Atheism in the Last Days – II Timothy 3:1-9

  If you have never met someone calling himself an “atheist” then you have led a sheltered life. If you’ve never met someone who LIVED like an atheist then you had better check your pulse. They are just about as common as mosquitos, and they bear other similarities as well. Among other things, our text describes the modern atheist. From these words we can paint a verbal picture of that man or woman. And in doing so, I’d like to help you spot the atheist in your society. But additionally, I would also like you to see that there lurks a little atheism in each of our hearts. The Holy Spirit said through Paul that “perilous times” were coming. I believe that what he predicted are here today. They are hard, troublesome and dangerous times – which is the meaning of the word Paul used. These times are not necessarily perilous because of global warming, nuclear waste or the man who is in the White House. These are spiritually perilous times, and the cause is rooted in open, rampant sin. And these are perilous times because of runaway atheism. The twenty items mentioned in this text make up a description of the average atheist. It is not required that every point be found in a person before we have an actual atheist. There are confessed atheists who appear to be outwardly beneficial to society. And perhaps you are thinking, “I know a man who claims to be an atheist who is good, decent and helpful. He doesn’t appear to be overtly guilty of any of the things Paul mentions....

The Condescension of Christ – Philippians 2:1-11

  Have you ever been on a vacation which was so perfect – so wonderful – that you hated to return? Maybe it was to a place of absolute luxury, or a place of apparent perfect peace. Back home you knew that you had serious problems to solve or you knew that stress would immediately bring you back to the breaking point. But for a week, or maybe two weeks, you were absolutely free of those things – then it ended. What might be some words which might describe your condition when you got back to the real world: “Disoriented, disappointed, depressed …..”? Now, I’d like you to try to do the impossible: Imagine what the Son of God was experiencing prior to His incarnation. What are some words which might describe His condition and position before He became incarnate? “Glory, perfection, worship and adoration, supremacy, holiness………”? A word the Bible uses, but which doesn’t begin to describe Christ’s pre-incarnation condition is “rich.” II Corinthian 8:9 – “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he WAS rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” The word means what we would expect – “wealthy; abounding in resources.” But behind the word lays an infinite more. There must be ten thousand things which make the Lord Jesus unique among men. One of the excellencies of Christ is the sacrifice which He made just to come to this planet in order to become our Saviour. Take the change from perfect vacation to problems at home, and multiply them a thousand...

Divine Lightning – Acts 9:1-3

  Everyone who has ever become a child of God, has been saved in the same way. There are aspects of salvation which are always the same – things like justification and propitiation. When a person is born again, his regeneration always displays itself in repentance and faith. But while some things are always the same, some of the details are different. I suppose one might make a comparison with the human body. Just about everyone has the same number of bones, and they are in same general arrangement. But upon those bones are an infinite number of personal differences. One man’s repentance may manifest itself differently from that in another person – tears, shame. One woman’s saving faith may be exceedingly small while another’s is much more substantial. I would like you to consider what happened when Saul became a child of God. I have preached on the conversion of Saul before, but not from this particular direction. And why should we consider this person and his salvation again? Because if you would like to enjoy the eternal blessings this man came to enjoy, then you must be saved as he was. And if you claim to be a Christian, but you have not experienced the things Saul experienced, then perhaps you should reexamine your salvation. You may be deceiving yourself. BUT….. it’s not so much the details of this chapter which are particularly important. It is to what those details point and the picture they paint. So I hope to explain what happened that day on the way to Damascus. Then I’d like you to pay attention...

The Final Judgment – Revelation 20

  If I was to offer a $1000 prize to the person who could name North America’s longest-running television news magazine, I think my money would remain quite safe in my own pocket. The show to which I am referring started in 1966 and is still running – that is over 50 years. It is still running because it has usually been fair and accurate – as well as entertaining. It was the first of its kind – a magazine format where several stories were described in detail. If you guessed the CBS news show “60 Minutes” you’d be wrong by more than two years. “60 Minutes” is an American clone of the Canadian show called “W5.” To many people outside journalism, W5 doesn’t make any sense – it doesn’t mean anything. But to a journalism student, the five W’s are drilled into his head as requirements for accurate news reporting. Each story should provide a minimum of five details – who, what, where, when and why. Sadly, a great deal of modern journalism is filled with editorial opinion based on only one or two facts. Proper journalism should provide the reader with all the pertinent information, permitting the reader or listener to reach his own conclusions. This morning, I would like to use the five W’s as the outline for our thoughts. I have heard fanciful sermons on what we find here in Revelation 20, and you probably have as well. There is a place for fiction and fictionalized facts, but the pulpit is not one of those places. It is fun to read a story about a...

