Week Of February 18th, 2024

WEEKLY READINGS
SUNDAY > Exod 2, Luke 5, Job 19, 1 Cor 6
MONDAY > Exod 3, Luke 6, Job 20, 1 Cor 7
TUESDAY > Exod 4, Luke 7, Job 21, 1 Cor 8
WEDNESDAY > Exod 5, Luke 8, Job 22, 1 Cor 9
THURSDAY > Exod 6, Luke 9, Job 23, 1 Cor 10
FRIDAY > Exod 7, Luke 10, Job 24, 1 Cor 11
SATURDAY > Exod 8, Luke 11, Job 25–26, 1 Cor 12

MEMORY VERSE(S)
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, ESV).

CATECHISM QUESTION(S)
Baptist Catechism #6:
Q. 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 (requires) of man.

Posted in Weekly Passages, Posted by Mike. Comments Off on Week Of February 18th, 2024

Discussion Questions: Baptist Catechism 6

  1. What is meant by “chiefly”?
  2. What are the two things that the Scriptures are mainly about?
  3. What does the Bible teach us about God?
  4. In what questions does our catechism teach what we should believe about God?
  5. How is the gospel of Jesus Christ presented in this section?
  6. What does the Bible say about what God requires of us?
  7. In what questions does our catechism teach what God requires of us?
  8. How is the gospel of Jesus Christ presented in this section?
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Discussion Questions: Luke 9:46-56

  1. What was going on in the minds and hearts of the disciples at this point in Jesus’ ministry? How can we know? 
  2. Why is personal pride incompatible with life in the kingdom of Christ?
  3. What is a party spirit? How would it have hindered the furtherance of the kingdom of Christ if not irradicated?
  4. How should the believer respond to their enemies under the New Covenant? Read Romans 12:19-21 and discuss. 
  5. The kingdom of Christ is an upside-down kingdom. Discuss the meaning of this saying. Discuss the significance for our lives personally.
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Catechetical Sermon: What Things Are Chiefly Contained In The Holy Scriptures?, Baptist Catechism 6

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Baptist Catechism 6

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. (2 Tim. 3:16,17; John 20:31; Acts 24:14; 1 Cor. 10:11; Eccles. 12:13)

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Introduction

Question 6 of our catechism asks, What things are chiefly contained in the Holy Scriptures?

“Chiefly” means mainly, or supremely. So the question is, what are the Holy Scriptures mainly about? 

Our catechism has been teaching us about the Holy Scriptures. First, we learned that God has revealed the truth about himself in a general way in the world that he has made and in a much more specific way through his Word (see BC 3). Next, we learned that the “Holy Scriptures made up of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, and the only certain rule of faith and obedience” (BC 4). After that, we learned that the Holy Scriptures are for all men and women. “All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Holy Scriptures” (BC 5). Now our catechism attempts to tell us, concisely, what the Holy Scriptures are mainly about. This is a difficult task, don’t you think? The Holy Scriptures are long and complex. How could we possibly say what they are mainly about in only a few words? I think the answer that our catechism gives is very good. Again, “The Holy Scriptures chiefly contain what man ought to believe concerning God, and what duty God requireth of man.”

So the teaching of Holy Scripture is here divided into two main categories.

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What Man Ought To Believe Concerning God

First, the Scriptures teach us what we should believe concerning God. I think this is a perfect summary of the main message of the Bible. The Bible teaches us about God and all things in relation to him.

 Who is God? What is God? What are his attributes? God reveals himself to us in the Holy Scriptures. We should read the Scriptures to discover who God is.

Furthermore, we may ask, what has God done? What are his acts? And the Scriptures reveal what God has done. In the Scriptures, we find the record of God’s act of creation. In the Scriptures, we learn that God providentially upholds and governs the world he has made. In the Scriptures, we also learn of God’s act of redemption, and the application of that redemption to God’s elect in time. So then, the Scriptures teach us about God and what he has done.

And the Scriptures also teach us about who we are in relation to God. Humans are made in the image of God. We were created to know God, to commune with him, and to enjoy him. After God created man he entered into a covenant of life with man so that man might relate to God, but man broke the covenant. Adam sinned against God, and all of humanity sinned with him. But God has mercifully provided a redeemer, Christ the Lord. We are reconciled to God through faith in Christ and are made partakers of a New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace.

Our catechism is right. The Scriptures are mainly about God. They tell us who he is and what he has done. The Scriptures also tell us the truth about who we are in relation to him.

