Pastor Kirk

Notes from Scio Community Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Sin and Obedience, 1 John 2:1-6, 19 April 2015

Big Idea: God’s love language is obedience.

Introduction

Last week we began a new series on the book of 1 John entitled Love Illuminated. Love and light are two dominant themes in this short book written to the early Church by one of Jesus’ three best friends, John, the same man who wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation.

John describes in the third verse of the book, which we examined last week, the purpose:

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

1 John is written to followers of Jesus so they might have fellowship with one another and with God.

Last week someone texted in a question about the plural “we.” It is a reference to the early Church leaders. Just as I might use “we” to describe Scio’s elders, so John is representing the first disciples of Jesus who have become “fathers” to new believers.

This is a book about fellowship, about relationship.

Have you ever had a strained relationship? How did it feel?

Sometimes people confuse position with status. For example, my position might be daddy to my kids, but the status of our relationship may be strained in a given moment.

Our passage today does not deal with salvation. John is writing to children of God. It does, however, deal with fellowship, the status of our relationships with God and one another.

Love

Who do you love? It’s a simple question. Think about the people in your life that you most love. Why do you love them? How do you express that love?

Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The Five Love Languages provides the five ways people express love (we’ve looked at these before):

  • words of affirmation
  • physical touch
  • quality time
  • acts of service
  • gifts

A note to couples, it is extremely rare for both of you to have the same love language and, therefore, you need to learn the language of the other person and speak their language…since speaking yours is rarely as meaningful.

I believe God’s love language is
obedience.

As a dad, I can tell you obedience—and physical touch/hugs—is my love language. If I ask my kids to clean their room and they buy me gifts and say nice things to me but leave Coke cans in their room attracting ants—or worse—I don’t feel loved! I feel disrespected and ignored. Daddy usually knows best…especially when the ants arrive!

So many people talk a great talk about following Jesus on Sunday, singing songs and putting money in the offering plate, but ignoring Him during the week. This is nothing new. When Saul disobeyed God, he told Samuel about the great things he did for God.

But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

Which brings us to our passage for today.

Scripture: 1 John 2:1-6

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. (1 John 2:1a)

John speaks as a father to his children, his dear children, his spiritual children. The word “children” in the Greek is a term of endearment.

Sin is anything that separates us from God. By definition, it affects the status of that relationship. If I sin against you, our fellowship is strained. Any sin is ultimately a sin against God.

But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1b-2)

Here’s a good “but!” We all sin. We all fall short of God’s glory, His standard of perfection, His righteousness. Praise God for Jesus, the Advocate, the Righteous One who died for us. He is the propitiation for us, meaning He atoned for our sins, meaning His suffering paid for our sins. He took our punishment. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus died as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He is the atoning sacrifice: at one moment Jesus died to reconcile us to our heavenly Dad.

This is truly good news!

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. (1 John 2:3)

Christians are not permitted to do whatever they please. They must do what pleases God. This is a radical notion, especially in our hyper-individualistic culture that says do it now, have it now, and seize your rights.

We know that we know…Him if…we keep His commands. You can’t know if you’re disobeying God. The assurance comes when we keep His commands. That brings peace. That bring joy.

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:4)

Strong words! Any mystery to what he is saying? A disobedient Christian is a liar!

Disobedience is proof we don’t know God.

Many people call themselves Christians but that doesn’t mean they are really God’s children.

Do you love God’s commands?

King David did. Perhaps that’s why he’s called a man after God’s own heart despite his own sins and shortcomings.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. (Psalm 19:8b)

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. (Psalm 119:35)

Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. (Psalm 119:98)

I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. (Psalm 119:131)

It’s easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is another story.

The test of your car battery is not when it’s 70 degrees and sunny, but ten below zero.

The test of your patience is not when you’re relaxing at the beach, but when you’re stuck in an hour-long traffic backup.

The test of your faith is not what happens on Sunday morning, but 24 hours later when the boss—or teacher—barks out an order for you.

Jesus said…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: (1 John 2:5)

The Word of God and the commandments of God.

The commandments are the Word of God.

The Word of God includes the commandments…and more.

