Buried in a Jewelry Box

BURIED IN A JEWELRY BOX

A woman took her small daughter to the funeral home for the viewing of her grandmother. Staring into the casket, the little girl asked, “Mama, why did they put grandma in a jewelry box?” I guess to a small child some caskets do look like hug jewelry boxes. And for a Christian a casket does indeed hold the body of a “jewel.” We have been made God’s “jewels.” Speaking of those who “fear the Lord,” God said, “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels.” (Mal. 3:17). The “jewels” are the “righteous” (Mal. 3:18). The “Sun of Righteousness” has come with “healing in His wings” and made us “jewels” (Mal. 4:2). The “Rising Sun from on high” has visited us (Lk. 1:78, McCord’s Translation). It is interesting that the word translated “jewels” in the NKJV is also translated “peculiar treasure” (Ex. 19:5; Ps. 135:4) and “special” (Deut. 7:6). That is why God’s people are called “jewels.” They are “special” and, therefore, a “peculiar treasure.” Jewels are rare and jewels are valuable. We are rare because we have been chosen by God (1 Pet. 1:3). We are valuable because we have been redeemed by the “precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Christians are “His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). We are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13-14). The Lord promised to make believers His “jewels.” So, I suppose, there is a sense in which our physical bodies are “BURIED IN A JEWELRY BOX.”

Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.org

Gates of Hell Shall not Prevail

THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL

Introduction: Matthew 16:13-19

This study comes from the section of Matthew where Jesus promised to build His church. Our title comes from the statement of the Lord in verse 18 where He said: “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (KJV; ESV). This is the first time in the New Testament that the word “church” is specifically used and I believe that there are a number of lessons that we can learn about the church from this section. While it really doesn’t matter what I might think, or what others might think about the church, it does matter concerning what God has said about it. Therefore, all people ought to be interested in what the Bible says about the church. In dealing with this subject I want us to notice three things. We will note the:

I. FOUNDER of the church.
II. FOES of the church.
III. FUTURE of the church.

I. THE FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH

A. As we think about the founder of the church that we read about in the Bible, let’s notice:

1. The Person.

It was Jesus who came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13a). It was Jesus who asked the question of the disciples (Matt. 16:13b). And it was Jesus who said “I” will build my church (Matt. 16:18). It is vitally important to understand that Jesus is the person who said He would build the church. It was not John the Baptist. It was not Elijah. It was not Jeremiah. It was not one of the prophets: Samuel, Elisha, Isaiah, David, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, etc. It was not Peter. It was not Andrew. It was not James. It was not John. It was not Philip, Matthew, Bartholomew, Thaddeaus, Judas, or Paul. It was not Martin Luther, John Wesley, Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White, Charles Russell, Alexander Campbell, or any other mere man. It was Jesus Christ – the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16). And while some thought that He was John the Baptist – possibly because of His courage. And some thought He was Elijah – possibly because of His conviction. And some thought that He was Jeremiah – possibly because of His compassion. And some thought he was one of the prophets – possibly because of His characteristics. He was neither, but greater than all of them combined and then some. He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He is the person who said He would build the church.

2. The Promise.

The second thing we need to notice about the Founder is the promise that He made to build the church. He promised Peter that “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18b). The “rock” on which He promised to build the church is the fact that Peter had just confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Therefore, Jesus is the foundation of the church. Paul clearly stated this fact in I Corinthians 3:11when he wrote, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (See I Cor. 10:4; I Peter 2:8; Eph. 2:20). As the song says, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” All who become members of the church that He promised to build must believe, as Peter did, that HE is the Christ, the Son of the living God and Savior of the church (Acts 8:36-37; Rom. 10:9-10; Matt. 10:32). The statement, “I will build…” clearly indicates that the church was still future when this promise was made and stresses the fact that the church would definitely be built at some future time. He did not say I “might” build, or “may” build, but He said, “I will build my church.”

3. The Price.

The final thing we need to notice as we think of the Founder of the church is the price He paid for it. Jesus knew that He was going to have to go through the very door of death itself to pay the price for the church and that is why He talked about the ”gates of Hades” (Matt. 16:18c, NKJV). The ”gates of hell (hades)” would not prevail against the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. He would be put to death for His claim and He would enter the Hadean world (Acts 2:27), but it would not prevail against that claim. He would be resurrected and build the church like He had promised. Neither the doors of death, nor the devices of the devil, would stop Him from doing what had been determined (Acts 2:23). We desperately need to understand that Jesus not only built the church, He also bought it (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:20). He not only planned it, He purchased it (Acts 20:28). He not only said He would start it, He also said He would save it (Eph. 5:23-27). That’s why He said, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18b). It is His building, His body, and His bride because His blood purchased it. (See 1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:22-32; Acts 20:28).

