The Four Days and the Ten Days of the Passover – Exodus 12:1-7

  Out of all the Old Testament Hebrew festivals, sacrifices and rites, Christians are usually more familiar with the Passover than any other. In I Corinthians 5:7 Paul declared to a congregation made up mostly of Gentiles– non-Jews – “Christ OUR passover is sacrificed for us.” Even without his arguments in the Book of Hebrews, he tells us that this special sacrifice has much to teach us about our salvation. “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” When John the Baptist pointed to the Lord Jesus saying. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” he may not have been thinking specifically about the Passover, but it is impossible to assert that he was not at least including it. Alfred Edersheim was a converted Jew who, based on his knowledge of Jewish customs and history, wrote several important books. Among them were “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” and “The Temple: its Ministry and Services.” In that second book he looks at all the temple services, and takes the reader back to their origins. In chapter 11, he says, “There are peculiarities about the Passover which make it as the most important, and indeed takes it out of the rank of the other festivals.” It was the first of the festivals during which eventually all the men of Israel were to appear at the temple. Second, it is closely tied to a very important event in Israel’s history – the exodus from Egypt. And third, it is important as a type – an illustration of eternal spiritual significance – salvation. With points...

The Four Days of Lazarus – John 11

  This is one of the great, great events in the lives of those who surrounded the Lord Jesus. I have preached from this chapter three times, as far as I know. One message was entitled “The Gospel according to Lazarus,” and was exactly that – a gospel message. One lesson was a part of the series which examined the subject of pain. And a third sermon looked at Christ – our Brother, our God and our Life. This morning, I’ll try to add another perspective to our understanding of what took place here. But that doesn’t mean we’ll answer all our questions – either yours or mine. If you ever find someone who has all the answers about John 11, turn away and look for another teacher. For example, why is there no reference to the father or mother of Mary, Martha and Lazarus? An educated guess would be that they both had passed away – and a guess is all that it is. Well then, why were none of the children married? And how old were they? Some say that the parentless family was too impoverished to afford dowries for the girls. But chapter 12 tells us that was not the case because Mary had a huge quantity of spikenard to give to the Saviour which could have been used as a marriage dowry. Three hundred penney-worth was equivalent to nearly a year’s salary. So why weren’t these young women married? Were they widows who have returned to live in their brother’s house? Were they too old to remarry? And does this have anything to do with...

The Seven Days of Joshua and Jericho – Joshua 6:1-16; 20-21

  At times around here we share some friendly ribbing about “Biblical numerology.” There are some who put special spiritual significance on the numbers we find in the Bible, and there are others who don’t. Those who do sometimes say that 6 is the number of man. Man was created on the sixth day and six days he is appointed to labor. The Hebrew slave was to serve six years before being released. And then there is the number 666 applied to the unbelievers of the Tribulation. But with that doesn’t 666 become one of the numbers of Satan? Those numerologists might say that 5 is the number of God’s grace. There are five primary types of offerings and the Psalms are divided into five sections. Each of the first dozen numbers, and then many others, have special significance to these folk. 12, for example, is said to be the number of God’s government – 12 tribes and 12 apostles. Many say that 7 is God’s number of perfection, but others add that 3 is perfection to a lesser degree. Can you have a greater and lesser perfection? Apparently some can. Each of these numbers are open to interpretation. Why can’t I say that the number 7 is God’s number for grace – instead of 5? Didn’t God wait seven days after shutting up the ark before opening the windows of heaven and the fountains of the deep? Were those not days of grace? And didn’t He spare Jericho for seven days while the Israelites circumnavigated her walls? It is those seven days of Jericho that I’d like you...

The Three Days of Jonah – Jonah 1:14-2:10

  Last Sunday morning, the title of our message was “The seven Days of Noah.” The theme revolved around the week during which Noah was in the ark before the flood began. They were days of testing and trial for Noah and his family, but they were days of grace on behalf of God toward the rest of the world. I have decided to make that message the first of a small series. Over the next few weeks, Lord willing, we will look at other significant periods of time, although I haven’t decided exactly how many and how long. In preparation I made a list of about a dozen weeks and months, which might develop into lessons for us. We may look at the seven days of Jericho, and the 40 days of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. This evening we will look at 90 days in the life of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus. Our theme for this morning could very well be the 3 most important days in the Old Testament. They could be the most important 3 days in human history prior to those 3 days when the Lord Jesus was in Joseph’s tomb. Hopefully that will have whet your appetite just a little. First we must consider the background to Jonah’s 3 days. The Word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son Amittai, commissioning an evangelistic ministry in Asyria. Asyria was, at the time an avowed enemy of Israel, as most of her neighbors have been and still are. Like most of us, Jonah may have professed to love the Lord. But he loved...

