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. 

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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

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)

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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 reconsiled 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, andcharacteristics. 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.  

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God Is A Spirit

In this little sermon, I only wish to focus upon 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 a 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 properer 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 Cponfession. 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 langue of created things and apply them to God to help us understand who he is, and men sometimes miss the fact that the langue is functioning in an anological 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 univicol, 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 langue 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 langue 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. 

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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.”

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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)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Catechetical Sermon: What Things Are Chiefly Contained In The Holy Scriptures?, Baptist Catechism 6

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

Sermon: An Only Son Who Was Crushed, Delivered By An Only Son Who Was Crushed, Luke 9:37-45

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 52:13–53:5

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 52:13–53:5, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 9:37-45

“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” (Luke 9:37–45, 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

As I was preparing this sermon, I was tempted for a brief moment to go much further and to take as my text Luke 9:37-62. The reason this possibility came to my mind was that I recognized a common theme that runs through each one of the stories that are told in this section of Luke’s Gospel. The theme, it seems to me, has to do with the great difficulty that people had in accepting the news that Jesus would enter into glory through suffering and that his followers were called to do the same.

Christ clearly revealed to his disciples that he would enter into glory through suffering back in Luke 9:21, saying, “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). There he also revealed that his disciples would enter into glory with him through suffering, saying, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, ESV). But his words fell on deaf ears. 

That his disciples could not comprehend this is clearly stated in the passage that is open before us today. And in the passages that follow it becomes very clear that the disciples of Jesus were hungry for power and glory. They were eager to have it immediately. They could see and accept the thought of Christ on his throne. But they could not see or accept the thought of Christ on his cross. And many throughout history have errored in the same way. Many are willing to identify with the Christ of glory, but they will not identify with the Christ of the cross. And yet we know, to follow Christ and to enter into his glory we must first identify with him in suffering. Hear again his words, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, ESV). 

So then, this theme about Christ entering into glory through suffering, and the great difficulty that people have in accepting this news, is central to this text and to the passages that follow. I’ve decided to focus our attention on verses 37-45 so that we might appreciate the details of this text. 

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In verse 37 we read, “On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him” (Luke 9:37, ESV). 

So then, Jesus was glorified by God on the mountain, but it was not yet time for him to enter into his eternal glory. When Christ was transfigured on the mountain it was a preview of what was to come. The Son of Man would eventually enter into glory, but first, he would suffer – first, he would serve – first, he would lay down his life as a sacrifice for many. And so Jesus did not remain on the mountain in the estate of glory, but, like Moses before him, he came down from the mountain to minister to the people. 

There is a point of application to be made here.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we must have the same attitude and approach. Followers of Christ must be humble. They must not stand aloof. They must not look down upon others, but they, like their Master, must walk humbly in the world with the disposition of a servant. Paul the Apostle famously commanded this in Philippians 2:5. He wrote to Christians, saying, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:3–8, ESV). 

When Christ went up onto the mountain of transfiguration to be glorified there after speaking of his suffering and death, it was a preview of what was to come. He would suffer and die in Jerusalem, and in this way he would enter into the estate of eternal glory. And when Christ came down from the mountain to minister to the multitudes again it was a little picture of his entire mission. As the person of the eternal Son of God, he is eternally and unchangeably glorious. But the Son “emptied himself” and “humbled himself” by assuming a human nature, and in that human nature, suffering to the point of death, even the death on a cross. If our Lord walked in this way, then shouldn’t we?

In verse 38 we encounter a very sad story. “And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not’” (Luke 9:38–40, ESV).

Notice, firstly, the love that this father had for his son. This father – we do not know his name – was greatly troubled concerning the condition of his son. The text tells us that the boy had a spirit or demon, and this demon would cause the boy to cry out, convulse, and foam at the mouth. The language used is very strong. We are told that the demon would shatter or crush him and would hardly leave him alone. What did the father do for his son? He brought him to the feet of Jesus. And this is the very thing that every father and mother should do with their children. They should bring them to Jesus. By God’s mercy and grace, few have been afflicted by the Evil One in the extreme way that this young person was, but that does not mean that the Evil One is not at work. His methods are manifold; his tactics are varied. The Evil One shattered this boy with convulsions and seizures. This is unusual. But as we consider this story today, we are to remember that the Evil One wishes to bind and shatter all. He will often do it in much more subtle ways – through false teaching – through the seductiveness of the world – by stirring up the passions of the flesh.  Parents of children, we must be on guard. We must keep a watch, not only over our own souls, but the souls of our children too. And how are we to protect them? Not in our own strength, but by bringing them to Jesus. First and foremost, we are to bring them to Christ in prayer. This man “cried out” to Jesus from the crowd and said, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child” (Luke 9:38, ESV). Parents – fathers – do you carry your children and your grandchildren to Jesus in prayer? Do you cry out to Christ in prayer and plead with him to have mercy on them, to deliver them from the Evil One, and to bless them with life in glory? Parents, bring your children to Jesus in prayer. 

