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Reynolds Corners Baptist Church - Sermons
Unflinching Devotion to Grace
No matter how well we begin or how much progress we make, tomorrow our commitment to God's truth will be tested again and we must be ready. The conviction that people must work for heaven is so deeply ingrained in us that we must renew our refresh and reaffirm our commitment to the gospel of grace often. The slightest addition to the conviction that it is faith in Jesus alone that saves us can lead us a long way from that assurance God wants us to have. We must remember that our confidence is based in what Christ has done, not what we can do that makes the difference. This is the scandal of the cross: that we are sinners utterly dependent on grace for eternal life.
Stand Firm In Your Freedom
Mention the word freedom and most people automatically think of political freedom, freedom from tyrannical rulers who seek to control every aspect of our lives. The spiritual freedom Paul speaks of is freedom from the law that promises life for our obedience but can never deliver because sin eliminates even the possibility of the perfect righteousness we need. Some seem to want to gain eternal life by faith in Christ and obedience to the law, but Paul makes it clear that we must choose one or the other. When we choose faith alone as our way to eternal life we find that faith expressing itself in love towards God and others. Faith brings with it a new heart that desires to be obedient.
Whose Child Are You?
It makes a difference who your parents are. If they are American or Somalian citizens, rich or poor, influential or unknowns outside their small circle of friends makes a difference in the choices you make, how you think, the rights you enjoy and how you live. This is true also in the spiritual realm. Are we born of those who trust in Christ for their hope of eternal life or of those who hope by their good works to gain that great prize? Are our spiritual forebears those who are working hard to gain a place in heaven or those who have been set free by the truth about Jesus to enjoy walking in his righteousness with the Lord. Our spiritual heritage is a matter of great importance.
Are You Ordinary?
Why do you serve the Lord? Is the root motivation that the Bible tells you to or is it because you love God as your Father and his Son as your Savior so that you are eager to please them? Paul is trying to argue against the legalists who were demanding obedience to the Old Testament law that Christians obey the Lord because they have been set free to do so. Having been born again we have a new heart, a new mind so that sin no longer dominates why we act as we do. Apart from this new birth religious people are driven by rules and regulations to find spiritual life. As Christians we already have that life and eagerly embrace the Word of God as describing the way we want to live.
Helping Brothers Grow Spiritually
Expectant mothers await the day of their child's birth and can sometimes have a difficult time of seeing beyond that blessed day. Once that day has passed though, it does not take long to realize that the real work of being a mother has just begun. We can give so much thought and prayer to bringing someone to trust in Christ that we give little thought to working with them until they reach spiritual maturity. For that to happen Paul shows us that building a loving relationship is important. This work is always challenging and sometimes heartbreaking. Setbacks may come that leave us perplexed and concerned, but by God's grace we will press on until Christ is formed in them.
Losing The Joy of Salvation
It can come dramatically as it did with David, but most often it is so gradual that we barely notice it until it dawns on us that our sin has created such a distance between us and God that we no longer have the joy of our salvation. We lose that initial excitement that came with our new life in Christ and try to regain it by working harder at being spiritual. We forget that it was grace that brought us that joy in the first place and begin to substitute good works for faith as if they could do what God did at the beginning. Whether it is returning to old religious practices or taking up noble moral crusades, we cannot earn for ourselves the joy God gives by grace through faith alone.
Died And Was Raised
There are stories of the death and resurrection of Jesus that would move any thinking, caring person to tears. When we consider the depths of his sorrow in Gethsemane and the greatness of the glory of his victory over death that Resurrection morning revealed, how could our emotions not be stirred? But it is also important to pause and consider the significance of these events. We live in an age when this core of the Christian faith is either dismissed as unimportant or directly under attack so that it is essential that we understand what happened and why it happened so that we can defend the faith that alone can save. Let us find joy in Christ's victory and see why it is so important.
No Longer Slaves, But Sons
There are stories of men who after long periods of incarceration find living as free men too much of a strain so that the prefer being told by others what to do. Similar stories from people who lived under the Soviet regime have been heard that speak of those who could not adjust to their new found freedoms. As incredible as it seemed, there were those in Galatian churches who were attracted to the idea of living as slaves to the law rather than as sons of God who were free to pursue godliness by walking in the Spirit. God's only-begotten Son died to free us from the constraints of a law-bound life, and we do well not to dismiss that price he paid by refusing to live as sons.
Christ-Centered, Not Law-Centered
The privileges of fellowship with the divine have led people to great effort and sacrifice, willingly offered. Some teachers were making a convincing case to the Galatian church that following the law God gave to Israel would satisfy this desire. They said obedience to the law would make them children of Abraham, but Paul responds that faith in Christ had already made them sons of God. Judaizers offered a way into the privileged status of membership in the Jewish community, but Paul said that through Christ they entered as equals into the church with all other members of his body. The best of what God offers comes as we keep our focus on Christ and our life with him.
The Law's Proper Place
We are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Christ is the end of the law. We hear these truths clearly articulated and wonder if the law has any place in our lives as Christians. We need to keep in mind that law and promise (grace) do not stand opposed to each other and do not because they do not serve the same purpose. One primary purpose of the law is to reveal our sin so we are driven to seek God's Savior. The law was a useful guardian to keep God's people on the right path until Christ came and gave us his Spirit, but that day is over. Christ's Spirit helps us to internalize the law so we find its teachings desirable and love it for the clarity it gives into God's ways.
God's Unchanging Grace
We might phrase the Judaizer's argument for keeping the law as, ‘God has always done it this way.' From Abraham then through Moses and onward, God made it clear that circumcision had always been expected as a sign of being among his people. Paul's response was that grace was the only ‘always' in God's dealings with sinners. It was his promises to Adam and Noah and Abraham that insured his people he would save them from their sins. The Jewish people were a symbol of those called to him by faith, but it was not identification with them but with Christ that insured their place in the kingdom. The law had its purpose, but it was different than the promise, not in conflict.
The End of the Law
The arguments for the doctrines of grace found in Scripture can seem to be overly drawn out and repetitive sometimes, but the need for clarity on these matters is crucial. History shows us that despite the clarity of teaching on justification by faith alone the church has faced the heresy of a legalistic approach to salvation time and time again. The problem with this approach is that the Judge of all the earth accepts only perfect righteousness for entry into his eternal home. There is another way to eternal life though, and that is through faith in the perfect righteousness of our Lord. The route of faith is the only one that leads to the blessings promised to Abraham's seed.
When you want to make a point in an argument with an opponent, you look for an example he would find to be authoritative. When it came to spiritual matters there were few if any men the Jews looked up to more than Abraham. By means of his example Paul showed that he was counted righteous apart from obedience to God's law. Abraham's righteous demonstrated righteousness by faith was a pattern that would always hold true for God's people. This should have been evident to anyone even if all they had was the Old Testament, and even more so for those who lived after Christ. By grace through faith we are justified, forgiven and made to be children of God.
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.
My Redeemer Lives
Everything in his life told Job the good things in life were forever gone and that there was no hope left for him. His friends who had come to comfort him had instead attacked him with relentless, baseless lies. God punished him and left him no chance to defend himself or even ask questions. He was left to suffer alone, to be abandoned and reviled by everyone, even children. It is in this context that we hear Job state, despite all that circumstances seemed to say, that he believed his Redeemer would come and vindicate him. Though he had no reason to think so, he believed he would be blessed to see his Redeemer. Faith in such times is not easy, but does prove it is genuine.
Hell: Good Sermon, Wrong Audience
The unrighteous need to hear about the future that awaits them if they do not turn in repentance and trust in the Lord for the forgiveness of sin. The pictures of the misery and torment of hell are not for frightening young children. They are there to warn unrepentant sinners of the darkness that awaits them. It is not a fate foisted upon them by the world they live in, but a future that descends from their own choices in life. Bildad did a good job of describing the terrifying place that awaits the wicked in the life to come. The problem was that he was speaking to a righteous man about the fate of the wicked. Job thus found neither comfort nor edifying instruction in anything Bildad said.
