Romans 4–A Letter to Justin Brierley

The context of this post: I’ve been listening to much of “Unbelievable?” a podcast based in the “post-Christian” United Kingdom. Many of the guests who speak on Unbelievable are theistic Christians, including Justin Brierley, the host of the program. I don’t expect Justin to read this letter as he received multitudes of correspondence from the multitudes that listen to the show. But I just chose this letter as the format to organize my own thoughts in response to the things I’ve heard. I would agree with others who have said theistic evolution undermines the authority of Scripture. I believe Justin to be a Christian man regardless of his thoughts on evolution. By listening to the conversations Justin has hosted, I have been able to organize some of my own thoughts as we continue ministry here in Taiwan where people are predominately pagan.

Brother Brierley,

Thank you for the excellent work on “Unbelievable?”. I have enjoyed listening to many episodes and have benefitted from the conversations I’ve heard. As you once said, it is beneficial to Christians to listen in on these interactions to better organize one’s own thoughts to the end of better communicating the gospel. I think the result for myself has been just that.  

I wanted to use this letter to organize a particular thought of my own around the idea that some people require intellectual consistency in the gospel before committing to believing.  I have gathered from listening to your thoughts and line of questioning towards some guests that it would seem rather crucial that the Christian faith requires approval from a scientific consensus. Forgive me if the above statement has misjudged your work, as I have not listened to the entirety of all that you have said. I think your position as a theistic evolutionist will attest to that. 

As a Bible believer, I would believe if God promised He could fit large squares into small circular holes. I would believe this simply because it is He who promised. I wish to share my understanding of Romans four as to why I would be happy to suspend rational thinking if my God would require it of me, and I believe He has (as I will show from Romans chapter four!). 

If a person can be saved, it must be through faith, but what kind? It must be the kind of faith that Abraham has exhibited. Romans 4:1 begins that discussion with that very question, “what shall we say then that Abraham our father…has found?” And in response, Paul says (in my own paraphrase), “What does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and righteousness was counted to him.”  

Now to the point, this imputed righteousness by faith was so done by God, not for the Jews only, but to all “who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father, Abraham. (vv12)” The promise that Abraham would receive a son through Sarah and become the heir of the world flew in the face of everything he knew to be reasonable. Paul says, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations.” What consistent reason did Abraham have to believe God against what is naturally consistent? Old men married to old women with “dead wombs” cannot have children, but because of faith in God’s promise, he “considered it not” (vv19).

There may not have been science then in the form that there is now, but the ancients weren’t so foolish not to grasp the difficulty of God’s promise. “He staggered not at the promise..but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. (vv20)” Abraham’s saving faith in the OT is not the only instance, Paul says, “Even as David also describes..(vv6).” 

What I see here in common between the faith of Abraham and David is how there doesn’t seem to be much intellectual or natural foundation for the promises God gave them. And let us not absolutize the idea our faith is unreasonable or inconsistent. It is reasonable that God would give promises that purposefully lack any natural explanation to glorify God and His word. Is it not the point of a miracle to break the rules of nature? Do we not have sufficient reason to believe God raises the dead to life contrary to what is consistent in nature?

We, too, have something in common with the faith of Abraham and David, that we believe God raises the dead against all reason and what is natural. “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. (vv23-24). 

As I have heard you give testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection, I know you believe this and derive great comfort from God’s promises as I do. But if we apply naturalistic observations with what God tells us in His world, we will hardly come to any agreement. I’m afraid what many will do is compromise God’s word in the name of possessing an “intellectual foundation for faith,” as I heard it said once in the program.

It would seem to me, if the conclusion of Romans four is true, then we cannot avail ourselves to saving faith that imputes righteousness through naturalistic reasoning. But rather, the kind of faith that saves comes by hearing and hearing of the word of God. I know no other means of conversion and transforming other than hearing and being changed by God’s word. 

I think it is wonderful that after ten years of hosting atheists, you are still a Christian. But are you Christian because after ten years, logic demands it of you? Only if we knew what we could accomplish the glory of God if we did it all by faith! 

In my personal journey, it has perhaps taken much longer than ten years to arrive where I am today, so do not speak as a judge over anyone. And I hope that this exercise (this letter) is not perceived as judgemental. I wish you well and look forward to seeing what you will accomplish in the next ten years.

In Christ,

Missionary John Walz, Taiwan

Foundations 25 Giving — 2 Corinthians 9

1. Historical Background

Paul has been planting churches in gentile cities. Now there is a mixture of Jewish and Gentile people in the churches that have never existed before. In those days, a great famine vexed the church in Jerusalem, primarily Jewish Christians. Paul saw an opportunity to accomplish to significant needs of the infant church, first to teach the spirit of giving in the Lord, and secondly, to help unify gentile and Jewish believers in the gospel.  

Our particular passage deals with this issue as Paul brought it before the church in Corinth.

2. What Can We Learn About God?

God’s abundant generosity towards us is willing of His own free choice.

Before Paul arrives in Corinth, he sends this letter out ahead of him so that the church would prepare their offering. In ancient times, money preparation was far more complicated than using a check or using any of the many digital means we have today. But he wants people to give in the same spirit of which God gives.

"Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness." Verse 5

In verse 5, Paul says again what the Bible has said about offerings all along, that people should give “as a matter of bounty.” In other words, people should give willingly and not be coerced. Coercion would include using guilt or extreme pressure to persuade someone to give. 

Verse 7 restates the matter more plainly, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity.”

This generous and cheerful giving is a principle of giving based on God’s own character, as the rest of verse seven tells us, “God loveth a cheerful giver.” God loves those who give willingly because He is a most willing giver, even of His own Son, to save the likes of you and me.

