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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Walk'n On Water

Walk’n On Water
John 6:14-21

One day… three preacher friends… a Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal… decided they’d go fishing.

So they drove to the lake, got into a boat that one of their parishioners loaned them, and set out across the lake to a fishing hole a couple of them knew of.  After a couple hours… the Baptist preacher said, “I’m hungry.  Anyone want a sandwich from the marina?  It’s just over that rise over there.”

Both the Methodist and the Pentecostal preachers said, “Sure”, and proceeded to give the Baptist preacher their orders.  After taking it all down, he jumped out of the boat… ran across the water… jogged up the bank… and disappeared over the rise.  The Pentecostal preacher was shocked at what he’d seen, and just sat there amazed until a few minutes later they saw him jog back over the rise… down the bank… ran across the water… and jumped back into the boat.

The Pentecostal preacher’s eyes just widened in amazement and he exclaimed, “What faith!  That was amazing!”  The Baptist and Methodist preachers just sort of looked at each other… shrugged their shoulders… and ate their sandwiches.

The Methodist preacher finished his sandwich first and said, “You know… I’m thirsty.  Anyone else want a soda?”  So after taking everyone’s order, he stood up… jumped out of the boat… ran across the water… jogged up the bank… and disappeared over the rise.

The Pentecostal preacher all the while was exclaiming and declaring how wonderful this all was… and that he had seen some really great faith displayed this day.  He said, “I’m sure I’ve got this kind of faith.  I can feel it building up in me.”  Well… he went on like this for a while until he saw the Methodist preacher come back over the rise… jog down the bank… run across the water… and then jumped back into the boat with drinks in hand.

Well, the Pentecostal preacher by now was beside himself.  “Oh what faith!  What wonderful… marvelous… glorious faith!  Glory to God!  I know I’ve got that kind of faith!”  Then he stood up… jumped out of the boat… and sank.

When he returned to the surface, the other two helped him back into the boat, all the while he was exclaiming about the miracle he’d seen and that he also believed God and had faith… then he jumped out of the boat again… and sank.

This went on for a few more times when the Baptist preacher leaned over to the Methodist preacher… nudged him in the side and said, “Do you think we ought to tell him where the rocks are?”

*  *  *  *  *

 It’s a funny joke isn’t it.  Now I wouldn’t ordinarily start out a Sunday morning sermon in this way because I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression… That I don’t respect the pulpit… the worship service… or that I make light of the Word of God.

Because just the opposite is true.  I believe God’s Word… and I have profound respect for the sanctity of the pulpit of God.  I know full well that “this” is holy ground.

But… I told this joke in order to use it as an illustration of how people can… and do… make light of the miraculous… or they try to “reason” away the miraculous… turning it into just an ordinary event that has a rational explanation.

This has happened over and over again.  Every miracle that Christ performed in the Bible… from the creation of everything that is… “ex nihilo”out of nothing… right up to the miracle we’re looking at today… Christ walking on the water…

Unbelievers everywhere… and in every instance… refuse to believe beyond their own very small and limited minds… They will openly declare that miracles don’t happen… therefore… there has to be another explanation.

Some have tried to reason away this miracle by saying that Christ was actually just walking along the shore… that in the storm the disciples got confused and it only “looked like” He was on the water. 

They will also try to convince us that the disciples were actually much closer to the shore than they thought… and Jesus just sort of “jumped in” the boat… from dry ground.

They completely fail to take into account (or just flat out dismiss the idea) that several of these disciples were experienced fishermen by trade… and that they fished these very waters for the majority of their lives…

They knew full well the difference between being close to shore… and 3 to 4 miles out into the middle of the lake… which is where the Bible tells us they were.

No… in the face of the truly miraculous… reason fails… and what we’re left with is faith in the supreme power of God… and the veracity His Word.

So… let’s take a look at His Word now…

I. Taking the Kingdom by Force

Joh 6:14-21 NKJV  Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."  (15)  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. 

Now it would appear that there were those who had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude… and who then proclaimed… Joh 6:14b NKJV  …"This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."—That they were ready to receive Him as Messiah and Lord…

Yet… instead of falling down before Him in worship and adoration… (As you might expect a true believer would do)…  Instead of declaring that they were horrible and miserable sinners… crying out for mercy from the Son of God… and praising Him in the beauty of holiness…

Instead of doing any of those things that you would think that a person would do instinctively when they see Jesus, face-to-face… These people… propose to…  Joh 6:15b NKJV …take Him by force to make Him king

They would rather lay hands on the one they now openly declare as the “prophet”… and force Him to be their “king!”

The first thing I want to say about this is in the form of a question… “What makes them think they can ‘make’ Him a king… who was ‘born’ the King of Kings?”

How arrogant their attitude… how empty their words… and how vain their actions!  Their motives are similar to the motives of those who made Saul, Absolom and Jeroboam their Kings…

Self-serving greed…. The desire for someone to fill their bellies… Carnal cravings for the miraculous.

The second thing I want to say is that they also failed to understand that though they proclaimed Him that “Prophet”… and wanted to make Him their “King”… there was another function… another position… another title He must hold before that “King” and “kingdom” could be established…

Before He could be established as “King”… He must first be ordained as  “Priest”…  He had to take on the role of our High Priest and first, offer himself as the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

He had to enter that place… behind the veil… in the heavenly Holy of Holies… to offer Himself in atonement for our sins… and then be seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High… making intercession for all those who trust in Him.

These must come first.  He must follow the heavenly order of things… to be first Prophet… then Priest… then King!

