Month: April 2017

The Center of Redemptive History Creates in us a New Creature. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

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The Center of Redemptive History Creates in Us a New Creature

2 Corinthians 5:16–21

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

21 What kind of cosmic action did it take for God the Father to make God the Son sin for us?  What kind of submission by the Son did it take for him to take on and become our sin before the Father?   The acceptance of God the Father was the only one who mattered.  Jesus did not die to bring the mob to accept Himself. Jesus knew that they would reject Him.  No, Jesus died to become our sin and to take the payment of our sin before the Holy Father.

16 Paul’s former knowledge of Christ would have been his life as a Pharisee where he knew Christ and rejected him. Here Paul is alluding to his former view of Jesus as a blasphemer, whose following he had sought to destroy.

 

For this One Paul, having died to his former life, now lives, in obedience to his apostolic calling.  This is the One he “now knows” and whom, by inference, he calls upon his readers to know.

 

17 “if any in Christ new creation – six words, a memorable text of unsurpassed power in the writings of Paul.   In the second sentence the subject of both parts is “the old (things).” The verbs in the two parts are significant.

In the first “passed away” is aorist, indicating a single action, now completed, pointing to the end of the former dispensation, and to the end of the former life of the person who is now in Christ.

In the second “become” is a perfect tense, indicating a past action with continuing effects. The triumphant “look” followed by the perfect tense (“become”) and the antonym “new” combines to make the impressive statement, “behold, (look) the old things have become and are new.”

 

5:17 “if” This is another FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL sentence (like those in vv. 13 and 16.)

“in Christ” This is one of Paul’s favorite metaphors to describe the Christian. It speaks of our position in Christ.

   

 

NASB

 

“new creature”

 

NKJV, NRSV, NJB, NIV

 

“new creation”

 

TEV

 

“new being”

 

The term ktisis is used in a variety of senses in the NT. The lexicon by Louw and Nida lists the following possibilities.

  1. creation (the act of creation, cf. Mark 13:19; Rom. 1:20; Eph. 3:9)
  2. creature (that which is created alive, cf. Mark 10:6; Rom. 1:25; 8:39; Col. 1:15; 23)
  3. universe (all that was created, cf. Mark 13:19; Rom. 8:20; Heb. 9:11)
  4. institution (cf. 1 Pet. 2:13)
  5. authority (cf. 1 Pet. 2:13)

“the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” Notice the purposeful interchange of verb tenses.

  1. “old things passed away” This is AORIST tense and it refers to a completed act in past time. This refers to conversion.
  2. “new things have come” This is PERFECT tense which refers to a past completed act with abiding results. This refers to discipleship.

 

This concept of “new” is part of OT terminology for the eschaton. The OT prophets spoke of this new age.

  1. “new things” (cf. Isa. 42:9; 43:19; Jer. 31:22)
  2. “new covenant” (cf. Jer. 31:31–34)
  3. “new heart, new spirit” (Ezek. 11:19; 18:31; 36:26)
  4. “new name” (cf. Isa. 62:2; 56:5; 65:15)
  5. “new song” (cf. Ps. 96:1; Isa. 42:10)
  6. “new heavens and new earth” (cf. Isa. 65:17; 66:22)

 

The two sentences together emphasize the eschatological centrality of Christ. “In Christ” the old ends and the new – a new creation – begins.  But this eschatological centrality is tightly connected with the soteriological centrality of Christ. Christ is the “one” who “died and was raised for all,” the “one” in and for whom “all” who have “died” now “live.” The crucified and risen Christ is the divine agent of universal salvation, the divider of history into two aeons and “no longer” aeon when all things were “old” and the “now” aeon when all things have become, and are, “new.”

 

‘Old things have passed away and, look, new things have come into being.’ His meaning is that for the Christian the present world remains visible but is in principle a thing of the past.  ‘Passed away’ translates a Greek verb signifying the replacement of something that is exhausted and redundant by that which retains its freshness and usefulness

 

Subjectively, this verse summarizes the changes in Paul’s own life.

  1. Love for others is now his controlling motive in place of self-interest, v. 14, which he had expressed in zealous persecution.
  2. Serving the one who had died and been raised for him has taken the place of self-centered living, v. 15.
  3. True understanding of Christ and of his people has replaced ignorance and error, v. 16.
  4. The Creator who once said, “Let there be light,” has more recently shone his light into Paul’s darkened heart, making him a new creation 4:6.
  5. The subjective personal revelation, experienced “now,” is the sign of the objective “new creation” to be revealed then.

Paul Barnett, NICNT, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Eerdmans, 1997

No longer does Paul regard his Savior as a ‘man of sorrows,’ a fit target for ridicule.  ‘Yet now’ is strong: because there has been an irreversible reversal, so to speak, in the apostle’s thinking he expounds the Lord as ‘Christ’, the divine Messiah rather than simply as ‘Jesus.’

