AUTHORS » Joe Anady

Sermon: Woe To You Lawyers!, Luke 11:45-54

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 53

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 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, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 11:37-54

“While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.’ One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.’ And he said, ‘Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’ As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.” (Luke 11:37–54, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

  1. Introduction
    1. Last Sunday we considered Luke 11:37-44 and the three “woes” that Jesus pronounced up the Pharisees. Today we will consider the three “woes” that Christ pronounced upon the lawyers as recorded in Luke 11:45-54. I will repeat what I said in the introduction to the previous sermon. We ought not to consider the “woes” pronounced upon the Pharisees and lawyers to cast stones at them but to carefully examine our own hearts and minds to be sure there is no Pharisaical or legalistic spirit within us.  
  2. The Lawyers Condemned (vs. 45-52)
    1. In verses 45-52, Jesus condemns the lawyers. These lawyers were not lawyers in the way we think of them but were experts in the law of Moses. Many of them belonged to the sect of the Pharisees, so there is substantial overlap between the two groups. You should know that these lawyers were highly educated, religiously devout, and respected by many. And yet Christ condemns them. We should be concerned to know why.
      1. In verse 45 we read, “One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also’” (Luke 11:45, ESV).
        1. Jesus had just finished speaking words of condemnation against the Pharisees. Evidently, the Pharisees did not know what to say. It was a lawyer who protested on their behalf saying, these words that you speak against the Pharisees apply to us also and they are insulting.  
        2. Interestingly, the lawyer referred to Jesus as “teacher”. This reveals two things: One, they did not regard him as the Messiah as Jesus’ disciples did (see Luke 9:20). Two, they did acknowledge him to be great. The lawyer referred to Jesus as “teacher”, a term of respect, no doubt.      
      2. I smile a little every time I read verses 45 and 46. Jesus’ attention was on the Pharisees. The lawyer protested, saying, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” Christ did not apologize. Rather, he turned his attention to the lawyers and pronounced three “woes” upon them as well. I guess it would have been better for the lawyer to have kept his head down. 
      3. Let us now consider the three “woes”:
        1. The first is found in verse 46. There we read, ​​“And [Jesus] said, ‘Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers” (Luke 11:46, ESV).
          1. What does this mean that lawyers loaded people with burdens hard to bear? Two things, I think:
            1. One, the lawyers had a bad habit of adding laws to the law of God. In other words, not only did they teach men to obey God’s law, but they demanded that men obey the traditions of the elders too. The lawyers, mind you, would have been perfectly right to teach men and women to obey the law of God given through Moses. The law of God given through Moses was meant to be obeyed. But it was heavy enough! No one was able to keep it perfectly. This is why the Old Covenant had a sacrificial system. Through the sacrificial system, men and women could be made clean in an earthly sense according to the terms of that covenant. Also, the sacrificial system pointed forward to Christ who would actually atone for the sins of his people to make them truly clean and right before God for all eternity. The Old Covenant law of Moses was heavy enough. It made people aware of their sins and their need for a Redeemer. The extra laws and manmade traditions of the elders that the lawyers imposed upon the people were exceedingly heavy.
            2. Two, the lawyers loaded people with heavy burdens when they taught that a person was justified before God through their law-keeping. Can you imagine what it would be like to believe that eternal life has to be earned through obedience to God’s law? That might sound good and true for a moment. But anyone who knows what the law truly requires and forbids will soon see the problem. We do not keep God’s law perfectly but break it daily in thought, word, and deed. You see, it is one thing to strive to keep God’s law because you love God and are assured that God loves you, knowing that he has forgiven all your sins through faith in the Messiah and clothed you with his righteousness. It is another thing to think that God’s favor must be earned through obedience to the law. The first kind of law-keeping is a light and joyous endeavor. The second kind of law-keeping is a terrible and heavy burden. 
            3. These lawyers were legalists. They added manmade traditions to the law of God and they taught that eternal life had to be earned through law-keeping. This is why Christ said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear…”
          2. After this, Christ said, “…and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”
            1. I think the meaning is this: through your teachings, you place these heavy burdens on the shoulders of the people, but you do not live up to these standards yourselves. More than this, you judge the people harshly but you do not provide any help or relief to them. You are heavy-handed with people. And when you see them buckling under the weight of the burden of the law of God (misapplied), you do nothing to relieve them. You do not even touch their burden to lift it with your finger.     
            2. So then, in this first “woe” these lawyers were condemned by Christ for their misapplication of the law of God, their adding of manmade rules and regulations to the law of God, their heavy-handed and judgmental treatment of the people, and their hypocrisy.    
        2. The second of the three “woes” is found in verses 47 through 51. There we hear Christ say, “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.” There is a lot that is said here. Notice a few things about this second “woe”. .
          1. Firstly, Christ reminds us of the sad history of the Israelites. The true prophets who ministered within Israel were rarely honored.  In fact, they were often persecuted as they proclaimed the Word of the Lord. That is the history that Christ reminds us of when he spoke to the lawyers saying, “For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.”  
          2.  Secondly, Christ condemned the lawyers for being just like their fathers. Their forefathers opposed and even killed the prophets, and they were about to do the same thing with Christ and his Apostles. Christ was and is the Prophet of God. The Pharisees and lawyers opposed him, rejected him, and would soon crucify him. They would mistreat and even kill the Apostles of Christ too. When he said, “So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs”, he meant, you are just like your forefathers. You honor them because you are just like them.
          3. Thirdly, when Christ said, “Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute’”, he was predicting his own martyrdom and the persecution and eventual martyrdom of his Apostles at the hands of these religious leaders. More than this, Christ was confessing that his death on the cross and the persecution and martyrdom of his Apostles were all according to the Wisdom (or plan) of God. God in his infinite wisdom had decreed from before the foundation of the world that Christ would be crucified to redeem his people (see Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:20). And it was also according to the will of God that his disciples would suffer, some to the point of death, after his ascension (see Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 1:5). The crucifixion of Christ and the sufferings experienced by his followers, are not outside of God’s will, but fall out according to definite plan and foreknowledge of God. God has decreed in eternity to permit these sins and sufferings to bring about ultimate good for his redeemed ones.
            1. Christ’s words, “Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute’”, should remind us of what the Apostle Peter said when he preached to the Jews on the day of Pentecost after Christs’ resurrection and ascension. Among other things, he said, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:22–24, ESV). I do believe that when Peter looked back upon the crucifixion of Christ and described it as Jesus being, “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”, he was saying the same thing that Christ said before his crucifixion concerning these things being done according to the  Wisdom of God. Friends, Christ was not crucified against God’s will but in accordance with it. God decreed in eternity to permit the crucifixion of Christ so that through it he might bring many sons and daughters to glory (see Hebrews 2:10).
          4. Fourthly, when Christ said, “so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation”, he revealed that the judgment of God, which had been stored up as it were for ages, would fall upon the Jews of that generation.
            1. The reason should be clear. It was this generation that would persecute and kill, not an ordinary prophet of God, but the promised Messiah himself. In the past, the forefathers of these Jews had killed the prophets, but the persecutions and killings of these righteous prophets in ages past anticipated (typified) the killing of the Righteous One himself, Christ the Lord.
              1. This reminds me of what Steven, the great evangelist, deacon, and first martyr of the early church said right before the Jews stoned him to death. He concluded his message to Jews with these words: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it” (Acts 7:51–53, ESV).
              2. I have now quoted the words of Peter from Acts 2 and the words of Steven from Acts 7. They both sound a lot like Jesus from Luke 11, down. You almost get the impression that these men walked with Jesus and learned from him! 
            2. When Christ said, “so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation…”, he was teaching that all of the persecutions and killings of righteous men in the past would, in a sense, culminate and find fulfillment in the crucifixion of the Righteous One, the Messiah, Christ the Lord.
              1. I think we should also remember what the unbelieving Jews said when they demanded Christ be crucified. Do you remember the story as it is recorded in Matthew 27? Pilate, the Roman Governor, had questioned Jesus and found that he was innocent. He urged the Jews to release him, but they were insistent that he be crucified. In Matthew 27:24 we read, “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:24–26, ESV).
              2. The nation of Israel would be judged in that generation. When Christ was raised from the dead, The Old Covenant passed away and the New Covenant began. The kingdom of God, which was typified or pictured in Old Covenant Israel, was taken away from them and given to a people producing its fruits (see Matthew 21:43). And in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was besieged and the great temple of the Old Covenant order was destroyed never to be built again. We are to interpret these events as being tightly linked with the Jews killing their own Messiah at the hands of lawless men.     