God loves to enable us to give more than we are able.

This kind of cheerful giving comes with another principle that any Christian can lay hold of by faith. The principle is in verse eight:

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all thingsmay abound to every good work.” Verse 8

 God will enable you to give generously as you endeavor to become cheerful givers. Looking back to chapter 8, Paul boasts about other churches in Macedonia who gave beyond their means. These churches were poor in material wealth, yet somehow, God gave them the ability and the money to give generously.

“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.”

2 Corinthians 8:1-3

To rephrase, the people of Macedonia wanted to give. And even though they were poor, God gave them the ability to give more and above what they were logically able to offer. They purposed in their heart to give and be generous, and then God gave through them to meet the need.

Verse eight promises to us that God will meet our own material needs and enable us to meet the needs of others. Therefore we are free to trust God and give willingly, knowing that He is faithful to provide our needs and more that we might bless others. 

God loves to do this through His people because such generosity is in line with His giving character. Verses nine and ten provide us with Paul’s hermeneutic use of Psalm 112:9 followed by his own commentary.

“As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.” Verse 9

“Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for increase the fruits of your righteousness.” Verse 10

“The seed to the sower,” in this case, is the giver, both seed for his own want but also seed for the purpose of giving. And even in the end result, God, who first supplied the ability to give, now rewards the generosity he first enabled. That is the abundant blessing and richness of God’s generosity!

At this point in the conversation, a growing Christian brother or sister may ask, “But I have nothing to give; all my resources are already occupied by bills or otherwise.” Dear Christian, have you considered the reason why God hasn’t provided you with more is that He knows that you would not use it for His sake? But instead, you would find some other want or pleasure for occupying the thing He would give you.  

Only when your heart is set on God and His kingdom first will He open His hand to give you what you do not have. As we seek His righteousness and His will first, He will not only fulfill our needs but the needs of others we ask Him to supply through our generosity (Matt. 6:33).

3. How does this passage point to Jesus and the Gospel?

The measure of God’s generosity towards us is His Son, Jesus Christ.

If God is now commanding His people to give and generously give. How can one do so and not give grudgingly or from out of being coerced by a commandment of God? It is because those who are able to give willingly and generously are only following what God Himself has done in giving us His Son. God’s command for us to give is not so we might avail ourselves to a prize that must be purchased with good works. But we are merely following the heart of God, which generously gave us eternal life in Christ at the cross.

Whereby Paul says in verse 15, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” Because giving us the fullness of the godhead in Jesus is unspeakably rich.

Therefore those who benefit from our generous giving have a proof of the gospel that perhaps they had not seen before. The message of the gospel is coupled with a testimony of generosity and love from those who give willingly from the heart.  

“Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.” Verse 13

4. Application

It would be quite a contradiction to give the words of the gospel without performing it in deed also. How contrary would it be to pass by someone in physical need, only offering them the word of the cross whilst ignoring their desperate hunger or other temporal need. Let us meditate richly in the generosity of God towards us and be transformed into generous givers knowing that God will provide abundantly as we purpose in our hearts to serve Him with our gifts.

Let us also try our faith in this matter. God has said, “purpose in your heart”. So why not purpose a great deal as to stretch our faith and dependency on God? We know He loves a cheerful giver and will not let that saint be ashamed in trusting in Him. What can you do to help your church in their vision to get the gospel to the world?

John 7

1. Background

Jesus has been revealing Himself to the Jews as their Messiah. But it hasn’t been as simple as saying, “Here I am, your King!” The people have not understood that He is more than a human king coming to restore a broken kingdom. John has already told us He is the Creator become human flesh in the epilogue, and His mission is to take away the sins of the world. This revelation far outstrips the messiah the Jews were expecting. Their misunderstanding of God’s heart, His Word, and what He wants to do is what Old Testament readers should come to expect, however. When did God’s people, the Jews of antiquity, ever come to really understand God?  

Jesus is God’s Son, finally revealing in the flesh what has always been God’s plan from the beginning before He made the world. People are taking sides, choosing whether to believe Jesus’ claims or not. Jesus doesn’t leave a third choice; either He is, or He is not sent from God. The theme of the passage today in John 7 is, “He is the Sent One from God.”

2. What Can we Observe About God?

God’s character is always consistent with His Word.

Jesus did not come to be famous and be fawned over. But this is what Jesus’ half-brothers thought about Him. The Bible tells us they didn’t believe and supposed He was doing things for fame.

“His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.”  Verse 3-5

But Jesus has been consistent since the beginning. John tells us in chapter one, Jesus is God who became flesh and that He is Lamb of God come to take away the sin of the world.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” 1:14

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” 1:29

If Jesus wanted fame and popularity, He could have simply let them make Him King when they tried to take Him by force in Chapter 6.

“When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” 6:15

No, Jesus’ actions have always been consistent with God’s word. Jesus tells His unbelieving family the world hates Him because He exposes their sin.

“The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” Verse 7

This rebuff of our sin has been the bottom line and the root of humanity’s rejection of God from the beginning. We have loved our sin more than we have loved God. And now Jesus has come, and He is consistent with God’s word in rebuffing our sin. We can see this consistency in Jesus at the conclusion of chapter 6. He has refused cheap honor. He has been sent to complete His Father’s will and will not be persuaded to do anything else.  

Again, Jesus is refusing the cheap honor of men. He is sent from God, and He will consistently work according to God’s plan and turn not to the right hand nor to the left. At the Temple, Jesus tells the crowds He only speaks what the Father sent to say.

“My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” Verse 16

We can trust Jesus’ motives because He isn’t working for His own honor but the glory of His Father who sent Him.

“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.”

