Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Matthew 24 Sermon Notes

Matthew 24:1-31
Sermon Notes
Olivet Discourse
Gathered Elect
April 23, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

         We now come to the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus had ongoing conflict with the leading Jews, the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, chief priests and elders. This list of leading Jews included nearly all the leadership of Judaism. Their refusal to believe in Him comes to a head.
They will not believe. He now warns them about what is going to come upon them. His own disciples did not clearly understand His words. However, they do so in after days. The Lord uses these sayings of Jesus to protect His elect from the coming slaughter.
Make no bones about it. The destruction comes from within Judaism and also from the Romans but it is clearly the will of our Father in Heaven. That is a hard truth. The coming of the Lord in judgment upon unbelief and disobedience is real. The destruction of Jerusalem was finally accomplished but it was the Lord’s doing. It was His final judgment upon unbelieving Israel for the rejection and murder of the Messiah.

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Calvin mentions that the Temple was obviously splendid by the mere fact that Herod kept 10,000 workmen busy on it for eight successive years.
Jesus had already said, destroy this Temple and in three days, I will rebuild it. He was talking about His own body. Jesus is where we now worship.
In this passage, Jesus is talking about the literal temple. It will be thrown down.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
At this point, the disciples understand that Jesus is talking about the Temple and that destruction awaits. They recognize Him as a prophet who is telling them about future events. They want to know when it will happen.

Matt. 24:4   And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Matthew Henry says that “Josephus speaks of several such impostors between this and the destruction of Jerusalem; one Theudas, that was defeated by Cospius Fadus; another by Felix, another by Festus. Dosetheus said he was the Christ foretold by Moses. Origen adversus Celsum. See Acts v. 36, 37. Simon Magus pretended to be the great power of God, Acts viii. 10. In after-ages there have been such pretenders; one about a hundred years after Christ, that called himself Bar-cochobas—The son of a star.”

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
There were factions among the Jews themselves who were fighting. They joined forces to fight against the Romans but were continually fighting among themselves, even during the final stages of the siege in 70 A.D.
There was a great famine in the land prior to 70 A.D. and during the war and siege there were earthquakes and various signs appearing in the sky.

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
These apostles were martyred. This happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. They were hated by all nations for Jesus’s sake. Why? Because Jesus is the Lord of the nations and the kings of earth do not tolerate this well. It is still true in our day.

10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
This section is not talking about things are the very end of time. Jesus is talking about a calamity that will occur in Israel not many years after His death. Even among the saints, there was betrayal. Paul mentions this in Acts 20 that wolves from among the elders of the Ephesian church will harm the church.
         We also see that the seven churches of Asia have various sins rampant in them in the book of Revelation. This was also before the destruction of Jerusalem. It did not take long for corruption to reveal itself in the Church.

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
There were false prophets both within and without the Church. In the days leading up to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, there were many false messiah claims. Some men claimed to be the Messiah or claimed to usher Him in through their sect. There were three main sects vying for control of Jerusalem during the siege. They devoured one another in civil war. They did so while promising that the Messiah would show up and save them from their enemies. Of course, these same men, or their fathers and their fathers in the faith, had already denied and murdered the Messiah, Jesus.
Their promises of a the biblically promised messiah were false. They were false prophets and they did deceive many. The factions took up arms and wiped each other out, while at the same time believing that the messiah would arise and deliver them from the Romans. This never happened.

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Those who remained in Jerusalem were not saved. Those who withstood persecution and opposition were saved. They were saved souls. Also, many fled Jerusalem and survived the Roman occupation.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
The gospel spread through the entire Roman empire in the 30 or so years following the life of Jesus. Paul preached from Israel all the way to Rome. It was His desire to even go to Spain and some believe that he did so.

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
This must be when the Zealots take over the temple and elect their own high priest.

17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
There are many accounts of the siege of Jerusalem as a horrifying event. Josephus says that the siege occurred while many were attending Jerusalem during Pentecost. This means that the population swelled to a million people.
The defenders themselves caused a tremendous amount of suffering and misery. There were several factions in Israel. John of Gascala, The Sicarii, The Zealots, Simon of Gioras.
When the final assault occurs in the city, the destruction was rampant. The Roman soldiers were enraged and the defiance and violence of the defenders of the city and when then breached the walls, men, women and children were slaughtered as the Temple burned.