Jesus said

“If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

Jesus replied,
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

Children of God want to not only do the commandments but please the Father in all they do. Not “how far can I go and still be a Christian?” Is it ok for a Christian to _________? That’s the wrong question. The right question is, “What can I do to please my heavenly Father?”

Do you want to please God or yourself?

The commandments are one thing, but the word is another.

What is your attitude toward sin? What do you do when you sin?

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

Jesus is our example. He did the Father’s will. He obeyed the Father.

Do you think it pleased Jesus to die on the cross? No, but it pleased the Father.

So What?

Are you living as Jesus did? Of course we all fail to live up to His perfect standard, but each week it’s helpful to reflect, to remember, to read, to realize Jesus is the One we strive to follow.

We are not merely to obey commands but follow His example, be in fellowship with Him, do life with Him.

Jesus said the greatest thing in all of life is to

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Light, 1 John 1, 12 April 2015

Big Idea: God is light and we are walk with Him.

Author: John writing on behalf of the Apostles

Audience: the early Church

Date: 85-90 AD

Introduction

We examined John’s gospel.
We examined John’s second and third letters.
We have not examined John’s vision much, a book called Revelation.

Background

John is one of Jesus’ three best friends. He wrote the gospel of John. His purpose in writing was clear:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

The gospel of John was written around 65 AD, maybe 75-80 AD. Perhaps twenty years or so have passed and we come to 1 John.This is commonly regarded as a letter or epistle, but the form is more like a homily, like a sermon. Some have called it a “letter-essay.”

Imagine being an early follower of Jesus. Maybe you actually encountered him or had friends who witnessed a miracle or even the crucifixion. This new movement called The Way, now known as Christianity, is involving both Jews and Gentiles, two vastly opposing groups. New Christians were being expelled from the synagogues, some of whose colleagues denied Jesus as Messiah and returned to the synagogue. They needed encouragement. Christianity was a startup religion in the shadow of an established, powerful Judaism. It was bold and risky to follow Jesus.

There were other challenges for early believers beyond social and religious rejection. Heresy was growing, including idolatry and the emergence of false prophets.

Docetists believed Jesus was divine but never human.

Cerinthians believed the Christ-Spirit merely came on Jesus but He was not the Christ.

Some Gnostics believed they could not commit real sins.

The real challenge was “secessionists,” people who were Christians but withdrew from the community. John offers two ways to test the spirits: a moral-ethical test (obedience to the commandments) and a faith test (proper view of Jesus).

Who is Jesus? Last month we looked at our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. He is fully God yet fully human. Many claim to believe in Jesus, but what do they believe?

We often get excited when someone says they believe in God. But what God? What do they believe? Jesus’ half-brother said

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:19)

Even demons believe in Jesus…but they do not follow Him as LORD. That’s huge.

It’s easy to romanticize the early church, being in the presence of the likes of Peter, Paul, and John. Yet it was a messy time. There were antichrists, gossip, heresy, division, church splits…some things never change! John addressed this letter to one community, but it was probably intended to be shared with the other churches.

2 John was likely written soon after, a book with warnings about false teachers.

The purpose of this writing is expressed in the fifth and final chapter.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

This is written to believers in Jesus to encourage them and assure them of their salvation.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1)

This may refer to creation, but more likely John is speaking of his eyewitness relationship with Jesus, the beginning of the gospel proclamation. He saw and touched Jesus. He is not a historian writing about an ancient figure, but rather a biographer describing his personal friend.

Some believed Jesus was God but not human.
Some believed Jesus was human but not God.

John touched Jesus. He wasn’t a ghost or vision or a divine apparition like Greek gods.
John witnessed the crucifixion and saw the risen Jesus.

We see echoes in this verse of John 1:1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Jesus is the Word. Jesus is God.

The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:2-4)

Jesus appeared. This is a reference to the Incarnation, God becoming one of us.

John’s message is passionate. He proclaims Jesus! Why? Fellowship and joy.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Light and darkness was a common image of contrast. Imagine life without electricity. Fire (from the sun or a flame) was the only source of light. Light and darkness is the perfect contrast between sin and righteousness. The Old Testament condemned the mixing of light and darkness, right and wrong. God is light.

