Monthly Archives: August 2020

1 Peter 2:4-10 Sermon Manuscript

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The Mission of the Church: Offering Spiritual Sacrifices and Proclaiming His Glory!

  1. Introduction
    1. What is reality?
      1. According to 1 Peter we are aliens and strangers in this world. This is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven and we await a Savior, Christ the Lord. What we see with our eyes is true reality, but that’s not all. What is our mission and purpose while we wait?
      1. In 2 Kings, Elisha’s servant saw only one of those realities.
        1. 2 Kings 6:15-16  15 ¶ When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”  16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
      1. Now the reality was that a huge Syrian army stand before two men. But that was not the whole story.
        1. 2 Kings 6:17   17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
      1. The other reality there was another army. Elisha asked the LORD to open the eyes of his servant. Then he saw the other reality. There was no need to fear! True. A huge Syrian army was there to do battle. Yet, the Army of the Lord was there too!
    1. We encounter a similar thing in this passage of Scripture. Yes. Peter said we are elect exiles. However, we are told in this text that we are living stones and we are being built into a spiritual house—God’s house. Where is God’s house? Is it this building? No. We, believers in Christ, are God’s house. You are God’s house that is no longer in Jerusalem but one that extends over the whole earth!
      1. There are things that we see with our eyes that cause us to fear. But we should not fear for we are in God’s house—a house the world cannot see. They, just like ourselves, could not see that we were dead in our trespasses. They hang over the wrath of God by a thread and do not even know it.
      1. We can sing praises when they lock us in jail like Paul and Silas. We could joyfully receive the seizure of our property by the government because they only have it temporarily. What they take is not ultimately theirs. It’s our Father’s. He will give it back to His children one day. There’s no need to worry or fear.
  2. Reading of the Text 1 Peter 2:4-10
  3. Exposition
    1. Two Points
      1. Being Built Up into a spiritual house to Offer Spiritual Sacrifices (4-8)
      1. To Proclaim His Excellencies (9-10)
    1. Point #1: You are priests that offer spiritual sacrifices
      1. First, our text from two weeks ago ended with a plea to consider if you had in fact tasted that the Lord is good. Those who have tasted that the Lord is good continually come to him. “According to v. 4, the ‘Lord’ of v. 3, who is clearly Yahweh in the OT context of Psalm 34, is none other than Jesus Christ.  2:4   4 ¶ As you come to him…
        1. It is confirmed that “him” is Jesus Christ for he the “living stone.”
        1. This continual coming to him is a “drawing near.” The same word is used of the soldiers coming to Jesus while on the cross to offer him sour wine. Yet, we are to come near to offer spiritual sacrifices.
      1. Peter then describes Jesus as a living stone. This living stone is a difficult image to imagine. Stones were obviously building materials but they would not have been considered “living.” It makes me think of the passage when Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a colt and the Pharisees tell Jesus to stop the people from praising him–Luke 19:40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
      1. Peter will be referencing Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 that speak of this “stone” but they do not mention it is as “living.”
      1. Schreiner thinks the reason Peter does this is because of the resurrection! I tend to agree.
      1. The idea comes about because this stone is first rejected (humiliated) but then becomes the cornerstone. Jesus becomes the cornerstone through his life, death, and resurrection! Rejection must precede exultation. That is our pattern too.
      1. Peter makes this clear with the first contrast—“a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”
        1. Rejected by men=the cross
        1. In God’s sight chosen=resurrection
        1. Peter brings both of these together in Acts 4:10-11  10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead- by him this man is standing before you well.  11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.
      1. Peter then does something unexpected. He compares Jesus, the living stone, with the believers, like living stones, in whom he writes! Why does he do this?
        1. The reason I think he does this is because Jesus was the dwelling of God. The tabernacle and temple represented the dwelling place of God but these pointed to something
          1. John 1:14  14 ¶ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
          1. Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily
          1. Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
        1. Yet, Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father. Does that mean the presence of God is no longer on the earth? Well, no. God’s presence now dwells with his people—the church! Not fully like it will be—hence the “like.” We are his presence on earth by way of the Holy Spirit.
          1. Ephesians 2:18-22  18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
      1. For what purpose are believers compared to the living stone—Jesus?
        1. The former “builders” rejected the stone, but we see a new builder now—God himself. 1 Peter 2:5   5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
          1. It is an emphatic statement—“you yourselves.”
          1. God, the new builder, is building a spiritual house where all of his people are priest-like figures who offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God THROUGH his Son! “The church is God’s new temple.” Schreiner
          1. This new temple began with Christ as the cornerstone and is being extended throughout the whole earth through our witness of the gospel. God is building the house but he is using his living stones to proclaim his excellencies all over the world. (Beale)
          1. God is also building a spiritual house that will not fail.
            1. Matthew 16:18   18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
          1. No longer is the priesthood for one tribe among Israel, but to all believers corporately! “The church is the temple and the priests!” Schreiner
