that the shepherd has for his sheep. If you are one of Christ’s flock, He knows you! He knows everything about you, your aches and bruises, your failures and successes and He lovingly calls you by name!

You can drive a herd of cows, but you cannot drive sheep! You must lead them. The shepherd leads the sheep out and then he goes before them (4).

Whatever you are going through right now, Jesus has already been there! He is leading you – though it may be the darkest of valleys and you cannot see where you are or where the path leads, know this! Your shepherd has been there ahead of you.

Who are His sheep? Surgeon said that there are two identification marks that can clearly be seen:

  • There is a mark on their ear: The sheep know & respond to the voice of their shepherd.
  • There is a mark on their foot: The sheep follow their shepherd (4-5).

Door-of-the-Sheepfold

THE IDENTITY OF THE DOOR (6-8)

The door is Jesus! (7,9)

Anyone entering another way is a false shepherd! (8)

Any religious leader who rejects the person and work of Jesus is a thief and robber!

Consider some local examples of religious leaders who reject the person and work of Jesus Christ!  They deny that He is the door and claim that there is another way:

  • Jehovah’s Wittness – Jesus is not Almighty God, he is Michael the Archangel
  • Mormons – Jesus was the brother of Lucifer
  • Islam – Jesus is a prophet – a good moral teacher
  • Judaism – Jesus is not God, not the Messiah. He was a prophet. (See Jn. 9)

Ezk 34:8 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock.”

THE BENEFITS OF THE DOOR (9)

Salvation (9a)

Salvation means to be delivered from danger and death.

You must be saved!

  • Political Salvation – The Jews of the OT and NT were looking for political salvation.  Many today are putting their hopes in the same thing.
  • Physical Salvation – They looked for physical deliverance in times of war, famine, danger or death.
  • Eternal Salvation – Jesus did not come to bring political or physical salvation.  According to Matthew 1:21, Jesus came to ‘save his people from their sins.’

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Here’s an acrostic to help you understand the gospel message: (http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-best-method-for-sharing-the-gospel-82820/)

G – God created us to be with him. Genesis 1-2

O – Our sins separate us from God. Genesis 3

S – Sin cannot be removed by good deeds. Genesis 4-Malachi 4

P – Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. Matthew-Luke

E – Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. John

L – Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. Acts-Revelation

Freedom (9b)

This is not a prison, but a door! The sheep have freedom to pass through and enter for protection, safety, comfort.

Many feel that coming to Christ will restrict them, lock them up, put them in religious bondage – they refuse to come to the fold, they hesitate to enter by the door. In actual fact they are in bondage to what will destroy them – sin in its various forms promises joy, comfort, fulfillment but all of it is a lie! When you walk through the door of sin you find that it locks you up, puts you in bondage!

The only freedom mankind can find is found in Christ! In Him you can be free from the bondage to Satan and free from bondage to sin.

Jn. 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Access (9c)

They can follow Him in to enjoy fellowship, guidance, and instruction. They can follow Him out to serve.

Nourishment (9d)

The sheep can go out to find pasture – they are led to green fields and clean water! (Ps. 23). They are strong and healthy because they are nourished in the Word! All of this is only because they passed through the door!

THE NATURE OF THE DOOR (10)

The Sheep on their own face death & destruction (10a)

Satan is “the thief”. He is a deceiver, a destroyer, a killer! (I Pt. 5:8 – Lion)

The condition of the sheep is that they are lost in their trespasses and sins.

Is 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

The Sheep enjoy abundant life provided by the Shepherd (10b)

Jesus came to give life to the sheep – We pass from death unto life through Jesus Christ. He is the shepherd who goes out and finds the ones who are lost! (Ill: The blind man in ch.9. Healed him and came back to him to reveal himself.)

Jesus came to give his life for the sheep – I lay down my life (15)

Jesus came not just to give life, but to give abundant life! The shepherd comes and says to you:

  • My mercy is abundant for you!

Ps. 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

  • My peace is abounding for you!

Jn. 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

  • My comfort reaches the deepest part of your being!

2 Cor. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation…

  • My joy permeates every aspect of your life!

1 Pt. 1:8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

  • My eternal provision is adequate, bountiful and free!