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
The numbers of dead in Jerusalem are simply staggering. Nearly everyone in the city perished. There are reports of 100,000 prisoners taken at the end of the siege. But Josephus puts the number in Jerusalem at the time at 1.1 million. This means a million people died in the siege.
Cestius Callus first siege but when he leaves all the Christians leave.
There were several false messiahs at this time, some within Jerusalem and some hailed as saviors from outside the city.
If it were possible to mislead the elect, these false prophets would do so. However, Jesus makes it clear here that the elect cannot be led astray. God’s choice of them keeps them safe.
The Savior has already come. Do not go after other false messiahs in the dessert or in the Temple.  Do not be mislead like the Zealots and others contending for the sacred city and saying that the Messiah will come and save them. It is the Messiah who is now rising up against them.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Matthew Henry discusses this passage as having to do with the spread of the gospel and the Son of man coming in great power and glory rapidly in the world. So, do not heed earthly saviors.
This seems constrained to me and rather out of place. I take it as continuing rather the destruction theme. Do not look for the saviors because the Son of man in coming in the destruction of lightning and fire. The end will be swift and powerful and no earthly power can stop it.
The final destruction will be swift.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
People will flock to the false messiahs like eagles to a carcass. But do not be deceived. There is not life and salvation there, only destruction.
The nation herself has become a dead carcass. The eagles fly to her to devour her. The roman ensign was an eagle.

Eusebius, writing in the fourth century, says all the Christians fled the city to another city called Pella. He says not a single Christian perished in the siege.

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Immediately after the tribulation- Matthew Henry explains this as meaning certainty. I think that is a stretch.
Better to keep the general context. The very next sections says that we should know these things from the season.
The sun and moon are darkened and the stars give no light is a clear indication of the shaking of the powers. They were shaken on the cross and again here at the close of the Jewish aeon.

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
Tacitus (A.D. 115) - Roman historian "13. Prodigies had occurred, but their expiation by the offering of victims or solemn vows is held to be unlawful by a nation which is the slave of superstition and the enemy of true beliefs. In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure. Few people placed a sinister interpretation upon this. The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world." (Histories, Book 5, v. 13)
A star in the shape of a sword.. “So it was when a star resembling a sword, stood over the city [Jerusalem] and a comet which continued for a year.” Josephus: Jewish Wars 6:289

31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
This gathering of the elect began at Pentecost. Here, the indication is that nothing will stop the gospel. This destruction occurred to put an eartly end to the Old order but it had no effect on the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He will collect His elect from the four corners of the earth.
These words are meant to comfort the saints in Judea and Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’s death. We are to look back at that event and know in His Resurrection that Jesus wins. Furthermore, we win in Jesus.
Throughout the ages, Christians have faced uncertain times. There have been wars and rumors of wars since the destruction of Jerusalem. Christians must rest in the hope that is Jesus Christ. He is the Savior. We should look for no other. At the end of time, the final Resurrection will put all things right.
The Lord will have lost none of His. He will gather all His own. They will abide because He abides. Of course, we should also learn the lesson of the destruction. All those who will not embrace Jesus as the Savior, or turn from Him as the Savior, face as certain destruction as the burning of the Temple. So, remain faithful to Jesus.
The elect face certain glorification. It is certain as the Lord’s watchcare over those saints in Jerusalem when she was burned. The gates were flung open and they were all saved. That is what happens to us when we give our lives to Christ. We are besieged by the enemy, by the world, the flesh and devil. Sin and death have us in their grip. But the grace of God through Jesus Christ, throws upon the gates and we run to our stronghold in Jesus. In Him, we are safe. So, let us flee to Him and be saved.


Easter Feast Again

Today is Easter Feast again. Easter Day has passed but we are in Easter Season for several more weeks, until Ascension and Pentecost.
         But even after that, even when we enter into the season after Pentecost, we still meet on Sunday for an Easter Feast. Every Lords Day we gather and receive communion. We remember the Lord’s death until He comes again. His death granted us forgiven life. And His Resurrection justified us in that He overcame the penalty of sin by rising from the dead.
      We do remember the Lord’s death in this meal but we also celebrate His victory over death. And we do this every Sunday of the year, not just on Easter or the Sundays during Easter. For us, every Sunday is an Easter Feast.