            1. This is what Israel was meant to be but failed because of disobedience. Exodus 19:5-6   5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;  6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
            1. This can only happen NOW because of Christ. God’s presence can remain and therefore transform the body of believers because our sins are forgiven and we have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us!
          1. This house offers spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.
            1. It seems the context points us to v.9 where we are to proclaim God’s wonders to this world.
            1. The church is a display of God’s glory. We share the gospel, his excellencies, to a dying world so that they might be born of imperishable seed and lift their voices in praise to God through the Son!
      1. Peter now sets out to prove what he just stated. 1 Peter 2:6   6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
        1. This is a quote from Isaiah 28:16. God is pronouncing judgment upon the priests of Jerusalem. They were drunk and vomit completely covered the table. The priests had not lead the people in worship. They trusted lies and falsehood.
        1. Peter notices the only glimmer of hope in the passage: that God has laid a cornerstone in Zion. Peter understands this prophesy to have been fulfilled in Christ! If they will trust in this cornerstone “they will escape judgment.” (Schreiner)
        1. But what comfort is this quotation? For those in whom Peter writes have possibly suffered the same displacement God’s judgment had pronounced. In may be that Peter wants them to know “their painful situation did not reflect the displeasure of God. Far from it: God’s plan includes a division of people around the Son, this cornerstone rejected by so many [Israel’s priests], and the most important thing, both for this life and for the life to come, is to be living stones along with him in the temple of which he is the cornerstone.” (Carson)
        1. Peter draws a conclusion of those who will not be put to shame—judgment. Those who believe in the Son, believes in the living stone—the cornerstone—will be honored. 1 Peter 2:7   7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
          1. Peter contrasts those who disbelieve—rebel against God’s word—will not receive honor.
          1. In fact, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”  8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 1 Peter 2:7-8  
          1. In this statement, you hear both sides of the same coin. It says they stumble because they disobey the word. They do exactly what they want to do. However, the Lord also destined it. “We have a divine passive verb here that most certainly means God himself appointed them to this end.” (Carson)
          1. We must conclude with McKnight, “God’s act of appointing Jesus as the living stone has become both honor for believers and judgment for unbelievers; this was God’s design, and everything happens according to his will.”
          1. There is much comfort for the readers of this letter in knowing God is sovereign over all things.
          1. When your path crosses the Rock you either believe or reject. You either humble yourself now or you will be humbled. You will receive honor or you will receive shame! There is no in between.
    1. Point #2—The Purpose of the Priesthood is to result in proclaiming his excellencies!
      1.  In contrast to those who “stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”9 ¶ But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:8-9  
        1. Those who have repented and believed in Christ are now, whether Jew or Gentile, a part of the chosen race, a royal priesthood, and holy nation, a people of his own possession.
        1. Those who stumble are not chosen. Those who disobey the word are not a royal priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices. Those who were appointed to do so are an unholy nation. They are not God’s own possession.
          1. They reject the gospel. They reject Christ. They do not proclaim his excellencies throughout the nations. Christ in not praise-worthy in their eyes. He is not glorious to them. They care not about spreading his name over the globe.
        1. But for what purpose are believers a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation?
          1. We are a priesthood. This is a corporate aspect. The church is to display the gospel. In how we love each other and how we maintain our witness in this town and world by meaningful church membership that submits to God’s design of church discipline anytime one of Christ’s church threatens the witness of the gospel.
          1. Our purpose is proclaiming and spreading the fame of Christ’s name. We are in the house of God and his people make him known. This is our mission as a church. This is our goal as the new temple of God that we spread this building over all the earth. That more and more worshippers come to Jesus becoming living stones!
          1. We the church are the lampstand in this new temple that is ever expanding. May we be a light here and to distant nations.
          1. There are no other means by which to expand God’s house than proclaiming the gospel. Are you sharing the gospel? There is no fear. Remember whose house you are in. Remember the unseen reality that unbelievers do not see.
  4. Conclusion
    1. What is our purpose here?
      1. We are to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.
      1. We are to proclaim his excellencies among the nations.
      1. How can we do that?
      1. Let’s start this week by using this last verse as a means of offering up spiritual sacrifices and proclaiming his excellencies.
      1. As you go throughout your day, tell those around this:I was called out of darkness into his marvelous light.  10 Once I was not one of God’s people, but now I am of God’s people; once I had not received mercy, but now I have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
      1. You walked darkness. You were once cut off from God’s people. You were going to receive the just payment for your sin but God had mercy on you.
      1. If you have never experienced this I would urge you to call on the name of the Lord today. Repent and believe in Christ. you must love him more than husband or wife, mom or dad, brother or sister, job and career. You leave everything and follow him. Will you have him?