The God of Jeshurun is thy Refuge – Deuteronomy 33:26-27

  For several months now, I have been pasting a daily devotional onto the church Facebook page. I have no idea if anyone reads it, but as it is a part of my morning routine and I am blessed in reading it and forwarding it. My source right now is Spurgeon’s little book, “Faith’s Checkbook.” Unlike “Morning and Evening,” this book contains nothing but promises – or as he says divine checks. They are payable to various people – from Israelites to Apostles. But the generous recipients are usually willing to share their God-given wealth with you and me. One of those devotions came from this scripture, provoking additional thoughts in me. Last Sunday I shared part of my conclusions, and today I’d like to conclude those conclusions. I pointed out that “Jeshurun” is the name of those people whom God has declared righteous. They are the most blessed of all people, because they are no longer God’s enemies. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jewsus Christ.” “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” These people are “Jeshurun” – declared righteous. And “there is none like the God of Jeshurun.” He is the omnipotent Creator and by Him all things consist. He is absolutely holy and separate from sinners. And yet He has chosen to justify a few wretches, declaring them to be “Jeshurun” – His righteous and blessed people. But obviously, not everyone is “Jeshurun” because not everyone is righteous. Multitudes of Americans, since they do not “like to retain God in their knowledge, (the Lord...

The God of Jeshurun – Deuteronomy 33:26-29

  These words are among the last ever spoken by Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Not only as a man of God, but also as a seasoned veteran of life, he has something to say. Moses has lived nearly twice as long as the average man. He has experienced the whole spectrum of the colors of life. He has been a prince and a pauper, a servant and virtually a king. He was a shepherd of sheep, and now he is a shepherd of men. He has seen and known Jehovah in a manner unlike any man before – or since. There is not a man of his generation yet alive and only a couple from the generation which immediately followed him could say “amen” to these comments. He has lived through the desert wilderness and through the water of the Red Sea. He has seen virtually all that there is to see. And now this man, whose eyes, mind and heart are as sharp as they have ever been, reaches back and draws some forward-looking conclusions about God and about Israel. Since Jehovah God is the same yesterday, today and forever, these things about Him are still true. And although we are not Hebrews and the church is not the successor to Israel, it is not illegal to apply these things about the Lord to the children of God’s election today. Do you see the word “Jeshurun”? Sound it out; let it roll off your tongue; it is a wonderful word. In this case it is obviously a name – a name applied to the...

Four Contrasts – Romans 5:12-19

  It was 45 years ago that Judy and I were sitting in the living room of Missionary Ken Johnson for first time. We had been in Lethbridge, Alberta, for the better part of a year, while he and his family were in living in South Calgary about a hundred miles to the north. Although we had never personally met, we had written a couple of times, and spoken on the phone. I had first learned of Ken Johnson through an article I had read in the “Plains Baptist Challenger,” the monthly magazine of the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Lubbock, Texas. But other than those letters and that phone call, I’m sure that Brother Johnson knew nothing about me. Each of us wanted to know what the other believed about Bible doctrine in order to see whether or not there was any room for fellowship between us. If I remember correctly his first theological question was: “What do you believe Romans 5:12 says?” I think that my answer satisfied him. To that man of God, a proper understanding of this verse is a basic element of Bible theology. To misunderstand this passage is to send someone’s entire soteriology down the wrong road. I don’t mean to imply that it is necessary to be able to explain this verse in order to be a Christian. But to thoroughly misunderstand this verse may prove someone to be untaught. And for a professed minister of God, the wrong answer could invalidate his message. I realize that some of these words and concepts are difficult to grasp. My purpose is to help you...

What is it to be a Christian? – Matthew 4:18-22

  What does it mean to be a “Christian?” There are dozens of different answers, and sad to say, few of them are correct. Why do I even have to say that attending a Christian church doesn’t make a person a “Christian”? I have to say it is because so many believe it to be true. From where should we glean our definition “Christian”? From the dictionary? The internet? The News? When we are talking about genuine Christianity, we have to use the Bible to form our definitions. So just because someone is a Catholic, a Methodist, a Presbyterian or a Baptist, that doesn’t make him a Christian – these words are not found in the Bible. To be born in the United States rather than in Iran or Saudi Arabia doesn’t make us Christians. To celebrate Christmas or Easter doesn’t make us Christians any more than to dress up on Halloween or keep the Passover. The word “Christian” is rare in the Word of God. You might say that it developed after the completion of the New Testament, but that isn’t quite true. In our earlier scripture we heard King Agrippa blurt out “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” What did he mean by that? Paul had been pointing out that the Old Testament prophesied about the resurrection of Christ. Are we to assume that Christians believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Yes, we may make that assumption. But more particularly WHY did Christ die? As a sacrifice for the sins of many. In I Peter 4 the Apostle says, “If any...