              3. Christ predicted his martyrdom. His death was decreed according to the Wisdom of God. But it was these unbelieving Jews, many of them Pharisees and lawyers, who acted unjustly, “so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, [would] be charged against [that] generation…”,
            3. It is interesting, I think, how Christ spoke of the blood of the prophets shed in ages past. He identified “Abel” as the first prophet martyred and “Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary”, as the last.
              1. You probably know who Able is. He was the younger son born to Adam and Eve after their fall into sin. Cain was his older brother. It should be remembered that it was promised to Adam and Eve, that a descendant of Eve would crush the head of the serpent, Satan, who had tempted Eve, and therefore, brought sin, misery, and death into the world. There is some evidence in the text that Adam and Eve were hopeful that Cain might be the one. He proved to be a wicked man. Able was a righteous man. Cain, being provoked by jealousy and moved to anger, rose up and killed his own brother, Able. Christ tells us that Able was a prophet. This means he was a man of faith who understood the promise of God concerning a coming redeemer, and he proclaimed the word of the Lord. Able was the first prophet to be martyred. His martyrdom anticipated the martyrdom of many more prophets of God in the future. Ultimately, the martyrdom of Able anticipated the martyrdom of Jesus Christ, the true seed of the woman promised to Adam and Eve so long ago (see Hebrews 11:4). And if the murder of Abel anticipated the murder of future prophets, the murderous Cain anticipated the murderous impulse of those who would, spiritually speaking, be born of the seed of the serpent in the future.             
              2. Christ identifies Zechariah as the last of the Old Covenant prophets to be martyred. The story of Zechariah’s martyrdom is found in 2 Chronicles 24:20–22. God’s word says, “Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, ‘Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’’ But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, ‘May the LORD see and avenge!” (2 Chronicles 24:20–22, ESV).
                1. Some have wondered why Christ named Zechariah as the last of the Old Covenant prophets to be killed. After all, the prophet Uriah was killed by King Jehoiakim nearly 200 years after the murder of Zechariah (see Jeremiah 26:22-23).
                2. The answer is that Christ was not concerned with the chronology. Zechariah is mentioned for at least three reasons. One, his martyrdom was most terrible. He was slain in the temple itself in the courtyard of the priests between the altar for burnt offerings and the holy place. Think of the symbolism. Zachariah the prophet was offered up as a kind of sacrifice. Certainly, this anticipated the offering up of Christ, the great Prophet of God, as a sacrifice to atone for our sins. Two, Zechariah’s last words fit with what Christ was here saying. “And when he was dying, he said, ‘May the LORD see and avenge!” (see Jeremiah 26:22-23). The Lord did see, and he would avenge. Christ declared that the time for vengeance had arrived when he said that “the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, [would] be charged against this generation…” Three, it is important to know that the Jews organized the books of the Old Testament differently than we do. We have Malachi as the last book of the Old Testament. In Jesus’ day, the Jews had 2 Chronicles as the last book. So, Zechariah was the last prophet to be martyred, not chronologically, but canonically. Taken in this way, Jesus meant that the blood of all the prophets whose martyrdom is recorded for us in the pages of Holy Scripture, from Abel at the beginning to Zechariah at the end, would be charged against this generation.
        3. It is in verse 52 that we find the third of the three “woes” that Christ pronounced upon the lawyers. I find this third “woe” to be most interesting. I also believe that it is the most devastating of the three. There we read, “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52, ESV).
          1. What is this “key of knowledge” of which Christ speaks? It is the key of the knowledge of salvation through faith in Christ alone.
            1. Keys open doors. And it is this key – the key of knowing that salvation comes only through faith in the Messiah (and not by law-keeping) – that opens the door to the kingdom of heaven. Without this key – the key of the knowledge of Christ – no one will enter the kingdom of God. 
          2. Notice that Christ condemned the lawyers for taking away this key of knowledge. How did they take it away? They took it away through their misinterpretation of the law of Moses and their false teaching. They taught that righteousness was to be gained by law-keeping. But the Old Testament Scriptures teach otherwise. The Old Testament Scriptures teach that it is those who trust in the Messiah who are made righteous.  The key of the Old Testament is Christ. Christ is the central figure. Christ is the key that unlocks the door to heaven. But these lawyers – these so-called experts in the law of Moses – could not see it. They did not have the key themselves. They misinterpreted the Old Testament Scriptures. Therefore, they took the key of knowledge away from the people by their false teaching. 
          3. This is what Christ meant when he said, “You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
            1. You know, this principle that faith in Christ is the key that opens the door to the kingdom of heaven can be proven by going to one of the many Old Testament texts that point forward to him. Isaiah 53, which we read earlier, is one such text. Verses 10-12 of Isaiah 53 seem to be very much related to what is said here in Luke 11. This passage is about the Messiah or Christ. It says, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:10–12, ESV)
              1. This Old Testament passage reveals that God’s will, knowledge, or Wisdom, was to make many righteous through the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s Righteous One, the Christ. It is this Wisdom or knowledge that opens the door to the kingdom of heaven. No one will be made righteous and be able to enter the kingdom of heaven apart from faith in the promised Messiah. This was as true under the Old Testament as it is today.  But many of the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers could not see this truth in the Old Testament Scripture. They did not have the key of the knowledge of Christ. Therefore, they could not unlock the door to the kingdom of heaven for themselves, much less for those they taught. They taught that the key to the kingdom of heaven was keeping the law of Moses and the traditions of the elders. They had the wrong. The door to the kingdom of heaven will never be opened by that key. Though many in their day regarded these lawyers to be wise scholars, in reality, they were lost fools who were shut out from the kingdom of God unless they repent and believe in Jesus.   
              2. Friends, the key that opens the door to heaven is faith in Christ. There is no other key. The New Testament Scriptures point us to Christ to be saved. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him (see John 14:6). He is the door. “If anyone enters by [him], he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9, ESV). Faith in Christ the key to that door. 
              3. But the Old Testament Scriptures also point to Christ as the key that opens the door to the kingdom of heaven. In a way, this is what Luke’s gospel is all about. Luke began his gospel, remember, by stating his objective to provide another “narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us” (Luke 1:1, NKJV). The word fulfilled, or accomplished, is significant. Luke wants us to know that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures. His gospel is a demonstration of this fact. And we should remember how Luke’s gospel concludes. It concludes with Christ appearing to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead to teach them how all the law, prophets, and Psalm find their fulfillment in him. He rebuked them for their unbelief, saying, “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25–27, ESV).
              4. Stated differently, before Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father, he appeared to his disciples to be sure they had this key of knowledge firmly in their possession.
                1. With this key of knowledge, they would be able to rightly interpret the Old Testament Scriptures. 
                2. With this key of knowledge, they themselves would be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. 
                3. And with this key of knowledge, they would unlock the door to the kingdom of heaven for others through their preaching of the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ alone, and not by the works of law (see Romans 3:19-26; Galatians 2:16). 
    2. Luke concludes this story about Jesus conflict with the Pharisees and lawyers with this remark: “As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say” (Luke 11:53–54, ESV). They had it out for Jesus. They wished to do away with him. This would end with their crucifying Christ, all in fulfillment of the definite plan, foreknowledge, and Wisdom of God.   
  3. Application
    1. I have only one point of application to press upon you. Friends, be sure that you have the key of the knowledge of salvation through faith in Christ alone.
      1. I’m afraid that there are many who wish to enter heaven who hold in their hand the wrong key. Have you ever tried to open a door with the wrong key? It is a frustrating experience. You insert the key and you expect it to turn. But it will not turn. And so you are shut out of the house. Your heart sinks when you realize you have the wrong key. 
      2. How sad it will be on the last day for those who attempt to enter the door of heaven with the wrong key in their hand. Many, I’m afraid, will bring with them the key of their own self-righteousness. These are the ones who when asked, why do you think you will enter heaven when you die?, say, it is because I am a good person. I’m moral. I do good to others. I’m religious. These will be sorely disappointed to find that the door to heaven cannot be opened by the key of self-righteousness. The Scriptures are clear, “by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20, ESV), and, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ESV), and “the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23, ESV).
      3. The only keep that can open the door to heaven is the key of faith in Christ, for Christ is the one who lived and died to pay for the sins of his people. He clothes them with his righteousness to make them worthy to enter into God’s presence. Christ is the key that opens the door to heaven. To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must have Christ. And Christ is obtained by faith alone.    
      4. The Apostle Paul was not present when Jesus spoke these condemning words to the Pharisees and the lawyers, nor was he present when Christ taught his disciples after his resurrection that the law, prophets, and Psalms pointed to him, but by the grace of God, Paul was given the key of knowledge. And so he wrote, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21–26, ESV)
      5. Faith in Jesus. That is the only key that opens the door to heaven for sinners. Friends, I pray that you have it and that you hold it tightly in your hand, by God’s grace.  
Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: Woe To You Lawyers!, Luke 11:45-54