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

You can make all of this personal by asking yourself two questions:

  1. Have you heard the voice of the Shepherd call your name?
  2. Are you following Him?

Jesus Christ is the Door to eternal life! If you wish to enter the Kingdom you must come through that Door! If you are hearing his voice in your heart calling to you, respond in faith like the blind man (9:38). Do not reject his voice and remain in bondage to sin like the Pharisees (9:41).

If you would like to discuss a spiritual need, email me at philhunt66@gmail.com.

Download a pdf copy of I Am The Door

Mud & Miracles


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I hate Zesco – power cuts. It is evening, the sun has set and you have plans for the evening. Suddenly you hear that dreaded sound: “thunk!” Everything goes dark.  What is your immediate response?  You run for the light – a candle, a torch, or switch on an inverter.  Around our house when Zesco cuts our smaller children are in some other room of the house yelling that they can’t see anything – they have been trapped by the darkness.

There is comfort from just the smallest light! Light is something that we often take for granted – until we lose it.

The setting for our text is the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins the 15th day of the 7th month and lasts for seven days (Lev 23:34). During the feast four large torches where lit in the temple area.  The holy men and elders of Israel danced the night away in the light of the flames. The end of the Feast is drawing near.  It is Sabbath.  Just before those caring for the temple extinguish the torches, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (8:12).

What a dramatic visualization of the difference between light and darkness! Jesus walks through those who were picking up stones in order to stone him for his claim to be God (8:58).  He walks out of the Temple – the light is gone!

In chapter 9 the them of light continues… Jesus passes by and departs Temple Mount. The light goes out into the world those who are in darkness can see.  As Jesus goes out he meets a man who is blind – one who has never seen light.

Jesus stops when he sees the blind man.  He approaches him and ultimately brings him into the light physically by restoring his sight and more importantly into the light spiritually!

How often we hold to our traditions and upbringing instead of embracing the truth that is staring us in the face.  Everyone of us is either like the blind man who receives light or we are like the Pharisees who claimed to have light and continued to live in darkness.

THEIR WRONG ASSUMPTION (1-12)

The disciples assumed that this man’s blindness was a direct punishment for sin (1-2).

Every one of us live by presuppositions and assumptions. These assumptions are based upon our background, life experiences and what we have learned (been taught). The cultural understanding of the disciples was that someone sinned for this man to be born blind. His blindness was just punishment for that sin. It had to be that either the man had sinned while still in the womb, or his parents had sinned thus bringing about his condition.

Because of blindness this man was a beggar, a social outcast.

It was thought that he deserved to suffer for this past sin.

This is the basic idea of some Eastern religions today. There is a lack compassion for the underprivileged (low-caste) because the person suffering is only getting what they deserve in payment from a past life and previous wrong decisions.  If someone dies and has been bad they are reincarnated as a lower caste or if they are really bad they come back as part of the animal kingdom.

Even among Christian people this same idea can be found.  I remember after my motorcycle accident in 1983 being in the hospital with a hundred stitches in my face.  A well-meaning Christian leader in my church came to the hospital to visit.  He asked if there was some sin in my life that was the root cause of my accident.

He was a family embarrassment and burden

If it was because of sin that he was born blind then every time this family was seen in public with him, the question was always being asked, “Who sinned, was it him or his parents?”

The Lord destroys this assumption (3-12)

Jesus corrected their wrong thinking (3).

Some view God as an all-powerful vindictive God who cannot give us too much good, so he zaps us rather frequently to be sure that we keep our place. It is true that all pain, suffering and death is a result of the fall and in that sense it is a result of sin, but affliction is not punishment for a particular sin.

Why is there pain and suffering?

Principle of sowing/reaping: You may be reaping the fruit of what you have sown, but this is not God’s punishment.  For instance a former alcoholic may be suffering with a destroyed liver, this is not a punishment for his sin, it is reaping the effects of sinful choices. Suffering may also be because of the wrong decisions of others.  If a mother is a drug addict, her baby is born with drug dependency and withdrawals.

Punishment is future – God will either mete your eternal punishment upon His Son for your sake or if you refuse that offer, he will lay just punishment upon you.

God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that as a adult he could see the glory of God in the face of Jesus and so that others might see and turn to Christ.  If we exist for the pleasure of God for the glory of God then it follows that whatever situation we find ourselves in ultimately is so that God will be exalted among men & angels & devils.

Jesus clarifies his purpose for coming into the world (4-5).

Jesus came to into the world to bring light.  It is for this reason that He must do the works of God while He has the opportunity.