You should know that questions 7-43 of our catechism will expand upon the first part of the answer given in response to question 6. The Scriptures mainly tell us what we are to believe concerning God, and our catechism is mainly about that too. In questions  7-43 we will learn all about:

God: His Nature, Decrees, Creation, Providence, And Covenant (7-15)

Sin: Man’s Alienation From God By His Fall Into Sin (16-22)

Redemption Accomplished By God Through Christ The Son (23-31)

Redemption Applied By God Through The Spirit (32-43)

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What Duty God Requireth Of Man

Two, the Scriptures teach “what duty God requireth of man.” “Duty” means obligation or responsibility. What is man obligated to do before God? The Scriptures reveal it. 

Questions 44-114 will teach us about the duty that God requires of man. 

Question 44 asks, “What is the duty which God requireth of man?”

A. “The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to His revealed will.” (Micah 6:8; Eccles. 12:13; Ps. 119:4; Luke 10:26-28)

Question 45 asks, “What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?”

A. “The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.” (Rom. 2:14,15; 5:13,14)

Question 46 asks, “Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?”

A. “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments.” (Deut. 10:4; Matt. 19:17)

In questions 47-86 we will find teaching on the Ten Commandments. We will learn what they are, what they require of us, and what they forbid. God’s moral law is used as a light to our feet in this section.

Question 87 then asks, “Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?”

A. “No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but daily break them in thought, word, or deed.” (Eccles. 7:20; Gen. 6:5; Gen. 8:21; 1 John 1:8; James 3:8; James 3:2; Rom. 3:23)

Question 88 asks. “Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?”

A.”Some sins in themselves and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.” (Ezekiel 8:13; John 19:11; 1 John 5:16)

Q. 89 asks, “What doth every sin deserve?”

A. “Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come.“(Eph.5:6; Gal. 3:10; Prov. 3:33; Ps. 11:6; Rev. 21:8)

Here in questions 87-89, God’s moral law is used as a disciplinarian to show us our sin. The news is bad. 

Question 90 brings us relief: “What doth God require of us, that we may escape His wrath and curse, due to us for sin?” A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption. (Acts 20:21; Acts 16:30,31; 17:30)

So what is the answer to the question, what is the duty that God requires of man? Really, it is twofold.

One, now that we are fallen and in sin, we must turn from our sin and trust in Christ!

Two, having been forgiven by Christ, we are to keep God’s law out of gratitude for what God has done through Christ to save us and from a heart renewed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

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Conclusion

“What things are chiefly contained in the Holy Scriptures?” Our catechism is correct. “The Holy Scriptures chiefly contain what man ought to believe concerning God, and what duty God requireth of man.” (2 Tim. 3:16,17; John 20:31; Acts 24:14; 1 Cor. 10:11; Eccles. 12:13)

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Sermon: Personal Pride, A Party Spirit, And Vengeance Forbidden In Christ’s Kingdom, Luke 9:46-56

Old Testament Reading: Numbers 11:16-30

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone. And say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, ‘Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Egypt.’ Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before him, saying, ‘Why did we come out of Egypt?’ But Moses said, ‘The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?’ And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Is the LORD’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’ So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.” (Numbers 11:16–30, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 9:46-56

“An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.’ John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.’ When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.” (Luke 9:46–56, 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

To fully appreciate this section of Luke’s gospel, we must get into the heads of the disciples of Jesus to know what they were thinking. And no, I am not suggesting that we engage in blind speculation. How, you ask, can we possibly know what the disciples of Jesus were thinking? Well, Luke makes it clear enough in his gospel. 

It appears that, at this moment in time, the disciples of Jesus had visions of power and glory dancing in their heads. And to be fair, it is not difficult to see why. They were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah (see Luke 9:20). They had witnessed him perform many miracles – he had healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, calmed the wind and waves with his word, and fed a great multitude until they were full and satisfied with only five loaves of bread and two small fish. And we should not forget what Peter, James, and John saw. Jesus, not long before this was transfigured on the mountain. Christ appeared before their eyes in his glory with Moses and Elijah by his side. When he came down from the mountain he healed the boy with a demon in the presence of a great multitude, and we are told that “all were astonished at the majesty of God” (Luke 9:43). Everything about Jesus’ – his person and his works – pointed to a glorious future. And these men –  the twelve disciples – were his friends. They knew that Jesus was the long-awaited King of God’s Kingdom, and they were friends of the King! 