New and Old Sins

The Bible tells us not to grow weary in doing good. This is related to doing good works for others. We need to keep on doing this even when we grow tired or bored.
         Another area where we must not grow weary in doing good is confessing our sins. Some sins are the same old sins for which we have confessed a hundred times, a thousand times, maybe a hundred thousand times: covetousness, envy, lust, gossip, anger, discontentment, critical speech. But do not grow weary in that fight. Keep fighting those enemies. Keep confessing those sins, even another hundred thousand times.

         Sometimes, we are faced with new temptations or sins we had not anticipated. We are drawn in or caught and find ourselves faced with new struggles at age thirty, or forty, or fifty or sixty, sins that we may not have dealt with earlier in life. Bitterness, complaining, grumbling, poor reactions to disappointments related to family members, or simply just facing different temptations as you age. Confess these, too. The Lord loves a humble suppliant. He gladly grants forgiveness. So, do not retain sins, old ones or new ones. Confess them to the Lord, receive forgiveness and walk in newness of life.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Matthew 28 Sermon- Easter

Matthew 28:1-20
Sermon Notes
The King is Alive
Easter Sunday
April 16, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

         The main thing about the Resurrection is that Jesus is not dead. It is not simply that He rose from the dead. He did. He overcame death by that same Spirit that dwells in us. But there is something even more profound than spiritual life after death in this Resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead and He is still alive!
         He is not merely alive in the Spirit. Of course, He is. In fact, His Spirit never died, just like your Spirit will never die. While Jesus was in the tomb, His Spirit was alive. But His body was most certainly dead. But since He is risen in His resurrection body, His body will never die. He is immune to decay and death. He has entered eternal life in body as well as Spirit.  His body will live forever!

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
These women came to the tomb but not in faith to see a living Jesus. They came in despair to mourn a dead Jesus.
Spurgeon notices that the Old Sabbath was dying away. The women approach Jesus on the dawn of the new Sabbath.
The greatest sinners are in need of the greatest Savior. Mary Magdelene, that sinful woman, from whom Jesus cast seven devils, is a devoted disciple of Jesus. She who was forgiven much, loved much.
Calvin points out that it was a sin for disciples to go to the sepulcher to see the dead Jesus. Why? Because He had told them explicitly that He was going to rise from the dead. The apostles were indolent in their response. The women at least hasten to the tomb. Albeit not to see the risen Lord. But the Lord rewarded their ardor to serve Him, even in death. These women receive the high honor of being the first witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. Through this, Jesus teaches the Apostles an important lesson. They must be humble to serve Him. He chooses those who seek to serve Him. The apostles must learn from the women.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
The earth must quake when the Savior awakes. The event changed history and the earth shuddered to have it so.
Death had Jesus in its arms but when He broke free, He created a fault between Heaven and Earth. The Earth reeled and the stone rolled.
The Angel of Lord is the presence of God, Himself. He rolls back the stone of sin and death and sits upon at as the victor. No longer can sin and death reign in the lives of those who belong to the risen Savior.
Spurgeon- “That great stone seems to represent the sin of Christ’s people, which shut them up in prison; it can never be laid again over the mouth of the sepulcher of any child of God.”

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
When God shows up in power, He strikes fear into the hearts of wicked men who are as dead men before Him. But He speaks to the women and tells them not to fear, for they seek Jesus.
But their sorrow was soon turned into joy. The angels proclaim a living Jesus.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
These women are given the charge of witnesses, of evangelists. Go and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead. This is the message of power that all who believe on the Lord Jesus will overcome sin and death. We, too, will rise from the dead, in this life and in the one to come.
They are told to meet Jesus in Galilee, Galilee of the Gentiles. This is an indication of where the gospel is soon to go, for Jesus will be a light to the Gentiles.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
The Angel of the Lord told them not to fear but they did. The presence of God is fearful. The women are filled with fear and great joy. They fear God and are overjoyed that Jesus is not dead but alive. Their task was to go and tell the disciples. An experience of God will make us fear but let give way to great joy.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
The women believed and went. Along the way, they saw Jesus. When you believe that Jesus is alive, you will see Him and worship Him.
The women were afraid of the Angel of the Lord. And now Jesus comes to comfort them. Jesus is the one who calms our fears.