Jesus compassionately gives the blind man his sight (6-12)

This was compassion because he was helpless to help himself. He had never seen the red and gold and orange hues of an African sunset. He had never seen what his mother looked like, he had felt her kisses and her tears, he had felt the lines of her face, but he had never seen her! He had never been able to move about freely – always had to be led by others or poke his way carefully with a cane.

Jesus used a most interesting means to bring light to this blind man: Spit, mud, and a command to “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.”  Jesus chose to heal this man at a distance to not draw more attention to Himself.  He would also use this event to confront the Jews with a situation they could not deny.

This was compassion because as he washed the mud out of his eyes the light poured in! He saw green trees and brown skin and blue water – and he was filled with joy! Light and joy flooded over him at the same time! He rushed home to tell everyone and show them what had happened. Imagine the excitement he felt!

When you have experienced pain or suffering there is often greater joy!

Helen Keller was orn June 27, 1880. When she was 19 months old she became ill and lost her sight and hearing.  Ann Sullivan a 20 year old teacher was assigned to help Helen.  She taught Keller to read and write and became a mentor and friend. Keller went on to write 12 books and became an advocate for the handicapped.  Helen Keller wrote this of her situation,

“Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different until she came—my teacher—who set my spirit free.”

That is what Jesus did for this blind man!

THE CONTROVERSY (13-34)

Blinded by their traditions (13-24)

The Pharisees were blinded by their own self-righteous system!  Making clay on the Sabbath day was sin because it was considered work.  Washing your eyes to remove the mud was also considered work.  This man could not be from God if he both worked and told someone else to work, thus breaking the Sabbath rules set by the Rabbi. (13-17)

They would not believe this man was born blind, so they called his parents. Knowing that they refused to believe that Jesus was Messiah and would take action against anyone making the claim the parents kept their distance from their son (22). The Pharisees demonstrated the classic case of: “my mind’s made up don’t confuse me with the facts.”(18-23)

Again they interrogate the man! “Give glory to God” = admit that you are lying that Jesus healed you (24).  Instead of taking the easy way out, the former blind man brilliantly articulated the obvious, “I was blind, now I see!”

Blinded to the obvious (25-34)

The Pharisees rejected the man’s testimony (25-29). His changed life and seeing eyes were irrefutable argumentation that Jesus is God. Blind eyes seeing was a loud and clear testimony to the Pharisees that Christ is the “I AM” that he claimed to be (8:58).

They rejected his logic – they didn’t require more evidence – neither do you! They only needed to accept what was very clear. (30-34)

They rejected him – the outcast seeing blind man was cast out of the temple that he had never been allowed to enter because of his infirmity. (34)

THE RESPONSE (35-41)

Some will receive the light – spiritual light (35-38)

He responded in faith! He accepted Jesus as His Messiah! (35-37)

True faith results in worship (38) The blind man had light come to his eyes and now broke on his heart. Belief and worship go together. Worship is acts of reverence, praise, adoration and reverence for God. Literally it means: to serve.

Jesus accepted his worship! This would be a direct violation of the 10 commandments. And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Lk.4:8

If Jesus is not God He is either a lunatic for actually believing He was God or the biggest hypocritical liar and fraud ever hoisted upon humanity, or He is actually who He claimed to be the Son of God!

Others will reject the light – spiritual blindness (39-41)

  • They will be judged because they refused the light.
  • They refuse to admit their need.
  • They are in denial, I don’t have a problem, I’m a good person. It will all work out…The issue is seeing your need.
  • They reject spiritual sight (41a).  Some people claim to already “see truth” and reject the light that God is providing. These Jews were religious, they had the OT law and prophets and though there they were seeing things clearly while rejecting the true light sent from God.
  • They are sealing their doom (41b). To remain in your sin is a terrible decision!

There are lessons in this story for each of us:

We all need the miracle that the blind man in chapter 9 received!

  • We, like this man, were all born spiritual blind.
  • Jesus takes the initiative to come to us and to heal us of that blindness.
  • His work is one of Creation, not reformation. Blind eyes don’t need designer sunglasses, they need to be recreated so that they can see!
  • He calls us to be obedient to His commands.

Have you seen the light?

Recognize your need and you will come to the light and be changed by it! Your life changes, your path is clear, your future is bright, your end is certain.  Believe and receive Him!

