Afternoon Sermon: What Are The Outward And Ordinary Means Of Grace?, Baptist Catechism 93, Acts 2:41–47

Baptist Catechism 93

Q. 93. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation. (Rom. 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Cor. 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41,42)

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:41–47

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41–47, 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.

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God ordinarily works through means. That is a very important concept to understand. So what does it mean?

Well, sometimes God works in an immediate way. For example, when God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning he did not work through means. He simply called the heavens and earth into existence. But often God works through means. He used people and things to accomplish his purposes. Take for example the parting of the Red Sea. God could have worked in an immediate way. He could have simply caused the waters to part in front of Israel, but he chose to part the sea through Moses. He revealed his will to Israel through Moses and commanded that Moses lift his staff and thus part the waters. Though God could always work in a direct way and without the involvement of people and things, he often uses means. He parted the sea by means of Moses and his staff. He brought you to faith in Christ by means of the prayers and gospel witness of others. And he is sanctifying you now by means of your life experiences and your relationships with others, etc. God is at work in the world, and he typically works through means.

Here our catechism is not only teaching us that God works through means, but that there are few things that God has determined to use regularly to work grace within his people. These are the ordinary means of grace.

How does God bring his elect to faith in Christ? How does he purify, strengthen, and preserve them? I suppose he could do it in an immediate way. He could speak his gospel directly to sinners from on high. He could purify us in the mind and heart directly by zapping us with spiritual power from on high. But he has determined to work his grace in us through means. And these are called ordinary means because they are the means that God has determined to ordinarily use. They are the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. God has determined to work faith and grace in his elect through these ordinary things.     

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Baptist Catechism 93

Let us now consider the answer to catechism 93 piece by piece.

First, our catechism clarifies that it is talking about the “the outward” means. These are the things that are outside of us that God uses to work his grace within us. How does God work upon our hearts? This he does immediately by the power of the Holy Spirit. But God does use these things which are outside of us to work within us.  

Secondly, our catechism clarifies that it is talking about the “the ordinary” means. May the Lord use things other than the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer to work grace within his people. Of course, he can. Often the Lord will use life circumstances — even trials and tribulations — to purify and strengthen his people. But these circumstances will be unique to each one of us according to the decree of God. We are not called to chase after sanctifying circumstances, therefore, nor are we call to chase after trials and tribulations so that we might be sanctified by them. God may use those things to refine us, but they are not the ordinary means which God has set apart for his people. 

Thirdly, or catechism is specifically speaking of those means whereby Christ “communicateth to us the benefits of redemption”. Here “communicate” does not refer to the dissemination of information, but distribution. So the question is this: Christ has earned our redemption. But how do we come to have the benefits of it as our own? Or more to the point, what are the things that God has determined to regularly use to distribute his gift of salvation to us?    

Fourthly, the question is answered in a very succinct way with these words: “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances…” “Ordinances” are those things which Christ has commanded, or ordered, us to use.

God has his elect in the world. Each and every one of them will be saved, for it is the will of God. But how will these elect come to be saved? Well, what has Christ commanded, or ordered? He has ordered us to preach the gospel. God works through means, remember? The gospel proclamation is the means that God will use to bring his elect to salvation. How do we know? Christ has ordered it. 

God has promised to give our daily bread. How do we come to have it? Through prayer, etc.  

Fifthly, our catechism highlight four things in particular with the words, “especially the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and prayer…” So these are the outward and ordinary things that God uses to distribute the benefits of the redemption that Christ has earned to his elect. 

The elect are brought to faith through the preaching of the Word of God. And the elect are further strengthened and preserved in the faith through the word of God. This is why Paul says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, ESV). Do you wish to see your loved ones come to salvation? Then one thing you must do is share the word of God with them,  for God brings sinners to salvation through his word. And do you wish to grow in the grace of God? Then you had better be reading and hearing God’s word, for it is one of the outward and ordinary means that God has determined to use.

Next, baptism is mentioned. Baptism is not something that we are to partake of over and over again. No, we are to be baptized in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Christain life. But God uses baptism to distribute the benefits of the redemption that Christ has earned to his elect. The elect are baptized into Christ. They are baptized by the church and into the fellowship of the church. The Spirit of God works mightily in his people through the waters of baptism. 

Next, the Lord’s Supper is mentioned. We will learn more about the Lord’s Supper in the future. For now, let us confess that the Lord’s Supper is not only a memorial. It is not only a time for the church to remember what Christ has accomplished (though it is certainly that). No, the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace. God works powerfully through the Lord’s Supper both to strengthen his church and to purify her.  

Lastly, prayer is mentioned. God works through prayer, brothers and sisters. You’ve heard it said that prayer changes things, and it does! It does not change the decree of God. But God does work through the prayers of people to accomplish his decree. More than anything, prayer changes us. Prayer is an outward and ordinary means of grace. 

The sixth and last phrase of the catechism is, “all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” So who does the word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper are prayer benefits? They benefit the elect of God. And who is it that makes these things effectual, or effective? We know that it is the Spirit of God who makes these ordinary means of grace effective. 

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Conclusion

Please allow me to make three observations by way of conclusion. 

One, our catechism will clarify in the following questions that these ordinary means of grace do not work in an automatic way. No, they are only effective when they are received by faith, and we know that faith is the gift of God.

Please listen to questions 94, 96, and 105 . They ask, “How is the Word made effectual to salvation?” “How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effectual means of salvation?” And “what is prayer?” I do not want to get ahead of myself, but I think it is important to recognize that each of the answers to those questions emphasize the necessity of faith

Q94: How is the Word made effectual to salvation?

A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation. 

Q. 96. How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effectual means of salvation?

A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that doth administer them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of the Spirit in those that by faith receive them.

Q. 105. What is Prayer?

A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, believing, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies

So then, these means of grace do not work in an automatic way. In other words, you do not receive the grace of God — you do not receive the benefits of the redemption purchased by Christ — if you hear God’s word, partake of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or pray, without faith in Christ in your heart. It is by faith that we are saved. And it is by faith that we walk and are sanctified. And if we are to be strengthened by these ordinary means of grace, we must partake of them with faith in Christ in our hearts. 

Two, by identifying these things are outward and ordinary means of grace, our catechism is urging us to use them, just as the scriptures do. You know, it never ceases to amaze me to see professing Christians look to other things besides these things for growth in Christ. They will look to this program, and that discipline, and this method to find spiritual nourishment while neglecting the ordinary things which God has ordained. 

The first Christians, after being baptized, “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The rest of scripture confirms that these are the ordinary things that we are to make use of for growth in Christ Jesus.  

Q. 93. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation. (Rom. 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Cor. 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41,42)

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Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:1-8, Intro To Exodus: What Happened Before?

New Testament Reading: Acts 7:1-53

“And the high priest said, ‘Are these things so?’ And Stephen said: ‘Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’ This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’ Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’ You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it’” (Acts 7:1–53, ESV).

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 6:1-8

“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’ God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD’’” (Exodus 6:1–8, 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

It is very easy to misinterpret an event when there is ignorance concerning what happened beforehand.

Immagine walking around a corner to find one man striking another man. That is all you see. It would be nearly impossible to discern which one of them, if any, is in the right and which one is in the wrong. It could be that the man you see striking the other is the bad guy, or it may be that he is acting in self-defense, or in defense of another. If you walk upon the situation unaware of what led to it, you will be in the dark regarding the meaning and significance of what you are witnessing. But a little bit of background information will go a very long way in helping you to discern the meaning of the event itself — the other guy attacked first, or the other guys attempted to rob him. Ah, now things are clear. 

And I am suggesting to you that the same is true of the Exodus event and of the story that is told in the rest of the Old Testament scripture. From Exodus onward, it will be the nation of Israel that is in view. Think of that for a moment. From Exodus onward, nearly everything is about, or at least it transpires within the context of, Old Covenant Israel. That nation was brought into existence at the time of the Exodus. They were redeemed from Egyptian bondage. They were given a law. God entered into a covenant with them, and the rest is history. There were many nations on the earth at this time in human history, but Exodus through Malachi has its focus on this one relatively small nation in particular.  

One of the big picture questions that we must ask is, why? What is the meaning of this? What is the significance? What was God doing with these people? Why did he redeem them, enter into a special covenant with, and dwell in the midst of them as he did? Why was the nation of Israel set apart from all of the other nations of the earth in this way? It is one thing to read the Exodus story and to understand what happened. It is quite another thing to understand the significance or meaning of what happened. Really, that should be our objective. Not only should we be able to tell the story of the Exodus, we should also be able to explain why it is significant and what it was that God was doing in and through the nation of Israel. And I am saying that if we hope to do that we cannot ignore what happened beforehand.

The Exodus event did not just happen, brothers and sisters. No, God rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage for a purpose. He did so in fulfillment of promises previously made. As you know, the purpose of the Exodus and the promises concerning the Exodus are found in Genesis. Genesis is a book about the beginning of things, which is what the name means. Most think of the creation of the heavens and earth when they hear the word, “beginning”, and of course the book of Genesis does tell that story: “in the beginning, God created the heavens and earth.” But we must not forget that Genesis also tells the story about the beginning of man, the beginning of man’s covenantal relationship with God, of sin and its effects, of the promise of redemption, of the kingdoms of this world and their hostility towards God and the people of God, and of the nation of Israel.

Where did these Hebrew people come from? Why did God have this special concern for them? Why did he bring them out of Egypt and into their own land? The answers to these questions are not found in Exodus, but in Genesis, the book of beginnings. This is why we have referred to Genesis as the prologue, or introduction to, the scriptures.

So let us remember what we learned in our study through Genesis. Clearly, I will need to be very selective this morning. But I do wish to highlight some of the key events in Genesis which paved the way for the Exodus and enable us to understand its significance.  

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Remember Eden

What was God doing when he redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage, entered into a covenantal relationship with them, and tabernacled in the midst of them? Well, if we are to understand this great act of redemption we must, first of all, remember Eden.  

Do not forget that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. At first, the earth was without form and void and darkness was over the deep. In the space of six days, God formed and fashioned the earth to make it a place suitable for human habitation. In particular, we are to remember that God made a garden. He placed the man and the woman there, and he entered into a covenant with him, the Covenant of Works. There, man enjoyed sweet communion with God. 

So then, this was man’s original condition. The man and the woman were holy. They lived in a holy realm where they worshipped and served a holy God. As I have taught you before, we are to think of Eden as a temple. The man was to guard that place and expand its borders. 