Reflections on 1 Peter…from a Hospital Bed

As many of you know, our son’s entry into this world was quite eventful. I (Kimberly) am so thankful that I journaled through that experience. The following is what I wrote on one of those days. I should say that at the time, I had been in the hospital on bed rest for 13 days with no date scheduled for us to leave. Baby wasn’t due for another 6 weeks.

Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007

In my reading of 1 Peter today I couldn’t get past this section:


5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:5-7’

It seems from this that going through a trial will allow me to praise at Jesus’s coming. My faith must be tested in order to get to that point. Our human emotions say, ‘I don’t want this trial.’ But our spirit should say, ‘I welcome this trial because it will increase my faith so that it will be found in praise, glory, and honor one day.’

It is also amazing that God through His power is guarding my faith and I can rejoice in this despite what is going on in my circumstances. So as I think about this situation and how right now I am ‘grieved’ over not being able to take care of my household, I am reminded of the Psalm I also read today:

5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. – Psalm 126:5-6

I am ready to go home and take care of my family. But there’s not really anything I can do about that. I know it is God’s plan for me to be here this amount of time, and I want to learn and see what He wants me to while I am here.”

As I read 1 Peter today, as part of the Foundations reading plan, my mind went back to 2007, as it does each time I read it. We were blessed to watch God do amazing things in our family!

Titus 3 Devotion

A pastor’s calling is to teach sound doctrine again and again. 3:1 says remind them. There’s no need to come up with something new and profound. I’m thankful for this! I’m thankful for the historical orthodoxy from which we teach. I am thankful for the richness of confessions of faith. I think it is extremely important for a church to be confessional. We know where the fence is! The fence helps us know where our unity should be and who is outside the fence.

It is very clear that Paul always weaves the gospel into his instructions about good works lest we forget that our relationship with God depends not on what we do. Paul never leaves that in question.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7

Paul also reminds Titus to help those he is teaching to remember who they once were. It really changes how you treat others when you can easily relate. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” – Titus 3:3

Why does Paul want Titus to speak confidently about the gospel and good deeds? So that they might be fruitful like the picture above. Notice this clear statement: The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. – Titus 3:8

These things are excellent and profitable…fruitful! Yet, for the church to remain fruitful there must be something done about those who are unfruitful and want to remain unfruitful. A contrast follows verse 8. “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” – Titus 3:9-11

There are things to be avoided that are worthless and unfruitful. Verse 10 uses the singular “man” or “person.” It only take one among you to stir up division. The one person will recruit. The foolish man will gain some followers. It will grow if left alone. I have not seen this done very well in my lifetime. I’ve had discussions with other pastors who have that one person and his group who are continually harming the church and her witness in the community.

You invite someone to come but they bring up so and so’s name. They want no part of it. Upon investigating, you find out he’s been doing this for years. The church family just makes excuses for him. “He’s always been that way.” “We just overlook him.” “It’s no use.” “He gives more than anybody else.” “If we do something about it, what will the community think?” “We haven’t done anything for years, why do something now?” I could go on but that should be clear enough.

I have wept many tears over this. You feel so helpless and alone. Especially among churches that follow the single pastor model instead of a plurality of pastors. You can teach. You can get agreement. But you cannot move anyone to action. They will often choose the community over what is right. And in choosing the community they didn’t choose the community. They chose the foolish man who keeps the community cut off from them.

I’ve said too much even without being very specific. It is so sad. Many churches cannot reach their community with the gospel because of the influence of one person. And it’s generational, too. They pass it on to others. How do you fix it? You either stand up for the truth and cause a huge fight and then get fired. Or you leave and go somewhere else. And this cycle never seems to end.

I don’t know the answer. The best option is to teach sound doctrine for years and years. You pray earnestly for other mature believers to join the work. You hopefully win some along the way. And then maybe after several years and some have passed on there will be some glimmer of hope. A new identity emerges for your local church. You may never see it come to fruition. But you labor. You train up leaders to carry on the work. Be faithful. Be patient. Love the Lord and love people. And maybe the church will be healthier someday due to God’s amazing grace and your faithful labors.

For the one who left and didn’t stay. I know your pain. If you need someone to talk to, I would be glad to do that. It might help me too. Just know that Jesus loves. Do not lose heart.

Grace be with you all. – Titus 3:15

Reproving the Wise

These are some reinforcements to the last couple of blog posts!

for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. – Proverbs 3:12

8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. – Proverbs 9:8-9

A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. – Proverbs 13:1

A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise. – Proverbs 15:12

A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. – Proverbs 17:10

Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. – Proverbs 25:12

5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. – Proverbs 27:5-6

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. – Proverbs 29:1

Titus 2 Devotion

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Sound doctrine shows up again! I discussed the importance of reproving in the devotion yesterday. I think the reproving was correcting those who were intentionally deceiving and upsetting others in the church in chapter 1. However, the theme of reproving continues and it seems to be for preventing false doctrine from ungodly practices. And we should be aware that ungodly works will lead to the dishonor of God’s word and God Himself.

When we come to Christ, he forgives us completely and counts us righteous (in a right legal standing before God though we are ungodly) by faith alone. Our relationship is completely dependent on the person and perfect work of Jesus. But this faith results in fruit. We are saved by faith alone but faith is never alone. Faith in Jesus produces good works which are one of the purposes of salvation. When we are justified and forgiven, the process of sanctification begins.

We understand this process as discipleship. In discipleship, we learn and unlearn a lot things. Teaching is a huge part of discipleship. We all start in the same place when we are born again. Whether you are old or young or male or female we must all learn to walk with Jesus and learning to walk with Jesus involves unlearning the way we previously walked.

Chapter 2 continues the theme of teaching sound doctrine but it is set off by “bookends.” Verse 1 and 15 are very similar. It’s a great description of how discipleship is supposed to look. But I might stop and ask what should be used for teaching sound doctrine and discipleship? If you thought the Scriptures then you are right.

Let’s be reminded of this:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 *that* the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

(2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Titus 2 are instructions to Titus to “speak things which are fitting for sound doctrine” to older men and older women. Sound doctrine teaches them to be “temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, [sound] in love, [sound] in perseverance” in older men and also “reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good” in older women SO THAT “they may encourage the young women.”

And something I haven’t noticed before in the next section on younger men (and by the way, younger can mean new…like new disciple). The emphasis is on the teacher or discipler rather than the new believer. The one who is young in the faith is to work on being sensible. The way that happens is by listening and watching those who are older in the faith by example. Did you see that?

Notice: (Tit. 2:6-8) 6 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible (self controlled or sober-minded); 7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, *so that* the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

I think the “yourself” is Titus not the young men. The easiest way to prove this from the Greek because it’s hard to know sometimes in English. The Greek pronoun is singular and cannot refer to the plural “young men.” I thought that before looking at the Greek just from the context. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit giving me eyes to see that this morning.

Why? Why does Paul instruct Titus to speak things which are fitting for sound doctrine? So what? In the words of how my young kids might say it…’cause why? 🙂 Here it is…

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

(Tit. 2:11-14)

Let’s make disciples who make disciples. Let’s make disciples by teaching sound doctrine that they might be sound in faith. Because the grace of God has appeared to us! God saved us from sin…why would we want to remain in it? God saved us that we might walk with Him not in the ways of the world. God saved us to bring Him glory by becoming like Him. The grace that saves is also the grace that transforms us. May we not remain as we are but mature in the faith for the glory of Christ!

Titus 1 Devotion

A profound theme among the pastoral epistles, is the call to sound doctrine. Over and over, Paul instructs Timothy and Titus to preserve, teach, and entrust sound doctrine. Because, as 1 Timothy 1 makes clear, that wrong teaching does not lead to sound faith. “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5

In this letter to Titus, Paul had sent him to set things in order in the office of overseer. The overseers/pastors/elders (same office with differing descriptions of the role) are the primary teachers among the church family. Therefore, so goes the teaching of the leadership so goes the church. If the pastors teach sound doctrine then the church will likely believe and practice sound doctrine that aims to love God and others from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

However, as you may be fully aware, the teaching of sound doctrine doesn’t always happen. Indeed, the churches Paul had sent Titus to were already experiencing problems with the teaching. “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.” – Titus 1:10 This comes on the heels of the qualifications for the office of overseer who is expected to teach and maintain sound doctrine and correct that which is in error.

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

– Titus 1:9

So, one of the roles of the pastors is to instruct in sound doctrine but also to rebuke (reprove and expose) that which contradicts sound doctrine. What’s the result of unsound doctrine? In verse 10, it says these people deceive and their talk is empty and worthless. They upset whole families. The things these deceivers focus on leads to being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

In other words, worthless teaching leads to a worthless life…worthless impact in the community and the world. I think I see a lot of that these days. What is the remedy? It’s simple. Pastors that hold to sound doctrine and are able to expose the errors among them. So, to neglect the role of reproving is to allow worthless teaching to take root and result in churches that are dying or will die. Their light has gone out. In some cases, the lampstand has already been removed even while they still meet.

It is unloving not to reprove. It is unloving not to reprove. It is unloving not to reprove.

Not to correct is to care nothing about the health of the church.

Not to correct is to lie about who God is. And if our mission is to make disciples of Jesus and false doctrine is allowed to remain then are you really reaching people with the true Jesus and the true gospel? And if you reach them with this false Jesus and false gospel where will they end up in eternity?

Teaching and maintaining sound doctrine have eternal consequences. If you love the Lord and if you love the church and if you love and want to reach your neighbors, then be cautious about the doctrine taught in the church. It has eternal consequences.

And there is a right and wrong way to do this. Here is the right way:

24 And the Lord’s servant must *not be quarrelsome but *kind to everyone, *able to teach, *patiently enduring evil,
25 *correcting his opponents *with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. – 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Jonah 3–The Mercy of God

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Here’s the manuscript of my sermon at First Baptist Church Fulton, Ky on the morning of 8/23/2020.

Jonah 3.1-10—The Mercy of God

  1. Introduction
    1. What’s amazing about this story is not the fact that a man was swallowed by a fish and survived. The surprising thing about it is that God had mercy on Jonah, indeed His steadfast love. I don’t mean to say that we should be surprised that God is merciful. But rather, the very idea of mercy is knowing we do not deserve it.
      1. Jonah did not deserve it.
      1. You and I do not deserve it.
      1. Therefore, we are exceedingly thankful towards God when He chooses to show us mercy.
    1. What am I hoping we all will see from Jonah 3? I hope you will see what path you are on today and that you will run into this amazingly loving God who is surprisingly merciful. I want you to know the love of God and worship Him forever!
    1. Before we read the text, I would like for you to pause for a moment and think. If you need to bow your head and ask the Lord to open your eyes…clear your mind…remove any distractions…take a moment to do that.
      1. In just a moment, I am going to ask you to remain in that prayerful position as I ask you some questions.
      1. Now, I want to begin by saying that so far in this story, Jonah attempted to go to Tarshish.
        1. By God’s amazing grace, he did not make it to Tarshish. He ran from God and while on the way Jonah ran into God. He seems to be everywhere and knows everything.
        1. As do many stories in the Bible, we leave God out as the main character in the story. This story is not about Jonah being swallowed by a fish but rather it is about the mercy and love of God!
        1. So, I want to ask you…are you headed to Tarshish? What path are you on this morning?
          1. Okay you aren’t a prophet like Jonah. But if you are Christian, you have been called, like Jonah and here it is:
            1. (Matt. 28:18-20) 18 And Jesus…said to them…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations
            1. Every Christian…every follower of Jesus is called to go make disciples. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them about Me.
            1. Some of us are like Jonah on the road to Tarshish.
          1. It’s very possible that there are some among us who are on the road the sailors were on. They believed in God…indeed many gods…but they didn’t know the One, true and living God. By God’s good grace, these sailors ran into the merciful God!
            1. I hope you run into Him today
          1. Others among us might be like the people of Nineveh. You are in need of hearing about this merciful God who alone saves.
            1. You’re on a path that leads to eternal death because you have sinned against the holy God who created you. He has sent me to tell you about His Son Jesus. He sent him to pay the just penalty of your sin for you on the cross and be raised that He might forgive you and set you free.
          1. You are on a path heading somewhere. Some of you know very well that you are fleeing God’s call to make disciples.
            1. I know your struggle. It’s almost a daily battle for me. I have planned my escape to Tarshish and headed out many times only to run into the mercy of God.
            1. I have gone to Nineveh and yet the words would not come out.
            1. I have headed to Nineveh only to find myself on a detour heading to Tarshish.
            1. But…maybe most importantly I lived in Nineveh and God sent one of His disciples to tell me about Jesus.
            1. And now I am here telling you. Let’s see if you run into the same merciful God…the Son of God as I did and Paul did on his way to Damascus.
    1. Read the text and pray
  2. Exposition
    1. I believe there are four points to be seen in this chapter
      1. Outline
        1. The mercy of God Pursued Jonah again…
        1. Jonah proclaims the LORD’s message
        1. Nineveh repents and believes
        1. God relents from judgment
      1. The main overall point is…The Surprising Mercy of God
    1. Point 1—The Mercy of God Pursued Jonah a second time
      1. The main difference between Jonah 1:1 and Jonah 3:1 are the words “a second time.”
        1. If I may say it this way, “Have you come to expect a second chance from God?” When I read the first verse of this chapter it moved me to worship! When I see God doing this for Jonah I can relate. I have experienced the love of God coming after me many times.
        1. Not one time have I ever deserved it and nor did Jonah.
          1. Aaron’s sons didn’t get another chance when they offered strange fire on the altar.
          1. Uzzah didn’t get another chance when he reached out to steady the ark of the covenant.
          1. Ananias and his wife Sapphira didn’t get another chance when they lied about the property they sold. 
        1. May I ask again, “Have you come to expect a second chance from God?”
          1. It was His kindness that saved you.
          1. He sent his Son because He loved you.
          1. He pursued you by His grace.
          1. You have resisted. You have fled the other way. But at every turn He was the God who was there. He was the loving Father coming after the one He loves.
          1. Do you know how much the Lord loves you? Did you know that God loves you so much that He will not let you make it to Tarshish? 
        1. I think we need to consider something. Did Jonah run because he thought that he could actually flee His presence? Did he run because he thought God was no longer all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present?
          1. We all believe a lot of things and know a lot of true things yet we just simply don’t think about them.
          1. The Bible calls that suppressing the truth or calloused heart or even hard-heartedness. Let me explain how easy it is to suppress the truth.  
            1. We have been suppressing the truth when we were in Louisville dropping Lydia off at Boyce College. It didn’t hurt and we fought off the tears if we could manage not to think about leaving her on Tuesday. But the time came and so did the tears.
          1. We often suppress the truth by not thinking about what is true. That’s how Jonah got up and went the opposite direction.
          1. I think it’s easy to read this story and see Jonah’s error quit plainly. We might even say, “Come on Jonah! What’s wrong with you?”
          1. Well, his problem is our problem. I want you to pray as we move along that you would see where you are as clearly as you see where Jonah was. You need to think. Stop suppressing the truth. The Lord is standing in your path with abundant mercy.
          1. Ask the Lord to do what He must to save you. If you need to be taken to the bottom of the ocean then whatever it takes. Plead with Him not to let you go your own way.
      1. (Jon. 3:1) Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time
        1. You might have thought my sermon title only meant to say the mercy of God towards Nineveh because you have read the whole story. However, I mean the mercy of God towards the sailors, Jonah, Nineveh and all of us.
        1. This word from God comes a second time after God pursued Jonah and he responded in repentance…THEN…the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time.
        1. There are conditions. No repentance, no second time. God pursues in His grace. He shows us great patience. But He is the LORD…Yahweh. And He will have mercy on whom He has mercy. It’s His decision. He is not obligated to do anything for you. He might stop you from going to Tarshish by way of your death.
    1. We have seen the mercy of God towards Jonah but that mercy was not merely for Jonah. It was also for Nineveh…and us. Jonah proclaims the message of His merciful Savior.
      1. The Lord says in (Jon. 3:2-3) 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”  3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.
      1. I think it must be said that God didn’t need Jonah. He’s not the only person on the planet. Nor does God even need “believers” to do it.
