The Bible: Narrative

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The Promises and Mission of God

 

Genesis 12:1-9 ESV

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy- five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.


Introduction 

God giving us grace, today we begin our journey through the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. The Bible is God telling us his story in human history. It is a story about his glory and how he displays and invites us to share in the blessings of his glory. The main character or hero of God’s story is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible primarily is made up of the narrative storyline and God’s commentary upon that. It is important that we know this, or else we will view the Bible as a collection of morals or rituals or as a theological fact book.

In choosing a passage from the various books of the Bible, I attempt to select one that will shed light on the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. Usually this will require that we know the place of the passage in the context of the story. Over the weeks, this will involve some repetition, but this will help us know the various people and themes that God uses in his story.

Exposition

I.The setting of God’s promises and mission – a brief overview

A.The account of creation (Gen 1-2)

1.The action of the all-powerful, personal living God. He is so majestic and glorious that he speaks the universe into being by his word. Note the recurring “And God said.” Everything is created by his will (Rev 4:11) in a manner that communicates wise design. Everything that God creates is good; in fact, all is very good (Gen 1:31).

2.This goodness includes Adam and his wife. God makes them in his image and likeness. God places them in a garden that is like a temple in all its imagery. God tells Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over the garden and the whole earth. They are to serve him as royal priests—an important idea in God’s story.

3.God blesses the people he created. Overflowing with glory and goodness, God chooses to bless people. God is telling us about his mission. And God also asserts his authority to order and command the way of life of people. Adam and Eve receive one prohibition and a consequence for disobedience that tells them that God can set limits on human behavior (2:15-17). The creation account closes with the man and the woman living in God’s blessing with harmony.

B.The account of the Fall into sin and death (Gen 3; cf. Rm 5:12-21)

1.Mankind falls into sin and death because Adam and Eve rebelled against God and his authority when Satan tempted them. (The rest of God’s story makes clear that the tempter was Satan or the devil (cf. Jn 8:44). Adam did not exercise his authority over creation and order the serpent to stop his lies. Instead, he sinned, became guilty, was afraid, and hid from God.

2.God acts to judge all three sinners, and pronounces curses upon them and their world. Yet at the same time, in the midst of the curse on the judgment, God gives hope. He tells that one day the seed of the woman would be victorious over the serpent and his seed (Gen 3:15). So then, in the midst of destruction, there is a promise of blessing, but it will come through the seed. This is an important idea in God’s story.

3.God spares mankind from immediate physical death, but drives them from the garden temple where they had lived. The way back into God’s presence can only come through a blood sacrifice.

C.The account of the spread of sin and death (Gen 4-11) – The Bible never tells us the extent of time from the expulsion from Eden to the call of Abraham, but it took thousands of years.

1.Adam and Eve have two sons, whose relationship shows the ruin that sin brought on the human race. Cain murders his brother Abel, showing that he was of the seed of the evil one (cf. 1 Jn 3:11-12). His line builds a civilization of godless violence. God grants another son to them, Seth, and through his descendants come people that call on the name of the Lord (4:26). Yet their priestly activity is unable to rebuild the world. Instead, humanity is filled with evil and all suffer the curse of death. Note the gloomy refrain in Gen 5: “and then he died”. Human wickedness becomes so terrible that God decides to destroy mankind (Gen 6:5-7).

2.However, God also gives us hope by telling us about his grace—his unmerited favor for those who deserve God’s wrath. As he prepares to destroy the earth, he selects one man and his family to make a new beginning—Noah. He provides Noah and the land and air animals with a way of rescue or salvation—the ark. After the Great Flood that killed all outside the ark, God leads out Noah and the rest to a world that he has remade. God makes a covenant promise with humanity and the rest of the world not to destroy it again by a Great Flood (Gen 8-9). Yet God’s words tell us of the continuing reality of sin, conflict, and death.

3.Noah and his family quickly demonstrate sin’s evil in their lives, and Noah as God’s priest pronounces a curse on part of his family while blessing the Lord God and pointing them to the Lord God for hope. However, mankind quickly rises in rebellion against the Lord and builds a civilization contrary to God’s orders. In their folly, they attempt to “make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4). God easily ends this part of human rebellion by dividing humanity by various languages and then by scattering them across the world. For many, many years human history is the story of untold millions living and dying in the darkness of the “evil exchange” (cf. Rm 1:18-32).

II.The proclamation of God’s promises and mission (Gen 12:1-9) – the call of Abraham (cf. Heb 11:8-16)

A.God’s sovereign grace shines brightly in the story of Abram or Abraham.

1.God took the initiative and called Abram to follow him. Abram was not looking for God; instead, God brought him out from a family who worshiped other gods (Josh 24:2). The line of Seth, Noah, and Shem had hit a dead end in the “evil exchange”. Abram’s wife Sarai (Sarah) was barren. The man whose name meant “exalted father” had no children. They looked cursed instead of blessed.

2.God spoke to Abram to change him: “The Lord had said…” (Gen 12:1). The God of glory appeared to Abraham (Ac 7:2) but he performed no signs and wonders to convince him. Yet the Lord (Yahweh) gave him faith to trust him and to show that faith by obedience. God’s story involves people that trust his promises and act according to God’s words.

3.God’s call involved commands and promises (Gen 12:1-3). As Abram believed God’s promises, he would do God’s will. God gave him two commands at this point and three promises connected with each command.

a.“Leave… and go….” Abram must set himself apart from others and rely on God’s direction. God encourages him by promising: (1) to make him a great nation, (2) to bless him, and (3) to make his name great. God is going to do something new and it involves a large group of people. Regardless of how bleak Abram’s present situation might be, God promises to bless him. Note the connection back to Gen 1:28. It is the beginning of a new humanity. The Lord God also promises to make Abram’s name great. He would do for Abram what the builders of Babel could not do.

b.“Be a blessing.” God gives Abram a mission. Abram and his seed are to act to bring blessing to the world. God involves the new people in his global mission. God encourages him in this mission by promising: (1) that God would bless those who bless Abram, (2) that God will curse those who curse him, and (3) that all the people groups of the world would be blessed through Abram and his seed. Notice that God links blessing and cursing of the world to the interactions of his people with other people. His people will be priests to bless the world, but the peoples must receive the blessing his people bring. This eventually leads to the Great Commission and the eternal state.

B.Abraham believed and obeyed (Gen 12:4-9).

1.God promised Abram the land. Since the Fall, God had not dwelt with people in a place. But now God starts the process of bringing people back into his presence. At first, it is only a small area that Abram could easily walk around. It is not the end of the story. But it is the start of something new and good, because God would choose a place in that land for his temple and live among the people there. When Christ comes, something better would happen. This is an important idea in God’s story.

2.Notice how the promise is made to Abram and his seed (12:7). God started with the seed of the woman, and now it is the seed of Abraham. God’s story is progressing! As Paul much later explains, Abraham’s seed is the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16). The rest of the story in Genesis does more to identify the seed. Read all of Genesis to see Christ!

3.Abraham responds with worship (Gen 12:7b-9). He does not try to create a new city, but rather waits for the city of God, living in tents, waiting for God to fulfill his word. As Abraham worships, we see the father of believers returning to the calling to worship God. A godly people are reestablished.

Apply: Are you part of this godly people that worship the true and living God? Or are you still pursuing idols? Turn from idols and serve the living God. This will only happen when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then will you belong to Abraham’s seed and be an heir according to God’s promise (Gal 3:29).

~ Dave

 
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.
 

Filling Out the Christian Life

2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV

Introduction

David FramptonImagine being handed the keys to a new house. It is yours as a gift. You can move in and enjoy it. But you have to live in it; you have to furnish it. But that is also no problem. You have a line of credit to purchase everything you need; again, it’s a gift. This is what we enjoy because we are in the Lord Jesus Christ. “This is a very good beginning, but it is not to be rested in, as if we were already perfect.” [Henry] In other words, we must live the life of faith that God has called us to, as set forth in 1:4.

Exposition:

I. Foundations of this command

A.The necessity of a proper order of experience in the Christian life

1.We need to possess spiritual life before we can live a spiritual life. This is a failure of most current emphasis on spirituality.

a.Those who attempt to live the Christian life without a vital union with Christ will surely experience frustration, because it requires supernatural power.

b.The apostles always teach a life of godliness from the foundation of justification by faith. The gospel begins with life, and then tells us how to live.

c.Peter is speaking of adding qualities to one’s faith. But first and foremost, you must have a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! You can’t add to something that isn’t there!

2.What Peter says here is connected with his remarks in the preceding verses. Here is the sequence of thought: “because all things necessary for life and godliness have been given to us, for this very reason, add….”

3.The logical goal of grace received is grace reigning (cf. Rm 8:4).

a.God has called us to holiness (cf. 1 Pt 1:15-16). The Father wants his regenerate children to display his character (cf. 2 Pt 1:4). God is not desperate to get a rowdy bunch of worshipers who care nothing about the God whom they claim to worship. He saves and changes people who delight in holiness.

b.Christianity is different from legalism, because it sees the necessity of God’s supernatural grace at every point. It is different from lawlessness, because it sees grace changing hearts and lives.

Illustration: God gives us a new house, and he surely expects us to live in it, but he also wants us to use it to display his surpassing worth. But we can only do this as we rely on his grace to “pay the bills for the upkeep”. We are new people, but our resources are insufficient. If we try to do it on our own, the house starts to run down (cf. 1 Cor 3).

B.The attitude required to obey this command—zeal.

1.Zeal is earnestness, fervency or enthusiasm. We could translate this command like this: “making every zealous effort, add….”

2.Zeal is not taken seriously in our day. Instead, laziness permeates our culture. “What is the least that I can do and keep my job?”

Apply: Each of us should ask ourselves, “Am I becoming godlier? More than that, am I making every effort to be more Christ-like? How much progress have I made this year? How much progress has our church made? What can we do in Christ’s strength for his glory?”

II. The explanation of this command

A.The meaning of “add”

1.“This word… was used for fitting out the chorus in connection with the Greek plays. It was a word that was used to describe the action of one who paid the cost of supplying, or fully furnishing with everything that was necessary, the chorus, which was always such a vital part of a Greek play.” [Lloyd-Jones, p. 25]

2.We are to fully furnish or abundantly supply our faith with the following seven qualities. God wants us to be extravagant in drawing upon the saving riches of Jesus to be a person who attracts others to his Son.

B.The scope of this command

1.The character our faith should show

a.Goodness – This means goodness in action; the practice of concrete deeds of excellence. We should be reflecting Christ, who lived a life of goodness (Ac 10:38). The point is that our faith is to be positively active.

b.Knowledge – We need knowledge of God’s will, of what he wants us to do. We need this knowledge to avoid false zeal. Involvement in activity is not the same as working for Jesus Christ. To gain this knowledge, we must be avid readers and students of the Scriptures. Our Bibles should be well-worn from fellowshipping with God in the Word.

Comment: The evangelical community has been filled with activism—but of what kind? The creed of some has been “do, don’t think.” Of course too many react to that by having the opposite creed, “think, don’t do.” We ought to be “think in agreement with the Bible and do.”

2.The attitudes our faith should display

a.Self-control – This is bringing the emotions and will under the control of godly thinking (cf. Rm 12:1-2). It is “submission to the control of the indwelling Christ.” [Green]

b.Perseverance – This attitude springs from faith, knowledge and practical experience of God and his ways (cf. Rm 5:3). God wants us to go forward with him, though greatly opposed. We can expect the adversary to hinder us (1 Th 2:18), but God expects us to persevere through hindrances and hardships. Some times the way gets very rough, and that is when perseverance must kick in.