There is so much to say about Eden. It wasn’t long ago that I preached through Genesis, so you may go to those sermons to hear more. For now, I simply wish to encourage you to remember Eden. What God was doing in the Exodus event was certainly related to Eden. God rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage, gave them his holy law, entered into a covenant of works with them, to bring them into the land of promise. So then, God’s aim was to have a holy people, living in a holy land, so that he, the Holy God, might dwell in the midst of them. This should sound familiar to us. It should remind us of Eden. In fact, when we come to consider the construction of the tabernacle in the third part of the book of the Exodus it will become clear that the tabernacle was designed to remind the worshipper of Eden. Garden imagery was everywhere present. 

So what was God up to when he rescues Israel from Egyptian bondage to bring them into the land of promise where he would dwell in the midst of him? Well, we can at least say this: he was graciously regaining for man something that was lost at the fall. Remember Eden. 

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Remember The Fall And Its Consequences

Secondly, we must remember man’s fall into sin and its consequences. The wage of sin is death. When Adam ate of the forbidden tree he was destined to die a physical death. But in that very moment, Adam did enter into the estate of death. He was now at enmity with God. He was under God’s wrath and curse and subject to eternal condemnation. Adam would eventually die physically, but he died spiritually on the day that he ate of the forbidden tree.

All of this culminated in banishment from God’s holy temple. The man and the women were cast from Eden. An angel guarded the entrance and the way to the tree of life. All of Adam’s posterity was born outside of Eden, therefore, dead in sin and alienated from the blessed presence of God. 

We cannot forget the fall and its consequences when we read Exodus. It is the fall that explains the suffering of the Hebrews. It is the fall that explains why deliverance was needed. And it is the fall and its consequences that enables us to understand what God was doing when he rescued Israel, set them apart as holy and tabernacled in the midst of them. Clearly, he was addressing the problem of man’s fall into sin.

Think of it. Adam was banished from the garden temple, but in the days of Moses God instructed Israel to construct a tabernacle. The fact that God commanded that a tabernacle (or temple) be constructed means that God had shown grace to mankind. It meant there was hope. There was still a way for man to commune with God. God had determined to not abandon man altogether but to graciously dwell in the midst of us, and to invite us to worship and serve him. 

Do not forget the fall, brothers and sisters. What God was doing at the time of the Exodus was clearly an answer to man’s fall into sin and its consequences. 

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Remember The First Promise Of the Gospel

Thirdly, we must remember the first promise of the gospel as delivered to Adam and Eve, and therefore, to all of their descendants. In Genesis 3:15 God spoke to the Evil One in Adam and Eve’s hearing, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV).

From that moment onward, Adam, Eve, and all of their posterity could rest in this promise. It was a very mysterious promise. How exactly it would come to pass was unknown. But that it would come to pass was certain, for it was the word of God. In due time someone would be born who would defeat the Evil One who had brought the temptation to Eve, and through her to Adam. The serpent would bite at the heel of the offspring of Eve, but from her a Savior would arise who would crush the serpent’s head, and thus win the victory. Who would this be? When would he come? How would he do it? It was a mystery. But the promise of God was sure. A Campion would certainly arise. A Savior would surely come.   

Brothers and sisters, do not forget this first promise of the gospel when you read Exodus, for the Exodus event is certainly connected to this promise. It was a major step forward in God’s program of redemption. It brought greater clarity to the mystery of God’s plan. When God rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage it was clearly shown that God would bring the Messiah into the world through that people. And in the Exodus event, we have a picture of the salvation that the Messiah would accomplish for us. 

I wonder if you can see how damaging it would be to fail to make the connection between the first promise of the gospel as stated in Genesis 3:15 and the Exodus even? If we begin with Exodus, and neglect the early chapters of Genesis, we might assume that God was only (or supremely) concerned with the salvation of the Hebrews. But if we start with Genesis (as clearly we should) it becomes apparent that God’s plan was to bring salvation to the children of Adam and Eve, and not to the Hebrews only. Viewed in this way, Israel must be viewed as a conduit, and not as the end-goal. First, God promised to bring salvation to the children of Adam, then he rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage and set them apart as holy. The sequence matters very much. God did not change his plan, friends. No, it was through Israel that God determined to bring the head-crushing Messiah into the world, who would secure salvation for people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. 

The Jews who were alive in Jesus’ day who were so offended that the gospel of the kingdom was to go to the Gentiles missed this most fundamental truth. Israel was to serve as a conduit of blessing and salvation to the nations. And those who hold to an Israel-centric, instead of a Christo-centric,  theology today make the same error. 

Do not forget about the first promise of the gospel, friends. First, God promised to provide a Savior for the children of Adam, and afterward, he set Israel apart as holy unto himself. Sequence matters very much. 

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Remember The Righteous Line Of Seth

Fourthly, do not forget about how we got from Adam to Moses. The story of redemption does not jump immediately from Adam to the Exodus event. No, we must remember that God set apart a righteous line who descended from Adam and Eve’s son, Seth.  

That story is told in Genesis 4 and 5. In brief, Adam and Eve had two sons. The first born’s name was Cain, and the second born’s name was Able. Able had faith. Cain did not. And Cain, being driven by jealousy, rose up and killed Abel when God received Able’s sacrifice, but rejected Cain’s.  

In Genesis 4:25 we read, “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:25–26, ESV).

The Genesis narrative is clear. God kept a “righteous line” alive in the world in the days prior to the flood. So do not forget about the righteous line of Seth, brothers and sisters, for in it we see what God meant when he cursed the serpent, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV). God would have his people in the world, and Satan would have his. These two lines would be at perpetual enmity with one another. The Christ would come into the world through the righteous line.

When we come to the Exodus event, we must remember this principle, for there we see it on a very large scale. Hundreds of thousands of Hebrews were being oppressed by the idolatrous Egyptians, who were the most powerful people on planet earth at that time. God had preserved his people in the world, and this he would continue to do until the promised Messiah was brought into the world. 

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Remember The Theme Of Oppression And Hostility Against God’s People 

Fifthly, remember the theme of oppression and hostility against the people of God which began to develop very early in the Genesis narrative. 

Remember the arrogant injustice of Lameck. Unrighteous Cain fathered Enoch. These were city builders. They devoted themselves to building, not the city of God, but the city of man. Lamech was also a descendant of unrighteous Cain. He disregarded God’s design for marriage by taking two wives. And he used his power, not to promote justice, but injustice. Listen to his arrogance. “Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold’” (Genesis 4:23–24, ESV). This is not the just principle of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth applied. No, this is tyranny. Lamech boasted to his wives that he killed a man because the man wounded him. Hardly a proportionate response. 

This tyranny and injustice increased upon the earth so that in days before the flood it is said that “the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.” (Genesis 6:2, ESV). These “sons of God” were mighty kings. And instead of promoting justice in their kingdoms, the oppressed the weak. They forcefully took for themselves any woman they desired. Can you imagine living under such a tyrannical regime? 

Given the emphasis in the narrative upon the righteous and unrighteous lines — the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent — it is right to conclude that this oppression, which was ever increasing in the world, was the fulfillment of the word that God spoke to the serpent, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV). In the Genesis narrative, this oppression of the weak must be viewed as an assault against God and his people. God promised to bring a Savior into the world through the seed of the woman, and Satan and his seed were continually at war against this. 

When we come to the Exodus story we will quickly realize that this very thing was happening in a very focused way against the Hebrew people. By commanding that the male children of the Hebrews be put to death Pharaoh was doing the bidding of the Evil One. He was at war with God, the promises of God, and the kingdom of God. So do not forget the theme of oppression and hostility against the people of God which began to develop very early in the Genesis narrative. The story of the Exodus is a development of that.  

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Remember The Flood And God’s Covenant With Creation In The Days Of Noah 

Sixthly, remember the flood and of God’s covenant with creation in the days of Noah. 

I’ll be brief here. Please recognize the theme. In the days of Noah wickedness increased on the earth. God judged the wicked with water, but he rescued righteous Noah and his family by bringing them through the waters in the ark. Can you see that a similar thing happened at the parting of the Red Sea? God’s chosen people passed through the waters, but those same waters were waters of judgment that fell upon the Egyptians.  

And do not forget the covenant that God made with all of creation after the flood. Among other things, God commanded societies to uphold justice, saying, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” And God commanded that humanity procreate and fill the earth, saying, “ And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it” (Genesis 9:6–7, ESV). So then, when we come to the Exodus story and see that Pharaoh was commanding that innocent children be put to death in an attempt to hinder the multiplication of the Hebrew people, we see that he was ruling in a direct rebellion against the standard that God imposed upon all nations in Noahic Covenant. He was an oppressive unjust Tyrant. It was fitting that his army was swallowed up by the waters. 

If we remember the flood and God’s covenant with creation in the days of Noah we will see that, once again, the righteous line was preserved through water, whereas the wicked were judged by water. 

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Remember That God Set Abraham And His Offspring Apart From The Nations And Entered Into A Covenant With Them

Seventhly, remember that God set Abraham apart from the nations and entered into a covenant with him and with his offspring.

The story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12.  God promised to make him into a great nation, to bless him, and to bless all the nations of the earth through him. God would bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him.

In Genesis 15 and 17 we see that the covenant that God translated with Abraham was clarified, expanded, and formally ratified. In those texts, we learn that Abraham would have a son, that a great multitude would come from him, that God would eventually give his descendants the land of Canaan, that his offspring would be afflicted as sojourners for 400 years, that he would be the father of a multitude of nations, that kings would come from him, and that individual members of this covenant would be blessed if they kept the covenant, and cursed if they did not — they would be cut off. And so circumcision was given as a sign to the Hebrews. 

Do you notice how things got progressively clearer with the passing of time? That first promise of the gospel was very mysterious. One would arise from the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. The promise was clear enough so that men and women could trust in it, but it was vague. But by the end of Genesis 17, we understand that this Messiah would come into the world through Abraham and the nation that would descend from him. Abraham and this nation would preserve the seed of the woman. They would carry along the promises of God. They would function as a conduit of blessing. This was the will of the Lord, and it was revealed with clarity even in the days of Abraham.

You cannot understand the Exodus if you do not first understand God’s covenant with Abraham. Where did these Hebrew people come from? Why was God concerned to rescue them from Egyptian bondage? What was his purpose for doing so? You will be very confused about these things if you do not understand Abraham. In fact, to understand what God was doing in the Exodus and with Israel after that, you must understand both Adam and Abraham. Genesis is the prologue, remember? 

I think it is fitting at this point to remember how Genesis concludes. Abraham fathered Isaac. Isaac fathered Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons. One of them was Joseph, who was sold by his own brothers into Egyptian bondage, but God exalted him to a high place in that land. A famine arose which drove Jacob and his sons to Egypt, for God had worked through Joseph to save many lives by preparing for the famine ahead of time. Joseph was reunited with his family and graciously made provisions for them. Now here are the last words of the book of Genesis: “And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’ So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24–26, ESV). With these words, the stage is set for the Exodus.  