Peter also spoke of the contrast between light and darkness, sin and righteousness.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

The Old Testament described obedience as walking.

The Old Testament spoke of sacrificial blood as purifying for sins.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

Some believed they had become sinless…of their sins were not sinful.

Notice how John essentially repeats his message about sinlessness…and places one of the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible right in the middle.

God required confession and repentance.

So What?

First and foremost, we are all sinners.

Second, we need Jesus. Jesus is God. Jesus is human. Jesus is real. Jesus is alive!

Third, we can experience forgiveness and purification. Hallelujah!

Fourth, we are to walk in the light. We are to obey.

Fifth, if we obey, we have fellowship with one another.

The Moon

The moon contains no light, yet it beautifully reflects the sun so brightly that it illuminates our night skies.

We are not the light. Jesus is the light. We are the moon. We reflect the light…if we walk in the light.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Because He LIves, Easter 2015, 5 April 2015

Big Idea: The resurrection changes everything!

The Butterfly Effect

“In
chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” So states Wikipedia.

Put into plain English, the Butterfly Effect, attributed to Edward Lorenz, is a belief that a butterfly’s wings flapping eventually create a typhoon that hits land on the other side of the world.

A snowflake by itself weighs nothing, but enough of them will collapse oak trees and roofs.

A woman named Rosa Parks simply sat on a bus and sparked the Civil Rights movement.

Ten years earlier, a man named Jackie Robinson was court-martialed (and acquitted) for not moving to the back of a bus.

You might call this butterfly effect a chain reaction. One event can change everything. No event changed human history like the resurrection.

Because He lives. One moment in history about two thousand years ago changed everything. You could argue there were two. The first was the death of Jesus.

There is unanimous agreement among scholars that Jesus died. He was given an honorable burial. That the tomb was discovered to be empty. That there were post-mortem appearances of Jesus by the disciples. With the exception of Muslims who believe Jesus never actually died on the cross, virtually every scholar will tell you a historical person named Jesus lived, taught, and died. The primary controversy surrounds our celebration today—His resurrection.

Church history is full of creeds, statements of faith. Perhaps the oldest creed of the Christian faith comes within three years of the death of Jesus (see James Dunn). It was recorded in Paul’s letter to the people in Corinth.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

  • Christ died for us
  • Christ was buried
  • Christ was raised again

Much is made of the death of Christ, and rightfully so. We remember it each month as we engage in communion or the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist (call it what you like!). What Jesus accomplished on the cross was immensely important. But it was not enough.

The cross seems to get most of the attention. People have turned the horrific object of torture into a religious symbol, even a celebrated piece of jewelry. The real focus should be on the empty tomb, an image that is, admittedly, a bit more complex to depict! Still, perhaps we should wear empty tombs rather than crosses around our necks!

When I was in Jerusalem several years ago I was curious about the place where Jesus died. There are two common possibilities, one now inside The
Church of the Holy Sepulcher and another outside the city, a hill that looks like a skull. Both are interesting sites, but I wanted to see the empty tomb!

He is risen!


Paul was a Jesus freak! He was a leading Jewish leader named Saul who persecuted Christians…until He encountered Jesus. His witness alone is tremendous evidence of the resurrection, for dead men are not known to speak, and only lunatics would be persecuted for a lie, a myth, or a mirage as he and so many others were, including countless martyrs…simply for the belief in the resurrection. Paul wrote

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

There are many “ifs” in those verses! It’s hard for me to imagine life without the resurrection. Paul continues to state things in the positive.

But* Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

* when you see a “but” in a sentence, usually the only thing that matters is what follows!

Our faith is based on not merely a life or a death but on the resurrection. The resurrection is not only the true center of the Christian faith, but it signals God's initiative in the renewing of creation. The resurrection both embodies and empowers the destiny of God’s people as divine image-bearers from now to forever.

So What?

The resurrection is everything!

I recently bought a book called
Risen: 50 Reasons Why The Resurrection Changed Everything by Steven Mathewson.