Illustration: Climbing up the “Bubbles” by Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

3.The relationships our faith must develop

a.Godliness – Preeminent must be our relationship with God. We are to be people walking in fellowship with our Father in heaven. We are not to be godly in order to be mere knick-knacks on display. Godliness is for the purpose of walking with God.

b.Brotherly love – The assembly or family of God’s people is the community where love is to be shared (1 Pt 1:22; Heb 13:1; 1 Th 4:9; Rm 12:10; 1 Jn 5:1).

c.Love – The love in Christ’s new community is to overflow to all people. Christ sends us on mission to be instruments of his love (Mt 5:13-16; Gal 6:10).

Apply: These are not optional qualities! This is a command. Fill out your faith with every one of these seven qualities. We hear much about “spiritual disciplines” in the emerging church. It would be better to see these qualities of faith in Jesus Christ emerging from the church.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

Very Great and Precious Promises

2 Peter 1:4 ESV

Introduction

David FramptonThe Bible is God’s word telling us about himself, his plan to bring glory and honor to himself through the Lord Jesus Christ, and about his desire to share his love and riches with a people rescued from sin by Jesus, the Son of God. This plan involves making that rescued or saved people God’s people. In the OTS the Lord God did not reveal the fullness of his plan, but in the NTS the Spirit tells us that the people are the spiritual body of Christ. This idea is made known in a number of places. We will now consider the Promises.

Exposition:

I. A great gift

A.The importance of the promises

1.The Holy Spirit uses the promises of God in our renovation.

Illustration: The promises are like his blueprint for what he wants to do.

2.As the Spirit by grace has given a new heart to change us, so he uses God’s promises to influence and to mold our behavior from the inside out.

B.The content of the promises

1.The forgiveness of sins – Heb 8:12

2.A new heart – Col 3:10

3.The indwelling of the Holy Spirit – Rm 8:12ff

4.The rule of grace – Rm 6:14

5.Partnership in God’s family – Mt 6:25ff

6.Mercy and grace through prayer – Heb 4:14-16

7.Future glory – 1 Jn 3:2-3

Illustration: Each promise is a gift that we are to “unwrap” and use.

II. The reason for the gift

A.To escape the corruption in the world

1.There is corruption in the world and it is caused by evil desires.

Illustration: Consider how nice city neighborhoods have been turned into slums.

Comment: Place of desires – compare Seeing with New Eyes

2.“When the promises are understood and believed, the desires get a new direction, which leads them out of this world.” [Brown, p. 136]

Illustration: The grubby boy who “suddenly discovers” girls

B.To participate in the divine nature

1.This does not mean in the essence of God’s nature but in its moral characteristics or disposition or inclination.

2.“It is by understanding and believing the gospel revelation that our mind is brought into conformity with God’s mind—our will into conformity with His will; it is thus we become godly—God-like, spiritually, heavenly minded….” [Brown, p. 137]

3.This happens over a period of time. It is like the gradual, but ongoing, renovation of a house.

Application:

1. To live as we ought, we have to know what we are by grace in Jesus Christ.

[1]The Christian life was never meant to be a continual search to find out who you are, nor to be a search for some kind of second blessing.

Illustration: When you get a car repaired, you do not want to spend your money for needless repairs.

[2]Instead, God has given us what we need. “You are one of God’s children. That is all that you need to be. Now act like one of God’s children ought to act.”

2. Polemic importance in the context of 2 Peter and beyond – Here is a foundation for combating the error of the false teachers.

[1]They thought that knowledge dispensed with the need for godly behavior, so Peter stressed the opposite. This is the ancient intellectual trap (cf. Rm 1:23). Christians will do well to avoid the “doctrinal knowledge” variation of this trap.

[2]They thought that godly living was impossible, so Peter shows them God’s provision. To someone who is not in Christ, a godly way of life is impossible; but it is not for the Christian. God had outfitted us for the task.

Illustration: In Pilgrim’s Progress, Hopeful and Christian were held prisoner in Doubting Castle. All the time, they held a key called Promise that could have easily unlocked all the doors.

[3]The false teachers assumed that a person escaped and participated either by law-keeping or by nature, so Peter proclaims that it is by grace. Here is a base for joy and peace in the Christian walk. Realize that you stand by grace.

3. Acknowledge sin; avoid despair.

As believers, we ought to be much more Christ-like. We should confess our sin that we are not. But in the words of John Brown, “let them not despair—let them resolve to use more carefully, than heretofore, the abundant provision which has been made for their indefinite progress in holiness; for there is no saying what measure of a divine nature we may obtain—how much like God we may become, even here, in holiness and happiness—how much of heaven we may enjoy on earth….” [Brown, p. 138]

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

The Lord and His Church

1 Corinthians 12:1-31 ESV

Introduction

David FramptonThe Bible is God’s word telling us about himself, his plan to bring glory and honor to himself through the Lord Jesus Christ, and about his desire to share his love and riches with a people rescued from sin by Jesus, the Son of God. This plan involves making that rescued or saved people God’s people. In the OTS the Lord God did not reveal the fullness of his plan, but in the NTS the Spirit tells us that the people are the spiritual body of Christ. This idea is made known in a number of places, but its fullest expression is written in our text for today.

Structure of First Corinthians

  • Introduction (1:1-9)
  • Response to information about the church in Corinth (1:10-6:20)
  • Response to questions from the church in Corinth (7:1-16:4)
  • Conclusion (16:4-24)

Ideas and features of First Corinthians

  • Paul planted the church in Corinth with the help of Aquila and his wife Priscilla (Ac 18:1-4) and Silas and Timothy (Ac 18:5). He invested eighteen months in planting this church (Ac 18:11)
  • The letter is the Lord’s response to the situation that Paul received about that local church and to questions from its members; notice carefully that they wanted apostolic instruction
  • One of the key concepts is the way that Paul teaches them with a Christ-structured perspective; study the letter and see how he continually forms his teaching around the Lord Jesus; in addition, the letter is very Trinitarian
  • First Corinthians is very useful for leading a church towards a godly way of life in Christ Jesus; Paul emphasizes Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection and builds on those gospel events; throughout it directs love and concern for those in Christ
  • Chapter thirteen is the “love chapter” and chapter fifteen is the “resurrection chapter”; sadly however, Christians seem more interested in controversial matters in the letter than on the graces of faith, hope, and love that the letter teaches (13:13)

Exposition:

The apostle talks about the body of Christ in the context of answering questions about spiritual gifts. In the process, he sets forth a few basic ideas about the church.

I. The principle of God’s sovereignty in the forming of Christ’s body

A.The Spirit of God puts us into the body of Christ, the church.

1.He enables us to make the basic confession “Jesus is Lord” (12:3; cf. Rm 10:9-10). Apart from God’s grace we are unable to respond positively to God. We are corrupted by sin to the roots of our being. Sin has made us unable (cf. Jn 3:5; 8:43; 14:17; Rm 8:7-8; 1 Cor 12:3). This is the first of the doctrines of grace—radical corruption. The good news is that the Holy Spirit is able to make you able to call on the Lord and be saved. This is the fourth of the doctrines of grace—effective grace. At the root of our position in Christ’s body is a shared experience of God’s saving grace. This fuels a passion for one another and charges a mutual respect for one another. In the church you are with people who have known the hand of God in their salvation.

2.The Holy Spirit baptizes or immerses every believer into the body of Christ. The point the apostle Paul makes here is this ends all ethnic and socio-economic divisions among those in Christ’s spiritual body. We all receive together the fulfillment of Christ’s promise (12:13; cf. Jn 7:37-39). Everyone in the Christ’s new people is the recipient of the Spirit. Again, this is a level but very high position to share. When we take it seriously, it transforms the way we view all other Christians.

B.The Holy Spirit assigns our place in the body of Christ (12:4-11).

1.The Spirit carries out the will of the Father and the Son.

2.The Spirit assigns spiritual gifts to each one according to his determination (12:11). You and I did not walk through a “cafeteria line” to choose which gift or gifts we wanted. The all-wise Spirit of God knew what gift or gifts to give us what gifts we needed to function properly in the body. At this point or somewhere along the line, someone wonders, “How can I know what spiritual gift or gifts I possess?” The answer is simple. Start to serve the Lord in a local church and your spiritual gifts will be seen by others.

Apply: As we move forward together serving the Lord, our gifts in this local assembly will be demonstrated, and if we need some person with another gift, the Holy Spirit will send or save such a person and add them to our number. This is where it gets exciting!

II. The principles of unity and diversity in Christ’s body – both are present together and both are necessary

A.The principle of unity

1.This unity flows from the unity of the Trinity. God’s “community” creates the gospel community. Though there are different gifts, service, and kinds of working, there is the same Spirit, Lord, and God. This, as Paul had already taught in this letter, builds a correct regard for Christ’s ministers. All serve the Lord together, and for this reason, we must never boast in one above another (3:1-23). Christians must grow up and understand clearly that it is a trap of Satan to boast in men (4:6-7).

2.This unity strives for the common good (12:7). Anyone who acts to exalt self acts very foolishly. Your place in the Lord’s body and your gifts were given by the Spirit so that you might benefit others. Our culture delights in self-exaltation; Jesus culture seeks for Jesus exaltation, and this happens as all his people are benefitted by each other. To Jesus there are no little people—and no superstars! If you don’t grasp this, prayerfully read Matthew 11 about fifty times. The flesh talks about who is first, the Spirit about who is benefitted.  If you want to be great, be the servant of all (Mk 9:33-35). And you are really not serving anyone until you act for their good!

3.This unity is real, because there is only one body (12:12-13). And it is Christ’s body, not the creation of people. If we assume we can create a body, be assured that it will not be the body of Christ. It will be a spurious, cheap imitation. But if we are in Christ together, all the parts are pulled irresistibly toward the Lord and love reigns in his body.

B.The principle of diversity

1.There are a variety of parts in the body of Christ (12:14-20). As Paul illustrates, one is a hand, another a foot, another an ear, and still another an ear. And each part is necessary for a functioning body. You might have beautiful green eyes, but if you were covered with green eyes, somehow you would not be quite as attractive. Everybody loves a good set of ears, but at some point your nose might save your life. The Holy Spirit has set you where you are needed! Trust him; rejoice in the function he has given to you. An old children’s song said, “If the Lord makes you a drummer, be a drummer for the Lord. If the Lord makes you a plumber, be a plumber for the Lord.” The same holds true for every believer in Jesus.

2.The different functions require different spiritual gifts (12:8-10, 28-30). The questions in the second list are asked so that they demand the negative answer “no”. The Spirit makes you a certain part of Christ’s body and then gives you the spiritual gift to do it. Do not waste your life wishing for a different gift. “Bloom where you’re planted.”

III. The principle of mutual concern in Christ’s body

A.All members need each other.

1.Every part needs the other parts in order to function properly (12:21). Eyes are wonderfully designed for one kind of work and hands for another. Neither can do what the other does. Your lack of ability to do something doesn’t mean that you are some sort of a second class citizen. Nor does it mean that someone else is somehow better than you. It simply means that you are different because God made you that way, he loves all his people.

2.Some parts might seem “less honorable”. But this spurs us on to seek special honor for certain members. The important idea is to show equal concern for each other. Now, this is a great challenge, especially when education or economic level or social status or ethnicity or age makes us different!

Illustration: I thank God over and over for my two years in Rock Hill as a preacher boy. I had a lot to learn about honoring all parts of the body of Christ. My dear southern friends did a superb job of accepting a northern guy and his fiancée, and patiently allowed me time to grow to like beans and cornbread for supper, to accept Yankee jokes in good humor, and to grow as a young believer. Some situations could have been testy, to say the least, but the Lord gave mutual grace to persevere to love and good works.