Notice, secondly, the malice and cruelty of the Evil One. Satan, through his demons, shattered this young life. This boy – the only son of his father – was crushed in a most extreme and unusual way. Satan’s malice and cruelty were made visible and apparent to all in this instance. Mathew and Mark both record this story in their Gospels. Mark provides us with the most information. He tells us that the boy was also dumb and deaf. He could not speak and he could not hear. In Matthew’s account, the father refers to the son as a lunatic. This poor boy was in terrible bondage. 

Why was this permitted by God, you might ask. 

First of all, God knows. There are mysteries we do not understand, and it would be impious to pretend that we can peer into the secret counsel and wisdom of God. There are a few things that we can safely say, however. 

Secondly, it does seem that in this boy we find a picture of what we all deserve given our sin and rebellion against God. As I consider this story, the thought occurs to me, why are we not all like this? If this boy was bound in this way even from childhood, why are we, who have sinned much more grievously than this child ever did, not also bound and crushed by the Evil One? The answer is, by God’s grace. 

Thirdly, this story, along with all the other stories regarding demon possession found in the Scriptures, reveals that, although the Evil One is given some freedom to work in this world, God, by his common grace, restrains him greatly. Again, the question can be asked, why are we all not like this? Why are we all not bound in this way? The answer is, by God’s grace.  

Fourthly, it is through the experience of this boy and his father that hundreds of thousands have been warned of the cruelty of the Evil One. There are two kingdoms present in the world, and there are two kings. There is the kingdom of darkness with Satan as king, and there is the kingdom of light with Christ as King. Here in this story, we see clearly that Christ is the benevolent King, whereas Satan is most cruel. Here in this story, the words of Jesus, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV), are proven and put on display for all to see. 

And fifthly, we can confidently say that the Lord permitted this suffering so that Christ would be magnified through it, for here Christ demonstrates his power over the Evil One, his ability to set captives free and to bring life, light, peace, and wholeness where once there was only brokenness, turmoil, darkness, and death. 

The question, why does God allow suffering – suffering in our lives – suffering in the lives of those we love – suffering of the kind we see described here in our text – is difficult to answer. It is good to say, God knows. It is good to let the mystery remain. But we can also say what the Scriptures say. And the Scriptures do speak to this. Romans chapter 9 would be a good place to start. And it is the principles contained within Romans 9 that I have applied here. 

In verse 41 we find Jesus’ response to the father’s request. “Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here’” (Luke 9:41, ESV). 

One question we should ask is, who was Jesus speaking to when he said, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” 

Some think that Jesus was upset with the father of the boy and was rebuking him for his lack of faith. This interpretation would also say that the reason the disciples of Jesus could not cast out the demon (as reported in verse 40) was because of the father’s lack of faith. Furthermore, those who interpret the text in this way also tend to criticize the father for being rude to the disciples and for complaining against Jesus in public. This interpretation does not seem to square with the data, in my opinion. The father seems humble to me. He cried out to Jesus. He begged him. Mark tells us in his Gospel, that he implored Jesus, saying, “‘have compassion on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” Perhaps there is something to the idea that the father was weak in faith and that Jesus wished to work stronger faith in him, and to draw out a profession of faith, as he did. But the point I am here making is that rebuke, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?”, does not seem to fit with what we know of Jesus’ interaction with the father. Everything about that interaction seems to be gentle and sincere.  

Others assume that Jesus was rebuking his own disciples for their lack of faith when he said, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” I suppose this is possible, but it seems like a very strange way for Jesus to speak to his disciples, especially in public. The rebuke seems to be for a broader audience. And though the disciples were certainly at times weak in faith, they could not be described as “faithless” or “twisted”. And Christ is patient with his people. He is long-suffering and faithful. The words, “how long am I to be with you and bear with you?”, do not seem to fit with Jesus’ common disposition towards his disciples. 

A third interpretation is the one offered by John Calvin, and this is the one I take. Calvin is helped by his harmonization of the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. As I said before, Mark’s account is the most detailed of the three. And he reveals that before Jesus arrived on the scene, his disciples were surrounded by the crowd. The scribes, who are often mentioned along with the Pharisees as opponents of Jesus, were in the mix, and Mark 9:14 tells us that they were disputing with the disciples of Jesus. In verse 16 of Mark 9, Christ asks the scribes, “What are you arguing about with them?”, and that is when Mark tells the story about this father and his boy. Calvin’s interpretation is that Jesus’ rebuke was directed towards the “faithless and twisted” people in the crowd, particularly the scribes, who were likely using this sick boy and his grief-stricken father to put the disciples of Jesus to the test. Can you imagine the scene? Can you imagine the scribes, either bringing the father and son to the disciples of Jesus or finding the father and son with the disciples of Jesus, taking the opportunity to press the disciples to heal the boy and mocking them for their inability? 