Received into Glory – I Timothy 3:16

  According to the Associated Press, Brian Kelly, of suburban Detroit, knew that he was dying. In July 1994 he had abdominal surgery, but there was no hope, and he knew it. So he went to his boss at the Independence Professional Fireworks and made special request. Based on the employee’s faithful service for more than twenty years, his request was granted. After his death, Kelly’s family took his ashes to Independence Fireworks, and they were packed them into a 12″ skyrocket. Then on August12 at a convention of fireworks technicians they shot Brian into the night sky. The rocket trailed two silvery comet tails and then exploded into red and green stars – along with the remains of Brian Kelly. He wanted to got out in blaze of glory, and everyone admitted that it was pretty spectacular. But ascending into THE Heavens is not exactly the same thing as ascending into Heaven. I Timothy 3:16 is one of the pivotal verses in the Bible. The subject matter of the verse is very important and worthy of a series of sermons. I have preached from this verse several times. But there are 8 points in this verse and each of those points could be expounded for at least an hour. And then there is the fact that most people, when they turn to I Timothy 3:16 in their Bibles, they can’t find all of the words which I have read to you this morning. The verse is obviously speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ, who was miraculously manifested in the flesh. We call it the “incarnation.” Christ is the...

Jeremiah’s Three Books – Jeremiah 36:1-32

  Years ago some philosopher gave this estimation of a full and fruitful life. He said – “Raise a good son, plant a good tree, and write a good book.” He suggested that it was not one or two, but all three that resulted in a good life. If that is the true measure of a man, then there are very few successful lives. I am of the opinion that Jeremiah was a great man, if not to the world, at least to Israel. Yet that man, had no sons or daughters that we know of to carry on his name and work. There is no evidence that he ever planted a tree. And although he wrote a book, it was not on the “New York Time’s Best Seller’s” list. Judging from Jeremiah’s life I think that there is hope for all of us. It’s about Jeremiah’s books that I’d like us to think this morning. There were three of them. And Jeremiah was Jeremiah through his books. Along with his pre-natal call by God, it was the Word of God that made Jeremiah Jeremiah. He had been in the ministry a few years when the Scriptures were re-discovered. They had been hidden in the long-neglected Temple. But during the revival under Josiah, both the Temple and the Word were restored to their place honor. It is a shame that Josiah was the father of the current wicked king Jehoiakim. Does that mean since Josiah didn’t have a good son, or plant a good tree, his life was a failure? Remember that the Word of God in Jeremiah’s day...

Adoration and Liberation – Matthew 26:3-13

  When it comes to Hollywood movies and Broadway shows, there isn’t much for Christians to enjoy. But every once in a while something comes along which is not as morally offensive as the majority. And one of those productions has been mentioned around here a time or two – “Fiddler on the Roof.” As many of you know, In the opening scene, Tevye, the poor Jewish milkman, explains some of the customs they have in the Russian community of Anatevka. He says if it wasn’t for those ancient traditions their precarious lives would come tumbling down. Nearly everyone in Anatevka were like fiddle players trying to stay balanced on the peaks of their roofs. Modern Christianity isn’t quite the same, but there is still a great deal of balancing and juggling. We’ve got our daily chores and sometimes there isn’t time to get them all done, so we have to pick and choose. We try to find a balance between necessary duties and the importance of rest and sleep. There is our devotional life which is often forced to take a back seat to the secular parts of life. So there is a conflict between things spiritual and things carnal. And another special balance is often made within our personal religion whether it should be or not. We have to balance worship with theology. Why is it that so often the man known for his Bible knowledge ISN’T also noted for his worship? Why is it that with all that is going on, worship – sincere daily praise and thanksgiving – is pushed to the back of our...