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Conclusion

So what is the benefit of remembering what preceded the Exodus as we have done this morning? I have three brief thoughts concerning that.

One, by remembering what happened before, we are better able to comprehend the significance of what God did in the Exodus. The backstory is essential. And if we remember the foundation that was laid in Genesis it will help to guard us against wrongly thinking that what God was doing with Israel was the end-all. The prologue of Genesis establishes that God’s plan was to bring salvation to the nations through Abraham and his offspring. This is where we must start. And this we must remember as we read all of the scriptures from Exodus onward. Sequence matters. Paul understood this, and so he wrote, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise” (Galatians 3:16–18, ESV).

Two, by remembering the promises previously made we are able to better appreciate the Exodus event as a display of God’s covenantal faithfulness. Why did God rescue Israel from Egyptian bondage? Answer: Because he is gracious, and because he promised. God always keeps his promises. So then, if God kept the promises that he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to deliver their descendants from slavery just as he said he would, we must trust that God will also keep his promises to us in Christ Jesus. He will deliver us from all evil, from sin, and death, and bring us safely into our eternal inheritance, the new heavens and earth. 

Three, by recognizing that the Exodus event was not the end-all, we will be able to appreciate it for what it was. Yes, it was a real act of redemption. And yes, it was a very significant part of God’s plan. But again, it wasn’t the end-all. It wasn’t the full and final fulfillment to the promises made to Adam and Abraham. It was a big step forward. But it wasn’t the big show. Pharaoh was defeated, not Satan. The kingdom of Egypt was overthrown, not the kingdom of darkness. Israel was delivered from earth bondage, not spiritual. And they were led towards Canaan, not the new heavens and earth. At the Exodus a battle was won, but not the war. The Exodus event was a preview, a precursor, a picture, a prototype of the greater work of redemption that the Christ would accomplish at a later time. Paying attention to what happened in Genesis helps us to see this clearly. 

Brothers and sisters, may we appreciate what God did for Israel in the days of Moses, and may it deepen our understanding of and appreciation for what God has done for us in Christ, to “[deliver] us from the domain of darkness and [transfer] us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, ESV).

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 6:1-8, Intro To Exodus: What Happened Before?

Afternoon Sermon: What Is Repentance Unto Life?, Baptist Catechism 92, 2 Corinthians 7:1-13

Baptist Catechism 92

Q. 92. What is repentance unto life?

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience. (Acts 2:37; Joel 2:13; Jer. 31:18,19; 2 Cor. 7:10,11; Rom. 6:18)

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 7:1-13

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted. And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.” (2 Corinthians 7:1–13, 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.

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What would you say if I were to ask you the question, how does a person receive the salvation that Jesus Christ has earned for us? The most direct and precise answer is, through faith. We receive salvation, and all that it entails, by believing upon Christ — trusting in him; resting in him. More may be said. And more may be said, not because more is required, but to provide greater clarity concerning what faith in Jesus Christ is and what it entails. 

That is what our catechism does in its answer to the question, What doth God require of us, that we may escape His wrath and curse, due to us for sin? Answer 90: 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).

Please hear me. We are saved through faith in Christ alone. We are not saved by repentance alone. Nor are we saved through outward means alone. We are saved by faith in Christ alone. But this faith, if it is true and saving, will never be alone. It will be accompanied by repentance. It will produce fruit and lead to a faithful walk. The one who is in Christ truly by faith, will abide in him. 

So then, we are saved through faith in Christ. And what is faith in Christ? Last week we learned that it is “a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the Gospel.”

Today we turn our attention to repentance. True faith is always accompanied by repentance. To turn to Jesus in faith is to turn from sin. Faith and repentance go hand to hand. If someone says they have faith, but they do not have repentance, their profession of faith is to be considered false. As 1 John 2:4-6 says, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:4–6, ESV). I will say it again, we are saved through faith in Christ, and not by the act of repentance. But true faith is always accompanied by repentance.  

What then is repentance? The answer that our catechism provides is very helpful. Let’s consider it piece by piece. 

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Baptist Catechism 92

First, we read, “repentance unto life is a saving grace…” So, faith is a saving grace, and so is repentance. Both faith and repentance are things that we are to do — we are to believe, and we are to repent — but the ability to do so is the free gift of God. I am thinking of that verse in Acts where, after Peter reports to the church concerning the Gentiles coming to faith, the church “fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” (Acts 11:18, ESV). The word translated as “granted” means to “give a gift”. So God gave this gift to these Gentiles who believed, the gift of repentance unto life. 

Secondly, our catechism says, “whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God…” That is a mouth full, but it is very rich. 

This is what repentance is: it is a turning from sin and to God through faith in Jesus. Repentance is a spiritual U-turn.

Sinners are to repent. This means that sinners are to turn from their sin and to God in Christ Jesus in order to be saved. And Christians are to repent too. This they are to do throughout the Christian life, for though we are no longer “sinners”, having been washed by the blood of Christ, justified, sanctified, and adopted, we do still battle with sin. Corruptions remain in us. We do still sin. And when we do, we must repent. 

This turning is to be prompted by a “true sense of [our] sin… with grief and hatred of [our] sin”. Think of this: men and women may turn from sin for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they see that it would benefit them to walk in a better way. Perhaps they fear the consequences of it. And these are valid motivators for repentance. I am not denying that. But the one who is truly repentant will grieve over their sin and hate it. And we know that the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to produce this grief over and hatred of sin within us. 

In that passage that I read from 2 Corinthians 7, Paul rejoiced over the repentance of the Christians in the church of Corinth. He had rebuked them in a previous letter concerning some sin, and they had turned. His rebuke was used by God to produce grief in them, and they turned, verse 10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

The point is this, true repentance is prompted by a “true sense of [our] sin… with grief and hatred of [our] sin” in our souls. Some will take this too far and expect repentant sinners to be really, really sorrowful for their sin. In other words, they will expect true repentance to be accompanied by extreme displays of sorrow and grief. We must be careful here. Everyone is different. And everyone’s experiences are different. But the point remains. True repentance is prompted by a “true sense of [our] sin… with grief and hatred of [our] sin” in our souls.”

And true repentance does also involve an “apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ”. That word apprehension can mean “anxiety or fear”. That is how we often use the word today. But here it means “to grasp or to understand”. To apprehend “the mercy of God in Christ” is to see God’s mercy in Christ and to grasp it. 

Why must it be said that repentance unto life involves an “apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ”? Think of it, a person may turn from sin for one reason or another, but never will they turn to God if they do not comprehend that he is merciful and kind in Christ Jesus. 

So then, for repentance to be true one must see their sin as truly detestable, grieve inwardly over it and hate it, and apprehend the mercy of God in Christ. Only then will a sinner be compelled to make that spiritual U-turn, moving away from sin and running towards God in Christ.    

Thirdly, our catechism says, “with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.” In other words, true repentance is not temporary or half-hearted repentance, but permanent and resolved. 

Notice what our catechism does not say. It does not say that true repentance is perfect repentance. As I have said before, corruptions remain in God’s faithful ones, and even the best of Christians do still struggle with sin. So our catechism does not say with perfect obedience, but “with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.” In other words, the one who is truly repentant will sincerely hate the sin and love God. They will turn from sin and run after God. And they will be fully resolved in the heart and mind to walk in obedience from that forward. 

You can’t fake repentance, friends. God knows your heart. He knows who is sincere and who is false, and he has a way of exposing that in due time. So you may fake faith and repentance for a time, but it will eventually become clear.

The parable that Jesus told regarding the different kinds of soils is very descriptive and instructive, I think. Do you remember it? He spoke of seed being scattered on a variety of soils — some on the road, others on rocky ground, some amongst thorns, and some on good soil. It was only the seed scattered on the good soil that sprouted in a lasting way and produced a harvest. The seeds that fell on the road were plucked up by the birds, never to sprout. The seeds that fell on rocks and amongst the weeds sprouted, but they quickly withered, being scorched by the heat, and being choked out by the competing and overwhelming weeds. That parable is meant to be an encouragement to those who sow seed, which is the word of God. Preach the word! And some will fall on good soil, which God has prepared! But the parable is also meant to describe the condition of man’s heart and to warn us. 

I’m afraid that there are many false believers and temporary repentance/repentors in the church today. There is the appearance of life for a time, but when the heat gets turned up, or when the cares of this world encroach upon them, they wither away. May it not be so for any of us. Instead, may the Lord grant us true faith and true repentance 

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Conclusion

Q: What is repentance unto life?

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience. (Acts 2:37; Joel 2:13; Jer. 31:18,19; 2 Cor. 7:10,11; Rom. 6:18)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What Is Repentance Unto Life?, Baptist Catechism 92, 2 Corinthians 7:1-13

Morning Sermon: Exodus 15:1–18; Intro To Exodus: What Happened?

New Testament Reading: 1 Peter 2:1–12

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:1–12, ESV)

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 15:1–18

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, ‘I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up; the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. The LORD will reign forever and ever.’” (Exodus 15:1–18, 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

This morning we begin a sermon series through the book of Exodus.

The book of Exodus is very important, for it tells the story of the beginning of the kingdom of Israel.

Really, that story began in the book of Genesis with the call of Abraham. The book of Genesis has been described by some as a “prologue”, and I think that is right. The Old Testament scriptures are largely about the kingdom of Israel, and the book of Genesis functions as a prologue (that is, an introduction, or forward) which sets the stage for the drama of redemption. The Exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage is the main event in the Old Testament story of redemption.  

So then, in the story of redemption, the book of Genesis functions as an introduction or prologue (it sets the stage, as it were). The book of Exodus tells us of the redemption that God accomplished for Israel to graciously bring them out of Egyptian bondage and into his presence. And this Exodus story, which we will be considering in detail in the months to come, is not to be forgotten by the people of God who live in subsequent generations. No, the Exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage is to be remembered. In fact, it is to be viewed as a prototype or picture of the greater act of deliverance that God would accomplish for his people through the Messiah, Christ Jesus our Lord. This story is told in the New Testament. So the book of Exodus is to the Old Testament what the Gospels are to the New Testament.  Exodus in the Old, and the Gospels in the New, tell the story of the accomplishment of redemption. Through Moses God redeemed Old Covenant Israel from Egyptian bondage. Through Jesus Christ, God redeemed the true Israel of God from Satan, sin, and the power of death. 