So it is not hard to see why the disciples of Jesus had visions of power and glory dancing through their heads. You and I probably would too! What if you were a part of the inner circle of acquaintances of a man who was ascending to a powerful throne? Picture yourself as a close friend of King David when he was ascending to the throne. What would you be thinking? You might be thinking of the power and glory that would soon be yours. You might also be concerned about who was on your right and left. You might jockey for position to ensure that you would be greater than them when the kingdom came. You might also be concerned about rival factions within the future kingdom and the destruction of potential enemies. This is how men think in the kingdoms of this world. Those who wish to have power and glory in this world will jockey for position, they will put down potential rivals, and they will rain down destruction on their enemies before their enemies can get the upper hand. 

Sadly, we see this kind of thinking in the disciples of Jesus at this point in his ministry. He had to correct them. The disciples of Jesus were right concerning identity. He is the Christ of God. He is the King of God’s eternal Kingdom. But at this point in Jesus’ ministry, they still could not comprehend the nature of Christ’s kingdom or how it would be established. They could envision Christ seated upon his glorious throne. They could also see themselves seated around him on their twelve thrones. But they could not see the cross of Christ. And neither could they see the crosses that they would be called to bear. Would Christ and his disciples enter into glory? Yes, eventually. But first, they would they would need to bear their cross. Christ would have to bear his, and they would have to bear theirs, and in this way, they would enter into glory. Christ would be the first man to go to glory. He is the forerunner – he is the one who opened up the way. And all who are united to him by faith will enter glory too, because of what Christ has done for them. But the pattern is first the cross, and then then the glory. Jesus’ disciples needed to be taught this. And so do we. Christ is faithful to teach us.

Here in the text that is open before us today, we see the disciples of Jesus warned about three things. These three things are so common in the kingdoms of this world and yet they have no place in the kingdom of Christ: they are personal pride, a party spirit, and vengefulness. 

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There Is No Room For Personal Pride In The Kingdom Of Christ. 

Firstly, in verses 46-48, we learn that there is no room for personal pride or selfish ambition in the kingdom of Christ. 

There in verse 46 we read, “An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.”

This is a very sad scene. What was Jesus doing? He was busy ministering to needy people. And what had Jesus commanded his disciples to do? Not long before this, he said, “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). But what were the disciples preoccupied with? They were arguing about which of them would be the greatest in Jesus’ glorious kingdom, which they undoubtedly thought would arrive very soon. 

Notice how patient Jesus is with his disciples. In verse 47 we read, “But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts…” That is an interesting expression, isn’t it? Jesus knew what the disciples were thinking and feeling. He knew the thoughts in their minds and the passions that were raging within them. And so, he “took a child and put him by his side and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great” (Luke 9:47–48, ESV).

Jesus, being the skilled teacher that he is, used this small child as an illustration. I picture the child being so young that he could not comprehend the significance of the moment or the meaning of the words that were spoken – a toddler perhaps. Jesus put the child by his side. Can you picture the child standing next to Jesus and looking up at him? And what was the message that Jesus delivered? One, his disciples should be eager to receive or welcome those who are like this child. And two, the disciples of Jesus should aim to be like this child themselves. The question is, in what sense? Certainly, some things about children should not be emulated. Children need to mature. Children must grow in knowledge and wisdom. Typically, children are called to imitate those older and wiser than them, and not the other way around. So it should be clear to all that Jesus was not calling his disciples to be childish or immature. But he was calling them to be childlike in some sense. 

What is the childlike quality that Jesus wants us to imitate? In this instance, Jesus was calling his disciples to have a humble and lowly spirit before him. He was calling his disciples to be like this small child – meek and mild – unconcerned about things like status, power, and prestige.  

Granted, all illustrations can be pushed too far. Yes, I know, even little children will sometimes act selfishly, wanting to have all the toys for themselves, or some such thing. But Christ is not addressing simple selfishness in his disciples as much as he is addressing the more complex sin of pride and selfish ambition leading to quarreling and political maneuvering. Young children are typically free from these concerns. For example, if you were to put two toddlers together on a playground, one from a poor family and the other from a noble family, I doubt that the rich child would discriminate against the poor child, or that the poor child would be envious of the rich child – those toddlers would simply play. Why? Because the sin of pride has not yet overrun their hearts. Now, if you were to do this with teenagers or adults, you might run into problems. Sadly, as we grow older we become more aware of things like class, power, possessions, and status. The sins of pride, covetousness, and selfish ambition do not naturally diminish with time, instead, they grow like weeds and threaten to choke out the soul, leading to quarreling and even wars. 

The words of Christ at the end of verse 48 make the meaning of his illustration very clear. “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” In other words, Christ taught that things will be different in his kingdom – not only different, but upsidedown. In Christ’s kingdom, it is the one who is humble, who has put pride to death, and has laid aside all self-ambition who is great. 