In contrast, religious leaders are, at best, have inconsistent motives and contradictions inside their own moral reasoning. Jesus knows of their plot to put Him to death and again exposes their sin and hypocrisy.

“Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” Verse 19

They, of course, deny this plot. If we are consistent in anything, it would be our denial and self-justification. The Jews counter Jesus’ accusation with one of their own, claiming He is demon posses or insane:

“The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?” Verse 20

But now, let the reader decide who is being consistent and who is seeking God’s glory. Jesus has the crowd recall back in Chapter 5 when He healed a man on the Sabbath day.  

“Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” 5:18

Jesus brings this to their memory and points out the religious leaders will perform a circumcision ritual on the sabbath. The religious leaders would conclude that performing this religious rite is a good and righteous thing to do; however, they seek to kill Him because He had healed someone on the sabbath day. Jesus points out their anger at him is hypocrisy and inconsistent.

“If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? ” Verse 23

With this one act of Jesus on the sabbath, we see more than just His consistency to perform the Father’s will, but also the witness from the miracles He performs. He is the Messiah and more!

Many of the people had the insight from this point alone to place their faith in Him:

“And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?” Verse 31

3. How Does this Passage Point to the Gospel and Jesus Christ?

We can know we can be saved because God gave us a consistent Savior who is as dependable as God’s Word.

Every bit of this is good news for those who wish to be saved from sin and spend eternity with God. There remain on this earth millions who have a religion but sit in spiritual darkness. Many even claim Jesus as the head of their religion, yet are still ignorant of the free salvation to be head in trust Christ alone. They say something like, “How can salvation be so easy?”

It is “easy” for us because Christ did all the work. He didn’t leave anything left undone. He was perfectly consistent and thorough in fulfilling God’s plan. He did such a thorough job; all one needs to need is to come to Jesus and “drink,” and he’ll never thirst again.

“If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Verses 37-38

God freely gives this offer of living water to quench spiritual thirst. Because of our sin, we are horribly inconsistent hypocrites. Even when we hold ourselves up to our own standards, we fall short. How much more sinful do we become in the face of God’s standard and Christ’s rebuffs? Yet, in verse 37, Jesus is quoting Isaiah 55:1 in fulfillment with Himself.

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,And he that hath no money; Come ye, buy, and eat; Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

Isaiah 55:1

This living water is, of course, the same offer Jesus made to the Samaritan woman of chapter four. This offer is consistent with the heart of God to save sinners as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.  

Our confidence in being saved doesn’t come from our own ability, but knowing we have a Savior who is as faithful and steadfast as God’s Word.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

John 17:3

4. Application

It does not matter what we lose to come to Christ because He is the living water that fills and quenches all thirst. The sinner may lose relationships with family or friends because they’ve chosen to believe in Christ. But Christ is sufficient to fill you with much more.

As Christians, we learn to be filled with Him. We understand the source of our discontentment is sin. Jesus is our constant source to which we can return. As Lord of our life, we confess sinful attitudes as He reveals them, and we look to Him for joy and contentment. We should consider the Living water whenever we attempt to fill our soul with material things only to find they do not truly satisfy.

Without Christ, your sin will remain. Eternal life is priceless, yet He gives it to you free. Don’t pass it up! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in His name!

John 6:22-70

  1. Background

On the previous day, Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 using a miracle. In response, the people want to take Jesus and make Him King by force, whether He wanted it or not. The following day, the crowd is searching for Him and find him on the other side of the Sea of Tiberias in Capernaum. The following dialogue from Jesus begins with asking Jesus how He arrived on the other side of the lake, “Rabbi, when camest thou hither?”

2. What Can We Observe About God?

God wants to draw you into true belief with His love.

In a rare public discourse, Jesus speaks frankly with the crowd, though still using metaphorical language once the metaphors are defined. Jesus knows they are looking for Him because of the feeding miracle He performed the previous day. He tells them, don’t exert yourselves looking for food only but for the “food” Jesus gives, which is everlasting life.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” Verses 26-27

Misunderstanding what Jesus meant by this, they asked in effect, “what sort of works does God require of us?”

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? ” Verse 28

To this, Jesus said, “Believe Him, and that He has sent me.”

“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Verse 29

In this initial exchange, we can see the heart of God being communicated to them, though they do not perceive it yet. Despite their ignorance of who He is and wrong motives for following Him, Jesus was compassionate to their hunger the day before. Jesus is patiently dealing with their ignorance. He gives them more chances and time to realize that they need to trust Him solely because of who He is and that He has come to die for them.

But to believe Him the way He is directing them to, they must first humble themselves to be able to hear what He is telling them. He is the King. But He isn’t the one they are expecting (see v15) because their assumptions of Him and of the Scriptures are wrong. The miracles prove who He is, and that alone should be enough reason to humbly consider who He is and what He is saying.

Jesus’ response elicits more questions from the crowd, and their questions continue to show their selfish motives for searching Him out. They demand more signs, namely more bread, and even apply Moses’ law to their interests.

With each response, they urge Jesus to move closer to their desires, but with each answer, Jesus directs them closer to Him to where we end at a final showdown and rejection on the crowd’s part.

“Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger,; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Verses 34 and 35

God’s desire for these people and us is for us to believe. But a sinful construct stands in the way of them offering a heartfelt belief God can accept.  

“But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.” Verse 37

So as far as Jesus is willing to produce bread so the people are willing to follow, but this does not constitute the belief God will accept; in fact, it is not belief at all. The belief God wants will humble itself before Him. Not because we are to cower before a fiery God, but because we willingly submit ourselves to He who loves us greatly without measure. Without this trust and submission, there is no belief that God would accept.

