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Reynolds Corners Baptist Church - Sermons
Our Spiritual Family
1 John 2:12-14
Before he warns them about not loving the world, John encourages the church by writing to them as a part of his spiritual family. Only those who have come to the Father by faith in the Son are able to live as Scripture demands of mankind. He writes to them as children who have found the joy of know God as their loving Father, obedience to whose will is their desire and delight. He writes to them as fathers who are mature in the faith so that youthful exuberance does not carry them away from the truth that leads to eternal life. He writes to them as young men whose energy and devotion bring them to stand on the front lines in defense of our faith.
Third Test For Genuine Faith
1 John 2:7-11
Is the faith you profess a genuine, saving faith? John says that if you continue to walk in the darkness, that is, to reject the truth he preached about Jesus as the Word of life, then it is not. He goes on to say that if you have no interest in or intention to obey the Lord's command, then your profession is a lie. In these verses he adds a third test of genuine faith, a love for your Christian brothers and sisters. Without a love for our Christian family members that puts their good above our own comfort, we can talk all we want about our faith and Scriptural truth, and it will mean nothing. The truth that changes us for eternity will not lead us to willingly turn our backs on fellow believers.
Assurance of Salvation
1 John 2:3-6
We are encouraged when young to get a college degree so we can be assured of a well paying career. We are offered auto, flood and medical insurance so we can face unknown disasters with assurance we can make it financially. People find assurances about their future a great comfort. Those who actually give thought to eternity want that kind of assurance. God offers it as the birthright of those who come to him through faith in Jesus. Unfortunately some find assurance when they should not. To avoid this disaster John offers in very stark terms the role that obedience to our Lord's demands play in this. In summary he says, if we do not obey him we have no part in his salvation.
The Advocate for Sinful Saints
1 John 2:1-2
John has corrected two errors in the church. The first says those who claim to be Christian but live as they did before receiving new life are liars. The second says redemption is already so effective that they sin no more. The thoughtful Christian has holiness as his goal but knows he has not yet reached that goal. When this disturbing truth hits us, how are we to deal with it? Part of that answer is to keep in mind that we have a heavenly Advocate on our side who will never abandon us. Whether our need is forgiveness or strength for temptation, Jesus is there before the Father as our Defender. His case is not built on our innocence, but on his sacrifice, thus he is always heard.
Biblical View of Sin
1 John 1:8-10
John wrote to a church where some thought too little of the importance of living a holy life. Others there though thought to little of how awful sin was and so said they were without sin. Many today do this by redefining their sin as too small to condemn, or the product of their genes or environment so they are not responsible for their actions. To consider our sin unworthy of God's judgment is possible only for the deluded. If we understand Scripture then we will know ourselves to be sinners and know that holiness is essential to Christian life. How then do we as believers deal with our sin. We do so by recognizing it, confessing it, and seeking God's purifying work in our heart.
Living In The Light
1 John 1:5-7
What do we tell others about spiritual life? We accept the authority of Scripture to tell us that. What is the first thing we want others to know about that life? We want them to know about the character of God. The beginning point for true spiritual life is found in knowing God, not in turning inward to find our true self. That being our starting point, it becomes clear quickly that new life is characterized by holiness. We must be clear in sharing the gospel that the call to salvation is a call to holiness. And true Christians readily accept this because they do not want to hold on to the old life. God's promise is that through faith in Christ we can have that life because he forgives all our sins.
Faith and Fellowship
1 John 1:1-4
It is only faith in the Christ, born of Mary, raised in Nazareth who died outside of Jerusalem that can save a sinner. But the story of his life is far more glorious and ancient than that of any mere man for this Jesus of Nazareth was also the Word of life. His powerful ministry was testified to by friend and foe alike. Faith in Jesus though is not just about finding fellowship with God. Faith in Christ brings us inevitably into fellowship with members of his body, the church. It is only in the community of the saints that faith can be properly nourished, that love can be tested so it grows and that joy can be made complete. Faith in Christ and fellowship with his church must not be separated.
History Is Important
1 John 1:1
Why do Christian scholars pour so much energy into the study of ancient grammar, cultures, archaeology and history? Why can we not just accept that Jesus was a spiritual giant like no other who left us teachings that if followed would make life better for everyone? We cannot take that route to understanding Jesus because we believe that in Christ God intervened in world history in a fashion accurately foretold and described in the pages of a book that was completed almost 2,000 years ago. When we read Scripture we are not reading a philosophy textbook, but factual history that cannot be ignored without sacrificing its primary message, that God took on human flesh to save sinners.
