Doctrinal Sermons

“Angels in Genesis”

Posted on September 25, 2011. Filed under: Doctrinal Sermons, Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions, Theological Issues |

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bryan E. Walker

Gen.28:12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth,and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

 

Pray

 

 

Introduction: Once in a while it is good when you are preaching or teaching your way through a Bible book to stop, and do a topical or, in this case, doctrinal lesson that fits in with the part of the book you are currently studying. We have looked at the story of Jacob’s ladder for a few weeks and there is an appearance of angels that is rather prominent, so this would be an excellent time to look at the use of angels by Moses in Genesis. Who, or what, are angels and what is their purpose? What is a proper biblical understanding of angels? How can we of the 21st century believe in angels and how can we defend this belief in an atheistic world?

 

It seems as if each generation has 2-3 theological fads; in the last 20 years angels made a big comeback. The TV show “Touched By An Angel” ran from 1994-2003 and gave all kinds of wrong information about angels. Guideposts magazine frequently includes stories about people who claim to have had some kind of an experience with angels. But there are some serious dangers from an overemphasis on angels. 2Cor.11:14 “warns us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”. David Jeremiah writes (p.16), “But a stronger belief in angels is no guarantee of greater understanding of God’s truth. The devil can ensnare us as much through ‘angelism’ as he can through materialism or sexual lust or power hunger. In fact he has scored some of his greatest triumphs in the disguise of angels. In the year 610 the oppressive religion of Islam was born when Muhammed received the contents of the Koran in a series of visions from someone he believed to be the angel Gabriel. Twelve centuries later, the deceptive cult of Mormonism supposedly arose when an angelic being calledMoronigot Joseph Smith connected with the Book of Mormon.”

 

Belief in the “spiritual” is not the same as believing in God. Many people believe in angels but not the biblical God. In fact, to a certain extent, angels can replace God in some people’s lives. No repentance is needed. Nothing in the Bible indicates that angels will help non-christians and Satan tried to persuade Jesus to rely on angels for protection by misquoting an OT text.

 

  1. I.                   The Use of the Word “Angel(s)” and Related Words, in Genesis
    1. A.     Texts in Genesis that use the word malak – angel(s) or texts that present some sort of spiritual being: Gen. 3:1-5, 24; 6:1-4; 16:7-14; 18:1-22; 19:1-29; 21:14-21; 22:1-19; 24:7,40; 28:10-17; 31:11; 32:1-2, 24-32; 48:14-16. Malak-angel, Strong’s #4397, to dispatch as a deputy; a messenger; specially of God, i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher):- ambassador, angel, king, messenger.
      1. 1.      Angel of the Lord- Gen.16:7-14 The context of the story is that Sarai is barren and has fallen back to a custom of the day, giving her female servant to her husband Abram so that she, Sarai, could obtain a child through her. That sounds strange to our ears but today we practice surrogate mothering and artificial insemination. After Hagar conceived, she “looked with contempt on her mistress.” Sarai now mistreats the pregnant Hagar and she flees. In vs. 7 “The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness” and the angel has a conversation with her.
      2. 2.      “The angel of the LORD…” Francisco notes that this is the first use of the term in the Bible (BBC, Vol.1, rev. p.168). Is this an angel, is this the pre-incarnate Christ, or is this a theophany? The use of this term can be confusing as it is clearly called an angel, messenger from God, yet also referred to as God by Hagar in vs. 13. Arthur W. Pink views this as a theophany (Gleanings in Genesis, Moody, p.176). Mathews writes, “This passage is the first reference to ‘the angel of the LORD’ in the Old Testament, where it occurs fifty-eight times. In Genesis the theophanic name occurs six times, four in chap.16 (vv.7,9,10,11) and twice in the offering of Isaac (22:11,15). The precise relationship between the ‘angel of the LORD’ and God is puzzling. The angel is equated with the Lord in some texts and yet appears distinctive in others (eg. 22:15-16; Exod. 3:2-4 with Acts 7:30-32; Num.22:22,31,35,38;) ..Chap.16 illustrates the ambiguity of the angel’s identity….Traditionally, Christian interpreters ascribed to the appearance of the angel a Christophany, the preincarnate divine Son of God.” (NAC, vol.1B, pp.188f). It would be too much to be dogmatic either way as it would be common to view the King’s messenger as the king himself in that culture, but it is also clear that God does show up personally at times such as in Gen. 3, 18. My personal understanding is that this is the pre-incarnate Christ.
      3. 3.      What is the angel’s purpose in this encounter? First to get Hagar to return to Sarai, vs.9. Second, to announce a blessing to her of a multitude of offspring. Third, to comfort her in her affliction, vs.11. Fourth, to announce what kind of a man her son would grow into- “a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone”. Hagar obviously linked the angel with the LORD himself and knew she was speaking with God through this angel.
      4. 4.      The three men and two angels of 18:1-19:29. 18:1 “And the LORD appeared to him…”- notice that this phrasing is very similar to 17:1 thus linking this story with what preceded it in 17:1 “the LORD appeared to Abram and said…”  Compare with 16:7 “The Angel of the LORD found her (Hagar), and 15:1 “”the Word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision…” 13:14 “The LORD said to Abram…” 12:7 “the LORD appeared to Abram…” 12:1 “Now the LORD said to Abram…” Notice that it says, “the LORD appeared to him” and did not mention Abraham by name. This links the present story to the previous story where Abraham was the subject. This information is from Moses, the narrator of the story. As we shall see shortly, Abraham was not immediately aware of who his guests were. Gordon Wenham (p.45) writes, “…reflects the narrator’s standpoint: the identity of his visitors was not immediately apparent to Abraham. As v.2 makes clear, he at first thought they were simply men. His warm welcome and alacrity in serving them was in no way prompted by his recognizing them.”
      5. 5.      vs.33 “And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking…” brings the section to a definite ending.
      6. 6.      “…and behold, three men were standing in front of him.” As the story unfolds we find out that one of the three was in fact the LORD and the other two were his angels. This lets us know that angels can have the physical appearance of human beings, men specifically (there are no female angelic appearances despite the TV series). This physical appearance of what are essentially spirit beings is intriguing. More on that in ch. 19, which will have an impact on how we interpret Gen. 6:1-4.
      7. 7.      But one of the three men is the LORD! James M. Boice does not hesitate to state that this is the pre-incarnate Jesus, p.147, “…two of the three (the two that went on to Sodom and rescued Lot) were literally angels and that only the third was Deity- Jesus…These and several other references suggest that Jesus here anticipated His incarnation and was found in fashion as a man even before His later birth in Bethlehem.”
      8. 8.      “When he saw them…” indicates a sudden, even mysterious appearance, although if Abraham was taking a siesta in the shade of his tent, he may have wakened to see them suddenly. But it is interesting that he did not see them approaching from afar.
      9. 9.      What we see here in ch.18 then is the LORD himself, the pre-incarnate Christ, and two angels, show up as men. Abraham does not immediately recognize who they are. The angels in this case remain silent and are accompanying the Lord. Their primary role comes in ch.19. The switch from “men” to the LORD comes in vs. 10 but we do not know exactly when it dawned on Abraham that he was speaking to the LORD. In vs.10 the LORD makes a prophecy about Sarah’s pregnancy. But the “men” continue to be “men” until 19:1. We do not know for sure what Abraham knew nor when he knew it. But, the story would have been told orally by Abraham to Isaac and so passed down to Moses so we can assume that Abraham figured out they were angels at some point.
      10. 10.  Moses subtly makes the transition from “men” in ch.18 to “angels” in 19. Perhaps the author of Hebrews explains it best in 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” From Lot’s perspective they were men and he was offering hospitality and protection to them. There must have been something about the men that drew attention to them in order to arouse the entire populace. As the men of the city seek to have homosexual sex with them the amazing thing is that if these were angels, spiritual beings, they also had real physical bodies. In v.10 they grab Lot and bring him inside, and they ate in vs.3, just as they did in 18:8.
      11. 11.  The significance for this is the implications relating to 6:1-4 and the “sons of God” taking wives from the daughters of men, producing the Nephilim. Is it possible that spiritual beings, angels, can take on human flesh so that they can eat and even have sexual relations? But what about Mark 12:25 “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” This simply says that angels are not married in heaven. Presumably there is no need for sex in heaven is the implication. What does that say to Gen. 19 and 6? Not much because both of those events were not in heaven, but rather on earth and the angels (if the ‘sons of God’ were angels in Gen. 6) had physical bodies that could eat and be lusted after by the Sodomites.
      12. 12.  Herbert Lockyer, “All the Angels in the Bible” (pp.126-127) “The account of the mating of the sons of God with the daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4 is unique in the Bible. No other passage of Scripture relates or even hints at members of the celestial world having sexual intercourse with human beings. ‘By and act of rebellion a new level in the spread of evil is attained, to which divine judgment is the only antidote…So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created’ (Genesis 6:5, 7). Noah is immediately introduced, and the story of the flood commences’ (J.R. Edwards). ‘…Some fallen angels transgressed not only by taking on human bodies- as we know fallen angels sometimes do- but by operating in all the functions of those bodies, including sex.’ (Terry Law, the Truth about Angels,p.223.) Our conviction is that sin reached its climax in the illicit intercourse between fallen angels and women.” Lockyer is the only person I have read who says this, and I came up with this several years before reading Lockyer. I would disagree with Law as cited by Lockyer, when he implies that angels sinned by taking on human bodies. We have seen in Genesis that angels take on human flesh before Abraham and Lot, and certainly Jacob when he wrestled all night and yet those were good angels.
      13. 13.  21:14-21 This is the time when Sarah protested about how Ishmael was teasing Isaac (mocking) and Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away for good. Somehow Hagar and Ishmael ran out of water and Hagar gives up and is ready to die when the “angel of God called to Hagar”. The angel speaks with Hagar and tells her to not fear, thus bringing comfort and renews the promise to make of “the boy…a great nation.” God opened Hagar’s eyes so that she saw a nearby well and they were preserved. The purposes of the angel here then, were comfort, prophecy, and provision-protection.
      14. 14.  22:1-19 The sacrifice of Isaac. In vs. 11 “the angel of the LORD” calls out to Abraham to stop the ritual slaughter of Isaac, thus protecting Isaac. Notice that in vs.12 the angel of the LORD identifies himself as God. In vss. 15-18 again “the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham” but clearly speaks of himself as the LORD. Notice that there is no physical manifestation of the angel of the LORD, only a voice is mentioned, as in ch. 21 and 16.
      15. 15.  24:7,40 we have “he will send his angel before you” in v. 7 and in v.40 Abraham’s servant quotes his master Abraham “send his angel with you”. There is no physical manifestation of an angel, nor is there a voice. But the implication is that Abraham knows that the LORD will send his angel along with or before his servant on this important trip. The implication is for guidance and protection, to help ensure a successful journey to acquire a wife for Isaac and therefore to ensure success for God’s covenant with Abraham.
      16. 16.  In 28:10-17 the angels are a part of the dream Jacob had but did not make a physical presence. The implication however is that they are present, though unseen, and will guide and protect Jacob on his journey.
      17. 17.  31:11 Jacob claims that a dream about the “angel of God” led to his breeding policy resulting in increasing his flocks at the expense of Laban. Notice, however, in vss. 12-13, the “angel of God” becomes “the God of Bethel”. The angel, or God, is telling him to leave the land of Laban and return home. The theme is protection again, and guidance as well.
      18. 18.  32:1-2, 24-32 the angels of God met him- This follows from his prior dream with the angel’s telling him to leave Laban; this is a confirmation of the protective presence of God. He is preparing to meet Esau again and is fearful, but the Lord is with him. In vss. 24-32 the man wrestling with Jacob is never identified as an angel. Vs. 30 Jacob identifies him as God. Here we have the pre-incarnate Christ wrestling with Jacob. This most unusual. The pre-incarnate Christ engaging in a martial art of wrestling with Jacob. But we see the Commander of the Army of the LORD meet Joshua in Joshua in ch.5:13-15, possibly the pre-incarnate Christ, again in a warrior mode.
      19. 19.  48:14-16 the angel who has redeemed me-again, this text identifies God with the angel.
      20. 20.  Gen.3:24 Cherubim- They guard the Lord’s glory with flaming swords, protecting the entry into the Garden from fallen man. The word for cherub is shrouded in mystery and may be related to “intercessor”, “guardian”, or “to grasp or hold”. They were a part of the Ark of the Covenant in Ex.25:20 and are described as having wings. There are cherubim woven into the curtains of the Tabernacle in Ex.261.

 

  1. II.                Doctrine of Angels
    1. A.     Angels
      1. 1.      Part of Creation- Psalm 148:2-5; Col.1:16. Angels are created by God as spiritual, heavenly creatures, who are immortal, but who can, on occasion, take on human flesh on earth. Angels are always listed as male in the Bible, there is not one instance of a female angel. God created the angels BEFORE creating the earth in Job 38:4-7; Psa.104:1-5. Angels are not recipients of salvation and are curious about it 1Pet.1:12.
      2. 2.      How many angels are there? We do not know but Jesus mentions that he could call for 12 Legions (a Roman legion, if it were full, would have about 6,000 soldiers) of angels in Matt.26:53; Heb.12:22 (thousands and thousands of angels); Rev.5:11 (ten thousand times ten thousand).
      3. 3.      Watch over children- Matt.18:10
      4. 4.      Protect God’s people- Psalm 34:7; Daniel 3- fiery furnace, Dan.6- the lions den.
      5. 5.      Involvement in international affairs- Dan.10:13,20-11:10; Acts 12:19-24. See 2Chron.32:16-23 and Isa.37:36-38.
      6. 6.      Participating in Judgments- Gen.19:13,32; Rev.15-16;
      7. 7.      Announcing Christ’s Birth- Matt.1:20-23; Lk.1:8-25, 26-38; 2:8-15
      8. 8.      Protecting Christ- Matt. 2:13; Matt.4:11; Mk.1:13.
    2. B.     Fallen Angels (demons)
      1. 1.      Lucifer’s fall- Jude 6-9; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:1,2, 11-19.
      2. 2.      3:1-5, the serpent…said- the devil incarnate as a serpent. The devil is a fallen angel. Why a talking serpent? I believe the devil inhabited a serpent because of the snake’s beauty and slithering seductiveness. Remember that in the Garden at least, the serpents would not be dangerous, but a good part of God’s creation. The serpent would later become recognized as a sneaky, deadly, deceptive beast.

Conclusion: We have seen several substantial accounts of the presence of Angels, God’s Messengers, in Genesis and have lightly touched on several accounts throughout the rest of the OT and the New. From the Patriarchs to Moses and Joshua, to the Kings and Prophets, to Jesus and the Apostles, angels were real and active. Angelology is however, a minor issue in Scripture. It is taught and we need to understand it, but if you see anyone who has an unwarranted interest in angels, or is depending more on angels than the Spirit and the Word- watch out! Angels, like miracles, are never guaranteed, but show up as directed by God. My own personal experience with angels was at the bedside of dying Christian man who very clearly saw two angels in his hospital room before he went home to be with the Lord. None of the rest of us could see them except for our dying friend, father and husband who was leaving earth and entering eternity. I think our culture, though interested in the subject, treats the subject lightly, frivolously, as they do other areas of Christian doctrine.

Bibliography:

http://bioinbrief.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=104&Itemid=107

Jeremiah, David. Angels: Who They Are and How They Help- What the Bible Reveals. Multnomah Books:Colorado Springs,CO1996 (232pp.)

Graham, Billy. Angels: God’s Secret Agents. W Publishing Group:Nashville,TN 1975 (192pp.)

Lockyer, Herbert (1886-1985). All the Angels in the Bible, ed. Herbert Lockyer, Jr.  Hendrickson Publishers:Peabody, Mass.1995.

 

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2Corinthians 5:17 “Are You In Christ?”

Posted on August 22, 2010. Filed under: Doctrinal Sermons |

Bryan E. Walker

 

2 Corinthians 5:17“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Pray:

Introduction: When I was growing up in the ‘60’s and 70’s in Baptist life, we were all pretty much taught how to give our testimony as a part of witnessing to people who are not saved. The basic formula we used for sharing our testimony was: 1) My Life Before Christ, 2) How I Came To Christ, 3) My Life After Christ. This is still useful today although I must add that in my youth there was very likely too much emphasis on our personal experience and not enough emphasis on the Gospel itself. Very often we would hear dramatic testimonies of folks, or even famous people, who were drug addicts or criminals or whose lives were just a mess and they were saved by Jesus and transformed into Jesus loving people. For those of us raised in the church, who got saved and baptized as children, and never really went down the wild and rebellious side of life, we felt like we had an inadequate testimony. Again, that was due to over-emphasizing the personal, subjective side of the equation instead of focusing on the Gospel. But I remember teenagers sitting around saying wistfully, “I wish I had a neat testimony like that.” NO! I am thankful to God that He preserved me from much sin and the pain and chaos that goes with it! Praise God for my godly parents who raised me in the admonition of the Lord. You young people out there, and you children, you need to thank God and thank your parents for raising you in the church and homeschooling you and teaching you the gospel at home! You are missing out on a lot of horrible suffering that other kids have to go through as a consequence of sin. Sin ruins people.

Those who are saved out of the painful pit of sin, who have already suffered some of the consequences of the sinful life, do have, it seems at times, a better perspective of the idea Paul is writing about in this verse. They understand maybe a bit more than I did as a teen, that the old has passed away and the new has come. The recovering alcoholic or drug addict may know experientially a bit more of what it means to become a new creation. But, when you really understand what total depravity means, and you really look in the mirror of Scripture at your innermost self, you will understand the depth of your own sinfulness even though you may have a pretty exterior and a clean record before the world. So you too can and should understand that each one of us is a desperate, addicted to sin, sinner who needs to become a new creation. Those of us raised in the Church by godly parents need to seriously study what Paul is telling us in our text this morning. In Christ, we are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. What does this mean for those of us who don’t have one of those cool testimonies? Here is some truth of the Gospel that should radically transform our lives especially if we were raised in the Church and in good homes by godly parents. The main idea of this text is that when we are born again we enter into what God is doing to reverse the Fall in Gen. 3. Every area of our lives, therefore, is to reflect the newness of this new creation that God has provided for us in Christ. In this verse Paul shows us both the big picture of what God is doing and how the details of living our daily lives for Christ are affected by the Gospel because we are in Christ.

 

Outline:

  1. I.                   The Context- Therefore

We must begin with placing our verse in its proper context. The “therefore” points us back to the few preceding verses where Paul is writing about salvation.  He is saying, “Because of Christ dying for all and because we are no longer living for ourselves but living for Him, we are to no longer look at people in the flesh. We are now in Christ and are new creations and are to live differently.”

How did Paul look at people and Christ before he was saved? In Acts 7:58 we find a young Saul present at the stoning of Stephen and in ch.8:1 he approved of the execution. 8:3 we find Saul “ravaging the church, and entering house after house” dragging people off to prison because they believed in Jesus. 9:1 “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord went to the high priest and asked for letters to the synagogues atDamascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound toJerusalem.”  Paul/Saul was a religious zealot who persecuted the Church without mercy. He was an angry, murderous, but respectable and highly educated young man. He looked at people through the eyes of hate prior to his salvation. He looked at Jesus as a phony, an imposter who led people astray. He was an unbeliever with an attitude.

But since coming to Christ, Saul, now named Paul, does not view people in the same way. According to Col 3:11 and Gal.3:28 there is now neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free- all classes, races and distinctions have passed away, and we are all one in Christ.

Our society preaches tolerance and diversity and multiculturalism, but it never works because the only true way to overcome these sinful barriers is in Christ. The heart must first be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit applying the Gospel then we can truly love one another.

So the context of our verse is this: Therefore, because of the salvation we have in Christ, we are in Christ and are new creatures, participating in the new creation. Our goal now is to examine what it means to be “in Christ” and understand this “new creation” and find the application for our lives.

 

  1. II.                What Does It Mean To Be “In Christ”?
    1. A.     Paul’s use of “in Christ” This is one of Paul’s favorite phrases using it about 25 times in his epistles. This phrase speaks of all the blessings we have in our spiritual union with Christ. Let’s look at some of the verses where Paul uses “in Christ” and see these blessings.
      1. 1.      Rom.8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If you are “in Christ” you are now no longer under the just sentence of condemnation by God for your sin. You see, the wages of sin is death, the soul who sins must die. This goes all the way back to God’s original command to Adam, to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil else he shall surely die, Gen 2:17. When we are in Christ, we receive the benefit of his righteousness; God looks at you and sees the righteousness of his Son instead of your sinfulness. Instead of judgment and wrath, condemnation and hell, because you are in Christ, you are declared justified by your faith in Christ. We have moved from being under the sentence of death to having new life, eternal life. Every morning we ought to wake up and realize that we were condemned, but He has set us free and adopted us. We are no longer condemned.
      2. 2.      Rom. 16:3 “Greet Prisca andAquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.” When we are “in Christ” we have a new calling to work and a new brotherhood of co-workers. We are a part of the Church and share in the calling to work for the kingdom. We have a Gospel mandate and high and holy work to do. We are to work together to spread the Gospel and its implications and applications into every area of society. We are to care for the Church and care for the body of believers. We are to serve mankind not because of altruism or philanthropy but by faith as a part of our witness to the truth of the Gospel. Here is where our church’s methodology bears witness to this truth as we serve the local Body in our Care Groups. We are striving to apply the Gospel to every area of our lives within the context of our Care Groups, our fellow workers. We serve one another, encourage one another, teach and admonish one another, because we are in Christ. We are not called in Christ to rest on our blessed assurance, but to march toZion, and Rescue the Perishing. We are fellow workers for the Kingdom in Christ.
      3. 3.      Gal. 3:28 to which I referred earlier, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” To be “in Christ” produces a spiritual equality that should impact how we treat each other in the here and now. This is not the phony equality of the French Revolution and of Communism, this is the genuine equality of being able to approach the throne of God on an equal footing with the wealthy, the educated, the elite- all those superficial differences- put away. In Christ we can all come to God through faith in Christ alone. Practically this works out so that in the church we don’t have to concern ourselves with outward things like skin color, bank accounts or status. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord and we are free to love one another, serve one another and work together for the Kingdom. Here we should show the world what true love is all about. Jesus gave us a new command in John 13:34 to love one another. When we are “in Christ” we will demonstrate an ongoing love for the brethren that is unbreakable, and the world should stand up and take notice, “They take care of their own!” The Church should be the leading agent in Race Relations.
      4. 4.      Eph.1:3-14 is the greatest example of Paul’s idea of being in Christ. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He chose us “in him” before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless. “In Him we have redemption through his blood. “In Him we have obtained an inheritance”
      5. 5.      Philip E. Hughes writes (p.201-203 in NICNT) “The expression ‘in Christ’ sums up as briefly and as profoundly as possible the inexhaustible significance of man’s redemption. It speaks of security in Him who has Himself borne in His own body the judgment of God against our sin; it speaks of acceptance in Him with whom alone God is well pleased; it speaks of assurance for the future in Him who is the resurrection and the life; it speaks of the inheritance of glory in Him who, as the only begotten Son, is the sole heir of God; it speaks of participation in the divine nature in Him who is the everlasting Word; it speaks of knowing the truth, and being free in that truth, in Him who Himself is the Truth. All this, and very much more than can ever be expressed in human language, is meant by being ‘in Christ’. No wonder that the Apostle describes it in absolute terms as a ‘new creation’. Redemption in Christ is nothing less than the fulfillment of God’s eternal purposes in creation, so radical in its effects that it is justly called a new creation (cf.4:6 where Paul has already related the enlightenment of regeneration to the activity of God at creation).
      6. 6.      Are you in Christ? Are all of these blessings yours to claim? Have you ever repented of sin and placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? If you are not “in Christ” where are you? You remain in sin! You are in the camp of the devil himself. You are headed for hell and are under the condemnation of God. You are either in Christ or in sin. You are either joined with Christ in this mysterious, spiritual union or you are apart from Christ and under the spur of the devil. There is no neutral territory.
      7. 7.      Picture baptism and what it means. As we dip you underneath the waters what do we say? Buried with Christ in baptism, raised to walk in newness of life. It is a picture of what Jesus did in dying and being buried and then being raised again. It resembles what Jesus commanded us in Luke 9:23-25 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” We lay aside the old man, we die to self, deny self, as we follow Jesus. To be in Christ is to take up our cross, an instrument of torture and death, but also of reconciliation, and follow Jesus wherever he leads. When you are baptized into Christ Jesus you are also baptized into his death, said Paul in Rom.6:3. Are you in Christ?

 

 

  1. III.             The New Creation Rev.21:5; Gen.3:16-24
    1. A.     A New Creation- we have looked briefly and incompletely at one of Paul’s favorite and most important phrases, in Christ, and now we turn to the next phrase of our verse, “he is a new creation.” Here I want to show you that not only are YOU a new creation in Christ, but that when we come to Christ we are now participating in God’s re-Creation of the whole universe. The Greek basically just says, “new creation”, and there are a couple of ways translators have handled it. One way emphasizes the person who has just entered into Christ as most translations have it. Simon Kistemaker and Murray Harris say it should be translated “there is a new creation” because the implications go beyond the individual being changed. We are not only created anew, born from above, born again, but we also enter into the new creation that God is creating.

Paul now brings up a theme that permeates the Bible from Genesis to    Revelation, the Creation and coming New Creation. Genesis 1:1,31 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” But in Gen. 3 we see that through man’s disobedience sin entered the picture and man is kicked out of the Garden God had prepared and must now contend with thorns and thistles. Paul tells us in Rom 8:19-23 that all of creation has been waiting and groaning for redemption so that it can be set free from decay.

Isaiah 43:18ff “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am now doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches…” Paul even echoes this passage some with Behold…new. We see this hope for newness in Isaiah 65:17ff “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house ofIsrael and the house ofJudah…” There is a promise of a new covenant that will be in the hearts of God’s people and not merely in tablets of stone or in aTemple made by the hands of sinful men. This new covenant is in Christ and it is sealed in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit.

Even in the narrative ofIsrael’s history we see this promise of something new being created. After the exile and the destruction ofJerusalemthe people are promised by God’s Word through the prophets like Jeremiah that they shall return and buildJerusalemanew. This was fulfilled in Ezra and Nehemiah, but ultimately it is being fulfilled in the Church.

So when a person enters into Christ by grace, through faith, he is a new creation and he begins to participate in God’s ongoing work of redemption for all of creation. We tend to think of salvation only in personal terms, but there is a bigger picture here. Since all of creation was affected by the fall of man, all of creation will be affected by God’s plan for redemption, and you get to participate in that. There is coming a day when the lion will lay down with the lamb and we, God’s redeemed, will enter back into thatParadisethat Adam lost, and be in sweet fellowship with God forever. Nature itself will be remade so that the beauty and harmony that existed in the Garden will be restored.

What does that look like now or how does that apply to us today? When we come to Christ, we come because he has given us a new heart. As a part of our growing In Christ we begin to apply the Gospel in every area of our life. As a new creation we seek to bring every thought captive to the Gospel. In our workplace, we are now not just working for the weekend, we aren’t just working for a paycheck, we are working as unto the Lord. If we Christians simply worked as unto the Lord in the workplace we would transform our society. We would work as servants, we would work with excellence, we would exercise the fruit of the Spirit towards co-workers, bosses, customers, etc.

What if we brought this idea of being a new creation, of participating in God’s ongoing new creation, into our political arenas? I bet we could find a good balance between justice and mercy, between Paul’s “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” in 2Thess.3:10 and the practice of giving alms to the truly needy. If we brought this idea of the new creation into the Arts we could boldly challenge our culture’s nihilism and eroticism. When our world says, “Let’s start another government program here” the church ought to be saying, let’s bring the Gospel to this situation and see what kind of New Creation can happen.

Keep in mind this is no mere Social Gospel because the proper starting place is with the new creation of a person saved by Jesus and given new life. What happens to that person?

  1. B.     He is a new creation.

To begin with you have a new nature that is bent towards God now as opposed to your old nature that is wholly sinful and running from God. If you are in Christ then you have been “born again…born of the Spirit” as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The problem with man is that he has a fallen nature and is at enmity with God; the new birth gives us a new nature and places us in Christ. We are now inclined towards God and have been given the faith with which to repent, believe and follow.

As a new creation you will long for the things of God. Christ tells us to “seek first thekingdomofGod” in Matt.6:33. When you are in Christ, when you are a new creation, you will seek thekingdomofGodbecause that is reflective of your new nature. You will have a desire to know Christ, Phil 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”

As a New Creation you will have a desire for the Word, and for Worship. As a new creation you will crave true spiritual worship, this is a taste of our real home, heaven, every week. Our hunger for the Word will grow and take us deeper into the Word, not being satisfied with just the milk, but wanting spiritual meat as well. 1Pet.2:2 “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation”

As a new creation we will put off the sins of the flesh, the sins of the past, as we put on the righteousness of Christ. You will no longer be satisfied with sin, you will crave the things of the Spirit. You will grow in the spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. You will seek holiness even as Christ is holy and you will seek to give glory to God in everything you do.

As a participant in the new creation you will seek to introduce others to the Creator, the Savior. You will want them to have what you now have.

This world needs to see some new creations, some people who truly are in Christ. They need to see the gospel lived out in their midst.

Conclusion: There is nothing you can do on your own to recreate yourself. People realize that something is wrong about their lives, about this world, and they desperately want to start over and get it right, but in their own terms and strength. That will never happen except and until they repent of sin and trust in Christ alone. We can be born again only by his power and grace and enter into that New Creation. If you realize this morning that you are stuck in the grey, old life of sin, and that you have never repented of sin and trusted in Jesus, right now, this morning is a great time to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. If you realize that you are not In Christ, then you must trust in Jesus right now.

If you are already a believer you need to wake up to your calling to be a part of this new creation. You need to bring the Gospel into every area of your life and celebrate being In Christ. There is a cold, dark world out there that desperately needs to see the gospel lived out and then hear the gospel proclaimed with love, power and conviction.

 

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Luke 16:19-31 “The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment in Hell”

Posted on May 16, 2010. Filed under: Doctrinal Sermons |

Redeemer Church

Luke 16:19-31 “The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment in Hell”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bryan E. Walker

Read Luke 16:19-31 PLEASE STAND FOR THE READING OF GOD’S WORD

 

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.  The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to you this morning praising you and rejoicing in you, for you are a God of Love, Grace and Mercy who has saved sinners like us who are unworthy of your love. We praise you for being a God who is Holy, Holy, Holy and for being just and righteous, a God who cannot abide with evil. We confess that we cannot fully understand how your love and your justice work together but as we look at the sacrifice of your Son Jesus on the Cross we behold with wonder your holy wrath against sin and your great love for us sinners as Jesus became sin for us so that we could be forgiven, given new life and even adopted by you. We praise you!

As we study this text Lord, my prayer is that I would not misspeak or confuse anyone but that I would adequately explain your Word and that your Holy Spirit would teach us, convict us, burden us for the lost, and grant salvation to those here who are not yet born again. Lord, as we study the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell, help us to overcome our revulsion of it and to see you glorified even here. May we see how great is the salvation that you have wrought and how you have not merely saved us from judgment, but that you have saved us for yourself. May we be convicted to share the gospel with others, yes so that they would be rescued from hell, but more that your holy name would be glorified. And Lord, I pray that if anyone here this morning is lost, has not repented of sin and trusted in Jesus alone for salvation, that this morning your Holy Spirit would bring a godly fear upon them of eternal punishment so that they could see the beauty of your holiness, your majesty, and respond to your saving grace. Change their hearts, O God, grant them the faith with which to repent and believe. Amen.

Introduction: There is a great need for sound teaching and preaching on the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell. Growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s in the fundamentalist, revivalistic strain of Southern Baptist life I heard a lot of preaching on hell. In a lot of ways it was done wrongly with a lot of psychological and emotional tricks to generate more decisions. Back then, we used to have two revivals a year sometimes for two weeks at a time. Then it went to one revival a year and then to just a 4 day revival. Today we have conferences on how to heal your marriage, how to manage your finances, how to be the best you you can be…and today we hear very little about hell. More people believe in heaven than hell and anyone who does believe in hell is ridiculed by Larry King or some other talk show personality: “Oh! You’re one of THOSE. How can you believe in a good God who would send anybody to hell?” Well you better believe in hell because Jesus teaches more on hell than he does heaven! I have seen big name preachers back away from the doctrine of hell over the years. One famous evangelist used to preach the truth about hell when I was a kid, but in his later years I heard him interviewed and he was backtracking on the doctrine, expressing much doubt about hell.

The main idea of the text this morning is that if you are not trusting in God’s salvation provided through Christ alone, but rather are relying on riches, success, or your own supposed goodness, you will end up spending eternity in hell, a place of eternal fire, intense suffering and agony.

How we shall proceed this morning is this: First I will present the context of the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, and then I will briefly explain the story. I will next focus the majority of our time on the doctrine of hell as presented in the story with some other biblical material added to expand our understanding of hell. I will conclude by showing you how to avoid hell and how to apply this doctrine. I am condensing about 6 sermons into one, so hold on.

  1. I.                   The Context, Outline and Themes
    1. A.              In looking at the context for this story we must begin in ch.14 where Jesus is dining at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees on a Sabbath and he heals a man with dropsy (a disease that is likely either congestive heart failure or kidney failure, resulting in the swelling of the body with fluid build up). In this situation, after the healing, Jesus tells a series of parables beginning with the Parable of the Wedding Feast where he states in 14:11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” We will see this great reversal played out in the story we are studying this morning, The Rich Man and Lazarus. This is followed up immediately with the Parable of the Great Banquet which includes 14:21 “and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Lazarus is poor and crippled. In 14:25-33 is a brief talk on the Cost of Discipleship.

 

In ch15:1 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” This sets the scene again with the Pharisees against Jesus. With ch16 we have the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, another story about wealth and in v.14 “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Jesus is directly confronting the Pharisees’ worldview that values wealth over people and God and that seeks to justify self in the eyes of God. Now we can move into the Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

 

This story is unique to Luke and the main point is that if you are wealthy and ignore the poor, if you are trusting in yourself instead of placing your trust and hope in God, you will face the judgment of God and a reversal of fortunes after death and receive the just condemnation of God which is an irreversible sentence. The point is not that all the rich go to hell and the poor all go to heaven. The Patriarchs were wealthy as was Job, David and Solomon. In the NT Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy and it is likely that Nicodemus, John Mark’s mother and Lydia were all also well off. Paul does not tell us that riches are evil, but in 1Tim.6:10 “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” I have known many godly wealthy people and many ungodly poor.

  1. B.              In these parables you have the theme of the rich and the poor. In the parable of the Great Banquet Jesus commands us to invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind. In 15 you have the prodigal son who misspent his inheritance and became poor. In 16 you have the rich man and the dishonest manager and in our text the rich man and Lazarus.

  

There is the theme of eschatological reversal. Now that sounds like a painful and embarrassing surgery but it is a fancy name for what Jesus says in Luke 19:30 “And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” We see this also in 1:51-54; 6:20-26. In our passage you see a man of fabulous wealth end up in hell and a man who was poor, sick, crippled and starving end up in heaven.

There is the theme of judgment. Hell is mentioned in 10:14-15; the judgment in 11:31-32; hell again in 12:5 and in our text, and weeping and gnashing of teeth in 13:28.

My point here is that Jesus’ mentioning of hell in 16:19-31 is not an isolated teaching; it is repeated time and again in Luke’s Gospel. This is not something Jesus shied away from but preached boldly, in the home of a Pharisee, to their faces. He confronted their wealth, their lack of compassion for the poor, their trust in themselves and what they considered to be good works. And he basically tells them they are heading for hell and the people they despise are going to heaven.

 

  1. C.              Outline
    1. 1.      Vss.19-21 The Rich Man & Lazarus in Life
    2. 2.      Vss.22-23 The Rich Man & Lazarus in the Life to Come
    3. 3.      Vss.24-31 Conversation Between Abraham and the Rich Man

 

  1. II.                A Brief Exposition of the Rich Man & Lazarus
    1. A.              Vss.19-21 The Rich Man & Lazarus in Life: the Stuff  and Status You Have in This Life Are No True Indicator of Your Status Before the Lord.
      1. 1.      First of all, while most expositors believe this to be parable, some of us believe it to very possibly be a true story of two people Jesus knew or who were known to the Pharisees in his audience. It is a bit more complex than most parables and is the only parable to include a real name and to give us someone’s thoughts and experiences from beyond the grave. Also, in most parables you really do not want to focus on the details of the story but rather get to the main point it teaches; here, the details are very important and can be used for doctrine because they are supported by many other texts revealing the same thing.
      2. 2.      Secondly, the story shows about as much contrast between the two men as is possible. The rich man wears purple, a symbol of great wealth at the least, royalty or the priesthood very likely. He wears fine linen, so his underwear is imported from Egypt. He dines sumptuously every day and lives in a large house that has ornate gates, such as would be found on a temple or huge mansion. Nothing about the man’s occupation, character or accomplishments is directly mentioned. But by what we are given we can assume he is very respected and respectable. The fact that he is not named, while Lazarus is, indicates that Jesus is targeting a broad audience of the wealthy, successful, Pharisees. He won’t let any of them off the hook here.
      3. 3.      Lazarus, and the name means “helped by God”, is as poor and needy as you could possibly be. He has to be laid by the rich man’s gate meaning he was either too weak from sickness and hunger or he was crippled as well as sick and hungry. He was so sick the dogs came and licked his sores, thus making him unclean and resembling Job. While the rich man mentions his family later, no family is mentioned for Lazarus.
    2. B.              Vss. 22-23 The Rich Man & Lazarus in the Life to Come: It Is Appointed Unto Man Once To Die, But After that- Judgment!
      1. 1.      Lazarus dies first, whether by starvation or his illness we do not know. Jesus says that he was carried to Abraham’s side by angels. I do not think that mentioning the angels is symbolic nor is he condescending to popular religious thought of his day. I believe he is describing it as it is: when God’s people die he has angels ready to take them to heaven. I have been at the deathbeds of some believers who could see the angels by the way. Lazarus goes to “Abraham’s Side”, a common saying for Paradise or Heaven. The indication is that he is immediately taken to heaven, no soul sleep, no awaiting Resurrection Day. He dies and he goes to be with the Lord as Paul says in Phil.1. There is no mention of a burial for Lazarus indicating that he likely had no family or friends. In such cases it is possible that his body could have been thrown out to the trash dump in the Valley of Bin Hinnom, thus the symbol for Gehenna- Hell.
      2. 2.      The rich man also dies, but he is buried, he had a funeral, and very likely it was a grand event. But he opens his eyes in hell. If the crowd around Jesus was shocked that Lazarus was carried to heaven, they would be angered that Jesus depicts the rich man in hell, especially if they had an inkling of who he was talking about. This is the ironic twist, the eschatological reversal.
      3. 3.      If the Lord delays his second coming, all of us in this room will see death. People do not like to consider death. We don’t like to think of dying young, we might think about growing old and dying peacefully in our sleep. But DEATH is coming for every one of us.
    3. C.              Vss.24-31 Conversation Between Abraham and the Rich Man- The Realities of Hell
      1. 1.      In the interest of time, instead of going through this section as I normally would I am going to move on to my next points that actually get into the teachings about hell.

 

  1. III.             The Judgment
    1. 1.      The judgment is immediate and inescapable– First of all we see that in this story both the rich and the poor die, and after death go immediately to either heaven or hell. Heb. 9:27 “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Folks, judgment day is coming for all. We will all die, should the Lord not come back in our lifetimes, and after that we will go to either heaven or hell.

 

Now I must distinguish between the judgment that falls upon us immediately after death and the Day of Judgment that we see in such places as Rev. 20:11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

In our story in Luke 16 the rich man died and went to Hades which is a temporary holding area of hell, where the condemned souls await the Final Judgment and their bodies being resurrected and being cast into hell forever. But Hades is still Hell. Edward Donnelly writes, (Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell, Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh, UK 2001. p.22) “On the day of judgment, the bodies of unbelievers who have died will be raised from the grave, reunited with their souls and cast into hell. But we need to remember that their souls are in hell already. There is no no-man’s land in the universe, no waiting room between heaven and hell, no soul sleep or period of unconsciousness until the second coming of Christ. Souls which are not still inhabiting their bodies are either in heaven or in hell.”

We know from this story and from the crucifixion that Lazarus and the unnamed thief on the cross who repented and trusted in Jesus both went straight to Paradise as well. So we see that judgment is both inescapable and immediate. Can anyone hide from God’s judgment? In this life people run from the law and are frequently never caught. You cannot run from a God who is everywhere present and all knowing. You cannot resist God the Judge who is Sovereign over all and is all powerful.

  1. 2.      The finality of judgment When you die there is no second chance, no do-overs, you cannot take a mulligan; you have no “extra men” no “extra lives”. You get just this one life to live and either follow Jesus or live for the devil. The rich man’s wealth could not pay bail and get him out. Abraham told him, “between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” Not only is judgment inescapable but hell itself is inescapable, it is FINAL.

 

The Finality of Hell and Judgment eliminates all hope of ever being free again. There is no court to which you may file an appeal because God is the ultimate Judge who is all knowing and absolutely holy, holy, holy. He has overlooked no evidence and he has stayed true to his law. Once you die without repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation there is no other recourse, no appeal, no clemency, no hope of pardon, ever. Abandon  hope ye who enter here.

This finality of judgment is emphasized by hell being Eternal Punishment. 2Thess 1:8-9 “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord”. In Matt. 25:41, 46 we see  “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil  and his angels…And these will go away into eternal  punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  1. 3.      The justice of judgment- the rich man is not described as having committed any huge, gross sin, but he lived selfishly, and ignored the needs of Lazarus. People often mistakenly think that Hell is just for those really bad people, like serial killers. We tend to judge others harshly and overlook our own sins; when we weigh ourselves on the balance scales of good vs. evil we tend to say we come out pretty good. Surely God does not send nice, good people to hell?

 

One of the points of the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus was to deliberately disturb our ideas of who goes to heaven and hell. The rich man was well known and respected no doubt. Lazarus was just a failure and a bum in the eyes of man. But Lazarus’ hope was in God just like his name suggests. The rich man was likely not notoriously evil, just rich and unconcerned with the poor man at his gate. That is why it is so shocking to find him in hell.

God’s Justice and his decision about heaven and hell is not arbitrary or unjust at all. Quite simply all sin deserves hell and that means each and every one of us, as sinners, deserve hell. God is thrice holy and cannot abide sin in the least. His standard is absolute perfection and holiness. You see the problem is not “how could God send good people to hell”. The problem is “how can a holy God save any of us by his grace?” The rich man got exactly what he deserved, Lazarus did not get what he deserved. His poverty was not somehow virtuous and did not earn him heaven. Lazarus was also a sinner deserving hell, but because of God’s sovereign grace he was trusting in God his Help and he was saved from what he deserved. There are many in our present day whose idea of heaven and hell is shaped more by the politics of Marxism/socialism than by the Scriptures.

The wages of sin is and have always been, DEATH and hell. Rom.6:23.

But why is hell endless? How can it be just for God to punish people forever when they had a finite number of sins? Because we have sinned against an infinitely holy and majestic God. It is not the size or amount of our sin that matters as much as it is whom we have offended that determines the length of our sentence. We have offended a God who is Holy, Holy, Holy, and who is infinite and eternal. The people in hell will be eternal testimonies of God’s holiness and justice every bit as much as those people in heaven will be eternal testimonies of God’s love, mercy and grace.

W.G.T. Shedd, in his book The Doctrine of Endless Punishment, Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh, GB 1885, p.153, writes, “The incarnation and vicarious satisfaction for sin by one of the persons of the Godhead, demonstrates the infinity of the evil. It is incredible that the Eternal Trinity should have submitted to such a stupendous self-sacrifice, to remove a merely finite and temporal evil. The doctrine of Christ’s vicarious atonement, logically, stands or falls with that of endless punishment. Historically, it has stood or fallen with it. The incarnation of Almighty God, in order to make the remission of sin possible, is one of the strongest arguments for the eternity and infinity of penal suffering.”

The justice of hell is seen in the horrific price that God himself paid to redeem the elect. Jesus, the Divine, Eternal Son of God, became sin for us on the cross and suffered not just the physical tortures of the cross, but he suffered spiritually as God considered him to be sin in our place. The agony of his perfect, holy, and innocent soul which had never known sin would be incalculable. Jesus received God’s wrath in our place so that we could be forgiven, therefore, for those who do not repent and believe, they must suffer in some similar way that Jesus himself suffered since he suffered though innocent, and they suffer justly. Hell is not all about us just as salvation is not all about us. It is about God’s glory. This is not a man centered universe despite our sinful natural inclinations to make it so.

  1. 4.      The justice is retributive not corrective– Notice the rich man arrogantly wants Lazarus to serve him by taking a drop of water and placing it on his tongue. He wants Lazarus to leave heaven and come to hell to serve him. The rich man’s character has not changed; he is not repentant in the least; he remains arrogant. This points us to another misunderstood element of eternal punishment: it is retributive not corrective. In our world we try to deny human nature and hide evil or do away with the concept altogether by doing such meaningless things as changing the name from Prison to Correctional Facility. Much of our justice system today is to try to correct the bad behaviour of people. Some of that is fine, but the primary aspect of prison is to execute justice on behalf of the victims and the state.

 

In hell, the damned are confirmed in their sin, not liberated from it. The rich guy was even more arrogant. The inhabitants of hell grow even more guilty, more evil, as time goes by. They hate God and there is nothing in hell that will sway them to love God. Their hatred for God and for all that is good will continue to grow and consume them for eternity.

 

Hell is not God’s Correctional Facility for those who did not get it right the first time. Hell is a penal colony for criminals from which there is no escape or relief. They are cast out from the camp into the outer darkness. It is retributive. It is punishment. The Roman Catholic idea of Purgatory is nowhere found in the Bible and is an absolutely abhorrent false belief. Either Jesus paid it all on the cross or no one is saved at all. Spending 10,000 years in hell is not going to purge anyone of the sinful nature. The doctrine of hell is not grotesque; it is the doctrine of man that says Jesus died as merely our example and that all go to heaven that is grotesque. Again, Jesus’ death on the cross did not make salvation possible for those who paid for their sins in hell for a while. Jesus’ death on the cross absolutely saved those whom God foreknew. A general atonement view opens the door to other warped possibilities but a particular atonement tends to close that door.

  1. 5.      The judgment is personal and conscious- There is a wicked idea that even some godly, reformed theologians have come up with called annihilation. They say that hell is being judged by God and simply exterminated. Extinguished. Disintegrated. You cease to exist. Oh the millions in hell long for annihilation. They wish they could cease to exist. But Hell is personal and you are conscious and in agony.

 

What does our text say? “and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes.” The rich guy in hell is the same guy we read about in fine linen, purple clothes, and a sumptuous table in a gated house. There is continuity in the afterlife with who we are in this life. He is the same person, he is conscious and suffering.

  1. 6.      The Judgment is carried out in a real place called hell- Notice that hell is a real Place. The rich man identifies it as a PLACE of torment in vs.28. Hell is every bit as real of a place as is Heaven. Right now the dead are there spiritually, their bodiless souls are there. We do not know where “there” is, but it is somewhere. That rich guy went there 2000 yrs ago and is still there. When Resurrection Day comes and the Day of Judgment follows, the damned souls will be reunited with their bodies and cast into the Lake of Fire.

 

 In my studies on this subject I have studied the biblical material, the theologies, and I have read some extra biblical testimonials of those who have died and been resuscitated. I have a book written by a Christian Medical Doctor, a heart specialist, who came to Christ because of the testimonies of hell that some of his patients gave him. To Hell and Back by Dr. Maurice S. Rawlings gives clinical evidence that supports the teachings of Scripture. Many patients who die experience hell and have given very vivid and terrifying descriptions of a real place of torment.

 

  1. IV.              The Sufferings
    1. 1.      Regrets- is the rich man in the story repentant? No. is he regretful? Yes. He experiences regrets and remorse but not repentance. He tries to convince Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them about “this place of torment”. He doesn’t want his brothers to come to hell. That is a natural affection for family that even lost people have, it is no sign of repentance or faith at all. He apparently has no regrets in regards to Lazarus, no apologies are offered, no regrets expressed. This may be a limitation of the parable but it could be that he remains as unconcerned about the poor as when he was alive and is only concerned about those like him, his family.

 

But imagine the horror for those in hell experiencing regret over their failed opportunities with the gospel. Imagine all the memories of beauty, bounty, love and fun back on earth, now all gray with regrets. Hell is an eternity of regretting, but never repenting. Folks, the pain and embarrassment of repenting in this life is infinitely better than the regrets experienced forever by the damned in the torments of hell.

  1. 2.      Hopelessness- On the gates into hell in Dante’s Inferno are written these words: Abandon hope ye who enter here. I have already discussed this to an extent so I just want to add a bit more. Have you ever been ill for a long time, ill to the point where you really felt like you had no hope of ever getting better? One of the extreme mental tortures of hell is the sheer hopelessness of it all. It will never get any better; it is sure to only get worse. It will never, ever end.
  2. 3.      Fire- Isa.33:14; 66:24; Matt.3:12; 5:22; 13:40, 42,50; 18:8-9; 25:41; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 3:17; Jude 7; Rev.14:10; 19:20; 20:10, 14,15; 21:8 Some would say that fire is only a metaphor yet it is the most frequent term used to describe hell. I do not think fire is a metaphor here, I believe that the overwhelming evidence from scripture, and the anecdotal evidence of those who have died and been resuscitated is that hell is a real place with real fire. Imagine being on fire but not consumed and never passing out or dying.

 

In my own conversion as a young boy of 8 yrs of age in a revival at FBC Elk City, OK I heard an evangelist give a testimony he heard from a fighter pilot in the Viet Nam War. The pilot dropped napalm on the enemy and could see the enemy writhing in agony as the jellied jet fuel burned their flesh away. The pilot thought of hell’s fires and repented of his own sins and was saved. I work with some volunteer firemen and they have described to me some of the types of casualties they see in fires. Sometimes it is not the exterior burns of the flesh that kill as much as it is the scorched windpipe and lungs that are seared and blistered and the person cannot breathe and dies. Again, some of the testimonies of hell I have read mention the hot, scorching, putrid fumes of hell that burn their lungs from the inside. Forever.

  1. 4.      Thirst- The rich man was in torment in the flames but expressed a desire for even one drop of water. Thirst is a horrible torment. To be burning in agony due to the fires of hell and to have one’s lungs burned with the putrid, hot smoke in hell goes right along with an overwhelming thirst that will never be quenched. The thirst will only get worse as time passes. You will be more thirsty tomorrow than today in hell, and more thirsty in 10,000 years than now.

 

Picture every good desire of the body that the Lord created as very good, and imagine all of those good, healthy desires being always intensified yet never satisfied. Welcome to hell. Have you ever been so thirsty that you felt like you might die of heat stroke if you did not get a drink? In my Army days we used to train in the desert all the time. We had a very strict, mandatory drinking program to make sure every soldier got enough water because heat injuries are terrible. I learned that you can never carry enough water and ammunition in the Army. There is no water in hell. No oasis that you might stumble upon to even temporarily slake your thirst.

  1. 5.      Loneliness- In the story we see the rich man seems to be alone in hell. For the story’s sake he can communicate with Abraham but I believe that detail should not be taken for doctrine. But nobody else seems to be around. It is common for people who are lost and proud of it to boldly say they will prefer to go to hell since that is where all their friends are. Yet hell is going to be a lonely place, totally without love. If you can associate with others in hell it will not be an association of friendship but of vile sinners confirmed in their selfishness and hatred for others. For many, when suffering there is no regard for others. Add hopelessness to the mix and you get utter loneliness and despair in hell, not comradeship. In some accounts of people being resuscitated from hell there were cruel and horrible demons present who tortured them in their brief stay in hell. 
  2. 6.      Poverty- Did the rich man go to hell with a U-Haul trailer filled with his earthly riches? All of his purple clothes and fine white linens would be instantly burned up or soiled in hell. Of what good would gold be in hell? The rich man became poor and Lazarus became wealthy. Eschatological reversal.
  3. 7.      Darkness- Matt..8:12; 22:13; 25:30 how can darkness and fire co-exist? Easily, it can be intermittent. Even though the fires of hell may give off light, it may still be a pitch black environment much as Egypt experienced in the 9th plague (Ex.10:21ff). Fires at night give off an imperfect, flickering light that can deceive, blind and mislead you. Add to that the sulfurous and noxious fumes and smoke from the fires of hell and you will be experiencing both fire and darkness in the worst possible combination.

 

The darkness is also an indicator of one’s mental, emotional and spiritual condition. Hell will permanently place you in spiritual darkness; you will never gain in any intelligence except only evil all the time. There will never again be a single happy or uplifting thought, only darkness and depression for ever. There will be no purpose in your journeys in hell, no illuminating of your path, no destination except endless torment. Surely it is a dark road.

  1. 8.      Worms- Although worms, like darkness, are not mentioned in the passage I thought it beneficial to include as a description of the sufferings in hell. Isa. 66:24 For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” Mark 9:48 to be thrown into hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Just like the lost soul in a resurrected body can be constantly burning in hell without being burned up, so too, apparently can the worms of hell that will be gnawing at the eternal flesh of the damned forever. The maggots feed on dead and decaying flesh and in hell you will be the living dead, always being eaten by the worms that never die, but never totally consumed.
  2. 9.      Weariness- Psalm 88:4 describes having no strength as one who goes down to the pit. This may not be enough to go on but it seems to stand to reason that in hell one is never strengthened; only weakened.  There will be no sleep, no rest, no repose in hell. With no water or food, there will be a weariness that will never end without rest.

 

  1. V.                 The Impact of Hell
    1. A.              Upon Missions and Evangelism
      1. 1.      Many people in our day assume that all religions lead to heaven by different routes. This is a lie from the pit of hell. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. He is not “a” way, he is not “the best way”, he is the only way. Salvation comes to us by no other name under heaven but Jesus alone. Therefore, every other world religion is not only false, not only useless, and in the case of Islam- dangerous, But every other world religion is a freight train to hell. Every other religion other than biblical Christianity will lead you to hell and to assume otherwise is to promote a damnable lie. The nice peaceful Buddhist will die and go to hell. The strange Hindu will die and go to hell. The respectable Mormon will die and go to hell. The devoted Catholic who is working their way to what they think is Heaven, after a stint in purgatory, will only remain in hell. The lazy, self satisfied Baptist who has never repented of sin and trusted in Jesus will die and go to hell forever. The liberal main stream protestant who does not believe in the incarnation, the atoning sacrifice nor the resurrection will die and go to hell. This doctrine of hell had better be some motivation for the true Christian to preach the Gospel to the nations, pray for the lost, fund missionaries and share the Gospel with their lost friends and families.

 

  1. B.              Upon Society- In order for justice to prevail, in order for Law and Order to be established there must be some kind of a belief that this world is not all there is. Too many times we see the wicked prosper and the innocent get punished. To avoid the law of the jungle, power to the strong, society must have some sense of eternal justice and rewards. When a society loses track of a belief in the hereafter, then baser instincts will prevail. Public and private virtue must be grounded in something other than our personal comfort, preference and immediate gratification. The doctrine of heaven and hell as taught in our Luke passage is essential for a well ordered society governed by Law rather than Men. It is precisely this area that is breaking down in our society today. As the Gospel is receding society is degenerating. People with no fear of hell and no hope for heaven will do whatever they want.

 

  1. VI.              How To Avoid Hell
    1. A.              Lazarus’ Name- Helped By God- is a Clue
      1. 1.      Our only hope for Heaven lies in God alone. When we realize that we are all sinners, all fall short of God’s glory and that we are all “dead in trespasses and sins” as Paul writes in Eph.2:1 we realize what kind of help we need. Some could over interpret that name from the story in Luke and say “I do what I can for my salvation and God helps me with the rest.” That is how mormons describe their salvation and that is essentially what Arminianism teaches. Helping us get saved can be misinterpreted that way. But “Helped by God” can also mean, and in this passage for sure, that God helps us by doing what we absolutely cannot do for ourselves. There are several new babies in our congregation, and we just celebrated Mother’s Day last week. Moms, can that new born dress him/her self yet? When you help your new baby get dressed don’t you actually do everything for him? The Lord is our ever present help, he does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He saves. I cannot save myself.
      2. 2.      Turn to Romans 5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we  have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith  into this grace in which we stand, and we  rejoice  in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

 We are justified by faith, meaning that we must trust in the perfect life, atoning death and literal resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation. We must understand that we are sinners and turn from our hell bound ways and believe in Jesus alone for our salvation. That is the only way we will be saved from the wrath of God and eternal punishment in hell.

Conclusion-Invitation: In our church we do not have a set time of invitation where the preacher uses emotional techniques to get you to make a decision while the soft music plays or we all sing Just As I Am. We have a continuous invitation that extends into the week while we gather for Care Groups and discuss the sermons. After this service we do have Elders gathered here at the front to discuss the state of your soul or answer questions and pray with you. If you are unsure of your eternal destiny, I would urge you to meet with us afterwards to discuss God’s grace more.

Let’s pray.

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“The Death of Jesus & Our Redemption”

Posted on April 11, 2009. Filed under: Doctrinal Sermons |

“The Death of Jesus & Our Redemption”

Sunday 4-6-03 AM

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Introduction: What is Redemption?

I. Redemption and the Ancient World

II. Redemption and the Hebrews

III. Our Need for Redemption

IV. Christ Our Redeemer

Concl.

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Introduction: Last week we began a sermon series on the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus in order to help prepare our hearts for Easter. The sermon last Sunday was on Anticipating the Cross and we examined two Old Testament stories that pointed forward to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This morning we shall study the The Death of Jesus and Our Redemption looking at a variety of passages throughout the Bible.

            What does redemption mean to you? The word redemption is used in our society in 3 ways primarily. 1)In the sporting world if a good player has a bad game, or goes into a slump, but then comes out of it in a big way and wins a game by his efforts, he is said to have redeemed himself. If you make some kind of a mistake but then you recover quickly, you have redeemed the situation. 2) If you get the S&H Green Stamps or something similar, or if you clip the coupons from the newspaper, you can redeem them for something that is valuable or for a lower price on your groceries. 3) The third use of the term redemption is the religious sense which we will be discussing this morning.

            The main idea I want you to learn this morning is that Jesus has redeemed you from slavery to sin by paying the redemption price with his blood. You, therefore are not your own, you belong to Jesus!

 

I. Redemption and the Ancient World

            Most people in most of the world for most of time have been slaves, serfs, peasants or so disastrously poor that they were just barely sustaining life. In ancient Greece and Rome the majority of the populations were actually slaves instead of citizens. Why were there so many slaves? In ancient warfare the victorious army would end up capturing a lot of the enemy army as POWs and capturing entire cities, even whole regions or countries. Many, even most of these captives would become slaves to the conquerors.

            If you captured a lot of the average foot soldiers, they would be good slaves in the mines or fields of the victorious nation. But what if you captured a general or even a king? That captive is worth more than the small price you could fetch on the slave block for a farm working slave. Presumably that general’s nation or hometown would pay a big ransom to redeem the captive. You would inform that nation of your captive’s name and whereabouts and inquire about a ransom. There may be some haggling over the price but eventually you would settle and he would be redeemed.

            An average slave working in a household would earn a little bit of money that they could save and eventually they could pay the price of redemption and purchase their own freedom. The concepts of redemption and freedom are clearly linked. A person is enslaved until a ransom price is paid; the redeemed person is now freed.

            Dr. Leon Morris, a great Bible scholar from Australia writes, (The Atonement: its meaning and significance, InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, Ill., 1983. p.108) “There were people whose rightful place was back there in the homeland, alongside their brothers. But by a cruel accident of war they had fallen into the power of a strong enemy. They could not break free. Left to themselves they would remain in captivity for the rest of their lives. If they were to be set free, money must be paid. For them to be restored to the place where they belonged they must be bought out of their captivity. This buying of prisoners of war out of their captivity was the basic idea of redemption.”

           

II. Redemption and the Hebrews

            When Paul and the other apostles wrote or spoke about redemption, they not only understood the cultural aspect to it, but they also had a biblical background from the OT that used that concept.

            In the book of Ruth you have not just a wonderful story of family devotion, you have the heart of the story dealing with the idea of Christ being our kinsman redeemer. Look at Ruth 3:9,12; 4:1-…Deut25 explains the role of the kinsman redeemer as one who would marry his brother’s widow so that the deceased man’s line and name would not vanish. It is a way of preserving a family, redeeming a dead man. It is important to understand that this type of redemption was an obligation within a family. Boaz gladly accepted this obligation and Ruth the Moabitess enters into the line of the Messiah.

            What does this have to do with us? Jesus acts as our kinsman redeemer! We are in danger of passing away because of our sin and he agrees to redeem us. This analogy and biblical type seems to place an obligation upon the Lord to redeem us. The obligation exists within the godhead as a pre-existing eternal covenant between the members of the trinity to save or redeem the elect. Before our creation God had a binding agreement with himself to save those whom he has chosen to save, to act as our kinsman redeemer. Do not think that this obligation on God’s part exists because of you. God is not obligated to save anyone based on their merit. God fulfills his commitment to himself, and we, like Ruth benefit from that sovereign choice by God. Now that is some pretty deep theology and it can make your head spin. Focus on this: like Boaz taking in Ruth, the Lord takes us into his family when we are merely impoverished, hell bound sinners. Redemption in this manner shows God to be consistent within himself and loving beyond degree to you and me.

            Look now at Ex.6:6. Here we see that redemption points to God delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt. Notice the power involved in this redemptive act- an outstretched arm and mighty acts of judgment. We examined the Passover last week as a foreshadowing of the cross of Christ; the entire Exodus is a glorious picture of redemption.

            Redemption of us sinners by Christ is an act of unparalleled power and sovereign might displayed by God for God’s glory and our benefit. We are helpless slaves to sin consigned to working for the devil/pharaoh. We are powerless to save ourselves but our redeemer dramatically saves us.

            Look at Ex15:13. Notice that God’s unfailing love, strength, and guidance are all associated with redemption. He is guiding us toward a holy and right relationship with himself. This is God’s redemptive purpose for you in Christ, to draw you to his holy mountain to have a worshipful relationship with him.

            In 2Sam7:22-23 we see God as the redeemer acting not under obligation as the kinsman redeemer but acting solely out of grace, choosing for himself a people out of the world to whom he would show himself to be the Redeemer.

The word for redeemed in this passage is a different Heb. word than in the other passages and Dr. Morris says, (p.116) “Where this verb is used there is no suspicion of obligation of any sort. It brings out the thought that God’s deliverance is always a matter of grace. Sinners can never say, ‘God must save me. He is obliged to do something for me.’ There is no necessity laid on God. He saves freely.”

            Look back at Ex30:12. Here we see clearly a ransom price was to be paid. Redemption is always associated with a cost, it is not cheap!

 

III. Our Need for Redemption

            Let’s look now at our need for redemption. John 8:31-35. Eph2:1,2.

            As slaves to sin we are under God’s holy wrath and are headed for hell. Heb9:27″Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.”

 

IV. Christ Our Redeemer

            Look at Mk.10:45. Jesus says he came to give his life as a ransom. The ransom is the redemption price. Now a question comes to mind, To whom did God pay the ransom? Some have said that the ransom was paid to the devil and that God tricked the devil. I think that is carrying the analogy too far. God did not pay the devil anything. Jesus acted as the ransom but God owed only himself.

            We are no longer slaves to sin when we have been redeemed we are free indeed. The paradox is shown in 1Cor6:19-20 We are owned by God and are not on our own. That is the definition of freedom. We are freed by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and we are now owned by God. Freedom means we are enabled to do what God wants and commands and we now have the desire to do what God wants, through faith, for His glory.

Concl.

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Please remember, these are merely my notes, not a complete transcript.

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Anticipating the Cross- Genesis 22 and Exodus 12

Posted on April 10, 2009. Filed under: Doctrinal Sermons |

“Anticipating the Cross”

Sunday 3-30-03 AM

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Outline:

Intro.

I. The Lord Will Provide Gen.22

II. The Lord’s Passover Ex.12

Concl.

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Introduction: For the next few weeks we will be looking at the message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus as we prepare our hearts for Easter, the highest religious holy day in our faith. Our salvation depends on the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross which atoned for our sins and his physical resurrection from the grave.

When you are studying a difficult and important matter that seems obscured by too many details that aren’t pertinent what do you want to do? You want to get to the crux of the matter don’t you. Then if you are doing something, some task that has many parts, there may be some that if you forget or do badly the main job still gets accomplished as long as you perform the crucial tasks. Of course crux and crucial both come from the Latin for cross. Our theology and the historic event of the crucifixion of Christ have entered our language. The cross is the central event of our faith. Deek Tidball writes, (The Message of the Cross, InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, Ill., 2001. p.20, 21) “Before the cross of Christ countless men and women of every generation and culture have stood in adoring wonder and humble penitence. The cross stands at the very heart of the Christian faith, manifesting the love of God, effecting salvation from sin, conquering the hostile forces of evil and inviting reconciliation with God….At the heart of evangelical spirituality lies the atoning work of Christ. The Christian life is viewed primarily as a life that finds its origin in the cross and is lived in grateful response to it and humble imitation of it.”

In this morning’s sermon we will look at just two Old Testament events that anticipate or point forward to the death of Jesus on the cross. In these two OT stories we will see the gospel of God’s grace, the gospel of salvation through the completed work of Jesus on the cross. This morning I will ask you to examine your life and your eternal destiny in light of the cross of Jesus and ask yourself if you are in fact saved by the blood of Jesus, are you heaven bound? Are your sins forgiven and do you have a relationship with Jesus that thrills your soul?

I. The Lord Will Provide Gen.22

In our studies of Genesis we have already looked at ch.22 last year but let us return to this dramatic chapter and one of the most important passages in the OT. Here is the story of God telling Abraham to take his son Isaac, the child of promise and sacrifice him to God on Mt. Moriah. Our modern minds are repelled by this story so much that some scholars try to take this story out of inspired scripture. But God knows what he is doing! As we look at this historical event in the lives of Abraham and Isaac we see a picture of the death of Christ on the cross and an explanation of John 3:16. This story tells us of love and sacrifice, great faith and obedience, of God’s provision and the doctrine of substitution.

In vs22:1 we see that God tested Abraham. It is God’s prerogative to test his people, to find out how much we trust in Him. Now it is one thing for us to read about Abraham’s test, where we know the outcome, but it is another thing for us to be tested when we do not know the outcome. Some of you in this very room this morning are going through some severe testing right now. Others of you have been there and you know how difficult it can be. Abraham was tested in a way that no one here can compete with, he was required to kill his son as a sacrifice.

Isaac was the child of promise, the long awaited son born by a miracle of God to a couple that were 100 and 90 yrs old respectively. This child was promised by God and was to be Abraham’s heir; the covenant was to be passed down through this child and eventually his descendants were to be a nation, as numerous as the sand on the sea shore.

Notice the obedience of Abraham in this difficult situation. He promptly obeyed and got up early the next morning and set out on this 3 day journey. His obedience was conscientious, taking everything he required for the sacrifice, even the wood. His obedience was solitary, he did not confer with his servants nor did he tell his son Isaac what was going on. If he conferred with anyone there was a chance they could talk him out of it. He bore the burden alone, tortured on the inside. Yet through it all we see a humble trust that is the essence of faith. Notice in v.5 he tells his servants that “we will worship and then we will come back”. He obeyed to the very point of binding his son and placing him on the altar and raising the knife to kill him. I believe it was at the beginning of that fatal downward stroke that God spoke to him and stopped him.

In this great act of trust by Abraham we see not just an example of obedience and trust, we see a picture of God the Father in John 3:16 who loves the world so much that he gives his one and only Son. What this tells us about the cross of Christ is that God was willing to give his best, his one and only son as a sacrifice. God did not require Abraham to go through with it but God did not spare Jesus. Look at Rom.8:31-32. This is certainly an allusion to the story of Abraham.

Notice also the submission of the son, Isaac, in this drama. In v.2 God tells Abe. to take his only son which is just how Jesus is described in John 3.16. Notice that Isaac is the one who carries the wood in v.6 and it was Jesus who carried the wooden cross til he stumbled and could go no further. John 19: “17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Even an ancient Jewish scholar compares this event in Isaac’s life to carrying a cross (see Tidball, p.44). According to the dates in the text we believe that Isaac was a young teenager at this time and that Abraham was about 113. Once Isaac figured out that he was the sacrifice, he could probably have escaped from his father, but he did not, he willingly submitted! In v. 6 when it says “the two of them went on together” there is an implication of being of the same mind, in perfect harmony. Tidball writes, (p.45) “This is not a picture of a sadistic father imposing punishment on a reluctant son, but a picture of father and son working together in ready agreement to ensure that obedience might be perfectly rendered and a perfect sacrifice offered to God.” In other words, it would seem that Isaac figured it out and that God gave him an obedient and submissive heart.

In studying the atonement of our sins by Christ’s death on the cross we can say that his death was propitiatory, to appease the holy wrath of the Father against our sins. But do not take this out of context and say that the Father was angry with the Son. The Father and Son have always been in complete agreement about the cross. Just as the Father sends the Son, the Son volunteers to go, they act together, in concert.

When the Lord intervenes and stops Abraham we see that God’s purposes were served, Abraham passed the test and God was glorified. But look what God did next, in v.13 Abraham sees a ram caught in a thicket. A sacrifice for God has been provided, by God! By faith Abraham had already stated to Isaac that God would provide back in v.8. When that ram was born, God directed that Ram’s life to bring it to that thicket at that time and place for that glorious purpose. This was no accident or coincidence, it was God’s sovereign plan.

Just as God provided the ram, so he provided his son as our substitute. This principle of substitution was well known throughout the ancient world as the basis for most sacrifices. Everyone knew that the blood of animals could not atone for the sins of people, but they were a suitable substitute.

Look at John  1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

Even the place where this event took place is of significance to our Lord’s crucifixion. In vs2 it is named Moriah and we see that name again in 2Chron.3:12 Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.

In Gen22:14 Abe calls the place The Lord Will Provide and on Calvary God did provide.

II. The Lord’s Passover Ex.12

In this story we see the central historical event that founded the people of Israel. Many liberal scholars ascribe the passover to myth but conservative scholars see the historical nature of it. Nations are not founded on myth but on fact. In Ex12.11 we see that this is the Lord’s passover- this is an institution founded by God for his people. It is an act of revelation by God about his character and purposes.

In Gen 15 God had told Abraham that his descendants would become slaves in another land, but God would punish that nation and deliver his people with great treasure, so the passover and exodus fulfill that prophecy. God is faithful to His Word.

The passover reveals the compassion of God for his people for it is how he delivered them from their oppression. It reveals the justice of God as he judges the Egyptians and shows his sovereign power.

Notice that the lamb was to be perfect, no defects, v.. Nothing less than perfection could satisfy a perfect God. When the throat of the animal was slit with the knife the blood was to be caught in a basin and they were to use a hyssup plant to smear the blood over the door. Then the lamb is cooked and eaten along with the bitter herbs and unleavened bread. They were to eat it dressed for the journey, ready for action.

What did God accomplish with the passover? God judges a sinful people through the events of the passover. The angel of death came that night and struck down every first born man and animal in Egypt. Here we see the holy wrath of God in judgment, an idea that is not popular in our society that stresses tolerance and hates to confront evil. But God is holy 3x and he cannot tolerate evil forever.

In the story of the passover and exodus we see an idolatrous people defeated. Each of the plagues on Egypt is a plague that strikes at a Egptian god or an essential part of their culture and economy. Every thing false about their society was judged by God.

The people of God were redeemed by the events that night. First of all the people of Israel were not automatically protected, they had to apply the blood to be protected. They too were sinners and needed protection. They could not protect themselves except by doing what God had said. The plan of redemption comes from God. No other plan of salvation.

Notice that God’s people were delivered from slavery and also enriched.35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

JN 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin

RO 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

God also delivered them from slavery to go on a journey with the purpose being to worship him, to form a nation of priests to serve him. When slavery ends, the journey begins.

Christ is called the lamb of God by John the Baptist in Jonh1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Look at 1Peter18-19*

JN 19:28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

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These are my sermon notes from a morning sermon 6 years ago. Notes are always incomplete, hence the sudden ending.


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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!

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