—————-

Download pdf version of Mud & Miracles

Recovering From Grief


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The human capacity for grief is at times overwhelming! Time and again this year I have been face to face with people who are suffering deep grief.  In the past ten months I am aware of at least 10 ladies who husbands have passed away. Others have suffered the loss a son or daughter or parent.  Many are asking the question, “Will this ever get better?”

Recently I read an article written by June Hunt entitled, “Grief Recovery, Living At Peace With Loss.”  I share a portion of it here in hopes that it if you are grieving the loss of someone you loved, that you will find hope and comfort:

“Who has not questioned the reason for pain and suffering in the world? Certainly some people have become hardened by their losses, while others have become softened—God used their grief to cultivate in them tender, understanding hearts. Only days before His own death, Jesus traveled to the grave of Lazarus to comfort his two sisters in their loss. Jesus was not only deeply moved in His Spirit, but He was also weeping with Mary and Martha. It may seem paradoxical that Jesus—the Son of God, the one who turned water into wine, the one who multiplied the loaves and the fishes, the one who raised Lazarus from the dead—could not avoid grief in His own life. But the prophet Isaiah foretold that Christ, the coming Messiah, would be a man who would understand grief well for, indeed, He was … “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

What Is Grief?

  • Grief is the painful emotion of sorrow caused by the loss or impending loss of anyone or anything that has deep meaning to you. “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” (Psalm 31:9)
  • Grief begins in your heart as a natural response to a significant, unwanted loss.
  • Grief is a God-given emotion that increases with knowledge about the sorrows of life. The wiser you are about the grief that people experience, the more you yourself will grieve. “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
  • In the New Testament, the Greek word lupe means “pain of body or mind. ”When Jesus told His disciples He would soon be betrayed and killed, they were filled with grief. The disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:23)

What Is Mourning?

  • Mourning is the process of working through the pain of sorrow that follows a significant loss. “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.” (Lamentations 5:15)
  • Mourning (also called grieving), is a normal, healthy process that lasts for a period of time. God uses mourning in order to produce the ultimate healing of deep distress and sorrow. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)
  • Mourning evokes compassion and expressions of comfort from others. When Lazarus died, Jesus and many others came to comfort Mary and Martha. “Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.” (John 11:19)
  • In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word abal means “to mourn or lament. ”Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph. When Joseph’s brothers told their father, Jacob, that his favored son had been killed by a ferocious animal, Jacob went into deep mourning for days … and ultimately years.
    “Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.” (Genesis 37:34)

What Are the Stages of Healthy Grieving?

Emotional complications occur when we block the natural process of grieving. Have you ever told yourself, I need to get my act together. I’ve got to snap out of it. I should be handling this better!

These self-incriminating thoughts reveal unrealistic expectations about grieving and a failure to understand the grief process and the slow journey of restoration. While “stages” of grief do exist, they are not “stair-step” stages that you walk through in a specific order. In truth, people do not go through all the stages in a predictable fashion. People are unique in their individual grieving. Some stages may be experienced with varying degrees of intensity, some may be missed, and some stages may be repeated.

Give yourself permission to experience the inconsistent stages of grieving … trusting God to bring new life again. “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)

Crisis Stage

… can last from two days to two weeks. In this stage of grief, you are mechanically going through daily activities. You will experience many of the following characteristics:

  • anxiety/fear
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • concentration limited
  • confusion
  • crying uncontrollably
  • denial
  • disturbing dreams
  • exhaustion
  • feeling trapped
  • shock/numbness
    “My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief.” (Lamentations 3:49)

Crucible Stage

… can last up to a year or two or more, perhaps even until death if grief is not resolved. This time of sorrow will be accompanied by many of the following characteristics:

  • anger/resentment
  • anguish
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • bargaining with God
  • depression/sadness
  • guilt/false guilt
  • helplessness/lethargy
  • judgment impaired
  • loneliness/isolation
  • low self-worth
  • self-pity/victim mentality
  • intense yearning
    “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3)

Contentment Stage

… accepts the loss, leaving it in the past. This stage not only accepts that the present offers stability, but also accepts that the future offers new and promising hope. As this time approaches, the following characteristics will become more and more apparent.