II. THE FOES OF THE CHURCH

A. The foes of the church would be many. Satan would not only try to stop Jesus from building the church, he would also use all of the forces he could muster to prevail against it after it was built. To face these foes, we must be on our toes. That is, we must “watch” and not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (Acts 20:31; 2 Cor. 2:11). In this section we will only take time to notice five of the foes we face:

1. Deception.

One foe that we should know is deception. Jesus warned of false teachers (Matt. 7:15). John said that many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). The church has always had to fight deceivers and deception. Paul feared that the church in Corinth might be “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). The church in Thyatira was plagued by a deceiver named Jezebel (Rev. 2:18-24). Paul marveled at how the Galatians had been influenced by those who perverted the gospel of Christ into legalism (Gal. 1:6-9). (See also Rom. 16:17-18; Jude 4; 2 Peter 2:1). The church in this and every age must watch and remember that we have been warned about the wolves (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31). We must remember our obligation to uphold and support the truth (1 Tim. 3:14-15) which is “in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). We must earnestly contend for the faith of the gospel that was once for all delivered to the saints (Phil. 1:27; Jude 1:3). Let’s not be deceived by what we believe. Let’s seek (Isa. 34:16). Let’s search (John 5:39). Let’s study (2 Tim. 2:15). Let’s find out if the things we are being told are the truth and nothing but the truth (Prov. 23:23; John 8:32; I Peter 1:22-23). Any doctrine that does not teach that Jesus Himself is the “way, truth, and life” must be avoided at all cost (Jn. 14:6). The gates of hell shall not prevail if we will study our Bibles well.

2. Division.

Another foe we need to know is division. Division among God’s people is both serious and sinful, and those who cause must be avoided. Paul said, “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). For one to uphold division is an unhealthy decision. Many times it is deception that causes division. It is those who teach “contrary to the doctrine of Christ” and “by good words and fair speeches deceive” who are responsible for most of the division that exists in the religious world today (Rom. 16:17-18). Deception leads to division. However, we know that God both desires and demands unity among His disciples. In the Bible He praised unity (Psalm 133:1); prayed for unity (John 17:20-21); pleaded for unity (1 Cor. 1:10); and provided for unity (Eph. 4:4-16). Plus, He encouraged the saints in Ephesus, to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Unity among believers causes others to believe (John 17:21). What is really sad is when the church is divided over positions, personalities, or other petty problems. We need to realize that keeping unity is something that we must be “endeavoring to do” (Eph. 4:3), and not something that we just “ease into.” We need to remember that we are one body (1 Cor. 12:12-27) and that we are all on the same team if we follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). We do not have to be united in our all of our perceptions of exactly how to follow Jesus in order to be united in our purpose of following Jesus. Every local Church needs to keep this in mind.

3. Diversion.

A third foe that we need to know is diversion. “Diversion” is a turning aside from our main goal. The primary mission of the church is the saving of souls through the preaching of the gospel (Luke 19:10; I Tim. 3:14-15). We must never lose sight of this fact. Our main work is not social or political, but spiritual. We must never allow ourselves to be diverted from this work (Matt. 6:33; Phil. 1:21; 3:13; Matt. 4:4). Many times it is division that leads to diversion. In fact, sometimes deception leads to division which then leads to diversion. Because of divisions among ourselves we are distracted from our main goal of preaching the gospel of Jesus. We start fighting among ourselves and are thus diverted from our main mission. We then have to spend too much of our time arguing over matters that should never, in many cases, have been a problem in the first place. Jesus said that if we’ll go, teach, baptize, and preach, He will be with us even to the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20). Let’s make sure that we do our part, so that we can have Jesus in our heart (Eph. 3:17).