Catechetical Sermon: Who Is The Redeemer Of God’s Elect?, Baptist Catechism 24

Baptist Catechism 24

Q. 24. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?

A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continueth to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, forever. (Gal. 3:13;1 Tim. 2:5; John 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 9:5; Col. 2:9)

Scripture Reading: Galatians 3:10–14

“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:10–14, ESV)

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Introduction

You will probably remember that after a string of questions and answers having to do with the bad news concerning the sin and misery that all of humanity was plunged into by Adam’s first sin, we then encountered good news. Question 23 of our catechism asks,  “Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?” The good news is this: “God having out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.”

To redeem is to rescue. To redeem is to purchase back. To redeem is to regain the possession of a thing that was lost. And our catechism rightly teaches that God has provided a Redeemer – that is to say, a Savior – for fallen humanity. God, by his grace, out of his mere good pleasure, did not leave mankind to perish (which he would have been right to do), but determined to deliver some out of their estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.

The obvious question is, who is this Redeemer? And that is what our catechism now asks: “Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?”

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The Only Redeemer Of God’s Elect Is The Lord Jesus Christ

The answer that is given first identifies the Redeemer by simply naming him. “The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ…” Who is the Redeemer? Jesus Christ is the Redeemer. 

The word “only” is important. It reminds us of what the Scriptures so clearly teach. There are not many redeemers, many saviors, or many who are able to reconcile us to God. There is one only. This is what Paul says so clearly in 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 2:5, ESV). And Jesus himself taught this when he said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). Jesus is the only Redeemer. There is no other besides him.

Here is an important question: Is Jesus the Redeemer of the whole world, then? 

Well yes, in a sense he is. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Indeed, it is true, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). Jesus is the Redeemer of the world. But it is important for us to understand what the Scriptures mean by the word world. These Scriptures texts do not mean that Christ came to Redeem every person in the world without exception. This interpretation of the word “world” would flat contradict other passages of Scripture that speak of Christ laying down his life, not for all, for “many” (see Matthew 26:28), or for the “church” (see Ephesians 5:25), or for “the sheep” (see John 10:15). In fact, in John 17 Christ prays to the Father and is quite clear that his mission was to save those given to him by the Father in eternity.  

When the Scriptures say that Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world it does not mean that the sins of every person without exception have been taken away. That would mean that all are saved! What it means is that Christ came to Redeem, not Jews only, but people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. In other words, God did not send one redeemer for this people group, and another redeemer for that people group, and so on. No, there is only one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the world. As Acts 4:12 says, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Our catechism is right to say that Jesus Christ is the “only Redeemer of God’s elect.” Our catechism teaches this because this is what the scriptures teach. God sent the Son, not to save every person without exception, but to atone for the sins of many from every tongue, tribe, and nation. This is the doctrine of predestination or election which was introduced to us in the previous question. This is also the doctrine of limited atonement, or better yet, particular redemption. Who did Christ come to Redeem? Who did he come to save? What was the will of the Father for him? Was he to atone for the sins of every person who has ever lived, or ever will live? Certainly not. Christ shed his blood for many, not all (Matthew 26:18), he laid his life for the sheep (John 10:15), and for the church, who is his bride (Ephesians 5:25). Christ came to do the Father’s will for him, which was to save for all eternity those given to him by the Father before the foundation of the world (John 17). 

This doctrine of predestination, or election, along with the doctrine of limited atonement, or better yet, particular redemption, is very clearly taught in the pages of Holy Scripture. And no, there is no contradiction with those passages that speak of God loving the world, or sending to the Son for all the world, provided those passages are interpreted properly. 

So, our catechism is very right to name the Lord Jesus Christ as “the only Redeemer of God’s elect …” 

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Who, Being The Eternal Son Of God, Became Man

After this, our catechism tells us more about who Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was and is. 

Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer of God’s elect, “who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continueth to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, forever.”

Here we have the doctrine of the incarnation briefly stated.  Who is Jesus Christ? He is the person of the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity. 

A person is a subject who acts through nature. If I asked you, who you are, you would probably tell me your name. If I asked what you are, you would probably say I am human. You are an individual person acting through a human nature.  And I am a human person acting through a human nature. What do you and I share in common? We are both human beings. What distinguishes us? Well, among other things, we are different persons. 

Now I ask you, who is Jesus? He is the person of the eternal Son or Word of God. And if I were to ask you, what is Jesus? You would have to say, he is divine and human, for the person of the eternal son acts both through the divine nature and the human nature he has assumed. 

When our catechism says that the eternal Son of God “became man” it does not mean that the Son was changed into man, but that he took to himself a true human nature. God cannot become anything if by “become” we mean “was changed into”, for God cannot change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So whatever we think about the incarnation, we cannot think that God was changed into a man. No, he took to himself or assumed human nature without experiencing a change in the divine nature. The key to understanding this, I think (though mystery will always remain), is to see that it was not the divine nature that assumed a human nature (and neither was it the person of the Father or Spirit) but the person of the eternal Son. All of this is beautifully and clearly stated in the Scriptures, especially in John 1, and Colossians 2.

And this doctrine of the incarnation is clearly and precisely stated by our catechism which goes on to say, “and so was and continueth to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, forever.” You see, the divine nature and the human nature were not mixed or confused in Christ. The divine nature was not mixed with the human nature of Christ so that he was less than God but more than man. No, Christ is truly God and truly man. And yet Christ is one person, not two. The divine nature and human nature are joined together inseparably (forever) in the person of the Son. So, Christ has two natures but he is one person. He is the person of the eternal Son of God incarnate. 

The doctrine of the incarnation is mysterious, isn’t it? It is difficult to comprehend. But it is important for us to confess, for it is the teaching of Holy Scripture. May I suggest to you that one of the best ways to learn to speak about Christ, his person, and his natures, is to grow familiar with the language of our catechism. A lot more can be said about the incarnation than what is said here, but this is a good start and a sure guide. Our confession of faith (the Second London Confession) also provides a wonderful statement about the natures and person of Christ in chapter 8 paragraph 2. 

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Conclusion

Let me conclude this little sermon by making a connection between the first and second parts of Baptist Catechism 24. I’ll make this connection by asking the question, why the incarnation? Why was it necessary for the Redeemer of God’s elect to be bolt God and man? The answer is rather simple. Humanity had to be redeemed by a true human. Where the first Adam failed a second Adam had to succeed. But there is a problem. All of humanity was plunged into sin and ruin by the first Adam so that none who descended from him were capable of saving themselves, let alone, the rest. None could be the Savior because all were in need of a Savior. And for this reason, the Redeemer of God’s elect had to be God himself. This is why the Son of God, who is called the eternal Word of God in John 1, took on flesh by being born of a virgin. And having come into the world, not by the seed of Adam, but by the power of God working, Christ the God-man then lived a sinless life, suffered, died the death of a sinner, rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father. This he did, not for himself only, but for all who were given to him by the Father in eternity. There is a reason that Jesus christ is the only Redeemer of god’s elect. There is simply no one else like him. 

I hope you can see that our catechism has a way of stating really big and really important truths in a very succinct way.