B.All members receive honor together and suffer together (12:26).

1.This is an unexpected twist! Everyone gets honored for the health and growth of the body together. Where love, joy, and peace reign, such people will be honored. Where souls are brought to our Lord and Savior, all will receive honor for their part in it, regardless of what you did.

2.On the other hand, if one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it. This is something that people do not want to see. We wrongly assume that we can wall ourselves off from the trials and problems of other. “Oh, we lost an arm? So what, we have another one!” And we can deceive ourselves that we’re doing fine until we lose the second arm.

Apply: My dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to show equal concern for one another. This is God’s will for every local assembly.  Yet you cannot live as a Christian, unless you are first in Christ by grace through faith. Do you have a living, active, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus? Or are you simply being religious? It may be that the Spirit of God has pointed out a serious deficiency in you through this chapter. If so, turn to the Lord now; seek true, spiritual change from him.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

Union with Christ

Romans 6:1-14 ESV

Brief Review & Introduction

David FramptonIn our series in the Bible, the story of God, we come now to the letters written by Christ’s apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. In them we read God’s commentary and application of the redemption that Christ accomplished. The first letter to read is Romans. Every Christian should read, study, meditate on, and strive to apply the truth written in it.

Structure of Romans

  • Introduction (1:1-17)
  • God’s wrath against sinners (1:18-3:20)
  • God’s righteousness for believers in Christ (3:21-11:36)
  • God’s righteousness in the daily life of believers (12:1-15:13)
  • Conclusion (15:14-16:27)

Ideas and features of Romans

  • Paul wrote this letter to tell them about the message he preached before he visited Rome and to seek support for a proposed missionary journey to Spain; he sought to strengthen unity in the gospel among believers
  • Paul wrote the letter about AD 57; with Colossians, they are the only letters in the Bible that he wrote to a church he did not start
  • About 20% of Romans contains quotations from the OTS; 104 verses from 14 books are quoted; about half those are in chapters 9-11
  • The key words in Romans are righteousness and justification; the theme verses are 1:16-17; the most important verses, not only in Romans but in the whole Bible are 3:24-26
  • Romans is the “theological skeleton” of the whole Bible; however, it is not a textbook on theology but a letter, the greatest letter ever written
  • Romans is very valuable because it is a completely developed presentation of the good news (gospel); after years of preaching and teaching the good news, Paul had taught people of many people groups and had heard countless objections to this message; for this reason he raises them and answers them

Exposition:

I. A very important matter (6:1-2)

A.We cannot understand what the apostle is saying unless we understand the reason for the objection.

1.Instead of sin, condemnation, and death in Adam, in Christ we have obedience, justification, and life. Christ alone did all that everything necessary to provide life for all those who trust in him (5:12-19).

2.Through Christ, we are not in a position of law (the old covenant) where sin increased; instead, we are in a position of increasing and reigning grace. We have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (5:20-21). As incredible and amazing and wonderful you think that is, it is much more than any of us can imagine.

B.At this point Paul knows that an objection comes: “Ah Paul, are you not saying that since you are justified, you can sin as much as you want to? Sure you are—where sin increases, grace overflows; so then, let’s sin more so we can experience grace more!  If we have such amazing grace, then believers in Christ can live however they want.” We ought to notice that only those who preach justification by grace alone will ever have to answer such a question. Paul answers it two ways.

1.By flat denial –“By no means!” This is a very strong expression that means “may it never be” or “not at all” or more idiomatically, “no way!” Anyone who seriously raises this kind of objection reveals that they do not understand the nature of salvation from sin to righteousness.

2.By restating the purpose of saving grace – We died to the reign of sin under which we lived in Adam. There has been a radical break with sin. How can we live in sin any longer?

Transition: The question is, “When did we die to sin’s controlling power?” Paul explains the reality of the believer’s union with Christ.

II. Basic facts about our union with Christ (6:3-10)

A.Every believer is “baptized” into Christ (6:3-4). First of all, we must understand what “baptize” means. It clearly means “to dip” or “to immerse” or “to submerge”. So then, when we were united with Christ, we were joined to him in the fullness of his saving work.

1.This is true of every believer—“don’t you know?” He did not write “some of you might know”. It is the true position of everyone who is saved (cf. 8:9-14). This is not something you feel, but your spiritual position.

2.When Jesus died, he died to his relationship with sin. He came to die for sinners, and he took our sin on him. And when he died, he died completely to sin and its reign. Therefore, in Christ we have died to the reigning power of sin (6:7).

B.Every believer is also united to Christ in his resurrection (6:4-10). While it is true that in Christ we died to sin, yet that alone is an insufficient explanation of our position and the reason that we cannot continue to live in sin. Christ’s death and burial were steps onward to his resurrection through the glory of the Father.

1.The future tense is used (6:5) to speak of our resurrection with Christ in order to say that it is certainly true. In our union with Christ we receive a new, glorious position. We are no longer the “old self” that we were in Adam. We are the resurrected “new self” that we are in Christ. The old self was crucified so that we might not be slaves to sin. Instead, the new self is to be a slave of God that we might live lives that are set apart to righteousness (6:19-22).

2.Therefore, we must understand that we cannot continue to live in sin, as the objection suggests. Instead, we are united to Christ by faith that we might live a new life (6:4) and live for God (6:10). The key point is to know and to act on what you are in Christ. The Lord Jesus is the master over sin and death. Therefore, we must not think of ourselves as under the reign of sin and death. We are alive and new in Christ and we need to act according to what we now are and not in conformity with what we used to be.

Transition: In order to live the Christian life properly, we must live in conformity with what we are in Jesus Christ. The apostle next presents how to do this.

III. The proper response to this teaching (6:11-14)

A.A command to consider what you are in Christ: “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11).

1.This is a continual responsibility (present tense).  If we falter in this matter, we will reap problems. But we are to count as true what we already are in Christ. For example, football players might say, “We’ve got to be men today.” What are they saying? They’re saying that they must act like the physically gifted men that they are and play according to their potential. Likewise, Christians must remember who they are in Christ and act consistent to their union with the risen Christ.

2.Therefore, act in faith on the truth that you are alive to God in the reign of grace. Do not allow every temptation and sinful failure to shake your confidence. Yes, you will still sin, but sin can no longer destroy you. You died to the old realm and its condemnation (cf. 8:1). Remember that and live in hope.

3.Therefore, when confronted with sin, tell yourself who you are. “Who am I that I should sin? I am new in Christ, a child of God, the Holy Spirit lives in me, and I have great spiritual armor that I can stand against the evil one and sin. My Father has provided the way of escape for me (1 Cor 10:13). I should not sin.” Then we are living in our new freedom that Christ has given us, we can rejoice in the Lord.

B.A command to apply the truth about who you are in Christ (6:12).

1.It prohibits us from letting sin reign in our bodies. Notice that this prohibition comes out from the previous teaching. Sin isn’t your master; don’t act like it is.

2.We must keep this command because sin wants to act like it is still in control of you. It uses evil desires to make you feel like it is. However, we must apply the truth to our lives by the power of the Spirit and refuse evil desires.

C.Two more commands in order to make the application of the truth (6:13).

1.Don’t offer the parts of your body to sin.

2.Offer yourself and the parts of your body to God.

D.The great reality of the believer’s new position (6:14).

1.We are not under law (the old covenant).

2.We are under grace (the new covenant).

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

Promise and Fulfillment

Acts 3:11-26 ESV

Brief Review & Introduction

David FramptonBrief review of the story of God: creation, fall, the promise covenant with Abraham, the law covenant with Israel, the royal covenant with David, and the first coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the new covenant.

Structure of Acts (see below to connect with the general structure of Luke-Acts)

  • Jesus gives a mission and ascends to the Father (1:1-11)
  • The early church in Jerusalem (1:12-6:7)
  • The gospel message spreads from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and other nearby areas (6:8-9:31)
  • The gospel spreads to the nations (9:32-12:25)
  • The gospel spreads through Paul’s three missionary journeys (13:1-21:16)
  • The gospel is defended and reaches Rome (21:17-28:31)

Ideas and features of Acts

  • Acts is part two of Luke’s account of the story of what the Lord Jesus Christ did and taught (Ac 1:1). Acts tells what the risen Christ did through his people by the Holy Spirit in its early days. Luke wrote Acts to tell this story and to bring out certain themes. However, among Christians of all types, it is popular to ignore this context and to use the book as a manual for spiritual experience, church practice, and missionary methods (cf. Thompson, The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus, p. 17).
  • The center of Luke and Acts is the accomplishment of salvation by Christ is his death, resurrection, ascension, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Lk 23-Ac 2); everything in Luke leads toward this central core, and everything in Acts develops from it; the two books tell the story from the birth of Jesus to the gospel reaching Rome; the focus of Acts is the spread of the good news out from Jerusalem to the nations (Ac 1:8)
  • Acts completes the historical narrative of the Four Gospels and the storyline of the Bible, except for the prophetic narrative contained in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ; Acts is known for its historical accuracy against all attempts of unbelief to refute it
  • The book shows God’s sovereign rule in salvation, whether in the events of the crucifixion (2:23; 3:18; 4:27-28), in calling people to salvation (2:39, 41, 47; 5:14; 11:24; 13:48), or in giving faith, repentance, and open hearts (3:16; 5:31; 11:18; 14:27; 15:8-9; 16:14; 18:27)
  • Acts has a number of summaries about the life of the church and the ministry of the apostles; nearly one third of Acts records summaries of sermons or speeches by NT apostles and prophets; in addition, there are about 38 different kinds of summary descriptions of the message of the good news (See Thompson, pp. 100-101)
  • The book has much to say about the kingdom or reign of God in this present age; since Jesus is glorified and the Holy Spirit has been poured out by Jesus and received by his people, God’s kingdom has come near (1:3, 6; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31); Jesus now reigns from heaven and his people obey his authority
  • Luke tells us constantly how God’s promises in the OTS are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ; this is the theme of Acts; we will look at one example of how Luke does this

Exposition:

[Explain the setting of Peter’s address to his audience]

I. God’s actions in the gospel events

A.In everything God acted to glorify, to show the surpassing worth and honor, of his servant. This is one of the most amazing parts of God’s story. From a human perspective, we might well wonder, “How can the disgusting, disgraceful death of Jesus on the cross ever result in praise and honor?” It seems too hideous and beyond impossible. When it happened, he suffered pain and mockery; afterwards, it has been a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the nations.

1.This path to glory was foretold by Isaiah in what is called the fourth Servant Song (Is 52:13-53:12).

2.It was glorious in what God’s Servant Jesus accomplished—the forgiveness of sins and justification. Because of what Jesus Christ did in fulfilling God’s promise given through Isaiah, we can be right with God, declared right through believing in Jesus.

B.Peter, like the rest of the apostles, emphasizes God’s act of raising Jesus from the dead. This is the part of God’s story where, so to speak, God rolled up his sleeves and powerfully worked. God himself gave his Son and Servant resurrection life, a life of far greater glory and power than anyone had ever experienced (cf. 1 Cor 15). The crucified Jesus becomes the risen Savior and Lord.

1.The apostles consistently trace the reality of Christ’s resurrection back to the act of God (2:23-24; 4:10; 5:29-30; 10:39-40; 13:29-30; 17:30-31; 26:8, 23).

2.Peter declares that the healing of the beggar who had been crippled from birth comes through the power of the resurrected Jesus (3:16). Even the faith to receive the healing comes through Jesus!

