The Blessing of Light – I Peter 2:9-10

  No matter what the world throws at us, to be a Christian, and to live the life of a Christian, far surpasses any earthly opportunity or possibility. Those Christians being slaughtered by Muslims in Africa and Asia may live short, painful and fearful lives, but they are infinitely better off, even in their suffering, than those who are persecuting them. We have wealth unbounded in this country, but when it is stripped away to nothing, if our perspective is right, we should still be rejoicing to die as children of God. ‘Tis a far, far better life we live than we had before our salvation; it is a far, far better place we go to than we have ever known in this world. And Peter rejoices to remind us of some of these things. Adding to his list, Peter tells us that one of the great blessings of being a Christian is dwelling in God’s light. He has already told us that God’s saints are royal priests – implying that we are related to the mysterious king/priest of Salem, Melchisedec. In the priestly robes supplied by the Lord Jesus we can enter behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. Dressed in the righteousness of Christ, we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” In other words, we have no need of any kind of human priests, because, through grace, we have been made priests ourselves. Furthermore, we have been chosen and invited to become a part of God’s regenerated family, His new...

The Blessing of the Peculiar People – I Peter 2:9-10

  In my last 2 messages, I have been trying to consider some of the blessed privileges we have as Christians. Peter first mentions unbelievers – the “disobedient” – and then compares them to God’s people. “But YE are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” One of our great privileges is that we have been made priests after the order of Christ our Melchisedec. Which means that we don’t need other priests of any kind – Catholic, Jewish, or whatever. We may come “boldly to the throne of grace to may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We may open the scriptures to hear the voice of God without the necessary intervention of any other man. We can offer the sweet incense of prayer – and even the thank offerings of our grateful hearts. The only priest above us is our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who has passed into the heavens, making intercession for us.” Another of the blessings to which Peter refers is that we are part of a ROYAL priesthood. Not only are we priests under Christ, but we are kingly priests as is He. Whereas we grew up slaves to the world, the flesh and the devil, we have, in Christ, been given authority over our hearts...

The Blessings of the Priesthood – I Peter 2:1-10

  There are two kinds of people in this world. You could describe them as “the dead” and “the living” – those spiritually quickened and those dead in their trespasses and sins. If we wanted, we could spend the next ten minutes applying different labels to those two groups. And that could be profitable – time well spent. Peter hints of those two kinds of people in this scripture. He says, “Christ Jesus is Sion’s chief corner-stone.” To some people – to you believers – He is precious. But to the disobedient – those who are unbelievers – He is a rock of offense, a stumbling block. You saints were once NOT the people of God, but now you ARE, because He has showered His mercy upon you. More than fifty years ago, the Saviour graciously placed me among God’s people. And I can say with all honesty, that I have been blessed throughout my life. The only changes in my life that I would make, if I could, would all be relatively minor. Today, I would rather be what and who I am than to possess the wealth of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. I am satisfied to be on my way to Heaven and not to be headed toward the White House or Buckingham Palace. I prefer to have my name known in heaven, than to be on the lips of all the evening newscasters. Having said that, I will point out that it is easy to say such things, because it appears to be impossible for me to ever become that rich, that powerful or that...

Providence as Illustrated in Philemon – Philemon 1-25

  How much of a roll does God play in the affairs of men? That is a theological “hot potato,” and it has been for centuries. It may be the single most divisive subject among today’s Baptists. This church has lost members because they couldn’t see what I think is impossible to miss. And I’ve lost members from other churches I’ve pastored. Sometimes we can talk peaceably about the subject, but then when one of the few buzz words are mentioned the sky seems to fall. So I’m going to try to refrain from using those words this morning – not that this eliminates the problem. There are people in this world who call themselves “atheists.” – in the opposite camp are the “theists.” Together, they are like the Israelites and the Philistines squaring off across the Valley of Elah. Some believe in God while others think that any deity is a myth and a crutch for the weak-minded. Sadly, not all theists believe in the same kind of god. It seems that some people’s god’s are weaker than others’. There are professing Christians who might speak of God, calling Him “Elohim,” “Jehovah” and even “Christ Jesus,” but they do not ascribe to him the same kind of God-hood that we do. For example, there are professing Christians who do not believe in a miracle-working god. And there are professing Christians who believe that god learns things as they take place, just the same way that we do. There are professing Christians whose god needs human help in order to save people. But is a god who is not...

Salvation as Illustrated in Philemon – Philemon 1-25

  With this message I’d like to start a brief series of lessons on this unique and interesting epistle of Paul. From the outset, it’s appropriate to ask: “Why is this letter included in the cannon of the scriptures?” It is the only letter of Paul which is not addressed to any of his churches or to any of the preachers or ministers of the day. There are a few general epistles which are not addressed to anyone in particular, but this is very particular. Why did the Holy Spirit lead the early churches to consider this letter to be inspired and important? Was it because Philemon was someone especially important? Not as far as we know. His name is found no where else but in this epistle, as is the female name “Apphia.” Since those two names are tied together in the greeting of the letter, it is logical to assume they were husband and wife. And because “Archippus” is also included it might be assumed that this is the couple’s son. They would all be familiar with and directly connected to the other major person in the letter. It is Archippus who helps us to identify the family and their place of residence. That name is mentioned only in one other New Testament scripture – Colossians 4:17. There Paul concludes his letter to the church in Colosse with the words “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” Apparently Archippus was one of the ministers in that church on the western side of Asia Minor. Coupled...

Who is the King of Glory – Psalm 24

  The Christian life involves a continual struggle for balance. Just think about that for a moment. Christians are both fleshly and spiritual beings, and our carnality wants to be dominant. But we can’t let that happen. To put it another way, we live in the world, but we are exhorted to “set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” There must be a balance. Our study of I Thessalonians reminds us that many tend to emphasize scriptural doctrine, and yet Paul praises those saints – NOT for their theological exactitude – but for their love and faith. He never mentions the word “doctrine” in either of those epistles. He doesn’t bring up any serious doctrinal subjects until the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians. But by then he has spent verse after verse praising those saints for their faith, love and hope in Christ. Apparently doctrine should not be the Christian’s primary focus. But it is still very important, so there needs to be a balance. Another area where we often fail to find scriptural equilibrium is between worship and service. We praise Mary, the sister Lazarus, for her worship of Christ and point our fingers at Martha for her busy Christian activity, but we are more like Martha ourselves. Despite the fact that our service is less than ideal, we are not as worshipful as we picture ourselves. We are far less worshipful than our God wants us to be. “One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Wednesday I began thinking about...

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...