The Cross, Not the Law
As Paul closes his letter to the Galatians we find that there is no easing off his staunch opposition to those whose teachings varied from his, particularly on the subject of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His disapproval was not based in anger, but in a deep concern that false teachers were leading converts away from the only path that led to salvation. He calls the motives of these teachers into question and continues to insist that all the law-keeping in the world would not bring spiritual life or growth. The thing that those who were attracted to legalism needed to hear was not about the right set of rules, but about the Righteous One who alone could save by grace.
Planning for Spiritual Growth
We may not have the rule book with the ten steps to spiritual living that the legalists offered, but we are not left without any guidance on what to do to grow spiritually. If we want to grow, then we should be ready to support those who will instruct us in God's ways financially and otherwise. We should remember the importance of the decisions we make, large and small, since those choices are the seeds of the character we will harvest. We should apply ourselves to the work of preparing for a harvest of righteousness since it requires diligence and hard work. We should be watchful for those opportune times to sow seed pleasing to God and take advantage of each of them.
Lifting Up The Fallen
It is sad that some have no appreciation for being citizens of this country, taking the privileges we have for granted. What is even sadder is Christians who take the church for granted and see little real need for being a part of its fellowship. We live in a fallen world and that means having to deal with trials and sorrows, some of our own making. In such times when we face temptations that could be overwhelming, God has given us his church to lift us up. There we will find spiritual people who will help us when no one else can. There we will find those whose love will help bear us up under our burdens. Being truly Christian in this world is not possible apart from such strength.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Having considered what the fruit of the Spirit looks like we do well to consider why it is so important. It is important because it marks a radical change in our lives, a manifestation of a change not just in behavior but in our very nature. This fruit is important because it helps us to properly relate to God's law. As valuable as the law is, only those who are walking in the Spirit will be able to use it effectively to understand and abide by that law. This fruit is utterly incompatible with any prideful contempt of our brothers. Peace, joy, kindness and love will compel us to work to build up our brothers, not tear them down. Generally, the church needs more fruit than gifts to grow.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman of water that would spring up within her to become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Paul speaks of fruit that serves as evidence that we have that eternal life. Do you hunger for righteousness as Jesus said those who are blessed by God will? This fruit will satisfy that hunger because it provides that character necessary to know your soul is being well nurtured by the Spirit. There is a love that compels us to do what is right for our fellow man, joy that does not depend on having just what we want, patience so we do not act based on passion, and so on. This fruit is God's free gift that strengthens to spiritual life we have been given.
God Is Just
The question Job raised about God's justice is no small matter. Without a divine standard of right and wrong that applies to all men, we are hopelessly lost in a world of conflicting ideas about what is just that can never be resolved. Job doubts about this justice put him in league with wicked men. Elihu argues that if God is not just then his kingdom cannot stand, but since he is the eternal Lord we know it will. God's justice is perfect because he knows all the evidence so his judgments are based on facts. Also, there is nothing secretive about his justice that leaves people wondering if it is fair. He insists that even if delayed, God's judgments are perfect.
Plea To Hear Good News
Elihu was younger than Job and his friends and so had remained silent out of respect for their age, but as one who is filled with the breath of the Almighty he feels he still has something to say. He approaches Job in a humble spirit and makes an effort to argue based on what Job said as he listened rather than on false assumptions of his sinfulness. Job complained that God was not listening to him, but Elihu said God was speaking but Job was just not listening. Job's suffering was not a sign that God was ignoring him, but was instead a sign that the Lord was seeking to lead him. Elihu's message seems to speak out of a desire to see Job's name cleared, and not merely to win an argument.
A Time To Speak
Have you ever heard a discussion on an important matter thinking you would hear something informative only to hear nothing new or helpful? You find yourself wanting to offer your input, but out of respect for others you refrain. When does the time come that due to the importance of the subject you feel compelled to speak up? Elihu had reached that point. He was concerned that the justice of God was being questioned and no adequate defense on his behalf was forthcoming. Elihu believed he had a word from God and not speaking up would have been wrong. When we know from the Word answers to hurting people who need to hear His answers, we must be ready to offer them.
Job's Final Defense
Other than a very few words in response to God's speech, these are Job's final ones in this book. He lists a number of sins others might have thought him guilty of and pleaded ‘not guilty' to each. He went further than just avoiding sin. He guarded his steps so he steered clear of the path that led to them. Whether it was the kind of sin everybody recognized as evil or the kind of sin that was widely overlooked, Job took great effort to avoid it. He did not act kindly just to impress men, he treated others with kindness because he was a kind man. As a righteous man what he wanted most of all was for God to let others know he was truly a good man, to vindicate his good name.
The Loss of Dignity
The rebuke of a righteous man is a kindness (Ps 141:5), but unfortunately Job had sunk so low that even the basest of men were mocking him. Since God had apparently turned against Job, the wicked felt free to taunt him, and that scorn stung. Job's suffering at God's hands had gone on so long that he felt sure life's end was at hand. He called to the Lord for mercy, but received only a cold, cruel response. He sought only the same mercy he had shown other men, but found not a single friend to help. The one glimmer of hope in these words is that he was still speaking to God. Even when it seems to do no good, may we continue to come to our God in faith that he hears.
Longing For Lost Blessings
Job's great losses had led to a bitterness so some are tempted, like his friends, to say that his problem was sin and a lack of faith. But the problem with this assessment is that the losses that most disturbed Job were not for worldly wealth and glory. He missed the days when he walked with God as a friend. He missed that wisdom sought after by others because it was just and good. He missed the chance his wealth had provided to show benevolence towards the needy. In other words, he missed those blessings that God so often promised to his faithful people. Job's desires in this were godly, but what he did not know was that they come to full fruit only when Jesus returns to reign.
Wisdom Beyond Our Reach
Men can do some amazing things in pursuit of those things they count to be worth the effort. They willingly sacrifice things of importance like human companionship and risk to their health and life to acquire those things they value as treasures. Wisdom is a treasure more valuable than anything this earth can offer, and yet as Job had discovered, it cannot be found or purchased for any price by man on his own. People can do amazing things, but they cannot discover wisdom. As it turns out, wisdom cannot be found by knowing where to look for it, but only by turning to Who has it. The starting point to finding wisdom is fearing God who is the only source of this treasure.
A Warning to the Accuser's Friends
When circumstances cast a shadow of doubt over a good man's name, some are jump on the bandwagon and join with others in questioning his character. Job continues to cling to his conviction that he is innocent of the sins his friends have accused him of and calls on the Lord to judge them as they have said the Lord would judge him. They spoke from a position of apparent safety and security, but Job warns them that falsely accusing a righteous man could lead to loss of that security overnight. It is a dangerous thing to accuse and revile the person God counts to be righteous. There are times to call men to account for their sins, but we must be careful not to defame God's saints.
God's Glorious Power
Job's friends were frustrated that he would not accept their counsel and repent. He was frustrated with them for not seeing that he was not a great sinner. As great as their differences were, there were a few things they agreed on, and the glory of God was one of them. Bildad spoke of the Lord's sovereign power over all creation and his holiness that made man seem a worm by comparison. Job spoke of God's rule over his creatures that extended even beyond the grave and a power that could suspend the earth over nothingness. Though adversaries in how God's will was worked out among men, both these men agreed that there was a glory to God's person and work that was awe inspiring.
Vindication Will Come
Despite God's seeming indifference to Job's suffering, this godly man still believed that the righteous Judge would one day vindicate him. Job loved the ways of God and thus was confident of a good outcome on meeting him; confident, but not presumptuous. Though he trusted God, Job still found the Lord to be terrifying. His real question was not, Will God judge the wicked? but When will God judge the wicked? What made their crimes particularly heinous was that the victims were the weakest in society. The rich and powerful preyed on society's most needy people. The wicked seemed to have easy lives, but Job believed that their comfort would one day end in judgment.
Repent, Of Something
For the sake of argument Eliphaz gives Job the benefit of the doubt and accepts that he was a blameless man, but his response to that is, ‘So what?' Even if Job had been righteous it would not have benefitted God so that he was obligated to answer Job's prayers. But Eliphaz was convinced Job was not blameless and begins to list some of the sins he believed his friend was guilty of. Job had argued the wicked do prosper, but Eliphaz insisted that was very short-lived. He closes his words to Job with a plea to repent so that he can once again enjoy the blessings of God. Once again we find in the words of Job's friends wise counsel for the wicked, but know Job was not wicked.
Blessings of the Wicked
It is easy to tell who is a Christian and who is not. Christians are blessed with all the good things of this world and unbelievers are poverty stricken and sick most of the time. At least that seemed to be what Job's friends thought. Job had come to see things differently. The wicked enjoyed the blessings of family, provisions and peace in death. It seemed to Job that life's blessings were all random, given to the just and unjust so that righteousness or sinfulness made no difference. And yet despite all this, righteous Job still wanted nothing to do with the wicked even if their way could offer blessings. Job was disheartened, but with our greater revelation, we know it was not as Job thought.
The Terrifying End of the Wicked
Do we really need another sermon on judgment? One might think not, but the fact that Scripture is filled with warnings about it and descriptions of it, our Lord seems to think we do. Zophar offers these words to the wrong person and for the wrong reasons, but they are nevertheless and worthwhile picture of the judgment that will come to the wicked. By considering his words we are reminded of what life will be like for the wicked when judgment falls and thus more motivated to urge them to flee the wrath to come. They also speak to us of the terrible suffering endured by our Lord on our behalf so that we can appreciate even more the blessed life he gained for us through it.