4. Discouragement.

A fourth foe we need to know is discouragement. This is an enemy that has probably affected every local church, as well as every Christian, at one time or another. Many times it is deception, division, and diversion that lead to discouragement. The Hebrew writer said, “Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down…” (Heb. 12:12) which indicates they were having a problem with discouragement. When writing to Galatia, Paul said, “and let us not be weary in well doing…” (Gal. 6:9). Discouragement has been, and many times still is, a major problem for the church. Lack of attendance, lack of appreciation, apathy, and a host of other things can also be cited as causes for discouragement. Every Christian has the responsibility of helping others to fight this foe. We need to “exhort one another daily…” as we have the opportunity (Heb. 3:13; 10:24-25).

5. Disbelief.

The final foe before we go is disbelief. Many times deception, division, diversion, and discouragement lead to the sin of unbelief (John 17:20-21). It seems that this is the sin that “does so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). That’s why it is so important for Christians to “take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). There’s no relief in unbelief, only grief (Heb. 3:19; Mark 16:14). This has stopped many churches cold. Therefore we need to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith …” (Heb. 10:22). We must not give up, let up, shut up, or back up until the church of our Lord is either built up or taken up. We need to strive more, study more, serve more, and sacrifice more. The gates of hell shall not prevail because we have the Lord and He cannot fail.

III. THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

A. Finally, we come to consider the future of the church. Just what would be the future of the church whose Founder was Jesus and whose Foes are many? In answering this question the Bible teaches that the church of Jesus Christ would be:

1. Persecuted.

The foes of the church would continue to fight against the faithful. The gates of hell would continue to try to prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). Jesus told His disciples, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you …” (John 15:20). He further warned, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33). Observe that He said you “will have” – not “might” or “may,” but “will” have tribulation. Paul further warned in II Timothy 3:12, ”Yes, and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Also the book of Revelation teaches that the church would be continually persecuted by Satan (Rev. 12). Therefore, concerning the future of the church, the Bible clearly teaches that as long as the church is in this world she will be persecuted and troubled.

2. Preserved.

However, the Bible also teaches that, in spite of the persecution, the church would be preserved and protected throughout the persecution brought against it. The gates of hell shall not prevail (Matt. 16:18; ESV). The church is built on a “Rock” (Matt. 16:18). The word used by Jesus “denotes a mass of rock, as distinct from …a stone that might be thrown or easily moved” (Vine, p. 984). The church is built on Jesus – the Rock that cannot be moved. Jesus taught that a house built on a rock would not fall in spite of the fact that winds, rains, and floods beat against it (Matt. 7:24-27). This is certainly true of the “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5) which is built on the ”foundation” laid by the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20) – which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). That’s the reason that the Bible teaches that the church or kingdom “shall never be destroyed” and “shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44). It “cannot be moved” (Heb. 12:28). “There shall be no end” (Luke 1:33). God is going to be glorified “in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end” (Eph. 3:21). The gates of hell shall not prevail because the church is “preserved in Christ” (Jude vs. 1).

3. Presented.

Not only will the church be preserved, it will also be presented. Christ will ‘‘present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). It will be presented pure to Christ. Paul said to the church in Corinth, “For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste [pure, ASV] virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2). It will be presented faultless to God. Jude wrote, “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy …” (Jude vs. 24). The faithful church is kept clean by the blood of Jesus (I John 1:7), and will be presented fadeless, flawless, and faultless to God at the end of this age. The gates of hell shall not prevail because what God does He does so well.

CONCLUSION:

In this study we have discussed the FOUNDER, FOES, and FUTURE of the church that belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. It is composed of all believers who have been “born again” (Jn. 3:1-8). Hopefully we have learned that the future of the church is secure because of its founder and in spite of its foes. The gates of hell shall not prevail because God’s promises never fail. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).

Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.org

Lessons for Life from Lot’s Wife

LESSONS FOR LIFE FROM LOT’S WIFE

Introduction: Gen. 19:12-26; Luke 17:32

1. Sometimes people are remembered because of the many bad things they do. Al Capone, Hitler, Bonnie and Clyde, Jesse James, and many others are remembered because of numerous acts they did over various periods of time.
2. On the other hand, sometimes a person is remembered because of only one bad thing they do. Lee Harvey Oswald is known, and will be known in history, because of the one act he committed in killing President Kennedy. Ifit were not for that one act, odds are that we would have never known that he lived. There are many others who fall into this category.
3. The subject of this present study is a person who is known and remembered because of one bad act. One bad act makes her famous. There are only a few words in the Bible about her. Yet, Jesus Himself told us to “remember” her. He told us to remember her and we don’t even know her name. Therefore, she is to be remembered not for who she was by name, but for what she was by nature. In Luke 17:32 Jesus said, “remember Lot’s wife. ”
4. All we really know about her specifically is in a few verses in Genesis 19 and in one verse in Luke 17.
5. But what is it about her that we need to remember, and why should we remember it? We could remember:
a. Who she was – Lot’s wife who was told to get out of Sodom.
b. Why she was told to leave – because God was going to destroy the city.
c. What happened to her – she looked back and became a pillar of salt.
6. There are the things that immediately come to mind when we mention her. She is famous. ILLUSTRATION: A teacher was teaching her class of little boys about this incident where Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.
One of them replied, “That’s nothing, my mother was driving our car down the road and
she looked back and turned into a telephone pole. ” ILLUSTRATION: I heard about one preacher who having trouble with people looking back at the clock while he was preaching so he hung a sign with big letters just below the clock which read “Remember Lot’s wife. ”
7. In this present study I want us to remember three things about her that should help us all to be better people. Let’s remember:

a. HER PRIVILEGE.
b. HER PUNISHMENT.
c. HER PROBLEM.

I. HER PRIVILEGE (Gen. 19:12-17).

A. The Lord’s Message (vs. 12-15).

1. She had the privilege of hearing the Lord’s message of the coming destruction of the sinful city. God warned Lot and his family concerning the city. The message was clear: “The Lord will destroy this city.”
2. She had the privilege of knowing and being
forewarned of the coming danger.
3. As we “remember Lot’s wife” today let us be reminded of the fact that God has also clearly warned us of the coming wrath on sinners (Mark 16:16b; II Thess. 1:6-9; Matt. 25:31-46).

B. The Lord’s Mercy (Vs. 16-17).

1. She also had the privilege of receiving God’s mercy. The text says concerning Lot and his family, “The Lord being merciful unto him.” He saved Lot for Abraham’s sake (Gen. 19:29). He saved Lot and his family because of His mercy.
2. Because of this mercy He provided a way for Lot’s wife to be saved from the destruction. The message of mercy to her was clear: “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee.” All she had to do was obey the good news God had for her and she would have been saved from destruction.
3. As we “remember Lot’s wife” let us remember that He extends the same mercy to us that He did to her in that He has provided a way for us to be saved. He saves us for Jesus’ sake and because of His mercy (Titus 2:11-12; 3:5; Mark 16:15-16; Rev. 2:10). But we must do as they had to do – obey (Heb. 5:8-9; II Thess. 1:6-8). We must trust in Jesus and receive Him as Lord (Acts 2:36; Col. 2:6).

II. HER PUNISHMENT (Gen. 19:26).

A. The second thing I want us to notice is her punishment. She did not take advantage of her privilege and therefore she was punished.

B. Her punishment was sure. The text says she “looked back from behind her and she became a pillar of salt.” She sinned and she suffered.
As Moses later said concerning those who sin against the Lord, “be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).

C. Her punishment was severe. She became a pillar of salt. The same Lord who “rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire ” (Gen. 19:24) also turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. Observe God’s goodness in providing a way for her to escape and also God’s severity when she refused to follow His instructions. In short, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22). We need to realize that God is good but He is also severe in dealing with those who refuse to do His will. He has promised to punish evildoers and He will (II Thess. 1:6-9; Matt. 25:41,46). If you don’t think so just “remember Lot’s wife. ”

III. HER PROBLEM (Gen. 19:26).

A The third thing I want us to see is not only her privilege, and her punishment, but also her problem. Why did she look back? What was her problem?

B. First, we need to realize that the Lord did not tell us specifically why she looked back. Possibly He wants us to know that regardless of the reason – she perished. In other words, there was no legitimate reason for her disobedience. Whatever her excuse there was no justification for it.

C. Second, there have been some very interesting suggestions as to why she looked back, and while they may or may not be the exact cause, they do provide some good lessons for us. Some suggest that her problem may have been:

1. Curiosity. Some suggest that she was curious and wanted to see if the Lord really meant what He said. If that be the case, she soon found out – the hard way! Many today do not seem to believe what the Lord said in John 3:5, 4:24; Matthew 6:33 or Revelation 2:10. However, if you ever really wonder whether or not God means what He says just “remember Lot’s wife.”

