Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sermon--1-21-07--Marvel at His Message

There are some great names in the history of our nation. If everyone were asked to choose who of our founders to ask to dinner you’d probably hear names like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry. We think of them b/c we would love to have insight into what they were thinking in the moment that history was decided. We would have many questions for them.

I don’t believe our questions would describe how the evening would go. I believe any such dinner conversation would be dominated by those men asking you about the state of the nation they fought and died for. As much as we would love to hear from them, they would love to hear from you. They’d want to know—“was it worth it?”, “did our experiment work?”, “what is the nation like today?”, “did freedom take hold in the hearts of the people?”, “do you really remember or care about what we did, we’re much more interested in what your life is like today?”.

The Great fathers of our nation would want to know if what they did, said, or believed then, was still having an effect even hundreds of years later. And hopefully, after a conversation with you, they would come away and truly believe—“what we went through was worth it. Seeing where you are, where the nation has come makes everything we did worthwhile. We were really thinking about the future of our children and their children. We were serving you.”

It’s amazing to consider that the founders of our nation were serving us, but they were. In the same way, when you hear great names of the faith like, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, they were serving you too. Even Peter in 1 Peter 1:12, realized that the Prophets of old were serving his generation. So names like Peter, Paul & John—would want to know about the Church today, would want to know about how things turned out, what they lived and died for.

To me, it is amazing and a marvel that the testimonies we read in Scripture are meant to serve us today. This book, the WoG was not written to sit on a shelf.

It was written to breathe life into our lifelessness, hope into our hopelessness, love into our selfishness, humility into our pridefulness, power into our powerlessness, forgiveness into our sinfulness, and light into our darkness. We can and should Marvel at the Message we have in Scripture.

2 weeks ago we saw how Angels can marvel at what we can Praise God for, all He has provided for us. Last week we looked at another aspect that Angels marvel at—how we can Rejoice at the Shield of God—we saw how through the refining of trials we are receiving the goal of our faith—the salvation of our souls.

This week we’re going to Marvel at His Message. God has worked hard through the ages to tell us He is there, to tell us He loves us, to show us how we can have a right and eternal relationship with Him.

He does so in the pages of the Bible, through the lives and writings of Prophets and Apostles.

“I believe the Bible is the best gift that God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book. I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”—attributed to Abraham Lincoln

Marvel at His Message—1:9-12

Prophets of Old

Spoke to you—all of those prophets in the OT, all of those writers and apostles of the NT weren’t just writing for their own benefit, just b/c they wanted to hear themselves talk or have some record of their thinking. All of these writers were inspired by God and He had a purpose in their writing.

All Scripture is God breathed—His message to you.—2 Timothy 3:16-- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All Scripture—not some, not most, not just the things we like or approve of or agree with. All of Scripture is God breathed. It is Scripture not by our declaration but by God’s inspiration. This is only an issue b/c many parts of it reveals things in ourselves we don’t like spoken against.

God-Breathed or God Inspired—much like when God breathed the spirit into Adam and gave him life. He used the author’s mind, creativity and personality to communicate words directly from His heart.

Useful—in other words, it has a function and purpose—it’s not irrelevant to life.

Teaching—we need to be taught certain things—particularly, things about God need not be left to our imagination. The only way we know anything about God is because He chooses to reveal it to us—otherwise, we’re just speculating. The only way I can learn anything about another person is what they choose to show, reveal or teach me about them. I need to be taught Who God is—it doesn’t come naturally or by instinct. I need to be taught What He is like, who I am in relationship to Him, What He has done for me.

Scripture is also useful for Rebuking—which is one of the primary reasons why we question Scripture’s inspiration—we don’t like being rebuked. We don’t like being told that something we are doing is wrong and goes against the moral order of God. But we need to be rebuked. The confusion and resentment comes b/c when we are rebuked, our selfishness tends to assume the one rebuking just wants to be mean—however a genuine rebuke must have as its base motive love and redemption.

Correction goes right along with rebuke. Correcting a wrong behavior or a wrong belief about God, a wrong idea—detailing how and why something is wrong. Most of my learning has come from doing something wrong and then being taught the correct way. Imagine how effective a classroom setting could be if a teacher was never allowed to correct a wrong answer.

Thankfully, Scripture does not just tell us that we’re wrong—rebuke, or tell us why and how—correcting, it gives us the right way—Scripture is useful for Training in Righteousness. It teaches what God’s ways are and how we can live that way. It requires training—we require training for things that don’t come naturally to us—the righteous life that God desires us to live requires His training and work on us, our acceptance and application of that training. God saw to it that we are not only told how we’re living wrong, but also how we can live right.

Sadly, there are many of us who don’t know how to receive correction, are not coachable or teachable. They are the ones who never accept that they’ve done something wrong, never accept that you might have a better way to offer them, that fight you all along the way, and only do the “right way” so long as the coach is over their shoulder—then they go back to doing it their own way—where they are largely less effective, then combative as to why the world is so against them and complaining of why it is not easier.

