AUTHORS » Joe Anady

Sermon: A New Israel, A New Humanity, Redeemed By Christ The King, Luke 10:1-20

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 10:1-2, 5-6, 20-22, 31-32

“These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood. The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras… [Verse 5] From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations. [Verse 6] The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan… [Verse 20] These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations. [Verse 21] To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram… [Verse 31] These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations. [Verse 32] These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.” (Genesis 10:31–32, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 10:1-20

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin [Χοραζίν]! Woe to you, Bethsaida [Βηθσαϊδά] ! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum [Καπερναούμ], will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. ‘The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.’ The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” (Luke 10:1–20, 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

Here in Luke 10:1-20, we find a very similar story to the one told in Luke 9:1-6. In Luke 9, we learned about Jesus sending out his 12 Apostles “to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:2, ESV). Here in Luke 10, Jesus sends out a larger group of disciples with the authority to heal, cast out demons, and preach the gospel of the kingdom.  

Some manuscripts say the number sent out was 70. Others say the number was 72. The ESV goes with the number 72. If you are reading from the AV, the KJV, NKJV, or NASB, you’ll see that they follow those manuscripts that list the number at 70. I should take this opportunity to remind you that we are reading English translations of copies of the Scriptures originally written in Hebrew and Greek. In the ancient manuscripts, we do find variations like this. Again, some say that 70 disciples were sent out, and some say 72. The reason for the discrepancy probably has something to do with the Genesis 10 passage that I read a moment ago, and the Numbers 11:16-30 passage that I read two Sundays ago as our Old Testament reading. 

In Genesis 10 we find a list of the nations of the earth that descended from Noah and his sons, Shem Ham, and Japhet. The Hebrew texts list 70 nations, but the Septuagint, which is a very old Greek translation of the Old Testament – a translation used widely in the days of Christ – lists 72 nations descended from Noah. 

If you remember, Numbers 11:16-30 tells the story of the appointment of 70 elders to govern Israel alongside Moses. The 70 elders assembled at the Tabernacle and the Spirit fell upon them, enabling them to prophesy temporarily. But the story goes on to tell of two men who did not assemble at the Tabernacle upon whom the Spirit also fell, and they prophesied. This bothered Joshua, remember? He wished to command them to stop, but Moses forbade him. So the question is, were there 70 elders placed over Israel, or 72? 

I will not pretend to have the answers, brothers and sisters. Here I am drawing your attention to the discrepancy in the manuscripts and wish to point to the probable cause. Were there 70 or 72 nations listed in Genesis 10? Were there 70 or 72 elders appointed to rule in support of Moses? I’m not entirely sure. What seems clear to me is that an attempt was made by some scribe living somewhere at some point in time to reconcile these accounts, and I believe this is the important thing to notice. The Biblical accounts of the 70/72 nations that descended from Noah and his sons, the appointment of 70/72 elders to rule over Israel, and Jesus’ sending out of 70/72 disciples with the authority to heal, cast out demons, and preach the gospel of the kingdom, are meant to be connected. Add to this Exodus 1:5 which reveals the number of the descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob that went down into Egypt, saying,  “All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt” (Exodus 1:5, ESV). My gut tells me the number in Luke 10 ought to be 70, but I don’t want to focus on that this morning. In a way, it doesn’t matter. 

The Meaning Of The 70/72

The question is, why did Jesus send 70/72 disciples out? You say, to further Christ’s kingdom! To do the work that Christ commanded them to do! Yes, we will come to that. But here I am asking, what is the significance or meaning of their number?

I suppose it would help us to first remember the significance of the number 12. Christ appointed 12 Apostles and this number corresponds to the number of tribes in Old Covenant Israel. The 12 Apostles functioned as the foundation and source of the New Covenant Isarel of God, therefore. A new, or perhaps we should say, renewed, Israel would be brought into existence through them and established upon their word. 

And there is a similar meaning attached to the number 70/72. 70/72 nations descended from the sons of Noah. 70 descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob entered Egypt. God’s purpose was to multiply them greatly there, to redeem them from bondage, to make them into a great nation, and to give them a land of their own. Why? To bring the Messiah into the world through them, and to save sinners from all nations through him. The 70/72 elders that were appointed to govern Israel alongside Moses (see Exodus 24 and Numbers 11) correspond in number to the nations listed in Genesis 10. This was no accident but was a reminder of the purpose for which God has set Abraham and Israel apart originally, namely, to bless all of the nations of the earth through them, that is to say, through the Messiah, the Son of Abraham, that would be brought into the world through them (see Genesis 12:1-3). When Jesus sent out a group of disciples numbering 70/72, it was to remind us of this history. Furthermore, it was to communicate this message – Christ came to establish the Kingdom of God, a New Covenant, and to bring a new Israel into existence. This kingdom, Covenant, and Israel would include sinners, redeemed by the blood of Christ, from every tongue, tribe, and nation on earth. These will be the members of the new humanity that will one day fill the new heavens and earth that Christ has earned. That is the story told by the number 70/72. It is a number filled with Biblical significance. When Christ sent out the 70/72 it communicated his intention to purify Israel under the New Covenant and to graft people from every tongue, tribe, and nation – the peoples that descended from Noah –  into her. 

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The Mission Of The 70/72

So, we have considered the significance or meaning of the number of disciples sent out. What was their mission? Answer: These were sent out to proclaim that the kingdom of God was at hand. Look at verses 9-11. There the 70/72 are commanded to go from town to town and to “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near’” (Luke 10:9–11, ESV). These disciples of Jesus were to go forth and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God.

We have answered the question, what is the kingdom of God many times now in our study through Luke’s Gospel. I’ll remind you, briefly, that God is King over all things. He is the sovereign one. He is Lord Most High. But ever since Adam sinned, there have been two kingdoms in this world. The kingdom of darkness and death is ruled by Satan, the usurper. The kingdom of light and life is ruled by Christ, the Second Adam, the eternal Son of God incarnate. Christ, his kingdom, and his Covenant were promised even to Adam and Eve. That promise was carried along and advanced in the covenants that God made with Abraham, Israel (in the days of Moses), and King David. But the kingdom of God, over which Christ rules, and the Covenant of Grace that he mediates, did not come into the world until his work of redemption was accomplished. Before Christ died and rose again, the kingdom of God and the Covenant of grace were present in the world in the form of promise. Salvation came to all who trust in the promises of God. But the kingdom of God (of which Christ is King) and the Covenant of Grace (of which Christ is the only mediator) were not inaugurated or formally begun until Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father’s right hand. This is why we have heard John the Baptist, Jesus, and his disciples proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom of God. In saying that it was “near” or “at hand” they meant that the kingdom was not yet present. Yes, it had been offered to Adam in the Covenant of Works before his fall into sin. The kingdom of God was also promised to Adam in that first articulation of the gospel (see Genesis 3:15). As I have said, this promise was carried along, magnified, and clarified in the covenants made with Abraham, Israel, and David. In fact, the kingdom of God that was to come was beautifully pictured in Old Covenant Israel, especially in the kingship of David, but never was present with power. The kingdom of God was said to be “near” or “at hand” when Jesus walked the earth. Why?

