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...

How Can a Man be Justified with God? – Job 25:1-6

  After a couple of months of complicated theological messages, let’s go simple this morning. My outline may be hundreds of years old and preached by thousands of gospel evangelists. But the flesh on those old bones are mine as you will probably see in a few minutes. It is a topical message on the subject of salvation from sin – or more literally “justification before God.” You might think that a sermon on justification should come from the New Testament not the Old. And in fact, we will spend most of our time in the New Testament. But it has to be remembered that our Bible is not made up of two books. It is one book with two major divisions. And the message, although coming from opposite directions is the same in both halves. It is basically explained here, originating in what might be the first book ever inspired by God. “How then can a man be justified with God, or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” Verse 5 is an example of Hebrew poetic parallelism – a statement and then a restatement. The second half of the verse somewhat repeats the first part of the verse. This is very common in Proverbs, but it is found throughout the Old Testament. A paraphrase of this verse based on the basic meanings of the most important words, would be something like this: “How can a man be made clean in the sight of God; how can a natural human being he be translucent or transparent in God’s sight.” The verse doesn’t supply the...

Eating the Flesh of the Son of Man – John 6:47-58

  I have been spending quite a bit of time this week working on Sunday School lessons. Lessons which I might not get to teach for three months. Then again, if the Lord comes soon, I may not get to teach it at all. Whatever the case, the subject of this scripture has been on my heart for several days. And rather than wait, I’d like to consider this now. For several months now, the theme of our 10 o’clock Bible study has been a comparison of our doctrines to that of Roman Catholicism in the light of the Word of God. And the subject that I’ve been working on this week has been the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, the Mass, “transubstantiation.” I’ve been re-reading what took place at the Last Supper and what Christ Jesus teaches us here. In the observance of the Mass, it is Catholic doctrine that the substance of the bread is miraculously changed into the substance of Christ’s body. Christ is transmitted or transmuted into the wafer – the bread. They say that Jesus did it at the Last Supper when He took the bread, blessed it and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” And they declare that their priests continue to do what Christ did. The body of Christ is transubstantiated into the bread – the substance is moved across into the bread. The prefix “trans” means to “to cross.” The “Trans-Canada Highway” crosses the entire nation from Victoria to Newfoundland. By the way, Protestants teach that the body of Christ JOINS with the bread, but the bread is still bread. Roman...

Christianity’s Most Hated Doctrine – Deuteronomy 4:32-40

  The scripture which we just read is a part of a great history lesson which Moses was sharing with Israel. Many of the older generation had already passed on, and a second generation of Egyptian escapees was growing up and assuming important positions within the thirteen tribes. Perhaps they had heard the story of Israel and Jehovah from their parents, but they needed to hear it again. And so do you and I. Because it is more about God than it was about His chosen nation. And what is said about the Lord still applies and relates to us today. This morning’s title is – “Christianity’s Most Hated Doctrine.” Several points of this doctrine are suggested and sometimes underscored in this scripture. There are very few professing Christians who would have a problem with any of it as we have read it. But as soon as what is said here is applied to them or to their loved ones, their hackles shoot up. What do we read here? God created man upon the earth, and God spoke out of the midst of fire. God sovereignly chose and delivered one nation out of the midst of another nation. “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.” “Because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt.” And God chose to drive away greater and mightier nations from before Israel – and He did with ease. “Know therefore this day, and...

Correcting a Wrong Impression – Exodus 15:11

  This verse comes in the middle of a song which Moses taught to Israel after their miraculous escape from Egypt. In her crossing of the Red Sea, the Egyptian army was destroyed and Pharaoh died. It was the culmination of a war between the gods of Egypt and the One True and Living God – Jehovah. In his praise, using a rhetorical question, Moses accurately described the Lord “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” At this time of the year, there is a great deal of talk about Jesus, the son of Mary. Sadly, so much of it is out of the context of the only true revelation that we have about the incarnation. There is much talk about “Jesus the son of MARY.” While this is accurate, it is often hides the more important reality – “Jesus Christ is the Son of GOD.” And who is that God? What can we say about Him? Many people picture Him as the benevolent man up-stairs who kindly sent His son to Bethlehem as the offspring of Mary – honoring her. Millions of cards have been mailed with quotations from the early chapters of Matthew and Luke. But I guarantee that there has never been a Christmas card, Easter card or any kind of greeting card with the words of Exodus 15:11 printed in it. How does the Lord want us to picture Him? This is His revelation. Moses mentions several specifics, creating a concise three point message. Before we get to that revelation,...