  • To Give Us Eternal Life (John 11:25–27)
  • To Show His Power over Death (Acts 2:24; Romans 6:9)
  • To Heal Us (Acts 4:10)
  • To Receive the Blessings Promised to David (Acts 13:34)
  • To Forgive Our Sins (Acts 13:37–38; 1 Corinthians 15:17)
  • To Elevate His Power and Authority (Romans 1:4)
  • To Justify Sinners (Romans 4:23–25; Acts 13:39)
  • To Give Us a New Way to Live (Romans 6:4, 8–11)
  • To Unite Us with Him in His Resurrection (Romans 6:5–8)
  • To Make Us Fruitful (Romans 7:4)
  • To Give Life to Our Mortal Bodies (Romans 8:11)
  • To End Our Obligation to the Flesh (Romans 8:12–13)
  • To Provide Us with Future Glory (Romans 8:18)
  • To Set Creation Free from Its Bondage (Romans 8:21–22)
  • To Adopt Us into God’s Family (Romans 8:23)
  • To Intercede for Us at God’s Right Hand (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:23–25)
  • To Fulfill the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4; Luke 24:44–47)
18. To Make Our Faith and Preaching Worthwhile (1 Corinthians 15:14–15)
19. To Guarantee Our Future Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20–23; 1 Thess. 4:14)
20. To Destroy All Other Powers through His Reign (1 Corinthians 15: 24–27)
21. To Destroy the Enemy of Death (1 Corinthians 15: 26, 54–57; Luke 20:36)
22. To Give Us a Reason to Endanger Our Lives (1 Corinthians 15: 30–31)
23. To Deliver Us from Self-Indulgence (1 Corinthians 15:32)
24. To Give Us Heavenly, Imperishable Bodies (1 Corinthians 15: 42–48)
25. To Clothe Us with His Image (1 Corinthians 15:49)
26. To Give Us Immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53)
27. To Overcome the Power of the Law (1 Corinthians 15: 56–57)
28. To Make Serving the Lord Worthwhile (1 Corinthians 15:58)
29. To Give Us Hope in Hard Times (2 Corinthians 1: 8–11)
30. To Give Us a Greater Purpose in Life (2 Corinthians 5:15)
31. To Let Us Experience God’s Mighty Power (Ephesians 1:18–20)
32. To Display God’s Amazing Grace (Ephesians 2:6–7)
33. To Bring Victory into Our Intimacy with Him (Philippians 3:10–11)
34. To Make Us Full in Him (Colossians 2:9–12)
35. To Reorient Our Desires (Colossians 3:1–2)
36. To Let Us Appear with Him in Glory (Colossians 3:4; Acts 1:11)
37. To Enable Us to Kill Our Old Way of Life (Colossians 3:5–10)
38. To Rescue Us from Coming Wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
39. To Serve as Our Eternal Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 7:17)
40. To Give Us New Birth into a Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3; Acts 23:6; 1 Thess. 4:13–14)
41. To Glorify the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:18–21; Acts 3:13–15)
42. To Show That Death Does Not Stop Us from Living (Matt. 22:30–32; Rom. 14:9)
43. To Confirm His Words about Being Raised to Life (Matthew 28:5–7)
44. To Continue the Mission of God (Matthew 28:18–20)
45. To Share His Presence with His Followers until His Return (Matthew 28:20)
46. To Teach More about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3)
47. To Prove God’s Commitment to Justice (Acts 17:31)
48. To Make Possible the Judgment of Wicked (Jn 5: 28-30; Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:11-15)
49. To Give Him Complete Supremacy (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:4–5)
50. To Provide Life in the Unfiltered Presence of God (Revelation 21:3–4, 22; 22:1)

Because He lives…we are alive.

  • literally true via creation (John 1:1-4)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-4)

  • figuratively true in that we have abundant life (John 10:10)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

  • eschatologically true (John 11:25-26; John 3:16)

Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. (John 11:25-26a)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

• Because He lives…we have a future

  • a future with Him, forever

Because He lives, resurrection is possible. All things are possible.

Today is the greatest day on the calendar! It’s bigger and better than Christmas, your birthday, the Super Bowl, and Groundhog Day combined!

Everything changed on Resurrection Sunday and because He lives, there is hope for all of us.

• Because He lives…we have hope.

