Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rules For Walking in Fellowship Rule 1

The first section of Rules for Walking in Fellowship has to do with the relationship to the pastor. This might seem somewhat self-serving on my part. However, I am not attempting to say something more than the good words of Owen. I am very pleased with our church and you as her congregants. Take these rules in the spirit they are given, with the desire to teach you to walk faithfully to Jesus.

Chapter 1- Attending to the Ordinances Dispensed by Your Pastor

Rule 1- Diligently attend and submit to the word and all ordinances committed to his administration and disposed by his ministerial authority, with ready obedience in the Lord.

1 Cor. 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2 Cor. 5:18, 20 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation...Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Gal. 4:14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

Heb. 13:, 17 7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Owen explains that there is a two-fold power for dispensing the Word of God: 1. Ability 2. Authority

The ability is revealed in the qualifications to the office listed in 1 Timothy and Titus. The authority is recognized as men are set apart to this work in an orderly manner. He describes an orderly manner as 1. Christ's institution of the office. 2. God's providential designation of the person so called. 3. The church's call, election, appointment acceptance and submission. 

He goes on, "these (powers) do not give pastors dominion over the faith of believers nor make them lords over God's heritage but entrust them with a stewarding power in the house of God--that is, the particular flock over which, in particular, they have been made overseers."

He describes motivations to adhere to this rule as 1. the name of God in which minister's speak. 2. the work that God has called them to do. 3. the return that they make 4. the regard the Lord has for them in His employment. 5. The account that hearers must take of the word they dispense.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rules for Walking in Fellowship- John Owen

John Owen's little book Rules for Walking in Fellowship is excellent. I encourage all of you to read and apply it.

We are doing the book for our Mens Forum group but are encouraging all of our folks age 15 and over to read it.

I will be posting some quotes and thoughts from the book as we make our way through it.

First, Owen sets out four presuppositions to his rules. He says these are obvious to every Christian Church or denomination and therefore do not even need  a serious defense. Some might debate his very presuppositions today.

I have paraphrased them here from Owen's language.

1.     Local Church bodies are divinely instituted
2.     Every believer must be bound to a local Christian Church.
3.     Submission to a local church is through voluntary consent.
4.     Collected believers should remain together in one congregation unless the congregation is too numerous and requires a second congregation.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Matthew 21 Sermon Notes

Matthew 21:1-46
Sermon Notes
Fear God
March 12, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         Jesus now makes His final appearances in Jerusalem. We have entered the final week of Jesus’s life before the crucifixion. There is a tremendous amount of His teaching left to study and it all happens on that fateful week.
         As Jesus faces His final showdown with the Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders in Jerusalem, the question as to who He is becomes paramount.
         Israel looked for the Anointed One, the Messiah. The awaited His arrival to deliver them from their oppressors and restore the throne of David. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, the people recognize that Jesus is the Messiah. They quote Psalm 118 and Jesus follows their quotes with more quotes of Psalm 118.
         You would think that the rulers would recognize Jesus as well. The parable that Jesus tells against them teaches us that they did recognize Him and they killed Him.
         Since Jesus died, this question is still paramount. Who is Jesus? Prophet? Priest? King? A good teacher? A holy man? A martyr? Yes, all of these. But if He is merely these and not who He said He was, then it is a lie. The Pharisees were right to kill Him.
         But if He was who He said He was, and He was, then a failure to submit absolutely to Him will be an invitation to destruction. When we answer the question, “Who is this?” our next response is to kneel before Him.

EXEGESIS
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
This is common gathering place for Jesus and His disciples.

2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
We are not told how Jesus knew this without His disciples knowing it. Was this some supernatural vision He had? Or, did He have other connections besides His immediate disciples?

3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
This seems to be a password that was worked out ahead of time. In addition to the main 12 apostles, there are several women that minister to Jesus. Perhaps one of them had set this up?