Why were the disciples unable to heal the boy? The text does not say. Did the father lack faith? Maybe. Were the disciples weak in faith? Perhaps. A likely explanation is that the whole situation was forced and chaotic at first given what we know about the scribes and their bantering with Jesus’ disciples. Furthermore, I think it is assumed that because Jesus sent the twelve out to cast out demons, to heal, and to preach the gospel of the kingdom as recorded at the beginning of Luke 9, they possessed the power to cast out demons perpetually. I don’t know if that is the case. That would be like saying because Jesus commanded them to feed the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and fish they then could do this at will from that day onward. No, they could multiply bread and fish when it was the will of Christ to do this through their hands. And so it is with the matter of exorcism and healing. The Apostles of Jesus had the power to exorcise demons and heal the sick when it was Christ’s will to grant them this power. In this instance, Christ withheld it. Perhaps he withheld it so that he could show forth the power that he possessed over Satan and the demons in a more pronounced way. Whatever the reason for the inability of Jesus’ disciples to heal this boy and to free him from demonic oppression, I hear Jesus’ rebuke being delivered to the scribes and to others in the crowd who were indeed faithless and twisted. They were representative of an entire generation, and Jesus rebuked them all. 

You can probably see that this story we are considering does parallel the story found in Exodus 32 about Moses coming down from the mountain where he received the law only to find the people worshipping the golden calf. Moses came down from the mountain of glory to a faithless and twisted generation. And Christ came down from the mountain of glory to a faithless and twisted generation, and so he rebuked them. 

And then, to defend the honor of his name, to show forth his power and glory, and to perform an act of kindness for this crushed boy, the only son of his grief-stricken father, he healed him. Beginning at the end of verse 41 we hear Jesus say, “‘Bring your son here.’ While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father” (Luke 9:41–42, ESV).

If the demon-possessed boy – the only son of his father – serves as a kind of example or picture of the cruelty of the Evil One, then Jesus’ healing of this boy – his freeing him from demonic oppression, his releasing him from crushing physical ailments, and his returning him whole and well to his father – must serve as a kind of picture of his mission to redeem. 

The eternal Son of God – the Son of Glory – descended (as it were) from the mountain of the glory of heaven by taking to himself a human nature. Without ceasing to be what he always has been, he humbled himself and became incarnate. Why? To defeat the Evil One. He came to set captives free. He came to make his people whole and well and to give them life – eternal life. He came to reconcile lost sons and daughters to the Father. Here we have a little picture of that mission. Here Jesus demonstrated to all that he has the power to save. 

The people understood the significance of this event. Now, I am not saying they all understood the full significance of it – the one I have just described to you. We can see that this is the full meaning because we look back upon these events after Christ has accomplished our redemption. But the people knew that Jesus was no ordinary man. They knew that he performed these miracles by the power of God. The text says in verse 43, “all were astonished at the majesty of God.” Verse 44 reveals that they were marveling at everything he was doing, 

So then, Jesus’ majesty and glory were displayed before Peter, James, and John up on the mountain when he was transfigured before them with Moses and Elijah appearing at his side. And his majesty and glory were also displayed through the miraculous deeds he performed – and these things were not done off in a corner somewhere. They were done so that the crowds could see.

There is one more thing we need to do before moving this sermon towards a conclusion and this is to put ourselves in the place of the disciples of Jesus. As I have just said, we look back upon these events with a kind of 20/20 hindsight. We can see clearly that this one miracle performed by Jesus was just a little picture of a much greater work that he would soon accomplish. We can see this clearly because we live after the suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. But the disciples of Jesus, at this moment in time, simply could not comprehend the glorious things that were about to happen. Was this a glorious and majestic thing that Jesus did for this boy and for his father? Was it a demonstration of the power of God and of the ability of Christ to save? Did it prove that Christ had the power to conquer Satan, sin, and death? But this work was nothing compared to the work that he would soon do.

I was trying to think of an illustration and this was the best I could do. It would be like witnessing small little rehearsals before a great concert. The lead singer comes on stage to check his microphone – he sings a little. The lead guitarist comes out to test his instrument – he plays a little. The technicians test the lights. And in this way, those who witness the rehearsal get a little taste of what is to come, but it all pales in comparison with the actual performance when all of these elements are brought together in perfect harmony. 

The disciples of Jesus were given little glimpses of the glory of Christ – they were given little indications of the great work that he came to do through the miracles he performed – but they were simply unable to grasp the grandeur of teh work he would do and the true majesty of the glory that would be his upon the completion of it. 

Certainly, they could not comprehend how he would accomplish the work that the Father gave him to do. Look at verse 43. After giving a preview of the glory that would be his on the mountain, and after displaying his majesty and glory before the multitudes in the miracle he performed, he spoke to his disciples, saying “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men” (Luke 9:43, ESV). 

I do love this verse. To fully appreciate it I think we need to imagine the scene.  Can you picture Jesus there amid a huge crowd? The crowd must have been very energetic. The people were stirred up with excitement and wonder over the miracle he performed. And can you picture the faces of his disciples? Their eyes must have been bright, full of hope, excitement, and wonder. Their countenances must have been very uplifted. If we were able to get in their heads, I think would find images of power and glory – images Christ sitting on the glorious throne of King David – and they ruling and reigning at his side. If we could feel the emotions they were likely feeling, we might feel the emotions of pride, greed, and selfish ambition. And it is in the midst of all of this that Jesus calls out to his disciples and says, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men”,  this being a reference to his future arrest in Jerusalem, his brutal mistreatment, and his crucifixion. 