This is what the Prophets and the apostles were writing, what God is hoping that their writing accomplishes in you and me.

They were writing to more than a nation, more than a church, a city, or a group of people. They were also writing the future.

As Peter indicates, they were searching and writing about what was coming to you—they were looking into the future at a glimpse of what God was going to be doing. They were trying to make sense of the Messiah’s Timing & Circumstances, the Messiah’s Teachings & Sufferings, and the Messiah’s Ongoing Glory

This tells me very clearly that Scripture is not just for the past but for the present. These great men of faith were writing a special message that they anticipate YOU reading and applying to your life.

Messiah’s Timing & Circumstances—how were the people to recognize the Messiah?—Isaiah spoke of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, from a young Virgin girl, of the tribe of Judah, descended from Jesse and King David, that He would live around Galilee. This all takes place hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

The Messiah’s Teachings and Sufferings--What would the Messiah do? At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Luke 4:18, He quotes Isaiah 61 about preaching the good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, releasing the oppressed and the year of the Lord’s favor. Jesus said powerfully—“Today this message is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Isaiah 53:4-6, 12c—one of the most prophetic chapters in the Bible talks of the Suffering Servant bearing the sins of many and being pierced for our transgressions.

The gospels list various aspects of the predicted sufferings of Christ--e.g., hatred by his people, betrayal by his friend, being forsaken by his flock, his scourging and crucifixion,

Psalm 22—was written by King David some 900 years before Christ, David looked forward by picturing the Crucifixion in amazing detail. The most Messianic psalm starts with the same words Jesus cries from the Cross—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And that Psalm goes on to speak of Jesus hands and feet being pierced, of the soldiers gambling for Jesus’ clothes.

The Messiah’s Ongoing Glory--The glories the prophets speak of are His glories include his transfiguration, his resurrection, his glorious return, and his reign. The church is a vital part of those things—we live because of His resurrection, we look forward to His return, waiting for our Marriage to the Lamb of God, and we will reign with Him. We live to share His Message and Kingdom with a lost world.

The Prophets were looking forward to these things that we live with. Luke 10:24—“For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Prophets Testified to Christ and all that He said, all that He was to do, and all that He has yet to do. We are a part of the future that these great men of faith were looking forward to. These prophets are serving you today. So anyone who thinks that a collection of books written almost 2000 years ago and more, is not relevant to you today is mistaken.

It was written to you, it is proven through prophecy, and it has the securing of our eternity with God as its message.

What I find amazing in this Marveling at the Message of God is the fact that angels are considered “God’s messengers”, in fact, “angel” means—“messenger of God”. But these great messengers of God “long to look into these things”—they long to look into the messages we have from the pages of Scripture, they long to look into the salvation that God provides for the people He loves.

Many people say they believe the Bible, most households have at least one Bible, but it just sits on the shelf, it doesn’t really affect their lives or way of thinking.

A story is told of a devout father whose son was studying for the ministry. The son decided to go to Europe for an advanced degree, and the father worried that his simple faith would be spoiled by sophisticated, unbelieving professors. “Don’t let them take Jonah away from you,” he admonished, figuring the swallowed by a great fish story might be the first part of the Bible to go.

2 years later when the son returned, the father asked, “Do you still have Jonah in your Bible?”

The son laughed. “Jonah? That story isn’t even in YOUR Bible!”

The father replied, “It certainly is! What do you mean?”

Again the son laughed and insisted, “It’s not in your Bible. Go ahead, show it to me.”

The old man fumbled through his Bible, looking for the book of Jonah, but he couldn’t find it. At last he checked the table of contents for the proper page. When he turned there, he discovered the 3 pages comprising Jonah had been carefully cut from his Bible.

The son looked at his father and said, “I did it before I went away”. “What’s the difference whether I lose the Book of Jonah through studying under non-believers or YOU lose it through neglect?”

How does the Message of the Word of God affect you today? Are you living it, or are you letting it waste away through neglect? These prophets and apostles are continuing to preach the Good News to you today. The Glory of Christ is continuing to be revealed through the Life of the Church—and the Church’s history is being written in the lives of you and me and will not end until Christ returns for His Bride.

In the same way the Founders of this nation would want to hear about the state of the nation today, so would the writers that God used to pen the Scripture. They’d want to see if the testimony they gave to the Living God was still heeded, if it still changed lives.

The Word of God is still Living and Active and desires to be alive in your life and in your heart.

Hebrews 4:12-- For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Are you living to write yourself into the legacy of Christ, for the future of Christ’s kingdom on earth, or are you living only for yourself, hoping that your kids, grandkids… your future will pick up some religion along the way. We can Marvel at the Message we have been left, will the future be able to Marvel at how you are serving them?

Today we have the privilege of participating in a Legacy of Faith.

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