So you can see that the book of Exodus is very foundational. The Exodus event was clearly foundational to the nation of Israel, the Old Covenant people of God. And the Exodus event is foundational for all who are in Christ, for the Christ emerged from Israel, and in the Exodus event, we find an earthly picture of the redemption that God has worked for us in Christ Jesus. The Messiah has redeemed us, not from Pharaoh, nor from Egyptian bondage, but from Satan, the power of sin, and from death. And I am saying that the experience of Israel in the Exodus was an earthly type, picture, or pattern, of the greater act of deliverance accomplished by the Messiah. It is because of this relationship between the redemption accomplished through Moses and the redemption accomplished by Christ — the one was a picture or type of the other — that the gospel of Jesus Christ is everywhere present in the book of Exodus. How is Jesus the Messiah present in the book of Exodus? The answer: through promises, prophecies, types, shadows.  

I pray this will grow ever more clear to you as we progress through this marvelous book of Holy Scripture together. For now, l may show you what I mean by using the Passover as an example. We know that the children of Israel were shielded from death by the blood of the Passover lamb applied to the doorposts of their home. At the same time, we know that that act of deliverance, and the Passover feast which was celebrated year after year, was a picture of Christ, of the shedding of his blood, and of the forgiveness of sins that is found in him. Christ is the Passover lamb. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7, ESV). This is but one example of the ways that Christ is present in the book of Exodus. The book is in fact packed full of types and shadows such as these. 

This sermon series through Exodus will be substantial. I’m not sure how long we will be here. I’d rather not commit to a time frame before getting a feel for preaching through this book. I’m sure we will be here for a while, though. Maybe a year. And it is my custom to take a sermon or two to introduce large books of scripture like this one. I would like to take three sermons to introduce Exodus. 

In this first introductory sermon, I wish to provide you with an overview of the book itself. The title of this sermon is Intro to Exodus: What Happened? 

In the second introductory sermon, I wish to draw your attention to the connection between the book of Exodus and what happened before that as recorded in Genesis. Genesis and Exodus must be read together, for the story of Exodus is rooted in the story of Genesis. Genesis is the prologue, remember? That sermon will be entitled, Intro to Exodus: Its Relation To What Preceded.

And in the third introductory sermon, I wish to draw your attention to the way in which the scriptures, from the time of the Exodus onward, constantly refer back to the Exodus event and use its language and themes as prototypical of the work of redemption that God would accomplish through Jesus the Christ. In other words, it is the book of Exodus that provides us with the terminology and themes that we need in order to comprehend and speak of the great work of redemption that the Messiah would accomplish for us. I wish to tease that out for you a bit before diving headlong into the text of Exodus itself. That third introductory sermon will be entitled, Intro to Exodus: Its Relation to What Proceeded.    

The task that is before me today is to overview the book of Exodus. I wish to remind you of the marvelous story that is told here. And I wish for you to see that there is so much more to this story beyond the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea! No, the story that is told in Exodus is about bondage, deliverance, and reconciliation. This is a story about God rescuing his people out of darkness so that he might dwell in the midst of them, and they with him. Already you can see what I mean about the Exodus picturing our redemption in Christ Jesus, for God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, ESV), but I’m getting ahead of myself. 

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Structure: Exodus In Three Parts

For now, let us consider the structure of the book of Exodus. Recognizing the structure will help us to understand the meaning of this marvelous work. When Moses wrote this text under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he divided it into three parts (I should say that I’m indebted to the work of the Old Testament scholar, Alec Motyer, for the terminology): Part one, which runs from 1:1-13:16, tells the story of Israel in Egypt. Here God is portrayed as a savior. YHWH is Israel’s saving LORD. Part two, which runs from 13:17-24:11, tells the story of Israel at Mount Sinai. Here God is portrayed as a companion.  YHWH is Israel’s covenant LORD. And part three, which runs from 24:12-40:38, tells the story of Israel around the tabernacle. Here God is portrayed as an indweller. YHWH is Israel’s indwelling LORD. 

I would venture to say that Christians are most familiar with part one of the book of Exodus. This section contains the story of Egyptian bondage, of Moses’ birth, of his failed attempt at deliverance, of his journey into the wilderness, of the revelation of the Divine name at the burning bush, of the calling and commissioning at Moses and Aaron, of the ten plagues, the Passover, and the parting of the Red Sea. Part one is all about God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage through Moses. That is the part that we are most familiar with, I would think.

But there is so much more to the book of Exodus. Not only did God free Israel from Egyptian bondage, but he also freed them to commune with him. God has set Israel apart to be his holy people. He entered into a covenant with them. He gave them his law and called them to walk in obedience. And he went with them to guide them and to defend them as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of glory by day. The LORD fed Israel with manna in the wilderness, and he satisfied their thirst with water from the rock. So then, you can see that this is not only a story of deliverance, it is also a story of companionship and covenant. The LORD was Israel’s God, and Israel was God’s people. 

This story of redemption and companionship reaches its climax in the third part of the book of Exodus which describes the construction of the tabernacle, which would later become the temple. What is the purpose of a tabernacle, or temple? The tabernacle was the place where God dwelt in the midst of his people. There at the tabernacle, the people of Israel were invited to come and to commune with the LORD, their Maker, and Redeemer. The LORD was Israel’s God, and they were his people — and God dwelt in the midst of them. He indwelt the tabernacle. He indwelt the nation, therefore. God is everywhere present, this we know. And so when we say that the LORD indwelt the tabernacle, clearly we mean that his glory filled that place, and his presence was manifest there in a special way. God was gracious to Israel to set them apart as his people from all the nations of the earth, and to be present with them in this special way. 

The song of Moses which we read from Exodus 15 tells and celebrates this story. The majority of it rejoices in the deliverance that God worked for Israel to free them from Egyptian bondage, but listen to how the song concludes. The people sang, “You [God] will bring [your people] in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. The LORD will reign forever and ever.” So then, the song celebrates deliverance, but also celebrates communion with God, and indwelling of God’s presence. 

This storyline should sound familiar to you. Not only is it the storyline of the Exodus, it is also the storyline of our redemption in Christ Jesus. In Christ, you have been freed from bondage. More than this, you have been reconciled to God in the Covenant of Grace. He is yours, and you are his. He is with you to guide, direct, and protect. And he has made his home with you. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer and the church. As Paul says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ESV). The story of the Exodus and the story of our redemption in Christ are not the same story. They are different stories in very significant ways. But they are similar. The storylines are the same. God has delivered his people, he has entered into covenant with them to commune with them, and he has indwelt them by tabernacling amongst them. 

I’m so very tempted to get ahead of myself by looking back to Genesis and particularly to the situation in the garden before sin entered the world to compare what God did in the Exodus with that situation as it was at the beginning. This we will do next Sunday, Lord willing. For now, may I urge you to begin to think in that direction? Please consider that what God did with Israel at the time of the Exodus was a major step forward in regaining what Adam lost when he rebelled against his Maker. What did Adam lose? Well, he lost many things, the most precious of them being sweet communion with God in his garden temple, and the hope of consummate life and eternal glory. Here I am saying that the Exodus event — the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, the covenantal communion with God that was established then, and the indwelling of God at the tabernacle  — must be considered against the backdrop of Genesis chapters 1-3. At the Exodus, progress was made in God’s program of redemption. 

And I am also tempted to get ahead of myself by looking forward, beyond the book of Exodus and to subsequent revelation. This we will do in three Lord’s Day, Lord willing. But for now, consider how these Exodus themes are repeated in scripture. And not only are they repeated, they are also advanced and heightened. Yes, there was an Exodus in the days of Moses. But in the scriptures, we see that the people of Israel were to look forward to one greater than Moses, and to a greater Exodus in the future. The passage that I read from 1 Peter at the start of the sermon illustrates this point. When the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians (Jews and Gentiles alike) he used Exodus language to describe them. He called them “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…” He stated that their purpose was to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” He referred to them as “sojourners and exiles”. He taught Christians that God was making them into “a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” This is Exodus language that Peter uses, but he applies it, not to Old Covenant, ethnic Israel, but to the Israel of faith, that is, to the church of Jesus Christ consisting of Jew and Gentile alike. 

We will look more carefully at what preceded the Exodus, and what proceeded from it on the next few Lord’s days. For now, notice the familiar storyline — deliverance, covenantal communion, and indwelling. 

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Structure: Exodus In Chiastic Form

Before moving on to some application, please allow me to draw your attention to another structural feature of the book of Exodus. Not only is Exodus divided neatly into three parts — Israel in Egypt, Israel at Sinai, and Israel around the tabernacle — there is also a chiastic structure to the book wherein the first part of the book corresponds to the last, the second to the sixth, and the third to the fifth, with the fourth part being the heart of the book. 

You should get used to the idea that the scriptures are highly structured like this. It is not at all uncommon to find entire books of the Bible, or sections of books, being highly organized in this way. The literary structures themselves help to tell the story. 

So how is the book of Exodus structured chiasticly? 

Well, scholars have noticed that in part I Israel is in bondage and they are building for Pharaoh in that idolatrous nation, Egypt. Chapters 1-5 tell that story. But the book concludes in chapters 35-40 with Israel building, not for Pharaoh, nor for his idolatrous kingdom, but for God and for his kingdom. They are freely building God’s tabernacle. So then, the book begins with Israel serving Pharaoh, but it concludes with Israel serving the LORD. 

In chapters 6-12 we hear of the deliverance of Israel through the ten plagues. Everything comes to focus on the Passover and the Lamb of God. In the chiastic structure, this corresponds to chapters 32-34 with Israel worshipping the golden calf. So here we have another contrast, but it is a negative one. How does Israel respond to God’s redeeming grace? They fall almost immediately into idolatry. 

Next, in chapters 13-18 the emphasis is placed upon God being with Israel to guide, protect and provide. Israel is lead through the Red Sea and into the wilderness by the cloud and pillar. God feeds them with bread and gives them water to drink. God is their companion. And this does correspond to chapters 25 -31 wherein the instructions for construction of the tabernacle are described. At the conclusion of that section, God says, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.” (Exodus 29:45–46, ESV)

This makes chapters 19-24 the heart of the book of Exodus. And it is here that God meets with Israel at Sinai to give them his law — the ten commandments and the laws that are based upon them. In chapter 24 Israel formally enters into covenant with their God. In 24:7 we read that Moses “took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words’” (Exodus 24:7–8, ESV). So then, it is the law of God and the covenant that God transacted with Israel through Moses that is at the heart of this marvelous story of redemption.

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Conclusion and Suggestions For Application

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I don’t know about you, but I find it helpful to consider these two structures found in the book of Exodus. 

The first is rather straightforward as we follow Israel’s journey from Egypt to Sinai, to the tabernacle. Considered in this way, we see clearly that God delivered Israel so that he might commune with them and indwell them. 

The chiastic structure is a bit more complex, but it helps us to see the contours and nuances of this story. When God rescued Israel from bondage he freed them from brutal slavery to Pharaoh so that they might worship and serve him as his redeemed people. Israel once built cities for idolatrous Pharaoh, but they were redeemed to build a house and kingdom for God so that God would dwell among them and be their God, and they would be his people.    