Jesus’ Precious Blood – Romans 5:8-9

  There are church buildings up and down this valley that are filled with people today. There are also a lot of people not in church, but we live amongst a great deal of religion. Many of our near-by churches are much younger than this one. And some of them just SEEM to be young. They behave like children – they are immature and foolish. The atmosphere in many of them is much different from ours. Some are so casual it’s hard to recognize them as church services. And others have a ceremonialism which make our services look like just a family reunion. There are churches today designed almost like dinner theaters with little tables toward the pulpit. Some have espresso counters at the back and rock bands in the front. Many have huge screens around the auditorium where modernized corrupted scriptures are projected. In some, people are made to feel that Bibles are not important enough to bring to church. Then those screens show the face of the preacher or pretty landscapes and seascapes. The music is high in tempo and up-beat, and the preaching, while sometimes high in energy, is often low in theology and content. I still get samples of the magazine “Christianity Today” – one had an article about modern church designs. It showed churches with indoor fountains, and ornate metal deck furniture as might be found by a pool. I saw churches with patios and large windows so that parishioners can sit outdoors and still “participate.” There was natural lighting, electric sound, satellite broadcasting and casual, non-worshipful atmosphere. And the sermon is designed to...

What Mean Ye by these Stones? – Acts 14:19

  As Joshua led Israel across the Jordan river there were 12 men chosen for a special two-tiered task. After the Lord miraculously stopped the flow of the water and the river bed dried, they were to find 12 large rocks to stack into a pile in the middle – where probably the current was the strongest. Then they were to find another 12 rocks that they were to carry out from the river bottom onto the western bank. These would then be used to make a cairn, or a memorial, of Israel’s dry-shod crossing of the Jordan. “And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.” Every geologist knows, as so do most children, the rocks and stones our planet have lots of stories to tell. Rock tell stories about floods and volcanos; They talk about animals and plants long since dead. They can give evidence to some murders, like that of Abel. Then there are stories...

The Faith of the Incurable Woman – Mark 5:25-34

  This miracle is sandwiched between two pieces of a larger miracle. When Christ Jesus came back from the healing of Legion on the southeast coast of Tiberias – After He authoritatively ordered an army of demons out of their sinful host – He was immediately accosted by Jairus, who plead with Him for the life of his little daughter. Quick as a wink Jesus began to walk from the shore up to rich part town to raise a dead little girl. But while briskly walking along, in the midst of a large “press” of people, there surreptitiously crept in behind Him a poor woman in need. Verse 24 says that “much people followed him, and thronged him.” This is the only place in the Bible where this word is used. Strong says that it means that the crowd squeezed around Jesus in the narrow streets of the city. And the noun “the press” suggests the same thought – it was a large crowd tightly packed together. Somehow, with determination, this woman squeezed through the crowd to touch Christ. And just as abruptly as Jesus started toward Jairus’ house, He stopped to help a suffering woman. All of the Gospel writers, but John, include this miracle in their accounts of Christ’s ministry. That surprises me, because John’s gospel was specifically inspired to magnify Christ’s deity and grace. This miracle magnifies the latter even before the former – the grace over the actual miracle. And it is outstanding for a couple of reasons: For example, we see the Lord’s absolutely calm control over everything. If He stops to help one...

Perfect Food – John 6:22-27 (Children’s message)

  Oh, how I wish that we had a time-machine. Do you know what I mean by a “time-machine?” It’s a make-believe machine which can take us to another place and another year. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to travel to any event in history? Maybe you’d like to see George Washington crossing the Delaware River in the middle of winter. Perhaps you’d like to watch those brave men signing the Declaration of Independence. Or maybe you’d like something more simple – just to see your grandmother when she was your age. One of the things I’d do with a time-machine is go back to some of the events in the Bible. Maybe like this one of which we just read. Our time-machine would take us to the eastern shore of a large lake – called “Tiberias.” The Lord Jesus is there – He wanted to take His disciples away for a little holiday – a short vacation. But these were the very few days of Jesus’ popularity – almost everybody liked Jesus. As the disciples sailed across the lake, there were people running along the shore, watching the boat, waiting for it to come to land. And almost immediately, other little fishing boats began to pull up along the shore where the Saviour was. First, there were a 100 people, then 500, then 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 hungry souls – maybe more. That’s as many people than what lived in Post Falls, when I first moved here. As the sun began to set, sending beautiful colors across the lake, Jesus asked His disciples what they thought about...

