Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.  41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Have you repented of your particular sins? Does this mean that you have realized that your sins are a real offense to God? Do you realize that this offense is deep and so wide, that it engulfed the Lord Jesus, Himself? This Jesus, whom you crucified? Do we think we would not have crucified Jesus? Or, do we think we would not have abandoned Jesus in His greatest hour of need, like Peter and John and James did? Of course, we would have failed miserably and our own particular sins prove this failing.
But what is your response? Is it repentance unto life? Or, is it some form of justifying yourself and your actions? The only way to life in Jesus is to simply own your sin, own your offense to God, own your participation in the death of Jesus. If you do this, then the accusations of the devil are powerless against you.
When the devil accuses you of sin and of participating in the death of Jesus, you can simply agree with him. Yes, it’s true and Jesus died to set me free from accusations.
He died to cover my sins, my guilt, any remaining shame. He died to forgive me. He died to give me His Holy Spirit. He died to save me from a generation of sinners. He died to grant me life and promises to me and to my children to a thousand generations. All the promises of God are ye and Amen in Jesus. I admit it. I was lost but now I am found. I was guilty in blood but now I am white as snow. I was an object of wrath but now I have received the mercy and grace of God. I was an enemy but now I am a friend. I was not among the people of God but now I am in God’s holy nation, a royal priesthood. Who shall separate me from the love of God in Christ? Nothing and no one for I am leaning on the Savior’s everlasting arms.
         Many have said the calling of the preacher is to Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable. On the day of Pentecost we see that it is not only the calling to do this but it is the also the work of the Holy Spirit.
         In John, we read of the work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus would send.

         John 16:7   Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
He came to reprove the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Sins separate us from God, particularly the sin of failing to embrace Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is innocent of sins and the only One who could and can bear our sins. And finally, for those who refuse to repent and embrace the Savior, there is judgment. Hell is real. Separation from God forever is a real possibility. We must not justify ourselves but must feel the weight of the Spirit’s conviction and turn from sins.
This is the affliction of the comfortable. Are you hearing these words thinking you are good to go because you are good? That is the wrong response. You should be thinking that your sins are enough to send Jesus to the cross. That is sobering and hurtful. It cuts deep. It pricks the heart and makes you wonder what you must do to be saved. And the answer is that same as it always is, turn to Jesus in confession and repentance. Believe God’s remedy for sin and sinners. Embrace the Lord Jesus, be filled with His Spirit and walk in newness of life.

But the Spirit also Comforts the Afflicted- I would imagine that most of you in this Church love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Your desire is to please Him and you are quickly convicted when you sin and you seek to make it right with both God and man. Those are the proofs that the Holy Spirit is already operable in your life. The Spirit has made you alive and enabled you to hear the Word preached.
Recall, that when Jesus ascended He reminded the disciples that He would send His Holy Spirit and that He would be with them always. This is the work of the Spirit. We are clothed in Christ. We, who are Christians, indeed, have been regenerated unto life in Jesus Christ. The Spirit is our new norm. We have not willed ourselves into doing that which is right. The Spirit has given us life and that abundantly. We see this and rejoice. We do not have to strive for it. It is a gift to us.
There are some clear evidences if this has happened to us. Of course, there is the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. Do you possesses these qualities and are they growing?

But there is a simpler evidence from our passage.
Acts 2:42   And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.  44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;  45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.  46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

To you, I offer words of peace and comfort. Rest Easy. Jesus is with you.
He gives us four marks to know if we are in the Spirit.
Do you do these things readily and with joy?
1.    You continue steadfastly in the Apostles’ Doctrine- Do you adhere to the Bible? Do you like to hear the Word preached? Do you desire the truth of God’s Word?
2.    You regularly fellowship with the saints- Do attend church regularly? Do you want to do this? Do you enjoy the saints outside of church?
3.    You break bread- This likely refers to the Lord’s Supper. Do you eat the Lord’s Supper, shewing forth the Lord’s Death without shame? Do you eat it as a meal of Thanksgiving? Also, do you break bread in fellowship with other saints?
4.    You pray- Are you in touch with God? Has the Spirit connected you to God, the Father and God the Son? Do you practice the Presence of God in your life? Do you trust God for the present and the future?

If these things represent you, then be at peace. The Holy Spirit is with you. You belong to God and He belongs to you.

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