How dare they try to “take the kingdom” by force!  To bring it about by the works of their own hands!  To force God into doing things according to their time frame!

But Jesus will not be tempted with kingdoms by either Satan… or man!  He had already turned this offer down once, at His temptation… and He would do it again. 

So, instead of being caught up in this worldly, patriotic zeal… He removed Himself from their presence and retired to the mountaintop once again… to return to that duty of every priest… or pastor

He will isolate Himself and spend as much time as necessary in prayer for His people… for the sheep of His pasture!

And while He spends time before the Father on this day… I would imagine…  asking that the Father open the eyes of those who still don’t understand…

We see the disciples… making their transition…

II. From Mountaintop to the Violent Storm

Joh 6:16--18 NKJV  (16)  Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,  (17)  got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.  (18)  Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. 

It would appear… from both Matthew and Mark’s accounts of this event… that the disciples might have gotten somewhat caught up in the patriotic zealotry of those who wanted to make Jesus… King.

After all… we know that at least one of His disciples was called Simon… the zealot.  So… it’s no real stretch to think that they could be just as easily caught up in the same Messianic enthusiasm as the rest of the people.

Both Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus “compelled” the disciples to get into the boat and leave.  Mark, for instance, says… Mat 14:22 NKJV  Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.

Now, the word “made”, which both Matthew and Mark use here… the greek is… anagkazō (an-ang-kad'-zo)… and it means: to necessitate, compel, constrain… usually by force, or threats.

So, Jesus compels the disciples to leave… probably to get them away from these other influences.  Then He calms and dismisses the crowd… and goes up on the mountain to pray.

While He’s up there… the disciples get into their boat and begin to row… probably along the shore in case Jesus caught up with them… When suddenly… the wind began to pick up and the power of it caused the sea to swell and it forced the disciples out and away from the shore…

Now this type of storm is a common occurrence for the Sea of Galilee.  This is because it’s around 700 ft below sea level.  With the surrounding mountains… even to this very day… the area acts like a gigantic vacuum cleaner… sucking in the cooler air with such force that the water can develop violent swells… very quickly.

And, being the experienced fishermen they were… from this very area… these men knew all about this event and how to deal with it.  Lower the sails (if the boat had any)… and start rowing and bailing water as it splashes in… hoping all the while that you stay afloat long enough to reach the shore again.

These disciples had just come away from the experience of a lifetime.  They had been instrumental participants in the miracle of feeding thousands of men, women and children with only enough food that a single small boy could carry by himself…

They had been elevated to the very heights of emotional and spiritual euphoria… They had their “Mountaintop Experience”… and now they’re facing their own mortality in the “Valley” of this violent storm!

How many times, beloved, have you been up on that mountaintop… feeling the heights of wonderful spiritual exhilaration… and enlightenment… only to return to the valley of everyday life, and find that valley… changed… worse than you remembered… turned not only upside down… but inside out too?  Or, maybe everything is just as it always was… but now it seems dull… boring… and mundane…

Beloved… remember… if you’ve ever seen the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Tetons… you’ll understand when I say, that though mountaintop experiences may be grand and wonderful… And you may want to stay up there indefinitely…

Be aware… that nothing grows up there past the tree line.  All the growth is in the valley.  The valley is where life is lived.

And though the valley may contain those trials and struggles that we go through on a daily basis… Though we may strain at the oars in our little boat, which we call “life”… and we seem to be constantly bailing the water out… that the world splashes in on us… as we struggle just to stay afloat…

We can be confident and rest assured in the knowledge that… (As the song goes…)

III. His Eye is on the Sparrow… I Know He Watches Me

Joh 6:19-21 NKJV  So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.  (20)  But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."  (21)  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

Even while the disciples pulled at the oars… vigorously rowing… making little progress… we read in Mark that… Mar 6:48 NKJV  …He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them…

Jesus was on that mountain… praying… for them… for the people below… and all the while… He had his eye on the disciples…

He wasn’t indifferent to their struggles… He had His eye on them.  Even though the darkness and the spray of the Sea water and the splashing of the waves, hid them from view… He saw them…

Psa 139:7-12 NKJV  Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  (8)  If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.  (9)  If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,  (10)  Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.  (11)  If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me;  (12)  Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

There is no darkness or mist or waves of the Sea can block His view of His disciples… nor will it hinder His view of us… for His eyes are still upon His elect.

And though He allowed the disciples to go through their storm… in due time… in His own time… He went to them… defying the very laws of nature… Laws He created and set into place Himself…

He walked across the water as if it were dry ground… in order to reach His disciples.  I’d even venture to say that the very water itself… refrained from getting even His sandals wet… because all of nature itself… bends to the will of the Word made flesh…

And as He drew near to the foundering boat… He called out to them, and said…  Joh 6:20b NKJV  …"It is I; do not be afraid."

Words that comforted and calmed their hearts.  Just as the Lord encouraged Joshua before he led God’s people into the land of promise… Jos 1:9 NKJV …Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

He now comforts His disciples… and us with… Joh 6:20b NKJV  …"It is I; do not be afraid."

The only One who can truly help us in and through our struggles and temptations… our pains and our heartaches

To all who are willing to hear Him… He still says, “I’m here.  Don’t be afraid!”

And then the Scripture tells us that… Joh 6:21 NKJV  … they willingly received Him… as He entered their boat…

The storm subsided… the struggle was over… and they arrived at their destination.

Notice that Christ didn’t force Himself into their boat… they willingly received Him.  And so must all who Jesus shows Himself to.