Even though the Son of God stands in front of them, they cannot see past their lust and their own desires. There is no submission in their confession. They must first be drawn by the Father’s love away from their lustful motives. 

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Verse 44

They must believe who He is, His authority over the world, and His motivation of love for them. The Father’s love, seen in the compassion of Jesus, and the power display in the miracles is the meaning of the signs, healings, and raising from the dead. God desires to draw His own unto Himself in this way, being constrained by the love of Christ.  

This is not a novel idea invented by the New Testament. God has always wanted to overcome unbelief by drawing us closer to Him with His love. 

  The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying,

Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:

Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel…

Jeremiah 31:3-4

The outcome of this drawing is “belief,” namely, a life lived for the glory of Christ and not our own desires. Paul captures this thought.

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Should not these two elements of God’s drawing persuade the sinner to repentance? He is infinitely able to hold you firmly as not to lose you. And His love is boundless so that He comes down from Heaven to die for you.

3. How does this passage point to the Gospel and Jesus Christ?

Both the love that draws and the resurrection power that saves is in Jesus Christ Alone.

The crowd is stubbornly following Jesus for their desires. This is not belief. But perhaps some of them will consider the power Jesus holds to perform miracles and consider His heart for doing so. If they believe this, they will agree that Jesus is the “bread of life”.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.  I am that bread of life.”

Those who were unwilling to hear never got past this mild metaphor.

“The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Verse 52

The ultimate showdown of their self-will and submitting to Christ has arrived, and many were offended, not even willing to know who He is.

Of course, Jesus is not talking about consuming His physical body, but consuming His words, believing them, and faithfully abiding in them forever.

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Verse 63

4 Application

Knowing that you have eternal life does not require any other work than that of believing Jesus Christ is enough.

We are not even required to understand everything He said intellectually, but only to believe who He is and why He died for you. He died to become the “Bread of Life”. His death and resurrection fulfill His promise to give everlasting life to those who believe in Him. You can believe right where you sit.

Foundations 18: Saved by Grace Alone — Ephesians 2:1-10

Ephesians 2:1-10

2 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

  1. Background:

Paul is writing a letter to a church he started in Ephesus. When Paul first met them, they were pagans of other religions and did not know about God. There would have been some Jews that knew the Scriptures but did not yet hear about Jesus. Paul writes to them to encourage them to grow in faith. They need to know that their salvation is not earned or maintained by works.  

In Paul’s day, some Jews were telling new believers that belief in Jesus was not enough. Jews were telling the foreign Christians they had to be circumcised and obey Moses’ law (see Acts 15:5). Paul writes to ensure believers that salvation is belief in Jesus alone.  

2. What Can We Observe About God?

God’s love is endlessly rich, willing to pay the total cost of any amount of sin to save sinners.

The people who Paul is writing to were dead in their sins when Paul met them. They did not know God or of His ways. Instead, just like everyone who doesn’t know God, lives life according to their own desires. This lifestyle without God is destined for God’s wrath and judgment.

“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Verse 3

But after they heard the Gospel and believed, God made them “alive.” 

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” Verse 1

Even after a whole lifetime of sin, God’s mercy is enough to forgive all and give us life in Christ.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” Verse 5

Jesus Christ is the way God chose to save sinners and show forgiveness. This way is the Gospel way to salvation.

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Verse 7

Because this is God’s heart and the way He has chosen, it is foolish for anything to think they can pay for their own sin or build up righteousness by doing good works. 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Verse 8

Paul says to them, stop saying you earn or keep your salvation by doing things. It is God’s gift you received when you believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you start saying salvation comes because you do good works, it is no longer a gift. It would be insulting to the Lord Jesus if you tried to purchase salvation after He already paid for you.

Someone did try to purchase the gift of God with money, and the apostles sharply rejected them. 

“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”

Acts 8:18-20

In the same way, God’s give cannot be purchased or earn with good works or any other kind of currency. Salvation is the “gift” of God through Jesus Christ! V8

If people could purchase, earn, or maintain their salvation, then they could brag on themselves. But God only wants people to praise Him, not themselves. 

Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Verse 9

If you try to add works or tell others they must do more than just believe, then you are polluting the Gospel and insulting God’s gift. Don’t change God’s word! It is His plan, and He will finish His work!

3. How Does This Passage Point to Jesus?

Jesus’ death on the cross is enough to settle any amount of sin debt and preserve eternal life for all who believe.

God doesn’t want us to add stuff to His masterpiece. He doesn’t need our opinions, money, or good works. Just as He created the world without our help, so He creates new believers without our help. He doesn’t need us to do anything besides believe His word and believe the Gospel!

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Verse 10

Believers are His masterpiece, and He is doing a work of grace in us! Just believe His word!

4. Application

Check your understanding of the Gospel. Do you believe you have eternal life ultimately from grace alone without your works? Once a person is saved, God does have works for us to do, but they are for maintaining or earning our salvation!

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Verse 10

The works God created you for will serve Him, particularly helping His church get the Gospel to others. Are you willing to get involved? Jesus was willing to give all the grace necessary to save you. Are you willing to offer the same grace to people who need to hear the Gospel?

Every service rendered in the church plays a part of grace to other people. You can pour coffee for a guest who visits. You can sit with a stranger and make them feel welcome. It is hard for people to visit a new place. What grace can you extend to them to help them hear the Gospel?

God is looking for people He will use. He will use people who want to be used.  

Foundations 19: What Are Disciples? 2 Timothy 2:1-4

II Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 

Background:

Paul was imprisoned in Rome around 63 AD. A year later fires destroyed much of Rome and Nero blamed the Christians.  Later Paul was back in Rome and executed about 67 or 68 AD.  

This letter  was written awaiting martyrdom.