Q. 24. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?

A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continueth to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, forever. (Gal. 3:13;1 Tim. 2:5; John 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 9:5; Col. 2:9)

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Discussion Questions: Baptist Catechism 23

  1. Why is it significant that the answer to Baptist Catichem 23 begins with the word, “God”?
  2. What “motivated” God to save sinners? When did God decide to save sinners?
  3. Through which covenant is salvation from the estate of sin and misery made available? When was this covenant formally enacted? 
  4. When were the blessings of this covenant made available? How were the blessings of this covenant made available before the making of this covenant?
  5. In the Covenant of Grace, sinners are delivered out of the estate of sin and misery. Review Baptist Catechism questions 20-22 and discuss all that Christ has saved us from. 
  6. In the Covenant of Grace, sinners are brought into an estate of salvation. The blessings of this state of salvation will be presented in questions 35-43. You may preview those questions and discuss the blessings that Christ brings his people.
  7. Who rescues us from the estate of sin and misery and brings us into this estate of salvation?
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Discussion Questions: Luke 11:37-44

  1. Why was the Pharisee astonished that Jesus did not wash before dinner? Why did Jesus choose not to wash?
  2. Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees begins in verse 39. What did he mean when he said, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” (Luke 11:39)
  3. What did Christ mean when he said, “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42)
  4. What did he mean when he said, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” (Luke 11:43).
  5. And what about these words: “Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” (Luke 11:44)
  6. The trouble with the Pharisees was not their religious devotion. Every Christian should strive to be religiously devout. Where then did the Pharisees go wrong?
  7. How does this text apply to you? What have you learned from the bad example of the Pharisees? How does this text point to our need for Christ?
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Catechetical Sermon: Did God Leave All Mankind To Perish In The Estate Of Sin And Misery?, Baptist Catechism 23

Baptist Catechism 23

Q. 23. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God having out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer. (Eph. 1:3,4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 5:21; Acts 13:8; Jer. 31:33)

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3–10

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3–10, ESV)

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Introduction

The catechism has been all bad news from questions 16 through 22. In those questions and answers, we learned all about Adam’s sin and its terrible effects on the whole human race. Here in question 23, we hear good news.

Again, the question: Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery? 

Before we go to the answer, it should be acknowledged that God would have been right to leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery. God would have done no wrong –  he would have been perfectly right and just – to leave men and women in their sins and to give them what they deserve. 

Now, for the good news. 

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The Good News

The first word in the answer to our question is “God…” That is significant. If mercy and grace were to be shown to man, if salvation were to be provided, God had to take the initiative. Man in sin is in a helpless and hopeless state of being. If salvation were to be provided, God had to act. 

Next, our catechism says, “having…” “God having…” Having is past tense, notice. So, we are about to learn about something that God did “before” Adam fell into sin. I say “before” knowing that that is not a completely accurate way of speaking about God’s determination to offer grace to fallen man, for God is not bound by time in the way we are. Soon, we will learn that God determined to show grace to man “in eternity”. That is the more accurate way to put it.  

Back to our answer: “God, having out of His mere good pleasure…” our catechism says. The words, “out of his mere good pleasure” speak to what motivated God. What motivated God to show grace to sinful man? Was it something deserving in man? Did someone convince, or pressure God to show grace? No. God determined to show grace from within himself, “out of his mere good pleasure.”  The most famous of all Bible verses, John 3:16, speaks to this when it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). What “moved” the Father to send the Son to accomplish redemption? The perfection of his love “moved” him to provide a Savior. In other words, it was not something outside of God that moved him, but something from within, namely, the perfection of his love and mercy. 

When did God determine to show grace to fallen man? Here it is stated with precision. “From all eternity”, our catechism says. This truth that God determined to save sinners “before” Adam sinned and “from all eternity” is found in many places in the Scriptures. In my mind, the clearest of these passages are the ones that contain the phrase, “before the foundation of the world”. Clearly, these texts are speaking about something that happened before the heavens, earth, and even time itself, were made. 

In Ephesians 1:4 we learn that God “chose [those who believe]  in [Christ]  before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4, ESV). 1 Peter 1:20 says that “[Christ] was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you…” (1 Peter 1:20, ESV). In John 17:24 we hear the prayer of Jesus to the Father, wherein he says, “I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, ESV). Lastly, in Revelation 13:8 we hear about “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” that was “written before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8, ESV).

All of these texts clearly teach that God determined to show grace to sinners and to bring them to salvation through a redeemer, Christ the Lord, before the world was made, before man fell into sin, and in eternity.

What in particular did God do in eternity? Our catechism is right to say that he “elected some to everlasting life…” This is the doctrine of election or predestination, which is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures. 

Again, Ephesians 1:4 says that God “chose us in [Christ]  before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4, ESV). Verses 5 and 6 continue, saying, “he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:5–6, ESV).

There are many other places where this doctrine is taught. In John 17 Jesus speaks of those given to him by the Father in eternity. In Colossians 3:12, those in Christ are called “chosen ones”. Romans 8:33, 9:11, 11:7, 2 Timothy 2:10, Titus 1:1, 1 Peter 1:1, and 2 Peter 1:10 all use the language of election to refer to the believer. Those who are united to Christ by faith are said to be the elect or elected by God. This is another way of saying that those who place their faith in Christ in time were first chosen by God in eternity

And I suppose now would be a good time to remind you of what motivated God to choose, elect, or predestine some (and to leave others in their sin).  It was not something deserving in the creature, but out of God’s mere good pleasure. In other words, this election was by the grace of God alone. There is no room for boasting, therefore. And this is what Paul famously says in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV).

So we have learned about what God did in eternity. Now we will learn about what God has done in time. “God having out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.”

When and with whom was this Covenant of Grace made? Not within God in eternity, but between God and man in time.  

If we wish to be more precise (which is, in fact, important here) we must say that this Covenant of Grace was ratified when Jesus Christ lived, died, rose again, and ascended to the Father. That is when the Covenant of Grace was made. But we must also admit that the saving power of this covenant was present in the world before Christ’s death and resurrection. Indeed, the saving power of this Covenant of Grace was present in the world even in the days of Adam. Shortly after Adam fell into sin a promise was made that God would provide a Savior who would, in the fullness of time, arise from the offspring of the women. 

All who have ever been saved from their sins – be it Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, or any other who lived in their days – were saved by faith in the promised Messiah.   

The Covenant of Grace is the New Covenant of which Jeremiah 31:31 spoke. The Covenant of Grace is the one mediated by Jesus Christ. It is the one that was instituted on the night Jesus was betrayed, when he said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And taking a cup, and having given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26–28, ESV). It is this covenant, the New Covenant, that is the Covenant of Grace. This covenant alone provides for the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, who is the mediator of this covenant, and who atoned for sins through the shedding of his blood. 

We have already learned about covenants. Remember, a covenant of works was made with Adam in the garden. It is called a covenant of works because Adam had to work (or obey) to obtain the blessing of that covenant. Why then is the New Covenant called the Covenant of Grace? It is because in this covenant the work has been done for us by Christ. The only thing for us to do is to believe, and we have already heard in Ephesians 2:8 that the ability to believe is itself a gift from God. 

This covenant – the Covenant of Grace – is not a covenant of works for us. It is a Covenant of Grace. In this covenant, God has promised to “deliver [his elect] out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.“

Please allow me to make just a few remarks about the phrases, “to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.”

One, notice the language of “estate” again. Man was created in an estate of innocence. When man sinned, he fell into an estate of sin and misery. But those who have faith in the promised Messiah are brought into another state of being. They are transferred into an estate of salvation. 

Our confession of faith calls this estate “the state of grace”.  Listen to the way 2LCF 9.4 describes this state of being. “When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he does not perfectly, nor only will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.”

Two, our catechism does not only talk about the estate that the elect are brought into when they believe upon Christ, but also the estate from which they are freed, namely the estate of sin and misery.  Again, in the Covenant of Grace God promises to “deliver [his elect] out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.”

Thirdly, notice that this salvation is obtained, not by works, but through faith in a Redeemer, Christ Jesus the Lord. 

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Conclusion

So here is the good news. Though man fell into sin and was hopelessly lost in an estate of sin and misery, having “lost communion with God”, being “under His wrath and curse”, and being “made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever”, “God having out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.” The Redeemer is Christ the Lord. “whoever believes in him [will] not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16–18, ESV).