2. Children – Others suggest she was concerned about her children who remained in Sodom and that is why she looked back (Gen. 19:14). However, love for the family is no excuse for failing to obey God (Matt. 10:37). If we are allowing our children, parents, friends, or anyone else to hinder us from obeying God, we’ll still be lost. I’ve known people who would not obey the gospel of Jesus because other members of their family would not and they just would not leave them behind. If that’s the case we need to “remember Lot’s wife.”

3. Covetousness – Still others suggest that covetousness or materialism was the reason she looked back. That is, the angels got her out of Sodom but they did not get Sodom out of her. It seems to me that the Bible lends some support for this view. For example, Genesis 19:26 says that she looked back “from behind him” which indicates her reluctance to leave. She really did not want to go and thus she was lagging behind. (I wonder how many of us are tied to this world, Matt. 6:19-20; Col. 3:1-2)? Also, Luke 17:28-33 clearly indicates that materialism and covetous­ ness will be a characteristic of the people living when the Lord returns. This is the context in which Jesus referred to Lot’s wife. Observe especially how Jesus warns about being overly concerned about the “things in the house” in Luke 17:31 before bringing up Lot’s wife in verse 32. Also the verse that follows indicated that she was concerned about her life “in this world” (Luke 17:33; John 12:25). If we ever start being so concerned with life in this world that we do not want to leave it, we need to “remember Lot’s wife. ”

CONCLUSION:
In this study we have learned some lessons for life from Lot’s wife. Hopefully they will help us be better people and avoid some of the pitfalls we all face.
Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).

Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.org

“Ments”for Growth

“Ments” for Growth

Text: 2 Peter 1:1-13.

Introduction:

1. The book of Second Peter deals with Christian growth.
2. When I think about this book, I think about this statement: “Things to Know…in order to Grow.”
3. The book begins and ends by emphasizing growth.

a. It begins, “giving all diligence add to your faith” (1:5).
b. It ends, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (3:18).

4. The book of Second Peter may be briefly outlined as follows:

Chapter one: PROVISION for Growth. Provision for growth is supplied because “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue” (1:3).

Chapter two: PREVENTING Growth. We prevent growth by allowing false teachers to “bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them…” (2:1).

Chapter three: PURPOSE for Growth. Purpose for growth is because “the day of the Lord will come” (3:10) and we want to be “found by him in peace, without spot and blemish” (3:14). We look for a “new heavens and new earth” where righteous dwells (2 Pet. 3:13ff).

5. Observe carefully that salvation is based on knowing the Savior. Notice his emphasis on this knowledge:

a. Grace and peace comes to us “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (1:2)
b. All things pertaining to life and godliness are “through the knowledge of Him” (1:3).
c. We are cleansed from our sins “in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:8-9).
d. We escape the pollution of the world “through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2:20).
e. Grace is extended to us “in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (3:18).

6. Therefore the Christian’s “hope and faith are in God” (1 Peter 1:21). Having been “born again” (1 Peter 1:23), we rest our “hope fully upon the grace…” of God (2 Peter 1:13).

7. But while our salvation depends totally and completely on our knowledge and trust in the Savior Himself, our growth as a Christian depends on knowing His word and will for our lives.

8. As newborn believers, we are to “desire the pure milk of the word” that we may “grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).

9. Second Peter is a book that helps and encourages us to do just that – grow as Christians.

10. In this study we want to notice three “ments” for growth from Second Peter 1:1-13.

11. And to let you know what we are talking about, we remind you of a number of “ments” that exist in our world and language. For example there are:
Advertisements, Accomplishments, Appointments
Engagements, Enjoyment, Experiments
Apartments, Compartments, Departments
Statements, Refreshments, Supplements

