Adopting the Prodigal – Luke 15:11-24

Most of you are familiar with the Lord’s parable of the prodigal son. This morning, I would like to apply that story in a slightly different way than usual. And ultimately, I’d like to consider the Biblical doctrine of ADOPTION. One of the books I am currently reading is T.P. Simmons’ “A Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine.” While looking at the New Birth or “Regeneration,” Simmons has a single paragraph about adoption. He says, “The New Birth is not adoption.” Adoption is a legal term. It is the immediate result of justification. It is not the same as regeneration. Adoption makes us children of God legally, while regeneration makes us children of God experientially. Adoption brings a mere change of legal relationship. Regeneration changes our moral nature. Adoption has to do with us as the spiritual and moral children of the Devil by nature. Regeneration has to do with us as those who are by nature devoid of spiritual life.” That statement put me on a course of my own investigation of adoption. And I’ll get to that after we reconsider this Prodigal child. “Prodigal” means “wasteful,” or more specifically “extravagantly wasteful.” I have already said that this is one of the Lord’s “parables” – a story used to teach a spiritual lesson. But I have to qualify my statement. While it IS used as a parable, it involved an actual family. Verse 11 says, “And Jesus said, A CERTAIN man had two sons.” There was an actual man – a certain man – who had two sons. So he also had at some point a wife. He may...

The Collision of Grace and Justice – Psalm 85:1-13

We have had so many topical messages lately that I decided to return to an expository lesson today. The Lord blessed in my study yesterday, so I am quite certain it is the Lord’s will for us. I’d like to slowly journey through these thirteen verses and offer one explanation of what they say. Since this is primarily devotional material, not historical or doctrinal, I’m aware that it might be open to various interpretations. But with the Lord’s blessings and with a particular object in mind, you are going to hear my understanding. I will begin by pointing out that Bible scholars are divided about who and when this Psalm was written. Spurgeon, in his exhaustive “Treasury of David” said that he thought it was David, the son of Jesse. But I’m of the opinion that David usually identified those Psalms which were his. Without a specific preface no one can be certain, leaving the field wide open to simpletons like me. Maybe its because we recently spent so much time in Nehemiah, but that is where my heart leads me. Verses 1-7. In the first seven verses the Psalmist looks behind him and then around him. He rejoices in God’s recent blessings, while recognizing that he and his neighbors are still standing in jeopardy – they are still sinners and in the hands of an angry God. And that leads him into a little expostulating with the Lord. “Expostulation” is a word most of us generally understand, but rarely can define. It is old and somewhat obsolete. It means to “earnestly discuss or examine something with the hope...

Hell, the Mirror of Heaven – Revelation 20

  Through the years, our church has had members who did not quite see eye-to-eye with their pastor. Usually that has not been a major problem. Probably only my wife agrees with me – 90% of the time. I don’t force everyone to believe exactly the way that I do about the Bible. And in fact I will acknowledge that I might just be wrong about some things. But there have been some whom we had to discipline and remove because of serious disagreements. There are some doctrines which, because of the Bible, are not debatable. And when a member tries to corrupt others with their unbiblical opinions, something drastic must be done. For example years ago, we had to remove two long-time members. They had held to some relatively unimportant doctrines which are not taught by our church and which I had known about for nearly twenty-five years. But what I didn’t know is that they did not believe in a literal Hell. And what is worse, because of that – they accepted in some form of universalism – that Christ’s atonement provides salvation for every everyone. In other words, there is no NEED for Hell or the eternal Lake of Fire. Perhaps they granted God the right to annihilate the very wicked, but the relatively wicked and the man who simply dies in unbelief, would eventually come under God’s grace and be delivered from his sins. Despite the published doctrines of our church, members are going to believe what they want to believe. Perhaps it is just a part of the human psychology. It doesn’t matter what...

Wisdom and the Fool – Proverbs 17:7-28

If I called you a “fool” would you be angry with me? Even if you were, I might be more angry with myself than you would be. I would have to have lost my temper to call you a “fool.” It is not something I would ever do lightly or when I was in control of my emotions. With that point in the background, remember that Proverbs is one of the 5 Biblical “books of wisdom.” The others are Job, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and then some of the Psalms. There are no “books of foolishness” in the Bible, and yet the Bible is full of fools and foolishness. In contrast to wisdom is foolishness; in contradistinction to the sage, or wise man, is the fool. Proverbs gives us the word “fool” over 60 times, and it is found 7 times here in chapter 17. And curiously, there are 3 different Hebrew words translated “fool” in this chapter. “Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince” – v. 7. “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool” – v. 10. “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly” – v. 12. “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?” – v. 16. “He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy” – v. 21. “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of...