All Christians need to hear this. Pride and selfish ambition have no place in the church. 

Husbands and wives need to hear this. The marriage relationship must be characterized by self-sacrificial love if it is to thrive

Parents need to hear this, and so do children. As we grow older we must learn more and more to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3, ESV).

This lesson that Christ taught his disciples on this day is especially important for pastors to hear.  The Apostles would soon be the leaders of the church. The church would built upon them. If they were filled with personal pride and selfish ambition, they would fracture and the church would be left without a foundation. These men needed to learn to lead humbly and selflessly, and they needed to learn it fast. Soon Christ would be crucified. He would be buried and raised, and then he would ascend. The Apostles would teach and lead and then the ministry would be instructed to pastors who are called to teach and lead. A pastor consumed by pride and selfish ambition will do much harm to the church. 

I’m reminded of the example that the Apostle Paul and his co-laborers set. He wrote to the Thessalonians saying, “For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:5–8, ESV). 

May the Lord bless us all with the humble, meek, and mild disposition of a child – with hearts and minds unconcerned about power and prestige, and may Christ get all the glory. 

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There Is No Room For A Party Spirit In The Kingdom Of Christ

Secondly, in verses 49-50, we learn that there is no room for a party spirit in the kingdom of Christ. A party spirit is a factitious spirit – an attitude that says, everyone must be just like us, and if they are not just like us – a part of our tribe or tradition – then they must be opposed. 

In verse 49 we read, “John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you’” (Luke 9:49–50, ESV).

Notice a few things about this text. One, it reveals an interesting dynamic. Jesus had his twelve Apostles. These occupied a very special place in Jesus’ band of disciples. They had special authority. And there were others who followed Jesus too. We will consider the story of Jesus sending out the 70 (or 72) in Luke 10. So, we are to envision concentric circles – Peter, James, and John were closest to Jesus. There were 9 other Apostles besides them. And then surrounding them, there was a group of about 70 who followed Jesus. And we are also told that Jesus was often surrounded by a great multitude. Two, John was concerned about a person who did not follow Jesus closely with the other disciples. I take this to mean that he was not one of the twelve (obviously), nor was he one of the 70, and yet, this man was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. John wanted to know if he should be stopped. Three, “Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.’” This saying should be read in light of what Christ will say in Luke 11:23: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23, ESV). All things considered, I think we are to place this man – whoever he was – in the category of one who believed in Jesus truly but did not walk in the most orderly way. He used the name of Jesus to cast out demons (perhaps he did this presumptuously and inappropriately), but notice, that the Lord was pleased to bring honor to the name of Christ by granting him success. John wanted to know if this man should be stopped given his disorderly conduct. Christ said “No”.   

Let us observe what this text does not say. The text does not say that those who teach false doctrine should not be opposed. This isn’t about that. And we see clearly in other passages of Scripture that those who teach false doctrine – especially false doctrines that threaten to undermine the Gospel – are rebuked and opposed, and rightly so. This situation was different. This man – whoever he was – was a follower of Jesus though he did not walk closely with Jesus’ band of disciples – the twelve and the 70 – and yet he was zealous to act. He cast out demons in Jesus’ name, and the Lord was pleased to allow it and to grant him success. 

It seems that the story of Numbers 11:16-30 which I read earlier is behind this account. Under the Old Covenant and in the days of Moses seventy elders were appointed to serve. They assembled at the Tabernacle, and as a sign that they were appointed by God to serve as elders, they were given the ability to prophesy temporarily. But there were two men who were not present with the 70 at the Tabernacle, and they prophesied too. Their names were “Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them” (this, but the way, would bring the number of elders to 72). In Numbers 11:28-30 we read, “And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them.’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!’ And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.” The parallels between the story in Numbers 11 and the story here in Luke 9 are striking. The word “jealous” is especially interesting, I think. Moses spoke to Joshua saying, “Are you jealous for my sake?” In other words, are you worried about me? Are you concerned that power and authority are being decentralized away from me and given to others?  Moses was a humble man, unconcerned with power and prestige – he was happy that the Spirit of God was being distributed so freely. The Spirit rested on the seventy so that they might rule, and it fell on two others besides them, indicating that God was not limited to these men but would continue to supply his Spirit in the future for the good of his people.

To understand the importance of this event that is recorded for us in Luke 9:49-50, we only need to step back and look at where things go from here as it pertains to the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom. Think especially of the story that is told in Luke’s second volume, the Book of Acts. Yes, Christ would work powerfully through his Apostles to establish and grow his church (Judus would fall and be replaced). But he would also work through others’ besides these. He would work through some who certainly numbered amongst the 70 who are mentioned in Luke 10. And he would call Paul to serve as an Apostle to the Gentiles, even though Paul never walked with Jesus and the twelve. That Paul was an Apostles appointed by God would be proven by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 13). And we know from the Book of Acts that the Holy Spirit was poured out freely on many in the early church – even Gentiles. 