We believe that God's gift of faith that enables us to trust Christ as Lord and Savior once given will never be finally crushed and disappear. But that does not mean that faith remains invariably strong, even in the best of Christians. Job illustrates that even a man counted as blameless and righteous by God rise to the mountaintops of faith and then almost in the next moment sink into a valley of despair. People with genuine faith will not always find life to be easy and their future bright, but like Job, they never give up on God altogether. No matter how hard he may seem to make life, they continue to hold on to the belief that he is good and will deliver them one day from their struggles.
Counseling others is so much easier when you do not have to waste time listening to what the one you are trying to help has to say. Job was indefensibly sinful and so all his attempts to justify himself had to be just hot air. Eliphaz, along with his two friends, had offered gentle counsel to Job (like ‘your children deserved to die' in 8:4), and Job inexplicably responded with anger. Eliphaz does his best to turn his friend around by pointing out what awaits the unrepentant sinner. His counsel was sound, if only Job had been the great sinner they thought he was. Rather than condemning a struggling saint, let us make it our goal to edify and encourage so as to build up his faith.
When Only God Has The Answer
Though they had come to do so, Job's friends brought him no comfort. They were blind to the possibility of a righteous man's suffering very much or very long, and lied to make their point that Job was not righteous. Finding no comfort in their words Job longed to stand before God to find answers, as dangerous as that was. As Job considered his sufferings and the sufferings of all men, he realized how brief and full of trouble our lives are. Hopelessness would have overwhelmed him except for one fact: he still had faith that God was good. This gave him hope, even though that hope was fragile. In times like his, our only hope rests in God's power to renew our spirit.
Confused By Friends, Yet Hopeful
One of the root problems of Job's friends was that they thought they had figured God out. When men did good things, God blessed them. When men did bad things, God punished them. Therefore, a man who was suffering was a bad man God was punishing. Job was frustrated because this was the kind of thinking that everyone did. It required no special wisdom, and his friends were supposed to be wise. Job had found God to be unpredictable, or as one man put it, untameable. As much as we might like to think so sometimes, we simply cannot always figure out what God is doing. As his people, our response to such uncertainty is to continue trusting he is wise and good.
A Most Callous Friend
Life is so much easier when you do not have to listen to what anyone else says since you already have all the answers. Zophar had heard some of what Job said and determined that Job was witless, and there is no need to listen carefully to a witless man. Zophar knew that God was on his side and would condemn Job. He may have come to comfort Job, but ended up beating him over the head with truth that only discouraged a godly man. Even when he comes to speak of the path to blessing, his words are more those of warning than they are of encouragement. We need not back away from rebuke when necessary, but our goal with any fallen saint is to build up, not tear down faith.
When God's Way Seems Unfair
Job felt that he had been faithful to God, righteous in his character, but that God had unjustly punished him for some unknown reason. He wanted to bring his case to the Lord, but how does a man combat One who is all powerful and all wise? If God is intent on condemning a man, who can stop him? Job considers several ways out of his situation, but none made any difference. He is thus reduced only to asking why the Lord was so intent on destroying him. In the end he can only think to ask God to leave him alone and allow him so small peace before he dies. As we listen to Job we must ask how what God was doing was just and whether Job's questions were themselves sinful.
Justice Made Simple
Almost all of life's difficult questions have simple answers. If your marriage is failing, the lines of communication are no good. If your children are rebellious, you just exercise firmer discipline. If your church is not growing, get a more vibrant preacher to reach the young. If you are suffering, it is because you have sinned and need to repent. That is Bildad's message. While tradition can be very useful, applying it sometimes overlooks the unique situation some face. And while being frank about the need to repent of sin, offering counsel without compassion is not productive or godly. We must be willing to confess our ignorance can leave us without simple, ready answers sometimes.
Job's Complaint to God
The end of long, sleepless, wearisome nights was eagerly anticipated by Job, but brought only days of hard, frustrating, meaningless days that left him without hope. Though he had looked to God for relief, there was none in sight. He had been made God's punching bag, and when the Lord is against you, who can rescue you? The only thing Job could look forward to was the day it would all be over and death would take him. Because God had refused to show him mercy, Job can only wonder why the Lord of all creation was taking the time to torment such a poor, pitiable man as himself. Job is frustrated with God, but cannot as a man of faith stop wanting to speak to him.