Appropriate Questions – Isaiah 45:1-13

Wednesday I said that when we are trying to evangelize, we should do our best to avoid superfluous questions. There IS an answer to the question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” but it doesn’t need to distract from our friend’s spiritual condition and his need of salvation. The man who asks, “Can God create a rock so big he can’t lift it,” or “How many angels can sit on the head of a pin,” is trying really hard to keep from hearing that he is a sinner who is in need of a Saviour. Table those questions about the rapture and Millennial Kingdom. Avoid all the questions you possibly can. But sometimes that man has legitimate doubts and problems which simply must be answered. The scripture we just read is extremely important, because in it God mentions a man – a foreign king – who had, at that time, not yet been born. It is another point of evidence, proving the divine nature of the Bible. Isaiah 45 was recorded about the year 712 BC, and its subject, Cyrus, is reintroduced to us in II Chronicles and Ezra 1 about 175 years LATER. This prophecy is not referring to any other man, but a future king of the Medes and Persians. But that is not really my subject for this morning. Cyrus was raised an idolater – most likely a polytheist – worshiping more than one imitation God. To that man God says, “I am the LORD – Jehovah – and there is no one else, there is no God beside me.” And Cyrus is told that Jehovah...

Distractions, Deviations and Divergencies – I Corinthians 15:51-58

We have just read the conclusion of Paul’s exposition of the doctrine of resurrection. This may have been the most controversial Christian doctrine of his day. The details of this doctrine are often debated in our day, but it was even more important in Paul’s. One of the major Jewish sects, the Sadducees, denied this doctrine entirely (Matthew 22:18). And even though the Pharisees believed in resurrection generally, they refused to accept the proof that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead, proving Himself to be the eternal Son of God. As I’ve pointed out before, nearly every sermon in the Book of Acts expressly declares Jesus’ resurrection, because it was such a hot topic. One of Paul’s conclusions here is – “if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” As I say, Jesus’ resurrection was under attack, and souls were in jeopardy as a result. So I Corinthians 15 – one of the longest chapters in any of Paul’s epistles – definitively teaches the importance of Christ’s resurrection – and our resurrection in Him. Then he concludes with a statement about the Christian life and doctrine in general – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye STEDFAST, UNMOVEABLE, always ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” One of the problems with American society is a lack of consistency. The media tries to tell us that the police are not consistent in their application of force and the law. Parents are not consistent and uniform in the raising...

Convinced – Acts 9:1-22

  This is the day in which most of Christendom celebrates the resurrection of Christ. I have no problem with celebrating Jesus’ resurrection, but I do have problems with the superstitious and unbiblical fashion which this celebration so often takes. Tradition should not be allowed to dictate to people what they believe – or how they should celebrate what they believe. Taking our cue from the Bible, I believe that it is wrong to confine our thoughts on this subject to just one day. The resurrection of Christ has been a part of the theme of every chapter and every sermon preached in the first eight chapters of the Book of Acts. It is at the core of Christianity, and it was the reason the disciples gave their lives for Jesus’ sake. With Christ’s resurrection the disciples had hope, and without that resurrection they had nothing. If those Apostles were in the world today, I’m not sure whether they would laugh or cry, watching people walking into their fancy churches wearing their fancy hats on Easter Sunday, especially if they knew that those people hadn’t been to church in three months or a year. I believe that Easter Bunnies and painted eggs are an abomination when laid along side Jesus’ resurrection. And then there is the Biblical fact that the Lord Jesus didn’t arise from the grave on Sunday morning, Easter morning, or any other morning. When the ladies came to Joseph’s tomb at the break of the Lord’s day morning, it was already empty. Christ Jesus prophesied that he’d be three days and three nights in that tomb....