 

An altered appreciation of the Savior has led to a revised estimate of those who follow Him. The Lord has chosen many who appear to be nonentities so that no man might boast in His presence. 1 Cor 1:27-28. In short, Paul has purposed to know no man in a worldly manner, the way in which he contemplates Jesus determining how he casts his eyes upon the church.  What the saints are in God’s sight is all that matters and truth is that they are ‘in Christ’ v. 17. No one is higher and no one is lower.  Through the lens of the gospel we are all new creatures in Christ not again to be known as we were in the flesh but as who we are in Christ.

 

The central idea of the new creation is that the believer is a component of the new order into which redemption leads, ‘new’ in ‘new creation’ signifying fulfillment.  Although the church awaits the appearance of the Savior, as indicated powerfully in the earlier part of chapter 5, a co-ordinate reality is that the age to come has already penetrated the present system and has done so in the persons of Christian peopleWe are, as it were, invaders in a doomed territory, simultaneously sounding the death-knell for the old and ringing in the new.  Peter Naylor, A Study Commentary on 2 Corinthians, Evangelical Press, 2002

 

Paul testifies of new ways of knowing that is “now” possible.  Christ is thus the divider of history; the one who is “in Christ” who has died and been raised, belongs to the “new creation” and in consequence is a “new creation.”

Paul and believers generally are encapsulated within the two great elements in the gospel, Christ’s death and resurrection. Therefore anyone who is in Christ is “now” part of the new creation. Christ has overwhelming universal and eschatological significance for those who are “in him” providing Paul with a foundation for all that he will say in the passage following (5:18 – 6:2).

We were all “in the flesh” before Jesus came into our lives.  Paul’s knowledge of Christ before Christ came into his life was different than the Jesus he knew after Christ came into his life.  Prior to conversion the only Jesus Paul knew was the one of the flesh, that is, the Christ talked about who lived and died in Paul’s lifetime. After salvation, Paul knew Christ according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.  The Christ Paul came to know was so much different from the Christ he knew before salvation.  After salvation, Paul did not know Christ according to, or in, the flesh any longer.

So it is with all believers.  Before Christ comes into our lives we are only in the flesh and can only be known as fleshly people.  We dwell in the flesh, live amongst those of the flesh, and have no spiritual understanding.  When Christ comes into our lives He quickens, makes alive, our spiritual being that died in the Garden.  We suddenly find ourselves understanding things we never understood, liking new music centered on Christ, enjoying other Christian people, wanting to be involved in spiritual activities and so on.  We do not know each other according to our flesh any more, thankfully, but we now know each other according to the indwelling, life-giving Spirit of God.  Therefore, we are new creatures!  Who we were has passed away.

Romans 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Redemption allows believers to view all of life and history in a new Christ-centered light. Human history turns into salvation history. Israel’s history must be understood in light of Him![1]

5:18 “Now all these things are from God” It is God’s love that sent the Son into the world (cf. John 3:16). Salvation is totally from God (cf. John 6:44, 65; Eph. 2:8–9), but believers must respond and continue to respond to the new covenant in repentance, faith, and good works (cf. Mark 1:15; John 1:12; Acts 20:21; Eph. 2:10).

“reconciled” This is a major theological truth. The word basically means to exchange or change and thereby to bring together that which was alienated. Rebellious humans have been brought back into fellowship with God through Christ. God exchanged Christ’s righteousness (cf. v. 21) for their sin. Christ died in our place (cf. vv. 14, 21).

This context (vv. 16–21) and Rom. 5:10–11 are the definitive passages on this theological term. Sinners are now friends, even family, with the Holy One. Restoration of the fellowship damaged in the Fall (cf. Gen. 3) has been made complete in Christ.

“and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” Theologically this is parallel to vv. 14–15. Jesus became believers’ reconciliation, now they must become the means of sharing the gospel of reconciliation with others. Believers share in Jesus’ death and we share in His ministry (cf. v. 19). Christlike service is the goal (cf. 1 John. 3:16).[2]

 

“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” Isaiah 65:17, Paul is saying that the promises made by Isaiah and the rest of the prophets have already begun to be fulfilled.  There is more to come but the new creation has begun in us.

Through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, the cosmic event which is the culmination of all of redemptive history has come upon us. The new creation has broken into the present age and we experience it in the fact that God is writing his laws upon our hearts and we have come to acknowledge the Lordship of the coming Davidic King.