To Show His Power over Death (Acts 2: 24; Romans 6: 9)

  • nothing is impossible for God
  • sin and death have been conquered
  • what should we fear?
  • bad news is temporary
  • the best is yet to come
  • God is working NOW (Jesus is alive!)

As a pastor on Easter I’m supposed to tell you because Jesus rose from the dead,

  • there’s hope for you dead marriage
  • there’s hope for your dead financial situation
  • there’s hope for your dead relationships
  • there’s hope for your dead-end job
  • there’s hope for your dying body
  • there’s hope for your dead emotions

Because He Lives (Amen)

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Jesus our Coming King, The Gospel Truth, 29 March 2015

Series Overview: The purpose of this series is to distinguish between the biblical gospel and the various misunderstandings of the word, specifically the difference between Jesus as Savior and Lord. We will use the Fourfold Gospel as our outline.

Big Idea: Jesus is our Coming King.

King

Jesus is a king. He’s THE King! He’s the King of kings. At least three times we are told He is the King of kings and LORD of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

The idea of a king is foreign to us. We enjoy tremendous freedom and independence in our nation, choosing our leaders at local, state and federal levels. Furthermore, no single person possess’ total power. The president and congress must work together in conjunction with the Supreme Court in guiding our society.

A king is different. Often a king is sovereign, in control. There is no vote, no argument, no debate. Obviously a good king is good for the people, able to make swift decisions and ensure the care of the citizens. A bad king, however, can ignore the interests of his subjects.

It’s interesting how in the Old Testament God chose Abraham to be the father of a great nation, Israel, but God remained their King…until the people begged for a human king like their neighbors. Saul wasn’t the best, David was pretty good, Solomon was distracted, and then everything fell apart. The book of 2 Kings is especially filled with the history of good and mostly bad kings that led God’s people. It has been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Which brings us to Jesus. It’s hard to imagine the oppression of the Jewish people when God became one of us as Emmanuel. Generations had heard the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, but few recognized Jesus as that Messiah. At one point—a day we celebrate today on Palm Sunday—a group of people desperate for relief from Caesar and the Roman Empire—proclaimed Jesus as king.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” (Matthew 21:1-3)

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” (Matthew 21:4-5)

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. (Matthew 21:6-8)

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)

Hosanna literally means, “Save now!” The people were desperate. Perhaps they had crowned others as king, hoping they would bring relief to their oppression. So here we see King Jesus, but He’s riding on a donkey, a very unexpected form of transportation.

Imagine the disappointment and horror days later when King Jesus, their greatest hope for a better future, is proclaimed king with a sign that hung above His dying, beaten body. It wasn’t just Jesus who died, but the hopes of the Jews. Although we know the rest of the story, the Good Friday characters must’ve been devastated beyond imagination. Their king is dead. Their hope is dead.

At the risk of spoiling the ending (!), Jesus conquers sin and death, is resurrected, and several weeks later stands on the Mount of Olives.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. (Acts 1:9)

Jesus left them twice, once to death and then to the clouds. What must they have been feeling? Loss? Disappointment?

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)

I stood on the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended into heaven. Our guide told us to look up, since that space was not only where the ascension occurred, but it is also where He will return.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw the nearby gate of Jerusalem. As if to keep Him away, the gate has been filled with brick and a cemetery sits in front of it!

The Good News is Jesus. Jesus is LORD. Jesus is King. Jesus is alive!!!

There’s more good news. King Jesus is coming back!

Coming King

Anticipation.
Just speaking the word makes me excited! What are you waiting for? What are you anticipating? Think of a time when you said, “I can’t wait for…”

I’ve had a lifetime of anticipation moments, waiting for Christmas, birthday parties, vacations, graduation, my wedding, the birth of our kids, dates with my wife, big concerts…

Presently, I’m anticipating our son’s graduation, a 25th anniversary cruise my mom is generously providing for us, and our Envision DR mission trip in July, among other things.

The longest I’ve ever waited for anything is…probably the 21 years prior to getting married.