Point: God’s act of raising Jesus from the dead is the starting point of salvation and God’s other acts of mercy.

II. Explanation of God’s actions – Peter explains the significance of what God did.

A.The gospel events are the fulfillment of the promises made through the prophets of the OTS (3:17-18).

1.We must never try to detach biblical prophecies and their fulfillment from what God did in Christ. Since he is the theme of the whole Bible, their untied witness points to the Lord Messiah.

2.Again, Peter emphasizes the idea that the sufferings of the Messiah were the plan of God: “But this is how God fulfilled…” (cf. 1 Pt 1:10-12).

Point: God’s story is about the sufferings and glory of Jesus Christ. Are you in agreement with God’s story? Or are you trying to make up an alternative story?

B.The people of God must listen to Jesus. God appointed him (3:20).

1.God through Moses (Deut 18:14-19) prophesied that God would send another prophet like Moses. As Moses was the mediator of the old covenant made at Sinai with Israel (Deut 5:5), so the coming Prophet would be the mediator between God and his people (1 Tm 2:5; Heb 3:1-6; 9:15; 12:24). The people to whom Peter was speaking should have been well aware of this prophecy. When Jesus came, he spoke just what the Father told him to (Jn 12:49-50; cf. 17:8). For this reason, Jesus bears the name, the Word of God, (Jn 1:1, 14; cf. Rev 19:13).

2.The crucial issue is that we must listen to and obey what Jesus has commanded (Mt 28:19-20). This includes not only belief in him as Lord and Savior, but also the way of life that comes from that great truth. God teaches you the truth about his Son, the Mediator, and you and I must be transformed by that truth (Rm 12:1-2).

C.Jesus will come again from heaven to restore everything (3:21).

1.Presently, as he is in heaven at God’s right hand, he rules over everything for the good of his people, the church (Eph 1:22-23). As people had already said, that rule includes the giving of faith and the healing of people.

2.But at God’s appointed time, Jesus will come again when God restores everything. God will make everything new (Rev 21:5). This present evil age will only continue until God says it is time to bring the fullness of God’s kingdom to this world (1 Cor 15:24-28; Ph 3:20-21; 1 Th 4:16-17; etc.) Then the full fulfillment of God’s promises will be realized.

Point: Part of your world and life view must include the end of history. God’s story has a destination and you and I must live in conformity with it.

III. Human responsibility in consequence of God’s actions – true conversion.

Ah, conversion is a very unpopular term in our time. People like to imagine that they can make up their own rules. Who would think of playing football or some other game that way? But people assume that they can live that way. The result is chaos. And so “ruin and misery” mark the ungodly way of life (Rm 3:16). The risen Christ commands a different way.

A.Turn from your wicked ways (3:26). Wickedness is sin. And sin is the rejection of God as God in your life, the refusal to love God with your whole heart, and the rebellion against God and his ways. All three aspects of sin must be forsaken. This is one part of true repentance.

B.Turn to God. To turn to God from these ways of wickedness, you must honor God as your God, love him wholeheartedly, and do what he commands. This brings about a new world and life view. It also brings refreshing from the Lord—love, joy, and peace! And wouldn’t you really rather have such blessings instead of chaos?

Apply: Right now is the time for you to turn from sin to God. Don’t assume that you need to clean up your life first. Christ will do that for you. Simply turn to the Lord Jesus now and trust him as your Lord and Savior.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

Jesus and His Mission

Introduction to John

David Frampton

Hello! For many weeks we have been looking to the living God tell us his story. It is the true story of his glory in Jesus Christ through salvation and judgment. We are now in the New Testament Scriptures, beginning with the Four Gospels. They along with Acts provide the historical narrative of what the Son of God accomplished. For this reason, it is essential that we know the Gospels thoroughly. God the Holy Spirit tells us about Jesus from four different angles, so that we can have a full view of Christ’s awesome majesty. In Mark we view Jesus as Lord and in Matthew as Teacher. Now in John the Spirit shows Jesus Christ as the Son that God the Father sent to be the Savior of the world.

Structure of John

  • Prologue (1:1-18)
  • Book of signs (1:19-12:50)
  • Book of glory (13:1-20:31)
  • Epilogue (21:1-25)

Ideas and features of John

  • John uses simple words to express profound ideas; this combination makes it easily accessible to those apart from the Lord and to those who have recently been born again from above, and at the same time it serves as solid food for very mature believers; for example, a spiritually instructed reader is going to see many themes of the OTS fulfilled in Jesus
  • John declares his purpose for the Gospel in 20:31; we can term this purpose evangelistic, but not merely in a simple sense; the apostle wants his readers to come to a full understanding of Jesus as the Messiah and the full meaning of that in light of his fulfillment of the OTS
  • To carry out this evangelistic purpose, John has a number of “witnesses” testify about Jesus identity, purpose, and glory: John the Baptist, the Samaritan woman, Moses, the Father, Jesus himself (including his works), the Holy Spirit, the disciples, and the Apostle John himself
  • To present Jesus and his mission to his readers, John uses seven miraculous signs and seven “I am _______” sayings (6:35 & 48; 8:12 & 9:5; 10:7 & 9; 10:11 & 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1 & 5); there are also a few absolute “I AM” statements by Jesus
  • The Fourth Gospel is very Trinitarian; here we learn more about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in their inter-Trinitarian relationships than anywhere else in the Holy Writings
  • John records a number of “conversations” that our Lord had with people: the new birth (3:1-15), the water of life (4:1-42), the Father and the Son (5:16-47), the bread of life (6:25-59), true freedom (8:12-59), the good shepherd (10:1-39), the theology of unbelief (12:37-50), and the upper room discourse (13:1-17:26)
  • In the Gospel of John we receive teaching on important subjects: the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the new covenant community, and the doctrine of last things; for example, in regard to the doctrine of salvation, Jesus talks much about the sovereignty of God in salvation—what we call the doctrines of grace

Exposition:

I. The source of Christ’s coming (12:44-45)

A.A mysterious saying

1.At first glance these words do not make sense. How can a person believe in Jesus and yet not believe in him but in someone else? (The NIV adds the explanatory word “only”, but it is better to omit it. Jesus wants people to think.)

2.The answer is found in the unity between the God the Father and God the Son. The apostle has already given his readers an extended section of Jesus’ teaching on this subject (5:19-30). Since the Father sent the Son and the Son always does the Father’s will, to believe in the Son is to believe in the Father who sent him (cf. 5:24). It is also true that no one can believe in the Father unless you believe in Jesus.

B.The missional perspective

1.“Mission” comes from a Latin word meaning “the act of sending”. So then, if you are sent, you are on a mission. Jesus always lived with the perspective that the Father had sent him to do his will (cf. Heb 10:7; etc.) When Jesus came to the final week of his earthly ministry, his mission from the Father filled his mind. Nothing could deflect him from it.

2.Christ is the Sent One, and we his followers are in him, and he has sent us into the world (Jn 17:18; 20:21). We must view our lives as sent ones; as Paul wrote, we are “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor 5:20). We do not have the same mission the Son of God had, but we must share in his outlook. You and I are not here to please ourselves but to do God’s will. Do you live according to this missional perspective?

II. The purpose of Christ’s coming (12:46)

A.Jesus came into the world as a light.

1.We meet this idea in the prologue of the Fourth Gospel (1:5-9). Light speaks of revelation of the way of knowing God and salvation. If you have such light, you also live in the light. Your way of life conforms to the truth of God (cf. Eph 5:8-14; 1 Jn 1:5-7). You know God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and that light transforms you. You love God, and you want to live for God, because you know the awesome, beautiful glory of God. You are committed to Christ, because you know he is the Light of the world (8:12).

2.Jesus acted as the Light that he knew God had sent him to be. He did mighty signs to demonstrate the reign of God over all. Was someone in need for wine? Jesus gave them the best wine. Was a Jewish teacher confused about God’s word? He explained it. Had a man been hopelessly paralyzed for thirty-eight years? He restored him to reveal the goodness of the Father? Was there a hungry crowd? He fed them. Had a man been blind since birth? He gave him sight to glorify God. He constantly demonstrated that God’s reign brought life to people. As long as he was in the world, he was the Light of the world (9:5). People could know God by looking at him, by believing in him.

B.Jesus came as a light to rescue people from darkness.

1.Darkness is the opposite of light. Darkness is what people naturally are and where they live. Sin suppresses the knowledge of God, and people love that darkness, but they suffer its tragic consequences. Sin corrupts, degrades, perverts, defiles, dehumanizes, deceives, and destroys people. This is true about all people by nature, whether the arrogant, self-consumed academic or business person that tears apart everyone under them or the homeless and hopeless street person, and everyone else in between. “Ruin and misery mark their ways” (Rm 3:16).

2.But the good news is that Jesus came so that no one who believes in him should remain in darkness. Christ makes great changes in people. He gives “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Is 61:3). People in Christ know joy and peace and their hearts overflow with confident expectation by the Holy Spirit (Rm 15:13).

III. The consequences of Christ’s coming (12:47-50)

A.The consequence for those who reject Christ as the Light of the world

1.They will be judged. Christ will not have to judge them, because the word, the revelation that he gave, will judge them. Notice that they reject him and do not receive his words. It is a package deal. You cannot have Jesus unless you accept his words. True spirituality is always based in the words of Christ and God. You cannot meet Jesus apart from his words.

2.They will be condemned at the last day. History is headed somewhere. Jesus constantly taught that there will be an eternal destiny for people. For those who reject Jesus and his words that destiny is the wrath of God (Jn 3:18, 36). Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone in the Bible. Hell is the place of eternal punishment. Thank you, Father in heaven, that we do not have to end the message here.

B.The consequence for those who accept Christ’s words and believe in him.

1.Jesus says that his whole message is a command from the Father, and that this commanded message to trust in him leads to eternal life. This is the joyful consequence. God sent his Son to save or rescue people from their sins (3:14-17). Jesus came to save people, even the worst of people (1 Tm 1:15).

2.Jesus reaffirms that his words are also the Father’s words. The Father offers you life in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Apply: Today, the living God invites you to come to Jesus, to trust in Jesus, and to receive the free gift of full forgiveness, and eternal life and glory.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

Jesus and the Resurrection

Introduction to Luke

David FramptonThe Bible tells us God’s story, the history of his plan to save people through his Son, Jesus Christ, for his glory. The eternal, triune, living God decided to create to make known his surpassing value and goodness and to share his joy with a people that would be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is that word “saved” that touches our human situation. Why do people need to be saved or rescued? It is because of what God calls “sin”. Sin is rejection of God as God, refusal to love God, and rebellion against God and his will. Sin wreaks havoc in people and our world (Rm 1:29-31). People do not know peace—“well-being, wholeness, the fullness of God’s blessing or favor”. For this reason, Jesus came to establish peace in the people he came to save. Luke tells the story in Luke and Acts of how Jesus acted and still acts to bring peace to all the people groups of the world by setting up God’s kingdom—his saving reign. (“Peace” occurs about twelve times in Luke.)