  • Tell the story of creation, the Fall, sin’s way, God’s way, God’s promise – John 1:29, “It is Finished, Pentecost, the growth of the church leading to the eternal home of the redeemed. Thus, the pinnacle of history was Calvary and the resurrection.  We are made new because of this pinnacle in history.
  • Ultimately, although we were dead in trespasses and sins, we have now been raised from the dead and given new spiritual life so that we no longer evaluate things according to the standards of the old fallen world order.

 

POSTED BY STEVE GALT

  • The cross of Christ and His subsequent resurrection truly was the center of the greatest change the world has ever known. We do not glibly say that the resurrection changed everything for indeed it did!  From Adam to Christ man was separated from God and spiritually dead to God.  From Christ forward men and women could be brought back to spiritual life in Christ with full understanding of the difference.  Jesus Christ came to make all things new and in Him we are new creatures.
  • Revelation 21:5 begins with our salvation and continues, at the end of this age when we – new creatures in Christ – are propelled into our new eternity.

 

Ellicott’s Commentary

The old things of his life, Jewish expectations of a Jewish kingdom, millenial dreams, heathen philosophies, lower aims, earthly standards—these things, in idea at least, passed away from him at the time when he was united with Christ. We may trace an echo of words of Isaiah’s that may have floated in the Apostle’s memory: “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I make new things” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

 

AN IMPOSSIBILITY MADE POSSIBLE – MacLaren

  1. The unchangeableness of character, especially of faults. Jeremiah 13:23.
  2. The great hope for individual renewal. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
  3. The completion in a perfectly renewed creation. Revelation 21:5.

 

Application:

  1. Those of us who have come to Christ know how lost we were apart from Him.
    1. You would not have wanted to know me and I would not have wanted to know you. Sin had corrupted our flesh and all who knew us in that condition would have seen areas of our lives that were not desirable.
    2. In that condition, we did not know Jesus Christ other than at Christmas, at Easter and in swear words. We might have known about Jesus but we certainly did not know Him and had no real desire to do so.  ( I wanted to be with friends, be with girls, go to parties where the parents weren’t home, smoke, steal, and act like everyone else I knew.)  Jesus Christ was nice to consider but while I was in my fleshly life I certainly did not know Him.
    3. In that fleshly condition, hanging out with Christians was not something we longed to do. We did not want to hear their preaching, and their goodness was convicting.  If someone we knew really got “saved” they were someone to make fun of and to avoid.  We did not want to know Christians in the flesh.
    4. Although going to hell wasn’t something we wanted, being a real Christian was even less desirable. We were trapped in the flesh with no desire and no way to get to a holy God.  (For me, I knew all of the answers in my head but my heart was cold and rebellious to God.  I was deceived on the one hand was a deceiver on the other.)

 

  1. When we heard the call of Jesus in our soul and under conviction of sin called out for mercy, God both saved us and made us new creatures to live new lives in Him.
    1. Before salvation I could only look at true Christians with both wonder and ignorance. How could anyone really be like that?  I certainly couldn’t; until the Lord Jesus came in and changed my life putting His desires, His loves, and His hates into me.
    2. Suddenly, I hated who I was before. I grieved over the people I had sinned with and sinned against and sought to make things right with as many as I could. (They now thought I was the crazy one.)
    3. In an instant of time I wanted to follow my new Lord and not my old flesh. And while the transition took some time and is still happening to this day, my life no longer reflects who I was before Christ came in.
    4. Now, I know Christ in the Spirit. His Spirit is in me and communicates with my spirit confirming truth and dispelling doubts and fears.  I now know Christ as His new creation and do so with joy.
    5. Now I know other believers in the Spirit. Those whom I avoided before are now my brothers and sister, my best friends in this life.  We no longer know each other in the sinfulness of our flesh, thankfully, instead we know each other in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and the joy of the Lord.
    6. Being one with Christ I am now one with all who are Christ’s who share His Holy Spirit with me. We have instant communion, instant friendship, and instant shared worship of our Saving Lord.

 

  1. We now see life totally different. We see those around us as we used to be and desire to see them reconciled to God as we now are.
    1. The God who saved us by reconciling us to Himself now works through us to bring the message of reconciliation to someone else.
      1. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. v. 18
      2. We have been made ambassadors of God. v. 20
    2. Christ, the center of time and the center of salvation history, is in us, we are in Him. He who came to seek and save those who are lost wants to use our arms, our legs, our hands, our mouths, our eyes, and our ears to see those separated from Him, go to them, give them His love, and speak to them of His reconciliation.
    3. We are not saved just to go to heaven. Whoever sold you that bill of goods did not understand the purpose of salvation.  We are saved to reconcile others to God the very way that we were reconciled to Him.
    4. The old me had no care for the lost around me, not really. I didn’t want my friends to go to hell but I didn’t want to change so they would.  The new me, the new creature in Christ, sees everyone differently.  Christ looks through my eyes and tells me to care for this one or for that one.  He called me and you to be ministers of His reconciliation.