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Sermon: Be Careful How You Perceive Christ, Luke 11:29-36

Old Testament Reading: Jonah 1:17–3:2

“And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, ‘I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!’ And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’” (Jonah 1:17–3:2, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 11:29–36

“When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.’” (Luke 11:29–36, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Jesus Christ is the light of the world. This is what he claimed. In John 8:12 we hear Christ say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, ESV). Jesus Christ is the light of the world because he is the eternal Word of God incarnate. He reveals the Father to us and the way of man’s salvation. He is the Messiah, the only Redeemer of God’s elect. He is the way, the truth, and life. No one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). Jesus is the light of the world, but this does not mean that everyone will perceive him as such. Many are blind, spiritually speaking. Just as a man who is physically blind cannot perceive the light of a lamp when it is brought into a dark room, neither can those who are spiritually blind perceive the light of Christ, the eternal Word of God incarnate. But some will perceive his light. This is because God has mercifully healed their blindness so that they might see the light of the Son of God. 

This reality, that some will perceive the light of Christ whereas many will not, is observed throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry as recorded in the gospels. In Luke, we find a record of the teaching of Jesus and his performance of many miracles. His teaching was full of light and life. His miracles functioned as signs that shined brightly to illuminate the truthfulness of his words and to verify his claims. Christ healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised the dead to shine light on the fact that his words were true and that he was from God. Some could perceive the light of Christ. Twelve Apostles followed after him (but one was a devil). Around the twelve there were seventy disciples. And around the seventy, there were many more who could perceive that Jesus was the Son of God incarnate, the Messiah, and the Redeemer who came down from heaven. But there were many others who, though they heard the same words and witnessed the same signs, could not perceive him to be the Son of God. Note this: it was not the light that was different. The light that shined upon those who received Jesus as Lord and those who rejected him was the same. The difference was in the eye of the beholder. By the grace of God, those who perceived Jesus to be the Messiah, the Redeemer of God’s elect, and who followed after him, had eyes to see. Those who rejected him did so because they could not perceive his light, being blinded by sin. 

Here in Luke 11, we find two startling examples of this blindness.  In Luke 11:14 we are told that Christ cast a demon out of a man who was mute. As a result, “the mute man spoke, and the people marveled” (Luke 11:14, ESV). This miracle pressed the people to come to a conclusion about Jesus’ identity. And it is important to remember that this wasn’t the first miracle performed by our Lord. By this point, Jesus had delivered many teachings and performed many miracles to show that his words were true. Undoubtedly, those who heard his words and witnessed his deeds increasingly felt the pressure to decide which side they would take. In fact, Christ warned of this in Luke 11:23, saying, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23, ESV). Once you hear about Jesus, his words, and his works, you cannot remain neutral. You are either for him or against him.  

By this point in Jesus’ ministry, three types of people emerged. Some were decidedly for Jesus. They were his disciples. Some were decidedly opposed to him. These are the ones who began to say, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Luke 11:15, ESV). These, if you remember, could not deny that Jesus performed the miracle. But so hardhearted were they – so blinded by their sin – they had to find some way to reject him. And so they claimed that his power to cast our demons came from Satan. Christ answered their accusation in the passage we considered last Sunday. But there was another group. They did not follow Jesus, and neither did they go so far as to attribute his works to the power of Satan. They remained somewhere in the middle. They, “to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven” (Luke 11:16, ESV).

It is to this group that Jesus turns his attention in the passage that is open before us today. First, (in verses 29-32) Jesus speaks a condemning word. After that, in verses 33-36, he warns his audience to be careful how they perceive him lest the light they have received be darkness in them. 

Let us walk through the text together this morning beginning with the condemning words of Jesus. 

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Jesus Condemns Our Evil Unbelief (vs. 29-32)

In verse 29 we read, “When the crowds were increasing, [Jesus] began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign…” (Luke 11:29a, ESV).

When Christ spoke of “this generation” he was referring to the people alive during his earthly ministry, particularly the adults. When he called them an “evil generation, ” he condemned them for their unbelief. Clearly, he was not referring to his disciples, but to those who did not believe him or follow after him. Many such people lived in Jesus’ day. They heard his words and witnessed his deeds, yet remained in unbelief. 

Notice that Christ especially condemned them because they sought a sign. This rebuke delivered by Jesus reminds us of what is written in Luke 11:16. After Christ cast the mute demon out of a man, some in the crowd said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,’ while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven” (Luke 11:15–16, ESV). As you can see, the problem was not that the people desired to see a sign to know that Jesus was who he claimed to be. The claims of Jesus were extraordinary. In a sense, it is right for men and women to seek to be convinced even by signs. And Jesus was not opposed to performing signs and wonders. His conception and birth were miraculous. His earthly ministry was marked by the working of signs and wonders. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, fed great multitudes, and calmed the stormy sea by the power of his word. The problem was not that people desired a sign to be convinced Jesus was who he claimed to be, the Messiah, the Son of God incarnate. No, the problem was that they were never satisfied. Though the multitudes heard his words, they did not really hear him. And though they witnessed his mighty deeds, they did not really see them. And so they refused to repent and remained in their unbelief. 

No doubt, Jesus’ generation was evil. Very few were blessed to “hear the word of God and keep it!” (see Luke 11:28). But the same is true of our generation. There are many in our generation who toy around with Jesus. Many are interested in him. Many, like the crowds mentioned in verse 29, follow after Jesus superficially. Some are looking for a sign. Many in our day and age are desiring an emotional experience. But few “hear the word of God and keep it.” Yet this is what true followers of Christ will do. True followers of Christ will “hear the word of God and keep it.” They will receive Christ as the Messiah, the Redeemer of God’s elect, and the King of God’s kingdom and they will trust and obey him. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”, Christ says (John 14:15, ESV). If you are toying with Jesus – if you are following him superficially and insincerely – I must exhort you to stop.  If Christ is to be your Savior he must be your Lord. Those who have Christ as Lord and Savior will not follow him in an uncommitted way, seeking one more sign or one more experience. No, those who have Christ as Lord and Savior will trust and obey him.

“When the crowds were increasing, [Jesus] began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation” (Luke 11:29–30, ESV).

What do these words mean? What is the “sign of Jonah” that Christ refers to here?

To know, we must first remember the story of Jonah. Jonah lived nearly 800 years before the birth birth if Christ. He was a prophet, that is to say, a man of God called to preach the Word of God. For a time, Jonah was a rebellious prophet. God called him to go to the city of Ninevah – a city known for its wickedness and injustice – to announce that judgment was soon coming, and to call them to repentence. He did not want to go because he despised the Ninevites. They were enemies of God’s people, and so he ran away from the call of God. He boarded a ship and began to sail in the opposite direction. But the Lord stopped Jonah. “But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up” (Jonah 1:4, ESV). It was made known that Jonah was running from the Lord and that this storm was a result of his rebellion. You may recall that the sailors reluctantly threw him overboard to appease the wrath of God. Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. After three days, the great fish brought him back to the shore and vomited him on the dry land. This story is told in Jonah chapters 1 and 2. And in Jonah 3:1 we read, “Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them” (Jonah 3:1–5, ESV). This is the story that Jesus referred to when he said, “No sign will be given to [this generation] except the sign of Jonah.”

Secondly, to understand Jesus’ words we must see that Jonah was a type of Christ. The Old Testament Scriptures contain many types that find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.  What is a type? It is a person, event, institution, or some other thing, recorded for us in the Old Testament Scriptures that, when we look back upon them, are seen to have a prophetic, forward-looking quality to them,  finding their ultimate and escalated fulfillment in the person, work, or reward of Jesus Christ. Types are, 1)  historical persons, events, institutions, or things mentioned in the pages of Holy Scripture. 2) Types are analogical. In other words, there is something about the historical person, event, institution or thing that corresponds to Christ, his person, work, or reward in an anological way. The principle is, this historical person, event, institution, or thing found in the Old Testement functioned as an analogy of that which we see in Christ. 3) Types always point forward to and anticipate the antitype. 4) There is always escalation as we move from the type to the antitype. The type was real. The type may have been very great. But the antitype – Christ, his person, work, and reward – is greater. 5) The relationship between the type and antitype is seen more clearly as we look back upon the type now that the antitype has come. 

This principle of typology might sound strange to your ears. In reality, it is everywhere in the pages of Holy Scripture. In fact, apart from this principle of typology, you will have a difficult time fully appreciating the Old Testament and its relationship to Christ. Jesus Christ taught that the law, the prophets, and the Psalms (that is to say, the whole of the Old Testament) find their fulfillment in him (see Luke 24), and one of the ways in which the Old Testament Scriptures point forward to Jesus Christ, his person, work, and reward is through typology. 