Verse 45 says, “But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” (Luke 9:45, ESV)

When the text says, “But they did not understand this saying” it must mean that they did not have a category for this concept in their minds. The words themselves are not difficult to comprehend. The concept is what they could not grasp. 

When the text says, “it was concealed from them”, it is a reference to God. God did not grant them the ability to comprehend the full meaning of Jesus’ words. God allowed them to remain in their ignorance regarding the true meaning. 

Why? They were not ready to bear it. If it was revealed to them at this moment all that Christ would endure, and all that they would endure as disciples of his, they would have crumbled under the pressure. This should remind us that we are all works in progress and that God will only give us what we can handle at the moment. He stretches us. He tests us to refine us. But he will not permit his people to be overwhelmed to the point of being overcome with despair.       

If God concealed the meaning of Jesus’ words from them, then why did Jesus say the words? Answer: so that his disciples might look back and remember that Christ said these things before he went to Jerusalem to be betrayed, mocked, beaten, and crucified. In other words, Jesus spoke of his suffering ahead of time so that his disciples might know for certain that Jesus went to Jerusalem willingly,  knowing what he would endure, and for this purpose. No one took Jesus’ life from him. He laid it down willingly. 

The disciples were afraid to ask Jesus the meaning, not because they were afraid of Jesus (as if he would be irritated with them), but because they were afraid of the answer they might receive.  They were perfectly content to remain on this path – the path of entering into the glory of Christ’s kingdom without the need for suffering – and so they did what so many do. Though they undoubtedly suspected that Jesus’ words about suffering were important, they did not want to hear them. And so they buried their heads in the sand and continued on their way – ignorance is bliss, they say. Well, it might be, but only for a short time. The truth always has a way of hitting you square between the eyes at some point.   

The very next words in the text confirm what I have said about the mentality of the disciples. Verse 46: “An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.” (Luke 9:46, ESV)

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I’ll conclude with this. Did Jesus come to rescue his people crushed by Satan, sin, and the fear of death and to reconcile these to God Father? Yes, he did. And did he come to crush Satan under his feet, to overthrow his kingdom of darkness, and to enter into his glorious and eternal kingdom? Yes, he did (see Romans 16:20). But do not forget this, brother and sisters, Christ has redeemed his people, has defeated Satan, sin, sickness, and death, and his entered into glory through suffering. The way to his throne was through the cross. As the prophet Isaiah predicted long before he came, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5, ESV)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Luke 9:37-45, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: An Only Son Who Was Crushed, Delivered By An Only Son Who Was Crushed, 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 

Sermon: The Son Of Man In Glory, Luke 9:28-36

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 42:1–9

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: ‘I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.’” (Isaiah 42:1–9, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 9:28-36

“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” (Luke 9:28–36, ESV)

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

Introduction

Glory. That is what this passage is about. It is about Christ, the Son of Man, in glory.

Look back to the previous passage. In Luke 9:26 we hear Christ say, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26, ESV). 

Jesus is the Son of Man. This title emphasizes Jesus’ true humanity. He is the person of the eternal Son of God incarnate. So, he is the true and natural Son of God, who is also a true son of man. The title, Son of Man, also shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 7. He is the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13 – the King to whom God, the Ancient of Days, has “given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13–14, ESV).

At the end of the previous passage, we heard Jesus say something somewhat mysterious to his followers. After speaking of his glorious appearance at the end of time, he said, “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27, ESV). 

What was the meaning of this mysterious saying? Some things are very clear. Jesus taught that only some of his followers would see the kingdom of God before they died. The question is, what is meant by the kingdom of God? Well, it is the context that clarifies what Jesus meant. He had just spoken of the glory that would one day be his. And then immediately after this saying of Jesus, we are told the story of the transfiguration. Some of Jesus’ disciples – Peter, James, and John – went up to the mountain with Jesus and they saw him transfigured. The text says in verse 29, “And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29, ESV). And in verse 32 we read, “Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him [Moses and Elijah]” (Luke 9:32, ESV). So I ask you, what did Jesus mean when he said, in Luke 7:27, “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27, ESV)? He must have been speaking of this event that we are today considering – the event of the transfiguration. There on the mountain, a few of his disciples – Peter, James, and John – were given a glimpse of the glory of the eternal kingdom of God. They were given a glimpse – a preview – of the glory that would belong to Christ in the future and for all eternity in God’s eternal kingdom. 

As I have said, this passage that we are considering today is about glory – the glory of Christ the King, the Son of Man, and the glory of God’s eternal kingdom.  

We use the word glory often. And we use it in different ways. 

Firstly, we use the word glory as an adjective to describe something splendid. God is a most pure spirit. He is invisible. But he gloriously manifests himself in the heavenly realm that he made in the beginning. Those men who have been given a glimpse into the heavenly realm seem to struggle to find the words to describe what they saw (see Revelation 4:3–6). The word glory is used in that way here in the passage that is open before us. Here we see that Christ was transformed and appeared  glorious. Again the text says, “the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29, ESV). And, “when [Peter, James, and John] became fully awake they saw his glory…” (Luke 9:32, ESV). Christ typically looked like a common man. But in this moment he appeared glorious. 