One, because Jesus is the only King of God’s kingdom. He is the son who was promised to King David. He is the King who rules over God’s kingdom forever and ever. 

Two, it was King Jesus who delivered and redeemed God’s elect from every age from bondage to Satan, sin, and the fear of death. This great work of redemption was promised beforehand (see Genesis 3:15, for example). This work of redemption was also pictured beforehand (in the Exodus, for example). But the redemption was not accomplished until Christ died, rose again, and ascended.  

Three, when I say that King Jesus delivered and redeemed God’s elect you should know that he did so by delivering a fatal blow to the head of Satan, the usurper king. In other words, the establishment of God’s kingdom involved the overthrow of Satan’s kingdom. This defeat of Satan and the overthrow of his kingdom was promised beforehand (see Genesis 3:15, for example). It was also pictured beforehand (think again of the Exodus, especially the Ten Plagues). But Satan was not struck upon the head – he was not bound or cast down so that his house might be plundered – until Jesus Christ dropped his wounded heal upon him at the cross. 

The kingdom of God was said to be “near” or “at hand” when Jesus walked the earth because he is the King of this eternal kingdom. He was about to win the victory over Satan through the suffering of the cross. He was about to pay for the sins of all who trusted in him, before, during, and after his life on earth, so that they might be forgiven. When he ascended into heaven he opened up the way to God for his people. When he ascended, he sat down upon his eternal throne. When he ascended, he sent forth the Holy Spirit to enliven, anoint, and empower all of his people – his elect from every tongue, tribe, and nation on earth. 

This was the mission given to these 70/72. They were to go from town to town proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom of God. The mission of the church today is similar. It differs only in perspective. We are to proclaim that the kingdom of God is here, that Christ is King, that he has won the victory, has entered into glory, and will one day return to judge his enemies, to acquit those united to him by faith, and to make all things new.     

Notice that these 70/72 were, like the 12 before them, given the power and authority to heal the sick (v. 9) and to cast out demons (vs. 17-19). They were enabled to perform these miraculous deeds as a sign that the message the proclaimed was true. The presence of the kingdom of God was declared and it was also demonstrated by these special emissaries of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews tells us that this was the purpose of these miracles. Listen to Hebrews 2:3-4: “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:3–4, ESV)

What was the mission given to the 70/72? They were sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God. They were also to heal and to cast our demons as a demonstration of the fact that their message was true. And so they did. 

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The Method Of The 70/72

We have considered the meaning and mission of the 70/72. Let us now briefly consider their method. How did they go about accomplishing this mission that was given to them?

Firstly, they were to go ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for him. This is what verse 1 says. By the way, this is what we do whenever we proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. We prepare the way for Jesus. The gospel is the power of God for salvation, but no one will ever be saved unless Jesus comes to that person by the working of the Holy Spirit to give them life and the ability to believe. 

Secondly, these disciples of Jesus were sent out two by two. In this way, they functioned as credible witnesses. In this way, they supported and encouraged one another in the work. Brothers and sisters, it is good to go about the work that God has given us to do, not alone, but with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Do not walk alone, friends. The proverb of Ecclesiastes 4:12 is true! “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, ESV).

Thirdly, these disciples of Jesus were sent out having been exhorted to pray. Look at verse 2: “And [Jesus] said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2, ESV). The field is the world. The grains ripe for the picking are the elect of God. The laborers are ministers of the word of God. The Lord of the harvest is God. And God’s people are commanded to pray. More than this, we are commanded to pray earnestly, that is, with a sense of urgency and seriousness. Are you praying, dear brothers and sisters? Are you praying earnestly, especially for the success of the gospel in this land through the sending out of laborers into the harvest? 

Fourthly, Jesus sent his disciples out as lambs in the midst of wolves. That is what verse 3 says, “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3, ESV). The  meaning is that Jesus’ disciples were sent into a situation where they would be very vulnerable, at least from a human perspective – they would need to trust the Lord, therefore. The wolves represent viscous men. Also, we can see that the disciples were to go out with no provisions. Christ instructed them to “Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals…” (Luke 10:4, ESV). They were to rely on the hospitality of strangers.  Brothers and sisters, this was a very unique mission that these disciples were sent on. Not every disciple of Jesus is called to go out like this. In fact, very few are. As you probably know, Jesus would send these same disciples out with different instructions later, saying, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36, ESV). Why did Christ command them to go out in such a vulnerable condition? No doubt, it was to teach them to trust. Dear brothers and sisters, we too must trust the Lord. We must walk by faith. When we feel vulnerable, as if sheep amongst wolves, we must turn to face the fear and anxiety and trust in God and in Christ to preserve us and to provide for our every need.

Fifthly, Jesus commanded that his disciples be undeterred in their work. This principle permeates verses 5 through 16. Look at verse 5: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10:5–6, ESV). Look now at verse 10: “But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near’” (Luke 10:10–12, ESV). The disciples of Jesu were not to be discouraged nor detoured by rejection. Some would receive their word; others would not. The disciples were to bless those who received them and their word. When rejected, they were to brush it off and warn of judgment.  

It is the day of judgment that Christ spoke of when he said, “I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town” (Luke 10:12, ESV). He elaborates on this theme of judgment in verses 13 through 15, saying, “Woe to you, Chorazin [Χοραζίν]! Woe to you, Bethsaida [Βηθσαϊδά] ! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum [Καπερναούμ], will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.” These cities that Christ pronounced woes upon, were cities within Israel. They were cities where Christ and his disciples taught and performed signs and wonders. And yet, so many rejected him. So many from within these towns refused to repent and believe. Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities known for their sin. Christ said, his mighty works had been done there, “they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”  So, in this way, Christ rebukes Israel’s unbelief and signals his intention to work mightily amongst the Gentile nations.