  • experiencing greater compassion toward others
  • experiencing greater acceptance of others
  • experiencing greater appreciation of others
  • experiencing greater humility before others
  • experiencing greater dependence on the Lord
  • experiencing new ability to leave the loss behind
  • experiencing new patterns for living
  • experiencing new purpose in life
  • experiencing new hope for the future
  • experiencing new contentment in all circumstances
     “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.… For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 3:13; 4:11)

—–

If you are suffering through the stages of grief take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!  God understands your grief, He loves you and will walk this path together with you.

If you are in the Kitwe area and you would like to discuss what you are facing right now, please get in touch with me on 0976153466 or email me at philhunt66@gmail.com.  I would be happy to meet with you.

Blessings, Phil Hunt

Whose Sons & Daughters Are You?


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The Setting (37)

Jesus’ public ministry was marked by increasing levels of conflict and opposition from the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees.

It was ultimately this conflict which God used to bring to pass his plan eternal plan for Christ—that he would suffer a violent death as the penalty for sin and become the substitute to anyone who comes to him in faith.

The Point of Conflict (38)

“I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” (John 8:38)

Jesus is drawing a connection between his actions and his father and between the actions of the Jews and their father.

What does Jesus mean by this?

In Jesus’ time and culture, it was common describe a characteristic of a person by referring to them as the “son of…” someone or something.  Some examples: Judas (the disciple who will later betray Jesus, his master) is called the “son of destruction” (John 17:12).  Joseph (a Christian in the early church) is was nicknamed Barnabas “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

By using this same idea, Jesus is challenging the stubborn unbelief of the Jews who were refusing to joyfully accept him as their Messiah.

The Spiritual Blindness of the Jews

They were foolishly trusting that their very ancestry made them right before God. “They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” (John 8:39a)

Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation. More importantly, God had made a special covenant to Abraham (symbolized by circumcision), that his descendants would become a great nation and would inherit the land of Israel.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:1–3; see also 15:1–20)

However, God had made this promise to Abraham when he and his wife, Sarah, were childless and beyond child-bearing years. Yet God miraculously allowed Sarah to conceive and bear Isaac, the child of promise. God later tested Abraham’s faith in him again by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the child of promise. Yet God intervened when it was clear Abraham was going to obey God. As a result of all of this, Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation was a hero and was held up as an example of belief in God and faith in his promises.

The Jews in our passage are thinking of all of this and are confident that they have a high standing before God because of their connection to Abraham and their membership in God’s covenant.

Jesus exposes the problem in their heart. He tells them that if they were really children of Abraham, they would be marked by the same faith and belief in God. “Jesus said to them,

“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.” (John 8:39–40).

Why is their negative response to Jesus so significant? Because Jesus clearly demonstrated to them that he was the promised Messiah—the one who would come from Abraham’s descendants and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. John the Baptist had earlier warned Israel of the same error:

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3:8–9).

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3:7–9)

He warns that the God is not their heavenly Father since they are rejecting him whom he sent.

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:42–43)

He shows them that the Devil (Satan) is their real spiritual father because they are doing exactly the same things that Satan does.

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43–44)

The Jews’ Wrong Perspective of Jesus

They instead imply that Jesus himself was an illegitimate child (8:41) and the accuse him of being possessed by a demon (48).

They refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

Jesus makes a number of unmistakable claims to possess the same nature and power as God:

That God the Father is seeking to glorify him “I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.” (John 8:50) “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’” (John 8:54)

That he has the power to give eternal life “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51)

That he is the fulfillment of Abraham’s messianic hopes “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)

That he is eternally self-existent, even from before the time of Abraham (who had been dead for two millennia). “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) The Jews fully understand what he is claiming and unsuccessfully try to stone him (John 8:59).

Our own response to Jesus

Consider your own actions; they testify as to who your spiritual father is.

Turn to God who is able to give you a spiritual new birth by the gospel through the same kind of faith which Abraham had in the promises of God.

———————-

Download the .pdf of Whose Son or Daughter Are You?

Finding Freedom That Lasts


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Have you ever felt trapped?  Perhaps you reached a low point in a particular inner spiritual struggle where you said to yourself:  “I’m tired of reacting/saying/thinking/doing _______ and I’m going to make a change in my life!”  But before you knew it, you were repeating the same cycle all over again!

If Satan can get you to believe a lie, He can control your life!

We all are translating the events and circumstances of our lives through a particular worldview. Worldview is “the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/worldview)

During the 17th & 18th centuries the western world lived through a period known as the Enlightenment.  The belief was that man could formulate through science and advanced knowledge a world where there was no human ills!  It was a time of great hope, great scientific achievements. There was a firm belief in the supernatural. This ideal was shattered by two world wars.