Brothers and sisters, the same is true for you and me. God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, ESV). We have been freed from bondage so that we might willingly and freely serve the Lord. Friends, don’t forget about that aspect of our redemption. You have been set free… to serve the Lord. We have been “delivered from the hand of our enemies…” so that we “might serve [the LORD] without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:74–75, ESV). Many will walk the aisle at church or say a prayer to God because they wish to be delivered from their bondage and forgiven all their sins, but they forget that faith involves repentance, and a new life in Christ Jesus will produce a holy walk. To have Jesus as Savior one must confess that he is Lord. So yes, I pray that you would look to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and deliverance from the domain of darkness and the power of the evil one. But having been led out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God, you are to walk with the Lord faithfully, follow him, and trust him as he guides you. He indwells you if you are his. And because he indwells you, you are to pursue holiness, for he is holy. No longer are you to build for the Evil One nor for his kingdom. Instead, you are to build for God and labor for the furtherance of his. 

God’s graciousness is also displayed in Exodus. God did not redeem Israel because of something worthy in them, just as he did not call Abraham hundreds of years earlier because of something deserving in him. This great act of deliverance is by the grace of God alone. And so it is with us. Why did he set us free? Not because we were worthy, but because God is merciful and kind. That Israel was unworthy, and God merciful and kind, is seen clearly in the juxtaposition of the Passover scene with the Golden calf scene. God delivered Israel and led them to his holy mountain. And what did they do? They were unfaithful. They committed idolatry. May our appreciation for the mercy and grace of God shown to us in Christ Jesus grow and grow with each passing day. 

And what shall we say regarding the centrality of the law of God and of the covenant that God transacted with Israel through Moses wherein the people pledged obedience to this law that God gave them?

I have two things to say:

One, we should acknowledge that, like Old Covenant Israel, we also relate to God and are made to be citizens in his kingdom through covenant. Remember how Christ said, this is the New Covenant in my blood. And do this in remembrance of me. So then, we share this in common with Old Covenant Israel. They were brought into the kingdom of God by way of covenant. It was the covenant that God transacted with them that established the terms of the relationship. The same is true for us. And concerning the giving of the law we must confess that we too have a law. At regeneration, the law of God is written on our hearts anew and afresh. So, covenant and law are central features of our relationship with God too. 

But hear this: the covenant that we are partakers of is not the same as the covenant as the one made with Israel Israel in the days of Moses, for that was a covenant of works, and we are under the covenant of grace. And connected to this, we must confess that the law which God imposed upon Israel in the days of Moses does not apply to us in quite the same way. 

So then, throughout our study of Exodus, I will constantly be drawing your attention to the similarities but also the differences between Old Covenant Israel’s experience and ours as we live in this New Covenant age. 

Here is one similarity: holiness matters as much now as it did then. God’s people are to be holy just as he is holy. Under the New Covenant, God has made us holy by the shed blood of Christ, his moral law is written on our hearts, and he has called us to be holy, as he is holy. May Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, move us to obedience as we encounter God’s moral law, which is at the heart of this book concerning God’s work of redemption. 

Here is an important difference: we are not under this law that was given to Israel through Moses as a covenant of works. The covenant that God transacted with Israel was a covenant of works. We are under the Covenant of Grace. When Jeremiah the prophet spoke of the coming New Covenant he emphasized that it would differ from the covenant that God transacted with Israel in the days of Moses, saying, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:31–32, ESV).

So then, there are many similarities between Old Covenant Israel’s experience and ours, but there are many differences too. We must keep these similarities and differences ever in mind. 

Well, I think that is enough for today. We will continue with introductory concerns next Sunday, Lord willing, as we look back into Genesis to consider how Exodus is connected to what preceded it. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 15:1–18; Intro To Exodus: What Happened?

Afternoon Sermon: What Is Faith In Jesus Christ?, Baptist Catechism 91, Galatians 2:15–16

Baptist Catechism 91

Q. 91. What is faith in Jesus Christ?

A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the Gospel. (Heb. 10:39; John 1:12; Phil. 3-9; Gal. 2:15,16)

Scripture Reading: Galatians 2:15–16

“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet 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 2:15–16, 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.

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Please allow me to begin by reminding you of how we arrived at the question, what is faith in Jesus Christ? 

It is has taken us a long time to get to this question, hasn’t it? And that fact alone is worth noting. “Faith in Jesus Christ” is not the first thing that our catechism talks about. No, it is question 90 that teaches us that it is through faith in Christ that we escape God’s wrath and curse, and it is question 91 that defines what faith in Jesus Christ is. 

Here is the point I am making: it is impossible to understand what faith in Christ is apart from other more foundational truths — truths which questions 1 through 89 of our catechism establish. In brief, we have learned about God, the scriptures, man, sin, and God’s plan of redemption. We have learned what it is that God requires of us and of our guilt before him. And we have learned what it is that our sin deserves. If we wish to know what faith in Jesus Christ is, and why it is required, then we must also understand these other doctrines. I’m afraid that men and women, boys and girls, are often exhorted to believe in Jesus (and to be baptized), but without being instructed in these other doctrines. That is a problem, I think. To have faith in Jesus Christ one must also know who God is, who man is, what God requires of us, that we have sinned, and what our sins deserve.  

So, what does our sin deserve? Question 89 speaks the truth when it says, “Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come.” 

So is there any hope for sinners? Question 90 brings us good news, saying, “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.” 

Now, questions 91 through 93 will define the things that were mentioned in question 90: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, and the outward means.

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Baptist Catechism 91

Let us now consider the way that our catechism defines faith in Jesus Christ. 

Notice, first of all, that is not faith that saves us, but faith in Jesus Christ. So, having faith does not save a person from their sins. No, faith in Jesus Christ does. Many people in this world have faith in something, but saving faith is faith in Jesus, for he is the Savior that God has provided for us. He is the Christ, or Messiah. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the only mediator between God and man. As 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5–6, ESV). And Jesus himself claimed to be the only way to the Father, saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). So then, the forgiveness of sins does not come to us through generic and undefined faith, but through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Two, notice that our catechism calls faith in Jesus Christ a “saving grace”. It is said to be saving, for through faith in Jesus Christ we come to be saved. But it is called a “grace” because faith is a gift from God. Faith is something that you have. It is something that you do. You and I must have faith in Jesus Christ if hope to be saved from our sins. But that faith that resides within our hearts is a gift from God. We must never forget this. Even our ability to trust in Jesus is a gift from God. We believe by his grace. 

This is what the scriptures so clearly teach. First of all, the scriptures teach that God has predestined some to salvation from before the creation of the world (read Ephesians 1-2, for example). Two, the scriptures teach that God’s elect come to be saved only through faith in Jesus Christ. Three, the scriptures teach that men and women, boys and girls, will come to faith in Jesus only through the hearing of the word of God (see Romans 10:17). And the scriptures teach that in order for someone to believe, God must give them new life, open their blind eyes, and draw them by his Spirit. The scriptures talk about this “drawing” or “inward calling” in many ways. For now, consider what Jesus said to the multitude that came out to him in the wilderness: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44, ESV).

So then, the ability to believing in Jesus Christ is a gift from God. This is what Paul explicitly teaches in Ephesians 2:8-9, saying, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV). What is “the gift of God” according to the Apostle? Salvation is the gift of God, and so too is the faith. The grammar of the Greek demands this interpretation, and so too does the context. Notice that Paul concludes by saying, “so that no one may boast”. There is no room for the Christain to boast, for everything that he has in Christ Jesus is a gift from God, and that includes his faith. 

“Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace…”, three, “whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation…” 

So what do we do when we place our faith in Jesus Christ? 

One, we receive Jesus Christ. In what sense do we receive Jesus Christ when we believe in him? Well, we receive him in that we welcome him as our Savior and Lord. More than this, the scriptures teach that we are united to Jesus by faith. To have faith in Christ means that we are in him. And more than this, the scriptures teach that when we place our faith in Christ he is in us by his Spirit. You may read about this in John chapters 15, 16, and 17. To have faith in Jesus is not to trust in a distant and far-off figure. No, it is to receive him, to know him, and to commune with him, by the power of the Holy Spirit.    

Two, when we place our faith in Jesus, we rest upon him. Do you remember what I said last Sunday regarding the components of true saving faith: knowledge, assent, and trust. To have true and saving faith we must know certain things, believe those things to be true, and trust in Jesus. Trust is what our catechism is referring to here with the word “rest”. To believe in Jesus is to trust him, to rest in him, to take refuge in him. Trust is a vital component of saving faith. 

Three, notice the word “alone”. “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation…” So this is an all-or-nothing proposition. If we wish to be saved then we must trust in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of our sins. We must go all in. It will not do to say, I believe in Jesus but I also believe in myself, and in my own obedience or good works. If this is what you think then it reveals that you have not understood the gospel. You have not understood those others truths that I mentioned early concerning God, man, sin, and salvation in Jesus Christ. To have Jesus as Lord and Savior means that we have abandoned all hope in other things. In Christ alone our hope is found. 

The fourth and final phrase in this answer to question 91 is, “…as He is offered to us in the Gospel.” This phrase is so important, for does root our faith in Jesus Christ in the word of God. 

Friends, if you wish to be saved then you must have the Jesus of the scriptures — that is, the Jesus of the Gospel — as your Lord and Savior. This should be obvious to all (but sadly it is not), it will do you know good to claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, but to believe things concerning him — his person and work — that are contrary to the word of God. 

For example, some in this world claim to believe in Jesus Christ but think that he is the half-brother of Satan. Others claim to believe in Jesus but view him only as a great teacher. They deny that he is the eternal son of God come in the flesh. Other examples can be given, but it should be clear that these have only hijacked a name — they pronounce the name in the same way that you and I do, but their Christ is substantially different from the Christ of scripture. They would be more honest to simply give their savior another name. 

No, if we wish to be saved then we must have faith in Jesus Christ. And not just any “Jesus Christ”, but the Jesus Christ of Holy Scripture. In other words, to be saved, we must hear, receive, and believe the Gospel, which is the good news contained within Holy Scripture. 

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Conclusion

Q. 91. What is faith in Jesus Christ?

A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the Gospel. (Heb. 10:39; John 1:12; Phil. 3-9; Gal. 2:15,16)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What Is Faith In Jesus Christ?, Baptist Catechism 91, Galatians 2:15–16

Afternoon Sermon: What Does God Require Of Us That We May Escape His Wrath?; Baptist Catechism 90; Acts 16:25-34

Baptist Catechism 90

Q. 90. 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)

Scripture Reading: Acts 16:25-34

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:25–34, 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.