12. When I was a child my favorite Aunt accused her sons and me of being full of “devilment” – whatever that means.

13. In the Bible we have: Atonement, Commandment, Testament.

14. In Second Peter there are three “ments” to help us grow. They are:

I. ENCOURAGEMENT
II. COMMITMENT
III. EXCITEMENT

Body: “Ments” for Growth

I. ENCOURAGEMENT (2 Peter 1:1-4).

A. The first “ment” is encouragement. Encouragement is something that gives us courage, hope, and confidence.

B. The first four verses of 2 Peter 1 are full of encouragement for growth.

1. Notice first the PRECIOUS FAITH (2 Peter 1:1).

a. The precious faith is in the “precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). To those of “us who believe HE is precious” (1 Peter 2:7). Our faith (trust) is not in procedures, plans, or performance. Our faith is in a PERSON!! (2 Peter 1:1)
b. We “rest our hope fully (not partly, or mostly, or somewhat, but “fully”) on His grace.” (1 Peter 1:13).
c. We are saved “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1) and not by anything we have done or will do.
d. This is “the true grace of God in which you (we) stand” (1 Peter 5:12).
e. We “have purified our souls in obeying the truth” that Jesus died “for us” and “redeemed us” with His “precious blood” (1 Peter 1:18-22).
f. “Having been born again” (1 Peter 1:23) when we demonstrated our trust in His death, burial, and resurrection by being buried with Him in baptism and raised to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-6), we have “the salvation of your [our] souls” (1 Peter 1:9).

a. In Christ, God has “given us all things pertaining to life and godliness through knowing Him” (2 Peter 1:3).
b. Included are “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4). Note, not just promises, or great promises, or precious promises, or even great and precious promises, but “exceeding” great and precious promises.
c. It is through “these promises” that we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4).
d. These promises include “remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38-39), “eternal life” (1 John 2:25), and “all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3).

II. COMMITMENT – (2 Peter 1:5-10)

A. God has provided the encouragement for growth and “for this very reason” (vs. 5) we need to make a commitment to grow.

B. And while it is true that the indwelling Spirit produces fruit in us (Gal. 5:22-23), He only does so with our cooperation or commitment.

C. Even those who had gifts of the Spirit given by the laying on of the apostles hands could “neglect the gift that is in you” (1 Tim. 4:14)

D. They also had the responsibility “to stir up the gift of God” which is in them (2 Tim. 1:6). Paul clearly taught that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32).

E. And just as they had to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in them, so do we. We can “quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19) by refusing to allow Him to work in us. He is a helper, not an enforcer! (Jn. 14:16, 26).

F. Therefore we must be “giving all diligence” (v. 5) and “be even more diligent” (v. 10) to add these Christian virtues to our lives (2 Peter. 1:5-7).

G. And while it is only “through Christ who strengthens” us (Phil. 4:13) that we are able to accomplish anything (John 15:5), it does take trust in Him and commitment in order to grow.

H. Remember, we are not saved by our commitment to grow, we are saved by Jesus and what He did for us. (1 Peter 1:18-20).

I. But because He has saved us, He wants us to “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2) and be committed to being fruitful (2 Peter 1:8)

III. EXCITEMENT (2 Peter 1:12-13)

A. The third “ment” for growth is excitement. Encouragement and commitment leads to excitement when there is agreement.

B. Even though they already knew the things Peter had emphasized, he wanted “to stir you [them] up by reminding you [them]”. (2 Peter 1:12-13)

C. One purpose of our assemblies is to “stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24-25).

D. According to the Dictionary “excite” means “to cause emotions to be aroused, to stir up.”

E. I don’t mean jumping benches and trying to snatch the light bulbs out of the sockets, but I do mean we need to be excited, aroused, and stirred up.

F. I know that emotion without devotion is nothing but commotion. But at the same time, devotion without emotion is no motion – i.e. dead.

G. We may not need to yell like a wild Comanche, but neither do we need to sit here like a wooden Indian.

H. When we get more excited about ballgames, jobs, or making money than we do about salvation, something is wrong somewhere.

I. If we are going to build up, we’re going to have to get stirred up.

J. Our assemblies need to be for excitement as well as enlightenment. We need to “stir up love and good works” and “exhort” one another in our assemblies (Heb. 10:24-25).

CONCLUSION:

Some supplements may help the body. Some statements may help the mind. Atonement will help the soul. But if we are going to grow as Christians, it takes encouragement that leads to commitment that leads to excitement.Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).

Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.wordpress.com

WHAT IS JESUS CORRECTING IN THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT?

The following is from my book on MDR.

1. We must understand that, in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus said things like, “you have heard that it was said” (Matt. 5:21, 27, 31, etc.), He was not talking about what “Moses” said and taught, but what the “Scribes and Pharisees” were saying and teaching. As the religious teachers of the day, they had misunderstood, misapplied, and misused most of the things that God had intended in the moral requirements of the Law of Moses. They had either changed God’s commands altogether or misapplied what God had said in the commands. This is what Jesus was correcting in His teaching. The Law of Moses was “holy and just and good” in its moral precepts and commandments (Rom. 7:12). God did not “create” sin by giving the “law” through Moses. Sin already existed long before the Law of Moses was given.