The Scriptures clearly teach this. In Romans 5:14 Paul tells us that Adam “was a type of the one who was to come” (Romans 5:14, ESV). The Greek word translated as “type” is τύπος. One Greek dictionary provides this definition for the word: “a model or example which anticipates or precedes a later realization—‘archetype, figure, foreshadow, symbol’” (Louw Nidam 592). Adam was a type of Christ. Adam was a model or anticipation of Christ. Adam foreshadowed Christ. How so? Adam was the federal head or representative of the Covenant of Works. When Adam sinned, all sinned in him. And Christ is the federal head or representative of the Covenant of Grace. He lived, died, and rose again in the place of others. All who are united to Christ by faith receive his benefits. As Paul says elsewhere, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22, ESV). Adam and Jesus Christ are very different in some respects. But they share some important things in common. Adam was a type of Christ.

You must see that typology is a deeply biblical principle. Jesus Christ, his person, work, and reward, was revealed before he was born, and this revelation is recorded for us in the Old Testament Scriptures. There we find explicit prophesies concerning him. And there we also find prophecies in the form of types. The more we grow familiar with the Scriptures, the easier it will be for us to see these types and to perceive how they find their fulfillment in Christ. 

Consider, for example, the story of Abraham offering up Isaac his son on the mountain and the ram that God provided as a substitute (see Genesis 22). Isaac was a type of Christ and that event anticipated the offering up of the Son of God as a substitute for sinners. Issaic and the ram were types. Jesus Christ is the antitype. Jesus is much greater. 

Consider also how God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. He poured out ten plagues. The tenth was the death of the firstborns of Egypt. God’s people were shielded from death by the blood of the lamb spread upon the doorposts of their homes. The blood of the Passover lamb typified (anticipated) the blood of Christ. The Passover lamb was great. Jesus Christ, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, is greater. The redemption that God worked for Old Covenant Israel through Moses was great. The redemption that Christ has accomplished for elect Israel is much greater.    

The Old Testament is packed full of types of Jesus Christ. His person, works, and earned rewards, are the antitype to them all. Consider the priest-king Melchizedek. Consider the great prophet of God, Moses. Consider the Exodus. Consider the mana from heaven, the water from the rock, and the snake lifted up from the earth on the pole for the salvation of sinners. Consider the Tabernacle and later the Temple. Consider the sacrifices offered up there by the priests of Israel. All of these people, institutions events, and things were pregnant with meaning. There was something analogical about this. They had a prophetic quality to them. They were forward-looking. They anticipated the arrival of someone and something greater. He is Christ the Lord, the great Prophet, Priest, and King of God’s people.   

Now, what does this have to do with Jonah and the “sign of Jonah” of which Christ spoke? Answer: We must see that Jonah was a type of Christ. Jonah was a prophet of God. Christ is the prophet of God who has come down from heaven. Jonah was to call the people of Ninevah to repentance. Christ calls all of the nations of the earth to repentence. Before calling Ninevah to repentance, Jonah was in the belly of a great fish for three days. He descended into the deep abyss. But that was not the end of him. He saw the light of day again after the great fish gave him up and deposited him back on the shore. From there, he completed his mission. Christ, the great prophet of God, would also descend. After his death on the cross, his body would be placed in the grave. His soul would descend to Sheol. But the Lord raised him up. Sheol could not keep him. The grave could not restrain him. On the third day, he was raised. From there, he would carry out his work of calling the nations to repentance through is disciples. Jonah was a type of Christ. The death, burial, descent, and resurrection of Jesus Christ were anticipated and foreshadowed in Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish and in the depths of the sea. Jonah was a type. Jesus is the antitype. But Jesus is much greater. Jonah was, for a time, a rebellious prophet. Jesus is ever faithful and true. Jonah was taken into the belly of a great fish and resurrected from there – a marvelous and miraculous thing, no doubt. But the body of Jesus Christ was taken down in the grave and his soul into Sheol. It was from the grave and Sheol that Christ was raised. In this way, he defeated death for his people and set captives free. Finally, Jonah went on to minister the Word of God to the people of Ninevah, calling them to repentance. Jesus Christ is effectually calling his elect from every tongue, tribe, and nation through the preaching of the gospel and by his Spirit. He will bring many sons and daughters to glory. Jonah was a type of Christ. Christ is the antitype. Christ is much greater than Jonah.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 is a very interesting text. Would you turn there with me? Here Paul the Apostle writes to Christians in Corinth, saying, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, ESV). Let me ask you, what Scriptures did Paul have in mind when he said that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” What Scriptures? Paul was referring to the Old Testament Scriptures. Christ died, was buried, and was raised from the dead on the third day, “in accordance with” or we might say, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, that is to say, the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul’s view was that the Old Testament – the Scriptures written many hundreds of years before Christ was born – revealed that the Messiah would live, die, be buried, and rise from the dead on the third day. So then, Christ is present in the Old Testement. The gospel of Jesus Christ can be found there. Brothers and sisters, let me ask you, where in the Old Testament do we find prophesies that point forward to the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead? There are many texts:

Psalm 16:10-11 is about the Messiah. It says,For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:10–11, ESV). So, the soul of Messiah would not be abandoned or left in Sheol. His body would not be left to decompose in the grave. This is about the resurrection of Christ. 

Isaiah 53:10 is also about the Messiah. It says, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt…” This is about the suffering and death of the Messiah. But the text goes on to say, “he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:10, ESV). After suffering and death, there is life. This is about the resurrection of Christ.

Also, Hebrews 11:19 shows us that the story about Abraham offering up his son Isaac on the mountain is to be interpreted as a type (or parable) of the resurrection of Abraham’s greater son, Jesus, from the dead. There the writer of the book of Hebrews says that Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking [παραβολῇ], he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:19, ESV). So, that event in the life of Abraham and Isaac functioned as a kind of parable of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of Abraham, the son of David, the Son of God. 

Add to this the fact that God promised King David a son whose reign and kingdom would never end (see 2 Samuel 7:13). Furthermore, in Psalm 110:4 it is revealed that this son of David, who is also David’s Lord, would be a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4, ESV). The writer to the Hebrews makes much of this when he says that Jesus is our great High Priest, “not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16, ESV). When you combine these texts that speak of the Messiah’s everlasting rule and unending priesthood with the texts that teach that the Messiah must suffer and die, it is clear that the Messiah would have to be raised from the dead. 

There are many passages in the Old Testament that prophesy, in one way or another, about Christ’s resurrection. But notice this: In 1 Corinthians 15:4 Paul the Apostle does not only say that Christ died, was buried, and rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. No, he says that Christ “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” So the question is, where does the Old Testament teach (prophesy) that the Messiah would be raised on the third day? Answer: nowhere, explicitly, but in the story of Jonah, typologically. 

In fact, other texts hint at the third-day resurrection. Some have noticed that the third day is often emphasized as a day of importance in the Old Testament Scriptures. John Gill, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, says, ​​”The Jews take a particular notice of the third day as remarkable for many things they observe, as of the ‘third day Abraham lift up his eyes’, Gen. 22:4; of ‘the third day of the tribes’, Gen. 42:18; of the third ‘day of the spies’, Joshua 3:16; of the third day of the ‘giving of the law’, Exodus 19:16; of the third day of ‘Jonah’, Jonah 1:17; of the third day of them that came ‘out of the captivity’, Ezra 8:15; of the third day of ‘the resurrection of the dead’, as it is written, Hosea 6:1-2.” By the way, Hosea 6:1-2 says, “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:1–2, ESV). John Gill goes on to say, “that among the remarkable third days they [the Jews] take notice of, are the two instances of Isaac’s and Jonah’s deliverances, which were Scripture types of Christ’s resurrection.” We are to remember that Issac was delivered from the altar up on the mountain when God provided a substitute. He was received back as if from the dead. And this deliverance came on the third day of their journey (see Genesis 22:4; Hebrews 11:19). And Jonah was delivered from the belly of the fish and from Sheol, metaphorically speaking, after three days. These, Gill says, “were Scripture types of Christ’s resurrection.” He is right. 