In verse 16 we read the words of Christ to his disciples: “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16, ESV). I have said that Christ commanded that his disciples be undeterred in their work. By that I mean they were commanded to be faithful in their work. They were to preach the gospel of the kingdom and they were to brush off all rejection. After all, it was not they who were being rejected, but God and Christ. Furthermore, the disciples were to know for certain that some would receive their word, and to receive their word was to receive the word of Christ. All Christians must be undeterred in their proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You must not be afraid of rejection or discouraged by it when it comes. The saying is true, we must preach the gospel and leave the results to God. But this is an especially important lesson for ministers to learn. Ministers must be faithful to preach and teach Christ. Many will reject the word because they are dead in their sin and destined for judgment. Others will receive the word gladly. This is because God has shown grace to them. He predestined them in eternity to have life in Christ. He sent forth his word and Spirit. He enlightened their minds and made them willing and able to believe in Christ. When these hear the gospel, they hear the voice of Christ. This is God’s work. It is true, we must be resolved to preach and teach the word of God faithfully and leave the results to God.

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The Marvel Of The 70/72

We have considered the meaning, mission, and method of the 70/72. Finally, let us consider their marvel. To marvel is to be filled with wonder and astonishment, and that is what we see in verse 17. There we read, “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’” (Luke 10:17, ESV). They were astonished by this, and rightly so. 

Notice that Christ did not discourage them or seek to quench their enthusiasm. To the contrary, he encouraged them further, saying in verse 18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:18–20, ESV).

There are three things to note about these verses. 

Firstly, Christ confirmed what these disciples had experienced. Satan and his kingdom were indeed being overthrown. The disciples had great success in casting out demons, but here Jesus opened their eyes to the reality of the much greater work he was doing. He did not only come to cast individual demons out of individual persons but to cast Satan himself out of heaven. This he was doing, and this he would do in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. 

What does it mean that Satan was cast out of heaven? We should remember that before Christ accomplished our redemption, Satan was permitted to accuse God’s people in heaven. The book of Job makes this clear. Job 1:6 says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them…” (Job 1:6, ESV). And what did Satan do, except accuse Job? When Christ finished his work of redemption, Satan was cast down from heaven. The Son of God came down in the incarnation so that he might be exulted to the glory. And it was then that Satan, who had exulted himself in sinful pride and rebellion, was cast down, having been defeated by Christ the Lord. 

This casting down of Satan of which Christ speaks is depicted in the Book of Revelation 12:7-17. If you are accustomed to reading the Book of Revelation as if it were chronologically organized, you will not be able to appreciate this. But if you have learned to read the Book of Revelation as a serries of seven recapitulations, then you will be able to connect what is said by Jesus in Luke 10 with the picture of Revelation 12. It was at Christ’s first coming that Satan was cast from heaven. Listen to Revelation 12:10 where John says, “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come…’” May I pause and ask you the question, when did that happen? Yes, at Christ’s first coming. I’ll start again in Revelation 12:10: “‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!’” (Revelation 12:10–12, ESV).

Friends, Christ defeated Satan and his kingdom of darkness at his first coming. When Christ was exulted to his legitimate throne, Satan was cast down from his illegitimate throne, and he was bound so that he could not deceive the (70/72) nations any longer. This does not mean that he is not active. It means that he is cast down from heaven so that he can no longer accuse God’s people.  Why could he accuse before? Because Christ had not yet paid for the sins of those who trusted in him. By the way, this is why those who had faith prior to the accomplishment of our redemption resided in Abraham’s bosom, that upper portion of Sheol or Hades (Luke 16:23). It was a place of comfort but it was not heaven. It was because our salvation had not yet been accomplished – our sins not yet paid for – that the way to heaven was not yet opened up for them. And what did Satan say about God’s people alive on earth and those who were comforted in Sheol at the side of Abraham? They are guilty! This is unjust! You cannot comfort them! You cannot pass over their sins (see Romans 3:21-26)! They are mine! You must condemn them forever! But when Christ accomplished our salvation by his death, burial, and resurrection, he ascended. When he ascended, he cast Satan down. When he ascended, he set the captives of Sheol free and led them in the very presence of the glory of God Almighty. Do you remember the song that Mary the mother of Jesus sang when she visited Elizabeth? She gave praise to God saying, among other things, “he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate…” (Luke 1:52, ESV). May I suggest to you that this bringing down of some and exulting of others is true in the angelic and spiritual world before it is true of us.  

The second observation I would like to make about Luke 10:17-20 is that he confirmed his disciples have authority over the enemy. Look at verse 19: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you” (Luke 10:19, ESV). 

When Christ spoke of giving his followers the “authority to tread on serpents and scorpions” it should be clear to all that these creatures – serpents and scorpions – symbolize Satan and his demons. The end of verse 19 makes this clear, where Christ mentioned their authority “over all the power of the enemy.” Verse 20 also makes it clear that Christ is speaking of spiritual beings when he says, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you…” In other words, Jesus is not here teaching that Christians cannot be hurt by litteral scorpions and snakes. You say, well what about the ending of Mark? And what about that story in  Acts 28 about the viper came out of the fire and bit Paul on the hand but he was not harmed? Yes, in that instant Paul was miraculously spared from a snake bite that would have typically resulted in death. it was a sign that his word was true. It was a miracle that demonstrated the power of the gospel that Paul proclaimed. And there was much symbolism in the miracle –  the viper that struck Paul from the hellish flames did him no harm to make it clear to all that Satan and the fires of hell would do no harm to Paul. Why? Because of Christ’s victory and Paul’s faith in him.   

When you read Jesus’ words to his disciples found at the very end of verse 19, “and nothing shall hurt you”, what do you think? Do you think to yourself, but many of these men were hurt badly? Some were even killed because they were followers of Jesus. Again, I’m afraid your thinking is too earthly. The truth is, nothing can hurt a true disciple of Jesus – not even death. Will the disciples of Jesus suffer and even die? Yes. But the sting has been removed. Satan and his demons – even death itself – cannot hurt the true follower of Christ because Christ has won the victory over sin, Satan, and death and has secured life eternal for all who are united to him by faith.   

Why would Christ need to say all of this all of this?  Why would he need to confirm the disciple’s authority over the evil one? Did Christ not just say that he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven? Where did he fall to, except the earth? This is why Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV). This is why, after describing the casting down of Satan, Revelation 12:12 says, “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:12, ESV). Indeed, it is true, that Satan is defeated, bound, and cast down, but he is very active. We must fight against him with the word of God and with much prayer. We must fight against him knowing that he can do us no harm. 