4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Jesus fulfilled all prophecy. Some of Jesus’s actions show that He self-consciously fulfilled prophecy. He did things purposefully to show that He was the promised one. Other things that happen to Jesus are outside of His immediate earthly control and yet these things also fulfill prophecy.
This quote is from Psalm Zech 9:9.

6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
The disciples are being both obedient and brave. They clearly think that the time for Jesus’s inauguration is at hand. They desire to make Him King of Jerusalem. They put their clothes on the donkey and set Jesus on the donkey. They set Him up as King.

8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
These are actions that celebrate the arrival of a King.

9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
Jesus is a King and not just any King. He is the One coming in the name of David. He is coming to set up the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. This is a great reason to praise the Lord. Psalm 118. Also contains the promise of Resurrection quoted in Hebrews. This is a song of judgment upon God’s enemies as well as triumph of the Son.
The Stone which the builders rejected also quoted in Psalm 118 and below in this passage.

10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
The city was moved. They were astonished. Who is this? That is the great question? The answer is that this is Jesus. But who is Jesus? Is He a King? Is He descended from David? Is He royalty? Is He a warrior? Politician? Priest? Elder?
The answer is that He is Jesus, a prophet from Galilee of the Gentiles. How can this be? No good thing comes from Galilee.

Matt. 21:12   And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
This is the second time that Jesus cleanses the temple. When He comes the third time, He mows down every stone.
Jesus casts out all those who do not belong in His Father’s house, those that bought and sold in the temple, moneychangers and dove sellers.
The temple of the Lord is a place of prayer, not to be a place to make money. We should keep this in mind. We can love one another in service and provide good and services to one another for a fair price. But the Church should not be the vehicle you use to advance yourself and your financial future.
This is a problem in the church. From Real Estate to Multi-level businesses, lawyer or even doctors, brother and sisters can start to look like dollar signs. Pastors are not exempt from it. Are the members of the church, tithers? Do you see them with dollar signs on their forehead? Or sheep? We must protect ourselves from this temptation.

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
Jesus is not just interested in those who can pay their way, those who can buy the sacrifices. He ministers to the blind, lame and sick. These have nothing to offer Jesus or those making a mockery of the Temple. Jesus came to serve them, the least of His brothers.

15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
Jesus quotes Psalm 8. Lower than the angels but has made Him to have dominion over all creation.

17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
Likely at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Matt. 21:18   Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
Jesus was hungry for fruit but there was no fruit. A fig tree peaks His interest but He is disappointed. He curses the tree and it withers immediately.
This is a warning to fruitless Israel. When the Lord comes looking for fruit, you are in grave danger.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
This was a miracle. It takes time for a tree to die. Even if the tree were cut down, it might still have healthy looking leaves the next day. Not so with this tree. As soon as Jesus judges it fruitless, it dried up from the roots up.

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Jesus teaches several things here. One, have faith. Those represented by the tree had no faith. They were unbelieving Israel. They will dry up and be thrown into the fire. If the disciples have faith in Jesus, then they will see this happen.
Furthermore, the mountain also represents unbelieving Israel. It will be thrown into the sea. The sea are the Gentiles and they will produce the fruit of faith.

Matt. 21:23   And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
We are nearing the final showdown. The chief priest and elder demand to know who Jesus is and from where His authority arises. But they have no plan to submit to His authority, even were it God Himself.

24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?
Jesus presents a question which exposes their hypocrisy. The question is straightforward and clear. Furthermore, the chief priests and elders know the answer. But they are not interested in truth. They are interested in staying in control.

And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
Their reasoning reveals their deceitful hearts. They do not reason among themselves as to whether this answer or that answer is true. They reason among themselves about what the result of their answer will be.
This sounds a lot like how a politician thinks when asked a question. He is not so much interested in the truth but what effect it will have at the voting booth. Unfortunately, many pastors now reason among themselves in this same self-serving and self-preserving way.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell.
They say, “We cannot tell.” But they really mean, “We will not tell.”

And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
And so Jesus responds in kind. Since you cannot tell me that the baptism of John was from heaven, neither will I tell you that I am from heaven.