 

If you are in Christ today then you are a new creature.  Old things are passing away and all things in your life are continually becoming new.  The old man of sin is no longer in control and the new man, made alive by the Spirit of Christ, is in control as your new Lord.

The question here is not “are you saved?”  The question here is not “are you a church member or have you been baptized?”

The question today is this plain and simple,

  • “Are you a new creation with Christ within?”
  • Has your cold heart of sin been replaced with a new heart of flesh?
  • Are you on your way to heaven because you have a part of heaven already in you?
  • Are you a new creation having been made new by the person of Jesus Christ within your heart and life?

 

If you answer “yes” to this question, then are committed to the ministry of reconciling others to the Jesus who has reconciled you?  If you are a new creation who has been reconciled to God then the blood flowing through your veins and the impulses pushing through your brain should care that those you know and those you don’t know become this new creation by being reconciled to God.

Are you a new creation, reconciled to God?

[2] Utley, R. J. (2002). Paul’s Letters to a Troubled Church: I and II Corinthians (Vol. Volume 6, pp. 241–242). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

Motivated by Fear, Captivated by Love 2 Corinthians 5:9-15

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2 Corinthians 5:9-15 address the Christians coming judgment for their works, the fear of God that leads to service and worship, as well as the captivating love of God for us that drives us.   Pastor Steve leads us into Paul’s teaching of how because of a healthy fear of God we use our talents for His kingdom and because of God’s grace-filled love for us we are bound to serve His kingdom for His glory.

 

New creatures for greater fellowship

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2 Corinthians 5:15–17

15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
In liking one verse we often miss the verse before it and thus the primary lesson of the verse.  Thus it is with today’s passage.  Bear with me.  Jesus died for all and those who live for Him no longer live for themselves but for Him.  Because of this, we who have had the blood of Christ applied to us do not know each other in our sinful and fleshly state.  You see, the Apostles, after the resurrection, never knew Christ in His earthly flesh again but in a new body.  He had died for all and to sin.  Because of this anyone who is in Christ is, like Him, a new creation.  Since Jesus’ resurrection, all who are in Him know what it means to have the old man pass away and the new man come to live within.

When we gather as believers in Christ we gather in the new life, not in the old.  We gather in the Holy Spirit not in the spirit of this life.  We gather as new creations, new living bodies, in Christ.

We take verse 17 as a proof text for being a new creature in Christ and it does teach that.  But in its context it teaches us that all of us who are in Christ know each other in Him and not in the old men and women that we were.  Our fellowship is because of Jesus and His new, resurrected life in us.  We don’t enjoy talking about our sinful past.  We don’t enjoy talking about the values of this world for our conversations regularly come to Christ and our lives in Him.

Have you known professing believers with whom you have never talked about their new life in Christ?  Are they really in Him?  For if Jesus is the basis of our new lives together then He should be the center of our conversations and fellowship.  We are new creatures together in Him who died for us.

This Sunday I will be speaking from this passage.  This devotional was sent in 2014 and is a good thought preparation for Sunday.  What a great passage we have to look forward to.

Caleb and Lindsey did arrive in Bangkok, Thailand, safe and sound.  They even ran into an airline employee whom Caleb trained to speak English.  That was a special encounter for them all.

Tonight is our monthly “Pastor’s Place” for the teens.  We have invited them all to come over from 6:00-9:00.  Bring outdoor wear if it is not raining.

Sunday morning during the 9:30 hour I am beginning the book, “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung.  After the meetings with the church family in my home I believe this study will be a great help get our lives busy with the right rhythm of life work and kingdom work.  I hope we pack out the East room for all who should be interested in this study.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

In the will of God

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Caleb and Lindsey with fam at Ohare

Psalm 37:23-24

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,

And He delights in his way.

24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;

For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Here we are at 10:30 last night at the O’hare International terminal saying goodbye to Caleb and Lindsey for a year.  They boarded their plane around midnight and flew out around 12:30.  It was a time mixed with great joy and grief.  The great joy comes from the heart that Caleb and Lindsey share to do the will of God wherever that Will takes them.  Our hearts overflow with joy to know that our son and his wife are stepping into an opportunity to live and share Christ with people who have never heard His name.

All Christian parents should wish this for their children.  Instead of chasing the illusive riches of this world they are chasing the eternal riches of heaven.  Their lives are set like an arrow toward the target of Thailand to see what God has for them in the Asian world.  We know this could be the full direction of their lives and therein lies the grief.  To be that far from family is not easy.  So we chose to focus on the joy of them following the clear will of God and in that we greatly rejoice.