The third and final observation that I have about verses 17-20 is that Christ directs his disciple’s attention to what they should really be marveling and rejoicing over. Verse 20: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20, ESV). It is wonderful to have authority over evil spirits. It is much better to know that you are destined for heaven. To have your name written in heaven means that you are already there on the basis of God’s decree. In heaven, there is a book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 20:15, 21:27). It is a book written before the foundation of the world. Those whose names are in this book are the ones who will have faith in Christ. It will be these who will enjoy life in the glorious presence of God in new heavens and earth, by God’s grace. Of all of the things we might marvel and rejoice over, this is the greatest. 

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Discussion Questions: Luke 10:1-20

  1. What is the significance of the number 70 (or 72)? What other passages of Scripture are we to think of when we hear this number? When Jesus sent a group of this size, what message did it send?
  2. What was their mission? How was their mission similar to ours? How was it different? What can we learn from this passage about our mission?
  3. What was their method? How was their method similar to ours? How was it different? What can we learn from this passage about our method?
  4. What did Jesus mean when he said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”? Why was Satan there? Why is he there no longer? Where is he now? What should the Christian think about Satan and his demons? No concern at all? Fear? What?
  5. What does it mean to have your name written in heaven? How can we know if our names are written in heaven?
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Discussion Questions: Baptist Catechism 7 (Part 2)

  1. What do we mean when we say that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable?
  2. Why is it important for us to apply these three terms to each of the seven perfections of God that are mentioned in our catechism?
  3. Why is it better to use the word “perfections” than “attributes” when speaking of God? 
  4. What does it mean that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being?
  5. What does it mean that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his wisdom?
  6. What does it mean that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his power?
  7. How should these truths make a sinner feel? How should these truths make one who is redeemed, forgiven, and reconciled to the Father through faith in Christ Jesus feel? 
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Catechetical Sermon: What Is God? (Part 2), Baptist Catechism 7

Q. 7. What is God?

A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. (John 4:24; Ps. 147:5; Ps. 90:2; James 1:17; Rev. 4:8; Ps. 89:14; Exod. 34:6,7; 1 Tim. 1:17)

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Introduction

We are returning to Baptist Catechism 7 because it is such an important question and the answer is very rich. The question is, What is God? I should briefly remind you of what I said last Sunday. This is a question about the nature of God. What it is he? That is the question. In the previous sermon, we focused our attention on the first four words of the answer: “God is a spirit…” He is not a physical being. He is invisible. He does not have a body. He is not composed of parts. He is simple. Today we will go a little further. 

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God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable

Our catechism goes on to speak about God’s attributes. A better term would be perfections. With God, his attributes are perfections. God is love. God is wisdom. God is power, etc. The words “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable” help us to see that all of God’s attributes are in fact perfections. 

The word infinite helps us to see that God is without limits of any kind. When we say that something is finite, we mean that it is limited. You and I are finite creatures. But God is infinite. He is without limits. 

The world eternal is about time. When we say that God is eternal we mean that he is without time. There is no succession of moments in God. He does not have a past or future. He simply is. 

The word unchangeable reminds us that God cannot change. So there are some things God cannot do! He is in no way limited in power or wisdom, etc. But he is limited by his own perfections. He cannot be less than God. He cannot contradict himself. God cannot change. If God were to change for the better – if he were to grow in knoweldge, for example – it would mean that he was less than God before. If he were to change for the worse – if his Almighty Power were to diminish – he would cease to be God Almighty. There is no room for change in God because he is infinitely and eternally perfect in every way.

I should probably acknowledge that I’m touching on profound truths and I am doing so very rapidly this morning. There is more to say than what I can say in this limited time. 

These three words – infinite, eternal, and unchangeable – are to be carried along and applied to each one of the seven perfections of God that are mentioned in our catechism. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable wisdom. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his power. Ect, etc. The seven perfections mentioned in our catechism are God’s being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. 

I think the first three perfections mentioned should be grouped. We might call them essential perfections of God. These belong to God essentially. They are his being, wisdom, and power. The last three also seem to go together. We might call these relative perfections. Why? Because we cannot conceive of them apart from the existence of a creature to whom God relates. They are his justice, goodness, and truth. God is just, good, and true… to his creatures. And so, we refer to these perfections as relative. I do believe that God’s holiness is mentioned right in the middle of this list for a reason. God is perfectly pure and holy in his essence, and therefore, he is always perfectly pure and holy in his relations toward us. Stated differently, God always does what is just, good, and true, because he is perfectly holy in his being, wisdom, and power. 

You should know that under these seven perfections, many other perfections could be listed. 

Also, I should mention that there is a danger in discussing the attributes or perfections of God like this. It can give the impression that God is composed of many parts – that he is a collection of his many wonderful attributes or perfections. No, God is simple. Everything in God is God. For example, we may say that God’s love is his justice. In him, they are not distinguished. We must divide God up and talk about his perfections one at a time because we are limited in our capacity. We can only think about one perfection at a time. 

Dear brothers and sisters, there is a sense in which God is incomprehensible to us. We can know him truly. These things that we are saying about him are true things revealed in God’s Holy Word. But our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable one. Our language strains under the weight of the task as we attempt to speak of him. 

So, let us proceed with caution as we consider the seven perfections of God that our catechism lists. Today we will only consider the first three. 

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God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Being

Firstly, our catechism teaches that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being or existence

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we could talk about his aseity or his self-existence. God exists a-se, which means, of himself. God depends upon no one and nothing for his existence. No one made God. No one sustains God. God exists of himself. This is why he revealed himself as “I AM” to Moses. God is the one being who simply is.  

I think you can see that God is a being, and you and I are beings, but we are very different beings. Stated differently, God exists, and we exist, be our existences are very different. God exists a se, of himself. I hate to break it to you, friends. You and I do not exist a se, of ourselves. We are very dependent and needy creatures. You were brought into this world by parents and through a mother. You were nurtured while a helpless babe. You cannot exist apart from this world. You need air, food, water, and shelter. It would be very difficult for you to exist apart from society. Ultimately, it is God who created you and sustains you continuously. The Scriptures are true, “‘In [God] we live and move and have our being’… ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:28, ESV).

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we could also talk about his omnipresence. God is infinite in his existence. He is in all places at all times. This is why the Psalmist said, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7–8, ESV).

Again, we may stress the great difference between God’s existence and ours. We exist, but we are finite. We are limited by our bodies. We can only be in one place at one time. And even if we were to consider the soul of man, though it is hard to put into words, I’m confident that our souls are limited too. Our souls, when separated from our bodies at death, do not become infinite and omnipresent.  

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we could also talk about his eternality. God exists. He always has and always will. As has been said, there is no succession in God. He does not have a past or future. He simply is. This is why the prophet has said, “Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One?” (Habakkuk 1:12, ESV). God exists in eternity. 