Followers of Jesus have been waiting over 2000 years for His return. Jesus said,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)

Jesus promised to return. The physical return of Jesus has been the subject of speculation and controversy since His ascension into the clouds. Admittedly many missed His first visit to our planet, so it should come as no surprise that there is great confusion concerning His return. I’ve probably had people ask about Revelation and the End Times as much as any other subject, and to be honest there’s so much I don’t know or understand. There are a few things I can state boldly, however.

1. Jesus will return

This is what Jesus said:

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (Mark 13:26-27)

2. We must be ready


Someday every human will face the judgment seat.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

We need not be afraid of this judgment if we have made Jesus our Savior and LORD.

Someday satan and evil will finally be destroyed.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

King Jesus will be vindicated in the eyes of the entire race that saw Him crucified.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)

All of creation will be liberated from the curse of sin.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)

As we said last week

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

I can’t wait! Maranatha! Come quickly, LORD Jesus! This leaves one simple question unanswered.

When will King Jesus Return?

For generations, people have made predictions, something we were warned to avoid doing. Jesus said

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36)

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:44)

The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. (Mathew 24:50)

I know one thing for sure: we are one day closer today than yesterday!

Jesus is coming soon, which is obviously not soon to us! In fact, it was said two thousand years ago people would grow impatient. Peter wrote

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)

He continues

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)

One verse has special meaning to the Christian & Missionary Alliance as we seek to proclaim Jesus to the world. Jesus said,

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

I have more questions than answers about the end times, the return of Christ, and Revelation, but I do know Jesus is our Coming King. The King will return when the task is complete. We are working to bring back the King!

  • Because Christ is coming, we need to be ready. We need to live pure, prayerful lives.
  • Because Christ is coming, we need to finish the task He gave us to do: make disciples of all nations.

Are you ready?

Credits

Some material taken from
The Fourfold Gospel, a C&MA/DNA publication.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Jesus our Healer, The Gospel Truth, 22 March 2015

Series Overview: The purpose of this series is to distinguish between the biblical gospel and the various misunderstandings of the word, specifically the difference between Jesus as Savior and Lord. We will use the Fourfold Gospel as our outline.

Big Idea: Jesus is our Healer. He created us and is able to recreate us.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “healer?”

I usually think about the miraculous physical healings Jesus performed. Here are a few mentioned by Matthew:

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. (Matthew 4:23-24)

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. (Matthew 9:35)

Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. (Matthew 12:15)

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)

Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. (Matthew 15:30)

Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. (Matthew 19:2)

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. (Matthew 21:14)

These are just the general mentions of healing from Matthew. They don’t include any of the specific encounters Jesus had with the sick, blind, lame…or even dead!

Jesus healed. That’s clear to everyone…except those who disbelieve miracles and the Bible!

But our topic today is Jesus
our Healer. Does God still heal today? Does He only do it on TV with wild preachers and people falling down? Why don’t we go to U-M and St. Joe’s hospitals and close them down through prayers of healing?

In The Beginning

In the beginning…God created…and it was good. Sure, it wasn’t good for man to be alone, but God remedied that and therefore Adam and Eve lived in a pain-free, disease-free paradise called Eden.

And then all hell broke loose, quite literally.

The serpent got Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit and God said to Eve,

“…I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

God said to Adam

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17)

Pain entered the world that horrific day. It was the consequence of sin. It came under the influence of our enemy, satan, who comes

…only to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10a)

As a result, we live in a broken world, a world with broken bodies, broken relationships, broken finances, broken souls, broken governments, broken homes, broken…toilets! You get the idea!

It will not always be like this. Someday…

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

I can’t wait! Maranatha! Come quickly, LORD Jesus!

But what do we do in the meantime? How do we deal with pain and brokenness?

1. First, God does still heal today. I will attempt to prove it shortly! It does not require a televangelist or sending money to help buy a private jet for a faith healer. God heals, but sometimes chooses to say wait or no when we ask.

On the one extreme there are those who do not believe in healing or miracles. There are Christians who believe healing was only for biblical times; we have the Bible so we don’t need the power of God. I’m overstating, somewhat, but the essence is they believe the Holy Spirit is on vacation. There’s plenty of recent and historic evidence to suggest healing is real today. I believe there are many doctors who once believed only medicine could heal, only to experience miracles first-hand with no explanation.