Who Will Do My Will?
Matt. 21:28   But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first.
We can tell from this parable that the elders are good at reasoning. They did not perceive the trap or they would have refused to answer.
The first sons are the hypocritical and sneaky Chief Priests, elders, Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes. The second sons are those who disobey for a while but afterwards fully repent. The Lord rejects the first and accepts the second.

Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
Jesus now clearly answers the question He put to them about John. In this, He implicitly answers their question to Him. John was from God and so am I.
For Jesus to tell them that publicans and harlots are better than them is more than they can take.

Matt. 21:33   Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
The householder is still looking for fruit.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
He kept sending his workman to collect the fruit. The husbandmen beat, kill and stone the servants of the landowner.

37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
Finally, the landowner sends his own son to collect payment. The husbandmen realize this is the heir and kill him to seize upon his inheritance.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
The wickedness of the husbandman is clear. Jesus gets the Pharisees to pronounce their own judgment. They will be destroyed and their vineyard will be let out to others who will produce the fruit of it.

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Jesus quotes Psalm 118. This is the same Psalm that says, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. It is a Messianic psalm. The latter part of the psalm is about the One who is coming who will destroy those who oppose Him. Of course, the ancient church of Israel thought that meant that Messiah would destroy Israel’s enemies. But Jesus uses this quote to show that Israel is the enemy of Messiah. Thus, she will be destroyed.

43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
The Kingdom of God will be given to the Gentiles.

44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
Whoever attacks this stone, this chief cornerstone will be broken and ground to powder. The enemies of Messiah will not survive. He will crush them and rule over them. The chief priests and Pharisees knew that Jesus spoke this against them and sought to lay hands on him to kill Him. However, they feared the people and did not do so in the light of day.

EXHORTATION
Spurgeon, Who is this is a profitable, proper, personal, pressing question.

Profitable
We must know. Is He a King? And if so, Is He our King? Is He My King? Will He rule me? We are like sheep without a shepherd, a people without king.

Proper
The question about Jesus really is, “Who is This?”
C.S. Lewis “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
If He is not God in the flesh, then He is nothing less than a liar and a deceiver. If He is not God, then He is worse than any great religious leader that came before or after Him. So, this is the proper question. “Who is Jesus?”

Personal
This question about Jesus is not abstract. We don’t merely answer it for theology’s sake. We are not trying to pass a test. We want to know Who Jesus is because it is vital to us. If He really is the savior of mankind, then He is my Savior. The question is not only did Jesus come to save mankind but did Jesus come to save me.
And to answer that question, you have to answer why you need a Savior. Jesus is making it plain in these pages of the Bible, that the Pharisees and Scribe, the Sadducees, the Chief Priests and the elders, could not see the need for Jesus.
Why would I need Jesus to save me if I am not lost? Why would I need Jesus to forgive me if I have not sinned against Him? Why would I need healed if I am not sick? Why would I need life if I am not dead. But Jesue reminds us we are sick, lost and sinful. We are dead in our sins and without Jesus we are without God and without hope in the world.
Thus, who Jesus is, is a very personal question.

Pressing
         It is not only profitable, proper and personal, it is pressing. Today if you will hear His voice harden not your hearts. Today is the day of judgment. When we put off the Lord, we do so to our peril. Who knows whether He will call us again with such a profitable, proper, personal and pressing question.

         Who is Jesus?

He Repented and Went

We are that first son who resisted his father’s will but afterwards he repented and went to do his father’s will. It was a bad start but a good finish. It’s the finish that matters.
A father is always pleased with a son or daughter who gets it right in the end. Our children are human and make mistakes, sometimes big mistakes. But when they humble themselves and repent and do that which they know that they should do, mother and father are pleased.

         Our Heavenly Father is likewise pleased with us when we turn from our sins and turn to Him. He is patient and so He gives us room to turn back to Him. And when we do, He is standing there with open arms to receive us. And so we are gathered here after repentance to do our Father’s desire. We are glad that He is pleased to receive us.