The second way we use the word glory is as a verb. God is glorious and worthy to receive all praise, and we are to give him glory – we are to live for his glory. What does this mean? Well, to give God glory does not mean that we make him glorious or add to his glory in any way. You and I cannot give anything to God that he does not already have, for he is God – he possesses all things! And you and I cannot add anything to God, for he is perfect in every way. He is most glorious. He is not lacking in glory, or any of his other attributes so that we might add to him. With God, his attributes are his perfections. To give God glory means that we acknowledge his perfect glory and seek to exult or magnify his perfect glory for others to see. To give God glory is to praise him – it is to acknowledge that he is most glorious, most holy, and most worthy to receive praise from all his creatures. So, the word “glory” is sometimes used as an adjective to describe something splendid. And sometimes it is used as a verb to describe something we are to do – we are to give all glory to God and Christ, the Son.

There is a third way to use the word glory. I think it is probably the most uncommon use of the three, but it is a very important use, biblically speaking. The word glory can also be used to describe a state of being or mode of existence. When a brother or sister in Christ dies, we might say, they have gone to glory. By this we mean they have gone into the glorious presence of God to behold his glory. More than this, we mean that they have been passed into a new state of being. They enjoy a new mode of existence. No longer are they plagued by things like sickness and sorrow, trials and tribulation, temptation and sin. No, having been translated into a state of glory, they are no longer plagued by these things. As souls, they are freed from these afflictions in heaven and as they behold the glory of God. And they await the consummation, the resurrection of their bodies, and the glory of the new heavens and earth.        

Chapter 9 of our confession of faith uses the word glory to describe a state of being. Chapter 9 of our confession is about free will. And it explains how free will operates in the various states of being that humans have exited. Adam was a human with free will who lived in an upright state of innocency. This was his state of being in the garden before sin entered the world. Life in the state of glory was offered to him, mind you. Life in glory was symbolized by the Sabbath Day. It was also symbolized by the Tree of Life. Life in glory was promised to Adam in the covenant God gave him. What did he need to do to enter glory? He had to keep God’s law. But as you know, Adam fell short of the glory of God and fell from the state of innocency and into a state of sin and death. This is the state of being that you and I were born into, given that Adam was our representative. By the way, free will is not so free in this state of being. It is still free in that we retain the ability to act upon choice. The problem is that our minds, affections, and wills are corrupted by sin and bent towards evil so that we are not able to choose God and the good, but, according to our fallen nature, we run from God and towards evil. But God is merciful. He provided a Savior. And by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, God frees us from our natural bondage to sin and enables us to freely choose Christ and to place our faith in him. Furthermore, through the regenerating and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to more and more obey God’s law. Corruptions and imperfections remain, and therefore sin remains as we live now in this state of grace. Believers in Jesus live now in the state of grace, but what do we await, brothers and sisters? What state of being do we long to be in? We long to be in the state of glory. As it pertains to the subject of free will, it will be in the state of glory only that the “will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone…” (2LCF 9.5). 

When will we be in this state of glory? Answer: when we die, or when Christ returns. Those who die in the Lord are translated into the state of glory. Their souls enter into glory while their bodies lie in the grave. When Christ returns, the dead will be raised and reunited with their souls. Then, those in Christ will live forever in the state of glory in the new heavens and earth.

The question we must ask is, how do we get to this state of glory? One way to answer this question is to say through faith in Jesus Christ. It is only through faith in Jesus the Messiah that we will enter into glory. Adam could have entered into glory by obeying God’s law, but he sinned and fell short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). That way to glory – through obedience to God’s law – is closed.  It is only through faith in Jesus the Messiah that we can enter into glory now. That answer is obvious to many of you. 

But today, when I ask the question, how do we get to this state of glory, I do not wish to focus on the question, what must we do to enter glory? I know that the answer to that question is clear to most of you – turn from your sin and trust in Jesus is the answer! What I mean is, how was the way to glory opened up for us? We know how the way to glory was lost – through Adam’s sin! But how was it opened up? In other words, how is it that trusting in Jesus will bring us to glory? What did he do to open up the way? It seems to me that this story about Jesus being transfigured on the mountain is very much about this. 

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The story that we are considering today is  marvelous. In Luke 9:28 we read,  “Now about eight days after these sayings [Jesus] took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.”

Notice a few things about this verse. 

One, notice Jesus’ practice of prayer. As the Son of Man, he was disciplined to pray. As the Son of Man, he drew his strength from the Father. As the Son of Man, he enjoyed communion with God. We are to imitate our Lord and be people constant in prayer as well.

Two, notice that Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him. These are the “some standing here” of 9:27 who were in this moment blessed to see the glory of the kingdom of God before they died. As you probably know, Peter, James, and John were leaders within the band of Apostles. 