        1. Listen to how Rahab who lived in Jericho had heard: (Jos. 2:8-10)  8  Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof  9 and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.  10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.
      1. Jesus doesn’t need you but He invites you to join His mission in calling sinners to repentance.
      1. And without question, when God decides to send someone to Nineveh, someone is going to Nineveh. As Job declared… (Job 42:2)  2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
      1. Let’s see God’s plan coming about! (Jon. 3:3-4) Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth.  4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
        1. It appears that it took three days to walk through the city of Nineveh. No doubt it was a walled city of more than 120,000 people…souls.
        1. This city was exceedingly evil. Can you imagine entering a walled city of 120,000 wicked people? It doesn’t seem that Jonah was afraid for his life.
        1. So, Jonah walked 1/3 of the way into the city and began to proclaim the judgment of the LORD. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
          1. It’s a merciful thing to hear this. They have obviously heard more than this before…maybe similar to that of Jericho.
          1. Many of the prophets spoke judgment against many nations. The LORD gives Nineveh a specific timeline. Most of the time we don’t have any sort of length of time to consider what God has said.
          1. We often think we have all the time in world. But listen to me. Today is the day of salvation. Today. You have right now. Respond. You shall be overthrown, too. But you do not know if you have 40 days or not. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.
      1. What will they do? Stone the messenger and throw him out of the city?
    1. We have seen the mercy of God towards Jonah. We have seen the response of Jonah to God’s mercy. Now let’s see the response of this great, wicked city Nineveh to the message.
      1. (Jon. 3:5) 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God.
      1. I don’t know about you but this seems miraculous! If you have shared the gospel any length of time, you know how amazing this is. There’s a story that always sticks out in my mind.
        1. We were in the border city of Acuna, Mexico. We were walking the streets sharing the gospel. A fellow student was my interpreter and we stopped to speak with a lady who was at home working in her house/grocery store.
        1. When we presented the gospel to her, she immediately knew that it would cost her dearly. She began to tell us that her husband would leave her. She would lose her family, a place to live, her grocery store and really everything if she followed Jesus.
        1. We continued to tell her how much Jesus loved her and that he was worth losing everything. This went on for quit some time. She kept saying this over and over and we kept sharing the gospel. We were about to leave and suddenly she started praying. Confessing her sins and pleading for Jesus to save her. I couldn’t believe it. So many times, we had left other people who had said no.
        1. Jonah proclaims and the people respond. Praise the Lord!
        1. Obviously, they believed this message was not merely from Jonah. It doesn’t say they believed Jonah. It says they believed God. And their belief was not merely an acknowledging of facts but belief and repentance that changed their disposition to humility.
        1. Jonah proclaimed a message and they proclaim a fast. The hunger in the stomach was to be a sign of their hunger for God’s mercy. They were desperate and needy. They put on sackcloth…another sign of humility and grief over sin.
        1. The extent of this proclamation is from the greatest of them to the least. No age group is exempted. The doom of the city involved everyone; therefore, all of them must repent.
      1. Even social status does not get an exemption. Jonah 3:6   6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
        1. When coming to Jesus, you must check your social status at the door. Your position in the community has nothing to do with your position before God. If you come, all are laid low at the foot of the cross. Small or great. Slave or free. Man or woman. Your social status means nothing.
        1. We see this king display humble faith. Notice he arose from his throne and sat down in ashes. He laid aside his royalty and displayed that he was a creature made from the dust.
        1. He removed his royal robe and covered himself with sackcloth. In other words, he removed his pride and clothed himself with humility.
        1. We would do well to see the example of this king and cloth ourselves in humility.
      1. I must stop here for a moment because many people, especially here in the buckle of the Bible belt have said they believe in God. They say they have been saved. They say…they say…they say…
        1. Yet, I don’t see any fruit or evidence of faith. I see fruit and evidence in Jonah and the people of Nineveh and even the sailors. But is there any fruit or evidence in your life?
        1. James points out that Abraham’s belief in God was visible and real when we see him taking Isaac up the mountain for sacrifice. His belief was so sure that he thought that even if he took the life of his son that God would raise him from the dead. Yet, God provided a lamb!
        1. I am so blessed to be among so many who display their faith clearly and boldly.
        1. But not everybody. Look at your feet. What path are you on? Where is your faith?
        1. And dear Jonah’s. You have a relationship with Jesus. But you are going to Tarshish instead of going to make disciples. You are going to run into the mercy of God. Why not today? Why not before the wind and the fish. Why not before being taken to the bottom of the ocean?
      1. True humble faith is serious and never silent. It calls on the Lord. Listen to what the king ordered. Jonah 3:8-9  and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.  9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
        1. Another proclamation. Jonah proclaimed God’s message. Two fasts were proclaimed and now all people are to proclaim earnestly to God.
        1. True repentance is a humbling disposition. It sets God as supreme and man as creaturely. It is desperate and sincere. It hopes in the mercy of God. It mourns over sin and wickedness with godly sorrow. You don’t mourn that you got caught but rather that you have offended and belittled the Holy Creator.
    1. The people of Nineveh responded in repentance and faith in God. How will God respond to them?
      1. Jonah 3:10 10 ¶ When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. 
      1. One of my favorite descriptions of God is actually from Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid in Genesis 16:13 “You are the God who sees me,”
      1. WHEN…God saw their deeds. WHEN…He saw their humility. WHEN…He saw their repentance. WHEN…He saw that they had turned from their evil ways. God relented of the disaster he had declared against them.
      1. The chapter simply ends with He did not do it. This is the great miracle of the book of Jonah—God’s mercy towards Nineveh. Wow! Did you see it?
      1. If you will repent and believe in Jesus, He will not destroy you. He will forgive you and adopt you into His family.
  3. Conclusion
    1. I’m going to ask that you bow your heads for a moment.
    1. I want ask you again, “Who are you in this story?”
      1. The sailors?
      1. Jonah?
      1. Nineveh?
      1. What path are you on?
      1. Do you see the love of God in this story?
      1. Do you see the mercy of God?
      1. Will you receive the gift of salvation and repent and believe in Jesus?
      1. Will you go make disciples?
      1. Do you love Jesus more than anything else?
      1. Is Jesus enough?
    1. Pray