Paul had invested much of his life into Timothy, a young man he met while preaching the Gospel.  Timothy decided to come with Paul to be trained and used of God in the ministry.  Everything Timothy learned about the gospel was in the context of this “discipleship” relationship with Paul.

Now Paul is awaiting to die and is writing to Timothy for the last time.  We can expect to hear what is considered the most important things on Paul’s heart as one might expect to hear from someone preparing to die.

2. What Can we Observe about God?

God wants the discipleship relationship to transform lives.

Paul and Timothy were not biological father and son, however this was pattern the New Testament left for Christians to follow.  This was relationship in which Timothy learned the Bible, theology, and Gospel work.  Paul was like a father willing to share his life as well as his knowledge.

“1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 1

As traveling companions, they would have spent night and day together.  Meals, lodging, and idle time were in each other’s company.  Timothy would have watch Paul live out his faith in public and private.

Timothy made a radical decision to leave his home, work, and comfort zone to be with Paul (see Acts 16:1-3).  This kind of radical decision was met with Paul’s full attention and care for his spiritual son.

The purpose of discipleship is to transform people into loyal servants for Christ and to be the primary method of Christian reproduction.

“2 And the things that thou hast heard of meamong many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Verses 2-3

Paul directs Timothy to do for others what he has done for Timothy.  The end result is disciples of Jesus who are able to reproduce more disciples.

Paul tells Timothy to make a choice of whom he should commit to, and that his choice should be based on one primary attribute, faithfulness.

Jesus also was choosy whom He would commit himself to:

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.  But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men.

John 2:23-24

He knew that mere professions of faith was not worthy of His time, but He would choose those whom were faithful. Now, Paul is instructing Timothy to choose wisely who to invest his time in. 

This discipleship lifestyle would transform believers as they pursued Christ and His vision together.  The goal of the mentor and the disciple was to carry out the Gospel mandate.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:19-20

At the time 2 Timothy was written, Christians were being crucified and lit on fire in Rome.  To be baptized publicly during this time meant to have a death sentence as people confessed Jesus as Lord instead of Caesar.  So Paul encourage Timothy to prepare himself for the hardness ahead: 

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Verse 3

Like soldiers, disciples need to be trained and equipped to endure hardness.  Their faith needs to grow and their live needs to be changed.  This discipleship relationship was the means God chose to work in people’s lives.  

This is not the same things as only attending church.  People attend church but their lives don’t change.  People have a pastor, but they don’t have a mentor.  Sometimes the Pastor is failing his duty by not making disciples.  Much of the time people do not display the kind of basic faithfulness to begin the discipleship relationship.

Discipleship is what all Christians are commanded to do, but very few will ever obey.  It is a radical decision to not be entangled with the affairs of this world in order devote oneself to Christ and His misison. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

The sacrifices of the Christian soldier are not begrudging choices but willing sacrifices to please the Master.  While this kind of life looks fanatical to the world, it is only reasonable in the kingdom of God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

Every Christian is called to be discipled and disciple others.  There is no education requirement to begin studying and emulating Jesus. Making a disciple or training a person doesn’t mean that they will be preachers, pastors, or missionaries. It doesn’t mean that they have to be trained by a pastor or missionary.  

Though our passage refers to a father and son like relationship, discipleship is for women also. The mature women were to teach the younger women

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Titus 2:3-5

3. How does our passage point to Jesus and the the Gospel?


The gospel is the transforming power of God brought to the world through discipleship.

Paul was instructing his spiritual son, Timothy, to do for others what Christ did for His own disciples. Mark 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

 People are saved when they believe the Gospel message.   The Gospel message continues to nurture a person’s transformation after they are saved. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

But discipleship is what facilitates maturity.  Imagine tomato plants growing and in the early stages, the producer may add a trellis to encourage its growth.  The trellis does not add nutrients to the plant.  Only the Gospel and the Holy Spirit can do that.  But God gave us mentors help us grow and produce fruit more efficiently.   Good discipleship will always point the student to Christ and search the cross for answers and growth. II Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

4. Application:

Take action in your own discipleship. If Jesus is important to you, make time to be discipled.  Get with  your pastor or mentor every week. Go with him or her to do daily tasks.  Ask questions, learn, and join the vision of the church to get the Gospel to people.

There are seven serving groups our churches use, do you know what they are?  Do you officially have a role in your church?  If you are serving in our church, then you are almost certainly being trained and discipled. 

If something must be sacrificed to make time for discipleship,  start with hobbies or work.  God promises to meet the needs of those who put Him first.  (Matthew 6:33)

Foundations 52+ Christian Friendship 1 Samuel 23

1 Sam. 23:14-18

  1. Background

David is a fugitive from Saul’s jealously.  Ever since David came back victoriously from war, Saul has been trying to kill David (see Samuel 18:6-9).

And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said,

Saul hath slain his thousands,

And David his ten thousands.

And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?  And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

1 Samuel 18:6-9

By chapter 23, David has fled to the wilderness to live in the mountains and caves with men who remain loyal to him.  But God was with David and has chosen him to be king in stead of Saul.

And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

Verse 14

Even with God’s blessing and protection, David is still living in suffering and discomfort.  David is a man of discipline, he has learned encourage himself in the Lord.  The psalms he wrote let us see into his private though while he was on the run:

Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble;

Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psalm 32:7

Even though David has great trust in God, he still deals with contradicting thoughts.  “If God is with me then why do I flee?  Why am I suffering like this?  Why am I being defeated?”  Psalms 11 lets us see in the battle raging in his heart:

In the Lord put I my trust:

How say ye to my soul,

Flee as a bird to your mountain?