During the 19th and early 20th century the philosophical view in the west became modernism. Modernism is a relevant, practical, measurable world that is understood through science and the physical senses. Modernism was largely secular and rejected the supernatural.

Western worldview has moved from Modernism and its anti-supernatural bias, to Post-Modernism which acknowledges the spiritual but says that there is no absolute truth. If it feels good, if it feels right to you and you are not hurting anyone, then go ahead! Truth is determined by each individual in the context of their own culture, truth is relative.  In fact for the post-modernist the noblest virtue is tolerance of other views, and the greatest (and only) sin is to be intolerant of others. To insist that objective truth exists… truth that is for every age, generation and culture is intolerant and cannot be tolerated!

It is no wonder that men and women are in bondage! Truth brings spiritual freedom! And that is exactly what is happening in our text today!

To those who believed in Him Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free!”

These people are religious, they accept the notion of God… but they want God on their own terms, according to their own ideas and conceptions and thus they need to be delivered from the bondage that they are were under.

If we are to find freedom that lasts:

THERE IS A WARNING WE MUST HEED! (22-30)

You will die in your sins:

If you trust in your own self-righteous (22) – The Jews

Rom. 1:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Ps. 14:2-3 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. 3 They have all turned aside,They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

If you believe the world’s philosophy (23, 3:19)

Be part of this world system that is diametrically opposed to God and Christ.  Jesus is not part of this system.  He is from above!

1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

If you are unbelieving (24)

He is a great moral teacher, but he is more than that! He is a great leader, but he is more than that. You can talk about Him, admire Him, even pray to Him but that is not enough.

Those who do not believe that Jesus is God will die in their sins.  Sin will destroy us only if we refuse to believe in Jesus! There is no sin that you have committed that Jesus cannot and will not freely and fully forgive. Only God can forgive sins!

If you are willfully ignorant (25-30)

Dr Gordan Alles was a brilliant American chemist who pioneered the development of insulin as a treatment for diabetes. In January 1963 after returning from a trip to Tahiti, died. He was 62. The reason for his sudden death? Diabetes. Insulin could have saved his life, but no matter how effective a cure may be, it is of benefit only if there is diagnosis and treatment. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Alles)

Jesus had been performing amazing, undeniable miracles, he repeatedly claimed to be Messiah!

Their ignorance was inexcusable. It was not that the evidence was not on the table, it is that they did not want to acknowledge it because of the implications to their own lives, priorities and agendas.

In reality they were trapped!  They embraced self-righteousness, they were firmly rooted in the world and thus they did not believe, they willfully ignored what others clearly saw! Why? Because they were in reality slaves to something… to someone…

Jesus now offers them a way out!

You and I can escape the dreadful and just consequences of sin and unbelief… here is how:

THE PATH TO THE FREEDOM THAT LASTS (31-32)

Believe in Jesus Christ (31a)

“If” – it is possible to claim to believe and yet not be His disciple. A disciple is a follower, one who is a learner through relationship.  In earlier generations it was the idea of becoming an apprentice of a master craftsman, a relationship in which the apprentice observed, listened, learned and practiced the skill until he himself became a master-craftsman.

You cannot be a true disciple unless you have placed saving faith in Jesus Christ!

Saving faith involves three things:

  1. Knowledge – speaks of the intellect.  There are some thing you must know and understand.  You must know the basic biblical facts about salvation. But knowledge alone is not saving faith.  You can be in Sunday School as a kid, memorize verses and know all the Bible stories yet still not be saved.
  2. Assent – speaks of the emotions.  This is a confident affirmation that the facts you know are in fact true.   You can be moved emotionally during a service or at a particular crisis point in your life, and yet not truly be saved unless the third aspect is also true:
  3. Trust – speaks of the will. The will acts upon these truths by personally appropriating Jesus Christ as the only hope of salvation.

Abide in His Word (31b, Mt. 12:50, Jn. 14:15, 1 Jn 2:4-6)

When you become a true disciple you don’t only claim to believe in Him, you also abide (remain) in His Word. To believe in Jesus is to obey Jesus.  You cannot separate the two.  You do not truly believe savingly if you do not have a heart to obey Him.

