Category Archives: Sermon

Family Ties — Sunday’s Sermon

(I posted the opening illustration to Sunday’s sermon in the post before this one and several asked for the sermon in it’s entirety. I’m too tired to try and make it presentable, so you are getting it in note form. There should be enough there for you to fill in the gaps. It’s taken from Hebrews 2:10-13).

For it was fitting for Him… simple words.. but so true. It was fitting for Him b/c He was God’s Son, b/c He was a man, b/c He was crowned with glory and honor, b/c He might taste death for everyone.

He was the only One fit for doing what He did. Christ alone, accomplishes this…

Need reminder… tend to think we can do it once we are “in Christ.” Fool ourselves into thinking: “Yes, I’m in Christ, now I can take over and do the rest.” We will see that this is NOT true… It is Christ alone.

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one…

Even He is sanctifying us… Christ alone… this is why it was fitting for Him to do what He did. His death was successful… He set out to achieve a purpose and He did accomplish that purpose… no more need for wonder… salvation is accomplished in Christ.

Christ is fit to be our Savior

This is why writer attributes to Him deity status when He writes: for whom are all things and by whom are all things… This is a statement that can only be made about God. Only God holds all things together… Only God holds all things together. This points to His sovereignty once again… need to be reminded that nothing comes to pass without His decree being fulfilled.

When His decreed will is fulfilled, we can take comfort in that which comes to pass, knowing that for some reason, God wanted these things to fall out as they have. God is ordering all events to unwind as they do. We may not understand the events, or control them, but we can control our reactions to them. But we see Jesus… (9) looking unto Jesus (12:2) therefore trusting in Our God, Jesus Christ…

What is His purpose here?

V. 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Christ leads His children into The family.

Bringing sons to glory – salvation open to all. Makes us a family… brings us together in a way that was impossible before Christ.

Adoption… WCF only confession that deals with adoption… being adopted into the family. Eph. 1:4-5 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that (purpose) we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.

Ordo salutis… order of salvation: effectual calling, regeneration, faith, repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, glorification. All happening simultaneously… but the order helps us understand what takes place… key here is adoption.

Jesus sets out to bring us into the family.. we are in the family.. as rightful heirs by way of adoption…He knew what we were… and still adopted us… have all the rights and privileges as the any other child… (Why do adopted children look for original parents??? Your parents are those that adopted you… not a second-class child. No second-class citizens in the family of God).

How did He bring us into the family?

Through His leadership and sufferingin bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Through His sufferings He accomplished our redemption. He took on our sins… making Him the captain of (our) salvation… He is going ahead of us in bringing about salvation.

(Good Shepherd) John 10:3-4 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

He is the captain of our salvation in that He leads us in our salvation. He is not One to leave us alone, but goes on ahead of us to help us and comfort us. (Not like the Imams of Islam that are encouraging their young men to blow themselves up… while they remain comfortably in their mosques.)

Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Just as God brought Moses and Joshua to deliver the people of Israel to the promise land, so too does He provide His incarnate Son to deliver us safely into the enjoyment of salvation. He does the work… not striving in order to find the Father’s good pleasure, we find it because we are in the One who has found it…

O the freedom this is… think of our strivings for perfection in this fallen world, and when it comes to the one area where we need to strive the most, yet have the least amount of ability… He provides for us… He has given it to us!

Not only captain, but He also suffered.

Suffered pains of death… for us… substitutionary atonement. Given righteousness apart from ours… take on our sins for us… by His sufferings, He pays our debts. This is why He is author and finisher of our faith.

BTW, notice His form of leadership… through humility and suffering… not something you will find in the board room of a Fortune 500 company.

Problem

to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings

Term perfect in Hebrews is to be understood as achieving the highest goal. It does not mean that He was less than perfect and become perfect. He was already without spot or blemish…

In the context of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the term to make perfect signifies that Jesus removed the sins of his people from the presence of God and thus His sacrificial death on the cross consecrated the ‘many sons.’

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Christ not only leads His children into the family, but He also sanctifies His family.

Christ sanctifies His family.

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.

What is sanctification?

This is at the heart of so much understanding in Christian circles… what is it? WCF, LC answers it this way:

Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

Christ is doing the work in making us holy, and we follow in obedience for we know that this process of becoming holy is not a one-time event, but a life-long event. “The path of sanctification lies in obedience to doing God’s will, and that obedience is out of gratitude.”

In Christ, we cannot lose our holiness, but we can soil it. When we sin, we soil that which God is doing in us, and this, of course, bring the necessity for repentance. We repent and Jesus Christ stands ready to make us clean. He is doing the work to cleanse us, and we are willingly accepting that work upon us.

There is a lot of confusion on this issue, for many feel that there are two different levels of sanctification, one for those who are really filled with the holy spirit, thereby they enter into full time-ministry or go over seas, and then the rest of us… who just barely get into heaven.

What is taking place here is confusing indicative and imperatives.

Imperative: Girls: stop living with your boyfriend. That’s imperative.

The appeal here is to the indicative. Paul asks: How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Not invited to die to sin… or to a higher level… We are invited to live in gratitude of who we are, therefore we quit living in sin.

The believer has died, is buried, is raised, is seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and so on. These are not plateaus for victorious Christians who have surrendered all, but realities for every believer regardless of how small one’s faith or how weak one’s repentance… Thus, we must stop trying to convert believers into these realities by imperatives: “Do this,” “Confess that,” “Follow these steps,” and so on. Union with Christ ushers us into conversion and conversion ushers us immediately into all of these realities so that, as Sinclair Ferguson writes; ‘The determining fact of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ’s past.’”

Therefore we are to live as we are, not as we use to be… and in the process He cleanses us… How?

Ephesians 5:26 … that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word…

Paul is speaking of Christ’s bride, therefore Christ is going to do what is best for His bride… cleanse her…

The indicative also helps us understand the reality of who we are as believers. We are those who have been set apart by God, to live under His domain in the world, being rescued from the domain of Satan and his power. This frees us up to enjoy the fellowship and freedom we have in serving Christ in every realm of our existence. While others are still under the darkness of Satan’s rule, Christ has freed the believer for special fellowship and service. This does lead to the imperative.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Let us live in light of the reality of who we are: God’s servants.

Yet, the writer here is not telling us to do anything, but helping us see the wonderful position we have in Christ. This is why He sanctifies us. Jesus is set apart and holy. This is who He is. Since we then belong to Him, He is making us more like Himself.

Why?

Because we are one.

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.

This speaks of our union with Christ. When we believe, we are grafted into the vine through conversion and baptism. We are made a part of the vine, of which, we are never to separate ourselves.

Only those, out of a love for the pleasures of the world, perish. Those who refuse His leadership and His sacrifice are lost, because they do not believe… But for those who do:

For which reason He is not ashamed to call (us) brethren.

WE are His family. Since this is true, it is fitting that He would clean us up. He is the One working in us to make us complete. Not only does He clean us up, He boasts about us as well.

Christ Boasts About His Family….

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:



“ I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”[a]

13 And again:

“ I will put My trust in Him.”[b]

And again:

“ Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”[c]

At first we might be struck by what Christ does because of our sinful nature. We know how sinful we are, and if that sin is exposed, we would be rightly ashamed. We know that if we look at our lives from the stand point of the imperatives, this is the case.

This is why the indicative is so important. Christ views us from the lens of who we are in Him. He is not seeing us apart from His glory or His righteousness. Just as the Father does not see us in that light any longer. God sees us in the light of who we are in Christ.

It is because of His righteousness and His atoning work that Christ can and does boast about us. His work has taken that which is sinful and despicable and cleaned us up to make us presentable to the Father.

“(The Christian) does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.” – C. S. Lewis

Ephesians 5:26-27 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Because of His work, we are presentable to the Father. Because of His work, we are worth boasting about. Not that we boast, but He boasts in that He has taken fallen men and women and made them into something worthy of praise.

This seems odd to us, but we must remember who is doing the boasting and why. Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Conclusion — With Christ going to all this trouble to make us His family and to make us His brethren, can we really say that our earthly family comes before our heavenly family? Can we really think of the church as just a group of people we get together with on occasion, when in reality, we are bound together by faith for eternity?

Opening Illustration

(The following is my opening illustration for my sermon on Sunday)

One of the sad aspects of ministry, is that we often times get to see the less than glorious side of those in the church. In other words, we get to see the sinful natures of those we have been placed with in the body of Christ.

We also get to hear some things that just don’t ring true with Scripture. You know those statements? Things like, “Jesus helps those who help themselves.” That just isn’t true. A more accurate rendition of that statement would be: “Jesus helps those who cannot help themselves.” That is the gospel. He saves those who come to the end of their wits concerning salvation and turn to Him in faith in order to be saved.

One statement that I heard recently from a man who was disgruntled with the church was the statement: “God first, family second, the church third.” This was his justification in leaving a particular church. The problem with his statement is that it isn’t biblical. If you truly put God first, and become one of His children, then the church doesn’t fall into the third slot because in reality, it belongs in the second slot.

When we trust in Jesus Christ, the church becomes our family. We may not be related directly by blood, but we are related directly by faith. If you spend any time in Scripture at all, you will realize that this is a far more deep relationship than the blood relationships that we have. This relationship that we have in faith, bound in Christ, is eternal and more real than our blood relations. In fact, for many of us, the moment that our blood relations are broken through death is the moment that those relationships have come to an end, and they will never again be revived.

Therefore, we need to focus on the relationships we have in Christ all the more, and let Christ work in us. This is one reason why I believe in church membership. We need to make a commitment to one another, publicly because of what is says about Christ’s work of salvation.

After all, it is His work, since He is the one that accomplishes this bond.

But Mary stood outdise by the tomb weeping…

A portion of Sunday’s Easter sermon based on John 20:11-18.

Of all the followers of Jesus, Mary Magdalene was one of the most grateful. I say that with confidence because of the actions we see in her, and because of the blessing given to her by the LORD. Of all those whom He could have chosen to appear to first, He chooses Mary.

So who is Mary Magdalene? Most believe that she was the sinner found in Luke 7, who anoints Christ’s feet with her tears and oil. But there is no reason to believe this other than speculation, and to say that she is the woman in Luke 7, when Luke has every opportunity to tell us, is to speculate. Don’t fear if you have done so. I’ve oscillated on the issue as well. But for now, I’m in the camp that believes it’s not the same woman.

Luke tells us that Mary Magdalene was possessed by seven demons and the Lord delivered her from those demons. Just in case you are wondering, being possessed by demons is not a sin. It’s a dreadful state, but not a sin.

We also know that she is from Magdala, which is close to the Sea of Galilee. Other than that, we don’t know that much about her.

From that point of deliverance, she is one of the many silent supporters of Christ’s ministry. She was the type of person that every ministry truly needs. One that helps provide for those out front. We see her first in Luke 8, where she was named among the women who were following and supporting Christ.

Luke 8:1-3 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him[a] from their substance.

She was also there for Christ at the cross. She stood by and watched as her Lord was put to death.

She was at His burial, and noted that His body wasn’t fully anointed.

She was one of the women who arose early on that Lord’s day so that they could anoint His body with oil, and one of the first to find the tomb missing.

Both Peter and John come running up to look at the situation, find the tomb empty and then go back home. But she lingers. She remains at the tomb and weeps. Her heart is broken. Not only have the authorities crucified Her Lord, but now the body is missing. She is broken.

In her lingering, we discover a wonderful truth about those who love the LORD, that is, that those who love Christ most diligently and perseveringly are those that receive the most privileges from Christ’s hand.[1]

It’s a touching fact that she would not leave. She wanted to be with Him, even if He was dead. It should not surprise us to see her deep love for Him. Remember what it was the Jesus did for her. He delivered her from the bondage of seven demons. Now I don’t know that any of us have ever been possessed by a demon, but I can imagine that it is something we don’t desire or want.

She was possessed by seven demons, and knew that her sanity and salvation was found in one man alone, Jesus Christ. It is true, the more one is forgiven, the more one loves the Lord. Apparently her love was such that the Lord would bless her in a wonderful way, by appearing to her first.

The Lord blesses all those who are His. In some, He gives greater blessings than others. But we must realize that those who dwell with Him, will always have more shown to them from the Word of God, than those who don’t.

“But it is a certain fact that those who love Christ most fervently, and cleave to Him most closely, will always enjoy most communion with Him, and feel most of the witness of the Spirit in their hearts.”[2]

Does that not sound delightful to you? To have more communion with Him though, we must spend more time with Him, and realize the depth of are sin. By doing so, we see the greatness of His grace in our lives and we long to be with Him even more.

EXPLANATION: We spend time with Him, by being in His word, praying to Him, asking for insight, talking to Him about His truth, meditating on His truth.

But also by being in worship. This is our time to be with Him. When we gather in worship, we are coming together as a body to sit at His feet, learn and be fed. This is one reasons why I don’t like to limit our time to one hour. I know, everyone has the Sunday hams at home. But just as Martha had to learn about her sister, it was better to let dinner wait and sit at the feet of Christ, than satisfy the flesh with a big smoking ham.

Luke 10:42 “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary does this. She longs to be with Him, so much so that she did not fear the rulers on the day that He was crucified. She went, and stood with the other women and wept with them. The disciples fled, but she stayed.

Peter and John left the grave, but she stayed. She didn’t want to be the first to tell the others. She wants Him, and because of this, Jesus will open her eyes to the realization of the resurrection.

Remember, this is what the empty tomb is about. It’s about the risen Savior, showing us God’s good pleasure in Him. The is the sealing of our faith, showing us that we are not foolish in believing in Christ because we have a future hope.

Our death, whether we are in Christ or out of Christ, does NOT bring annihilation, as so many people believe. Annihilation is the belief that when you die, you just cease to exist. The problem with this view is that all mankind is made in the image of God. Therefore, even though our images are tarnished with sin, we go on after our physical deaths. Those in Christ go on to be with Him in heaven, while those outside of Christ go on forever in eternal hell.

The resurrection confirms that reality. It shows that God truly is the God of the living, not the dead. It confirms all those promises that He gave during His ministry.

John 14:1-6 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] 3

His statement is pointing to the resurrection, showing that He is leaving them, but not just because death overtakes Him. He is leaving them because He has a greater purpose in mind.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me
.

All this to say that He was preparing them both for the resurrection and His ascension.




[1] Taken from JC Ryle’s Expository Thought On the Gospel of John, Banner of Truth Trust, Vol. 2, p. 366.

[2] Ryle, p. 366.

Reformation Day: New Sermon Posted

In honor of Reformation Day, the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis on the Wittenburg door in 1517, I’m posting my Reformation Sunday Sermon on the church’s web page. If you have 35 minutes, go listen to it. My wife said it was one of my better sermons. Click here for the sermon page.

Even Heaven Was Cleansed By His Blood


The following is a portion of my sermon from Sunday morning. 

We can all live our lives in a fashion that outwardly, we seem to be very clean and very righteous. I think this is one of the reasons that Jesus was so hard on the Pharisees. They wrongly came to the conclusion that they only needed to be cleansed outwardly. We know this because of the way they used the Law, or perhaps I should say, abused the Law.

Remember what Christ said in Him warning to them.

Matthew 23:26-28 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The flaw of the sacrificial system is that it could not cleanse the conscious. This doesn’t mean that the system did not lead some to salvation, for it did lead many to faith as it was intended to do. The just shall live by faith.

Just as we are confronted with our sin, and believe in the atoning work of Christ, so too was the OT believer confronted by his sin and believed in the promises of the Messiah.

There were many faithful Jews that came to this realization when they were confronted with the holiness required by the Law. That drove them back to the Father and helped them see their need for salvation from Him.

Yet, the system was prone to abuse by allowing many to think of themselves as righteous without dealing with their hearts, as Jesus makes clear in His pronouncement of doom, on the Pharisees.

Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

The point is that what is on the outside, does not save us. We need a conversion of the heart for salvation to be real, and that can only come about through Christ. All the outward trappings are nothing but trappings… the key word being “trapped.”

We need a complete washing from head to toe, and from our heart to our spirit and soul, and our conscience. This washing only comes by faith in the sacrifice of Christ, and His shed blood. It is His blood that cleanses us and our conscience through faith.

AS Brown writes:

“When the truth on this subject is understood and believed by the sinner, … the conscience is pacified and purified—the terrors and jealousies of guilt are removed. He is sweetly constrained to love Him who ‘spared not His Son, but delivered Him up’ for his salvation.”

This means that all the demands for justice have been accomplished on our behalf. When the new believer realizes the freedom we have in Christ, our obedience becomes an obedience that springs forth from our hearts. Wrath is satisfied and we are reconciled to God.

All of this has been brought about by Christ’s blood, without which, there is no forgiveness of sins. A lot has been said about the blood of both sacrifices.

Under the Old Covenant, Moses sprinkled the blood over the Israelites to deal with their ceremonial guilt, so they could serve in the temple. Jesus deals with our real guilt, so we can offer true and real service.

Under the Old Covenant, Moses also sprinkled the blood on the book of the law in order to ratify it. Under the New, Jesus sheds His own blood to ratify our salvation and fulfill the law.

Posted Sermons

I have added some recent sermons to our church web page, Grace of Aiken. The latest two are on the Great Commission and our need for the Holy Spirit in Missions. I preached them for our missions’ conference we had this past weekend. Just go to the main page, then to the sermon page and download it for your computer. Of course, all material is copyrighted, so if you somehow make money on any of these sermons, you have to pay me BIG GIGANTIC, RETIRE-ME-TO-THE-BAHAMAS royalties. As if somehow one could make that kind of money off a sermon on the word of God. Or, if somehow, I would actually want to! Yikes. That was a convicting thought. The Bible doesn’t speak well of those who make money off of God’s word. I know we are to get paid for our services, but to do it for that purpose is a bit scrupulous.

OK, that was probably a rabbit trail I did not wish to go down. Back to the main idea. Go, download, listen on your IPOD while you do your morning workout! Be blessed. Grow in your understanding of our God, our Savior, and their love for us.

Sunday’s Sermon

Charles Spurgeon writes the following concerning Matthew 5:43, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour.”

“LOVE thy neighbour.”

Perhaps he rolls in riches, and you are poor, and living in your little cot side-by-side with his lordly mansion; thou see every day his estates, his fine linen, and his sumptuous banquets; God has given him these gifts, covet not his wealth, and think no hard thoughts concerning him. Be content with your own lot, if you cannot better it, but do not look upon thy neighbour, and wish that he were as thyself. Love him, and then you will not envy him.
Mayhap, on the other hand, you are rich, and near you reside the poor. Do not scorn to call them neighbour. Own that you are bound to love them. The world calls them your inferiors. In what are they inferior? They are far more your equals than your inferiors, for “God hath made of one blood all people that dwell upon the face of the earth.” It is your coat which is better than theirs, but you are by no means better than they. They are men, and what are you more than that? Take heed that you love your neighbour even though he be in rags, or sunken in the depths of poverty.”[1]

Spurgeon’s devotional is a good reminder of the sovereignty of God and our responsibility regarding our neighbors. We are to love our neighbors, which is at the heart of all the second portion of the Ten Commandments. How? By not murdering, stealing, committing adultery, gossiping about them, nor, as we see in the Tenth Commandment, coveting their possessions.

When we come to this final commandment in the Decalogue, we will find at the root of it is God’s sovereignty, as well as our corrupt will and desires. This command is meant to help teach us to trust in His sovereignty and to deal with the evil desires of our hearts. What is the command?

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Understanding the Sin

First, we learn about coveting. You would think we would naturally know this, but we don’t. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn about coveting. Paul writes in Romans 7, that he would not have known what covetousness was unless the has said, “You shall not covet.”

Here we have master in the Law, and yet, he had to have his mind illuminated to the reality of this sin by God.

John Calvin wrote of Paul saying: “…let us remember what Saint Paul says, who being reputed as a great and wise theologian, having been nurtured in the law of God from his childhood, was nevertheless so blind that he did not understand that our poverty was part of the law of God until he was converted and our Lord Jesus Christ illumined him by his gospel to the end that he understood where the law of God must lead.”[2]

Calvin will go on to remind us that for all those who knew Paul before his conversion, he was a righteous man and held in high esteem. He did not “display evil that people could perceive and that was recognized by them, so much so that he justified himself in his imagination.”

But the Law took that from Paul. The Law showed him just how far he was from true righteousness. What did Paul covet? Was it the praise of men? Was it more money? Was it a better home? Was it prestige? Was it another’s wife?

Probably all the same things that we covet as well.

So what is it to covet? Coveting involves desiring that which does not belong to us. It is an “insatiable desire of getting the world[3].”

Augustine defined it as, “to desire more than enough.”

Proverbs 30:15-16 The leech has two daughters— Give and Give!
There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four never say, “Enough!”: The grave,[a]
The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, “Enough!”

The leach is never satisfied… neither is coveting or greed.

The idea is that for those who desire the world, enough, never is enough. The desire is always for more and more and more. How much is enough? One billionaire responded: “just one dollar more.”

Coveting is desiring more and more, and it never satisfies.

The problem with coveting, is that at the heart of this sin is a basic challenge to God’s sovereignty in our lives. We are basically telling God that He has some how missed the mark on what we have and what we should have. In our hearts, we are challenging Him on His decrees. We are saying that He was wrong in His decrees, and wrong in what He has given to us, and that He is somehow deficient because He has failed to give us all that we need.

The sad reality is that He has given us all that we need, and then more on top of that. Remember, all that we have is by His hand.

Q. 12. What are the decrees of God?

A. God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will,[43] whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time,[44] especially concerning angels and men.

The point is that if we are rich, it is because He ordained it. If we are poor, it is because He ordained it. We need to learn satisfaction where we are, accepting His hand, and if we are able, then work out of poverty, if that is what we desire.

There is nothing wrong with desiring good things. But to allow those things to become our gods, our obsessions, and occupy our minds, is to move into idolatry, and to challenge Him on His decrees.

Augur’s prayer…

Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
9 Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

What we are not to Covet

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

This isn’t that difficult to understand. We are not to covet anything that belongs to our neighbor. The last clause of the commands shows clearly this be the case and shows us forethought in God’s mind on the day when our neighbor’s ox is not all the desirable.

Just look at what is forbidden. If you desire your neighbor’s wife, you desire to break what God has bound together and committed adultery in you heart. That means that you are breaking more than one commandment in desiring that.

Next, we are not to desire his servants, male or female. No need to discuss this here since it is moot.

But we are also to not desire the ox or the donkey. The key here is understanding that these animals were needed for business. The more donkeys and oxen you have, the more money you can make. Again, this comes back to the principle of accepting our place in society, whether rich or poor. God has placed us there and we are to only change those circumstances if we can do so in a lawful means, otherwise we need to trust in God and His sovereign hand.

Ways We Covet

Thomas Watson gives us six ways that a man covets. I find this helpful, for it helps us see how we commit the sin.

First, when our thoughts are wholly taken up with the world, and not the things of God. Psalm 139:17-18 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

The man of God is focused upon God, not the world. Not so with the man that covets the world. His thoughts are always upon the world and how to get more of it. His mind is constantly dwelling on the world, and his desire for more of it.

Secondly, a man may be said to be given to covetousness, when he spends more time trying to get the world, than he does trying to get heaven. “He will turn every stone, break his sleep, take many a weary step for the world; but will take no pains for Christ or heaven.”

Never spends time in God’s word, meditating upon it, dwelling in His presence, worshipping Him, focusing on Christ. He doesn’t have time for that. He will suffer where necessary in order to gain the world, but only desire heaven. Heaven is not that important to Him. He just wants the benefits of heaven, without the sacrifice.

This also plays itself out in the man or woman that are too busy for the spiritual realm. He is to busy to focus on the things of God, by being busy. I think this is far to prevalent in our lives today. There are so many ways for us to fill our lives with so many things, that we never take time, like Mary, to set at the feet of Christ and listen to Him.

Luke 10:38-42 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’[a] feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus[b] answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

We covet the world too much when we refuse to let Christ have any of our time because of the busyness of the world.

Third, a man who is given to covetousness when he sets his heart upon worldly things, that for the love of them, he will part with the heavenly. He is willing to pass on the gospel in order to keep his earthly possessions. This is the saddest of all, because we know that in the end, we get to keep nothing.

Remember the story of the rich, young ruler. He came asking questions about eternal life, but he wasn’t willing to part with those things that he desired the most.

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good[a] Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good?[b] No one is good but One, that is, God.[c] But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’[d] and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e]
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth.[f] What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The reality is that this man did not keep the commands. He coveted the world, more than he desired eternal life. This is sad, Jesus showed the rich ruler his area of weakness, and the man refused to heed to words. His possessions were his world, they were his idol and those possessions were keeping him from the one thing he could not lose if he ever obtained it: salvation.

What is keeping you from salvation? What is keeping you from a closer relationship with Christ? What worldly thoughts, keep you from intimate conversation with Christ?

For the rich ruler, his possessions.

Ways to Over Come Covetousness

First, we do so by strengthening our faith. 1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our[a] faith.

“The root of covetousness is distrust of God’s providence.” We get so caught up in our fears, that we begin to long for something that doesn’t belong to us, whether it is more money, a better job with more money, a bigger house with more money, a better car with more money, a better family with more money.

The answer to this is not more money, or coveting after something He has not given to us, but trusting Him in the situation He has placed us. Remember, that ultimately coveting is driven by a distrust of God’s sovereignty. We are saying to Him: “You have failed.”

But turning back to Scripture, we are reminded of the God who keeps His promises to take care of us, even in poverty.

Secondly, we over come this sin by having a proper view of life. The things we covet are nothing more than refashioned junk, that will return to junk in the long run.

Remember the rich-young ruler? He could not bend the knee because his possessions. Just think about that where he sits right now, this very moment. None of those possessions are still around. They are no longer bringing Him happiness. Therefore, let’s learn from him. Our souls, our faith, our time with Christ is far more precious than anything we possess or own. So to hope for more possessions, knowing that it will all pass away, is a waste of time.

Thirdly, we overcome it by fixing our eyes on Christ and being reminded of His perfect life without covetousness.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The best course of action when we find ourselves faced with sin is to turn to Christ. Trying to turn to our own flesh to overcome it the very way we fall short. This is done by prayer and the word of God. We focus on Him in both, asking Him for relief from the temptation.

This is not saying we do not have a responsibility in the matter. We do. We see the admonition to flee from sin in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 10:13-15 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.

Paul gives us these instructions to flee from idolatry. Don’t sit still, but turn away from it, run from it, put it behind you. Why? Because sin is evil. If we are to be holy, because He is holy, we must act in a way that we can. If that involves fleeing the sin, so be it.

1 Timothy 6:10-12 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Again, we are shown that we do have a responsibility in our sanctification. Flee the things that will hinder us, and pursue those things of God.

I like what John Calvin has to say on this.

“…let us realize that in order to serve God well, it isn’t simply a matter of our desiring to do good and to derive profit from it, rather we have to purge ourselves of all wicked affections and all corrupt thought to the extent that everything within us directs us toward the goal of fully surrendering ourselves to God. Let us not display that we have been distracted to turn to one side or the other, but let us be wholly in control (of ourselves) in order to run without impediments or stopping, indeed, to run in the way that God shows us, in such a manner as to be wholly pure.”[4]

Calvin isn’t suggesting that we can live pure lives in and of ourselves. He continues: “Now this ought to serve us in a twofold sense: on the one hand, we ought to pray for God to govern us more ardently by his Holy Spirit and to purge us of all vices and corruptions, and then having prayed that, each of us (ought) to take hold of himself, lest we do violence to our nature, to all our senses, (and) all our desires, seeing that there is nothing but rebellion in us against God’s law.”

In other words, we pray for God to aid us, guide us and direct us in overcoming these evil desires that the Law reveals to us. We also see these evil desires for what they are, and head back to Christ.

It is Christ that delivers us from our covetous evil desires. Christ is the one who is pure in this regard. In Him, we find just the opposite of our covetousness. We find one who emptied Himself, and coveted nothing.

Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Christ was perfect and covet-less. He is our standard, and our righteousness.

Benediction

1 Timothy 6:13-16

I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’ appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.




[1] Spurgeon, from Morning and Evening.

[2] John Calvin’s Sermons on the Ten Commandments, edited and translated by Benjamin W. Farley, Baker Book House, p. 221.

[3] Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments.

[4] Calvin, p. 225.

A "No Duh" Moment

(Timothy has had an awful day today. After having to have some tests run, he found out that the pharmacy sold him $2000 worth of medicine for the tests. Apparently, they can’t just order one vial, but have to order a whole box- ten vials, at $200 a piece, and non-returnable. They didn’t bother to tell him any of that. So, after discussing that with the pharmacy, they decided to charge us ONLY $700 for the vials. We donated them to the doctor for indigent patients who need the test, but can’t afford the medicine. I can’t understand WHY they can’t, can you? Anyway, needless to say, Timothy needs to work on the sermon, so I decided to blog for him.)

After reading through some of Neil’s posts over at 4 Simpsons I had a moment of clarity through the fog of my Spring cold- a “No Duh” moment.

The reason why atheists want to say there’s no heaven, no God, no Jesus, and the Bible a bunch of unfounded myths written and supported by self-righteous, deluded zealots, is so they won’t be held accountable for their sins.

They will not have to face an all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, and perfect God and have their sins judged. Their salvation is the belief that when they die they just simply go away, being turned back into dust. Ironic isn’t it, that their idea of salvation is annihilation? To them, that fantasy is far better than the reality of facing angry and wrathful God and eternal damnation. Come to think of it, if I wasn’t a believer, that sounds better, too.

The thing is, they do know the truth. They do know what their destiny is without Christ. All of nature points to it. That’s the reason why they cling so haplessly to the theory of evolution and vehemently deny ID. If there is a Creator, then all that Christians are saying is true. The Bible is true. They cannot have that, for they smell their death. They have to believe in evolution to feel more comfortable about what happens when they die.

The poor guys though, they can never clear the knowledge of their sin and its consequences from their being though they create theory after theory to try to remake and redefine their version of eternal life.

We cannot redefine what God has told us. Belief and faith in Christ for forgiveness and salvation IS eternal life with Him in heaven. Nothing else can get us there. We will all face God one day.
Some with Christ.
Some with only their theories.

Adultery — Updated

I’ve been preaching through the Ten Commandments over the past several months and this past Sunday I preached on the Seventh Commandment, You shall not commit adultery. You can listen to the sermon by going here. It is probably one of the hardest sermons I’ve had to preach in a long time. Not only was it convicting in my own life, but there has also been an incident in the church which has really been heavy on our hearts regarding this issue. It was convicting to me because of the words of Christ:

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

It has been heavy on our hearts because of the sin found in the body and the fact that we dealt with it in a biblical way. I think one of the hardest realities to hit us is how far reaching this sin is when it occurs. It is never just between the two offending parties and God. But it affects the spouse, the family, and the church of those touched by it. In fact, adultery probably gives us one of the clearer pictures of the wickedness of sin than any other sin, save murder. Not that the other sins listed in the Ten Commandments are not as sinful or damning, but sometimes we don’t see to obvious ripple effects of sin. We see it with adultery.

Just thinking about this sermon and all that has happened, and my own heart, has been enough to cause me to feel the weight of it all over again. I can’t write what I hoped to write. The prevalence of this sin in our culture is absolutely daunting and the sad reality is that it is not just found in the culture, but saturates our churches as well.

To talk of disciplining the offending member has raised the ire of those who hear of it, as if the church has no responsibility to deal with this sin. Yet, discipline is the most loving and Christ-like action church leadership can take.

Remember that Christ was mainly concerned with the Father’s glory. That should be our main concern as well, and the best way we do that is by keeping the name of Christ from being profaned and seeking what is best for the flock. Yes, the flock does need disciplining. This isn’t something that we seek to do, but there are times we must confront sin, otherwise we join in profaning His name. By doing so, God keeps the church pure. This is something has been lacking from the pulpits in our day and age: the purity and holiness of the flock. I know that we are made holy because we are in Christ, but that doesn’t mean we should not also pursue holiness itself.

In view of this, I like the way the larger catechism question of the Westminster Confession of Faith put it: The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel.

The idea is that we are to be chaste in our body, mind, affections, words and behavior. Being chaste is not something that we hear a lot about today. It means to be morally pure, decent, modest, abstaining from unlawful sexual intercourse, virtuous. In fact, our culture would have us believe that this is an impossibility. But it is not an impossibility. If we are truly saved then we have been given His Spirit in us, to live as He has called us to live. Therefore we should live as those who are chaste.

Will that be easy in our culture? No, not at all. But our God is bigger and more powerful than our culture. He overcame the world, and if we are in Him, we will too. But this cannot be done apart from the corporate body. We must avail ourselves to the means of grace that He has given us to overcome these things: preaching of the word, prayer, communion, baptism, and yes, even discipline. We must strive to keep ourselves from idols, but also keep the church from idols as well. That is not done without discipline.

I snagged the following from Youtube on a defense of church discipline.

Real Preaching!

Since I’m so down on Jeremiah Wright’s preaching, I thought I would give you a few places to find real preaching of the gospel. Don’t worry, you will not here tirades against white people, or the degradation of black people or other minorities. Just simple preaching of the gospel of Christ where true salvation can be found. Not political salvation, but salvation that is freedom from sin, and freedom from the wrath of God.

The first page is one of my favorite pastor’s to listen to, Alistair Begg. He is a Reformed Baptist and probably one of the best preachers in the country. You can listen to him by going to the Truth For Life web page, here.

Of course, I must direct you to Gunny Hartman’s page. He too is Reformed Baptist and preaches good solid sermons. He pastor’s Providence Church of Garland, Texas. You can get to the sermon page here. Also, look down to the February 10 entry and you will find a sermon by Elliott Greene. Elliott officiated over the wedding for Elisa and me (almost 5 years ago now!). I heard him preach once at a conference in Mississippi and his sermons lasted for an entire hour. No one moved. It was so good, no one wanted to. He is one of those rare men that is truly gifted in preaching and in the languages, and in counseling, and in being a true and real pastor and friend. I can’t say enough about Elliott. I love him as a friend and fellow pastor.

Also you might check out Sinclair Ferguson at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. Not all his sermons are there, but the ones you find are excellent. Go here.

And last, and least, I will direct you to some of the sermons I have preached so that you know I’m not a racist biggot, saying that Jesus is a white guy here to stamp out and overthrow all the blacks, Hispanics, etc. Jesus came to save the lost. He came to unite the two races in Him. Which two races? Jew and Gentile.

This is what bothers me so much about Heretic Wright. Instead of seeing what Christ does through His sacrifice, he comes up with heresy to support his own worldly and sinful desires.

I remember when we had a guest preacher back at DTS for chapel. The man went on and on in a heretical way about the woman who told Jesus that even the dogs get something from the table. He basically screamed and hollered that this Gentile woman corrected the Jewish Jesus, who was trapped in the sin of His culture. I was in shock at the message. Yes, the man was black. Obviously, since his graduation from DTS, he had studied at the school of James Cone. To him, the pulpit was nothing but a place to spew racist drivel. It was sickening. What was worse is that DTS never said a word about it. They just let the man’s heresy stand. I think it was at that point that I started working on ways to get out of chapel. If they were not going to correct that blasphemer then what else were they going to let go. What was even odder was that Chuck Swindoll sat there with a stupid grin on his face the entire time. Why is it that no one is willing to stand up to the black heretics in Christian garb and call them out? Why is it that to call a man’s message out of accord with true biblical teaching is racist just because he is black?

Jesus came to unite the races in Him. That should not cause us to stumble in telling them, black, white, Hispanic, etc, that their message is heretical when it truly is heretical. James Cone is wretched, his message is heretical.

Look at Cone’s own words:

“If God is not for us and against white people,” writes Cone, “then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill gods who do not belong to the black community.”

Cone has no real Christ. He does not preach the gospel. He does not know Christ at all. Anathema! This is outright heresy.

Anyway, that was not the point to this post. I wanted to direct you to decent preaching, among those, I wanted you to listen to my sermons so that you know my sermons are not filled with the racist bigotry that you find Wright and Cone preaching. Go here.

Can you tell this entire thing has me really miffed? My heart aches for those who sit under people like Cone and Wright. What an abuse of authority. What an abuse of opportunity. These men could be offering REAL hope in Christ, instead they just race bait and stir up the sinful nature within all of us. So very sad.