Three, notice the mention of the eighth day. Though I cannot prove it, I do suspect that there is significance here. In the previous passage, Jesus revealed to his disciples what kind of Christ he would be. In Luke 9:22 we hear Christ say, “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 9:22, ESV). He also hinted at how he would die when he called his disciples to follow him by taking up their own crosses. And eight days after this, Christ was raised to glory on the mountain of transfiguration. I think we are to see this eight-day period as anticipation – a kind of trial run of sorts – of the sufferings Christ would experience in Jerusalem and his being raised to glory. He would eventually enter Jerusalem and suffer there and be rejected. His suffering would culminate in his death in the cross. But on the eighth day after his entry into Jerusalem, he would be raised to glory. Can you see the pattern? The pattern was established when Christ spoke of his sufferings and eight days later entered into glory temporarily on the mountain. And the pattern would find its fulfillment when Christ did actually suffer in Jerusalem, died and was buried, and was raised to glory on the eighth day – the eighth day being another way of referring to the first day of the week. Matthew and Mark say the transfiguration took place six days after the previous sayings of Jesus. There is no real contradiction. While Matthew and Mark counted the days in between Jesus’ sayings about his sufferings and the event of the transfiguration, Luke included the days of the sayings and the transfiguration in his count.  It is interesting to me that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all emphasized that about a week passed between the sayings of Jesus concerning his sufferings and death, and his glorification on the mountain. My point is that they all seem to treat this as a kind of anticipation of Jesus’ sufferings and death in Jerusalem during what is traditionally called the passion week, and his resurrection on Sunday, which is the first day of the week, also called the eighth day. 

In verse 29  we read, “And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

Here my suspicions about this event anticipating the passion week in Jerusalem are strengthened. What did Jesus talk with Moses and Elijah about when he was with them on the mountain? He “spoke with them about his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Here we have a reference to Christ’s death and resurrection, and also his ascension to the Father’s right hand. Christ would suffer and die, he would be buried, and then he would be raised to glory. Forty days later he would ascend in glory. This is what he spoke with Moses and Elijah about as they were glorified with him on the mountain. 

Let’s talk for a moment about Moses and Elijah. 

First of all, were Moses or Elijah present bodily, or did Peter, James, and John see a vision of them? John Calvin takes up this question in his commentary on the harmony of the gospel. 

“Were Moses and Elijah actually present? or was it only an apparition that was exhibited to the disciples, as the prophets frequently beheld visions of things that were absent? Though the subject admits, as we say, of arguments on both sides, yet I think it more probable that they were actually brought to that place. There is no absurdity in this supposition; for God has bodies and souls in his hand, and can restore the dead to life at his pleasure, whenever he sees it to be necessary. Moses and Elijah did not then rise on their own account,1 but in order to wait upon Christ. It will next be asked, How came the apostles to know Moses and Elijah, whom they had never seen? The answer is easy. God, who brought them forward, gave also signs and tokens by which they were enabled to know them. It was thus by an extraordinary revelation that they obtained the certain knowledge that they were Moses and Elijah.” John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, 310–311). 

Secondly, and I think more importantly, we must ask, why did Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus? There are a few things to say about this:

One, when Christ appeared in glory with Moses and Elijah it was to show that he was not Elijah or one of the other prophets of old, and many suspected. Who did people say Jesus was? Some said John the Baptst, others said he was Elijah, and others said that one of the prophets had arisen.   

Two, when Christ appeared in glory with Moses and Elijah at his side, it was to show that Jesus Christ is greater. Jesus is the central figure in this passage. In this moment, Jesus was exulted above Moses and Eliajah.

Three, notice how Moses and Elijah took a special interest in Jesus and his work. Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus about his departure. They conversed with him concerning the work he was about to do. They knew something about Christ and his work because they testified concerning him long before. This will become a major theme in Luke’s gospel. Luke will tell us that after Christ was raised to glory, he appeared to his disciples and taught them, saying, “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25–27, ESV). 

Four, when Christ appeared with Moses and Elijah he was showing himself to be the fulfillment and end of the law and prophets, and this the end of the Old Covenant order. He came established a New Covenant, remember, and to do away with the old.   

Five, Jesus appeared with Moses and Elijah at his side to show that the glory that belonged to Moses and Elijah was not their own glory but was owed to Christ. Moses and Elijah entered into glory because they belonged to Christ. They were associated with him, having been united to him by faith. 

Look with me now at verse 32. “Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep…” Why is it that the disciples are found sleeping during this most significant event? Perhaps to show their dullness and their inability to comprehend the true meaning of the things being accomplished in their midst. “…but when they became fully awake [they were not groggy or dreaming] they saw [Jesus’]  glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’.”

Peter again speaks as the leader of the group. As Moses and Elijah began to depart, he spoke up! One thing that Peter certainly did not lack was boldness. He spoke up to Jesus saying, in essence, wait, don’t let Moses and Elijah leave! Why don’t we put up some tents and remain here together like this?

Don’t you love and appreciate Peter’s heart? He was blessed to behold Christ, the Son of Man, in glory. And he was blessed to see Moses and Elijah glorified in Christ Jesus, for they had testified concerning Christ and had placed their faith in him. Stated differently, Peter, along with James and John, were given a glimpse of the glory of the kingdom of God. And he wished for that glory to remain. When Moses and Elijah prepared to depart, and as the glory began to fade, he spoke up and said, wait! Don’t go. Let’s abide here in this condition. Let’s abide here in this state of being. At the end of verse 33, we find this little remark from Luke, Peter “knew not what he said.” His request was made out of ignorance.  