Patience – Nahum 1:1-3

  How patient are you? I have known some Christians who appeared to be proud of their IM-patience – their lack of patience. That has always surprised me, because I’ve never considered impatience to be a good thing. But I have to admit, I can’t find a scripture which clearly condemns it. The words “impatience” and “impatient” cannot be found in the Bible. But then, on the other hand, there are dozens of scriptures which clearly encourage patience. We found it four times in the scripture which we read from James a few minutes ago. One of the things for which Christ praised some of the churches in Revelation was their patience. “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy PATIENCE, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil…” “(Thou) hast borne, and hast PATIENCE, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy PATIENCE, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” “Because thou hast kept the word of my PATIENCE, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Christ praised patience, and so did Paul. Paul also exhorted and encouraged us in it. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through PATIENCE and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” “Thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, PATIENCE, meekness.” “Be not slothful, but followers of...

The Goodness of God – Mark 10:17-22

  Most Christians are familiar with the account of the rich, young ruler. He was thoroughly sincere in his question: “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Today, he might have been a Roman Catholic, a Mormon, one of any number of sects or denominations. Oh, but he wasn’t willing to listen or to learn from the Lord’s answer. Are you? Evangelists have been preaching this text for two millennia, but many have missed an important point. The young man’s question revolved around what he could DO to become a heir of God’s eternal life. Sermons have been built around the fact that inheritances are not earned; they are a part of a birthright. Other lessons have touched on the man’s obedience to the law, but without genuine sacrifice. No, he had never killed anyone nor committed adultery, but he was not a true servant of God. Many liberal preachers have taught that without giving to the poor one can’t be their kind of Christian. But it’s not if he had sold his possessions and given the proceeds away he would have inherited eternal life. The Lord referred to this self-less sacrifice somewhat the way Paul spoke of the law. The man’s unwillingness proved him to be a sinner . He was more interested in himself than God or anyone else. Slinking away in sadness, only pointed out that he was not submissive to the Lordship of Christ. Thousands of evangelistic messages have come from variations of these thoughts. But something which I and thousands of others have never preached stems from Jesus’ introductory words to...

The Eternality of God – Psalm 90

  You and I live in a variety of houses – some are old, some are newer; some have basements & some don’t. Some are two storey, some are bungalows, some are modular – the varieties go on an on. But for most of our houses, at the foundation lays a substance called “concrete.” Concrete may make up the slab upon which the rest of the house was erected. There may be a crawl space, but again, it is usually made of concrete. And if there is a basement to your house, it is almost assuredly made of the same material. Concrete is amazing material – some of the concrete buildings of ancient Rome are still standing. As are thousands of skyscrapers, parking lots and dams like the Hoover and Grand Coulee. 60% of American Interstate Highways are made of concrete, as are most home driveways. Concrete is just about everywhere that man wants to build something. And what is concrete? Basically, it is made up of cement, sand, gravel and water, mixed differently for different purposes. We understand sand and water, but then we have to ask about the composition of cement. There are several varieties, but they are basically made from calcium, silicon and a few other things. My point is this – when we look at a slab of concrete we may see only one thing – a slab of concrete. But actually we are looking at the sum of all its parts. And if that concrete was not correctly blended –if there is too little calcium or too much sand – it will not endure....

God is a Spirit – John 4:4-24

  I made reference a few minutes ago to the differences between the “Separate” Baptists and the “Regular” Baptists of the 18th and early 19th centuries. There were not many at all, and unlike today’s Baptists, sovereign grace was not one of them. At that time 95% of all Baptists believed in sovereign election. As I understand it, what separated the two groups was their different emphases on doctrine and how emotional they were in their presentation of the Gospel. People attending a Separate Baptist church would come expecting a heart-rending topical message on repentance and faith, and they would be surprised if there was much Bible exposition. But the members of the Particular or Regular Baptist church over in the next valley would come expecting a sermon on the DOCTRINE of repentance, filled with scripture or at least an exposition of a specific passage. Our message this morning would more likely come from the lips of a Philadelphia Association preacher than a Sandy Creek preacher. But that doesn’t mean our subject will necessarily be a dry or useless waste of time. Christ told the Samaritan woman, “God is a spirit, and He must be worshiped in spirit and in truth.” This statement attacks a major Mormon doctrine – a cult which is sweeping around the world. And it is a doctrine which separates the practical atheists from true believers, even in the pews of Baptist churches in this country. If we and our children do not at least begin to understand that God is a spirit, then the generation which follows us will be vulnerable to intellectual and...

Yes, there is a God – Psalm 14

  As I was shaking hands with one of the speakers at the conference in Kentucky, he asked for my mailing address, telling me that he wanted to send some books. He apparently saw how shallow my message had been and that I was in need of instruction. A week or ten days later I had a bundle of material in my mail box. There were study outlines of Genesis and Exodus and about six booklets on various aspects of theology. There was also Stephen Charnock’s “Discourse upon the Existence and Attributes of God,” edited by Daniel Chamberlin of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I have heard about Charnock’s book for years but never read it, so I was looking forward to getting into it. As I began the first chapter on “The existence of God,” I kept marking paragraphs, thinking “this will be perfect for the bulletin.” When I got done, I found that I had marked about a quarter of the chapter. Then it occurred to me that if this so blessed me, perhaps it might bless you as well. This outline is more Charnock’s and Chamberline’s than it is mine, but I trust it is also of the Holy Spirit. As we have just read, David tells us, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” The Apostle Paul refers to this Psalm in Romans 3 to prove that we are all sinners. In fact at our heart of hearts, every one of us is in some sense an atheist. The Hebrew term “God” in Psalm 14:1 is not “Jehovah,” which speaks of His being...