Structure of Luke

  • The preface and the introduction of Jesus (1:1-2:52)
  • The preparation for Jesus’ ministry (3:1-4:13)
  • The Galilean ministry (4:14-9:50)
  • The journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27)
  • The Jerusalem ministry (19:28-24:53)

Ideas and features of Luke

  • Luke, a coworker of the apostle Paul, wrote Luke and Acts, a two-part work. Together, they contain about 27% of the words in the New Testament Scriptures
  • The center of Luke and Acts is the accomplishment of salvation by Christ is his death, resurrection, ascension, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Lk 23-Ac 2); everything in Luke leads toward this central core, and everything in Acts develops from it; the two books tell the story from the birth of Jesus to the gospel reaching Rome
  • If we want to know the right way to read the Old Testament Scriptures, we need to see the way that first Jesus and then his apostles used them; Luke 24 is very important in this regard; it is one of ten most important chapters in the Bible
  • Luke wrote his Gospel so that people we know that the good news of Jesus is for all the people groups of the world; the book is addressed to Theophilus, which is a Greek name; Luke wants him to know the certainty of what he has been taught, which means that this man from the nations was a disciple
  • Luke teaches that the kingdom of God arrived with the coming of Jesus; Christ brings the new age of God’s kingdom rule; there is a “new covenant”; however, there is another aspect of God’s kingdom that will only arrive when Jesus comes again; this is part of the “already/not yet” progression we see in God’s story
  • Luke tells us about the “great reversal” that Jesus brings among people; for this reason we hear a lot about good news for the poor, the humble, the disadvantaged,  tax collectors, religious outcasts, women, and people from Samaria and the rest of the nations; years ago someone described Jesus as “the King of the Misfits”; the good news is that Jesus welcomes people from every level of human society, including you and me
  • Luke presents the necessity of prayer (mentioned about 30 times in Luke), a proper use of one’s possessions (riches and prosperity can hinder anyone’s relationship with God), sharing one’s life by eating with others, and the absolute importance of the Holy Spirit

Exposition:

I. Christ’s message to them

A.The historical setting of this meeting of Jesus and his followers

1.Luke recorded the numerous failures of Christ’s followers on their last day with him. They had argued about who was the greatest of them. They had fallen asleep when they should have been watching and praying. They had not grasped that Jesus came to dies and rose again, and so they had suggested that they use swords to defend him. After Peter’s denial, they disappear from the story until after the resurrection.

2.Even after they had heard reports that Jesus had risen and Peter had seen the empty tomb, they still were struggling with doubts. When Jesus appeared to them, they were frightened.

B.Yet Jesus came with a message of peace for them.

1.Christ’s birth was celebrated by an army of angels announcing peace (2:14). Jesus told a woman to go in peace because her faith had saved her (7:50). He healed a woman who had been sick for twelve years and told her to go in peace (8:48). He sent his followers out with a message of peace (10:5-6). When Jesus was welcomed as king at his triumphal entry, the crowds exclaimed “peace in heaven” (Lk 19:38).

2.On meeting with a group of his followers for the first time after his resurrection, Jesus gave them the blessing of peace. Peace had come because he accomplished peace by his death and resurrection. This group that was to form the first local church was to be a people of peace, enjoying peace, spreading peace. The Holy Spirit would come to produce his fruit of peace in them (Gal 5:22). We also should exude or radiate peace.

Apply: Can people say of you, “I sense the peace of Jesus Christ being in your presence?”

II. Convincing proofs of his resurrection – This is the turning point of history.

The future of God’s story comes out from Jesus really being raised from the dead. This is it, or there is no more story! Therefore, Jesus gave many convincing proofs, and here we see three of them.

A.Christ’s awareness of their need

1.The Lord questioned them to help them face their troubled thoughts and doubts. Christ acts as the Wonderful Counselor to lead them to openness about their doubts. Observe that the Lord does not want our knowledge of him to be based on some kind of mythical leap of faith. No, he wants us to face reality; in fact, he demands that we do.

2.The Lord does not give up on us when we are troubled and doubting. This is good news! At the same time, he wants us to comprehend our condition and admit it. If you came into our gathering this morning expecting to find only people of triumphant faith, well… you might be disappointed. We are too much like the disciples described in our text. But what we want to share with you is the good news that Jesus Christ helps those of very weak faith. He guides us into a better spiritual condition by the word of God and the Holy Spirit.

B.The Lord provides three evidences to them. Having got out of the tomb, Christ steps into their lives in order that they might know who he really is—the Lord of life! These people had heard of an empty tomb, folded grave clothes, and angels, but it took the personal appearance of Jesus himself to convince them of the reality of the resurrection.

1.See – Jesus wanted them to verify his identity. The same Jesus that was crucified stood among them.

2.Touch – Jesus let them know that he was not a ghost, but that he has a real, substantial, tangible, solid, material, resurrected body. His full humanity was intact.

3.Participate – Jesus asked them to give him something, so that he could demonstrate his true, living humanity by eating it.

Apply: Christ’s resurrection gives life to real Christians, who are ready to take the good news about him everywhere. “If Jesus rose from the dead you have to accept all he said, if he didn’t rise from the dead then why worry about anything he said…. If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything.” (Keller, The Reason for God, p. 202).

III. Missional purpose

A.Basis is in the teaching of the Scriptures.

1.The Scriptures are a book about Jesus Christ. Every part of the OTS speaks about him. “Central to our understanding of the Old Testament is the fact that Jesus, the apostles and all the New Testament authors saw it as in some way a book about Jesus Christ… The overwhelming testimony of the New Testament is that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, which is another way of saying that the Old Testament is about Jesus” (Goldsworthy, According to Plan, p. 53) The NTS, still to be written on that night, record what Christ did, does and will do, and the significance of his actions. In the Bible we see Christ stepping into the lives of people to honor the Father. (See also Goldsworthy, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology, p.31.)

2.Jesus explained what had happened to him as the fulfillment of what the Scriptures taught about him. Jesus’ death and resurrection came from the divine “must”. God did these things. So then, his followers can teach from the Bible to show others the fulfillment of God’s purposes.

Apply: This is what makes the Biblical message important and powerful. God is speaking to people today through his word. In the Bible God tells us of Jesus who is able to save completely those who come to God through him. In an age of doubt, disillusionment and despair, people need this message of hope!

B.Illumination to understand clearly three essential truths.

1.The gospel (good news) is the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that it is foundational to everything Christianity teaches. The cross tells of the perfect sacrifice that takes away sin and guilt and punishment, provides forgiveness, establishes a new covenant, removes God’s wrath, and puts us in a right relationship with God. His resurrection demonstrates that God has accepted what Christ did and so gives us eternal life in him. The main theme of the Bible is the story of God’s glory in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.

2.The proper response to the good news is true conversion, indicated here by repentance. What is repentance? It is a change of mind about God, who we are, sin, Christ, and salvation.  It is looking at life from God’s standpoint. When a person has this change of mind, he or she trusts or relies on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

3.This good news is to be preached in Christ’s name to all nations. Since the Lord Jesus accomplished salvation, we are to tell people about him. We are partners in his mission. We have the message of life for all people everywhere, regardless of gender, skin color, ethnic heritage, educational level, political views, or social and economic status. And we don’t simply tell people to tolerate others and work toward peace. We tell them that Christ is peace and all who have faith him in are accepted by God and God’s people! Christ is the source of our peace. He is our peace.

C.Empowerment

1.To witness or testify about what Christ did in his death and resurrection. The focus is on Christ. But how will people listen to the message about Jesus Christ? It seems that people are too distracted by things or disillusioned by religion or disappointed by false hopes or delighted with their own ideas. Everyone wants to think that he or she is an expert in spiritual matters. How will they ever listen and respond positively?

2.Need of the Holy Spirit – He is what God the Father promised (cf. Ezk 36:27; Joel 2:28). All that Christ’s followers need comes through the Spirit.

Apply: We invite you to become followers of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Right now you can have a change of mind and receive Christ and the peace that he is and gives.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

Jesus and His Mission

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me. (John 12:44-50 ESV)

Introduction:

David FramptonFor many weeks we have been listening to the living God tell us his story. It is the true story of his glory in Jesus Christ through salvation and judgment. We are now in the New Testament Scriptures, beginning with the Four Gospels. They along with Acts provide the historical narrative of what the Son of God accomplished. For this reason, it is essential that we know the Gospels thoroughly. God the Holy Spirit tells us about Jesus from four different angles, so that we can have a full view of Christ’s awesome majesty. In Mark we view Jesus as Lord and in Matthew as Teacher. Now in John the Spirit shows Jesus Christ as the Son that God the Father sent to be the Savior of the world.

Structure of John

  • Prologue (1:1-18)
  • Book of signs (1:19-12:50)
  • Book of glory (13:1-20:31)
  • Epilogue (21:1-25)

Ideas and features of John

  • John uses simple words to express profound ideas; this combination makes it easily accessible to those apart from the Lord and to those who have recently been born again from above, and at the same time it serves as solid food for very mature believers; for example, a spiritually instructed reader is going to see many themes of the OTS fulfilled in Jesus
  • John declares his purpose for the Gospel in 20:31; we can term this purpose evangelistic, but not merely in a simple sense; the apostle wants his readers to come to a full understanding of Jesus as the Messiah and the full meaning of that in light of his fulfillment of the OTS
  • To carry out this evangelistic purpose, John has a number of “witnesses” testify about Jesus identity, purpose, and glory: John the Baptist, the Samaritan woman, Moses, the Father, Jesus himself (including his works), the Holy Spirit, the disciples, and the Apostle John himself
  • To present Jesus and his mission to his readers, John uses seven miraculous signs and seven “I am _______” sayings (6:35 & 48; 8:12 & 9:5; 10:7 & 9; 10:11 & 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1 & 5); there are also a few absolute “I AM” statements by Jesus
  • The Fourth Gospel is very Trinitarian; here we learn more about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in their inter-Trinitarian relationships than anywhere else in the Holy Writings
  • John records a number of “conversations” that our Lord had with people: the new birth (3:1-15), the water of life (4:1-42), the Father and the Son (5:16-47), the bread of life (6:25-59), true freedom (8:12-59), the good shepherd (10:1-39), the theology of unbelief (12:37-50), and the upper room discourse (13:1-17:26)
  • In the Gospel of John we receive teaching on important subjects: the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the new covenant community, and the doctrine of last things; for example, in regard to the doctrine of salvation, Jesus talks much about the sovereignty of God in salvation—what we call the doctrines of grace.

Exposition:

I. The source of Christ’s coming (12:44-45)

A. A mysterious saying

1. At first glance these words do not make sense. How can a person believe in Jesus and yet not believe in him but in someone else? (The NIV adds the explanatory word “only”, but it is better to omit it. Jesus wants people to think.)

2. The answer is found in the unity between the God the Father and God the Son. The apostle has already given his readers an extended section of Jesus’ teaching on this subject (5:19-30). Since the Father sent the Son and the Son always does the Father’s will, to believe in the Son is to believe in the Father who sent him (cf. 5:24). It is also true that no one can believe in the Father unless you believe in Jesus.

B. The missional perspective

1. “Mission” comes from a Latin word meaning “the act of sending”. So then, if you are sent, you are on a mission. Jesus always lived with the perspective that the Father had sent him to do his will (cf. Heb 10:7; etc.) When Jesus came to the final week of his earthly ministry, his mission from the Father filled his mind. Nothing could deflect him from it.

2. Christ is the Sent One, and we his followers are in him, and he has sent us into the world (Jn 17:18; 20:21). We must view our lives as sent ones; as Paul wrote, we are “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor 5:20). We do not have the same mission the Son of God had, but we must share in his outlook. You and I are not here to please ourselves but to do God’s will. Do you live according to this missional perspective?

II. The purpose of Christ’s coming (12:46)

A. Jesus came into the world as a light.

1. We meet this idea in the prologue of the Fourth Gospel (1:5-9). Light speaks of revelation of the way of knowing God and salvation. If you have such light, you also live in the light. Your way of life conforms to the truth of God (cf. Eph 5:8-14; 1 Jn 1:5-7). You know God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and that light transforms you. You love God, and you want to live for God, because you know the awesome, beautiful glory of God. You are committed to Christ, because you know he is the Light of the world (8:12).