We began praying for both Caleb and Lindsey (though we did not know her yet) when they were born.  We prayed they would come to know Christ and would seek His will for their lives.  Last night was an answer to that prayer.  The time of transition is both exciting and fearful.  Pray with us for them that God will show HImself near and open unique doors for them.  Pray for their safety and for wisdom in all of their steps.  Pray for Lindsey as she is the first of her family to live so far away from South Bend and for her mom.  Pray for them as they start their new job teaching English to Thai children.  Pray for unique and clear opportunities to tell them of Jesus.

 

Tonight is our regular prayer time.  Our church, our community, our country and our world needs our prayers.  We need the wisdom of God to build His church His way.  We are begging God for His wisdom and guidance. 

If you are sending your children to camp we are going to need registrations soon.  If you would like to sponsor a child for camp we have children and teens who needs sponsorship. 

Have a great day in the Lord ,
PS 

Christ is the Firstfruits of the Resurrection

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In this message from 1 Corinthians 15 Pastor Steve looks at how Christ became the firstfruits of our eternal resurrection both physically and spiritually. Come to understand how the resurrection of the Lord Jesus prepares us for our resurrection.

 

Be not doubting, like Thomas

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John 20

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

How would you like to be remembered as “doubting Thomas”?  He missed the first appearance of the Lord to the disciples.  We don’t know why, he just wasn’t there.  Furthermore, despite the testimony of the others who did see the risen Jesus, Thomas boldly proclaimed that unless he put his own fingers into the holes in Christ’s hands and thrust his own hand into the wound in the Savior’s side, he wasn’t going to believe the Christ was alive.

John 20:24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

 

Thomas really did dig himself a hole of doubt and unbelief.  I cannot be too tough on poor Thomas though for I and each of us have been in the same place.  We were challenged to take a step of faith by someone who had already taken that step and found God faithful.  We resisted just not believing that the God who carried them would carry us.  We are really bad about this.  Perhaps we could call each other with the prefix “doubting” before our names.

 

The beauty of this transaction between the risen Lord Jesus and Thomas is this, in spite of Thomas’ doubting heart, Jesus appeared and gave Thomas the exact opportunity that he was demanding.  At that, Thomas believed.  When we doubt, the Lord does not turn away from us.  In love for us our Savior confirms His ability in a given situation and reaches beyond our doubt.

 

I don’t think Thomas ever doubted again.

 

Then Jesus said this to Thomas and also to us: ““Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  We are those who not having seen Jesus have believed.  Jesus said that we are blessed, that is, He blesses us with greater faith when we believe.  What is the Lord trying to get you to do for Him today and you are having a doubt fest?  What is keeping you back from doing what God wants you to do?  Are you expecting a personal visit from Christ or can you simply step out by faith knowing that He who has saved you eternally is quite capable of leading you in this temporary life?

 

Just a reminder, Steven and I have our concert with the Glee Club and the Voices of Hope choir this Sunday at 3:00.  Some of you have bought tickets already while others have expressed interest but haven’t gotten tickets yet.  Send me a note letting me know how many you want.  The theme of this concert is hope for people touched by cancer.  If you know anyone who has been touched by cancer we have a grant for free tickets for them.  Please let me know if you have someone interested in a free cancer survivor ticket.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

The Resurrection of Jesus Changes Everything

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John 20:19–21

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

The risen Christ continues to meet His followers and by doing so breathes hope into their lives. We have to notice the condition of the disciples here three days after the crucifixion: they were terrified! They were hiding in an upper room with the doors locked thinking that the Jews who killed Jesus were after them. And why would they think otherwise? From the arrest of Christ in the Garden they all fled in fear and were now gathered going over the details hardly believing all that had taken place. How could they make sense of any of this? One week earlier Jesus had rode the donkey into Jerusalem to the praise of the crowds. Four days earlier they disciples had observed the Passover with Jesus in full confidence of His plans for their lives. All of that now seemed like a distant shadow.

But then Jesus appeared! The door did not open, the wall did not break through; He just appeared. Not only did Jesus appear but also He talked to them immediately bringing their troubled hearts to peace. Then to prove that He was not just a ghost, Jesus called them to see and to touch His wounded hands and side. Oh what a difference Jesus makes in any situation. These men and women who were in total fear suddenly were at peace and were made glad. Nothing short of a resurrected Savior could bring such a change in hearts and lives of a fearful bunch. Suddenly their conversations about their assumed great loss was forgotten and a whole new life began to emerge. A new spirit filled the room when Jesus entered.

The risen Christ still changes the room when He enters. Today we hold Him outside by our fear and our unbelief. But when we bring Him in and seek His careful guidance then His Spirit enters and the whole atmosphere in the room changes. I have witnessed this in church meetings, in deacon meetings, in hospital rooms, in family meetings, and in counseling sessions. When we bring Jesus in, the resurrected Savior brings hope and peace that nothing else even comes close to bringing. Share with the disciples in the joy of the risen Jesus.