Paul says that Christ was “raised from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” Where is the third-day resurrection prophesied in the Old Testament?  Nowhere, explicitly, but in the story of Jonah (and Isaac), typologically. Where did Paul get this idea to interpret these Old Testament Scriptures in this way? We may say, from the Holy Spirit as he carefully examined the Old Testament Scriptures. I think we can also say that Paul was greatly helped by the teaching of Jesus Christ, who said, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40, ESV), and in Luke 11:29 Christ says, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:29, ESV).

What did Christ mean when he said, “no sign will be given to [this generation] except the sign of Jonah”, and “For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation” (Luke 11:30, ESV). Here Christ was foretelling his death, burial, and resurrection. Christ had shown the people many signs. He worked many miracles to show that he was the Messiah, the Son of God incarnate, the King of God’s everlasting kingdom and that God’s kingdom was present with power. But the people were evil. They were not satisfied. They wanted more and more. And so Christ said, here is the ultimate sign from heaven they will receive. Like Jonah, I will die, descend into the grave and Sheol, and from there I will arise to call men and women to repentance and faith and to warn of impending judgment.  

Christ goes on to condemn the heard-hearted unbelief of his generation. In verse 31 we read, “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11:31, ESV).

The queen of the South is the Queen of Sheba. There is a famous story found in 1 Kings 10:1 and 2 Chronicles 9:1 about this Queen – a Gentile Queen – who heard of the wisdom of Solomon, King David’s son, and traveled a great distance, all the way from Arabia,  bringing with her many gifts, to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

I do have the time to tease out the typological significance of this story. I trust you can see it. King Solomon was King David’s son. King Jesus is the greater son of David. The wisdom of King Solomon was very great. The wisdom of King Jesus is much greater. Solomon, the son of David, was a type of Christ, the Son of David. Jesus is much greater. And when the Queen of Sheba traveled thousands of miles to hear the wisdom of King Solomon, it was a foreshadowing or anticipation of the day when God’s elect from all the nations of the earth would flock to King Jesus to hear his word and keep it (see Luke 11:28). In other words, the Queen of Sheba’s journey was typological. 

Here, Christ uses the story of the queen of the south to condemn the Jews who remained in unbelief. This Gentile Queen heard rumors about the wisdom and glory of King Solomon, a mere man. And so she traveled thousands of miles to meet him and to sit at his feet, as it were, to hear him, bringing with her many gifts to pay homage to him. But these Hebrews had someone far greater than Solomon in their midst and they could not see due to the evil in their hearts. And so Christ condemned them with these words, “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11:31, ESV). I do not take this to mean that the queen of the South was saved. The wisdom she heard from Solomon was mere worldly wisdom, as far as I can tell. But she will rise up at the judgment in the midst of those Hebrews who rejected their own Messiah and condemn them by her actions. I do believe the idea is that Christ will point to her and say, here is that Gentile Queen who perceived the wisdom of Solomon and traveled great distances to be in his presence, but you – you who should have known better – you who saw the signs and wonders I performed – you who heard my words and beheld my glory – you saw me but you did not see me. You heard me but you did not hear me. You toyed around with me and only wished to be entertained. This is how the Queen of Sheba will condemn the wicked generation of Hebrews who rejected their own Messiah.

And then Christ says the same thing about the men of Ninevah who repented at the preaching of Jonah. Verse 32: “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” 

The same observations can be made about the men of Ninevah. They were Gentiles. They did not have access to the Scriptures, the covenants, and promises like these Jews did. And they only encountered the preaching of Jonah. And yet they repented at the preaching of Jonah. Something far greater than Jonah had arrived. And yet these, who should have known better, would not receive him. So, “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it… (Luke 11:32, ESV).

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Jesus Calls Us To Perceive Him Correctly And To Receive Him (vs. 33-36)

Verses 33-36 can stand alone. An entire sermon could be devoted to these words of Jesus. I have decided to include them in this sermon because they seem to go with the previous passage. Notice that there is no break in the text itself. Your English translation of the Bible may have inserted a section heading in between the previous passage and this one, but it seems like these words were the conclusion of Jesus’ speech that began in verse 29. I interpret these words of Jesus to be a call (and a warning) to perceive him correctly. It will not take long for me to explain the meaning. 

In this passage, Jesus claims to be the light of the world. Light symbolizes truth. Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him” (John 14:6, ESV). Jesus is the light world, but for light to benefit people, it must be well received.  

The light of a lamp will not benefit anyone in a dark room if someone covers it with a basket. And yet that is what these unbelieving multitudes were doing with Jesus. His light was shining very brightly in a world filled with darkness. But these men hated the light because their hearts were evil. And so they put a basket over the light of Christ. “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”, they said (Luke 11:15, ESV). Or, they asked for just one more sign from heaven. And so Christ warned them, saying, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light” (Luke 11:33, ESV). The light of Christ shines brightly in the world. Instead of being covered (or suppressed) it is to be received into the mind and heart and elevated within so that it will give light to your house, that is to say, your soul.

The same principle is communicated in a different way in verse 34. “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34, ESV). This is a very beautiful and profound analogy. If you are in a dark room and someone brings a candle in, the light of that candle will serve you well. The light will enter your eye and illuminate the room so that you might perceive how things really are and walk accordingly. At least this is true assuming that your eye is healthy and not diseased. If your eyes are bad, the light that is brought into the dark room will not benefit you in the least. Notice, in both scenarios the light is the same. Those with good and healthy eyes will perceive the light and benefit from it. The light will enter the eyes and bring illumination to the whole body. You are experiencing this right now, aren’t you? Your eyes are open, and so long as they are good and healthy, the light in this room is filling you. The light is illuminating you and enabling you to perceive the reality of the world around you so that you might walk according to the truth. But if you were to close your eyes, you would immediately understand what Christ means when he says, “but when [your eye] is bad, your body is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34, ESV). When you close your eyes, darkness envelopes you, doesn’t it? The light is there, but your eyes are closed, and so you cannot perceive it. And all of this has spiritual meaning. 

The light of Christ shines brightly in the world but it will not be perceived by those who are spiritually blind. And so it was with these men who remained in their unbelief. The glory of Christ shone brightly in front of them, and yet some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”, while others asked for one more sign from heaven. And Christ warned them, “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light” (Luke 11:35–36, ESV).

This, friends, is an exhortation to perceive Christ correctly and to receive him as the light of the world (see John 8:12) – the way, the truth, and the life (see John 14:6) through whom we must go to come to the Father. And we know that the ability to perceive Christ correctly is itself a gift from God. 

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Conclusion

I’ll conclude now with two brief points of application. 

The first is for those who do not yet know Christ as Lord and Savior. I must warn you, as you listen to the Word of God read and preached, the Light of Christ is shining brightly before you. You must be careful how you perceive him. You must “be careful lest the light in you be darkness” (Luke 11:35, ESV). Do not be like those who attributed the miracles of Christ to the power of Satan. Do not be like those who played around with Jesus, requesting just one more sign from heaven. No, you must receive this Jesus if you are to be saved by him. Do not put his light under a basket. Do not close your eyes to suppress his light so that you might remain in the darkness of your sin. No, you must receive the light of Christ. You must open your eyes and see that Jesus is Lord – he is the Savior God has provided. If you can perceive this, it is because God has opened your blind eyes. If you cannot perceive it, I must exhort you to cry out to God for mercy. Like the deaf man of Mark 7:32, ask Jesus to give you ears to hear his voice. And like the blind men of Matthew 9:27, ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the light of his glory. Pray that God would give you eyes to see and ears to hear, and then hear the word of God and keep it. “Blessed… are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28, ESV).

To those who do know Christ as Lord and Savior, I say, you must continue to grow in your knowledge of Jesus Christ – his person, his work, and the rewards he has earned for you. As you grow in your knowledge of him, your faith in him will grow stronger too. And as you grow in your faith, your hope will grow stronger. And as you grow in your faith and hope, your love for God and others will increase. And where must we go to grow in our knowledge of Christ? It is to the Scriptures we must go, the Old Testament and the New. 

This point of application, to grow in the knowledge of Christ, must not be disregarded as simplistic and superficial. Some of you are entangled with sin. Some are plagued with doubts and anxieties. The remedy is Jesus. We must know Jesus. And if we know him by faith, we must grow in our knowledge of him so that our faith, hope, and love would be strong and true.