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we should also talk about his immutability. It is not merely that God does not change, he cannot. You and I change constantly. That is because we are finite creatures living in time and space. God cannot change. As James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17, ESV)

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God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Wisdom

Secondly, God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his wisdom. 

I will not spend so much time on this perfection or the next. I think what has been said already in this sermon will enable you to think about this perfection too. 

It is under the category of God’s infinite, eternal, and unchangeable wisdom that we may speak of his omniscience. God is perfectly wise because he knows all things. He knows himself perfectly. He sees everything with perfect clarity. The future is as clear to him as the past and present. And he knows the future, not because he has the ability to see the future, but because he has decreed it. Friends, think of it. God has never learned anything. No, his wisdom is perfect. It is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. 

Isaiah 46:10 says that God declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…’” (Isaiah 46:10, ESV)

Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5, ESV).

In Psalm 139:1-6 King David reflects on God’s omniscience, saying, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1–6, ESV)

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God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Power

Thirdly, God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his power. 

Here we may speak of God’s omnipotence. God’s power is unlimited. This is true in eternity. Never has God grown stronger or weaker. God speaks in Jeremiah 32:27 saying, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27, ESV)

Here we may also speak of God’s sovereignty. He is Lord Most High. Nothing is outside of his sovereign power and control. Listen to Psalm 47:2: “For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2, ESV). So his expansive and complete is his sovereignty that not a hair falls from our head, nor a sparrow to the ground, apart from his will (see Matthew 10:28-31).

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Conclusion

We will continue our consideration of the perfections of God next Sunday. May I suggest to you, by way of conclusion, that these perfections of God ought to be a great comfort to those in Christ Jesus? If you have faith in Christ Jesus, God has set his love on you. He has reconciled you to himself. He invites you to call him Father. And your Father in heaven is “a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” 

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Discussion Questions: Baptist Catechism 7

  1. Review Baptist Catechism questions 1-6. What is the relationship between questions 1-6 and 7? 
  2. When we ask the question what is this thing or that? what are we talking about? What is a tree? What is a dog? What is a human? What is God? 
  3. “God is spirit.” Notice, we are not here talking about the third person of the Triune God – the Holy Spirit. We are saying that the Triune God is spirit. What does this mean? And what is the best and simplest Scripture text to cite in support of this?   
  4. How are we to interpret those passages of Scripture that speak of God using the language of human body parts or human emotion? What is the truth communicated by these passages? How can these passages be misinterpreted? (Take Psalm 18:35, Genesis 6:6, and 1 Samual 15:29 as examples. What is the key to interpreting these passages properly?
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Sermon: Count The Cost Of Being A Disciple Of Jesus, Luke 9:57-62

Old Testament Reading: 1 Kings 19:9-21

“There [Elijah] came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.’ And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’ So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, ‘Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ And he said to him, ‘Go back again, for what have I done to you?’ And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.” (1 Kings 19:9–21, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 9:57-62

“As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:57–62, 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

What does it cost to have Jesus as your Savior? On the one hand, we could say, nothing. It costs us nothing to have Jesus as Lord and Savior. His love is freely given. The salvation he provides is a gift that cannot be earned – it can only be received. He cleanses us from sin and clothes us with his righteousness by God’s grace received through faith in Christ alone. This is true, but there is more to say.

And so I ask the question again: What does it cost to have Jesus as your Savior? On the other hand, we could say, everything. To have Jesus as our Savior – to follow after him and to be a disciple of his – will cost us everything. 

May I remind you of the words of Christ found in Luke 9:23-24. “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24, ESV). To follow Jesus, one must deny himself. To be a disciple of Jesus, one must take up his own cross and die to self. To follow after Jesus one must first lose his life. And the great paradox is that in losing your life for Christ’s sake, you will truly find it. 

So then, I suppose that brings us back to the first answer, doesnt it? What does it cost to have Jesus as Savior? Nothing… in the end. For in Christ, we gain life – life abundant – life eternal. 

When I say that it will cost a person everything to have Jesus as Savior, I am in no way denying that salvation is a gift from God. We are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. Or to quote Paul, “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16, ESV). I am in no way denying that salvation is a pure gift – a gift that can only be received by trusting in Jesus. It costs us nothing. 

Here I am simply observing that to have Jesus as Savior we must have him as Lord. No one has ever had Jesus as Savior who does not also have him as Lord. I’ll quote Paul again: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, ESV). To confess Jesus as Lord is to confess that he is the Lord God Almighty incarnate. And as Lord, he is to be worshiped and obeyed. 

You must see that having Jesus as Lord will cost you everything, for if Jesus is your Lord, that means you are not. As Christ himself has said, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13, ESV). And neither can you serve Christ and yourself. 

To have Christ as Lord and Savior requires us to turn from sin, to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow after him. To have Christ as Lord and Savior will involve surrendering ourselves to him, entrusting ourselves to him, submitting ourselves to his will for us, and striving to obey his commandments. This act of faith, surrender, and submission to Christ will cost us everything now. But in this way, we gain everything – life abundant now and life for all eternity. 

What does it cost to have Jesus as Lord and Savior? In a sense, nothing. But in another very important sense, it will cost us everything.  

Here in the passage that is open before us today, we are exhorted to count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Here in this passage, Jesus tells the truth about what being a disciple of his requires. Luke briefly reports on three encounters that Jesus had with potential disciples. In each instance, Christ pressed them to count the cost. One general observation we can make is that Jesus was no salesman. In no way did he attempt to sugarcoat things. Jesus did not behave like a recruiter, speaking only of the benefits of being a disciple of his while concealing the true costs. Jesus told the truth. And of course, he told the truth knowing that his elect would certainly hear his voice and respond to his call in due time. What is this passage about? It is a warning to all who would consider following after Jesus to count the cost and to fully surrender themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.  

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To Follow Jesus We Must Be Willing To Suffer With Him

In verses 57-58, we learn, that to follow Jesus we must be willing to suffer with him. 

In verse 57 we read, “As they were going along the road…” This phrase reminds us of what was said back in verse 51: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” The road that Jesus was on was the road to Jerusalem, and that is very important to keep in mind as we interpret this text. Jesus had ministered in the region of Galilee. He was opposed by scribes and Pharisees, but he had kept his distance from Jerusalem and from the powerful people who were centered there. But now it was time for him to go up to Jerusalem. And he had spoken clearly about what would happen to him there, saying in 9:21-22, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Luke 9:21–22, ESV). This road that Jesus was on was the road to Jerusalem. It was the road to suffering. It was the road that led to the accomplishment of our redemption, the defeat of Satan, and the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom. It was the road to the cross.