Look with me now at verse 34. “As [Peter] was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen” (Luke 9:28–36, ESV).

The cloud mentioned in verse 28 must be associated with the glory cloud that appeared often in the days of Moses. It was the cloud through with God manifested his presence. The cloud led Israel in the wilderness after the Exodus. A cloud descended upon Sinai and Moses was invited to come up to receive the law. And the cloud filled the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, and later, the Temple. The cloud signified God’s presence. And here the cloud descended to sweep Moses and  Elijah away and to give honor to Christ.

The text says, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’” This was the voice of God. Here, much like at Christ’s baptism, God the Father testifies to the identity of Jesus (2 Peter 1:16–21).

“This is my Son”, he said. You and I are sons and daughters of God by virtue of our creation and our redemption and adoption in Christ Jesus. But Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He is the natural Son of God. He is the second person of the Holy Trinity. He is God Almighty. 

The voice from the cloud also said, “this is… my chosen one.” If you have faith in Christ, it is because you have been graciously chosen by God for salvation in Christ. This is a reference to the doctrine of election or predestination that is frequently taught in the Scriptures. But Christ is God’s chosen one in a different sense. He was not chosen to be saved, but to be the Savior of God’s people, the Messiah, the great Prophet, Priest, and King of the elect. The prophecy of Isaiah 42, which was read earlier, is certainly behind this utterance. Psalm 89:3-4 also stands in the background. There God says, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations’” (Psalm 89:3–4, ESV). These words were uttered concerning Jesus, and not Moses or Elijah. He is the Messiah, God’s chosen one. 

   *****

Earlier I asked, how can it be that we will enter into glory? How has the way into glory been opened up? The answer is that the way into glory has been opened up by Jesus, the Son of Man. 

Adam fell short of the glory of God – he failed to obtain that state of being, that higher form of life – by his fall into sin. He broke the covenant that God had made with him by rebelling against God in the heart and eating the forbidden tree. 

But Jesus Christ has earned life in glory. How did he earn it, you ask? He earned life in glory by keeping the terms of the covenant that God made with him. And what covenant was this? We call it the Covenant of Redemption. When the Scriptures are considered thoroughly and with care, we see that God the Father entered into an agreement with God the Son in eternity to save a people and to reconcile them to the Father. John 17 reveals this. There Jesus prays for those given to him by the Father before the foundation of the earth. The Isaiah 42 passage we read a moment ago reveals this too. The LORD speaks of the chosen one, the Messiah, saying, “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations…” (Isaiah 42:6, ESV). 

And what would God the Son have to do to redeem those given to him by the Father? He would have to assume a human nature so that he would not only be the Son of God, but also the Son of Man. And as a man, he would have to keep God’s law perfectly, suffer in the whole of life, resist all temptation, be crucified, die, and be buried and on the third day, be raised unto life in glory. And this he would do, not for himself only, but for others two. Like Adam before him, he would act as a representative of others – he would function as a federal or covenantal head. He would live, die, and be raised to a state of glory on behalf of others.

The way to glory has been opened up by Christ, the second Adam, the Son of Man, who is also the person of the eternal Son of God. And how can we enter glory? Only by being united to him by faith as our covenantal head. You and I were born fallen in Adam in a state of sin and misery. You must be born again and raised to glory in Christ.

When Jesus was transfigured on that mountain in front of those three witnesses, Peter, James, and John, it was to show what he was about to do. He was about to enter into glory, and he would do it through suffering, rejection, and death. He would die, but on the third day, which is the first day of the week, or the eighth day, he would be raised – raised to glory – raised to life incorruptible.

Do you wish to go to life in glory when you die? Do you wish to behold the beatific vision – the radiant splendor of the glory of God? Then you had better be found in Christ, united to him by faith. For he has entered into glory as a forerunner and first fruits.

And if you have been raised with Christ, then exhort you with the words of Paul, “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1–4, ESV)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Luke 9:28-36, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: The Son Of Man In Glory, Luke 9:28-36

Catechetical Sermon: May All Men Make Use Of The Holy Scriptures?, Baptist Catechism 5

Baptist Catechism 5

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. (John 5:39; Luke 16:29; Acts 8:28-30; 17:11)

*****

Introduction

This question, “May all men make use of the Holy Scriptures?”, might seem like a no-brainer to you. We are accustomed to having copies of the Scriptures written in our native language at our disposal. And it is very common for pastors today to encourage Christians to read the Scriptures for themselves. But we should remember that things have not always been this way. There was a time, before the invention of the printing press, when very few people had copies of the Scriptures in their possession. And even if someone did, it was probably written in a language that very few people knew how to read – Hebrew, Greek, or perhaps Latin. The invention of the printing press, the practice of translating the Scriptures into the native language of the people, and the Protestant Reformation changed all of that. In a very short time, people went from having very little access to Scripture to having the opportunity to read the Scriptures for themselves. If we keep this history in mind, then the question, “May all men make use of the Holy Scriptures?”, will seem more reasonable to us. 