The Father doesn’t beg… or cajole… or plead with us to believe in His Son…. He commands us to do so…

And to all who hear that command… and obey… He says… Joh 1:12 NKJV  …as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ordering Takeout for 5,000

Ordering Takeout for 5,000
Joh 6:1-14

Joh 6:1-14 NASB  After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias).  (2)  A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.  (3)  Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples.  (4)  Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.  (5)  Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?"  (6)  This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.  (7)  Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little."  (8)  One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, *said to Him,  (9)  "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?"  (10)  Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.  (11)  Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.  (12)  When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost."  (13)  So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.  (14)  Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

Jesus performed a multitude of miracles during His earthly ministry… In fact, He did so many wondrous and miraculous things, that the very final thing John tells us in this gospel is… Joh 21:25 NASB  And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they *were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself *would not contain the books that *would be written.

We have record of Jesus healing multitudes of sick people… curing incurable diseases… raising the dead… reattaching detached appendages…

He calmed the storm… found money in a fish’s mouth… told men where to cast their nets for an abundant haul… and ordered a tree to whither and die…

Of all the miracles that we have in the Biblical record that Jesus performed… there are two that specifically stand in a class all to themselves…  All other miracles fixed something that already existed… such as healing the sick or raising the dead…

But these two are demonstrations of His creative power… Bringing something into being that wasn’t there before…

These are his first recorded miracle… changing the water into wine… and the miracle we just read about here in the 6th chapter… the feeding of the 5,000.

Drink and food… wine and bread…  Does that seem to point you to something?  How about… His blood which was poured out for us… and His body which was broken for us… The main elements in the Lord’s Supper.

Something else that’s of interest to us is the fact that this miracle of feeding the 5,000 is the only miracle that Jesus did which was not only very public (with possibly up to 10,000 witnesses)… but it is also the only miracle that all 4 gospels mention.

Now, this could be because it does picture His body and blood so vividly… and it sets Jesus before us as the Bread of Life… which is what He speaks of a little later in the chapter…

Where He tells us that Moses had given them manna from heaven… but that He is that bread of life which came down from heaven…

And it’s fitting that we use these analogies because this miracle was done at a time when all the Jews were preparing for the Passover… as we read in…  Joh 6:4 NASB   Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.

So they were reminded of Moses again… and how that God had used him to deliver His people from bondage in Egypt…  The similarities between Jesus and Moses are brought out in this story… and they’re striking, to say the least.

For instance… we see here where Jesus “went up on the mountain”… just as Moses did on Mt Sinai… then we see Jesus bringing food to the multitude… just as Moses did in the desert… and even the question Jesus poses to Philip is reminiscent of Num 11:13 where Moses asks God a similar question, “that these people may eat”

So at this time, every year… Passover season… there was a renewed rise in their Messianic hope… The Jewish people anxiously waited for the arrival of Messiah, who would finally come and deliver His people from their Roman bondage… and usher in the long awaited Kingdom of God!

*  *  *  *  *

Our passage today begins with the words… Joh 6:1 NASB  After these things…

He’s talking about the things that occurred in chapter 5… but we need to understand that a period of time has passed between chapter 5 and where we are now, in chapter 6.  John doesn’t go into everything that has occurred between then and now… but we can glean that information from the other gospels…

So… where we started the 5th chapter with an unknown feast… we now have the Passover drawing near in the 6th chapter.  If the unknown feast of chapter 5 was a Passover… then a year had elapsed. 

However, if the unknown feast was Tabernacles (which, to my thinking, is more likely)… then there’s a six month gap between chapter 5 and 6…

What John also leaves out, is that between then and now… Jesus had performed many miraculous healings and a large following of people had accumulated around Him. 

We also know that the Baptist had been brutally murdered by Herod and that Jesus had left Judea and returned to Galilee to avoid meeting Herod Himself… before the appointed time…

So, from Matthews account… we find that Jesus got into a boat and tried to find a secluded place for Himself… probably to pray and mourn the death of his cousin. 

But the people on the shore were able to see where He was heading… and they followed Him on foot… gathering more and more people from the cities along the way…

However… we know from everything we’ve already read in this gospel… though many began to “follow” Christ… most followed Him out of curiosity… not belief.

I. Fickle Seekers

Joh 6:2 NASB  A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.

It’s sad… but true… that a people who had waited so long for their Messiah to come… failed miserably to recognize Him when He did come… and they failed to understand what His mission would be.

When the people looked at Jesus… most of them saw a Magician who could work wonderful and miraculous things… They saw an unsurpassed Physician who could heal the sick and make them feel better…

They saw someone who could satisfy the desires of their flesh… but failed completely to see the Savior who could free them from their bondage to sin.

And we see in them the same thing we see in the “multitudes” today… curiosity seekers and excitement junkies following after someone or something they think will satisfy some physical need they may have… but showing little, if any, concern for the health of their souls.

Mar 8:36-37 NASB  "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  (37)  "For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Too many crave “desert”… spurning the “meat and potatoes”… the “main course”.  And because of this “sweet tooth”… we see that the miracles drew many people “after” Christ… but only a few “to” Him.

And He knew this.  He commented on this very thing in the 4th chapter when He said…  Joh 4:48 NASB  … "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe."

So… the “belief” that many of them had in Christ, was fundamentally flawed because it centered in their need for a constant display of miraculous signs.

But you know what?  In a sense… that’s ok, because Jesus won’t “throw out the baby with the bath”… as the old saying goes.  Though many follow for their own reasons… others follow for Christ.