For, lo, the wicked bend their bow,

They make ready their arrow upon the string,

That they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

If the foundations be destroyed,

What can the righteous do?

Psalm 11:1-3

The oppression is so overwhelming, what can the righteous do?  If David, God’s chosen, can feel this way, then people today who love God and perform His call can expect to deal with the same circumstances.  Being a witness for Christ in a world engulfed in darkness is not an easy life.  Even though we go with God’s power, still, obedience to great commission will mean suffering and times of discouragement.  

2. What Can we Learn about God?

God’s loves us with promises, sacrifice, and personal risk to Himself.

It’s at this point in David’s life where discouragement as set in where Jonathan, Saul’s son, comes out to comfort him.

And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

Verse 16-18

Consider the cost to Jonathan to be David’s friend.  Jonathan was willing to give up his claim to the throne (v17). By being David’s friend, he was risking his own life by the hands of his father Saul (see 20:32-33).

And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? What hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.

1 Samuel 20:32-33

Jonathan put the life of his friend before his own.  It didn’t matter if Jonathan would lost his rights.  It didn’t matter if Jonathan wouldn’t be the most important person in the kingdom.  Jonathan was willing to put his friend first and sweat to his own hurt. What a friend!

Jonathan’s encouragement went far beyond just a simple pat on the back or a few idle words like “hang in there.”  It does not cost you anything to simply wish someone good luck and leave them to their misery.  Like verse 16 says, Jonathan strengthened him in God.  Jonathan must knew what God had promised David, that he would be king, and so Jonathan came to remind David of those promises. Following this, Jonathan adds his own promise to put David before himself v18.  This covenant they made was before the Lord, meaning, Jonathan would do all he can to help David according to the plans God has already put in place.

And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

Verse 18

What makes Jonathan’s encouragement so powerful is a combination of these elements we see:  

  • Jonathan’s risk to injury to meet with David.
  • Jonathan’s sacrifice to comfort and push David forward.
  • Jonathan’s use of God’s promises to encourage David.
  • Jonathan’s own promise to put David first in the Lord.

If you can learn to be a friend like Jonathan, you can make disciples.  Thought the scope of this lesson is to learn Christian friendship, the principle of friendship also applies to making disciples.  Discipleship making is not a discipline that must be learned in seminary, but rather a more basic call to love others and put them first, encouraging them in the Lord.

As we see a story like this in the Bible, we must remember that these stories are not stories about the glory of Jonathan, David, or any other Bible hero.  But rather, they reveal to us who God is and help us understand how we can trust and believe Him.

In the background portion of this lesson we considered the contradiction raging in David’s heart. “If I am God’s chosen, then why am I suffering this way?”  Though it may feel like God had distanced Himself from our suffering, His word assures us He has not.  God’s promises to sinners like Abraham, David, you and I guarantees only that He will suffer along side us before there will be a resolution to our suffering and struggle with sin.

3. How does this passage point to Jesus and the Gospel?

All passages of the Bible point to the gospel at least in three ways, themes, roles, and rituals.

The Role of Jonathan and the theme of friendship:

Jesus’ faithful friendship secures our hope in the Gospel.

Jesus’ selflessly sacrificed His life on the cross not only cleansed our sin and gave us eternal life, but also elevated our status in His eyes from servants to become friends.

There was a moment in Jonathan and David’s friendship where Jonathan symbolically gave David his own royal robe, bow, and sword. 


“Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”

1 Samuel 18:3-4

It was clear that Prince Jonathan did not merely see David as a servant even though it was in his power to treat him as such.  Because of their friendship, Jonathan elevated David’s status greatly and shared his royal table with him.  Whatever Jonathan heard from his father or any pertinent news from court, he shared it with David.

On the eve of Jesus final sacrifice for His disciple He tells them, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15)”

Jesus paid with His blood to make friendship with us.  In order to pay for sins of His friends, His blood was shed.  This was a “risk” that He willingly accepted, knowing from the beginning that the mission was always the cross.

The comfort He would give us as His friends goes far beyond a list of religious sounding words of wisdom.  But we are comforted by His personal appearance and salvation He secured for us on the cross.  His love was coupled with His suffering for our sake, a decision He was not forced to make, but made it anyway out of love for us.

Like Jonathan was able to portray on a smaller scale, Jesus also laid aside His royal crown to serve us.  He wore instead a crown of thorns as symbol of His service and suffering for our sake.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

Finally, Jesus friendship and encouragement towards us is based on the promises of God.  This act of friendship toward us was promised before the world began.  Jesus on the last night with His disciple made His own covenant with them, all according to the word His Father had already proclaimed.

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:19-20

Finally, Jesus gave us more than just His royal robes, but He gave us His own flesh and blood on the cross.  Its through His provision of His flesh we are able to approach God as the friends of Christ with our sins forgiven and welcomed to the courts of God.

4. Application:

It is clear from Philippians 2:5 and John 15 we apply these promise first by believing then and then imitating them.  Our freedom from sin comes when we believe and accept the offer of friendship Jesus is giving through His body.

But then as His friends we are called to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Our behavior towards others should be and imitation of Christ as already done for us.

Jesus commands us to continue in His love, the love He love us with:

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

John 15:9-10; 12

What did it cost to purchase your soul from sin and hell?  It cost God the most precious thing in His possession.  It cost Jesus His life.  If we are going to rescue souls from hell, we must be prepared to pay with our lives.  We give our lives in His service, we sacrifice, we share,  we open ourselves to strangers, we come under attack, we are hated for His name sake.  

We are His friends willing to do His willing as He was willing to give all He had for us.