Mt. 12:50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

1 John 2:4-64 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

True disciples are Word-oriented. They desire the “pure milk of the Word” like little babies who crave milk.  It is through the Word alone that we will grow as His children.  It is not through seminars, books, uplifting talks, psychological analysis, or any other means!  There is one way that a disciple grows from from infancy into to a strong, reproducing adult – the Word of God! (Jas 1:22)

1 Peter 2:22 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

Know the truth (32a)

The post-modernists of our day are left with nothing but their own ignorance – the search for truth is futile apart from God.

Scripture is God’s revelation of Divine truth. It is the Word of Truth that we abide in as His disciples that set us free!

2 Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In Scripture Jesus is revealed as truth in the flesh (14:6). As a result of knowing Jesus Christ you can differentiate and and sort through all the voices claiming truth. You can know the truth and once you know truth you will be free! (Jn. 1:7)

Through Scripture the Holy Spirit teaches truth to believers. (Jn 17:17)  This is the ongoing work of the Spirit of God to teach and affirm the truth of the Word of God to the hearts of those who have been saved by faith!

Be made free (32b, Lk 4:18; Gal 5:1)

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Gal. 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Free from the bondage to the lie – Satan doesn’t care what lie you believe as long as you don’t embrace the truth. Choose whatever worldview suits you. Spend your life in mad pursuit of pleasure, or knowledge, or achievement, or whatever. Want religion – no problem, there are plenty to choose from and Satan is happy for whichever one you want to choose to believe! There is only one that he wants to keep you from at all costs – the truth of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Free from the bondage to Satan – He is the ‘father of lies’, a murderer – destroyer. (44)

Free from bondage to sin – sin is like a sweet tasting poison, it swallows so smoothly but once consumed it rots everything it touches – from the inside out.

SIGNS THAT THEY DESPERATELY NEEDED THIS FREEDOM (33-34)

They were in denial (33)

They denied that they were in bondage.  We have never been in bondage to anyone, how can you say that you shall be made free?  How blind we can be to clear realities!

Perhaps they were speaking spiritually because they had been enslaved in Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medio-Persia, Greece, Syria and now Rome!

They were confident that they were spiritually free because they were descendants of Abraham. Freedom doesn’t come from family, religious or racial backgrounds! (Ro. 2:28-29).

They were in bondage but blind to that reality! The same with us!

To deny that we have a problem, that we are enslaved to a particular sin is to remain in bondage to that sin!  We must acknowledge the truth – only then can we seek the solution.

They were deceived (32b,34)

The deceived must be confronted with their condition: “Most assuredly” is code for – “This is VERY IMPORTANT – listen carefully!”

They thought they were free, but were actually in bondage.  They were a slave of sin.  To be a slave is to be under the control of another and unable to free oneself.

This sin is binding, a continual, habitual pattern of life (Commits Sin). Like a cruel taskmaster sin controls every aspect of a persons life. The person is enslaved to various lusts and passions (Titus 3:3). He is not here speaking of any one particular act. (2 Pt. 2:19)

Titus 3:3-6 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

These people thought their relationship with Abraham united them with God, but in reality they had no relationship with God.

They had believed the lie! They needed to embrace liberating truth! We must face the painful reality / face the truth about ourselves if we are to be free!

YOU Can Have This Freedom That Lasts (35-36)

You may say that a particular thing does not enslave you… try stopping!  How long can you go without becoming intoxicated or being controlled by lustful thoughts or giving in to an outburst of anger?

Friends we are all in this same boat together – the Bible is clear that we all do battle with sin, because we are sinners!

There is hope! You can be set free today! If Jesus sets you free – you are really free!

  • Free from the guilt of past sin.
  • Free from the present power of sin – you can still sin, but you don’t have to!
  • Free to fulfill your God-given purpose!
  • Free to experience the peace and happiness of being His child.

If the Son of God sets you free – you are really really really free!  Don’t you long for that freedom?  Wouldn’t you love to be free from the shackles of sin? Don’t you desire to be free from the guilt of your past, from the bondage you have to that thing… whatever it is?

Believe in Jesus Christ today – accept Him as your Savior right now!  Open your heart and invite Him to replace your sin with His presence and forgiveness.

Now commit to reading, studying and joining in corporate fellowship around the Word of God.  You will spend a lifetime plumbing the depths of God’s glorious liberating truth!

Download a free .pdf copy of Finding Freedom That Lasts.