And as we see from our passage today… all those who had faulty faith… the “fickle followers”… were fed right along with those who were the “sincere seekers”

Jesus made no distinction between them… So, in a sense… He allows the “tares” grow right along with the “wheat” (Mat 13)

Mat 13:43b NASB  …He who has ears, let him hear.

And both groups… are served by…

II. Faithless Servants

Joh 6:5-9 NASB  Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?"  (6)  This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.  (7)  Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little."  (8)  One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, *said to Him,  (9)  "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?"

It would appear that one of John’s goals in giving us his version of this event is to supplement and provide additional information that wasn’t recorded in the synoptics…

John’s account gives us only Jesus’ question to Philip… But if we take the other records into consideration… we also see that the disciples had asked Jesus to send the crowd away so they could find food and lodging for themselves…

To which, Jesus replied… Mat 14:16b NASB  … "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!"

 Jesus had started the day wanting to be alone… but He spent the day with a “multitude”… teaching them and healing their sicknesses...

Luk 9:11 NASB  …and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing.

And because the hour was growing late… lest they faint on the way… Jesus’ compassion for all men dictated that He would not only teach them… and heal them… but now, He must also feed them.

As I said earlier… Jesus knew that many of these following Him… weren’t really “following” Him… Joh 2:24-25 NASB  …for He knew all men,  (25)  …He Himself knew what was in man.

So now… He decides to use this as a teaching moment… So He tests His disciples.  Not so He’ll know where they’re at… but so they’ll know.

Their response however, reveals that their level of spirituality might not be where you would hope it would be with someone who had spent as much time with Jesus as they have by now…

But you know what?  We can’t really blame Philip for the response He gave.  After all… he was confronted with a trying situation… brought about by Christ Himself… in order to prove him.

We can’t blame Philip because if we place ourselves in his shoes… or his sandals, as it were… we’d have to admit that we’re “tried”… or “proven” by the Lord pretty frequently too.  And more times than not… our response is similar to his.

We’re faced with whatever circumstances arise… maybe an unexpected bill arrives that we haven’t set money aside for… or we get a phone call that threatens to change our lives radically… or maybe like my own situation right now with some serious automobile troubles…

It seems that more times than not… we immediately take stock in our situation and try to think of what we’re going to do.  We try to “figure it out”, don’t we…

How much money do I have?  How can I get more money?  What will I do in the meantime?  Can I get it fixed cheaper somewhere else?

Philip faced his situation just as we do…  He immediately started counting heads and calculating… and things just wouldn’t add up and balance out.  “Lord… We don’t have enough money to give each one even a small bite!”

Then Andrew appears to have greater faith than Philip, because we hear him say… Joh 6:9b NASB … "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish…”

But when he finishes that hopeful statement with… Joh 6:9c NAS  …but what are these for so many people?"  We understand that he’s in the same place Philip is… The same place you and I usually are.

Looking to ourselves… How we can fix it, or take care of it… Racking our minds trying to find a solution… rather than turning our first thoughts to the one who has helped us, and sustained us so often in the past.

This is the test of faith that we face daily.  As believers in Christ… we are to learn to spread each problem we have before the Lord.  We are to develop the habit of turning to Him first so that it just comes to us instinctively to do so.

If we could only learn to look to Him daily in simple faith… honestly trusting in Him and resting in His promise… Php 4:19 NASB  And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Our lives would be so much simpler and Spirit-filled than it is now…

And it may be that He will miraculously provide for whatever our need is… or He may cause us to work it out… but it won’t be on our own

He’ll be there every step of the way… working through you… or others… to take care of whatever the circumstance is… because He has promised to “never leave us or forsake us”.

Deu 31:6 NASB  "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."

Psa 55:22 NASB  Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

The Lord will sustain all those who trust in Him.  He will not allow those who love Him to be shaken… because He is the…

III. Faithful Savior

Joh 6:10-14 NASB  Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.  (11)  Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.  (12)  When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost."  (13)  So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.  (14)  Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

One of the first things I see here is Christ’s compassion for the lost.  He knew… as do we… that many of His “followers”, didn’t truly believe.  Yet, His compassion is toward them all.

He taught all of them about the kingdom of God.  He healed the sick among them… apparently without any reference to their level of belief.  And now we see Him feeding every man, woman and child among them.

Christ’s compassion for mankind is universal in nature.  It’s an example of His “common grace”… grace that’s given to all and experienced by all equally without “respect of persons”.

Mat 5:45 NASB  … for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

*  *  *  *  *

I also see here that Jesus has concern for our flesh.

It’s hard to listen to spiritual words concerning the kingdom of God if your body is sick or in pain... isn’t it.  When we’re like that… all we can think of is how horrible we feel.  All of our efforts focus on getting past this… and getting back to “normal” again.

Similarly… words of wisdom fall upon deaf ears when our stomachs are growling or we’re nauseated from hunger.

So, in the same way that He got rid of the evidence of Peter’s murderous assault on Malchus in the garden… by reattaching his ear…

He also removes the obstacles that would hinder us from hearing His words of life… But by more than just feeding them a meal… it says that they ate all they wanted… they were so “filled” that there was “left overs”

Jesus doesn’t work in half measures.  He gives all they want… to all that want.

*  *  *  *  *

The bottom line is this… Jesus… is the lover of your soul.  Everything He has done… and everything He continues to do… has one goal in mind…

The salvation of the souls of men.