Foundations 11 Judgment Genesis 6-9

Genesis 6:5-8, 11-14, 17-19

Genesis 7:9-16, 22-24

Genesis 8:13-19

Genesis 9:20-27 cf. Rev 22:11

Revelation 20:11-15

1. Background

Since humanity was forced from the garden, they have continued their spiral of corruption to the point where all the “thoughts of man were evil continually”.  When Adam and Eve first sinned in the garden, God did not immediately judge their sin, but temporary sent them away from His presence and covered their nakedness with a sacrifice.  But now, “the end” of what God is going to tolerate has come.

2. What Can We Observe about God?

God’s patience has an end.

Even though God is kind and patient, God has said that He will not always tolerate man’s rebellion.

“And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” V3

God could see in man’s heart and see all the corruption that was there. 

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” V5

So because of their sin, God made the decision to destroy what He had created.

“And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” V7

Someone reading this for the first might ask, “What gives God the right to destroy human and animal life?”

Perhaps people then thought that their evil was considered normal.  Everyone did the same things. People learned to do evil just by participating in their own community.  But God has always been a present observer.  He is not alien to the world He created.    His voice created it and His power sustains it, therefore His opinion becomes the standard by which the world is judged. While the world’s actions may be considered normal in our eyes, but according to God’s standard, the earth had become corrupt before Him.

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” V11

God’s judgement does not come without grieving. 

We must not think that God enjoys destroying the work of His own hands. Judgment comes as a necessary response to inciting His wrath.  His name is being dragged through the mud of corruption.  The people whom He has made in His own image have despised and rejected His word.  And even after God’s long patience with them, they have continued in their corruption without turning toward Him. So God moves to judge with grief in His heart.

“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” V6

Other scriptures also communicate this about God’s judgement:

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?  Ezekiel 33:11

So even though God does bring judgment, He would rather humanity turn Him in repentance.  Bringing judgment on His own creation grieves Him at His heart.

But another reason exist why God would rather have forgiveness than judgment.  Judgment does not remove sin from the sinner.  It is apparent after flood destroyed all living things, sin still persisted in humanity as it does today.  

“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.”  Verse 9:22

It also can equally be said that mere mercy also does not remove sin.  If there is going to be a change in humanity, there must be something more powerful than judgment and death to complete the change.

3. How Does This Passage Point to the Gospel?

Modern people have no need to fear again a global flood.  God promised that the world would continue in relative consistent order.

“And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21-22

“While the earth remaineth” implies however that the earth will not continue forever.  There will be a time when a final judgment comes, and the life we know now will cease.  So while, modern people do not have a need to fear a global flood, we have reason to take heed of a coming final judgment.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Rev 20:11-15

The apostle John was given a vision of the final judgement.  The wicked dead were resurrected for judgment and brought before God.  The books of their life were open and everyone man was judged according to all they have done.  If their name was not found in the book of life, they were cast into the of fire.  This is their second death. The first death was their physical death, but the second is judgment in the lake of fire.

So the question is, how does someone have their name recorded in the book of life?

John 3:36 tell us, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

When a person believes on Jesus Christ, God accepts Christ punishment in the place of our coming judgment. God knows who belongs to Him and “saves” them from the Lake of Fire.  The New Testament we read is the legal contract that guarantees our forgiveness and removal of sin.

But anyone who chooses to reject Christ, their sin will remain on them until the final day of judgment comes.

4. Application:

Avoid the second death.  God recorded these things so to avoid the second death.  Everyone who does not place their faith in Christ will meet before God at the white throne judgement. 

Prepare for judgment before it arrives.  The Bible never told us a time when judgment will come. It might come later, it might come later this evening. But God wants us to accept Christ before judgment comes. The reason God had delayed judgment for this long is in order to give us a chance to believe and escape judgment. 

We have a job to do.  Our church is here to complete the mission Christ gave us to do.  We have already believed God and received His salvation from death.  How can we not continue to tell others the Gospel that they might escape also?

Foundations 10 Christ’s Resurrection

Mark 16

1. Background:

On the last night with His disciples, Jesus prepares them for His betrayal and crucifixion. Once it happens, He says they will forsake Him, God will bring them together again. He quotes a prophecy that spoke of the day when He would be killed and humiliated.  

“And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.”

Mark 14:27-28

Peter being confident in himself assures Jesus that he would never deny or forsake Him.

“But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.”

Mark 14:29

Shortly after Jesus is arrested and all the disciples flee from Him.

“‘And they all forsook him, and fled.”

Mark 14:50

Before the night is over Peter denied Him three times.

“And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.”

Mark 14:66-72

Next Jesus is crucified and it appears that Jesus’ mission is a total failure.  All His disciples have fled from Him, seemingly given up any hope.  Their hope was for Him to be alive and reign as king, but not that is all seemingly lost. 

On the third day since Jesus has been in the tomb, the women brought spices to anoint His body.  They wonder who will roll the heavy stone away for them. But their surprised to see it has already been opened.

They’re greeted by an angel that tells them Jesus is alive.

“And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” 

Verse 6

Then the angel reminds them what Jesus said before He was crucified: “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”

Verse 7

2. What Can We Observe About God?

God gives us the resurrection of Christ to be our ultimate hope even after all our failures.

By the time Jesus has been crucified, the disciples had completely given up on Jesus.  They had abandoned Him during His trial.  No one came to His defense. Even Peter was ashamed to be numbered with Him that he denied knowing Him three times.  The men that Jesus chose to be His apostle all failed Him, breaking their promises of faithfulness.

31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”

Mark 14:31

Their complete failure was their unbelief and their unfaithfulness.  They failed to understand who Jesus is and why He came.  They didn’t understand the purpose of His death and they failed to believe when rose from the dead.   It is clear if the disciples are going to live in victory, it won’t be because of their efforts!  They have totally been defeated and have given up on Jesus!

