June 17, 2012
As we begin this worship service, I want to personally commend the fathers who are in attendance here and honor you for your service to God and to your family. I know that each of you, like me, would confess to having made many mistakes in your career as ‘father.’ I also know that there are many things you have done that few know about and many sacrifices you have made for your children and your wives.
You have labored at difficult and thankless jobs because you wanted to provide the very best you could for your families. I know that you have worked sick and injured on many occasions, enduring the difficulty and the pain because your family needed the income and you needed the job.
I know that you have gone on with heartache and sadness on many occasions that you shared with no one because of difficulties and struggles within the family. You have poured our your hearts to God often in secret prayer for those that you love. You have lived with disappointment, frustration, and, yes, at times, even anger for wrongs and disrespect done to you by those closest to you.
In all you have endured, kept the faith, sought the best for others, placing them above yourselves, and have done the very best you knew how to do even in very difficult and trying times. You have provided both financially and spiritually the leadership your families needed.
I commend you, sirs, and I salute you for valiant service.
On a personal note, as I thought on the subject for today’s message, I was reminded of some of the important gifts that my father left to me. He didn’t leave me any money, nor any property of value. I have the first gun he ever bought, a few books on theology and some of his bibles, in all, very little that the world would consider of worth.
But he left me a gift that is beyond value in my mind, he left me the things that he believed and he taught me how to think clearly concerning the Word of God. He left me an example of caring far more what God might think of me than what man thinks, an example of courage under fire that I witnessed first-hand and close-up.
I would not trade places with the son of Mitt Romney nor trade my legacy from my father for all of the money in the world.
I am convinced that the richest inheritance any man can leave behind is the clear picture in the minds of his children of what he believed and that he believed those things with his whole heart. It is a clear challenge to all of us to make sure that if we leave anything behind at all, it is a legacy of faith and devotion to truth.
That being said, I go on record today concerning the most important truths that I believe. Some of these I was taught by my father and some of them I have learned because he taught me how to think and how to learn.
I want you to listen closely because what I am going to affirm to you today is the absolute truth so far as I know. I will not be attempting to hide things that I believe behind theological terms or fancy words. I am undertaking to speak simply and plainly so that, hopefully, even the younger ones here can actually understand what I am saying.
Turn your Bibles, please to:
26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. KJV
The words around which I want to focus this morning are the last words of v.37, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
I believe that Jesus Christ is exactly Who John said that He was and is.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. KJV
As the Eunuch said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And, I believe that without any mental reservation or hesitation. I believe it without my fingers crossed behind my back, without holding any opinions or beliefs that differ from what the church of Jesus Christ has always affirmed concerning Him.
The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made….
And, I believe, together with the Early Church, that anyone who denies, alters, subtracts from or adds to this clear and plain declaration of scripture on the one hand and theology on the other, is nothing less than an heretical and false professor of the faith that we call ‘Christian.’
God is Trinity. Jesus Christ is Deity, designated for utilitarian purposes as The Second Person of the Trinity, though all three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are totally and completely equal together as God.
I believe, as Luke recorded, that He was Divinely conceived in the womb of a Jewish virgin of the tribe and lineage of King David.
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. KJV
Mary was a virgin at the time of the conception of Jesus Christ. The child conceived within her had no human father but was (and is) the Eternal God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, configured into a human body for the purpose of redeeming His people.
I believe that though He was, and is, Deity, He lived, suffered and was tempted in all points as any man.
There is a mystery that the human mind cannot fathom, that a person could, at one and the same time, be fully Divine and fully human, that the Essence of the Eternal and Almighty God could reside in the body of an otherwise very ordinary man.
Yet, this is exactly what scriptures affirm and what the True Church has always affirmed.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. KJV
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. KJV
Not only that but…
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
He hungered and thirsted. He grew tired and slept. He wept when He was sad and rejoiced in Divine truth. He was fully human though fully Divine.
But, as the writer of Hebrews affirmed, all this He did without sinning at all, ever, against the Law of God nor the Person of God.
The writer of Hebrew quoted the Psalmist who, in the spirit of prophecy, was quoting the Messiah.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. KJV
And, that Will of God, He performed flawlessly, never wavering, even when tempted mightily after fasting for 40 days and nights. It was that Will of God with which He struggled mightily in the Garden of Gethsemane (more on that later) the night before He was crucified.
But in all things, in every moment and in every way, He perpetually obeyed and never failed the Father and His Will.
I further believe that every miraculous event recorded in the Gospels as having been performed by Jesus Christ actually happened.
I believe that He turned the water to wine, healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons and preached the gospel just like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the accounts.
I deny that there was any exaggeration or fiction to their accounts and that, as one said, many other similar deeds were performed beyond the ones recorded.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. KJV
I deny and refuse to believe that there was ever any fraud either in the performance of the miracles or in the accounts which the apostles and others wrote concerning His mighty works.
I believe that every word which He said is to be taken as the very Word of God and considered as absolute truth without reservation of any kind.
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. KJV
Therefore, I receive every statement of duty as the Law of God to my soul, every statement of theological principle as truth beyond dispute and every prophecy of the future to be certain and absolute revelation from God.
I am convinced that all who truly believe on Him and receive the truth from Him are eternally secure and all who reject Him or His truth are eternally lost and condemned before Him except they repent.
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. KJV
I believe that Jesus Christ literally paid the debt of all of the sins of all of His people by actually carrying both sinners and sins in union with Himself to death.
Now this is an enormous and in some ways a highly technical subject, so I will be a simple as I can possibly be.
A great evangelist in China used this analogy many years ago and I think that it is about as good as any I have read. He recalled as a child making boats of paper and placing them in, I believe it was, the Yangtze River. He proposed that his audience imagine that a paper dollar had been placed within the folds of that little boat and then asked the question, “what becomes of the dollar?” What happens to the dollar if the little boat reaches the ocean?” “What happens to the dollar if the little boat sinks?” The point he was making was that once the two unlike things had been brought into union with one another, whatever happens to the boat happens to the dollar.
Then, he made the comparison to the union of the believer with Christ. There was a moment before which nothing that Christ did had immediate impact upon the life of any person. We are not told that the birth of Christ secured anything for us, nor his temptation, nor his miracles. These things happened and they are fundamental parts of the greater story, but we are never said to having been born “in Him” at His earthly birth. We are not said to have wrought miracles or raised the dead or survived temptation “in Him.”
But there was a moment after which EVERYTHING that happened to Him is said to have had direct impact on every one of His people.
Consider the words of Isaiah.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. KJV
1 Peter 2:24
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. KJV
20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. NAS
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. KJV
Think about it, when was Jesus bruised the first time?
If you will remember, when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, they took Him first to a hearing before the high priest, Caiaphas, with the scribes and elders assembled. They began to question Him and bring false witnesses to testify against Him. Finally, Caiaphas made a demand against Him to which He responded.
63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,
68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? KJV
If he was ‘bruised for our iniquities,’ then we must have been in Him, and our sins, when He was first bruised.
You see, Paul does not argue that Jesus was a representative for us, or that He bought a potential for us, or that He was our Federal Head in His sufferings and death. If you carefully read Rom. 5, you will see that he argued that we were ‘in’ Adam when he sinned and ‘in’ Christ when he suffered and died. He argues condemnation and redemption from the issue of union.
So when, before Christ was first bruised, was the moment after which all that happened to Him is directly linked to our redemption. I will tell you.
39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. KJV
After this moment, every thing that has happened to Jesus Christ to this very minute right now has direct and immediate benefit for all of His people.
Some have imagined that this ‘cup’ over which He prayed was the physical sufferings ahead of Him, the beatings, the cross and such. But I will contend that this ‘cup’ contained me and my sins and by ‘drinking’ it He was taking me into union with Himself and assuming to Himself the guilt of my wickedness.
Oh, how that cup must have stank! How rotten and vile must have been the taste of it to those holy lips! How He must have recoiled as He swallowed down the corruption that was me!
And, because my sin was now His, He gave Himself to be wounded for my transgressions, bruised for my iniquities, lashed so that I might be healed of my sins, as the chastisement for my peace with God was laid upon Him. He bore my sins in His Own Body through all of the sufferings and finally to the cross.
I believe that I was crucified together with Jesus Christ as the scriptures say, so that the debt of my sin was really and truly paid before God.
Not only that, but I was raised up together with Him and made to sit together in heavenly places in Him, Eph. 2:6.
I further believe that there is no acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior that does not include the acceptance of Him as Lord.
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. KJV
The repentance that comes with faith is a repentance from rebellion and disobedience, a repentance unto the acceptance of His Lordship.
These things I believe as certainly as I believe that the sun shines, that I exist, and that there is a God in heaven. I invite you to believe them with me.