Moving to our Long Home – Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

  The older I get, the more closely death creeps in around me. By that I don’t mean that I am sick and approaching death myself. While that is undoubtedly true, death isn’t near enough to me personally to be an immediate concern. Rather, more and more people near me and around me are dying. Lately, for me, most of those who have passed away have been children of God. This is not true for all of us – for you perhaps. But for me, their passing, although sad, has not been bitter. There has been a relief knowing that their suffering is finished. And there is a joy, knowing they are with the Lord, their Saviour. Having been asked to participate in more than one funeral, I have been forced to consider the fact of death, the necessity of death and the inevitability of death. No, I didn’t preach from this scripture at Bro. Ken Johnson’s service last Tuesday. My message came from a much more obscure passage – Jeremiah 23. But, generally speaking, for several weeks my thoughts have been pushed toward this solemn subject. And I believe the Lord would have you to consider it as well. If you are as old as I am, you need to consider death, simply because it may be coming up. But even more, if you are still “in the days of thy youth” you should think about your death. Isn’t this what Ecclesiastes tells us? Solomon uses an interesting phrase in verse 5 to speak about this subject. Eventually “man goeth to his long home.” Death is a move...

The Undulations of Life – Psalm 23

  Jacob, the son of Isaac, was traveling from Beersheba to Padan-Aram to find a good wife. Or perhaps someone else might say – “He was hoping to find himself.” You might also say that he was trying to escape a dysfunctional family with a murderous brother. On that trip he came to a certain place called “Luz” just as the sun began to settle over his left shoulder. So he began to make a spot where he could bed down for the night. He moved some of the stones around; he might have looked for some moss or straw on which to lay. He made himself as comfortable as possible. But Jacob didn’t sleep well that night; he experienced a very strange dream. I think it is safe to say that it had nothing to do with a spicy pepperoni pizza. In this vision he saw a set of stairs, or a ladder, reaching from where he slept up into Heaven. And on this ladder he saw angels of God ascending and descending – apparently with different God-ordained tasks to perform. Then above that ladder stood Jehovah Himself, giving the rascal Jacob some pretty nice promises. “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of...

Can’t Sin? – I John 3:1-9

  Canton, is the 8th largest Ohio city – about 60 miles south of Cleveland and Lake Erie. For years its population has been falling, but other cities in Ohio have dropped even more. In other words, with some exceptions, the state of Ohio is not prospering right now. I talked about this with Brother Estes, who is from Ohio, and he agreed. But the city of Canton has at least one major claim to fame; it draws a lot of visitors. One of the unusual buildings in the city appears to have a football stuck right through the roof. It looks as if a perfect spiral had been thrown straight down from Heaven by Gabriel himself. Canton, Ohio is the home of the “Pro Football Hall of Fame.” And another Canton claim to fame is the “Canton Baptist Temple.” When I was in Bible School, one of the leading lights of the Baptist Bible Fellowship was Harold Henninger. He had taken the pastorate of the Canton Baptist Tabernacle, and built it into the Canton Baptist Temple. A church with more than 5,000 in Sunday School for ten weeks in a row isn’t a chapel, church or tabernacle; it couldn’t consider itself anything less than a “Temple of God.” You can be sure that to reach the number of 5,000, they used lots of gimmicks and tricks. One of those gimmicks came out in 1966, 3 years after the opening of the “Football Hall of Fame.” Pastor Henninger commissioned 102 original oil paintings of the most important Christians in history. He hung those paintings on the walls of one...

The Man with a Crisp, Clear Faith – Acts 18:4-8

  Crispus was the chief-ruler of the Corinthian synagogue. This indicates that he was an influential person in the Jewish community. He had enough respect to have been placed in the second highest office in their synagogue, just under the officiating rabbi. We might assume that he was honest, upright, intelligent, and reasonably wise. But after the arrival of Paul, those same people who had respected him turned on him. He did a very foolish thing: He believed on the Lord and encouraged his family to do the same. He gave up working to please God and his neighbors and cast himself down before the Lord’s mercy. Despite the fact that Crispus had been an important man to his community, people today wouldn’t know his name, if wasn’t for what we find here in Acts 18 and again in I Corinthians 1. This man has been immortalized based on two things: He believed on Christ, and he was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Think about that for a moment: No matter how wealthy that man had been as a businessman in the commercial city of Corinth … No matter how much influence he had among his peers … No matter how many important children he raised … Whether or not he had built that synagogue with his own hands or with his own money, and his name was carved on the cornerstone … Those things were forgotten by the time that his grandchildren died. Furthermore, I can tell you based upon the Word of the Lord, that God wasn’t moved by...