2. We must keep in mind throughout the sermon that Jesus is both explaining and exposing. He is explaining what God actually meant in giving the moral requirements in the Law of Moses. And He was exposing what the Scribes and Pharisees were teaching about the Law. They had “made the commandment of God of no effect by their tradition” (Mt. 15:6). Jesus specifically told His disciples to “beware” of the teaching of the Pharisees (Mt. 16:12). They “justified themselves” (Lk. 16:15) and appeared righteous “outwardly,” but inwardly were full of hypocrisy and deceit. (Matt. 23:28).

3. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught them what the Law of Moses actually meant and, at the same time, exposed the Scribes and Pharisees for changing, corrupting, and making void God’s commandments by their false teaching. They were false teachers whom Jesus described as “wolves” in sheep’s clothing (Mt. 7:15).

4. In the sermon, notice how Jesus taught the same thing that Moses did. Jesus explained that when God said not to “murder,” He was not just talking about the “act” itself. He was also condemning the attitude of heart that leads to murder. He explained that the attitude that leads one to want to murder is the real problem and that we should seek to settle differences in the quickest and easiest way possible before it leads to all kind of problems—including wanting to murder someone else—and we bring judgment on ourselves. This same truth was taught in the overall teaching of the Old Testament. Jesus was not changing God’s moral law on this subject.

5. The Law of Moses taught the same thing about anger that Jesus did, because it taught men to “do unto others as you would have them do to you” (Mt. 7:12). The Law taught men to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; Mt. 22:39-40). The Old Testament warns against “anger” and taught men to be careful what they say and do when they are angry just as Jesus did here.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm. (Ps. 37:8).
A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention. (Prov. 15:18).

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression. (Prov. 19:11).

Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools. (Ecc. 7:9).

6. Obviously the Jewish leaders did not teach this and they certainly did not practice it. They only thought or taught that it is wrong to commit the “act” of murder but did not teach people what the Old Testament taught about the attitude that leads to murder. In doing so, they could justify themselves (Lk. 16:15) because they were angry with Jesus and others for no reason.

7. Consider also what Jesus taught about sexual sin.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt. 5:27-28).

8. Jesus explained that when Moses gave this law, he was not just talking about the “act” itself, but also the lust in the heart that leads to committing the act. Moses himself taught that one should not “covet (desire/lust after) your neighbor’s wife” (Ex. 20:17). Moses and others in the Old Testament clearly taught that it is wrong for a man to lust after a woman in his heart.

And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, (Num. 15:39).

Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. (Prov. 6:25).

And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart…With her enticing speech she caused him to yield…Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth…Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways…(Prov. 7:6-27).

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart… (Ps. 24:3-4).

9. The Pharisees were an “adulterous” generation (Mt. 16:4). They were full of “uncleanness” (Mt. 23:27). According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “uncleanness” means: “in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living.” When we look at the other ten times this word is used in the New Testament, it is obvious that it refers primarily to “sexual uncleanness.” (See Rom. 1:24; 6:19; 2 Cor. 12:21; Eph. 4:19; 5:3, 5; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 2:3; 4:7; 2 Pet. 2:10). Therefore, the Scribes and Pharisees were obviously lusting after women and sometimes putting their faithful wives away in order to marry them. In other cases, they were breaking up marriages in order to get the women they wanted. This is, no doubt, one of the reasons Jesus brought the subject up about committing adultery in the heart. He was not only teaching that it is sin, but also condemning the Jewish leaders and others who were full of sexual uncleanness (Mt. 23:27).
“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. (Matt. 5:31).

10. This was a part of what Moses taught, but not in the sense that the Pharisees had interpreted it. They had conveniently left part of what Moses said completely out. Moses did not just say that a man could divorce his wife by simply giving her a “certificate of divorce” and sending her away. Moses said if he found some “uncleanness” in her, he could put her away. Jesus explained that the husband who put her away must do so because he has found some “sexual immorality” in her, which is exactly what Moses had taught. Otherwise, he causes it to appear that she has committed “uncleanness” or “sexual immorality.” By putting her away he causes it to appear that she has “broken the marriage covenant” and is guilty of “uncleanness” (or marital adultery). See Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

11. As with the other subjects, the Pharisees were teaching that a man could put away his faithful wife for “any cause” as long as he gave her the “bill of divorcement.” She did not have to be guilty of “uncleanness” like Moses actually said. They obviously taught that one does not sin by putting away his faithful wife in order to marry someone else, but Jesus said doing so “causes her” to “commit adultery,” even if she is not guilty of doing anything wrong.

