King of the Resurrection – Revelation 1:10-18

What is the #1 intellectual stumbling block to evangelism today? Of course the first hindrance to evangelism is the average Christian’s lack of interest in evangelism. But what is the first argument heard when someone is trying to speak about Christ? I suppose it depends on the society in which you are working. In the Pantanal marshes of Brazil it would be one problem, but in Montreal it would be another. In some areas, the #1 hindrance to the gospel might be the Book of Mormon. In another it would be the doctrine of the deity of Christ or perhaps atheism. Evolution is certainly a hindrance to evangelism, as is the New Age movement and Christian hypocrisy. Another in our day is the proliferation of false and corrupt Bibles – “Yea, hath God really said?” Among the Jews, in the first years of Christianity, the chief stumbling block was Jesus’ resurrection. The Book of Acts contains twelve public sermons by the apostles with a total of 159 verses. I have read that 92 of those verses (60%) touch on the resurrection in one fashion or another. The gist of those sermons is that Christ’s resurrection is a fact. And walking hand-in-hand with the resurrection of CHRIST is the resurrection of Christ’s DISCIPLES. Peter and John were thrown in jail for preaching Jesus’ resurrection – and our resurrection in Acts 4. “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Peter and...

Scared to Death – Matthew 14:22-33

It might be fun some day to explore the question: “What is has been the most terrifying event in your life?” There aren’t too many lions around here, but perhaps it was a dog attack or a visiting bear at camp. It might have been the threatening of a rattlesnake, or perhaps a nearby lightning strike. When missionary Mike Meredith was coming to visit us a few years ago, he and his family were driving through the mountains to reach us, a rock crashed onto the hood and into the windshield of their car. Perhaps it was something like that in your life. Consider the Apostle Peter – from what you know, when might he have been the most frightened? Was it when he felt trapped in the courtyard of the high priest after Jesus’ arrest. It might have been on that trip across the Sea of Galilee when a storm struck and threatened to swamp the boat. OR it might have been at one or two points in this scripture. Is it possible that Peter did not know how to swim? Surprisingly, that is very common in sailors. I have preached from these verses many times – all with different purposes. Once the subject was faith, and three times the message dealt with various aspects of the Christian life. One of my messages was preached on the first Sunday of the year. There has been one message about Christ and another on the nature of God the Father. But the other day I was struck the Peter’s simple words in verse 30, and it sent me in a...

That You, Too, May Have Fellowship – I John 1:1-4

Let’s say you have just read a book about the Pantanal – a region along the border of Paraguay and Brazil. The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland – about the size of Colorado. In your reading you have learned about some of the natives who live there – the Ipicas and others. The Ipicas are people so untouched by civilization that it can be said that they are living just like their ancestors did at the time of Christ. They speak in little more than grunts and gestures; they eat what they can catch and kill. They are ignorant of a great many things like electricity, space travel and skyscrapers. They wear no clothes; they are immoral. They are as simple and as wicked as little children can be. And speaking about Christ, they know nothing about the One who created them – absolutely nothing. They are living and dying in their sins without any idea of their utter lostness and their eternal damnation. Imagine that in some mysterious way the Holy Spirit has moved you with grief towards the Ipicas. Your soul cries out for their salvation, and you begin to pray for a missionary to be sent by God to them. Then one day, you realize that you are the missionary whom the Lord has chosen to evangelize them. Let’s say that after some time you have prepared yourself, and your church has sent you to Brazil. You are now living on the banks of the Paraguay River among those Indians of whom you once read. They are far worse than what you read or what...

Approved unto God – II Timothy 2:11-15

The last Sunday morning I was with you, which seems like a month ago, I brought up a word which I was afraid I was misusing – I wondered if I had the wrong definition. I am not sure I remember the word – that is how much water has flowed under my bridge in the last two weeks. But we discussed the word, and later looked it up in the dictionary which I keep up here. And, yes, my understanding was thoroughly incorrect. That evening, Sister Stewart brought the family “1828 Webster’s Dictionary,” which supplied a completely different definition to what the more modern dictionary gave us. I was so impressed with that dictionary, I said that I had to get one for myself. Two days later I was in my father-in-law’s office, and there on the shelf was that dictionary. I asked the family members in the room at the time if I could have it, and it became mine. Part of the value of this particular dictionary is in illustrating the evolution of words. Words have a habit of changing – growing or shrinking. For example, we’ve often mentioned the perfectly good word “gay.” When I was a child, it meant “jovial,” “sportive,” “cheerful.” Now I am almost afraid to use the word in that sense, because it will almost surely be misunderstood. But here is something for you experts – According to my new 1828 dictionary “gay” was originally derived from “gaudy” as in “showy” or “flamboyant.” It moved from “gaudy” into “cheerful” and now into a euphemism for “homosexual.” Has that word’s new definition...