On the other extreme there are those who believe God always heals and any sickness is the result of the person’s personal sin…or lack of faith. This is a common message today in the “name it and claim it” movement that essentially says if you’re not healthy and rich it’s because you need more faith. It’s your fault! This is nothing new.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:2-3)

The entire book of Job is about a righteous man who experienced horrific pain.

Jesus, the most righteous Person in history, endured the most horrific suffering.

Pain and sickness is the result of sin, but not necessarily the sin of the sick. For example, hospitals are filled with the innocent victims of drunk drivers. It has been alleged that some allergies are caused by man-made chemicals and pollution.

Jesus was a healer and He continues to heal today.

Even during His years on earth Jesus gave others the authority to heal.

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Matthew 10:1)

Perhaps the most radical statement on healing is found in the fourteenth chapter of John.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

He was going to the Father and would send the Holy Spirit.

2. The power to heal comes from Jesus

We do not believe in faith healing. It’s not from our faith, but from Jesus. Faith is a precious gift from God, but we are not healed by our faith. We are healed by God. Jesus healed in a variety of ways. Sometimes He spoke, sometimes He touched, sometimes He simply announced healing for a person not even in His presence. He still heals in a variety of ways today. In some instances faithless people are healed through the prayers of others praying for them. Healing can occur through the laying on of hands and the anointing of oil. Sometimes it comes through medicine, doctors, and other health care tools.

It should be noted that healing is not always a physical change. Our sinful world has left many of us broken spiritually, emotionally, financially, and relationally. We are blessed to have godly biblical counselors available to help people heal from a variety of pains and struggles, trials that can be every bit as wounding as a car accident or cancer.

3. The purpose of divine healing is to glorify Jesus.

Jesus’ miracles authenticated the message and the Messenger. He also healed to show His compassion. Furthermore, Jesus healed to show salvation now. The Kingdom of God is here now…but we haven’t experienced it all yet. It’s like a down payment on what is to come, the now and the not yet. We have something, but not yet everything that will be ours when Christ returns.

My Story: Rachel Schneemann

When this subject came up, I immediately knew who I wanted to speak on this subject, our daughter Rachel.

What comes to mind when you think of Jesus our Healer?

Has God healed you? How? Have you participated in the healing process?

Why doesn’t God instantly heal every person who asks for healing?

Is sickness the result of sin? Unbelief?

Has God only healed you physically?

What would you say to someone who wants to be healed?

So What?

Do you want to be healed? Why?

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)

If you want to be healed,

1. Ask

Jesus’ half brother James wrote,

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. (James 4:2)

He added

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15)

2. Confess.

Some brokenness is the result of sin. Bitterness, for example, has been shown to have physical consequences. The passage from James continues…

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

3. Persevere. Sometimes God says, “Yes.” Sometimes He says, “Wait.”

As a dad, I don’t instantly give my kids everything they desire. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I say no or later.

Rachel’s story has involved years of prayers.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11)

In discussing prayer, Jesus said

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

4. Trust. Daddy knows best. He can be trusted. His timing is never late but rarely early!

Why Doesn’t God Heal Everyone?

Great question! It’s in my top ten questions for God!

Paul had a thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what it was, perhaps an issue with his eyesight. Three times God said no to his request to have it removed. (2 Corinthians 12:6-10)

The purpose of healing is always about the glory of Christ.

Whether in giving or witholding, it’s about His glory.

Often it’s about His timing. The sisters of Lazarus thought Jesus was 4 days late to the scene, yet the delay facilitated a resurrection that brought greater glory to God than a conventional healing (John 11).

We live in the now and the not yet. There are beautiful moments when heaven touches earth, when God reveals His presence and power in amazing ways, giving us a taste of and a deeper longing for heaven.

Jesus promised us,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)

He is with us…always. I don’t pretend to understand why He says “no” or “later,” but I know God is good, He is faithful, and
nothing is impossible with our God.

“Healer” (reprise)

Prayer

For Further Reading

Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller

Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey

Where Is God When It Hurts?
By Philip Yancey

Credits

Some material taken from
The Fourfold Gospel, a C&MA/DNA publication.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

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