He will take whatever meager offering you bring to Him in faith… whether it be offering of timeresourcesabilities

And He will multiply their effectiveness beyond your wildest imagination… to His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.

He can turn your five loaves and two fish into an unimaginable feast… if you’ll only trust Him…

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Have I Got A Witness?

Have I Got A Witness?
John 5:31-47

Joh 5:31-47 NKJV  "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.  (32)  There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true.  (33)  You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.  (34)  Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.  (35)  He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.  (36)  But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.  (37)  And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.  (38)  But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.  (39)  You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  (40)  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.  (41)  "I do not receive honor from men.  (42)  But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.  (43)  I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.  (44)  How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?  (45)  Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.  (46)  For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.  (47)  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

The first job I got after college was as a management trainee with a company called Marriott  Facilities Management.  It was a janitorial and maintenance company and was a division of the Marriott Hotels… They provided janitorial and maintenance services on a contractual basis to various hospitals, universities and school systems throughout the United States.

I was an Account Manager with them for several years… and later… with another company called WFF out of St Louis after college.  Several years ago, after moving back to Texas… I started my own janitorial business right here in this part of the panhandle.

Several people tried to discourage me from doing this… telling me that this type of business just wouldn’t fly in this area… But I persisted… and eventually we grew.

Getting this business off the ground wasn’t easy… or cheap.  I spent money on ads in the paper… telephone bookflyers and other mailings.  We eventually got some jobs cleaning houses… then a church… then other businesses.  Out of all the business we got… can you guess which advertising proved to be the best?

Word-of-mouth.  In other words… free advertising got us probably 95% of our business.  Our prices were decent… we were (and still are…) honest… we did a good job… and people told other people… who told other people. 

Word-of-mouth… People gave witness to our honesty and integrity… and others listened.  Regardless of the testimony we gave of ourselves through our advertising… people listened to the testimony of others instead.

*  *  *  *  *
When Jesus began His ministry… He had no apparent credentials that would have been expected in other teachers of the day.  He had no formal advanced training that could be pointed to… He didn’t come from an influential family… He had no heritage in the levitical priesthood.

And... He had difficulty with people’s unbelief from the very beginning.  Many hung around not so much to hear His words… but because they wanted to see what kind of sign or wonder He’d do next.  And just like they still do today… the people seek after signs and wonders... not necessarily Christ.

Even the people who knew Him best… those from the village He grew up in…  where He learned and practiced the carpenter’s trade for many years… because they thought they knew all about Him… still refused to believe in Him…

Mar 6:4 NKJV  But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house."

In His case… familiarity truly did breed contempt.

The fact that Jesus had none of the commonly accepted credentials… whenever He performed a miracle… and especially if it was on a Sabbath… or, when He applied His obvious flawless understanding of the Holy Scriptures and utilized His impeccable logic… it only enraged His opponents… even to the point of plotting to kill Him in order to extinguish the light He was shining on their self-centered wickedness.

The claims that Jesus had made to being equal with the Father… having “life” (aseity) in Himself… possessing the authority to give that “life” to others… and that one day He would stand over them in judgment

All these… appeared to the Jewish leaders to be grandiose and exalted claims of a madman… unfounded by the facts…  After all… He was just a small town carpenter with visions of grandeur!  He had nothing… no education… no exalted position in life… Nothing that they would accept that gave “witness” to the truth of His claims.

Mat 13:54b-57a NKJV  … "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  (55)  Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?  (56)  And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?"  (57)  So they were offended at Him…

Now... the practice of having outside sources to give “witness” or “testimony” was a well known… and well practiced tradition within Judaism.  In fact… it was even codified into their very legal system… And, it was an important enough legal principle that it carried over into our Christian faith…

Deu 19:15 NKJV  "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.

Mat 18:16 NKJV  But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY WORD MAY BE ESTABLISHED.'

1Ti 5:19 NKJV  Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.

*  *  *  *  *

Jesus begins to wrap up this 5th chapter discourse by reminding the Jews of their own law and practice… and proving to them that He had impeccable witnesses to the truthfulness of His statements…

He didn’t come into the world to glorify Himself… but to glorify the Father.  He has already stated a few times that He did nothing of His own will… but that He followed the will of the Father in all things…

So when He makes the statement… Joh 5:31-32 NKJV  "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.  (32)  There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true.

He isn’t admitting that His own witness is faulty… How could that be, since He is actually “truth”, personified?  Furthermore… He tells us in… Joh 8:14a NKJV  …"Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true…   

And elsewhere in the Bible He tells us that anyone who heeds His word would never see death (Joh 8:52)… and that the very words He speaks will judge them in the last day (Joh 12:48).

No… He’s not admitting any lack in His own testimony or word… but is rather, reminding them of their law of “witnesses”… and that though He has several “witnesses” other than Himself… they constantly and stubbornly refuse to hear any of them.

I. The Witness of the Baptist

Joh 5:33-35 NKJV  You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.  (34)  Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.  (35)  He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.

The first witness that Jesus reminds them of is John.  He doesn’t bring up John because He needs John's testimony… but because they need to be reminded of testimony.  Jesus actually... doesn’t need the testimony of any man… but because of their hard hearts… they need his testimony.

They had heard of this “wild man for the Lord”...  And the rumors that a prophet had arisen... So they sent their own emissaries to John to listen to what he had to say and to see if he was the Messiah who was to come. 

His response to that was… Mar 1:7-8 NKJV  … "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.  (8)  I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

And even though they didn’t pay attention to his testimony… the people did recognize him as a prophet… the first one in 400 years… and his influence continued long after his death to the point that the Jewish leaders were afraid to say anything ill about him because… Luk 20:6 NKJV  … all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.