But then Jesus rose from the dead and that changes everything.  His resurrection proves that death cannot stop Him.  His resurrection proves the religious leaders were wrong about Him.  They had accused Him for blasphemy when He said He is the Christ, and He is God.

“And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Mark 15:62

His resurrection proves He is God in human flesh, the Son of God.  He is worthy to be worshipped as God.  Once the disciples saw He was alive and could not refute it, they worshipped Him—something Jews would not do unless they were convinced He is God!

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.”

Matthew 28:16-17

Even then there were people unwilling to trust Him.  His resurrection forces everyone to concede He is who He says He is.  He is God in the flesh and is worthy to be worshipped and obeyed. 

His response to His disciples who fled reveal His goodness and patience to us.  The resurrection only benefits us.  God doesn’t gain anything by convincing us to obey Him.  He died to pay for our sin save us from hell.  All along the way, man has failed Him and continues to struggle trusting Him.  But the resurrection will always be there to provide hope after all the failure.  Even after the disciples fall and flee away, He still meets with them and proves to them He has come to save sinners. Jesus is Lord and He is alive.

3. How does this passage point to Jesus and the Gospel.

Placing our faith in the resurrection of Christ is our only hope of forgiveness and eternal life.

Record of the Gospel leaves no other Savior whereby we can trust.  Can you put your trust in the religious leaders who crucified the Son of God?  Can you put your trust in Peter who denied the Lord three times?  Can you put your trust in either government that took part in condemning Jesus to the cross?  We can only reasonable trust the only One in the book that rose from the dead and defeated the grave.  He is able to give us life because He has life in Himself.  The grave cannot hold Him.  If we cannot deny that Jesus rose from the dead, then what reason do we have to not believe His word?

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Verse 16

4. Application:

He gave us a job to do.  We must tell the world that Jesus is alive the grave and that cannot be ignored. People can be saved from sin and avoid the coming judgment altogether in Christ!

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Verse 15 

Foundations 7 What is the Price of Sin? Genesis 3:1-24

Genesis 3:1-24

1. Background:

When God created the world, He made it without sin or death.  He also gave man the responsibility to keep the garden He made for them.  Along with this responsibility was one commandment to not eat of the tree of good and evil.

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Genesis 2:17

The serpent (Satan) convinces Eve that God is hiding something from them.  She ponders for a moment that God must not be as good as it seems.  She takes the fruit as an act of rebellion against God and gives it to Adam.  Adam obediently takes the fruit from his wife and together attempt to rid themselves of God’s authority.

What results will tell us the outcome of sin for all of us.

2. What Can We Observe About God?

God is patient but will finally judge our sin.

God did not immediately enact judgment of death on them. (3:21)  Even though in his previous prohibition there would be death, still God stalled judgement for a period of time.  Instead of death, they were expelled from His presence, but they go with hope of reconciliation. (3:15)  The hope they were given to return to God one day is what we call the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The final judgment of sin is death and separation from God.

God removes sin and corruption from His presence.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Genesis 3:24

The garden is where their relationship with God was.  They enjoyed His presence there and He took care of them.  Their abundant life was there and they had no lack of anything.  But when they sinned against God, He removed them from His presence.  They were banished with no way back to the innocence they once had.

The banishment Adam and Eve received explains the life sinners now have.  Born into this world, we are already separated from God. Our natural inclination is to sin. If we die in our sin, then we will be eternally separated from God.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Matthew 25:41

Depart from God for eternity?

When man was driven away from the garden, he was also driven away from the only inheritance he really had.  The garden was his resting place, his home, and his connection with God.  The inheritance God gave us was our our created purpose. Losing God also meant losing our inheritance God gave us.  To eternally separated from God is to lose everything that is good.

Separation from God means consumed by sin and evil. Being removed from God’s presence means being filled with corruption and evil.  

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Romans 1:28-32

This is a description of what an everlasting hell is like.  It is the complete absence of anything good and full of sin and evil.

Separation from God means eternal torment.  What follows is logical. If one is separated from God then one is separated from life and everything that is good.  The only thing left is misery and torment.

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 

Revelation 14:11

3. How Does this Passage Point to Jesus and Gospel?

God’s desires to save Sinners from this destruction.

God’s stalled judgment to call sinners to repentance.  Let’s go back to Genesis 3:21 when God temporary covered their shame.  Instead of enacting judgment right away, God had mercy. Why? Because God does not have pleasure in judging sinners.

 “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”

Ezekiel 18:23

It would be hard to trust a God who enjoys punishing sinners, but this is not the case.  The picture of God the Bible gives us is a God who is heartbroken over our sin.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

Matthew 23:37

As we travel through the Bible, we see God making several attempts to call His people to repentance. But after a few generations the people repeat again the same rebellion and the same sin.

But there are individuals in the crowds of people who will respond to God’s call.  God sent them His Son to save them from sin.  These are the people who desire in their heart to return to God and enjoy life with Him.   

 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

Romans 10:13

The salvation through Jesus Christ restores life and our inheritance:

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

Ephesians 1:10

The life we enjoy is the life He gives us and the inheritance we will enjoy is His own inheritance.

4.  Application:

Sinners can escape hell and separation from God by submitting themselves to Him.  Jesus died for sin so that you can be forgiven.  God promises forgiveness of sin to all who come to Him!

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper.”

Proverbs 18:13

But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

As Christians we serve our King who loved us and died for us.  Every day is a new day to serve Him.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

We recognize the life we life is not ours, but the one Christ gave us.  So we use it to serve Him.  Through Christ we have escaped hell and sin.  Can we not serve Him by telling others the good news in Christ?