Look again at verse 57: “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go’” (Luke 9:57, ESV). We do not know who this “someone” was – his name is not given. Notice how bold he was. Some commentators interpret his boldness as an attempt to secure a place amongst the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, perhaps amongst the twelve or the seventy. These same commentators will warn against such presumption. It is Christ who calls his disciples to himself. It is Christ who appoints men to hold office. It is better to wait to be called by Christ than to be so forward. And perhaps they are correct in their assessment of this situation. Christ teaches this principle in the parable of the wedding feast found in Luke 14:7-11. He concludes that parable with these words: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11, ESV).

Luke does not explicitly say what this man was thinking or what his motives were, but we can discern a lot from Jesus’ reply. Verse 58: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (Luke 9:58, ESV). It’s as if Jesus looked at this man and said, are you sure you want to follow me? Look at my situation. There is no place for me in this world. The foxes and the birds have homes and beds.* I have nothing. And I go to Jerusalem to suffer. You had better count the cost. 

Do not forget the theme that runs through all of these passages. Men and women were having a very difficult time understanding that Jesus would suffer. They had beheld his glory. Their hopes for him were very high. Many followed after him because they were eager to share in his glory. But they could not comprehend his suffering, though he spoke so clearly about it. It seems that this man wanted glory. Jesus reminded him of the suffering he would endure and the suffering that his disciples would be called to endure. Would there be glory? Yes! But Christ and his disciples would enter glory by taking up the cross. Christ would bear his, and he calls his disciples to bear theirs. First the cross, then the glory. If you wish to be a disciple of Jesus, you had better count the cost.   

Listen to what Paul says about this in Romans 8:16-17. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16–17, ESV). To follow after Jesus we must be willing to suffer with him. 

Jesus challenged this man – whoever he was – to count the cost. And Luke, by recounting this story, is challenging us to do the same. J.C. Ryle comments on this passage saying, “Let us never forget this lesson. It need not make us afraid to begin serving Christ, but it ought to make us begin carefully, humbly, and with much prayer for grace. If we are not ready to take part in the afflictions of Christ, we must never expect to share his glory.” (J.C. Ryle, Luke Commentary, Vol 1, pg 259)

And so I ask you, are you ready to share in the afflictions of Christ? Will God call you to suffer persecution or even martyrdom for the sake of Christ? Only God knows. But we should examine our hearts and count the cost. Certainly, Christ has called you to “deny [yourself] and take up [your] cross daily and follow [him]” (Luke 9:23, ESV). Have you counted the cost? 

Perhaps you thinking, but what cost is there, really? We do not live in a time or place of persecution.

No, but persecution could quickly come. It was not long ago that we saw how quickly a government could begin to overstep its bounds and act in a tyrannical way. In the year 2020, the tyranny was not focused on the Christan exclusively, but it could be. Have you counted the cost?

And I think you would agree that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain Biblical values and perspectives and to live as a Christian in this increasingly pagan culture. Opportunities for employment or career advancement may be somewhat limited for the Christian who is resolved to live according to their convictions. Have you counted the cost?

The thought occurred to me that Christians are to marry in the Lord. And as our culture grows more Godless, and true church and true Christians become more rarer, finding a godly spouse becomes more difficult. Have you counted the cost? 

I could go on to talk about the obligation that disciples of Jesus have to obey God’s law. If you are a disciple of Christ, you are a slave of Christ. He is your Lord or Master, and you are his bondservant. He has set you free from bondage to sin, Satan, and the terrors of his dark kingdom. And you have been set free to obey the Lord.  Have you counted the cost?

For example, the Christian is bound to “Flee from sexual immorality.” This is what Paul commands. And listen to the reason he gives. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18–20, ESV). Have you counted the cost?

Furthermore, the Christian is bound to honor the Lord’s Day Sabbath and to keep it holy. It is a day to rest from worldly or common employments and recreation and to worship the Lord corporately and in private. Of all of the Ten Commandments, this one marks God’s people and sets them apart as distinct in this world the most, for it affects how we spend our time and order our lives. “What do you mean you will not allow your kids to play on the club team because we play on Sundays?” “What do you mean you are not available to come in to work on Sunday?” “What do you mean you will not be able to make it to mom’s Mother’s Day breakfast because you will be assembled with the church for worship?” Have you counted the cost?

The Christian does not keep God’s law to be justified by it. No, we keep God’s law because we love God and Christ. As Christ has said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, ESV), and Christ’s commandments do certainly include the Ten Commandments, which is an ever-abiding summary of God’s moral law. Have you counted the cost?

I can preach this way and not fear losing any of God’s people because those who have been called by God and renewed by his Word and Spirit will say, yes, I have counted the cost, and it is all worth it. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” (Philippians 3:8–9, ESV). 

This is how the true disciple of Jesus will respond to the question, have you counted the cost? But false professors will quickly fall away. Was this man who came to Jesus when he was on the road to Jerusalem a true disciple of Christ or a false professor? The text does not say. But we know that Christ did warn him to count the cost. 

To follow after Jesus we must be willing to suffer with him. That is what we learn in verses 57-58. 

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To Follow Jesus We Must Give Priority To Him

To follow Jesus we must be willing to suffer with him. That is what we learn in verses 57-58. In verses 59-60, we learn that to follow Jesus we must give priority to him. 

Look with me at verse 59: “To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:59–60, ESV)

This passage has puzzled some. After all, isn’t the request a reasonable one? I’ll follow you, Lord, “but let me first go and bury my father.” And don’t the Scriptures command us to show honor to Father and Mother? Yes, that is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. So what is going on here?

A few things need to be noted:

One, the words, “but let me first go and bury my father” could very well mean that the man’s father was still alive but near the end of his life. If this was the case, this disciple of Jesus (whoever he was) was requesting a furlow of an indeterminate length of time. 

Two, Matthew refers to this man as a “disciple” of Jesus in his Gospel. In other words, this man was already a part of Jesus’ band of disciples. Perhaps he was one of the 70. 

Three, though the request might have been reasonable at another time, the time was not right for this disciple to return home. We must remember that Jesus was now on the way to Jerusalem. This was a vital period of time. 

Four, it is possible that this was a lame excuse – a way out – for this disciple. When Jesus began to speak of suffering and to journey towards Jerusalem, this man wanted to go home. 

Five, when all things are considered it is clear that this disciple was tempted to give priority to family over Christ. He was tempted to honor his earthly father over his Father in Heaven. Typically, there is no conflict between these two duties. Ordinarily, we are able to honor God the Father and our earthly fathers simultaneously. But when the two duties do conflict – when there is a clash between the first commandment, which is, you shall have no other gods before me, and the fifth commandment, which is, honor your father and mother – it is the worship of God and obedience to Christ that is to be prioritized. 

This is why Jesus replied to his disciples, saying, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:60, ESV). In other words, let those who are spiritually dead deal with the task of burring the physically dead. At this time, you must devote yourself to the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom. It is my interpretation that the request of this man was denied, in part, because the timing was so bad. Just as a soldier would not be granted leave in the heat of a battle, neither was this man granted leave in this most crucial of times. Furthermore, we should remember the promise of Christ found in Matthew 19:29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29, ESV).

To honor your father and mother, to love and care for your spouse or children, is a very good and important thing. Most of the time there is no difficulty at all in honoring God and Christ and honoring these. But if there is a dilemma, God and Christ must always be given priority. 

Truth be told, disciples of Jesus find themselves in perplexing situations like this quite often. 

The father of a Christian woman does not approve of her faith and commands her not to assemble with the church for worship. What then? God and Christ must be honored supremely. 

The wife of a Christian husband does not approve of his faith and promises trouble in the marriage he follows Christ, worships and serves him. What then? God and Christ must be honored supremely. 

The parents of a young Christian man do not want to see their son go to the mission field in obedience to the call of God on his life, or to enter the ministry given the opportunities for a lucrative career elsewhere. What then? God and Christ must be honored supremely. 

Or the unbelieving children in the home of believing parents do not wish to be in church on the Lord’s Day. They are driven to play sports on the Lord’s Day and are adamant that their future depends upon it. What then? God and Christ must be honored supremely. 

Do not be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, when some of the strongest opposition to your devotion to Christ arises within your own home or from within your extended family. The Evil One will often use good things – like the desire to show honor to father and mother, or the desire to marry or to have a peaceful marriage, or the desire to give good gifts to our children – to tempt men and women to fall back from their wholehearted devotion to God and Christ. 

To follow after Jesus, he must be honored as Lord and King. And King’s must always be given priority. 

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To Follow Jesus We Must Persevere With Him

Finally, we come to the third encounter between Jesus and a would-be disciple. It is in this encounter, as recorded in Luke 9:61-62, that we learn, to follow Jesus we must persevere with him. 

Look at verse 61. “Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61–62, ESV).

This text is meant to remind us of the story about Elijah and his calling of Elisha to follow him and to be his successor as recorded in 1 Kings 19, which we read earlier. Rember, Elisha was found plowing a field. And Jesus plays off of that, saying, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” And the request of Elisha and this would-be disciple of Jesus was the same – let me first go say goodbye to my family. Where do the two stories differ? Elijah granted the request but Jesus denied it. 

Why? Perhaps to highlight that the work Jesus was doing was far superior to the work Elijah was doing. Elijah was zealous to purify Israel under the Old Covenant. Christ came to purify and expand Israel by inaugurating the New Covenant. Perhaps the timing was bad. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, remember? This was no time for a return trip home. Or perhaps it was because the man’s request was insincere – he was not so concerned to say goodbye to his family as he was to find a way to avoid the trouble that was ahead. I suspect the reason for the denial of the request was a combination of these things. Jesus’ reply strongly suggests that the man was wavering in his commitment. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Those who follow after Jesus must persevere. 

*****

Conclusion

Have you considered what it will cost you to follow Jesus? 

Salvation is a gift given by God through Christ and by the Spirit. It costs nothing to receive. So come to Christ. “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price”, says  Revelation 22:17.

But to have Christ as Savior, one must bow before him as Lord, and that will cost you everything. This is why Christ calls his disciples with these words: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, ESV).

But do not forget the great mystery:  “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for [Christ’s] sake will save it.” (Luke 9:24, ESV)

*God’s Word is truly amazing. One of the things I love about God’s Word is how interconnected it is. With time I grow more and more amazed to see the interconnectedness of the Old Testament with the New. I love to see how the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ and how the New Testament shows Jesus to be the fulfillment. There are examples of this everywhere in Luke’s gospel. Sometimes I don’t even mention them because our time and capacities are limited. All of these references to the Old Testament, in the form of either direct quotations or subtle allusions, will reach their climax at the end of Luke’s gospel where we are told of Christ appearing to his disciples in his resurrection and teaching them, saying, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44, ESV).

Here in Luke 9:58 we have what I think is a rather subtle allusion to Psalm 8. Psalm 8, written long before Christ was born, speaks of the promised Messiah, saying in verse 4, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:4–9, ESV). Two things about Luke 9:58 should remind of Psalm 8. First, the title that Jesus uses for himself. He calls himself the Son of Man. Psalm 8 is a prophecy concerning the Son of Man who was to come. Two, the mention of the birds of the air. In Luke 9, Jesus says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58, ESV). But in Psalm 8 we are told that the Son of Man, having been made “a little lower than the heavenly beings” has been “crowned” with “glory and honor.” God has given him “dominion over the works of [his] hands”; God has “put all things under his feet” including the birds of the heavens…” (Psalm 8:5–8, ESV). 

I draw your attention to this subtle allusion to Psalm 8 in Luke 9:58 because I think it tells a story. The Son of Man would indeed be crowned with glory and honor. All authority in heaven and on earth would be given to him. But first, he would be made a little lower than the heavenly beings. First, he would have to suffer. Before the birds of the heavens would be subjected to him, he would have to come in a low condition — one in which even the birds of heaven could be said to live in luxury compared to him. Through this suffering, the Son of Man would enter into glory. We must identify with Christ in his suffering. Through suffering we will enter glory – the glory that Christ has secured for his people.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Luke 9:57-62, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: Count The Cost Of Being A Disciple Of Jesus, Luke 9:57-62

Discussion Questions: Luke 9:57-62

  1. Having Jesus as Savior will cost you nothing. Having Jesus as Savior will cost you everything. How so?  
  2. What can we learn from the exchange between Jesus and the first would-be disciple of Luke 9:57-58? Given Jesus’ reply, what was this man likely expecting? How, in particular, did Jesus call this man to count the cost? 
  3. What can we learn from the exchange between Jesus and the disciple of Luke 9:59-60? Why did Jesus deny his request to return home to bury his father? Don’t the Scriptures command us to honor father and mother? What then are we to make of Jesus’ words?
  4. What can we learn from the exchange between Jesus and the would-be disciple of Luke 9:61-62? Why should we compare this exchange to the story of Elijah’s call of Elisha in 1 Kings 19:19-21? What are the similarities and differences between these stories? Why did Jesus deny the man’s request to return home?
  5. Discuss the potential costs of following Jesus in our time and place. Have you counted the cost? Is it worth it to follow Jesus?
Posted in Study Guides, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: Luke 9:57-62

Catechetical Sermon: What Is God? (Part 1), Baptist Catechism 7

Q. 7. What is God?

A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. (John 4:24; Ps. 147:5; Ps. 90:2; James 1:17; Rev. 4:8; Ps. 89:14; Exod. 34:6,7; 1 Tim. 1:17)

*****

Introduction

What is God? This is a very important question. 