2. Jesus acted as the Light that he knew God had sent him to be. He did mighty signs to demonstrate the reign of God over all. Was someone in need for wine? Jesus gave them the best wine. Was a Jewish teacher confused about God’s word? He explained it. Had a man been hopelessly paralyzed for thirty-eight years? He restored him to reveal the goodness of the Father? Was there a hungry crowd? He fed them. Had a man been blind since birth? He gave him sight to glorify God. He constantly demonstrated that God’s reign brought life to people. As long as he was in the world, he was the Light of the world (9:5). People could know God by looking at him, by believing in him.

B.Jesus came as a light to rescue people from darkness.

1. Darkness is the opposite of light. Darkness is what people naturally are and where they live. Sin suppresses the knowledge of God, and people love that darkness, but they suffer its tragic consequences. Sin corrupts, degrades, perverts, defiles, dehumanizes, deceives, and destroys people. This is true about all people by nature, whether the arrogant, self-consumed academic or business person that tears apart everyone under them or the homeless and hopeless street person, and everyone else in between. “Ruin and misery mark their ways” (Rm 3:16).

2. But the good news is that Jesus came so that no one who believes in him should remain in darkness. Christ makes great changes in people. He gives “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Is 61:3). People in Christ know joy and peace and their hearts overflow with confident expectation by the Holy Spirit (Rm 15:13).

III. The consequences of Christ’s coming (12:47-50)

A. The consequence for those who reject Christ as the Light of the world

1. They will be judged. Christ will not have to judge them, because the word, the revelation that he gave, will judge them. Notice that they reject him and do not receive his words. It is a package deal. You cannot have Jesus unless you accept his words. True spirituality is always based in the words of Christ and God. You cannot meet Jesus apart from his words.

2. They will be condemned at the last day. History is headed somewhere. Jesus constantly taught that there will be an eternal destiny for people. For those who reject Jesus and his words that destiny is the wrath of God (Jn 3:18, 36). Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone in the Bible. Hell is the place of eternal punishment. Thank you, Father in heaven, that we do not have to end the message here.

B. The consequence for those who accept Christ’s words and believe in him.

1. Jesus says that his whole message is a command from the Father, and that this commanded message to trust in him leads to eternal life. This is the joyful consequence. God sent his Son to save or rescue people from their sins (3:14-17). Jesus came to save people, even the worst of people (1 Tm 1:15).

2. Jesus reaffirms that his words are also the Father’s words. The Father offers you life in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Apply: Today, the living God invites you to come to Jesus, to trust in Jesus, and to receive the free gift of full forgiveness, and eternal life and glory.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

The Teacher and His Students

David FramptonIntroduction:

Welcome! We want to hear more about the true story of God’s glory in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an amazing opportunity. Matthew presents Jesus as God’s Great Teacher, and we get to listen to the Master tell us about his Father, his saving reign (kingdom), our place among his people, and his great triumph in the history of salvation. And we also hear about what God did in Christ to save his people from their sins.

Structure of Matthew (from R.T. France)

  • Introducing the Messiah (1:1-4:11)
  • Galilee: The Messiah revealed in word and deed (4:12-16:20)
  • From Galilee to Jerusalem: The Messiah and his followers prepare for the confrontation (16:21-20:34)
  • Jerusalem: The Messiah in confrontation with the religious authorities (21:1-25:46)
  • Jerusalem: The Messiah rejected, killed, and vindicated (26:1-28:15)
  • Galilee: The Messianic mission is launched (28:16-20)

Ideas and features of Matthew

  • Matthew is a sophisticated presentation of Jesus Christ; it helps us know that the narrative storyline of the Bible is a single history of salvation; perhaps we ought to read the Gospel of Matthew together twelve times next year (this would not be all your Bible reading but what we read together); [give the chapter content of Matthew; stress what they would hear again and again from each chapter]
  • Matthew gives five major examples of Jesus’ teaching (5-7, 10, 13, 18, 24-25); the end of each is marked by an editorial comment by Matthew (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1)
  • This Gospel presents the theme of fulfillment in Jesus; it has 54 direct citations from the OTS and 262 allusions or verbal parallels; “‘Fulfilment’ for Matthew seems to operate at many levels, embracing much more of the pattern of OT history and language than merely its prophetic predictions” (France, p. 12)
  • “The Gospel of Matthew shows the fulfillment of the exile in the death of Jesus, and through that judgment salvation comes for God’s people to God’s glory” (Hamilton, p. 380)
  • Matthew shows that the people of the fulfillment follow Jesus: he is the Teacher, they are his students (disciples); for this reason, Matthew is an important resource for teaching discipleship. Here is a place to learn more about your identity in Christ through this Teacher-student relationship
  • Two major turning points in the Gospel are marked by the phrase “from that time on” (4:17; 16:21); the first marks the start of his public call to repentance, the second the start of Jesus teaching his disciples the main events of the gospel (his crucifixion and resurrection)

Exposition:

I. A question and answer session (16:13-20)

A.His question

1.This Q & A is not coming from nowhere. Jesus had been preparing for this moment by his actions and teaching. Finally, God’s time had arrived to draw out where the Twelve were in their spiritual understanding.

2.His question concerned his identity. It had two parts: first about the opinion of people in general, and then specifically their view. Jesus knew who he was. He had used the descriptive title “Son of Man” (cf. Dn 7:13-14) of himself and demonstrated its significance numerous times. Yet, what did they think about him? They needed to give a clear answer before they could receive plain teaching about he would do in the gospel events. As Moses wanted to know who spoke to him at the burning bush, so these men needed to know with certainty who was speaking to them.

B.Their answer

1.They told Jesus the opinions they had heard from people. They said that most people believed he was a prophet, even identifying him as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or some other prophet. But most everyone among the people looked on him as some sort of spokesman for God.

2.Peter answered for the whole group. Jesus is God’s Anointed One. He is the Son sent by the living God. They had heard Jesus make such claims, and they confessed that they believed what he said.

Point: This is what every saved person confesses from the inner person of their heart. They have repented, have had a change of mind that now realizes that Jesus is Lord, and for that reason they trust themselves to him. Is this true of you?

C.An explanation

1.Jesus told Peter that he could make this confession because the Father had revealed the truth about Jesus to Peter. You see, salvation does not come to people because they are smart enough to gather the relevant data about Jesus and figure it out. No, it comes through revelation. God the Father by the Holy Spirit gives people the truth of the word and he opens their understanding so that they repent and believe. Without this giving of light, a person remains in spiritual darkness.

Point: The need for God’s act of revealing the truth about Jesus to people teaches the need for fervent prayer for God to act in people’s lives. This act is regeneration.

2.This work of God does other things. It makes the believer part of the church. Take notice of Jesus’ words here; it is “my church”. We must remember that “church” never means a building or a place. A church or assembly or gathering means people. Though Israel was God’s assembly during the law covenant (Ac 7:38), now Jesus says that he will build his own assembly. So then, if you are saved, Jesus has put you into his assembly. (I think that is really cool.) In the case of Peter and the apostles, it put them in on a foundational level (cf. Eph 2:19-22; etc.) Jesus also gives believers the hope of victory. The gates of hades, meaning death, will not be able to stop the church.

3.Jesus told them not to spread the news about him being Messiah yet. The simple reason is that they first needed to comprehend what he came to do.

II. A turning point in ministry (16:21-23)

A.Jesus began to explain his saving work, starting with the events of the gospel story. Observe very carefully that salvation was accomplished in real historical events. The good news we teach is not a philosophy or feel good message. It is a proclamation about what the Lord of all actually did to rescue people from their sins (cf. 1:21). Here is the heart of God’s story.

1.Salvation happened through his suffering and death.

2.Salvation happened through his resurrection.

B.Jesus would not be deflected from this mission.

1.Peter’s response showed the ignorance of all the Twelve. God had taught them that Jesus was the Messiah. But they had a lot to learn about what that meant. The Son of the living God had told him what he came to do, but Peter thought that he knew better. Don’t excuse Peter on the grounds that he wanted to spare Jesus from death, because Jesus had plainly said that he would be raised to life on the third day. His human wisdom could not accept that every hope depended on the sufferings and glory of Christ. Thankfully, Peter came to comprehend this later (1 Pt 1:11).

2.Jesus sternly rebuked Peter for his arrogant objections. To oppose his mission was to act like his adversary. Notice clearly that the message of God is about Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. If you oppose these things, you are opposing Almighty God.

Point: The truth of Christianity is not tried in the court of human opinion. When you hear, you must turn from human wisdom and humbly believe. Pride in your ideas puts you on the fast track to hell.

III. An invitation to everyone (16:24-28)

A.The invitation is Christ-focused.

1.To be Christ-focused demands a radical break from self-centeredness. It is not about you; it is about the Lord. Notice how Jesus teaches this end to self-centeredness: “come after me… deny himself… take up his cross… follow me.”

2.To be Christ-focused requires a “Teacher-student” relationship with Jesus. You agree that your ideas, attitudes, words, and actions must come from him, his saving work, and his authoritative words. This tells us about the radical new way of life that is essential to true Christianity.

B.The invitation is urgent.

1.You only have two options: death or life. You cannot get the beneficial option in the way most people assume they can.

2.It presents true values. It does you no good to gain everything at the cost of losing yourself. Your life—you—are very significant, since you are created in God’s image. It is foolishness to throw yourself away in a mad pursuit of stuff and wasteful activities.

3.It offers great reward.

Point: What will it be? Will you lose everything in an empty attempt to satisfy your cravings? Or will you let your cravings go to gain Jesus Christ and glory? There is no vacation, no sexual experience, no buzz from alcohol or drugs, or no pile of expensive, beautiful stuff that can equal or even come close to the glory of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn to Christ today!

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

The Lord of the Heart

Introduction:

The Bible SeriesWe come to the second part of the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. We call this second part the New Testament Scriptures. When we start to read the New Testament documents, it is helpful to know that over four hundred years passed since the books of Malachi (of the Twelve) and Chronicles were written. This seems like a long time without revelation in the storyline of the Bible, but the time from Noah to Abraham was longer. God allowed much time in redemptive history from the return of his people from exile to the sending of his Son, the Messiah. But God was acting in history until his time came (Gal 4:4).

The structure of the New Testament Scriptures – In general, it is much like the Old Testament Scriptures: historical narrative (the Four Gospels and Acts), commentary (the letters), and historical narrative (the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which is history presented in a symbolic manner). We will start with the Gospel of Mark, which is often referred to as the Second Gospel, because of the traditional order. However, I think it is better to start with Mark, because of matters related to the structure of the Gospels, and for its usefulness in evangelism.

Structure of Mark – “Mark’s account of Jesus’ life is presented to us in two symmetrical acts: his identity as King over all things (in Mark chapters 1-8), and his purpose in dying on the cross (in Mark chapters 9-16)” (Keller, King’s Cross, p. xiv, his emphasis).