The answer to the question is very helpful because it is true: “All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Holy Scriptures.”

*****

“All men are not only permitted, but commanded to read… the Scriptures” 

The words, “all men”, are very important. They emphasize the need for all people – men and women, boys and girls, clergy and laymen, the educated and uneducated, rich and poor, etc – to engage with Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are not to be reserved for a particular class of men within society or the church, but all should have access to them.

Next, our catechism says that all men are “not only permitted, but commanded…” to engage with Holy Scripture. The proof texts that are listed in our catechism are really interesting. They are John 5:39; Luke 16:29; Acts 8:28-30; and 17:11. All of these passages share this in common: they speak of men searching the Scriptures. For example, Acts 17:11 speaks of the men of Berea and says that they “ were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV)

It truly is mind-boggling to think that the Romanists decided that the Scriptures should only be read by the religious elite. The Scriptures were originally written in Hebrew and Greek. In other words, they were written in the language of the people of that day – they were written to be read! And the Scriptures themselves speak of men – common men – searching the Scriptures. Indeed, the Scriptures even encourage and command the study of the Scriptures! What a dark time that must have been when the light of Holy Scripture was hidden away within the confines of the Roman hierarchy. Praise God for the Reformation which did, among other things, bring the light of God’s Word back into the midst of the people.

*****

“All men are not only permitted, but commanded to hear… the Scriptures

“All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Holy Scriptures”, our catechism says.  

We are to read the Scriptures, so long as we are able. 

Do you read the Scriptures, brothers and sisters? You should. May I encourage you to read the Scriptures daily? The word of God should be like daily bread for our souls. I would encourage you to read the Scriptures regularly and to read them broadly. By this I mean, we should read through the Scriptures from beginning to end, though not necessarily in that order. We all have our favorite books and passages. Yes, some portions of the Bible speak more to the soul than others. But do not forget that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable. No part of Scripture can be called unimportant, therefore, for each part does contribute in some way to the whole. Read the Scriptures, brothers and sisters. Read them carefully and thoughtfully. Read them broadly.

And listen to them read too. Here, we are to think primarily of the reading of the Holy Scriptures by the pastor when the church is assembled for worship. Did you know that this is one of the things that pastors are called to do? Listen to what Paul says to Timothy: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13, ESV). When ministers read Scripture they should work hard at reading clearly and in such a way that the meaning of the text shines through. When congregants listen to the reading of the Scripture, they should listen very intently, knowing that they are encountering the very words of God.

*****

“All men are not only permitted, but commanded to… understand the Scriptures.”

Lastly, our catechism exhorts us to understand the Scriptures. “All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Holy Scriptures.” 

Understanding the Scriptures can be difficult. One of the proof texts listed by our catechism is Acts 8:28-30. That is that passage where Phillip approaches the Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah the prophet and asks him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” What was his response? “‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:31, ESV). I’m sure that many Christians have felt like the  Ethiopian eunuch at times while reading Scripture. How can I understand this unless someone guides me?

Last week I mentioned in passing the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture. I said the Scriptures have these characteristics: they are inspired, clear, sufficient, and authoritative. What do we mean when we say that the Scriptures are “clear”? 

Our confession is very helpful. In Chapter 1 para 7 we read, “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.” 

First, when we say that the Scriptures are clear we do not mean that all things are equally clear. Some things are indeed difficult to understand. Second,  when we say that the Scriptures are clear we mean that the main message is clear. The gospel is clear. “Those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation” are clear.” Third, not everything is equally clear to everybody. Those who have been in the faith for a long time may have an easier time understanding Scripture when compared to those who are new to the faith. And indeed, some are more gifted, naturally or spiritually, than others when it comes to the interpretation of Scripture.    

Here is the point though. The Scriptures are sufficiently clear so that “not only the learned [literate], but the unlearned [illiterate], in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.” What are the “ordinary means” that our confession is referring to? They are the means of grace, one of them being the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures. 

When the Ethiopian eunuch was having a hard time with Isaiah and said “How can I [understand] unless someone guides me?”, it was not a denial of the perspicuity of Scripture. No, for the Lord provided Phillip to minister the Word to the man so that he might understand the message of the gospel. 

We have the responsibility, not only to read and hear the Scriptures but to understand them too. Are they clear? Yes! But that does not mean we won’t have to work at understanding them. 

*****

Conclusion

Brothers and sisters, young and old, may I encourage you to grow very familiar with the Scriptures. Read the Word. Listen to the Word. And listen to the Word when it is preached. And when you hear the Scriptures preached, pay very careful attention. Especially pay attention to the way that pastors who are faithful to the Scriptures interpret Scripture so that you might learn how to rightly divide the word of truth yourself. Do not forget that this is how God saves us, through the ministry of the Word of God. This is why Paul told Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16, ESV) 

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. (John 5:39; Luke 16:29; Acts 8:28-30; 17:11)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Catechetical Sermon: May All Men Make Use Of The Holy Scriptures?, Baptist Catechism 5


"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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