Sunday, December 18, 2005

"The Good Shepherd's Missionary Intimacy"

NOTES FROM THIS MORNING'S SERMON (as a side note, the Lord used this as I was conversing with someone in #prosapologian)

John 10:1-18
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.
2 "But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.
3 "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."
6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
7 So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
12 "He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 "He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.
14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,
15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
16 "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
17 "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.
18 "No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."
19 A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words.
20 Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?"
21 Others were saying, "These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?"

focus is on verses 14-16

The world cries out for intimacy. But they look for it in all the wrong places (self-absorption, immoral relationships). The world also needs a shepherd, but the world looks for shepherds in all the wrong places too (even those who are into "self help" buy books written by others on how to help themselves...). In Christ, we find the center of and only hope for intimacy. And, in Christ, we find the true Good Shepherd. In Christ we find the original pioneer missionary. And yet Christ has intimacy with all His sheep (v. 14 "I know My own and My own know Me " AND "I must bring them also").

What kind of Shepherd is this to the sheep?

-Good- in v.14, the Greek used is "kalos", which is not referring to merely being moral and upright but it means beautiful, excellent, and preeminent.

-Knows His sheep and His sheep know Him- this is the heart of intimacy

-the Holy Spirit causes us to know Christ- this is not a command but a statement of fact- Jeremiah 31:34- "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' declares the LORD, 'for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'"- we recognize Christ's voice because of who we are (v. 4-5)

- Christ's intimacy with the sheep is like the intimacy within the Trinity. The Trinity is the most important relationship in the universe, and this is how Christ describes His intimacy with his sheep:

John 17:23,25-26- "I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me...O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

- we tend to look at ourselves through our own eyes rather than through Christ's eyes- how does Christ see us?- Christ says of His sheep:

John 17
6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
7 "Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You;
8 for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me."

Hebrews 11 speaks of the faithfulness of people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab, and yet they were sinners

all this is based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ- v. 15- "and I lay down My life for the sheep"- there is no intimacy with God without a faith that trusts solely in the finished work of Christ- Christ Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:13) and our righteousness and our wisdom and our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30)

"Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die;
Another's death, Another's life
I stake my whole eternity."

- v.16- a mission of intimacy- God's plan is to know and to be known by people of every tongue, tribe, and nation- Christ HAS other sheep "not of this fold" (He has sheep among the Gentiles too) - note it doesn't say that Christ may potentially have sheep, but He has them- the doctrine of election drives our evangelism- John 6:37: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."

- if Christ didn't bring in all of His sheep, then He'd leave the work He came to do unfinished- Christ didn't come to spill His blood and then have those He spilt it for to go to Hell

- v.16- the sheep will hear His voice- this is encouraging because that means it doesn't matter how steeped in falsehood one is before conversion, whether it be atheism, Islam, Buddhism, whatever- when God calls His sheep, they will hear His voice- this means we don't have to dress the Gospel up or come up with fancy program, we just need to go out and preach the Gospel!

Acts 18
9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;
10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city."
11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Acts 13
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord- Part 3

Then, on Sunday Evening, we went to Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. This is a great group of solid biblical Christians! I already knew one of their elders, Sam Waldron. He has written some wonderful books, and I have spoken with him at Southern Seminary. I got to meet the other pastors, as well as many of the other members there.

We partook of the Lord's Supper together, and I really liked how they did it. After singing some hymns, reading some Scripture, and the "fencing of the table," we all went down to a room where there were tables with white linens. All of us who partook sat around the tables while those who did not sat on chairs against the walls. Then, after a breif sermon (my pastor preached on Matthew 26:26-29), we partook and afterwards there was time for people to share a passage of Scripture or to tell how the Lord had answered prayer or provided some way. It was wonderful! Full of Gospel truth for both believer and non-believer alike.

One of the main points of the message preached was that the Lord's Supper is a meal that helps us to persevere and give us assurance. It is Christ who bids us to eat, drink, and remember His death until He comes again. And it reminds us that each believer at the table is there because Christ has had mercy on us. Christ has called each of us individually, and He has paid for every sin of those who believe. This was driven even further home to me because of listening to a conversation between one of my elders and a new believer (several weeks!) on our way down to Heritage. They were talking about John 6:37-44 and how Christ will lose none of those the Father has given Him. I've read that passage many times, but it seemed exceedingly precious to me as I thought about how God will bring all His chosen children through the trials and failures of life. What a mighty God we serve! Predestined-called-justified-glorified, can it get any better than that? :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord- Part 2

Here are my notes from Sunday morning's sermon:

Hebrews 10
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

What does it mean to stir, or stimulate, one another to love and good deeds? We know what it is like for the world to try to stir people to do things. Marketers spend 1 trillion dollars trying to get people to buy products. But how should the Christian be stirred up and stir others up to do those things that God would want us to do?