  • The identity of the King (1:1-8:26)
  • The turning point (8:27-30)
  • The triumph of the King (8:31-16:8)

Ideas and features of Mark

  • John Mark was a New Testament prophet and a fellow worker with Paul, Barnabas, and Peter; Mark seems to have gained much of his information about Jesus from Peter; the Gospel of Mark seems to have a likeness to Peter’s “sermon” in Acts 10:32-43); Mark was probably written in the mid-fifties of the first century
  • Mark tells us who Jesus is, what he did, and calls us to follow him; discipleship is not a matter of rules or rituals, but of a personal friendship with the Lord Christ; we see what he did, confess him as Lord, follow his teaching, and are transformed by a vital relationship with him
  • In the book we read that Jesus is Son of God, Son of Man, Lord, Teacher (about 39 references to him in this way: Teacher, Rabbi, teaching, etc.), and more; pay close attention when Mark refers to Jesus by a title or description
  • While Mark does record some teaching of Jesus, it more emphasizes his actions; a favorite term is the word “immediately” (or “at once”, “quickly”, “just then”, and equivalent translations), and he uses Greek verbs that present action
  • The turning point of the Gospel of Mark is 8:27-30. After that event, Jesus explained his mission to the Twelve in more detail; three times (8:31-9:1; 9:30-50; 10:33-45) he uses this structure: prophesy of the events of the gospel (his suffering, death, and resurrection), failure on the part of the disciples, and Jesus teaching about discipleship
  • Mark presents Jesus the Christ as God establishing his saving reign (kingdom); a thorough study reveals how many themes from the OTS find fulfillment in Christ

Exposition: In chapter one, Jesus suddenly appears on the stage of human history as an adult, filled with purpose, and intent on demonstrating his authority as the Son of Man (cf. Dan 7:13-14); Jesus is final authority and everyone owes him trust and the obedience that comes from faith (cf. Rm 16:26). What that in mind, we come to chapter seven where we encounter his authority as Teacher.

I. A challenge to Jesus’ authority (7:1-5)

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands.

A.The background

1.They saw that Jesus’ followers did not observe the Jewish traditions about ritual cleansings. The law covenant required people to be ceremonially clean as God’s people, but these traditions had nothing directly to do with what the law required. They were external matters (easily observed) that sprang from a legalistic spirit. Legalism has wreaked havoc among American Christians in many ways.

2.Mark summarized the measures they adopted to try to make or to keep themselves ceremonially clean. All matters of external purity were fastidiously observed. The performance of traditional regulations becomes the most important matter.

Comment: I grew up among “Christian legalists” and even attended a university utterly ruled by such legalists. I could give many examples. But I pass by such matters to focus on Christ.

B.Their question – This was not a question to learn God’s ways from the Teacher sent by God, but it was to criticize. It presented two alternatives:

1.You must live according to the tradition of the elders.

2.Or you are unclean before God.

Apply: We must be careful how we answer questions like this. Do not give simplistic answers. Jesus, the Teacher sent from God, knew that its answer required explanation.

II. Jesus’ response to his critics (7:6-13)

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. ’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. ’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.

A.Jesus exposed the attitudes of their heart (cf. Heb 4:12-13).

1.He authoritatively applied the teaching of Isaiah (Is 29:13) directly to them. (Jesus could do this because he knew all people, Jn 2:24-25.) He said that Isaiah prophesied about his critics.

2.Isaiah’s words pointed out that they said the right things but lacked a heart for God. In other words, they were unregenerate. They needed the new birth from above. A person can be very orthodox in their doctrine, but lack personal friendship with the living God.

3.Their worship was vain or futile. Their precise, scrupulous keeping of their traditions was useless. This is a trap too easily fallen into by many.

4.Jesus exposed what their worship was: they exchanged God’s word for human traditions. Many, many so-called Christians have done this. Depending on their church tradition, tell them to bow to cross themselves when they pray or tell them not to drink beer, and they are right with you. They think you’re a great Christian. Tell them to be compassionate, kind, humble, non-self-assertive, and patient (Col 3:12), and they say by their way of life, if not by their words, “I don’t have to do that,” and “I’ll never listen to you.”

B.Jesus exposed what they were doing, which was hypocrisy (cf. 7:6).

1.God’s law required them to honor their parents. “Honor” is a big concept meaning much more than simple obedience. Here, to say nothing more, Jesus shows that it means loving provision when necessary.

2.But they concocted a tradition by which they could say something was a gift to God, keep it for themselves, and not do anything for their parents.

Point: This is misusing the worship of God for one’s personal pleasures.

III. Jesus’ instruction to his disciples (7:14-23)

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand:15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

A.He taught what could not defile people: outward matters of ritual

1.The main idea is that things outside of a person cannot defile a person.

2.Jesus plainly changed the way of life for the people of God. He sets aside the commands about food restrictions, which separated the Jewish people from the nations since Moses. The law covenant no longer directs how God’s people are to live. Earlier in Mark, Jesus asserted his authority over the Sabbath, one of the Ten Commandments. Here, he asserted it over another part of the law covenant made with Israel at Sinai. What was important then lacks any value not. (Enjoy a pork sandwich for the glory of God!) 1 Cor 10:31

B.He taught what does make a person unclean before God: sin, rebellion against God and how he commands us to live.

1.The sins that Jesus lists are more extensive than the Ten Commandments. They all are violations in some way of the Two Great Commandments.

2.The problem with all people is internal. Evil comes from the inner person of the heart, not from external circumstances. These evils make people unclean.

Apply: What can be done for people with hearts like this? How can people with these sins be right with God and know him as Father, Friend, and Helper? The only way is through the gospel. Christ died for our sins that we might be forgiven, and rose again that we might be right with God and have eternal life. Today is an excellent time to turn from the evils ways of your heart, of what you are, and to trust in the Lord Jesus, who is able to save anyone that comes to God through him.

~ Dave

 

About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

The Bible: God the Master Builder

 

Rebuilder and Restorer

 

1 Chronicles 29:10-20

10 Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. 15 For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 16 O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. 18 O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. 19 Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”
20 Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king.

(ESV)

 

Introduction:

The Bible SeriesIn God’s story we learn of God making or building all things by his powerful word. Part of what he made was mankind. He made us to rule over what he made and to reflect his glory by making or building from what the Lord made. He started with Adam and Eve in a garden, but God’s ultimate plan is to live in a city with his people. And so history progresses from mankind cultivating the garden to cultivating all he has given us. God set mankind on the process of building a culture in this world to demonstrate God’s surpassing worth, value, and beauty.

However, mankind rejected God’s blueprint and has tried to build a different city, a culture that reflects mankind’s significance and value apart from the Master Designer. And the consequence of this choice is not only some works of beauty, because we cannot totally abandon what we are—God’s image bearers. But the consequence also results in much ugliness, violence, and the degradation of humanity. We see this darkness alongside of the light in God’s story. We learn that the Master Builder must enter human history as the Rebuilder and Restorer, and that requires a number of rebuilding projects to reach his final goal. Chronicles is the summary record of God and his people rebuilding prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ.

Structure of Chronicles

  • Genealogies (1 Chrn 1-9)
  • Saul (1 Chrn 10)
  • David (1 Chrn 11-29)
  • Solomon (2 Chrn 1-9)
  • Kings of Judah (2 Chrn 10-36)

Ideas and features of Chronicles

  • The Hebrew name of the book is something like “the events of the years”; the English name comes from the works of the Bible translators Jerome and Luther
  • As the book of Kings records the sins that led to the exile of God’s people from the land, so Chronicles provides reasons for hope in the Lord after the exile; it has a positive message
  • It tells us God’s sovereign acts of election to bring about his purposes: of the Levites (1 Chrn 15:2; cf. 23:24-32); of David as king (1 Chrn 28:4; 2 Chrn 6:6); of Solomon (1 Chrn 28:5-6, 10; 29:1); of Jerusalem (2 Chrn 6:6, 34, 38; 12:13; 33:7); and of the temple (2 Chrn 7:12, 16: 33:7); all this bolsters confidence in God’s master plan
  • It reassures God’s people returning from exile about the continuing value of the Davidic covenant and the temple
  • There is much about the bad consequences of forsaking the Lord and the good consequences of seeking him; the Holy Spirit emphasizes the good that came from kings like David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah who sought the Lord
  • In addition, the purpose of worshiping the Lord is given prominence

Exposition:

I. David rebuilds the kingdom (1 Chrn 11-29)

A.Reuniting the people

1.He received the allegiance of all the people (11:1-3). This was a fulfillment of God’s promise. This provided him with an encouragement to carry out what the Lord had called him to. Do we have fulfilled promises to encourage us? Yes, the whole story of God that we read in the Bible. Have you called on the Lord? Has he saved you and given you the Holy Spirit? You see, we live in the reality of fulfilled promises.

2.He conquered Jerusalem, the chief stronghold of the remaining Canaanites, and rebuilt the city (11:4-9). His power increased because the Lord was with him. Christ’s new covenant people need to act on the reality of the Lord’s presence with us (Mt 28:20). There are many people to be reached with the good news of Jesus in our immediate area. We may think that they live in impregnable fortresses of religion and godlessness. But the Lord Almighty is with us. By his sovereign grace, we may take this area for the glory of God.

3.He constructed a mighty army (11:10-12:40). This would be necessary for the defense and expansion of the kingdom. David organized them; they followed him because of faith in God (12:18). We need people who have the spirit of the men of Issachar (12:32). We need men and women who will build a Christian culture in this area.

4.He led his army in battle (14:8-17; 18:1-20:8). In the civil war, General McClellan built the Army of the Potomac, but he wouldn’t use it or didn’t know how to use it. But David knew what an army was for and he led it to many victories. The Lord Jesus has built his church to take the good news to people far from God. We must follow him to places where people gather and engage them in conversation—ask questions, listen to them, and wisely introduce them to Christ and the gospel.

B.Restoring the worship of God

1.He failed in his first attempt (13:1-14). Yes, leaders fail. Even the great leader George Washington failed much more often than he succeeded. David’s failure in this attempt can be traced to not doing God’s work in God’s way. He imitated the Philistine way of moving the ark and failed. Sometimes good people fail, and sometimes we fail because we act contrary to God’s word. We must always maintain a Christ-structured, gospel-formed way of ministry. We must always serve in ways that exhibit the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). But we must not quit because we have failed in the past.

2.He succeeded in his second attempt (15:1-16:43). Not only did they act according to the law covenant, but David also led them in worship and celebration. (God’s people should be joyful!) David also composed a psalm of thanks. One of the basic characteristics of godliness is thankfulness (cf. Rm 1:21; 1 Th 5:18).

3.He paid for the temple site (21:24-26), and gave much for the building of the temple (22:14; 29:1-5). His leadership inspired others to give (29:6-9). God’s work goes forward through the sacrificial giving of his people. This account was intended as a stimulus for the returning exiles to rebuild the temple (2 Chrn 36:23).

4.He reformed the service of the Levites, since they would need other work after the temple was rebuilt (1 Chrn 23:1-26:32). This included reorganizing the priesthood into divisions of service. David knew that he had to remobilize these men to rebuild. When God’s work moves forward in new times, God’s people must change. David saw the need for singers, gatekeepers, treasurers, and other officials. The people of a revitalized church will see the need for new ways of doing God’s work, for new structures conducive to growth, and for new involvement in the spread of the good news.

5.He led the people in prayer (29:10-20). He honored God for his majestic greatness (29:10-13). He humbly acknowledged the Lord’s provision (29:14-16). He prayed for God’s continued work in their hearts (29:17-19). Real change happens through whole-hearted prayer.

Apply: There is an old, worn-out saying that I will dare to repeat. “A church only moves forward on its knees.” Every Sunday when Spurgeon preached to 5,000 people, there were 700 others in the basement of the building, praying for him and the word as he preached. The Four Gospels show Jesus praying at every critical time in his earthly ministry. We have over 50,000 people in our immediate area that we must seek to evangelize. None of this will happen unless we pray fervently (Js 5:16).

Apply: The leadership of David points us toward the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord used David, a man after God’s own heart, to prepare for the coming of Christ. Jesus is the leader we need to follow. On the cross, Jesus bought and paid for the new covenant temple, the church. By his resurrection, his new life has become ours. When Jesus ascended, he poured out the Holy Spirit, so that he might be present with us and be empowered to serve him. Refresh your heart in the victorious the Lord Jesus Christ!