The Source of this Violence – Jeremiah 7:1-11

My Sunday sermons are not usually motivated by news headlines, but I’m going to make an exception today. Many of you have heard that in Boulder Colorado, last Monday, a man gunned down and killed 10 people. Boulder is about 15 miles, as the crow flies, from the town of Erie, where Molly Kjeldgaard/Pierson lives, and where Shelly Mueller and the boys were visiting just a couple weeks ago. Boulder is about 35 miles from Loveland and about 50 miles from Fort Collins where the Roberts live. Taylor and the Morenos live just a stone’s throw from where that tragic shooting took place. 10 people died – people from 20 years old to 65 – involving just about every age group. One victim was a police officer, someone well-trained to protect himself, and yet he is dead. Anyone – absolutely anyone – could be gunned down by some sin-crazed murderer at any time. “Ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” In one of the articles I read about the shooting, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “This is absolutely baffling.” And therein is my theme for this message. This is NOT absolutely baffling. It is to be expected. It has become common place. If we insist on flying flags at half-mast for such shootings, we might as well leave them down permanently. The Boulder shooting took place on Monday, May 22. In the six days before that tragedy, there were 8 other mass shootings in this country. On...

The Jew’s Greatest Advantage – Romans 3:1-2

Paul had just lambasted the Jews for their hypocrisy and heresy. He knew, from experience, how they highly esteemed their ancestry, and their rites and ceremonies. But for the most part, when it came to spiritual realities they were empty husks. “Ye CANNOT serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.” And once again God was in the process of consumption. But in the light of that, does it mean that there were no advantages to being a Jew? There were, and have always been, blessings and advantages to being members of God’s chosen nation. And the first of them all was their possession of the oracles of God. Perhaps among the Greeks, the word “oracle” might have had superstitious importance, but as Paul was using the word, it didn’t. The only thing that he was saying was that to Israel was given the revelation of God – the Word of God. And in Paul’s day that made Israel very, very special. But today that significance has dissolved away to a great degree. There is not a person in North America, today, who doesn’t have the opportunity to possess more of the Word of God than the Jews had in Paul’s day. That doesn’t mean that the same privilege is to be found universally around the world, but in the area of revelation there is no advantage...

Ye Cannot Serve the Lord (this way) – Joshua 24:19-21

The other day, one of the members came to me, asking why Joshua said in v.19, “Ye cannot serve the Lord.” I hope that you’ll always feel free to bring me your questions. I promise never to make fun of you – or ridicule you for something I think that you should already know. And I cannot guarantee that I’ll have an answer. I may have to study the question first. And sometimes, even then, I’ll have to admit I don’t have the answer. I hope it doesn’t discourage you to hear that I’m not the fountain of knowledge that you deserve as your pastor. Keep asking your questions, if for no other reason but that it helps ME to grow. Sometimes your queries lead to other queries and even to other subjects and answers. And that is the case with that question from last week. Why did Joshua say, “Ye cannot serve the Lord”? The fact is – Joshua was trying to encourage those people to do just that – to serve the Lord. Was this reverse psychology or some human mental trick? Of course not. Service toward the glory of God was Joshua’s purpose in this chapter. The glory of God was the purpose of his life of sacrifice and leadership. By this time he was nearing the time of his departure, and he wanted those people to keep on keeping on. But when the people said, “We will serve Jehovah” and “God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other Gods,” Joshua replied, “Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is an holy God;...

Chorazin, Capernaum and Coeur d’Alene – Matthew 11:16-24

  How important are the promises of the Lord to YOU personally? Obviously some people treat them like dirt, but to you they are much, much more. But are they like rubies and diamonds, or are they more like granite? There is a great deal of value in gold and diamonds, platinum and the trace minerals. But granite can be a very good thing as well. Granite is often quite beautiful stone, and, like the others, it can stand solid for a very long time. And, by the way, people are not as likely to try to steal granite, but they might diamonds and gold. Think about John 14. It is filled with wonderful promises from the Lord. We learn there about mansions in Heaven and about the second coming of the Saviour. We have promises in that chapter about prayer and about the ministry of the Comforter. There is a promise in John 14 about the abiding presence of the Lord. If John 14 was measured on your ten point Richter scale, what sort of reading would it give to you? Let me put it this way: do the promises of Christ mean as much to you as the promises of your friend. The promises of a loved one can be precious indeed, but they are only human promises. When Judy and I left New Mexico and moved to Post Falls, I promised her that we’d sell our travel trailer and buy a house. Well, we sold our trailer the first year that we were here, and we bought a house ten years later. I kept my promise,...