As the fore-runner, he was sent to “prepare the way of the Lord” and to “make His paths straight”… but when he pointed to the Lord and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”… Just as their fathers had rejected the prophets that God had sent to them in the past… so now their sons rejected the testimony of this prophet also.

II. The Witness of the Works

Joh 5:36 NKJV  But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

As important as John’s testimony was… Jesus had a witness that was far greater than the word of any man… and that was His works.

Throughout His ministry, the one thing they couldn’t deny was the fact that Jesus did wondrous works.  Now… they may have tried to make light of them… or demonize them by saying they were of “Beelzebub”… yet… they could not deny that Christ did things normal people just couldn’t do.

But we have to remember though… lest we get too narrow-minded in the matter… that everything that Jesus both said and did in His entire ministry… constituted His works.  It wasn't just the signs and wonders...

For instance… when Nicodemus came to Him earlier… he admitted… Joh 3:2 NKJV  …"Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."   Indicating that he and some other religious leaders  recognized that both what He said (as a teacher)… and did (as a miracle worker)… as coming from God.

We also see in several instances where Christ's teaching was so solid... that the religious leaders were left, dumbfounded...  Even as a child...they just couldn't understand where He was getting His material!

Luk 2:46-47 NKJV  Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.  (47)  And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

And when they would try to catch Him in His words or actions... in order to accuse Him... those who spread the net for Him typically ended up being trapped by their own net...

Luk 14:6 NKJV  And they could not answer Him regarding these things.

Mat 22:46 NKJV  And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

Then elsewhere we see where the people who witnessed His miracles and believed had to ask the question… Joh 7:31 NKJV  … "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?"

All that Jesus said and did were His works... and His works were always in perfect harmony with the Father's will.  And since we've already established that He had no recognized, formal training... we have to accept that His works were supernatural in origin.

And today... just as they did back then... people still seek after signs and miracles.  Many honest believers are caught up in the flash and shiny baubles that's offered by our modern day miracle workers.

When that is the primary thing sought after... when miracles becomes the measure of spirituality... there is great risk in falling for the deceiving wonders and false prophets that Jesus warned would come... Mat 24:11 NKJV  Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

And as many are now... many more will be deceived by the multitude of false teachers and false doctrines that have risen in these last days.

III. The Witness of the Father's Word

Joh 5:37-40 NKJV  And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.  (38)  But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. (39) You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  (40)  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

There are those who think that in verse 37... where Jesus says that the Father has “testified of Me”... that He's referring to either His baptism, or the Mount of Transfiguration... or both…

But this can't be, because He immediately says that they've neither “heard His voice” or “seen His form” at any time.  Also... the dove and voice at Christ's baptism was a sign from God for Jesus and John.  There's no indication that anyone else heard or saw anything.

And the transfiguration... well, that hadn't occurred yet.  But even if it had… the religious leaders wouldn’t have been there to witness it anyway.  That was only for Christ’s inner-circle of disciples.

So... the testimony of the Father that Jesus speaks of here can only be the Father's testimony as found in the written Word of God… the OT… the Law and the Prophets

Verse 38 verifies this where Jesus speaks of “His word”, and then again in verse 39 where He speaks of the “Scriptures”.

You see… the Father testifies of the Son throughout the Bible.  Everywhere you turn, you see the Son…

From the very first declaration of the gospel in the book of Genesis… the “proto-evangelium”… the “first gospel” is declared by God Himself to the devil… Gen 3:15 NKJV  And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."

To the last book of the Bible where the angel declares… Rev 19:10 NKJV  … Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

The Father everywhere, gives testimony of the Son.  But because the Jews persist in their stubborn refusal to believe in Christ… Christ declares that they don’t have the Word of God abiding in them as they believed they did…

Now this would have been like a slap in the face the religious Jew, because they took great pride in their study of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Their problem though… is the same problem that all deceived unbelievers have… that without the illumination of the Holy Spirit… or a transformed mind… the Bible simply cannot be properly understood.

1Co 2:13-14 NKJV  These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  (14)  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We see this very principle on display today.  There are many who claim to know God and believe that His Word is truth… yet they refuse to believe His very own testimony concerning His Son.

Jews, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witness and Mormon’s… all of them claim to believe God… and all of them spend time reading/studying the Bible, in addition to their own books… even the Muslim. 

Their problem though… is that without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in their lives… their efforts are futile… and they end up with a skewed vision of the Son.  They totally miss the point of the Scriptures.

To this day… the Jews say that Jesus is an impostor.  The Muslim says He was a prophet… and they’ll chant “God has no son” till they’re blue in the face. 

The Mormon’s claim that Christ was Lucifer’s brother… and that as He now is… we will become (i.e.—we will become gods ourselves, equal with Christ). 

The Jehovah’s Witness say that Jesus was Michael, the archangel… a created being… and therefore not deity, and not to be worshipped.

But the Bible says that Jesus was God in human form.  He was the Immanuel—God with us… the Christ… the Son of the Living God. 

It tells us that Christ is the only Door to everlasting life.  That He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life… and that there is salvation in no other name under heaven.

This is the dilemma of merely knowing the facts of Scripture without embracing its truth in the heart.  The religious leaders knew the Word… but because they stubbornly refused to believe what they read… they therefore didn’t have the Word “abiding” in them…

*  *  *  *  *

They had heard the testimony of the Baptist… and his ministry revived long dead Messianic hopes… but they simply refused to believe in the Messiah that he pointed them toward.