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Rarely do the morning and evening sermons line up so well. I wish I could say that I planned it, but really it just came together. As you know I preached on “faith” from Hebrews 11 this morning, and now we are confronted with the necessity of faith again this afternoon. 

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Baptist Catechism 90

Pay careful attention to the question. “What doth God require of us, that we may escape His wrath and curse, due to us for sin?” 

The catechism has been preparing us for this question, hasn’t it? Through our consideration of the Ten Commandments, we have been convinced of our sin and guilt before God. And we have heard the very bad news that “every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come.” 

But here we find good news. Even the question itself brings a glimmer of hope. “What doth God require of us, that we may escape His wrath and curse, due to us for sin?” The question suggests that there is an escape — there is a way out of this terrible predicament that we find ourselves in. 

So what does God require of us? What must we do to be saved? What action must we take?

Pay very careful attention to what our catechism does not say. The answer is not to try harder to keep God’s law. Nor is it go on a pilgrimage, climb this mountain, give so much money, etc.  “What doth God require of us?” It is not work that God requires of us, but faith. That is what our catechism says. A: “To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ…”

Understand this: faith is something that we must exercise. It is something that we must do. We must place our faith in Jesus Christ. But faith, by its very nature, is not work. No, it is the receiving of a gift. It is by faith that we receive the gift of salvation. Faith trusts in another. Faith rests in another. Faith receives the work and the reward that someone else has earned for us. Just as I said this morning, faith is the open hand by which we receive the gift of salvation. 

And who is the object of our faith? Who is it that we trust in? 

I suppose that we might answer by saying, God. God is the object of our faith. We trust in God for our salvation. Now, there is some truth to that. It is the Triune God who has saved us — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But it is accurate to say that Jesus Christ is the object of our faith. To be saved we must trust in Jesus. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the Savior that God has provided. God is our Savior, that is very true. But he has saved us through Jesus Christ his Son. Jesus is the Mediator between God and man. Jesus is the Messiah that God has sent. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him. So, to be saved, we cannot merely trust in God. No, we must trust in the Savior that God has provided for us.   

Again, “To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ…” This is what the scriptures so clearly teach. I could pile up Bible verses for you, but the passage that we read from Acts  16 will do for now. That jailer was moved to ask Paul and Silas the most important question a person can ask: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And what did they say? “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” And the same was true for his household, and so the word of the Lord was proclaimed to them too. 

To be saved from our sins we must believe in Jesus Christ. So why then does our catechism go on to mention “repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.” Does our catechism deny that wonderful doctrine that salvation comes to us through faith in Christ alone? No, instead, our catechism is faithful to teach what the scriptures teach, which is that we are saved through faith in Christ alone, but that faith, if it is true and saving will never be alone. Instead, faith that is true and saving will be accompanied by repentance and it will produce fruit. Or to use the language from the morning sermon. Faith is the open hand by which we receive the gift of salvation, but this same faith, if it is true, will also walk

How are we saved? Through faith in Jesus Christ. Full stop. 

And what does this faith involve? It always involves repentance. To trust in Jesus is to turn to him and from sin. You cannot do the one and not the other. It’s impossible! 

If you are walking in the wrong direction and you wish to go in the right direction, you must turn around. And that one action of turning around involves two things. You must turn from the wrong way and then go in the right way. And so it is with faith in Christ. Turning to him involves turning away from sin. That is what repentance is. It is turning from sin. Faith in Christ will always be accompanied by repentance. 

And that is why “repentance” is sometimes mentioned as one of the things that must be done in order to be saved. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas simply told the jailer, “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” But elsewhere in the book of Acts people are told to repent and believed. So which is it? Well, it is both. To say, “believe in Jesus” and to say, “repent and believe in Jesus” is really to say the same thing, for true saving faith will always be accompanied by repentance. 

But let me ask you this, are we saved by the act of believing, or are we saved by the act of repenting? Answer: we are saved by the believing. It is for this reason that the scripture will often mention faith alone. Faith, or belief in Christ, is the essential thing. But true faith does also involve repentance. Or think of it this way. If a man is living in some sin (say, the sin of drunkenness) and he turns from that sin, does his act of repentance save him? No, of course not. Not unless he turns from his sin and to Jesus. It is faith in Jesus Christ that brings us salvation, and true faith will always involve repentance. In other words, those with true faith in Christ will not continue in unrepentant sin. 

Lastly, let us consider the phrase, “with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption”? 

First of all, what are these “outward means”? Well, question 93 of our catechism will answer this saying, “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” 

Secondly, does our catechism teach that in order to be saved one must sit under the preaching of the word of God, be baptized, partake of the Lord’s Supper, and pray? We need to be very careful here. And really, the answer to this is not very different from what was said about repentance. It is through faith in Christ that we are saved, full stop. But true faith is always accompanied by repentance, and so repentance is sometimes commanded too. And so it is with the outward and ordinary means. We are saved by faith alone, but true and saving faith is never alone. No, it produces obedience in us. It leads to a faithful walk. In other words, those who have true faith will strive to live a life of obedience to the Lord. 

And what has Christ commanded us to do as we walk with him in this world? How has God determined to mark his people off as his own in this world, and to nourish and strengthen them? They are to be baptized in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are to devote themselves to the word of God. They are to partake of the Lord’s Supper. They are to pray.

Are we saved by sitting under the preached word, by baptism, by the Lord’s Supper, or by the act of praying? No, we are saved by faith alone. But this faith, if it is true and saving faith, is never alone. It does lead to a faithful walk. And these are the things that God has commanded us to do. The faithful will do them. 

I asked you earlier if the man who repents from drunkenness is saved by his repentance. We said, no, not unless he turns to Christ. Now I might ask you, are all who sit under the preached word; are all who are baptized, are all who eat the Lord’s Supper, and are all who pray to God, saved? I hope you would say, no, not necessarily. And why is that? Because some partake of these things without faith in Christ in their hearts. So, just as repentance alone does not save, but only repentance and faith in Christ, neither do church attendance, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or prayer save. They only function as means of grace if there is faith in Christ in the heart. Faith in Christ is the operative and essential thing.

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Conclusion

Let me conclude now with a positive exhortation. 

Do you wish to be saved from your sins? Do you wish to be freed from God’s wrath and curse which is due to you because of sin?

One, trust in Jesus Christ. He paid for sins. He bore the wrath of God. In him, there is the forgiveness of sins and the hope of life everlasting. 

Two, this faith that I have mentioned will involve repentance. You cannot continue in sin and follow after Jesus at the same time. No, to have faith in Christ means that you have him as Lord. That is how Paul puts it in Romans 10:9, saying, “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). So then, turn from your sin and turn to Jesus as Savior and Lord. You cannot have him as Savior if you will not have him as Lord. So turn from your sin now and turn to Jesus. And turn from sin always as you walk with him in this way. Will you struggle with sin as a Christian? Yes. But the Christian life is a life of repentance from beginning to end. 

Three, if you have turned from your sins and to faith in Christ, then be sure to make “diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption”. The first of these is his word. Listen to God’s word. Read it. Hear it read and preached. The word of God is our daily bread. God nourishes us with it. The second is baptism. If you have faith in Christ, be baptized. The third is the Lord’s Supper. Christ nourishes, encourages, and refines his church through the Lord’s Supper. The fourth is prayer. Through prayer we communion with God. God works through prayer. We will say more about these in the weeks to come. For now, it will suffice to say, if you have faith in Christ, the make use of these ordinary means of grace, for God does distribute the benefits of the redemption that Christ has earned to the faithful through them.

Q. 90. 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)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What Does God Require Of Us That We May Escape His Wrath?; Baptist Catechism 90; Acts 16:25-34

Morning Sermon: Hebrew 11:1-2; Faith: The Assurance Of Things Hoped For

Scripture Reading: Hebrew 11:1-12:2

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 11:1–12:2, 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.

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Introduction

Time will not permit us to consider in detail the entirety of the passage that we have just read. I will eventually focus my attention on verses 1-2 of Hebrews 11, and will make passing references to the remainder of the text throughout the sermon. 

If you have not already guessed it, the subject of today’s sermon is faith

Remember what Paul said at the conclusion of 1 Corinthians 13 which we considered two Sundays ago: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, ESV). In the past two Lord’s Days I’ve exhorted you to love one another, to hope in God, and today I wish to encourage you to persevere and to grow in your faith, for these three things remain — faith, hope, and love — and they are vital to the Christian sojourner. If you wish to sojourn well — if you wish to persevere and to serve the Lord faithfully in this world — you must be strong in faith, hope, and love.  

So what is faith?

Stated simply, faith is trust. 

And we know that faith is the instrument whereby sinners receive the gift of salvation. 

How can a sinner be right with God, have the forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting? Can he gain that through law-keeping, by doing good works, or by performing some religious duty? The scriptures are so very clear that salvation cannot be earned by us, but must be received by faith. Salvation is a gift from God. It cannot be earned. As the Apostle Paul teaches, if salvation were earned it would not be a gift, but a wage (see Romans 4). Wages are earned. Gifts are freely given and are received. Salvation is a gift from God, and so it must be received. It cannot be earned. And so faith is the instrument whereby sinners receive this gift of salvation. Faith is the open hand by which we receive the free gift of God offered to us in Christ Jesus.

So faith is trust. And to be saved sinners must trust, not in themselves, nor in any other created thing, but in Christ alone. And why must sinners trust in Christ alone for salvation? Answer: Because he has earned it for us. He lived a life of perfect obedience for us. He paid the price for our sins by dying in our place. He rose from the dead for us, he ascended to the Father for us, and he will return for us. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him. He has earned our salvation, and so we must trust in him to receive it.  

This is what the scriptures say:

“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)

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:21–24, ESV)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV)

So, Christ has earned our salvation, but we come to be saved through faith, and this faith is itself the free gift of God. Through faith, through faith, through faith. Faith is the instrument by which we receive the salvation that Christ has earned for us.  

I have defined faith as trust, and that is what it is. But more needs to be said, lest we fall into error. 

It should be clear to all that in order for faith to be true and saving faith, certain truths must be known. Faith is trust, but we cannot trust without knowledge. How can you trust in someone or something that you do not know? To have true and saving faith one must understand the basic teaching of Holy Scripture. Of course, one does not need to be a master theologian to be saved. But it is required that a person know the gospel. We must know something of who God is, of who we are, of our sin, and of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. We must know who Christ is and what it is that he has done for us. We must know what we must do to be saved, etc. Knowledge is an essential element of faith. 