We should remember that we were created to know God, to glorify him, and to enjoy him forever. We should also remember that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from sin and misery so that we might be reconciled to God. The Christian is one who loves God, and we love him because he first loved us. The Christian is one who communes with God, and worships and serves him through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Do you love God, Christian? I know that you do. Given our love for God and the fact that we have been reconciled to him through faith in Jesus Christ, should we not also desire to grow in our knowledge of him as well? Isn’t that how we relate to those we love? Do we not seek to know those we love better and better with the passing of time? Certainly this is should be the case with God. As our love for him increases, so too should our knowledge of him. And we will find that as our knowledge of God increases, so too will our love. 

Please allow me to remind you of how we got here in our catechism. 

Q. 1. Who is the first and chiefest being?

A. God is the first and chiefest being. 

Q. 2. Ought everyone to believe there is a God?

A. Everyone ought to believe there is a God; and it is their great sin and folly who do not. 

Q. 3. How may we know there is a God?

A. The light of nature in man and the works of God plainly declare that there is a God; but His Word and Spirit only do it fully and effectually for the salvation of sinners. 

Q. 4. What is the Word of God?

A. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, and the only certain rule of faith and obedience. 

Q. 5. May all men make use of the Holy Scriptures?

A. All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Holy Scriptures.

Q. 6. What things are chiefly contained in the Holy Scriptures?

A. The Holy Scriptures chiefly contain what man ought to believe concerning God, and what duty God requireth of man. 

So you can see that question 7 begins to address the first thing that the Scriptures are said to contain. The Scriptures  chiefly reveal to us what man ought to believe concerning God,  and here in question 7 we ask, “What is God?” The answer that is given here is very brief, but truly marvelous.

Question 7 is about the nature of God. Notice, it asks what is God? When we ask about the whatness of a thing, we are asking about the nature of a thing. If I were to ask you what is a rock? You would tell me about its makeup, composition, and characteristics. Rocks are made up of minerals, and they are hard. And if I were to ask you what is man? You would need to tell me about the nature of man. What makes a man a man, and not a rock or a dog or some other thing? We would need to say that men and women are composed of body and soul. The body has certain parts, and so too does the soul. Man has a mind, affections, and a will. Man is autonomous but limited in power. Man is a creature with a beginning, etc., etc. Again, when we ask the question, what is this thing or that?, we are asking about its nature. 

And that is what question 7 of our catechism is asking about God. What is he? One thing we will learn is that he is not like us! He is different. Yes, he has made us in his image. This must mean we are like him in some ways. We have been made in such a way that we can know him, relate to him, and imitate him in certain respects. But we must not make the mistake of assuming that God is like us in every way – a bigger, better, and more powerful version of us! He is not. God is different from us even on the level of whatness. In other words, he has a different nature. We are human. He is Divine.  

 *****

God Is A Spirit

In this little sermon, I only wish to focus on the first four words of the answer to question 7.  What is God? God is a spirit, our catechism says. What is man? Most fundamentally, we may that that man is body and soul. What is God? God is a spirit.

This can demonstrated from the Scriptures in many ways. The easiest and quickest way is to point to John chapter 4. There we are told of an encounter that Jesus has with a woman from Samaria who came to draw water at a well. He had a conversation with her about many things, but eventually, the conversation came to focus on God and the proper worship of God through Word and Spirit. One reason this passage is important is because of what Jesus says concerning what God is. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, ESV). It’s not as if this was a new revelation concerning God. From the days of Adam, God’s people have known that God is spirit. But this passage is helpful because Jesus says it directly. “God is spirit”, Jesus says. To state the matter negatively, God is not physical. He does not have a body. He is not composed of parts. He is invisible.

You know, it is not uncommon for men and women to be confused about this. Many will think of something physical when they try to imagine God. Some will think of God as a big, powerful, grey-haired grandpa in the sky. Others will imagine him as radiant light. But neither of these things is true. God is spirit. He is invisible. He does not have a body. Neither is composed of light.  

You should know that our catechism summarizes our confession of faith, the Second London Confession. Listen to what our confession says about what God is. The answer is the same, but it is more thorough. “The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence [existence] is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute…” (2LCF 2.1). That is a wonderful statement, and it is wonderful, first and foremost, because it is true. God is “a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions…” 

So why do men think of God as a physical being? One, we are prone to idolatry. We have this tendency to think of God as if he were a creature – a bigger and better version of us, perhaps. Two, the scriptures do sometimes use the language of created things and apply them to God to help us understand who he is, and men sometimes miss the fact that the language is functioning in an analogical way.  

For example, Christ taught us to pray to God as Father. We have earthly fathers. So, there must be some things about earthly fathers that help us to understand things that are true about God. Things like this: He is our source. He loves us. He is our protector and provider. These things are true of earthly fathers, and these things are true of God, but not in the same way. Through Christ, God is our heavenly Father and we are his beloved children. All of that is true. But we must remember that God is our father in an analogical way, not in an univocal, or one-to-one, way. We would be wrong to think of him as a big, great, and powerful version of an earthly father in the sky. 

Sometimes the scriptures speak of God’s hand, his arm, his face, or back. These are human body parts. We know that God does not have them, really. When the Scriptures speak of God’s hand or face or right arm, the language is analogical. It tells us something true about God and his works, but it is not meant to be taken in a literal way, for we know that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). 

Sometimes the Scriptures will speak of God using the language of human emotion. Humans experience changes in emotion. God does not. But we learn something true about God’s relationship with the world he has made when the scriptures speak of God repenting, grieving, longing, etc. 

All of these passages that attribute human and creaturely characteristics to God are important. We learn true things about who God is and what he has done, is doing, or will do in the world. But if we wish to know what God is, then we ought to give priority to those passages that speak directly about his whatness of God. Again, Jesus said, “God is spirit”. And the LORD revealed himself to Moses as the great I AM. He is the self-existent, eternal, and unchangeable one. James calls God “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17, ESV). These passages speak very directly about the nature of God. 

*****

Conclusion

What is God? Our catechism is right to say that “God is a spirit”. And next week we will consider what it means for God to be “ infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Catechetical Sermon: What Is God? (Part 1), Baptist Catechism 7


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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