II. Solomon builds and dedicates the temple (2 Chrn 1:1-7:22)

The Chronicler focuses on this part of Solomon’s life.

A.The building of the temple (2 Chrn 2-4)

1.He gathered workers and more material.

2.He supervised the building of a magnificent structure.

3.He supervised the making of the furnishings for the temple.

B.The dedication of the temple

1.He brought the Ark of the Covenant into the temple. God showed his acceptance and presence by filling the temple with his cloud of glory (5:13-14; cf. Ex 40:34-35).

2.He led the people in worship and prayer (6:1-42). Much of the prayer concerns requests for forgiveness and mercy when the people inevitably sin. His plea is based on the covenant love promised to David.

3.He and all the people joined in worship according to the old covenant (7:1-10).

4.The Lord accepts the temple but warns Solomon and the people against forsaking him (7:11-22). We must remember that the old covenant people had to obey the law in order to stay in God’s presence and in fellowship with him. The law covenant was ruled by an “if”. The new covenant is firmly established in Christ and his better sacrifice.

III. Examples of God helping people who are devoted to him.

A.The Lord delivered his people from a very large army during the reign of Asa (14:8-15).

B.The Lord rescued his people while they praised him during the reign of Jehoshaphat (20:1-30).

C.The Lord defeated the Assyrians through the means of one angel during the reign of Hezekiah (32:1-23).

Point: The living God has many ways to protect his people and to cause them to prosper as they follow him by faith. To see a church revitalized requires that we put our trust fully in our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Ti 2:13). He is able to act and to bring about a better future for us. It is our responsibility to trust him.

~ Dave

 
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

The Bible: God and His Kingdom

 

Other Sacred Writings

 

Introduction:

The Bible SeriesWe must never forget what the Bible is. It is God speaking to us. It is the Sovereign Creator and Ruler making known himself, his will, and his redemptive activity. It is God making known his story, his true story, of his glory in Jesus Christ. Week by week we have listened to God’s message according to the Hebrew order of the Old Testament Scriptures. With the book of Daniel, we come to the section simply called “Other Sacred Writings”. As we listen to God’s words in Daniel, it is very important that we listen carefully to what God says, and not to how many people try to present this book through the grid of human historical writings and contemporary media reports. Most Christians would be outraged to hear Romans interpreted by opinions of the talking heads on CNN or Fox News. But they comfortably accept it when the same worldly wisdom is applied to Daniel or the last book of the Bible. More on this shortly.

Structure of Daniel (based on Hamilton, p.325), observe the chiastic structure

  • Daniel in exile (1:1-21)
  • Nebuchadnezzar’s vision (2:1-49)
  • Rescue from the fiery furnace (3:1-30)
  • Nebuchadnezzar humbled (4:1-37)
  • Belshazzar humbled (5:1-31)
  • Rescue from the lion’s den (6:1-28)
  • Daniel’s visions of the kingdoms (7:1-9:27)
  • Daniel’s vision of the end of the exile (10:1-12:13)

Ideas and features of Daniel

  • The book was written by the author of the same name; part of the book was written in Hebrew and the rest in Aramaic
  • The book consists of two genres: the first six chapters are historical narrative, and the last six are apocalyptic; the apocalyptic genre uses dreams or visions that speak through complex, symbolic, and mysterious imagery
  • There is much conflict in the book; God’s kingdom overcoming all the kingdoms of mankind; “God is still, and always has been, and always will be in control of his creation—even of his most egotistical creatures” (Williams, How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens, p. 108); to put this differently, God acts to reestablish peace
  • Daniel shows that it is possible for God’s people to live godly in exile (cf. Jer 29:5-7), in spite of powerful, evil opposition; it provides examples for the way of life First Peter calls us to
  • In Daniel we see God humbling the proud and exalting the humble
  • God uses the prayers of the faithful to accomplish his purposes; prayer is an essential means
  • Daniel emphasizes that there is hope for God’s people after the exile; in fact, God has a glorious future in store, which will take place through the Messiah

Exposition: Daniel’s dream/vision is made up of three parts. Part one presents the kingdoms of this world, part two the kingdom of God, and part three provides additional information to understand the whole dream. It occurs in the first year of Belshazzar’s reign—before chapter six.

Daniel 7:1-28

So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. 2 Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4 The first was like a lion and had eagles ‘wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. 5 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh. ’ 6 After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
9 “As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever. ’
19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. 21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
23 “Thus he said:‘As for the fourth beast,
there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24 As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
25 He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
26 But the court shall sit in judgment,
and his dominion shall be taken away,
to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
27 And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him. ’
28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.
(ESV)

 

I. The first part of the dream (7:1-8)

The setting is the earth and what happens on it.

A.He saw four great beasts; they are monstrous, especially the last one, which seems like something out of an “R-rated” sci-fi horror movie.

1.They come up out of the sea, out of the world in rebellion against God (cf. Ps 89:9-10; 93:3-4); the number four represents completeness (Zech 1:18, 20; 2:6; 6:1, 5; Rev 4:6; 6; 7); these four are not necessarily consecutive kingdoms but representative kingdoms of evil throughout history

2.They are kingdoms are of different kinds (7:3) but they share the same ultimate origin, out of the sea (cf. Rev 13:1). They bring greed, oppression, genocide, and persecution.

3.People do not fare well under these kingdoms; there is oppression and cruelty; this even affects the saints. This is part of God’s story that we all want to ignore. But since the world is opposed to God, it will attack the people of God.

Point: As long as the war lasts, we will live in conflict.

B.Some observations about the interpretation of the dream

1.Daniel admitted that he was troubled and disturbed (7:15) and that he didn’t understand the meaning of his vision (7:16). Though the Spirit’s activity in the inspired writers guaranteed that the written product was the word of God, it didn’t give any special insight to the human writer. Habakkuk is another example of this. The Spirit made use of the weaknesses of the writer’s to convey God’s message to us. Here, Daniel’s mood portrays the anxiety that everyone feels about the mysterious ways of God.

2.Though Daniel was told that the four beasts are four kingdoms, he was not told the identity of the kingdoms. This dream is not a repetition of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. In other words, do not assume that they represent Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. A case could be made that they are Great Britain, Russia, the United States, and China, or other empires throughout history, like France, Spain, and Mongolia. Nothing in history to this point matches up well with the fourth kingdom, though there are a few that have displayed its characteristics. The idea is that this is the nature of human history until the Messiah sets up God’s kingdom. Compare the teaching of Jesus (Matt 24).

3.From the fourth kingdom will come ten horns or kings. A horn represents power and ten horns suggest multiplied strength. After the ten, an eleventh will come. He will be different from the ten and will subdue three of them. He will openly speak against the Most High God, oppress the saints (those set apart for the Lord; that is, believers), and try to change the set order of all things. This might be the Antichrist mentioned in the NTS or one of the many antichrists that arise in the last days (1 Jn 2:18).

Point: Do not think you are in weird situation; the Spirit has told us of these times.

II. The second part of the dream (7:9-14)

The setting is heaven and presents how God rules over the kingdoms of the earth. If you’re fascinated with monstrous beasts when you read this chapter, you’ve missed the point. The purpose of this vision is to refresh our hope in our sovereign God.

A.Two persons dominate this dream.

1.The first is the Ancient of Days. His white clothing and hair speak of his purity. He is the Father. His throne is glorious (cf. Ezk 1:15-21, 26-27). A river of fire flows from him, the awesome power of his holy justice and wrath (cf. Rm 1:18). He is attended by a myriad of angels, as he presides of Judge over all (cf. Heb 12:23). The visions directs us to the right one to fear (Mt 10:28).

2.The second is the Son of Man. This name speaks of true humanity, but it is obvious that he is more than human. He is the “cloud rider” (Ps 68:4; Is 19:1). He is Jesus, the Son of God, who ascended in clouds of glory and will return to earth the same way. Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite name for himself. When on trial before the Jewish authorities, Jesus asserted that he is this Son of Man (Mk 14:61-62).

Point: Let the confidence of Jesus refresh your soul.

B.The sovereign authority of the Son of Man is the message of this dream.

1.The Father gives him power over all nations and people (Mt 28:18; Jn 18:36; Ac 2:29-36; 26:15-18; Rm 10:9-10; 15:12; 1 Cor 15:20-28; Eph 1:22; Ph 2:9-11; Col 1:18; 2 Th 1:6-10; 2 Tm 4:1; etc.)

2.People from all nations worship him (fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, cf. Rev 5).

3.The Son of Man will rule in his kingdom (7:14b), and his people will share in his kingdom (7:18, 27). Here is the ultimate hope for his people. We ought to confidently anticipate that day everyday.

Point: Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2).

Apply: The purpose of prophecy is to fuel fresh faith in our sovereign Lord. Yes, we live in terrible times, but those times lead up to the full display of the amazing glory of God. It simply awaits a word from the court of heaven (9:26-27). Then the Lord Christ will come with a sharp sword and strike down the nations and rule with an iron scepter (Rev 19:11-16). His name is the Word of God.

Ideas that by grace can change our lives:

  • As long as the war lasts, we will live in conflict
  • Do not think you are in weird situation; the Spirit has told us of these times
  • Let the confidence of Jesus refresh your soul
  • Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith

~ Dave

 
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

The Bible: God and Suffering

 

The Small Scrolls

 

Introduction:

sacred scrollsIn the Holy Writings the Lord God tells us the story of his glory in Jesus Christ. We are near the end of the Old Testament Scriptures, where God resumes the storyline of his work in human history. These writings provide some of God’s answers to his purposes in the exile of the old covenant people from the Promised Land. When we read the books of Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, we hear of the difficulties the people suffered. The anguish of heart expressed in Lamentations deeply stirs anyone with even a small amount of love for people. It forces us to think and to feel. We live in a world filled with wars, plagues, poverty, desertion, betrayal, hatred, etc. We ask, “In a world like this, is there any hope? Can we confidently expect any way out of the deep mess we’re in?” God’s people wanted to know that in the time of the exile and on through the post-exilic period until the Messiah, Jesus, came. It looked like Yahweh had abandoned Israel, but the Holy Spirit through the human writer, probably Jeremiah says, “There is hope in Yahweh himself, in spite of his present actions.” In other words, listen to God’s word, not to your circumstances.

Structure of Lamentations

  • Poem One: Jerusalem’s plight (1:1-22)
  • Poem Two: Yahweh’s fierce anger (2:1-22)
  • Poem Three: The man who has seen affliction (3:1-66)
  • Poem Four: Jerusalem’s death throes (4:1-22)
  • Poem Five: The community at prayer (5:1-22)

Ideas and features of Lamentations

  • It is made up of poems that express sorrow and grief about the fall of Jerusalem; we get to feel the view from the street about the events described in 2 Kings 25 and Jeremiah 52
  • Each poem contains 22 verses (except the third which has three times as many); this corresponds to the 22 consonants of the Hebrew alphabet; the first four poems are acrostics (the “A to Z” of grief); the form provides for ordered passion
  • The feminine metaphor recurs in the poems: widow, queen, daughter of Zion, daughter of Judah, daughter of Jerusalem, etc.
  • It upholds the righteousness of God to lead people to repentance
  • The book is not simply about suffering, but about the suffering of the old covenant people at a specific time of salvation history; it talks about suffering and hope for the people of God

The questions raised by Lamentations are only fully answered in Christ and the gospel; the emptiness of despair had to await what Jesus accomplished (cf. Rm 8-11)
Continue reading “The Bible: God and Suffering”