12. And whoever marries one who is “put away” because of “uncleanness” or “sexual immorality” is committing adultery because he is also responsible for breaking up the marriage covenant between a husband and wife. I believe that the reason Jesus said this is because the Pharisees, who were “adulterous” (Mt. 16:4) and full of (sexual) “uncleanness” (Mt. 23:27), were committing fornication with other men’s wives and causing them to be put away, thus destroying the marriage covenant between that couple. And, of course, the same thing happens today. Anyone who causes the break up of a marriage is “committing adultery” against the innocent marriage partner in that marriage that he helps breaks up.

13. “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord’ (Matt. 5:33). This is what Moses taught, but the Pharisees had corrupted what Moses taught to such an extent that they taught that it was right to lie and not even tell the truth at all. The Pharisees obviously taught that the only oaths that one had to perform were those made “to the Lord” and they were the ones who decided which oaths were made to the Lord and which were not. In other words, they decided which oaths were binding and which oaths were not. Jesus made this clear when He was condemning their hypocrisy in Matthew 23. Observe the reading:

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he, who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He, who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he, who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. (Mt. 22:16-22).

14. Observe that the Scribes and Pharisees taught that it was not a binding oath if one swears a certain way. In other words, one could swear by the temple that he was telling the truth and yet be lying and it would not be wrong to lie as long as he did not swear by the gold of the temple. This is the kind of ungodly teaching that Jesus was correcting in the Sermon on the Mount.

15. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matt. 5:38-39). The Pharisees were obviously teaching that this command applies to personal vengeance. In other words, whatever someone does to hurt you, you can do the same to them. Jesus explained that Moses was not referring to personal vengeance when he wrote this command. God never taught personal vengeance against others.

16. When Moses said “eye for eye” he was referring to the right of the government to exercise vengeance on evildoers. It was and is God’s way of executing wrath on murderers and the like. Observe what Moses actually said:

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:15-21).

17. Observe that it was the judges who were to render the verdict for punishment for sins and this only after “careful inquiry” and on the testimony of “witnesses.” This has nothing to do with God authorizing personal vengeance against another person.

18. The Law of Moses taught that if someone was breaking into a person’s house, that person could kill him as a matter of personal protection. But one was not allowed to go out later and hunt him down and kill him as a matter of personal vengeance. Notice what Moses said:

If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. (Exodus 22:2-3).

19. Observe that personal protection is allowed, while personal vengeance is denied. Jesus explained that God taught us to do good to others and not retaliate. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself said that a man would not allow his house to be broken into (Matt. 24:43), but He, like Moses, also forbids taking personal vengeance (Matt. 5:39-42).

20. The Law and the prophets taught, “do unto others as you would they do to you” (Matt. 7:12) and to love your neighbor as “yourself’ (Matt. 22:39-40). This is exactly what Jesus is explaining in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is emphasizing that God has always wanted us to “overcome evil with good.”

21. The Old Testament taught the exact same thing as Jesus did in this sermon. God said, through Moses, “Vengeance is mine and recompense” (Deut. 32:35). Paul’s application of this statement is in the New Testament in Romans 12:19-21 which reads as follows:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written it is written “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

22. Observe that Paul told the saints in Rome not to “avenge yourselves.” Why? Because of what God had “written” in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 32:5 and reaffirmed by both Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and Paul in Romans.

23. Consider also that Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matt. 5:43-44).

24. Moses did teach that we should love our neighbors, which the Pharisees were right about. But he did not teach that we are to “hate” our enemies. In fact, Moses taught what Jesus did. Like Jesus, He taught that men were to “do good to enemies.” Observe what Moses wrote:

If you meet your enemies’ ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it. (Ex. 23:4-5).

25. The Old Testament taught almost word for word what the New Testament does about enemies. Read it for yourself for Proverbs 25:21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
26. We must keep in mind throughout the sermon that Jesus is not contrasting what He said with what God said through Moses, but rather what “has been said” by the Jewish false teachers for years.

Wayne Dunaway
gandpministries.org