The point is this: if a factitious, party spirit, had taken root amongst the disciples of Jesus, within the twelve or the seventy, the church would not have survived. In other words, if the disciples of Jesus – the twelve or the seventy who walked most closely with him – had this attitude that only they could do kingdom work, and all others who did not walk with them were to be forbidden, then the growth of the church and the furtherance of the kingdom would have been greatly stifled. The Holy Spirit was about to be poured out liberally on all flesh. The Kingdom of Christ was about to spread like wildfire to the ends of the earth. The Apostles would play an important role – so too would the eyewitness of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection – but the church would be built up rapidly upon the foundation of these. Here John, and the rest of the Apostles, were warned against stifling the working of the Holy Spirit in the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’m reminded of that passage in Philippians 1:15-18 where Paul says, “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice ” (Philippians 1:15–18, ESV). What an interesting perspective Paul had! He wasn’t so concerned about the man who preached or the motive behind the preaching, but the message. If Christ was proclaimed truly, in that he rejoiced. 

I think that is the lesson taught by Jesus in Luke 9:49-50. There is no room for a party spirit in the Kingdom Of Christ. Brothers and sisters, we must beware of this ourselves. We love our confession because we believe it is true to the Scriptures. We love our tradition, again, because we believe it is true to the Scriptures. We cherish our association with other churches of like faith and practice – indeed, it is good and pleasant when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity and labor together for the furtherance of the kingdom. All of these things are good, and it is good and right for us to encourage others to believe as we believe, to do as we do, and to join with us. But as we do, we must guard against the party spirit and factiousness that is forbidden here in this text. Brothers and sisters, we ought to rejoice over the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, over the teaching of sound doctrine, and the planning of true churches, even if those churches are not a part of our particular tribe. 

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There Is No Room For Vengeance In The Kingdom Of Christ

The third and final lesson to be drawn from our text is that vengeance is forbidden in Christ’s kingdom. 

Look with me at verses 51-56. “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village” (Luke 9:51–56, ESV).

Notice a few things about this text. 

Firstly, this text marks a great transition in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus had spoken about his suffering before, but here we read, “the days drew near for him to be taken up…” This is a reference to Christ’s crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension to the Father’s right hand. And then we read, “he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” So, from this moment, Christ is heading towards Jerusalem to suffer and to enter into glory for the accomplishment of our redemption.

Secondly, as Jesus and his disciples began to journey toward Jeruslam they needed lodging. Messengers’ from Jesus’ band of disciples were sent ahead into a village of the Samaritans to try to find hospitality there, but they refused to receive him “because his face was set toward Jerusalem.” The hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans is well known. The Samaritans in this town would not show hospitality to Jesus and his disciples because they were heading towards Jerusalem, and they did not approve. Many reject Jesus because he does not fit with their desires and expectations. Woe to the one who rejects Jesus because he will not conform himself to them. Blessed is the one who receives Jesus humbly, and conforms their will and desires to his. 

Thirdly, notice the way that James and John respond to this great insult. They said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Now, there is a reason James and John suggested this. If you were to read 2 Kings 1, you would understand the reason. There we find a story about fire coming down from heaven at the request of Elijah the prophet to kill messengers of the king of Samaria who had rejected the God of Israel. Peter, James, and John had just witnessed Jesus glorified on the mountain with Moses and Elijah at his side. This was a village of the Samaritans.  And so James and John, being filled with anger at the insult shown to them and to the God of Israel, recalled this event. They knew that they were following one greater than Elijah, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Some ancient manuscripts include the words, “as also Elijah did.” 

“But [Jesus] turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.” Jesus rebuked their vengeful spirit. It should be recognized that this situation was not the same as the one encountered by Elijah. This was a village filled with many innocent people – women and children – most of whom were ignorant of the plans and purposes of God in Christ Jesus. To destroy this village over an offense would not have been just. Also, Jesus rebuked them because a new age had come. Christ would soon inaugurate a New Covenant. And the Kingdom of God under this New Covenant would not advance in this way. Christ would lay down his life for his elect, and his disciples would be called to do the same – not to fight and to seek revenge on enemies. Paul addresses this in his letter to the Romans, saying, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19–21, ESV). This was the way of Christ in his earthly ministry, and this is to be the way of the Christian in these last days.