Eschatological Absolutes: the Return of Christ – Acts 1:1-11

  A month ago we had the first in a series of messages entitled “Eschatological Absolutes.” My plan is to address those areas of prophecy which I think are unassailable – Biblical absolutes. Printing presses around the world, produce hundreds of new books about prophecy every month. Some of them are spewing out brand new ideas or, as they profess, new “revelations” from God. These writers are heretics, and often their purpose is to take money from gullible prophesy buffs. Some of the new books – a minority – are simply restating the common doctrines which have been held by fundamental churches for the last few hundred years. But most of the new books are advocating new perspectives and diverging opinions on the old doctrines. These writers are usually sincere, professing humility, while attacking the authors and preachers of generations ago. They are whittling away at the foundations which built churches like ours for many generations. Without a doubt there is a variety of controversy in the area of eschatology. For example, for hundreds of years there has been speculation on the identity of the Antichrist. It has been this pope or that one, but when they died, the speculators had to come up with other others. Hitler was the Antichrist for some writers, and then he died. (Are we sure he really died?) Other dictators and politicians have been identified as the antichrist beast from John F. Kennedy to obscure leaders from Eastern Europe to Africa to Donald Trump. Yes, there is controversy in eschatology, but I am trying to avoid it as much as possible in this...

Eschatological Absolutes: the Millennium – Revelation 20:1-15

  Two weeks ago we had the first in a series of messages entitled “Eschatological Absolutes.” My plan is to address those areas of prophecy which I think are unassailable – Biblical absolutes. There is more controversy and divergence of understand about prophecy – “eschatology” – than there is about any other part of Christian theology. There is infinitely more debate about eschatology than there is about soteriology – salvation from sin. I am going to try to avoid those areas of controversy, but I know I will not be completely successful. I want us to think about those areas which should be agreed upon by everyone interested in prophecy – “Eschatological Absolutes.” In our first message we addressed three points. The first was that we are all ETERNAL beings – we have, or more properly, we ARE eternal souls. Points 2 and 3 were that our souls will spend eternity in either a literal Lake of Fire or in the presence of our Saviour – which includes a literal Heaven. Anyone who professes to believe the Bible, must admit to these three points – Heaven, Hell and our eternal soul. Of course there ARE multitudes who deny these things, because they deliberately choose to do so. But they cannot successfully deny that these things are taught in the Bible. This morning’s “Eschatological Absolute.” is that the Bible teaches a future, literal divine kingdom which will be upon this earth. There is going to be a kingdom whose King will be the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. The King of that kingdom will be the...

Eschatological Absolutes – Titus 2:13-14

  In our current doctrinal statement – under the title “The Lord’s Return” – there is this statement: “We believe that Christ Jesus is coming back to earth again; that His return shall be personal, audible, visible, and bodily; that it shall mark the advent of the “day of the Lord” and usher in the millennium; and that He shall in that day turn the tables on Satan, take up the throne of His Father David, put down all His enemies, rule with a rod of iron, triumph over sin, and give the world an example of righteous government during His thousand years of personal reign on earth. We also believe in the imminent return of Christ for his saints. Being thus imminent, it will naturally occur prior to the time of Jacob’s trouble – the tribulation. We also believe that the many promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob concerning a land of inheritance have not yet been fulfilled and that Christ will make good on these promises when He returns in glory to save Israel.” This statement is then followed by twenty-two different scriptures references. Our statement may not be as sharp and concise as we’d like them to be. But they correctly present what this church believes – and has believed – since its inception. Admittedly there hundreds of differing opinions when it comes to the details of these future events. “Future events” – when theologians speak of God’s plans for the future, they used the term “Eschatology.” That word comes from Greek, where “eschatos” speaks of “last” and “logos” speaks of “words.” Jude used that...