This Sunday Caleb and Lindsey will be with un the morning service. They are leaving for Thailand on Tuesday and will be gone for a year. We will be taking a special offering to help them in this mission endeavor. Pray about what God would have you to give to help to meet their needs. This is a huge step of faith for Caleb and Lindsay and we can be a wonderful encouragement to them.

Tonight is our regular schedule of youth group, Kids4Truth, and adult prayer and Bible study. See you then.

Last night I was able to give the gospel to two men. Pray for their hearts to open to Christ.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Oh what a wonderful Resurrection Jesus brought

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John 20:11–18

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.

12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

It is nearly impossible for us to imagine this exchange between the risen Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Overcome with sorrow, Mary goes early to the tomb to grieve alone. Many of us have returned to the gravesite of a loved one just to be near them, to grieve privately, to air our sorrows. Mary did not go to the tomb expecting it to be empty, she came to spend a little more time with the One who loved her soul and saved her from her from her sin. But when she arrived the tomb stone was rolled back and the tomb was empty. Her grief increased thinking that someone had stolen the body of her Lord and so she begged the “gardener” for information.

We have been there, at some level. We have been at the funeral of a loved one struggling with why they had to die. The brutality of the death of Jesus, the senseless aggression to end His life would have exacerbated Mary’s grief. She just wanted to be near Him one more time.

Thus it is nearly impossible to fully understand her feelings. She speaks to a man pleading with him to tell her where the body is and the man calls her name, “Mary.” She knew that voice. She had heard it many times before. But she did not recognize the Man. Her Lord was beaten beyond recognition. His body was destroyed by the guards and the cross. This man was whole. He was in clean clothes. He had no indication of the horrific beating Jesus had endured just three days earlier. But she knew the voice was the most tender voice she had ever heard and as she looked up and looked into His eyes, she knew it was Jesus.

What would you have done? She embraced Jesus with tears of joy and then she ran and told the disciples that she had seen Him.   She became a strong witness of the Savior, and rightfully so, for she knew what she saw and heard. What a wonderful moment Mary had that day. John recorded this event for us to share in that moment and to enjoy it ourselves. Our Jesus lives! Our Jesus conquered both sin and death. Sin could not kill Him and the grave could not hold Him. Men could not restrain Him and the beating did not weaken Him. Jesus rose strong and triumphant over all of the effects of sin defeating Satan as predicted in Genesis 3. The Bible is true. God is God and salvation from sin was complete. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

We had a glorious Resurrection Sunday at Grace for Life. I am so thankful for all who participated to make that day one that exalted the resurrected Savior.   We sang of Jesus, we had readings as to His death and resurrection, we praised Him at the Lord’s Table and at the breakfast table. Thank you for coming to share in this great day with us and for taking part.

The tomb is empty,
He is Risen.

PS

The mind of Jesus while on the Cross

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Psalm 22

6     But I am a worm, and no man;

A reproach of men, and despised by the people.

7     All those who see Me ridicule Me;

They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

8     “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;

Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

9     But You are He who took Me out of the womb;

You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.

10   I was cast upon You from birth.

From My mother’s womb

You have been My God.

11   Be not far from Me,

For trouble is near;

For there is none to help.

12   Many bulls have surrounded Me;

Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.

13   They gape at Me with their mouths,

Like a raging and roaring lion.

14   I am poured out like water,

And all My bones are out of joint;

My heart is like wax;

It has melted within Me.

15   My strength is dried up like a potsherd,

And My tongue clings to My jaws;

You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16   For dogs have surrounded Me;

The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.

They pierced My hands and My feet;

17   I can count all My bones.

They look and stare at Me.

18   They divide My garments among them,

And for My clothing they cast lots.

It is difficult for us to understand prophecy given and prophecy fulfilled.  Here in Psalm 22, hundreds of years before Christ and even before the practice of crucifixion, the Psalmist portrays the crucified Lord Jesus Christ.  We read here about the unknowable misery of the Savior’s human body.  His suffering was physical, emotional and spiritual. He was rejected by man, by friends, and by God.  He was mocked and humiliated to the very core of who He was by those who denied everything about Him.

No one there that day knew what was taking place.  No one there knew that the Father was behind this stage and that He had arranged every player to accomplish His purposes.  But the Son took the full brunt of the Father’s wrath for our sins.  The Son took the full shame for all that we would do to shame the Father.  The Son received the blows of heart and mind that we deserved.  The Son, as predicted both here and in Isaiah 53, bore the anger of hell and earth as men and demons determined to make His last hours on earth the worst they could possibly be.

As we consider Good Friday, let us in no way minimize the crucifixion of Jesus.  Let us not pass this off with anything less than the full burden (at least as much as we can understand) that He bore for us.  Let our love for our Lord Jesus, the only Savior, the only Redeemer increase more and more as we consider His beautiful and horrible sacrifice so that we could  have peace with God through saving justification.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

If you can, join us at 7:00 tonight for a reminder of the work of Christ on our behalf.  Dave, Rob, Tom and myself will be bringing thoughts on the last hours of the life of Christ from the book of Matthew. 

We passed out many invitations in Naperville and at North Central College yesterday.  Pray that some people will come.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Christ in the Feasts

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  Dr. Roy Schwarz does an amazing job presenting the life and work of Christ from the Feasts from Leviticus 23. From a Jewish perspective we see the exact lining up of God’s required Feasts to His plan for our redemption.

Pray and Stand or Sleep and Fall

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Mark 14

37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?
38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words.
40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.
41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
In the hour of His greatest trial, the disciples of Jesus slept. When the greatest agony of His soul was wrestling with the eternal plan of God, the disciples of Jesus slept. When Jesus asked them to watch and to pray with Him, the disciples of Jesus slept. When Jesus warned them of their own need to pray in the face of pending temptation to forsake Him, the disciples of Jesus slept. And then, when Judas and the army came against Jesus, the disciples of Jesus, in weakness fled.

Can we ask ourselves a question here? How often does the Lord call us to pray and we sleep instead? How often does the God of heaven, who knows all things, know that we are about to face the greatest trial of our lives and instead of feeding the inner man we placate the outer man and give in to fleshly appetites?

Suppose the disciples had prayed with Jesus instead of sleeping? Their reactions may very well have played out differently. Having been strengthened in prayer with Christ they might have been ready to stay with Him and perhaps to have comforted Him throughout the next several hours of pain. But we will never know because they slept instead.

Oh, how many times have we missed the spiritual strength that we needed for a situation because we did not spend the time with the Lord that the situation required? How many prayer times have we missed because we were too tired or too hungry or just too busy to stop for prayer? Jesus, the Son of God, called these human disciples to pray. He knew they had a trial coming up which would need greater spiritual strength than they possessed. When the Lord calls us to pray, let us make sure we do not sleep.

I have put together an invitation for tomorrow night’s Good Friday service. Copy and paste it into your Facebook, email it to friends, or text it out. Let’s see if we can get some more people to join with us for Good Friday as we exalt the Crucifixion of our Savior.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Christ in the Garden

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Mark 14

32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”

35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Within Passion week Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, perhaps as He never prayed before. Jesus knew from the foundation of the world that He would be the sacrifice for our sins. He knew this would be a terrible time. Jesus also knew that this was the moment of man’s redemption. Hebrews says that Jesus looked past the moment to joy that was before Him.

And yet, Jesus prayed that if it were possible, if there were any other way for the will of the Father in redemption to be accomplished, let that happen instead. This might be hard for us to understand on this side of the Cross. And yet, there was Jesus on the front side of the Cross, in full knowledge of the cost of our forgiveness of sin, crying out for a potential plan B.

On this side of the Cross, we see the full attack on the Son of God and we are in awe of all that He endured to save sinners like us. On this side of the Cross we rejoice in Christ’s sacrifice of Himself to bring us to the Father. But on the other side of the Cross, Jesus, in all of His humanity, asked the Father if there were another way. Of course, there wasn’t and the Son again submitted to the Father’s will.

As we submit to God there will be times when His will is difficult. Again, we look to the Savior who understands all of our trials and we find both an example and strength.

 

I am looking forward to our Good Friday service. I trust you have set that time aside to remember the crucifixion of our Savior. We will have four ten minute presentations from four of us.

We need some more breakfast items for Sunday morning’s breakfast at church. If you did not get to the sign up sheet please text or contact Bobbi to let her know what you can bring. Thanks.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Jesus, our Omniscient Lord

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Mark 11

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”

So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?”

And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna!

‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10   Blessed is the kingdom of our father David

That comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest!”

As I read this passage Sunday morning I was struck again with the omnipotence of Jesus Christ. Here we see Jesus physically at the Mount of Olives instructing his disciples were to go to find a young colt that had never been ridden.  He tells them what to say to the owner when he comes out telling them that the owner is going to lend them the colt on those words.  They go and sure enough, there is the colt, right where Jesus said it was.  Then the owner comes out asking them why they are taking (today we would use the word ‘stealing’)  his colt.  When they tell him the words of Jesus the owner immediately tells them to take it.  Unless Jesus had arranged all of this ahead of time, which if He did the owner would have had the colt ready and not come out asking what was going on, He was demonstrating His full knowledge of all things.