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Conclusion

Brothers and sisters, we have attempted to get into the minds of the disciples of Jesus. It should be clear to all that at this moment in time, the disciples were filled with visions of glory, personal pride, and selfish ambition. They were beginning to do what men and women so often do in situations like these, and that is to form factions. And being driven by their passion for power and glory, they were willing to rain down furry on all who opposed them. These things had to be purged from these men if the Kingdom of Christ was to prosper under their lead. Christ’s kingdom is not of the world. It does not function like the kingdoms of this world function. In many respects, it is an upsidedown kingdom. It is those who are filled with humility, love, and a self-sacrificial spirit who are great. May the Lord bless us with these gifts, and may Christ our King receive all of the glory, honor, and praise. 

Posted in Sermons, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: Personal Pride, A Party Spirit, And Vengeance Forbidden In Christ’s Kingdom, Luke 9:46-56

Discussion Questions: The Apostles’ Creed

  1. What does the word “creed” mean? What does a creed express or declare?
  2. Who wrote the Apostles’ Creed? When was it written? And for what purpose?
  3. What are the core Christian doctrines expressed within the creed? 
  4. What is the “shape” or structure of the Apostles’ Creed? Why is it shaped this way?
  5. What story does the creed tell? How does the creed tell this story?
  6. What is the focus of the Apostles Creed? How is the focus directed here? Why is this the focus?
  7. What are some uses of the Apostles’ Creed (and other creeds like it)?
  8. What are the two common misunderstandings about the Apostles’ Creed? How are they explained?
Posted in Study Guides, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: The Apostles’ Creed

Discussion Questions: Luke 9:37-45

  1. What did Pastor Joe identify as the theme that runs through Luke 9:37-62?
  2. When Jesus rebuked the faithless and twisted generation, to whom was he speaking?
  3. What can we learn from the demon-possessed boy about Satan and our fallen condition? 
  4. Jesus displayed his glory on the mountain. How did he display his glory when he came down from the mountain?
  5. What can we learn about Jesus and his mission from his act of delivering the boy from his bondage and returning him to his father?
  6. Why did Jesus warn his disciples at this moment that he would soon fall into the hands of sinful men to suffer?
  7. Why were the disciples of Jesus unable to comprehend his words? Why were they afraid to ask him what he meant? 
  8. Why is it vital to identify with Jesus, not only in his glory but first in his suffering?
Posted in Study Guides, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: Luke 9:37-45

Catechetical Sermon: The Apostles’ Creed: An Introduction And Overview 

Catechetical Sermon

The Apostles’ Creed: An Introduction And Overview 

Pastor Joe Anady

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The Apostles’ Creed

“I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

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Introduction

We’ve begun the practice of reciting the Apostles’ Creed together in the worship service immediately before we partake of the Lord’s Supper. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we say “I believe…” in a symbolic or sacramental way. And so it is good for us to say, “I believe…” verbally and with content before we come to the table. It is those who believe who are to come, and so those who come first say, “I believe…” This tradition is common amongst the Reformed and has been for a very long time. One benefit of reciting the creed is that it connects us with other true Christians living throughout the world today and throughout history. The word “creed” comes from the Latin word meaning, “I believe…” The first two words of the creed are, “I believe…” And so when we recite the Apostles’ Creed we are declaring that we believe what Christians have believed throughout the ages.

The Apostles’ Creed (and other creeds like it) are very brief declarations of belief in core Christian doctrines. Sometimes creeds are called symbols. Symbols, as you know, are small representations of something larger and more complex. And that is what creeds are. They are verbal symbols of the faith. 

Is there more to say about the Christian faith than what the Apostles’ Creed says?  Yes, of course. The Apostles’ Creed states the faith in a very brief way. The creed is short enough to memorize and recite in public worship. But it can also be expanded upon. In fact, I think it was meant to be expanded upon. For example, when the creed says, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…”, it is right for us to ask, who is God? What is his nature? What are his attributes? What is meant by Father? What is meant by “Almighty”? etc. Every word of this creed can be expanded upon in this way. 

Of course, the answers to these questions are found in Scripture, which is our supreme authority in matters of faith and obedience. And the answers to these questions are stated more thoroughly in other documents, like our catechism and confession. Creeds state the core doctrines of the Christian religion in a very succinct way. Catechisms state (and) teach the doctrines more thoroughly. Confessions (like our confession – The Second London Confession) are rather long and detailed statements of faith.   