Just Another “Life of Christ” – Isaiah 52:13-15 3:1-6

  Some of you have already seen the cartoon in today’s bulletin. For those who haven’t, there is a line of silly-looking people awaiting the signature of yet another Christian author. In the foreground are another two, one of which says, “I just can’t understand how he wrote a book on new discoveries about the deity of Christ Jesus.” How CAN people justify more books on Christ, based on the Word of God which hasn’t changed for more than 2,000 years? From where does the new information come, or how has the mind of the latest author been so improved over the great writers and exegetes of the past? I have 18 books in the Christology section of my small library, but there might be more scattered around in sections where they aren’t supposed to be. I have books by Edersheim, Volmer, Pink, Meldau, Morgan and Stewart among others. There is “Jesus the Messiah,” “The Crisis of the Christ,” “Jesus in Both Testaments,” and a dozen others dealing with the life of Jesus or some parts of it. And that is before we get to the two dozen theological books – all of which have chapters on Christ Jesus. Perusing catalogues, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of books on the life and person of Christ. Plus there ARE new ones being written and published every year. Going back to the question in the cartoon, how can there be such a constant flow of new books on someone who lived a short life 2,000 years ago? Well, sad to say, many of the modern writers have a special agenda...

Substitution – the Great, the Good and the Ungodly – I Peter 2:21-25

  I read about the death of Michael Costello in a book of contemporary sermon illustrations. According to the Chicago Tribune, Michael was a parachute instructor. Although the article didn’t say, I’m going to assume he was the owner or manager of a company which taught recreational skydiving. On June 22, 1997, Michael took a novice skydiver – Gareth Griffith – up to an elevation of 22,000 feet. Then they both jumped. After soaring downward for a few moments, as instructed, Griffith pulled the rip cord, but nothing happened. Costello then pointed to the secondary chute, but again nothing happened when that cord was pulled. Plummeting toward the ground, it looked like certain death for the first-time parachutist. At that point there was no time for Costello do much to save both the student and himself. But then, according to the Tribune, the instructor did something astonishing. Just before hitting the ground, Michael pulled in front of his pupil and rolled over, cushioning Griffith for the moment of impact. The student survived, but the teacher did not – dying instantly. The editor of the book suggested that the sacrifice of that skydiving teacher is an illustration of salvation. And in several ways it might be. He substituted himself for his student. Just as Christ took the impact of God’s justice for our sins, dying on the cross. And because of His sacrifice and substitute, we can walk away without injury. While perhaps conveying a nice story, there are some flaws in the application of the lesson. For example, the failure of the parachutes was probably due to someone in...

It was Just a Small Dinner Party – Matthew 26:26-29

  Why are there so many denominations trying to squeeze under the umbrella called “Christianity”? The short answer is that they all believe different things while still claiming to follow Christ Jesus. Lutherans believe different doctrines from the Mormons who believe differently from Roman Catholics. Even those who bear the same denominational name sometimes have serious differences of doctrine. And there is no reason to look beyond those who call themselves “Baptists.” Some Baptists glorify God in preaching His sovereignty over salvation, while most put salvation squarely on the sin-dead heart of the fallen sons of Adam. Some Baptists try to keep their distance from the methods and music of the world, while others embrace as much of the world as possible in order to draw the attention of the lost man. Some Baptists call themselves “Protestants,” while others, like ourselves, see our forefathers in history long before the Reformation, stretching back to the Apostles. I get perturbed by former Southern Baptist Churches and churches of the Baptist Bible Fellowship who drop the “Baptist” name, calling themselves just “Church of the New Life” or some such thing. But in reality, since they believe themselves to be Protestants, and they are denying the doctrines our ancient Baptistic predecessors died to maintain, dropping the “Baptist” name is not really a bad thing. Two particular points of disputed doctrine relates to the nature of Christ’s church and the Lord’s Supper. Many Baptists believe there are two kinds of churches – one local and the other universal – which supposedly incorporates everyone who believes on Christ as Saviour. Those who accept the universal...

The Word and His Way – John 1:1-14

  It might be fun during some evening of casual fellowship to play a little game which we might call “First Lines.” Mankind has been writing books for thousands of years now, and many of them have begun with interesting or powerful opening sentences. I know some Christians who say they never read secular or fictional literature, sticking only to Christian literature, Christian biography or theology. I pity those people, because they are keeping themselves of some of God’s great blessings. Do they also deprive themselves of the fragrances of the garden and the taste of fresh fruit? In the midst of disgusting and evil things, there are all kinds of secular blessings which God has given us to enjoy, and good literature is one of them. But getting back to that little game. I wonder how many can hear the opening line to some great book and identify the author or the title? For example, how many of you recognize these words? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” (A Tale of Two Cities). “Call me Ishmael.” (Moby-Dick). “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (Pride and Prejudice). “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff...