Sunday, March 31, 2013

It is Finished!, John 19:30

“It is finished!” Weust calls this phrase, “A cry of victory in the hour of defeat,” and indeed it is! John’s gospel is the only one to record these words. Though these words probably weren’t shouted like some of the other sayings, they are cosmically important. What was finished? Jesus’s sufferings were about to end. His sojourn on earth was about to end. But more than that, Jesus had completed the work that the Father had sent Him to do. He glorified the Father and made God known. Even though He Himself said the sheep would be scattered when He the Shepherd was taken away, Jesus lost none of His sheep, except the son of perdition who was foreordained to destruction. Jesus had loved fully to the end. What greater demonstration of love could there be than for Jesus to take all the sins of the world upon Himself and to be the perfect sacrifice for sins. The one Greek word for the phrase, “It is finished” is “tetelestai”. It is used in a variety of ways. Artists use it to describe a completed work of art—a finished painting or sculpture. At that point the artist can look back in admiration and wonder and so can all who view the work. The work of redemption was finished. There was no more work for Jesus and there is no more work for us. We cannot work for our salvation; Jesus paid it all. Jesus fulfilled the Law. All its symbols and foreshadowings were fulfilled in Christ. We do not work for our salvation; we serve God because of our salvation, and even so, the only merit, the only righteousness our service has is because Christ has given it to us. Our service doesn’t make God love us anymore. In our obedience we honor the finished work of Christ. We acknowledge its value and importance. Another use of the Greek word for “finished” refers to a task that a servant completes for the master. Jesus completed everything the Father commanded. He fully submitted to the Father’s will. He made full satisfaction for the Law. Jesus’s finished work allows for the forgiveness of our sins. He opened the way to God. He made reconciliation with God possible. In Him are all things reconciled. We can be reconciled to God because we died with Him on the cross, and if we died with Him, we will be raised with Him. In His death, the veil was torn in two symbolizing the open access we now have through the Father by placing our faith in Christ Jesus and in His important finished work. This brings us to two other uses of the word. It was used by the priests after they fully examined the sacrifices to see if they were indeed satisfactory. Jesus was the perfect once for all sacrifice. Hebrews 10:14 - 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Though we do not see ourselves as perfect, though we still commit trespasses, God sees us as perfect in Christ. The second part of this verse talks about an ongoing work; we are being sanctified. In His finished work, Jesus made a way for us to become more and more like Him. When He completed His part, He sent the Holy Spirit to take over and apply His work to our lives. Merchants used this word when full payment was made for a purchase. Jesus purchased us from slavery to sin and self. He redeemed us fully. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus paid the whole deal in dying for us. He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Because of His payment, we instead can receive the gift of God in Jesus Christ, the gift of eternal life. In His finished work, Jesus also trampled down the enemy. The devil thought maybe Jesus was finished, but Jesus was saying the devil is finished. As victors with Christ, we can no longer claim, “The devil made me do it,” for we are drawn away into sin by our own lusts and enticed. Satan still prowls about like a roaring lion, but we have authority in Jesus name to rebuke him. His end is sure. Whatever our temptation, Jesus has made a way out. Though Satan may try to accuse us, his words have no power. “I’ve been redeemed! My identity is in Christ,” sends the devil away. The devil may try to condemn us, but he has no right. Only Christ can condemn, and Christ does not! Romans 8:1 tells us, “Now therefore, is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Condemnation was finished at the cross. Nothing can stand against the finished work of Christ. Yes, there was a sense of completeness to the work of Jesus. Jesus demonstrates the completeness of that work in that He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He had arrived at His goal. In the finished work of Christ, we can end our search for forgiveness. It is granted to us in Him. We can end our efforts at trying to work for our salvation. No work we do could ever come close to atoning for our sins, but Jesus’s work was sufficient for all of us. In fact, the death of Christ ushered in the night of the last day when no man can work. The self was finished on the cross because as He died, we died with Him. We have absolutely nothing to add to Jesus’s finished work, and we dare not try lest we trivialize the work of Christ on our behalf. May we never say what Jesus did for us is not enough. May we never think that we are so good that we can add to Jesus’s work nor think we are so good that we don’t need Jesus. May we never think we are so bad that Jesus couldn’t pay for what we’ve done, that we can never be forgiven. Any good work we do is only because Jesus has worked it in us through the Holy Spirit. We can claim nothing of our own except to boast in Christ, to exalt Him, and lift up His name. May we give God the glory and the credit. The finished work of Christ was cosmic. Though Jesus finished His work, it has long-lasting, ongoing effects. The work keeps working. The finished work of Jesus made way for a new beginning. It is a transforming work. Because of His work, we can have new life. The life we now live is His life. Because of His finished work, we have a restored relationship with God our Father. Because of His finished work, we have the power not to sin. Because of His finished work, we have assurance; our salvation is secure. Because of Christ’s finished work, we have acceptance; we can come boldly to the throne of grace. As David Carter says, In Jesus, we have “peace that cannot be taken away, rest that cannot be disturbed, joy that cannot be diminished, sure hope that cannot be disappointed, light [that cannot be overcome by darkness], happiness that cannot be stolen, wisdom that cannot be baffled, beauty that cannot be marred. [We have] a Resource that cannot be exhausted--THERE IS NO NEED HE CAN’T MEET, NO HURT HE CAN’T HEAL.” Charles Spurgeon: What "it" was it that was finished? I will not attempt to expound it. It is the biggest "it" that ever was/ Turn it over and you will see that it will grow, and grow, and grow, and grow, till it fills the whole earth: It is finished!