The Untoward Generation – Acts 2:22-41

We are being told these days that unless we have a “G5 phone” we are antiquated – nearly dinosaurs. The “G” in “G5″ refers to the 5th GENERATION of cell phone – engineered, we are told, to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. I can remember way back in the spring of 2015 when the first G4 was brought out. I’m feeling old – more and more old all the time. There is other kind of talk about “generations” these days, and it has little to do with family genealogies. We have generations of phones and computers – and even groups of people. Perhaps you have heard of the people called “Generation X” or “Gen-X.” Do you know who belongs to that so-called “generation?” It includes people born between 1965 and 1980 – the “Gen-X” people are now 40 to 55 years old. I am a part of the “Baby Boomer Generation” because I was born in 1949. Who comes up with these terms? They don’t make a lot of sense. Take as a perfect example, the “Millennial Generation.” The “Millennials” had to be born at least 4 years before the close of the last millennium. Kids born during the year 2000 are actually of the “Z Generation.” And following “Generation Z” comes the “Generation Alpha.” I would think that the FIRST letter of the Greek alphabet would come before, not after, the LAST letter of the English alphabet. “Alpha” should precede “Zed.” Again I ask you, who comes up with these ridiculous designations? They certainly don’t come out of the Word of God. But in...

Surprise! You are in Heaven! – I John 5:10-20

  Let’s say that some friends of yours has paid for you to go to a fancy restaurant with your spouse. This is a very nice, highly recommended, place to which you had never been before. Let’s make it an ethnic restaurant where nothing on the menu was familiar to you. In fact, it’s so ethnic you can’t read the menu because it is written in some really obscure language. What is the likelihood of you enjoying your meal, if you just told the waiter, “I have $50.00; bring me the best that my money can buy?” Do you like surprises in restaurant dining? Or how about going to a car dealer and telling the salesman: “I’m going to have to borrow a lot of money anyway, so it doesn’t matter what your cars costs. You pick one for me, and I’ll sign the papers right now. You fill in the blanks and deliver whatever you like to my house tomorrow morning.” Does anyone like surprises when it comes to buying new cars? Would it be a good Sunday if when you got home, you found your house had burnt down? Would you over-joyed if you left the building this morning you found a flat tire on your car, and when you opened your trunk, you discovered that your spare was flat as well? Have you ever gone to the store to buy some large, essential item, and your credit card was denied? When it comes to the important things in life we don’t want surprises. We like to be in control, or at the very least to think...

Is it an Elephant or is it Salvation? – Isaiah 12:1-6

If you’ve never heard the ancient Indian story about the blind men and the elephant, I will correct your lack of education right now. A group of blind men were told that a strange animal, called an “elephant,” had been brought to their town. Not only had they never seen and elephant, but they had never even heard of one. Out of curiosity, they said: “We would like to investigate this creature.” So, they sought it out, and when they found it they put their hands and fingers on it, while the patient elephant permitted their investigation. The first man, putting his hand landed on the trunk, said, “This elephant is nothing new, it is only a thick snake.” One of the others first grabbed its ear, declaring that it seemed like a kind of leaf fan. A third man, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar – like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its belly said the elephant is a wall. Another who felt its tail, describing it as a rope. And the last man felt its tusk, and declared that an elephant is hard and smooth like a spear. Of course they were all correct – or at least they were partially correct. Without intending to do so, over the last month, I’ve lead you to touch God’s salvation in different ways. Several messages have interlocked with our Sunday School lessons giving us a blind theologian’s view of salvation. In our 10:00 class we have been looking at various doctrinal aspects of salvation – grace, justification, atonement,...

Salvation is My God – Luke 2:25-30

As you might surmise, I am still building on a message which started two weeks ago. When Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus into the temple to give Him to Jehovah, Simeon was there to greet them. He had been looking for the “consolation of Israel” – the comfort which would come through the Messiah. This may be a reference to Isaiah 40 which begins, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” Simeon could see that Jerusalem indeed had received the Lord’s judgment for her sins. But let’s go on and read the next few verses in Isaiah 40. Verse 3 says, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the GLORY of the LORD shall be REVEALED, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” I have no doubt whatsoever that the consolation Simeon was seeking, he knew, was to be found in Christ. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” At that point, as we have...