Deadly Resistence – Acts 7:51-53

This text comes at the end of a New Testament preaching service. But it was not a typical service – it was not a church service. We don’t know for sure, but it was unlikely that Stephen had ever preached like this before. He was not one of the Apostles; he was not a pastor or a full-time preacher in the Jerusalem church. It could have been that he had a secular job; owning his own business or working for someone else. He WAS a deacon in the church – a servant of the Lord in another way than regularly preaching. But that didn’t force him into silence when it came to his Saviour. There was no caste system, where everyone was confined to their own particular field of service. Every member should have been, and most of them were – martyrs for Christ – witnesses. Then too, when Stephen spoke that day the service was very different because his face bore a semblance to that of an angel. At least he looked like what people perceived angels to be. That probably meant that his face some how radiated the glory of Holy of Holies. Perhaps he had some of the same characteristics as the face of Moses as he came down Sinai after a long period of fellowship with the Lord. This was not typical preaching service because the auditorium and his auditors were unusual. The place was the council chamber of the Sanhedrin. Where we sit in rows of pews, one behind another, and another, and another, those hearers sat in a circle or semi-circle, surrounding the...

Get Ready; Get Set; Go – Luke 12:22-40

I suppose it is true at many big companies, but it was certainly true where I used to work. In the filing cabinet right inside my office door was a copy of the company SOP. It was a big four-inch binder containing our “Standard Operations Procedures.” It was ridiculously complex, describing what the employees were supposed to do in a thousand different situations. I was expected to know what company SOP expected of me, the office manager. I hesitate to make such a crude comparison, but there are some similarities between the Bible and that book. This is our “Standard Operations Procedure” – this is our rule for faith and practice. Despite being written so many years ago, the Bible is still practical and up-to-date. The explanation of course is that its Author is not some lawyer or real estate developer. Rather, “all scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is therefore profitable (and practical) for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness.” “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by Holy Ghost.” Just as it was required of me to read the J.P. Realty “SOP,” you and I, as Christians, should read, re-read, and re-re-read our “Rule for Faith and Practice.” Our scripture this morning could not possibly be more contemporary. Oh, someone might say that the language is a little out-dated – but I would quarrel with that. And even if we grant the necessity for a dictionary, because our level of education is so low – the theme, problems...

When Salvation came to Dinner – Luke 19:1-10

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, knowing full well that this was His last trip to Israel’s capitol city. There have been thousands of people in similar situations – knowing they were on their last journey. People like Sidney Carlton in Dickens’ “Tail of two cities” heading toward the guillotine. That man deliberately chose to make that journey. Others have been soldiers, knowing full well that their lives would be lost in that day’s battle. But they willingly laid down their lives, in the hope that those following them would win the day. Some have been philosophers who permitted their lives to be taken in order to draw the attention and admiration of others towards their ideas. But Jesus was not a soldier, philosophical martyr or a fictitious character. The Son of God participated in the plan to be crucified in a few days, there in Jerusalem. Christ Jesus made that one-way trip in order to offer Himself up as a sacrifice to God for the sins of many. He specifically told His disciples this, trying to prepare them for the completion of God’s ordained plan. But for the most part, those disciples avoided facing the reality of what Jesus had been telling them. At this point, in Luke 19, Jesus was just leaving the river city of Jericho. He had already been approached by the rich young ruler, asking what he had to do to inherit eternal life. But that man didn’t want to pay the price for salvation – salvation is free. And Christ had healed blind man “Bartimaeus,” giving him, not only physical sight, but...