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Name is Lulav (Triumphal Entry?); Luke 19:28-44

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Who is My Neighbor, Really?, Luke 10:25-37

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rejoice! Your Names are Written in Heaven! (Luke 10:13-24, Isaiah 14:12-15)

I read an article this week about a missionary from Peru to India who oversees 3 pregnancy counseling centers. She was horrified that the number of girls aborted in India each day is equivalent to the population of Hoboken, New Jersey, so she decided to do something about it. She starts her counseling sessions by asking groups of young ladies, “What is the best gift you ever received?” Then she gets them to think about the gift of life as being the best gift. Physical life is certainly one of the best gifts, but even it comes to an end. In our physical life, we have opportunity to receive a more abundant, eternal life through Jesus Christ. This is the best gift. Our passage this morning begins before the 70/72 are sent out. Jesus pronounces woes upon 3 cities, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, because they largely rejected the eternal life offered to them. The people of these cities for the most part refused to repent and to believe in Jesus. Now we have stories of works Jesus did in Bethsaida (feeding the 5000 and healing a blind man) and Capernaum (healing the centurion’s servant, the coin in the fish’s mouth, healing a demon possessed man and the paralyzed man, etc), but we don’t have any recorded stories of what Jesus did in Chorazin, yet He must have done many great things there. These people missed out on the best gift of eternal life because they would not believe. Jesus goes on to say that if He had done these works in Tyre & Sidon, which were Phonecian merchant cities, not Jewish cities, that those people would have believed. But Jesus did not go to the Phonecians, though Paul and others would evangelize there later. In His naming of these Phonecian cities, however, Jesus shows His compassion and mercy toward the Gentiles. To whom much is given, much is required. The cities on whom Jesus pronounces woe had received much from God but refused to repent. Eternal life a wonderful gift, and without it is deepest sorrow and destruction. Sometimes we forget what a wonderful gift we’ve been given and instead, allow our happiness and joy to depend on other people’s acceptance of us. But it’s never supposed to be about us when it comes to serving Jesus. Jesus says that if we are accepted, it is really He who is being accepted, and if we are rejected, it is really Jesus who is being rejected. It is all about Jesus. When the 70 return, they return with joy. They were telling Jesus how even the demons obeyed them. Jesus says something interesting, “I was seeing Satan fall like lightning.” This phrase has multiple meanings. First of all, it is true. Jesus saw repeated victory over evil. Satan’s earthly power was being taken away with the advancement of the kingdom of God. This phrase also stands as a warning against pride. Pride is what caused Satan to fall in the first place. Most scholars think that Isaiah 14 describes the fall of Satan. Listen to this passage…Isaiah 14:12-15. In referring to the fall of Satan, Jesus is warning the disciples, and us, against the sin of pride. We must not take credit for the works done through us, but give God His rightful glory. Someone compared the authority we have like that of a 5’5”, 150lb policeman who stands in the road with his hand in front of him and using the authority of the law causes a fully loaded 18 wheeler to come to a complete stop. The policeman has no power of his own, but it is the law behind him that gives him the authority to stop traffic and write tickets! We have no power on our own, but we have the authority of Jesus’ name to overcome all the power of the Enemy! God doesn’t bless us for our sake but for His sake. The authority that Jesus gives us is to be used to glorify Jesus’s name. Jesus has conquered evil and given us power over it. He says that He has given us “authority over snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy” and that nothing can harm us. Snakes and scorpions are often used as metaphors for demons and evil. We literally see protection from deadly snakes when Paul was bitten by a pit viper and suffered no ill effects. Now this doesn’t mean we should go around snake handling, but as Penny is fond of saying, “We are immortal until God calls us home.” We also have no reason to fear Satan and evil. Jesus has conquered them, and we are conquerors in Christ. We really can’t say, “The devil made me do it.” We sin because draw away by our own lusts. We also have authority over evil done to us. The power of forgiveness sets us free from those who would imprison us. But our ability to conquer evil & demons isn’t the reason that Jesus says we ought to be rejoicing. Our salvation is our real reason to rejoice. We are to rejoice that our names are written in heaven. Our joy is found not in what we’ve done for God, but in what God has done for us. When we focus our lives in this way, we will always have reason to rejoice. Our joy can never run out because God has indeed done great things for us! We have been saved from wrath through Jesus. We have been forgiven. We have been given mercy, and we are deeply loved! We have become joint heirs with Christ, and we have direct access to the Father. We have eternal life! If we lose everything, our names are still written in heaven, and that is reason to always rejoice! The disciples were rejoicing in their success, but Jesus exulted in the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who accomplished the work. The triune God is always to receive the glory. In His prayer, Jesus thanks the Father. Our authority comes from Jesus, and the Holy Spirit works in the lives of the people with whom we share Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the one who grants wisdom through revelation of truth in our lives and the lives of all who hear the gospel. Thanksgiving is a key component of worship. There is also a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. Many people know many things about Jesus. They may even admire Him without knowing Him. No one knows the Son except the Father and those to whom the Father reveals the Son. The prophets and kings looked forward to the day of Jesus, but these disciples witnessed it. They saw the fulfillment of the prophecies. We too understand things that “angels long to look into,” by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. We too live in the advancing kingdom. Joy itself is a sign of the active reign of God in a person’s life. What brings you joy? What causes you to rejoice? Do you know that your name is written in heaven? Maybe you lack joy because you don’t really know that your name is written in heaven. John wrote in his gospel 20:31, “These are written to you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you have may life in His name.” And in I John 5:13, he wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God.” We can know our names are written in heaven. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our names are written in heaven. The only way we can believe is because the Father has revealed the Son to us. If you are not sure you believe, ask the Father to reveal the Son to you. If you believe, then rejoice: your name is written in heaven. Do not let anything or anyone take away the joy of your salvation