Why I Glory in the Cross – Galatians 6:14

  Paul was contrasting what some people trusted for salvation and in what he put his trust. There were heretics running around Galatia who were teaching that sinners must implement and trust various religious laws and practices. As a result, some of those people grew proud of their religious accomplishments and success. But actually, what they were doing further condemned their souls, because their faith was misplaced. Paul concluded his epistle by saying, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” How often during your Christian life – even before that – have you read or heard the words of our text? We have heard and repeated those words so frequently I’m afraid they have lost much of their strength. Those who were closer to the event, looked at it far differently that most of us. On a different occasion, when Paul was explaining his faith to King Agrippa – a man who knew exactly what the crucifixion of Christ entailed, he blurted out, Paul, “Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” What was this crucifixion for which Paul was willing to be called insane? We can probably all picture the shape of the cross; I think the general image is correct. But how thick were the necessary pieces of lumber? 8×10? 12×12? And how was the cross member attached to the central beam? Do you think the Romans payed skilled carpenters to inset the two pieces so that they were flush?...

“It is the Lord” – John 21:1-7

  Here is a true saying about history – it tends to repeat itself. Babylon arose, attained, decayed and fell. Persia arose, attained, decayed and fell; and so did Israel, Greece, Rome and a hundred other societies. Our own nation is in the late “decay” stage and is ready to fall. Certainly history is history, and Biblical history, although special, is still history. About 3 years before the events of this scripture, Peter, James & John had been fishing on this same lake. History was in the process of repeating itself. I wonder why they didn’t think about that as they labored all night without catching anything? Their hearts should have been filled with warm memories of their Saviour. Perhaps fishing without catching was common – so they didn’t give any consideration to the Lord. The Sea of Galilee or Tiberias, is a good sized lake, but it’s definitely not huge. It is roughly the size, and similar to the shape, of Priest Lake, but it’s not nearly as deep. (If you aren’t familiar with Priest Lake, all that I can say is that I feel sorry for you.) If you are familiar with Priest Lake, you can probably imagine that everywhere those disciples looked they could have seen the shadow of the Lord Jesus. On one side Jesus stood and said, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And over there He fed the 5,000, and over there He fed the 4,000. Over on that side He healed the man called “Legion,” & from that direction He walked on the water. On that hill...

And He was Buried – I Corinthians 15:1-4

  I have probably referred to this scripture a thousand times in the last 25 years. I have used it, among other ways, as a definition of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. But even after a thousand visits there is always something new to consider. This is not the cold, dead word of man, but the living Word of God. It is not that God makes new revelation. It is just that He sometimes shines a light down on a scripture from a different angle, and the light versus shadow reveals something which had always been there. One of the best messages at last years’ Bible conference in Kentucky was a sermon by Brother Jeff Short from this text, and I’d like to share with you my interpretation of his thoughts. Paul tells us that Christ died for our sins according to the scripture, then He was buried, and three days later He rose again to be seen by more than 500 people. There are two obvious highlights – Christ died as the sinner’s sacrifice – His blood was presented as the atonement for many. And then He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. Between those two mountain peaks there is – “and He was buried” – how important is that intermediate statement? Could not Christ have been resurrected if He had not been buried? What if the body had been left on the cross for three days, despite the Jew’s wishes to take it down? Or what if His body had been cast into Gehenna –...

The Unholy War – Psalms 2 (Acts 7:51-60)

  One of John Bunyan’s books was entitled “The Holy War.” I have chosen to reverse that title for our message this morning. I want to comment on what happened to Deacon Stephen by taking a brief look at this Second Psalm. Most of the people of the world, even religious people, wonder why we bother studying the Bible. For most of them the Bible is as relevant as a screen-door on the International Space Station. But both Acts and Psalms are as much 21st century as are cell phones. And I’m not talking about last year’s cell phones with speed dial and call-forwarding, I’m talking about today’s cell phones with satellite internet access and a HD video digital camera. Because both Acts and Psalms are God’s message for people in every place and every age. The pictures that we find in both these chapters are high quality “selfies.” Stephen defended himself against the charges of the Jews by retelling the history of Israel. If we didn’t know better we’d be apt to think that this would be well-received by those priests and rabbis. After all it was their nation. They were as proud of their history as most Americans are of theirs. And the people to whom Stephen was preaching were among the most religious in all the world. Self-righteous people don’t mind historical, non-personal sermons – so things began just fine. But then Stephen got personal – very, very personal. He reminded those learned men that their history was actually one of rebellion against God and rejection of the revelation of God. His audience exploded, and the...