The Offering of a Sweet-Smelling Savour – Ephesians 5:1-2

This is a powerful sentence in a number of different ways. It takes us back to Calvary and the cross upon which the Saviour died. But the cross is not Paul’s purpose. It is primarily used as an illustration. But what is Paul’s purpose? What was the Holy Spirit trying to tell us? Is it rebuke? “Walk in love, because I see far too much pride in your lives.” Is it exhortation? “Be ye followers of Christ rather than followers of John Gill, J.R. Graves or K. David Oldfield.” It isn’t instruction – even though “Christ died as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.” We, as Christians, are supposed to know and understand this already. If this is merely a flight of eloquence, it is the eloquence of the greatest love story every told. Paul’s mind was filled with thoughts of the Lord Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins. You know how sometimes in the morning you awake up humming one of your favorite hymns? Paul often seemed to waken with thoughts of Christ’s love for the world’s chiefest of sinners. When he exhorts us to service, he uses Jesus’ death as the catalyst. When he encourages “Surrender to the Lord,” he says, “I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God.” When says, “Give,” it comes after he has reminded us that Christ first gave all that He had. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Out of several potential messages, I’d like to consider a few thoughts of worship and praise. Let’s begin where Paul began – with...

The Stone of the Resurrection – Matthew 27:62-28:2

I am going to take a unorthodox approach to several orthodox points of doctrine. My theme will be the stone, which covered Joseph’s tomb when Jesus’s body lay inside. Other than the seal which was placed on it, I have never spent any time giving it much consideration. But that stone is mentioned in all four gospels in one way or another. The tomb was like a cave; but man-made, in which bodies from Joseph’s family were to be interred. The Gospel of Mark tells us that the tomb was cut out of stone – it was excavated out of solid rock. Matthew and Mark tell us that a stone was used to shut the mouth of the tomb. It may have been on some sort of track so that it could be rolled out of the way for when another body was ready to be placed inside. But at this time, the tomb had never been used. My guess is that the stone was somewhat the shape of a large disk. But don’t picture a six foot doorway, and seven foot stone; it did not have to be nearly that big. As we see here in Matthew, Pilate gave permission to the Jews to seal the tomb shut. This is the only gospel to tell us about the seal. It wasn’t designed to keep the spiders and mice out; it was designed to reveal if anyone broke in – or out. Mark tells us that the women were concerned about how they would move the stone aside so they could go in to anoint the body. But all...

The Full Circle of Sacrifice – John 13:1-17

There are tens of thousands of people in this country who believe in the foolish notion of reincarnation. Of course, we don’t begin give any credence to idea. But what if was such a thing? Just imagine your chagrin, if you died tonight and awoke tomorrow trapped in the body of a slug. What if you were transformed into a slug hiding under the leaf of a plant in your former back yard? What if your mind were the same, your memories were intact, and your dreams were unchanged. But you were trapped in the ugly, loathsome, slimy, disgusting body of a shell-less snail? Listen to me now – the difference between you and the snail is not any greater than the difference between the glorified Son of God, and Jesus the carpenter’s son. The title of our message this morning is: “The Full Circle of Sacrifice.” From that title you might be thinking of something a little more narrow than I am today. We are a week away from Easter. This is the only week of the year when many religious people think about the crucifixion of Christ. And you, as Bible-believers, know that God demands a blood sacrifice for your sin and sins. Hebrews 10:22 – “Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Leviticus 17:11 – “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” I...

When Isaiah Met Jehovah – Isaiah 6:1-8

If the Make-a-Wish Foundation announced they would arrange for you to spend lunch with anyone on earth, who would you choose? For millions of people, it would be some sports figure, pop singer, TV or movie star. For a few others it might be a politician, a writer, a special scientist, maybe even a man of God. And what if in some miraculous way, it might be someone from any point in human history? You might have an immediate answer, or then again, perhaps you’d have to think about it. I would hope that as a Christian, Christ Jesus might be your first answer. But then again, if you could meet only one person, perhaps you’d not choose the Lord Jesus, because it is already guaranteed that you will meet Him soon. Everyone will someday meet Christ – whether they are Buddhists or Baptists, theists or atheists. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” And before whom will we stand? Who will be our Judge? “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” – ie. the Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul said, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” he was thinking of Christians, but in fact, non-Christians at some point will have to stand before Him as well. In prophecy John saw “the dead, (all the dead,) small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened:...

Buying the Truth – Proverbs 23:23

During my year at university, one of my required courses was basic economics. It was a subject about which I had no interest whatsoever, and not applying myself, I didn’t learn much. According to Proverbs 23:23, my attitude was probably sinful, because even though I was buying that information through my college tuition, it was wasted money. I certainly didn’t get enough out of the class to sell it later. But a few principles and details did sink in – through some kind of educational osmosis. For example, I learned that there are different ways to measure a country’s economy. And depending on the commentator’s objective, he many use those different measures subjectively. Some talk about the United States trade deficit as an indication of our economic condition. Others point to the relative strength of the United States dollar compared to other currencies. Some talk about the New York and American stock exchanges. How many T-bills have been sold? How are the “big ticket” items selling – houses and new cars. With my non-accountant and un-economic mind, it appears to me that all of these measures use buying and selling as their criteria – buying stocks and bonds; buying foreign currency; buying foreign products and selling American goods. Solomon gives us something which might be used as another measure of national or personal well-being. “Buy the TRUTH and sell it not.” Don’t let the spiritual trade-deficit destroy your personal economics. Don’t be giving away your hard earned resources for heathen, foreign philosophies and ideas. We have the truth right here, and there is instruction available to use. With understanding...

Believing the Unbelievable – II Timothy 4:1-4

While driving through West Texas, a New Yorker tourist stopped for gasoline at a run-down old station. From a corner of the building there hung a rope, with a sign above it, reading: “Weather rope.” The visitor asked the proprietor how a rope could help forecast the weather. “Well,” replied the old man, “If the rope swings back and forth, we know its windy. If it’s wet we know that its rainy. If it’s frozen stiff we know that its cold. And if its gone, then we know that there is a tornado.” That may be the West Texas method of weather forecasting, but there appear to be better ways. And the best way to learn about the current conditions of spiritual things, it is good to keep a copy of the Bible close at hand. There has never failed a single promise or prophecy of the Word of God – not one! And what it declares about our particular moment is just as accurate as fulfilled prophecy. In fact, it can tell us about things which we cannot see with the naked eye or naked intellect. It reveals what God sees in our hearts and souls. Some of those Biblical statements are rather general, but some are almost painfully explicit. Different prophecies and revelations are like different kinds of paintings: One artist paints a wonderful watercolor, and we know exactly what he is depicting. But the style reflects the subject in general, sometimes blurry way. Then another artist reproduces the same scene, using oils or pen and ink. It’s almost as if he painted or drew every pine-needle...

The Providence of God – Romans 2:4

After Paul’s capture and arrest in Jerusalem, he was called to stand before Felix the Roman governor of Judea. The Jews had hired a lawyer, named Tertullus, to lay their charges before the court. In his opening remarks – clearly designed to flatter Felix and bring him to their side he said, “Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.” Tertullus uttered a word which has been on my mind for two weeks – he spoke of Felix’s “providence.” This is a word used by preachers and theologians to express God’s care and direction of His people, but rarely do we hear the word outside of church. Actually, there are only two scriptures which use the term, and they have nothing to do with God. Tertullus applies it somewhat facetiously to the Roman governor. And in the other verse, where it is translated differently, it is speaking of the Christian. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Tertullus used the word “facetiously” because “providence” is more appropriate to Jehovah than to Felix. It refers to making provisions for future needs and problems and then providing for those events. Etymologically the word originates in “foreseeing.” “Providence” refers to seeing a future need and then taking steps to meet those needs. And who is better equipped to provide providentially than the omniscient, omnipotent God? As I meditated on providence, thinking about how...

A Priori – Revelation 1:12-20

Almost everyone who picks up the Bible to read, does so with an “a priori.” “A priori” is a Latin term that comes up from time to time in debates, university lecture halls and other places where someone is trying to impress other people with his superior knowledge. Of course, I’m not referring to myself, because I only desire to expand your vocabulary. “A priori” comes from two Latin words which mean: “from” and “former.” An “a priori” argument is one which comes out of an earlier thought or position. HOWEVER, that earlier idea may or may not be true; it may not be anything more than a theory. So many “a prioris” are not a firm foundation upon which to build the following point. As I say, almost everyone who talks about Jesus Christ, does so with a few predetermined ideas. Some think that He was a good, moral, religious teacher, like Confucius or Moses. Some believe that He is merely a fictional, imaginary literary character. Some say that Christ is dead, while others believe that He is alive. Some intellectually believe that He is divine; and others earnestly worship Him, because He is God. And some love Him with all their hearts, longing to see Him and to hear His voice. There are probably a couple dozen different “a prioris” with which people approach Christ and listen to this morning’s message. But if any of those “a prioris” are wrong, then how can we move that person to the truth? The only worthwhile tool that we have is the Word of God, empowered by its Author, the...