2 Timothy Devotion

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This blog found its beginning while I was in seminary at Southwestern in Fort Worth. When I started there, my understanding of the nature of Scripture was not very good. As I came to understand, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” But as I began to grow and understand what God’s Word is, this little phrase embedded in chapter 2 struck me in the most profound way–the word is not imprisoned!

So much so that I named the blog after this amazing statement. I left SWBTS with the understanding that God’s Word was just that…God’s Word. For God to say was for the Bible to say. For the Bible to say was for God to say. The simple reason the Word cannot be imprisoned is because God cannot be imprisoned. If the nature of Scripture were anything less, then it could most certainly be shut up. I mean, our word can be shut up. Only God’s Word is unbound. No cage can contain it. The thickness or height of any wall cannot stop it. That’s very encouraging!

I think it is ironic and somewhat hilarious that 2 Timothy, the prison letters from Paul could not be imprisoned. Paul was locked up but God’s Word could not be locked up. These letters, which we hold to be Scripture, left the prison and accomplished and is still accomplishing its purposes!

Indeed, what follows this profound truth is the source of Paul’s perseverance. He endured all things through the truth of God’s Word and he was certain that whether or not he remained imprisoned that the Word was never imprisoned. And the Word…the Gospel…indeed Jesus/the Word himself was going forth saving his people to obtain salvation and eternal glory!

The Scriptures were the source by which Timothy’s mother and grandmother had been led to faith as well as Timothy himself. The Scriptures are the source from which Timothy is to teach, remember, remind, and preach. They’re all he’s got! They are enough! Why?

(2 Tim. 3:16-17) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
  • What do you think and believe about God’s word?
  • Is it the very Word of God, Himself?
  • Does it have ultimate authority over you?
  • Do you regard it as sufficient?
  • Can it be stopped?
  • Is it able to teach, reprove, correct, train in righteousness so that you will be equipped for every good work?
  • Should other words…your word be preached?
  • Is God’s Word trustworthy?
  • At the end of all things, what will still be standing?
(1 Pet. 1:23-25) ...since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.