Listen, if you have Jesus as Lord and Savior – if you are united to him by faith – it is because “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6, ESV). But we are not to stagnate, dear brothers and sisters. No, we are to grow in our knowledge of Christ. And so I pray for you as Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus. “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:16–23, ESV).

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Luke 11:29-36, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: Be Careful How You Perceive Christ, Luke 11:29-36

Catechetical Sermon: What is the misery of that estate whereunto man fell?, Baptist Catechism 22

Baptist Catechism 22

Q. 22. What is the misery of that estate whereunto man fell?

A. All mankind, by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever. (Gen. 3:8,24; Eph. 2:3; Gal. 3:10; Rom. 6:23; Matt. 25:41-46; Ps. 9:17)

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Questions 16 – 22 of our catechism are about the fall of man from the estate of innocency into the estate of sin and misery. We have learned what sin is. We have learned what Adam’s first sin was. And we have been taught that it was not Adam alone who fell into sin, but all humanity with him.  Humanity now exists in a state of sin and misery. Question 21 of our catechism asks, Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell? And answers: The sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it. Here in Baptist Catechism 22, the focus turns to the misery of the estate whereunto man fell.

Question 22 is last on the topic of man’s fall into sin, and it is the heaviest of them all.  It asks, What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?  In other words, what miseries, afflictions, and torments came upon the human race when Adam fell into sin?  Answer: All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.

Notice, five miseries are mentioned.  It should also be noted that each one of these miseries is remedied through faith in Jesus Christ. 

The first misery mentioned is the loss of communion with God.  To commune with God is to enjoy a close and right relationship with him.  Adam and Eve enjoyed sweet communion with God in the garden.  They walked with God.  They were at peace with him. They enjoyed his presence.  Sin ruined that.  Genesis 3:8 describes something that happened after man sinned.  It says, “And [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”  Prior to man’s fall into sin, God’s presence in the garden-temple would have been pure pleasure.  After man’s fall into sin, God’s presence was a terror to the man and the women, for no longer were they right with him.  They were now rebels and traitors.  Their communion with God was broken.  At the end of Genesis 3, we see that God cast the man and the women out of the garden.  Earlier I referred to the garden as a temple, for that is what it was.  It was a holy place set apart from the rest of creation wherein Adam and Eve enjoyed the presence of God as they worshiped and served him. 

The loss of communion with God is the first misery mentioned, one, because it is the first misery Adam and Eve experienced. When God approached them as he had done before, they were, for the first time, overwhelmed with a sense of shame and dread. They had sinned against God.  They were now enemies of God. Two, this is the first misery mentioned because it is most fundamental.  Our biggest and saddest problem is that we are, by nature, enemies of God and alienated from him.  Do you remember Westminster Shorter Catechism 1?  Question: What is the chief end of man?  Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.  Our biggest and saddest problem — our chiefest misery — is that we are unable to glorify God and to enjoy him because of sin. 

This is the problem that Jesus Christ came to fix.  Listen to Colossians 1:21-22.  There Paul speaks to Christians, saying. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, [Christ] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…” (Colossians 1:21–22, ESV).

The second misery mentioned is the misery of falling under God’s wrath and curse.  God’s wrath is on sinners because he is holy and just — he cannot not punish sin (see Romans 3:21-26).  God’s curse has fallen on sinners.  What curse?  The curses of the covenant of life or works that were revealed to Adam in the beginning.  God said, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).  The curses of the covenant fell upon humanity when Adam sinned. 

Christ came to save those who trust in him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:9-11 says, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by [Christ’s] blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Christ has rescued his people from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for them.  Galatians 3:13-14 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ — so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”  Those united to Christ by faith are rescued from the curse of the law.  These are given the blessing of Abraham instead.  This is true of the Jew and also the Gentile. 

The third misery mentioned are the miseries of this life.  Life in the fallen world is filled with difficulty, suffering, trials, tribulations, and tears.  You can see this clearly throughout the Bible.  The miseries of life appear for the first time in the curse that God pronounced upon Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 3:16-19. The curses pronounced there clarify what was meant by the words, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).  Adam and Eve did eventually die (in fact, the Scriptures tell us they lived a very long life).  But they entered into a state of death — the estate of sin and misery — on the very day they ate of the forbidden tree.

Christ came to deliver his people from the miseries of life.  How so?  In two ways: One, God uses the miseries of this life for good in the lives of his people.  The trials, tribulations, and tears of life are redeemed by Christ and used for good.  Romans 8:28 teaches this. There we read, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  And this is why the Christian can obey the command of James 1:2-4, which says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  In this way, the miseries of this life have been redeemed by Christ.  God promises to use them for our good.  The Christian must know that life’s miseries are not meaningless or purposeless.  Two, Christ has redeemed us from the miseries of this life in that he will bring his people safely into the new heavens and earth where sin and suffering will be no more. Revelation chapters 21 and 22 provide us with a beautiful picture of the new heavens and earth.  You should read that section of Scripture sometime soon.  By the way, when you do, you should look out for imagery drawn from Genesis 1 and 2.  It is in Revelation 21:3-4 that we hear the Apostle John say, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”  Can you see that Christ came to redeem us from the miseries of this life?

The fourth misery mentioned is death itself.  Perhaps you have noticed this pattern: everyone who lives dies eventually.  Human beings are strange creatures.  They know this to be true, but they often live as if it will never happen to them.  The pattern is observable in the world.  People live and eventually, they die.  And the pattern is observable in Scripture, too.  In fact, this pattern is stressed in Genesis 5.  There is a phrase that is repeated over and over again in that text.  So and so lived for this many years, and he died, and he died, and he died.  It’s as if God is saying, you had better wake up to the fact that the “wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  That is Romans 6:23.

Christ came to rescue his people from death. This does not mean that God’s people will not experience physical death.  No, God’s people will die, too, unless alive when Christ returns (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17).  Christ has rescued us from death in two ways.  One, in Christ we have eternal life.  Those with faith in Christ go to be with the Lord in the soul when they die physically. Baptist Catechism 40 will have more to say about this.  And on the last day, the bodies of those united to Christ by faith will be raised and reunited with the soul to live forever and ever.  Baptist Catechism 41 has more to say about this.  In this way, Christ has rescued us from death. Two, he has freed us from the fear of death even now. 

This is what Paul the Apostle rejoices over in 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.  There we read, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality…”  He is here speaking of the resurrection day.  “… then shall come to pass the saying that is written…”  He then refers to Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14, saying, “‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’  ‘O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Why is Christ able to give this victory to those who are united to him by faith? Because he defeated death for us as the second and greater Adam by tasting death for us and rising again on the third day. 

The fifth misery mentioned is the eternal torments of hell.  Do the Scriptures teach that those who die in their sins and apart from Christ will be punished forever and ever in hell?  Yes, indeed.  Jesus taught this as recorded in Matthew 25:41: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  2 Thessalonians 1:9 says, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…” Revelation 20:14-15 portrays hell as a lake of fire, saying, “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

People, even many pastors today, don’t like to talk about hell.  I don’t like to talk about either, but it is a truth that must be told.  The truth is, this is one of the miseries Christ came to save his people from.  Immediately after the picture of hell found in Revelation 20:14-15, we find a vision of the new heavens and earth.  Christ came to save his people from hell and to bring them safely into the new heavens and earth which he has earned through his obedient life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection.

*****

Conclusion

Q. 22. What is the misery of that estate whereunto man fell?

A. All mankind, by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever. 

With this dark backdrop of man’s sin and misery set into place, we are now in a position to consider the good news about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and that is what we will do as we move forward. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Catechetical Sermon: What is the misery of that estate whereunto man fell?, Baptist Catechism 22

Discussion Questions: Luke 11:29-36

  1. Why did Christ condemn his generation as an evil one? What was wrong with the people’s request for more signs from heaven?
  2. What did Jesus mean when he said, “No sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet?” 
  3. Biblically speaking, what is typology?
  4. Give examples of types found in the Old Testament that find their fulfillment in Christ, the antitype.
  5.  How was Jonah a type of Christ? How is Christ greater than Jonah?
  6. How was Solomon a type of Christ? How is Christ greater than Solomon?
  7. Discuss Luke 11:33-36. What is the meaning of this? What is the warning that Christ here delivers? 
  8. How is this text to be applied by us today?
Posted in Study Guides, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: Luke 11:29-36


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