You should know that The Apostles’ Creed is called the  Apostles’ Creed, not because it was written by the Apostles of Jesus (though there is a tradition that says it originates with them), but because it is a faithful summary of their teaching. You should also know that this creed underwent some development in the first few centuries of the church. The version we have likely has its origins in an older and simpler creed, called The Old Roman Symbol. As the church encountered false teachings, the creed was likely altered slightly to help defend orthodoxy. The Apotles’ Creed we recite today is believed to have its origins in Gaul (modern-day France) in the fifth century AD. 

Let us now briefly consider the Apostles Creed.

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Its Declaration: The Core Doctrines Of The Faith

Firstly, what does the Creed declare? The Creed declares belief in the core or central doctrines of the Christian faith. The first words are, “I believe”, and in the creed, we find statements about the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, his deity, his death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and eventual return.  Also, the creed declares belief in the universal church, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of the body when Christ returns. These are core or foundational Christian beliefs. The Apostles’ Creed does not explain these doctrines or seek to prove them from Scripture – it declares belief in them. Any true Christian will be able to utter this creed sincerely and with a clear conscience. If a person cannot say what this creed says sincerely, then they are not a Christian. 

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Its Shape: Trinitarian

Secondly, what is the shape or structure of the Apostles’ Creed? You will notice that the shape is Trinitarian. There are three parts to this creed, and each of the three parts is associated with one of the three persons of the Godhead. God is one. God is three. He is a tri-unity. And the creed is trinitarian. The first section begins, “I believe in God the Father…” The second section begins, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…” As you know, Jesus the Messiah is a true human being, but the Apostles Creed rightly identifies him as the person of the eternal Son of God and our Lord. The third section begins, I believe in the Holy Spirit. God is one. In him, there eternally subsist three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Every true Christian believes this, and so the Apostles’ Creed declares it to be true. More than this, the creed makes the Triune God its structure. 

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Its Story: The History Of Redemption

Thirdly, we might ask, what story does the Apostles’ Creed tell? This might seem like a strange question at first, but I do believe that the Apostles’ Creed tells a story. It is the story of creation, fall, and redemption. The act of creation is attributed particularly to the Father. The accomplishment of our redemption is attributed particularly to the Son. And the application of the redemption that Christ has earned is attributed to the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, we are reminded of the consummation by words concerning Christ, “From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.” Truly, God is one, and all of his works are therefore one and undivided. But it is also right to attribute creation to the Father, redemption accomplished to the Son, and redemption applied to the Spirit, given the special role each person of the Trinity plays in these acts. The theological term for this is called appropriations. My point here is to say that the Apostles’ Creed manages to remind us of the story of creation, man’s fall into sin, redemption accomplished by Christ, redemption applied by the Spirit, and the consummation of all things at Christ’s return, in what it says. It’s marvelous to consider, I think.

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Its Focus: Christ

Fourthly, what is the focus of the Apostles’ Creed? Notice how the creed focuses attention on Christ. Jesus the Messiah, the eternal Son of God incarnate, is the central figure of the creed. Our faith in Christ is professed in the middle or heart of the creed. Also, most of the words are devoted to describing Christ and to his work of redemption. And this is right. The Scriptures also focus on Christ.  The Christian faith centers on Christ. Other religions – the non-believing Jews, for example – can profess a belief in God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. But they will not profess belief in Jesus Christ the Son of God and our Lord. And so, it is not surprising that a Christian creed would have Christ at the center. It is Christ who reconciles sinners to God. Christ is the object of our faith. If we wish to be saved from our sins, we must trust, not in God in a generic sense, but in the person and work of Christ, for Christ is the only Savior that God has provided. To trust in God truly for our salvation means that we will trust specifically in Christ. And that is what the creed professes – faith in Christ, 

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Its Usefulness: To Teach And Confess The Faith

Fifthly, what is the usefulness of the Apostles’ Creed? 

One, the creed could be used as a tool to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to teach the faith, and to prepare people for baptism and membership within the church. Of course, to use the creed in this way would require us to expand upon just about every word and phrase to explain the meaning. We do not use the Apostles’ Creed in this way here at Emmaus. Instead, we use the Baptist Catechism. In a way, the Baptist Catechism expands upon the doctrines expressed in the Apotsles’ Creed, but not in a direct or obvious way. 