And so too is assent. To assent to something is to approve of it or to agree with it. It should be clear to all that for faith to be true and saving there must be assent. Merely knowing what the Bible says about God, man, sin, and salvation in Christ does not save you. There have been many people who have studied the scriptures and know the doctrines of scripture very well who then say, but I don’t believe it. They may readily admit that the scriptures teach that God is Triune, that man is in sin, that Christ was and is the eternal God come in the flesh, that he was virgin born, that he lived a sinless life, died, and rose again — they may know and understand all of these doctrines — and then say, but I don’t think it’s true. I probably don’t need to tell you that that is not true and saving faith. That is merely knowledge without assent. To have true and saving faith we must know what the scriptures teach and assent to or agree with the teaching of scripture. 

And now we come full circle to trust. The one who has true and saving faith does not only know certain things, nor merely believe those doctrines to be true, but also trusts in God, in his word, in the precious and very great promises that are contained within, and ultimately in Christ. Faith that is true and saving trusts in the person of Jesus Christ. The one who has saving faith runs to Jesus Christ for refuge, depends upon him, and rests in him for the forgiveness of sins and for life everlasting. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). It is not merely facts about Jesus that must be believed. No, we must believe in Jesus Christ, that is to say, trust in him. 

So it is possible, then, for someone to know the Bible very well, and even to assent to the teaching of scripture, saying, “I agree it is true”, but to not saving faith, because there is no trust in their heart. Perhaps in their pride, they still trust, not in God, in Christ, and in his finished work, but in themselves or in the church, or in some other thing.

To say that faith is trust is true, but it is prone to misunderstanding. More precisely, saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ. And to know who he is, what he has done, and why he is worthy of our trust, we must go to the scriptures. We must know what the scriptures teach and assent to their teaching. So, the one who has saving faith does in fact trust in God, in his word, and in the Savior that he has provided for us, Christ Jesus the Lord.  

So faith is the instrument through which we receive the gift of salvation. Christ earned our salvation. And that salvation must be received. How do we receive it? Not through obedience, not by going on a pilgrimage, not by giving a sum of money or making some other sacrifice. No, salvation is not something we can earn; it is not something we can pay for. Salvation must be simply received, and so it is received by faith. Faith is the open hand by which we receive the gift of salvation. 

All of that is so important to understand, but it is really not the main point of the sermon today. Here is the thing that I want you to notice this morning: The Christian life does not only begin with faith, it also continues in faith. Stated differently, not only do we come to receive the gift of salvation by faith — yes, we are justified, adopted, and sanctified the moment we believe upon Christ — we also go on to walk by faith. Faith is not something that we discard after using it to receive the gift of salvation. No, true saving faith perseveres, it grows in the heart and mind, and it produces throughout the Christian life. The Christian begins with faith and also walks by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Really, this is the focus of Hebrews 11. This passage is not so much about the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Instead, it is about the product of faith in the life of the believer. Faith — true saving faith — will persevere, and it will produce faithfulness in the life of the believer. In other words, faith that is true and saving will remain in the heart of the believer, it will grow, and it will produce the fruit of obedience.    

This is what Hebrews 11 is about. Not so much the faith that receives salvation, but the faith that continues in it and grows. It is one and the same faith, of course. We trust in the same God, the same promises, and the same Savior from beginning to end, but the perspective is different. The faith that receives the gift of salvation in the beginning may be described as a hand held out. But the faith that is described here in Hebrews 11 looks more like a walk

Can you see the difference between these two aspects of faith? First faith receives, then faith walks. True saving faith will involve both things. First, we receive Christ, then we walk in him. This is what Paul exhorts us to do in Colossians 2:6-7: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6–7, ESV). 

Now, it is important to distinguish between the receiving and the walking. We are saved — justified, adopted, and sanctified — not by the walking, but by the receiving alone. Salvation is a gift, remember. It cannot be earned by walking. It can only be received. But this same faith that receives the free gift of salvation will surely produce a faithful walk in us. So the receiving and the walking must be distinguished, but they cannot be divorced. This is why Paul said, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6–7, ESV). 

I’m afraid that many in our day emphasize the receiving, but neglect to talk about the walking. Men and women are urged to believe in Christ. And so they are called to walk down and isle and to say a prayer, but they forget to urge them to walk with Christ from that day forward. The who believe in Christ are to be baptized and taught to observe all that he has commanded. These are to join themselves to Christ’s church. These are to have Jesus as Lord. And do not forget the warning of Christ: “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22–23, ESV)

True and saving faith first receives, and then it walks. We are saved through the receiving only, and not by the walking. But true faith will produce a faithful walk.  If there is no faithful walk, then one should not be sure of true and saving faith. 

The focus of Hebrews 11 is not the open hand of faith, but the walk of faith. The writer to the Hebrews (maybe Paul) is saying, if your faith is true, this is what it will produce. It will produce a faithful walk.

The Hebrew Christians to whom this letter was written needed to hear this. They were under enormous pressure to turn back from following Christ and to return to Old Covenant Judaism. The whole letter argues against this as it shows that Christ and the New Covenant inaugurated in his shed blood is far superior to the Old Covenant, for the New Covenant is the fulfillment to the Old (this is a marvelous book that I hope to preach through someday). But here in chapter 11 the writer to the Hebrews ceases from his theological augmentation (somewhat) to urge the Hebrew Christians to walk worthily by holding before them examples of the faithful men and women who had gone before them — Able, Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, and others. 

These were all justified by faith (this we know), but these did also continue in faith. They walked faithfully even while suffering persecution, and in some cases, martyrdom. They suffered faithfully because they truly believed in God, in his precious and very great promises concerning Christ who would come, and their hope was set, not in this world, but in Christ and in their inheritance in the world to come. It is truly a marvelous chapter and one that is worthy of very careful consideration (Lord willing, we will come back to it someday). 

But let us turn our attention now to the first two verses where faith — that is the faith that resides in the heart of the believer; the faith by which we are saved and now walk — is defined. There we read, 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.” (Hebrews 11:1–2, ESV). I would like to spend the remainder of this sermon considering these two verses. 

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Faith Is The Assurance Of Things Hoped For

First, we learn that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” 

Do you remember what hope is? It is the expectation of some good thing. Hope is always forward-looking, remember. Once we receive the thing that we hoped for, hope disappears, for we have it as our own. And yes, people hope for all kinds of things. But the hope that is mentioned here is clearly Christian hope. It is hope, not for earthly things or sinful pleasures, but for the things of God. It is a hope rooted, not in our passions and desires, but in God and for the things that he has promised to us in his word. 

Do you see the difference? Some who are sinful will read the words, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for…”, and they will think if I only believe then I will have the desires of my heart met. It is no wonder that so many feel as if God has let them down. They hoped in God for a time, but instead of hoping in God, believing that he would accomplish his will, and keep his promises, they hoped that God would accomplish their will and fulfill all of their desires. It is no wonder they are disenchanted now, for they expected things from God which he never promised. 

You may read the remainder of Hebrews 11 again to see what it was these “people of old” hoped for. And as you do you will quickly realize that it was not earthly comfort, prosperity, or safety. If this is what they hoped for, then they would not have followed after God. No, their hope was set in God, in Christ, and in the life to come.

Able hoped in Christ and for the forgiveness of sins that is found in him when he offered up that bloody sacrifice on the altar in obedience to the command of God. He knew that the forgiveness of sins would come through bloody atonement, and so he worshiped God according to God’s command and with faith in his heart. God received him, and his brother, being driven by jealousy, killed him.  Able’s hope was not set here on earth, but in God and in his Christ. 

Abraham forsook the pleasures of this world. “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9–10, ESV). You will find this word “promise” throughout Hebrews 11. The hope mentioned in verse 1 has to do, not with any and every wish of ours, but hope in the promise of God concerning a Savior, the forgiveness of sins, and a new heavens and earth.  Did you hear it? Abraham did what he did — he walked by faith — because he understood and hoped in the promises of God and looked “forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God”. You may see Hebrews 12:22 and 13:14 to know that this is no reference to an earthly city, but to the heavenly Jerusalem, the new heavens and new earth. 

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26, ESV). Did you hear that? When Moses left Egypt to side with the Hebrews he did it for Christ, for he knew that it was better to be found in Christ than to enjoy the respect and pleasures of this world. 

Verses 13-16 prove the point, saying, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13–16, ESV).

Clearly, when the writer to the Hebrews speaks of “hope” he does not mean, whatever hopes and dreams happen to reside within your heart, but rather, the believer’s hope in God, in the promises of God, in Christ, and all of the benefits that he has earned for us. The “hope” that is mentioned here is hope in something particular. It is not nebulous and undefined hope, nor is it hope determined by the passions and pleasure of fallen men.  No, it is hope in God, in his precious and very great promises, in Christ, and in what he has earned for us. 

I belabor this point a little because I do believe this is a real problem today. Men and women have gotten the impression that God has promised them health, wealth, and prosperity in this life, when in fact he has not. Think of how devastating this lie is. God has promised us health, wealth, and prosperity. He has promised to protect us from all harm, and my loved one has died, my health has deteriorated, I am struggling financially, etc. Conclusion: God has let me down. He has not kept his promises to me.
What is the problem with this way of thinking? Simply this: never has God promised his people health, wealth, and prosperity. Never has he promised to keep them from all harm. Have you read the scriptures, friends? Did you hear about what happened to Able? Have you considered the trouble that Abraham and David faced? Think of what the prophets of old endured. Think of how the world treated Christ and his Apostles.  So not, the problem is not with God and his faithfulness, but with you and your expectations. He will keep every one of his promises. Not one will fail. But you need to pay careful attention to what he has said in his word. 

Christ was very honest with his disciples so as to guard against unrealistic expectations. In John 16:33 we hear him say, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).

If I tell my child I will take them to get ice cream today and then I do not, then I am rightly accused of letting them down. But if I make no such commitment then I cannot be accused of letting them down. Their disappointment may be real, but they have no right to accuse me of unfaithfulness. And so it is with you and with God. Perhaps you have experienced heartaches and disappointments in life. The sorrow that you feel concerning those things is perfectly legitimate. Bring those sorrows to God. But you will not come to him if you think he has let you down. So be very careful to understand what God has promised you, and what he has not, lest you blaspheme the name of God by imputing unfaithfulness to the One who is ever faithful. 

So then, hope has reference to God and to the promises of his word. And we are told that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” So there is a relationship between faith and hope. Hope is forward-looking. It is the expectation of having something good. In this case, it is the expectation of fellowship with God in the new heavens and earth through Christ. So the things that we hope for are off in the future, but faith is the present assurance of these things that we hope for. Faith reaches out and grabs ahold of these future blessings and brings them into our hearts so that they are in fact ours today. 