First, this call to stir one another up is linked to the Gospel itself. Notice the "and" in verse 24. We need to hold fast to the confession of our faith
(Hebrews 10:14- "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."), which results in loving one another and doing good deeds. The sin of liberal "Christianity" is that they try to do good things and try to love others and yet don't hold fast to the Gospel. But, we are told in Scripture:

Ephesians 2
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

The words "let us" have a humbling effect. It isn't just the pastor who is to stir Christians up. It isn't just those in positions of leadership that are to spur one another on. Every Christian is called to do these things, although how each one serves will look different.

As Ephesians 4:11-13 says, "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."

Also see Romans 12:3-8

"Consider" means to think about carefully, to notice, to envision. This is the same also used in Hebrews 3:1: "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession." We should not only consider Jesus but consider one another as well.

Who is this "one another"? We are fragile in and of ourselves (Psa 103:14-16). But we are beloved of God, and Christ does not break off a battered reed nor put out a smoldering wick (Matthew 12:20). And neither should we: Romans 15:1-2 "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification." In one sense, our eternity depends on stirring one another up. Hebrews 10:26-27 comes on the heels of the command to consider how to stir one another up to love and good deeds and to not neglect the assembling of ourselves together: "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES."

How should we stir one another up? By being with one another, as commanded in Hebrews 10:25. It means getting people to do what they already want to do! Christians love the brethren (John 13:35, 1 John 4:12). They long to see one another conformed into the image of Christ. This means that the church needs to focus on making disciples, not drawing crowds (God loves to conquer the world with small armies- consider Gideon's in Judges 7). Preaching the Word and pursuing love and good deeds will build the church. Marketing strategies can't and won't.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord- Part 1

This past Lord's Day, I had such a blessed time worshipping with God's people! In a generation that esteems popularity and worldly ease, I am thankful to be part of a church that is committed to teaching the whole counsel of God and seeks to grow disciples, not statistics. I am also thankful for the other churches that are similarly seeking to obey the Word of God, not being those who would "starve us, amuse us, and lull us to sleep" to quote one of my favorite Christian artists.

In Sunday School, the lesson was on Isaiah 52:13-53:12. There is so much in this passage! One could easily spend a month or more on this part of Scripture. Here Isaiah prophesies Christ the suffering servant. The liberals say that the Gospel writers tried to make Christ's life fit this passage, for certainly this could never be prophesied, and, besides, substitutionary atonement is so obscene. The Jews say this certainly is not about the Messiah that would save Israel but rather probably about Israel in general. But to those that the Father has revealed the Son to, this passage shows us the beauty of Christ's mercy and grace toward the vile sinners for which He died:

13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

We looked at this passage from three main vantage points. Again, we didn't even attempt to plumb the depths of the passage.

1. man's relationship to God:
- man is characterized by transgression and iniquity (53:5)
- we are sheep who have gone astray (53:6)
- we each go our own way (53:6)
- we deserve punishment (53:8)

2. the Servant's relationship to man:
- He will startle many nations (even if one does not choose to translate the Hebrew in 5:15 as "startle" rather than "sprinkle," the idea is still there)
- kings will shut their mouths on account of Him (52:15)
- the majority would forsake Him (53:3)
- He bore our griefs and sorrows (53:4)
- we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (53:4)- the world thinks He died for His own sins, but we who are the redeemed know that He died for our sins (53:5)
- He was with rich and poor men in His death (53:9)
- He would justify the many and bear their iniquities (53:11)
- He bore the sins of many and intercedes for them (53:12)

3. God's relationship to the Servant
- He will startle the nations (52:15)
- He caused our iniquity to fall on Christ (53:6)
- He was pleased to crush Him (53:10)
- the Servant was a guilt offering (53:10)
- He would allot Him a portion with the great (53:12)

This wasn't some feeble attempt by God to fix some plan gone wrong. This wasn't some man-made folklore. This was God sending forth His Son to die for a people and show forth His arm mighty in salvation, just as promised all throughout Isaiah and the rest of the Old Testament.

(I will post the sermon notes and several other things on tomorrow's blog!)

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Practical Implications of Calvinism

Just wanted to post a link to the audio from the 2005 Founders Cruise. Sounds like they had a great time!

Clicky here.