They saw the works that Jesus did everywhere He went… and they admitted that only someone sent by God could do these things… but in their unregenerate hearts they said that He had a demon and was a Samaritan.

They spent all their lives… studying the Holy Scriptures.  They scrupulously studied every line, every word and every letter in their empty effort to understand the truth… Yet in all their attention to detail… they missed out on the most important of detail of all.

The One they had been waiting for, had finally arrived.  And because they didn’t truly believe in God… they didn’t believe in Him either.

*  *  *  *  *
And what about you?

Do you have the Word of God abiding in you?  Has the truth of Christ taken root in your heart?  Has that truth grown into full blown faith in the Son of God?

That He died on the cross for your sins, and was buried, and rose from the dead on the 3rd day?  Have you made that profession of faith?

Here in just a few moments we’ll close in prayer and Al will come and lead us in a song of invitation.  You are welcomed to come forward to make that profession… or seek baptism… or transfer membership and seek to join yourself to this body of believers.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Christ's Power and Authority Through Aseity

Christ's Power and Authority Through Aseity
John 5:24-30

As you'll remember... before Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday... we had spent several weeks in the book of John... We took a break for 3 weeks in order to pay special attention to our holy days, with special services and topical sermons... but now I'd like to get back to the book of John, and pick up where we left off.

So... let's look at John, chapter 5, and begin reading in...

Joh 5:24-30 ESV Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (25) "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (26) For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. (27) And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. (28) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (29) and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (30) "I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Now, as you'll recall... this 5th chapter of John begins with Christ's return to Jerusalem for an unknown feast where He heals a man at the pool of Bethesda from an unknown condition from which he's suffered for 38 years.

We also noted that though there was a multitude of sick and lame surrounding this pool... waiting for the stirring of the waters... Jesus heals only this one man. We don't know why He chose this man... but the fact is, He did. The fact is also that He didn't heal anyone else.

Now it wasn't long before the Jews saw this healed man walking around and carrying his pallet... (or his bed...), and they immediately confronted him about breaking the law against working on the Sabbath.

The Jews were more concerned with the letter of the law than the spirit of the law... because we saw where they never gave the Lord glory for the man's healing. No glory... only grief...

When the Jews find out later that it was Jesus who had healed this man on the Sabbath and then told him to... Joh 5:8 ESV ..."Get up, take up your bed, and walk." They then confronted Him for breaking the Sabbath... and also encouraging the man He healed to break the Sabbath.

This begins one of the most profound discourses of Jesus on His equality with the Father. There can be no doubt as to His meaning and intent when He begins by saying... Joh 5:17 ESV ..."My Father is working until now, and I am working."

And then He continues telling the Jews that He is equal with the Father in nature... in giving life... and in power.

Now... those who would say that Jesus never claimed to be God (such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims)... are committing intellectual suicide... And they're wanting us to believe that they know better, 2000 years after the fact... as to what Jesus meant than did the Jews who right there and listening to Him...

Because the Jews knew exactly what He was saying... that's why they began to make plans on silencing Him... permanently!

Joh 5:18 ESV This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

* * * * * * our passage today... Jesus tells us something that's vitally important concerning His nature and being...

It's actually a crucial bit of information that most people just skim over, thinking, “Oh... cool”, and then they move on, not giving it a second thought.

He tells us in... Joh 5:26 ESV For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

Have you ever spent time thinking about this particular verse? Have you ever wondered about what He's saying here? I ask... because this is an extremely profound statement... and I don't want us to just gloss over it...

He uses a certain phrase twice in the same verse... and just as when Jesus says, “Verily, Verily”... or “Truly, Truly”... giving us an heads up that what comes next is real important... on a par with a solemn vow... or promise...

So also... when He uses the same phrase twice in the same breath... do you think that maybe we should take a little extra time to contemplate on what He's saying?

Jesus said that the Father has “life in Himself”... and that the Son has “life in Himself” too.

So... what does that mean? What does “life in Himself” mean? (Pause...give them time to give answers if they wish...)

Well... simply put... it means self-existence... or...

I. Aseity

Ah... so now you're beginning to see why I used that word in the title of this sermon. Aseity means self-existence, and it is that attribute of God from which all other attributes springs.

Without aseity... God wouldn't be God... He'd be a creature, like you and I... maybe more powerful, but a creature just the same... And a creature is never to be worshiped, because a creature has a beginning... and since it was created... it is therefore not Supreme.

God's aseity means that God has always existed. There is no time... or “pre-time” in which He wasn't...

He didn't spring forth from anything... and couldn't be created by anything. It's impossible for the Creator to create Himself... because to do so would mean that He'd have to be... before He is...

In all of creation... only God can be the Creator because He alone is self-existent. He requires no thing or no one to exist because he existed before there was any thing or any one...

You and I are not self-existent... we don't have aseity, because we require many things in order to exist. Our bodies are made up of water for instance... so in order for us to exist... we require water.

We require all the minerals and other components that make up our physical bodies in order to exist...

We require our parents to exist... and ultimately... we require God to exist. As Paul said to the Athenians... Act 17:28 ESV ..."'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.'

Because even after all our knowledge of what the human body is made up of... and how the human body works... we still can't come up with a formula that causes “life”... (Electrodes and lightening bolts won't do it either...)

This is because only God gives life. Without God... there is no life...

But God doesn't require any thing to exist... and this is what Jesus means when He tells us... Joh 5:26 ESV For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

Just as the Father has self-existence... so also the Son has self-existence... And we see this fact of Christ's aseity very early in the gospel of John where we read...