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…”, the ESV says. I think that is a fine translation. But I prefer the NKJV in this instance. It says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” When will we enjoy the substance of the things that we hope for? Well, when they come, of course. We hope for the new heavens and earth, and we will enjoy the substance of the new heavens and earth when they arrive. But here we are told that by faith the believer enjoys the substance of these future blessings even now. In Christ, the new heavens and earth are yours now by faith, you see. 

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Faith Is The Conviction Of Things Not Seen

And then the Apostle adds these words: Faith, is“the conviction of things not seen”. This statement is very similar to the previous one, but it is not exactly the same. 

“Things not seen…” That encompasses more than the phrase “things hoped for” does. We do not see the things that we hope for with our eyes, do we? The new heavens and earth, or glorified bodies, the manifestation of the glory of God, etc., are invisible to us. We look forward to these things, and we “see” them not only with the eyes of faith. But there are other things that we do not see and yet are convinced of that do not fit into the category of “things hoped for”. Do you see God presently? No, but by faith, we know he exists. Did you witness with your eyes the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? No, but by faith, we are certain that these things did happen. And did you witness the creation of the world by God out of nothing in six days? No, but by faith, we know it is true. 

So then, these unseen things do not fit into the category of future hope because they are either past events or present realities that are beyond our sense perception. And yet we know them to be true. How so? By faith. Faith in what? Faith in God and in his word. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” and it is “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV).

You will notice that the writer to the Hebrews mentions the creation of the world expressly in verse 3, saying, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3, ESV). How do we know this? It is by faith. We know this because God has revealed this to us in his word. No one was there to witness the creation of the heavens and earth, and yet we know that they were created by the word of God and out of nothing because we believe God’s word.  

*****

By Faith, The People Of Old Received Their Commendation

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). And in verse 2 we read, “For by it [that is, faith] the people of old received their commendation” (Hebrews 11:2, ESV).

“People of old” might also be translated as “elders”. The context makes it clear who the writer is referring to. He means the faithful who lived under the Old Covenant. What follows is a sampling of some of them — Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, etc.. 

But the point is this, these Old Covenant saints received their commendation from God by faith. They lived with this assurance of things hoped for, and this confidence of things not seen, and it produced a faithful walk in them, leading to commendation from God. Other translations say “approval, a good testimony, or a good report. 

I will repeat what I said earlier. The focus of this passage is not faith which receives justification, but faith that produces a faithful walk. It is one and the same faith, of course. But it is faith considered from a different vantage point. 

If I put it into question form, I think it will become clear. What propelled these “people of old” — Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and all the rest — to live faithful lives, lives that God commanded or approved of? It was faith. 

These people really hoped in the promises of God so much so that they possessed the substance of those promises in their hearts even as they sojourned on earth. They were truly convinced of God’s promises, of the coming of Christ, of the salvation that he would bring, and of the new heavens and new earth. In fact, they were convinced of many other things that they could not see with their physical eyes — the creation of the heavens and earth out of nothing, the existence of God, and his sovereignty over all things, etc. They had faith. Real deal faith. And they walked by this faith, not by sight. 


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Conclusion

To bring it all home I will ask you this, who in their right mind would choose to endure persecution or Amsterdam, to abandon the treasures and pleasures of the world, to stand alone with the whole world against you for the sake of Christ? Answer: Only those who have real deal faith. If you do not have the assurance of the precious and very great promises of God in your heart, and if you are not convinced of the truthfulness of the things that God has revealed in his world — things that you cannot see with your physical eyes —  then you will not walk faithfully my friends. And neither will you be commended by God. You may appear to walk faithfully for a time, but the trials and tribulations of this life, or the threat of the loss of the treasures and pleasures of this world, will soon derail you.  

So, brothers and sisters, be sure that you are strong in the faith today. That is what Paul commands in 1 Corinthians 16:13, saying, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, ESV). Yes, faith is a gift from God. But the scriptures do also call us to grow strong in the faith and to persevere in it.

This will require you to examine yourself. Paul commands this in 2 Corinthians 13:5, saying,

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV). The Lord’s Day Sabbath is a wonderful day for self-examination. Examine yourselves today to see whether you are in the faith. Is your faith strong or is it weak? 

And be resolved, brothers and sisters, to continue in the faith, steadfast. Paul commands this in Colossians 1:21-23, saying, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:21–23, ESV). Persevere, brothers and sisters. Yes, I know that God will preserve all who are him. But he will do this, in part, through the exhortation of the scriptures to persevere. And so I say to you, persevere! “Continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…” 

So then, how can you grow stronger in the faith? 

One, by knowing God’s word and the precious and very great promises that are contained within. Read God’s word, brothers and sisters, and be eager to hear preached and taught. If you wish to grow stronger in the faith then take advantage of every opportunity to hear the word of God read, preached, and taught. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV), the scriptures say. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4, ESV)

Two, daily clothe yourself with the whole armor of God so that you may fight the fight of faith. And we know that it is through prayer that we clothe ourselves for this battle. Pray daily, friends. Pray throughout the day. 

Three, be mindful of the schemes of the Evil One whose highest aim is to destroy whatever faith you have. Do not be naïve concerning his schemes. 

And lastly, lean upon one another in the church. This is one of our primary responsibilities in the church — to encourage one another in the faith. Paul and his companions traveled from region to region, and from church to church, to minister the word of God in those places. Listen to how his ministry is described in Acts 14:21, and with this we close: “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:21–22, ESV)

Dear brothers and sisters, let us continue in the faith, for “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”, and by it we will receive our commendation from God. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Hebrews 11:1-2, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Hebrew 11:1-2; Faith: The Assurance Of Things Hoped For

Afternoon Sermon: What Does Every Sin Deserve?; Baptist Catechism 89; Revelation 21:1–8

Baptist Catechism 89

Q. 89. 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)

Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:1–8

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’” (Revelation 21:1–8, ESV)

*****

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.

*****

Let us briefly review what we have learned about the topic of sin. 

It was way back in Baptist Catechism questions 16 through 22 that we first learned about sin. There in that section, we learned about the first sin of Adam and Eve and the consequences of that sin for all of humanity. That is a very important section of our catechism, for there the topic of “sin” is addressed historically. There we learn about how sin came into the world through our first parents, and how sin and its consequences spread to all mankind.  But it was in question 17 that we found a most helpful definition of sin. Question 17 asks, “What is sin?” Answer: “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” “Want” means lack or failure. So we sin whenever we fail to do what God has commanded, and we sin when we do what God has forbidden. Theologians have called these two ways of sinning sins of omission and commission. So, we sin when we omit — that is, fail to do — what God requires of us, and we sin when we commit — that is, do — what God has forbidden in his law. 

Perhaps you have heard sin described as missing the mark. Can you picture an archer with a bow and arrow in his hand? He draws the bow, aims at the target, and lets the arrow fly. If he hits the bullseye, then all is well. But if he missed, then we might say that he has “sinned”. He has missed the mark. 

And what is the mark which God has set for the human race? Conformity to the moral law. We must do what the law requires, and avoid what the law forbids. And where is this moral law summarized for us? In the Ten Commandments. 

And so we studied the Ten Commandments for a long time. We learned what they say, and we learned what they require of us and what they forbid. And so I ask you, after studying the Ten Commandments in this way did your confidence grow or diminish in regard to your ability to hit the bullseye of God’s revealed will?  I hope you will confess that your confidence diminished. God’s standard for us is moral perfection, and we have all come short of it. 

You will notice that the catechism has returned now to the topic of sin. This time the perspective is not historical, but theological. Question 87 asked, “Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?” The correct answer is, “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.” In other words, we all sin. Yes even Christians, who have been renewed by the Spirit, who love God and his law, still sin. 

In question 88 we found a helpful clarification. The question was, “Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?” There we learned that “Some sins in themselves and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.” 

Now in question 89, we find a difficult but very important truth. The question is “What [does] every sin deserve?” Answer: “Every sin [deserves] God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come.”

This is a hard truth to swallow, isn’t it? But it is so very important that this truth be proclaimed. 

In fact, the Christian religion crumbles without this doctrine. 

Some men love to talk about the love of God, his mercy and grace, and the forgiveness that is in Christ Jesus, but they refuse to speak of his wrath and curse. They will speak of Jesus the loving Savior and of his virtuous life, but they refuse to speak of Jesus as judge. 

Please hear me. There is no sense in speaking of God’s love, mercy, and grace, nor of Christ the Savior, unless we are also willing to speak of sin and of its just penalty, for that is the very thing that Jesus came to save us from. He came to fix this problem that we are now considering. To use Paul’s language from Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 3:23–24, ESV). And a little bit later he says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, ESV). Can you see that the grace of God shown to us in Christ Jesus is the solution to the problem of our sin and the judgment of God under which all stand?   

So this truth that all have sinned, and that “every sin [deserves] God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come”, is essential. The Good News of Jesus Christ can only be understood against this backdrop of bad news. And yet men and women — yes even Christians and Ministers of the Gospel — will make every effort to suppress and dismiss this unpleasant truth.

I’ll be honest with you though, and it’s because I love you. You’re a sinner. And even if it is true that you have not committed so-called “heinous” sins, “every sin [deserves] God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come”. If you are not in Christ, you stand guilty before God now. And if you die apart from Christ you will stand guilty before God on the day of judgment, and then it will be too late. You will be judged by Christ and punished by him for all eternity.  But God is loving, gracious, and kind. He has provided a Savior, Christ Jesus the Lord. You must run to him for refuge. You must believe in him for the forgiveness of sins. 

That Revelation 21 passage that I read at the beginning of the sermon is very beautiful. In it John’s vision of the new heavens and earth is described to us. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” How wonderful! We long for this. But consider the concussion: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’” (Revelation 21:1–8, ESV)

Both the bad news of our sin and misery, and the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ must be proclaimed. The one does not make sense without the other, friends. 

*****

Baptist Catechism 89

As we move now towards a conclusion I would like to walk you through Baptist Catechism 89. 

Q. 89. What [does] every sin deserve?

Answer: “Every sin…” notice the word “every”. Not only heinous sins but “every sin  [deserves]…” In fact, the justice of God demands that all sins be punished. If God were simply to pardon sins he would not be just. So “God’s wrath and curse” must be poured out against all sin. And please hear me, brothers and sisters. Here is the beauty of the gospel. God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ, for God has punished our sin in him. Christ is the substitute for those who believe in him. And then our catechism concludes with these words, “both in this life, and in that which is to come.” So, apart from Christ men and women live in this life under God’s wrath and curse, and will continue in that state for all eternity unless they repent and believe upon the Savior. 

Friends, will you be found in Jesus and thus enter into life everlasting?

And will you be faithful to urge others to be found in him until Christ comes or God calls you home? 

There is so much on the line, brothers and sisters. Let us be found faithful. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What Does Every Sin Deserve?; Baptist Catechism 89; Revelation 21:1–8


"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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