Matt. 28:11   Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
The enemies of Christ also know that Jesus is alive. But instead of humbling themselves before Him, they continue to oppose him and bribe the guards.
The wicked elders know that Jesus has risen from the dead, just as they knew that Lazarus had risen from the dead. Instead of producing salvific faith in them, it produces more envy and enmity. They give large hush money to the soldiers to say that the body of Jesus was stolen away.

14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
The Jews even offered to secure the governor, knowing that the soldier’s failure could cost them their lives. They offer to bribe the governor or to keep up the lie.

Matt. 28:16   Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
The eleven seek Jesus at the mountain. They worship him there, but some douted.

The Power of the Living Jesus
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
This is the preamble to the Great Commission. It is the basis on which we preach. Without this, we do not really have the pretext to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Why would we baptized and declare the name of Jesus to all nations if He is not the one who rules heaven and earth?
The Great Commission is not merely to preach Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. It is that Jesus in the One to Whom all power is given. He is the one who rules over all, in Heaven and Earth. In fact, He rules Heaven from Earth. He rules the physical world as a man, as the one High Exalted King. Of course, Jesus is also Lord over all of creation, spiritual beings as well as physical. He rules angels and devils. The former, who willingly submit. The latter who are coerced to acknowledge His Lordship and who are judged accordingly.
But the basis on which we declare the Great Commission and baptize in the name of the Triune God, is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all things.
Our goal is not to make Him Lord over all the Earth. He is already Lord. Our job as pastors, evangelists, teachers and laymen is declare this truth. All men will submit to Jesus because He is the Sovereign Lord. The work of the evangelist is to declare this truth and to call men to submit to Him out of love for Him, for His work on the cross, for His Sovereign Rule over all things.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
         So, the Great Commission is that Jesus is ruler of all. Submit therefore to Him. Cast your sins upon Him, the One who was despised and murdered upon the tree but who is now risen never to die again.
         In His is life and all who come to Him will experience the life that He now lives. We will be seated with Him who is at the right hand of the Father. We will enter into glory here and an ever more glorious hereafter.

         Furthermore, as I mentioned in the beginning of this sermon, Jesus is not dead. Jesus is alive. His body is alive. He is not a departed spirit.
         I don’t know how much you have thought about this. Have you? We spend a lot of time in struggle in this life. Granted, the life we have now in Jesus is very good. As Christians, we know that He has granted us eternal life. This produces a profound peace in us. Our futures are secure.
         But what does this make of all of our present suffering? Is it enough to say that we enter into the sufferings of Christ? If you want to be like Jesus, you have to suffer, you have to be betrayed, you have to be unjustly accused. This all comes with the territory. You have to count that cost, too.
         But what about the body? What about the Resurrection from the dead? What does that matter? Well, it matters a great deal.
         When Jesus was on the cross, the enemies mocked and laughed at Him. Why? Because He made Himself out to be the Son of God. And everyone knows that the gods are immortal, incapable of death. But here was Jesus dying on the tree.
         They laughed at Him on the cross but He was vindicated in the Resurrection. The kings of earth and rulers killed Him but the Father held them in derision and laughed. He laughed. Why, because He had set His Son on the Holy Hill of Zion, the New Jerusalem, at the right hand of the power on high, from which He would rule until all things are in subjection to Him.
         Don’t you see? When we receive our Resurrection bodies, we get the last laugh. We can laugh at 20 years of sorrows, or 33 years, or 70 or 80 years, because we get everlasting bodies that no longer suffer. Sometimes our present suffering does not measure up to our present blessing. It does really, but you are not that good at Divine Calculus.
         But set that suffering against an eternity of bodily Resurrection Life, in a body yet without sin. No temptations, no pain. Work that is fruitful. Laughter without bitter irony. Blessing without mimetic rivalry. Man living as man is meant to live. Man, and woman and children.
         We do not know exactly what it will be like. But we see Jesus and we will be like Him, ever living, never dying, mortals who put on immortality. Endure to the end for the reward is greater than you can even imagine. Mortals who live in unending light with our risen Lord.
As N.T. Wright so aptly put it, the greater glory is revealed in the life after life after death. The life after is the vindication of all the previous death. It is the upward prize for which we endure. When sin is no more, when bodily death is dead, we will really see Jesus as He is, for we will be like Him. This is the power of the Resurrection.