Two, the creed can be used to succinctly confess the faith in a public worship service. And that is how we will use it. At some point before we come to partake of the Lord’s Supper, a minister will ask you the question, “Dear Christian, what do you believe?” And this will prompt the congregation to recite the Apoostes’ Creed (or another creed), as a faithful summary or symbol of the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  

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Two Common Misunderstandings

As I begin to draw this little sermon to a conclusion, I’d like to address two portions of the Apostles’ Creed that are often misunderstood. The first common misunderstanding is rather easy to correct. When we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church…”, this is not a reference to Roman Catholicism. Catholic simply means universal. There are many local, visible churches like this one. God’s people are to assemble each Lord’s Day in local, visible churches. When we say, we believe in “the holy catholic church”, we are confessing belief in the one, perfectly unified, universal, and invisible church of Jesus Christ. Consider this: the Scriptures say that Christ loved the church and laid down his life for her (see Ephesians 5:25). Notice the word “church” is singular in that text. So, although there are many local churches, there is in reality only one church that Christ laid his life down for. Which one is it? It is Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church? No, the one church that Christ laid his life down for is the universal, invisible church of Christ. He laid his life down for his bride. That is to say, he laid down his life for all of the elect – all who have placed their faith in Jesus the Messiah, from Adam’s day on to the consummation. You can’t take a photo of that church. That church cannot assemble on earth. But it is that church – the church catholic or universal – that will assemble before the throne of God in the new heavens and earth. To follow the pattern of the creed, the catholic church is made up of all whom the Spirit of God has regenerated, drawn to faith, and united to Christ throughout time. The word “catholic” in the creed has nothing at all to do with Roman Catholicism. This creed was written, remember, long before Roman Catholicism became what it is today. 

The second part of the Apostles’ Creed that is often misunderstood is the phrase, “he descended to hell.” This is about Jesus. The creed says, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”

It is common, even within the Reformed tradition, to interpret the phrase, “he descended to hell”, to mean that Jesus experienced the torments of hell on the cross when he died as a substitute for the sins of the elect. Hell descended on Jesus, according to this view. Really, it was John Calvin who popularized this view. And while I often agree with Calvin, I disagree with him here.

It is my view that the phrase, “he descended to hell”, means that when Jesus died his body was placed in the grave and his soul descended to Sheol or Hades, which, prior to the resurrection and ascension of Christ, was the common abode of the dead (see Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27). More specifically, Jesus’ soul descended to Abraham’s bosom, which was a place of comfort within the spiritual realm of Sheol (see Luke 16:22). Christ descended into hell (which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades), not to suffer there or to endure any punishment, but to proclaim victory and to set captives free (see Ephesians 4:8). After Christ rose from the dead, he ascended to heaven. Now, the way into heaven is opened up for all who have faith in Christ. (Matthew 27:51; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Revelation 20:4). Sheol (Hades or hell) is only a place of punishment now that Christ has ascended. In other words, Abraham’s bosom is no more, for Abraham and all who have the faith of Abraham have entered heaven, or will enter heaven when they die. For the sake of time, I will not attempt to prove this view from Scripture. I’ve recommended a resource to you where that is done. Let me conclude by simply pointing out that it is this view, and not the other one, that agrees with the progression of the creed itself. Hear it again.  The creed declares that Christ “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead…” etc. If Christ’s descent into hell was a reference to the torments of hell coming upon him as he hung on the cross, then the phrase is strangely out of order in the creed. But if this is an answer to the question, where did Christ’s human soul go when he died and his human body was laid in the grave, then the placement is perfect. It is right to believe that Christ’s soul went to Sheol – to the spiritual place where Abraham and all who had the faith of Abraham were prior to Christ’s resurrection. Christ did not suffer there. He went to proclaim victory, to set captives free, and to usher them into heaven when he ascended, for Christ has opened up the way into the heavenly holy of holies. The Psalm is true. God did not “abandon [Christ’s] soul to Sheol, or let [his] holy one see corruption” (Psalm 16:10, ESV), for, on “the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”

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Conclusion

Dear brothers and sisters, I do hope and pray that this little sermon will help you to recite the Apotsles’ Creed with confidence and conviction. Christ did descend to hell (i.e. Sheol or Hades). And no, we are not pledging any sort of allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church – it should be clear to all that we view the Roman church to be a false church given her abandonment of the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ alone, among other things. Instead, when we recite the Apostles’ Creed we are confessing that we belong, not merely to this local church, but to the church catholic or universal, for we hold to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We have been reconciled to God the Father, by the Son, and through the Spirit. This gift of redemption and reconciliation comes to be ours as we trust in Jesus Christ, the son of God incarnate. He descended to the lowest parts of the earth for us. He was also exulted to the highest heaven for us. He is the Savior God has provided. He is the object of our faith, therefore. And this is what we confess to believe when we recite the creed. 

Minister:

“Dear Christian, what is it that you believe?”

Congregation:  

“I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Catechetical Sermon: The Apostles’ Creed: An Introduction And Overview 


"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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