Joh 1:1-4 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Now... because Christ is self-existent... He has the...

II. Power to Resurrect

Only someone who has life “in Himself”... can give life to “anyone else”.

Now as Christians... we know that we undergo two resurrections... right? The first... being the spiritual resurrection that Jesus speaks of in...

Joh 5:24 ESV Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

When Jesus begins any statement with “Truly, truly or as the King James says “Verily, verily”... He's actually using the solemn phrase “amen, amen”... it's an emphatic and unarguable declaration that what He's getting ready to say is truth and should be heeded...

That “whoever”... “hears” and “believes”... “has”... Notice the tense here! This eternal life that Jesus has promised to all who “hear” and “believe” is a present possession. We have it right now!

It's not something that we'll receive at some date in the future... like our physical resurrection...

Our spiritual resurrection... and eternal life... is right now. I've already got it... which is yet another reason why I can't lose it... because I've got it... right now!

Before we come to Christ... before we believed in Him unto salvation... the Scriptures tell us that we were spiritually dead...

Eph 2:5 ESV even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Col 2:13 ESV And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

Just as those verses we just read tells us that we were dead... they also tell us that God made us alive again. So... just as our physical bodies will one day pass from life into death... when we believe in Christ... our spirits have passed from death into life...

This is another way of describing that “born again” process Jesus tells us about in the 3rd chapter... Joh 3:3 ESV Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

* * * * * *

Jesus continues on this same line reasoning and reiterates what He's already said by now emphasizing the second resurrection... which is the physical resurrection that will occur at some point in the future...

Joh 5:25, 28-29 ESV (25) "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live... (28) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (29) and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Job had asked a question several thousand years earlier, which men of every generation have asked ever since... Job 14:14a ESV If a man dies, shall he live again?

And the answer to that question is, “Absolutely!” We know that at some point in time... everyone will be raised from the dead to give an account for themselves.

The idea of a physical resurrection isn't new to us. It's a doctrine that's clearly taught in the Bible... and if you believe the Bible... then you will also believe that a physical, bodily resurrection will actually occur one day.

But what is unusual here... is that Jesus tells us that it's at a time that's both... “coming” and “is now here”!

It's future... and present... it's an “already/not yet” tension regarding the resurrection... In other words, those who believe in Jesus have been born-again... they've been spiritually resurrected... and yet... there's a future resurrection that still awaits us...

And it's clear that this physical resurrection is divided into two events... The “resurrection of life”... and the “resurrection of judgment”... the “first resurrection” and the “second resurrection”... and believe me when I say... You most definitely want to be a part of the “first” resurrection!

Because that's where righteous dead... those who have believed in the Son of God... are raised... 1Th 4:16 ESV For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

And then they will be fitted with brand new physical bodies that are specifically suited to the Millennial Kingdom... and the new heavens... and the new earth...

1Co 15:35-37a ESV But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" (36) You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (37) And what you sow is not the body that is to be...

1Co 15:42b-44 ESV ...What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. (43) It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. (44) It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Just as God gave every creature in creation... the body it needed for the life it would live... so also He will give the resurrected, the bodies they will need for the eternity that's ahead of them...

Think of it like this... fish have scales, fins and gills to breathe and glide through the water. Birds have feathers, wings and very light bone structures in order to fly.

God gives all His creatures the exact body they need to fulfill their function... So also then... those who rise from the dead will be fitted with the perfect bodies needed for the life ahead of them...

Can you imagine... those who have trusted in Christ will be fitted with a glorious body for eternity in heaven... but those who are damned... they will be fitted with a body... that I don't even want to imagine... that is perfectly suited for an eternity in hell...

Because at the next resurrection... the “second resurrection”... the “resurrection to judgment”... all the rest of humanity who ever lived... will be raised from the dead to stand before the Great White Throne... and they will also be given physical bodies that are specifically suited for their eternal destination...

Rev 20:4-6 ESV Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (5) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

* * * * * *
And this now leads us to that other attribute that flows out of Christ's aseity... because of His submissive obedience to the Father's will... Jesus was given the...

III. Authority to Judge

Joh 5:27,30 ESV (27) And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man... (30) "I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Jesus told us earlier in this chapter that... Joh 5:22 ESV The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son

And in the verses we just read... vs 27 & 30... we see that Jesus was given the authority to judge because He doesn't seek His own will... but the Father's... He was submissive and obedient to the Father in all things... and because He's not only the Son of God... but also the Son of Man...

He has been given the authority to be the judge of mankind... He will be the one who sits on the Great White Throne... Mat 25:31 ESV "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Jesus will be the one who commands that the books be opened....

The one who had been accused by men, will that time be the accuser of men...

The one who had been judged by men, will in that place be the judge of men...

The one who had been condemned by men... will Himself, damn men...

At that time... there will be no more mercy or grace available... It has already been dispensed... and there is none left over.

All that's left is justice and judgment...

Rev 20:11-15 ESV Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. (12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (13) And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. (14) Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

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Folks... as we've seen... Jesus has life... and He has the power to give life to whomever He wills...

Joh 5:21 ESV For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

He has promised to give life unto all those who believe in Him. All who come to the Savior in faith will be accepted... none will be turned away if they place their trust and their lives in the Son of Man...

They will pass from death into life through the power of the Holy Spirit...and the new birth, and then one day they will take part in that “resurrection unto life”

The mercy and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is still available to all who will come to Him in faith...