Then the disciples bring the now borrowed colt to Jesus and Jesus gets on the colt.  Here we see the Lord’s omniscience over nature for the colt, which had never been ridden, accepted the weight and the control of Jesus.  Getting on a horse or a donkey for the first time is always a challenge.  This unbroken and untrained animal did not in any way resist the body of the omniscient Lord of all, who was also the Lord of him.

And then, as Jesus entered the city, filled with people there for the upcoming week of Passover, we also see His omnipotence for He knew that they would welcome Him as their King, and they did.  We remember Palm Sunday as the day when multitudes of people threw down palm branches in front of Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem, four days before He was crucified.  What if the people had rejected Him that day?  What if the Pharisees had arrested Him that day?  Jesus knew what would happen for it was all arranged thousands of years before.  Jesus, in the flesh, was also the omnipotent God.

Enjoy the world’s focus this week on Jesus. Talk to them about the Lord Jesus you know as your Savior and invite them to come to Him as their Savior and follow Him as their Lord.

We enjoyed Dr. Roy Schwarcz on Sunday.  What a great message he brought to us on Jesus in the Feasts of Israel.  I will post his message later today or tonight.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

What happens when we see God?

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 Isaiah 6:1–8

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”

4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.

7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”

8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

In this familiar passage I want to look at Isaiah for a moment. We usually look at God in this passage for He is the main character of the story. But Isaiah’s responses are notable. After the death of a great human king, God wanted Isaiah to see Him. So God opened the window of heaven for a moment and Isaiah saw the throne of God. This was an amazing sight to behold, one that defies human description. When Isaiah finds himself in the presence of God Almighty he said, “woe is me.” He was accustomed to standing before the king of Israel and giving his message but standing before God was a new and a humbling experience. All the prophet could say was, “woe is me.”

 

But then, something happened to Isaiah. God sent an angel with a coal from the alter of God. These coals were dripped with the blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth. As the angel touched Isaiah’s lips with this blood dripped coal, Isaiah was cleansed of his sin and realized that God had made him righteous by grace. Isaiah did nothing but receive the grace of God. This is a clear picture of our salvation. We do nothing, God initiates, God moves, and God touches us with His saving grace.

 

After this, Isaiah heard the voice of God but now there was a different affect on the prophet. Now, instead of fear, the redeemed prophet heard the call of God. And now, with a new heart, Isaiah is not shuddering in fear but is telling God that he is ready to be sent.

 

Is this not a beautiful picture of what salvation should do for each of us? We are afraid of God until He reaches out by His grace and saves us. Knowing we are saved we hear the call of God to tell others of this amazing grace. The voice that used to incite fear now brings us to loving submission and our only words should be “here am I, Lord, send me.”

 

It is Friday. Where has this week gone? I have mentioned Sunday’s guest, Roy Schwarz, a Christ following Jew who will present Christ to us with clarity and a thrill that only a redeemed Jew can. You don’t want to miss this Palm Sunday message.

 

Sunday afternoon is our last small group church meeting. If you have not made it to one this is your last opportunity. It starts at 4:00 at my house and will be over at 5:30.

 

There is a VBS meeting for all volunteers following the morning service on Sunday. Plan to stay for a few minutes as we introduce this year’s theme and give you opportunities to sign up.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Only God’s word bring us truth to follow

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1 Timothy 4

If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

Paul had given Timothy quite a bit of instruction.  As we read the letters to Timothy we find Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, teaching Timothy to be an effective minister of Jesus Christ.  In one sense, we are all ministers of Christ.  The word for minister is the word we get our English word ‘deacon’ from, which simply means ‘servant.’  So yes, we are all servants, ministers of Jesus Christ.

What I want to notice today, as a continuing thought from yesterday, is that Paul wanted Timothy to be faithful to the word of God. Notice these instructions: “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine.” The words of faith and the good doctrine are nothing less than the written word of God.  Isaiah gave the people the very word of God.  Paul gave Timothy the very word of God and then told him to be nourished in it and to practice its good doctrine.

My friends, stay close to the Word of God.  It keeps us from mistakes and from errors and from sin.  When error creeps into our lives we have the word of God to enable us to reject the “old wives’ fables.”  False teaching abounded in Paul’s day and abounds today.  Stay close to the word of God to avoid it.  In fact, Paul told Timothy, and us, to exercise ourselves toward godliness according to the word of God.

Stay close to God’s word.  Exercise yourself in it. Trust it.  Submit to it.  It is indeed the very words of God for us all.

This Sunday evening, Pray Naperville is sponsoring a night of prayer and praise.  It is being hosted by the Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Naperville.  The program starts at 6:00 and will be two hours of music, testimony and prayer.  All Christians will be blessed by this night or prayer and praise.  Join us.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS