Below are listed 7 sermons

 

 

 

Let Freedom Ring!”

John 8: 31-36

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

July 1. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  The Law that Discards Freedom!

A) Bound by Sin

B) Blinded by Sin

2.  The Life that Discovers Freedom!

A) A Liberated Life

B) A Celebrated Life

3.  The Lord that Delivers Freedom!

A) Jesus is the Person

B) Jesus has the Power

 

In the summer of 1776, the Second Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House (later called Independence Hall). On June 7, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia stood and read his resolution: "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

 

The die was cast and on June 11, 1776, a committee was formed with the express purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever the ties of the colonies with Great Britain.

 

The committee included Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingstone of New York.

 

On July 1, Congress reconvened and the following day, the Lee Resolution for Independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies. Immediately, Congress began to consider the Declaration drawn up by the committee. Then late in the afternoon of July 4, 1776 the document known as the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted as church bells rang out over Philadelphia.

 

On August 2, the Declaration of Independence, written on a sheet of parchment measuring 24 1/2 by 29 3/4 inches was signed by all the delegates in attendance, the first being John Hancock, the President of the Congress.

 

He used a bold signature centered below the text and in accordance to the prevailing custom; the other delegates began to sign at the right below the text, their signatures arranged according to the geographical location of the states they represented. New Hampshire, the northernmost state, began the list, and Georgia, the southernmost, ended it.

 

That document, the Declaration of Independence, has become one of our nation's most cherished symbols of liberty. This coming Wednesday, July 4, we as American's celebrate "Independence Day." This year we, as a nation, celebrate 231 years of independence and freedom. As American's we have much to be thankful for and much to celebrate.

 

At the outset let me say that I am thankful and proud to be an American. I love America. I love my country. I am grateful to be an American.

 

I love America, but I do not love everything about America.  I love what this nation is, but I do not love what this nation has become.

 

Many of the politicians of our country disappoint me, the "political correctness" trend and mindset of our country disgusts me, many decisions of the Supreme Court distress me and the moral decline of our country disturbs me.

 

America has its problems and serious problems at that. Yet, in spite of all its problems, I love my country.

 

I am a very patriotic person. I still get goose bumps when they play the national anthem. I still get a lump in my throat when I see the American Flag flying high.

 

I still straighten up with a feeling of respect when I see a man or woman in uniform and it is hard to keep tears from coming to my eyes when I say the pledge of allegiance.

 

When it comes to the American Flag, I not only am proud to stand and say the pledge of allegiance, but I also say with H.C. Bunner:

 

Off with your hat as the flag goes by!

And let the heart have it say;

You're man enough for a tear in your eye

That you will never wipe away

 

Lift up the boy on your shoulder high,

And show him the faded shred;

Those stripes would be red as the sunset sky

If death could have dyed them red.

 

Off with your hat as the flag goes by!

Uncover the youngster's head;

Teach him to hold it holy and high

For the sake of its sacred dead.

 

Today, I not only want to focus on our national freedom, but upon our personal freedom as well.  I want to focus nationally, but I also want to focus spiritually.

 

As a nation we consider July 4, 1776 as our national day of independence. As for me, my personal day of independence is August 10, 1985.  That was the day that I was set free by God’s good, great and glorious grace.

 

It is one thing to live in a nation where there is freedom but it is another thing to actually live in freedom. It is one thing to celebrate a national day of independence but another thing to celebrate a personal day of independence. In the text Jesus talks about a personal day of independence.

 

John 8 has been referred to as the chapter of contrasts and conflicts.  Jesus dealt with grace vs. law (vv. 1-11), light vs. darkness (vv. 12-20), life vs. death (vv. 21-30), and freedom vs. bondage.  (vv. 31-47)

 

Today, we are going to deal with the FREEDOM VS. BONDAGE and see if Jesus speaks truth that lets freedom ring in the hearts of men.

 

In this one chapter alone, Jesus forgives the woman taken in adultery; He encourages those in darkness to look to Him, as the Light of the world;

 

He told the Jews that God the Father sent Him; Jesus spoke of His death and the fact that they would die in their sins and could not come to where He was; He said He was from above and they were from beneath.

 

Let’s take a look at this great chapter and discover what it means to let freedom ring. 

 

1. The LAW that DISCARDS Freedom!

 

Jesus said in verse 32, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Jesus is talking about spiritual freedom and spiritual liberty and indicates that there are those who lack this spiritual freedom and liberty.

 

In Romans 8: 2, Paul spoke of “the law of sin and death.”  The law is sin.  It is this law which discards the freedom of which Christ speaks.  Who are affected by this law which discards freedom?  Jesus says that it is those who are:

 

A) BOUND by Sin

 

We read in verse 34, "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." 

 

Look at this statement of Jesus very carefully. He speaks of those who commit sin. The word "commit" is the Greek poieo.  It speaks of that which is prolonged. In other words, Jesus was not talking about a one-time act of sin but a continual committing of sin.

 

Also, notice carefully what Jesus says about committing sin. He tells us that eventually one is enslaved by their sin.

 

Jesus spoke of the "servant of sin." The word "servant" speaks of a "slave." Jesus was saying that there are those who are slaves to sin. They are in bondage to sin. The committing of sin leads to one being chained by sin.  The law’s breaking leads to sins bondage.

 

Thus, those who are bound by sin are also:

 

B) BLINDED by Sin

 

In verse 32 Jesus spoke of the truth setting a person free. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The word "free" that He used speaks of someone that has been liberated or set free from bondage.

 

Notice in verse 33 the response of certain Jews to what Jesus said: "They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?"

 

They said that they had never been in bondage to any man. They were saying, "Our ancestors may have been in bondage while in Egypt, but none of us has ever been in bondage."

 

Then, as we saw in verse 34, Jesus explained that He was talking about spiritual bondage.

Here's the point. They were in bondage and didn't even realize it. They were not only bound by sin but also blinded by sin. They thought they were free when in reality they were in spiritual slavery.

 

Here's the great tragedy of the whole matter. People are lost and don't even realize it. People are slaves to sin and all the time thinking they are free.

 

There were many out last night "living it up" as we say, and he or she thinks "I'm free to live the way I want to, do what I want to, go where I want to," and the whole time they are actually a slave to sin. They are as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:4, blinded by the god of this world.

 

Yet, there are many Christians, who have been saved, but they are still bound and blinded by sin.  They are bound and blinded by the same old habits, addictions, and vices. 

 

In fact, do you know who the hardest people to convince of repentance are?  It is Christian people!  A lost man may not repent, but he knows that he needs to.

 

However, the man who fills the pew every Sunday is convinced that he is all right even though he is still bound by some habit, hang-up or handicap.  What is the problem?  He is not only bound, but he is blinded.  He thinks that he is all right when in reality he is living in slavery.

 

This is the Christian who has been saved for a number of years, but when they come to prayers, they are still asking for the same old sins, year after year after year. 

 

What’s the problem?  They are bound by sin.  They are blinded by sin.  They are walking around with chains on their soul and blinders on their eyes. 

 

They have allowed the law of sin to discard the freedom that is available to them through the finished work of Christ.

 

2.  The LIFE that DISCOVERS Freedom!

 

The words of Jesus describe how people are slaves to sin, but He also declared that one could be set free. Jesus said in verse 32, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," and in verse 36, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

 

Praise God no one has to live in sin's bondage. They can be set free!

 

What happens to the life that discovers freedom?  For one thing it becomes:

 

A) A LIBERATED Life

 

William Barclay said, "Sometimes when a man is rebuked for doing something wrong or warned against such a thing, his answer is, 'Surely I can do what I like with my own life.'  But the point is that the man who sins does not do what he likes; he does what sin likes.  A man can let a habit get such a grip on him that he cannot break it.  He can allow a pleasure to master him so completely that he cannot do without it.  He can let some self-indulgence so dominate him that he is powerless to break away from it.  He is a slave to the

habits, the self-indulgences, the wrong pleasures

which have mastered him.  This is precisely Jesus'

point.  No man who sins can ever be said to be free."

 

Notice the words "make you free" in verse 32 and verse 36. They are actually one Greek word that means to be liberated or set free from bondage. Jesus was saying that the life of freedom is a liberated life.

 

To be made free is to be delivered from sin's bondage. To be free is to have the chains of sin broken and have your prison door opened. It is to be free from the sins that so long held you bound and made you their slave. Praise God you can be delivered from sins bondage.

 

I will never forget a scene I saw on Nightline during the Gulf War. Kuwait had been liberated and Forrest Sawyer was doing a live broadcast from Kuwait and talking about the events of the day and all that had occurred. He was talking to Ted Koppel when all of a sudden this old man ran in front of the camera clapping his hands over his head shouting in his broken English, "Me free! Me free! Me free!"

 

Blessed be His name, there are times when I think back to my own personal Independence Day.  It was the day when Jesus delivered me from sin's bondage and broke the chains of sin that had for so long kept me bound.

 

When I do I want to jump up, clap my hands over my head and shout, "Me free, me free, me free!" and sing with Bill Gaither:

 

So long I had searched for life's meaning,

Enslaved by the world and my greed;

Then the door of my prison was opened by love,

For the ransom was paid, I was freed.

 

I'm free from the fear of tomorrow;

I'm free from the guilt of the past;

For I've traded my shackles for a glorious song-

I'm free! Praise the Lord! Free at Last!

 

A life that discovers freedom not only becomes a liberated life, but:

B) A CELEBRATED Life

 

Twice Jesus described those who had never been set free as servants or slaves. We have seen how in verse 34 He spoke of the "servant (slave) of sin." Also notice verse 35: "And the servant (slave) abideth not in the house forever: but the son abideth ever.""

 

Most scholars believe that verse 35 is what is called a parenthetical parable that describes the difference between a slave and a son.

The slave has no permanent standing in the master's house. Because he is a slave he can be sold to another master, therefore he does not have a permanent place or standing in the home.

 

But a son is a different story. Because he is a son he has a permanent place in the home and as a son he enjoys all the privileges of being a son.

 

Jesus is telling us that those who have been set free not only enjoy a liberated life but also a celebrated life. They are no longer slaves but sons!

 

Before my "Independence Day" I was a slave. I had nothing to look forward to but a life of chains and slavery. But thank God on my "Independence Day" I became a son of God!

 

I no longer have to live in the slave house. I live in the Father's House. I am no longer a pauper, but a prince.  Instead of enduring the burdens of being sin's slave, I enjoy the blessings of being God's son.

 

As I mentioned earlier, it was on July 4, 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was signed by those in attendance. A few days later, July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence were held in Philadelphia's Independence Square. As it was read, people celebrated and bells were rung throughout the city.

 

Are you free? Is there a personal "Independence Day" on the calendar of your heart? Has there been a day when you were set free from the “law of sin and death?”  Have you been set free from the penalty of sin?

 

If you are saved, are you still bound and blinded by some besetting sin?  Have you been set free from the power of sin?  If not, you need to experience a liberated life that leads to a celebrated life. 

 

Finally, let’s notice:

 

3.  The LORD that DELIVERS Freedom!

 

The words "free indeed" in verse 36, actually mean "really free." Are you bound by sin?  Are you blinded by sin?  Are you still struggling with the same old habits? 

 

You don’t have to be the devil’s play-toy any longer.  You can be free.  Do you want to really be free? Then let me remind you that:

 

A) Jesus is the PERSON

 

Notice verse 36 again: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." In other words, it is Jesus, and Jesus only, that sets people free from the burden, the bondage, and the blight of sin.

 

Gardenview Baptist Church cannot set you free. The Southern Baptist Convention cannot set you free.  Pastor Steve N. Wagers cannot set you free. 

 

There is no denomination, affiliation or participation that can set you free.  You cannot light enough candles to be set free.  You cannot say enough prayers to be set free.  You cannot twirl enough beads to be set free.

 

There's no social program on the face of the earth that can set you free. Freedom is not found in a program. It is found in a person.  The person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

B) Jesus has the POWER

 

We read in verse 32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  We read in verse 36, If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

Do you see it?  Jesus is the Word of God, in verse 32; and, He is the Son of God, in verse 36.  He is the only person who can set you free because He is the only One who has the power to set you free. 

 

Sin may burden, but Jesus is the Burden Bearer.  Sin may bind, but Jesus is the One who destroys the yoke of bondage.  Sin may blind, but Jesus is the One who removes the scales. 

 

Sin may entrap, ensnare, entangle and enslave, but Jesus is the great Emancipator.  Aren’t you tired of living in spiritual slavery?  Aren’t you tired of struggling with the same old habits, hang-ups and handicaps?  Then, today, let Jesus set you free!

 

In his famous speech, Patrick Henry of Virginia said, “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the bindings of this life can not hold me. I am one man, under God, undividable, filled with liberty and justice that is available to all through the freedom of Christ.

 

In 1829, George Wilson of Pennsylvania was sentenced to be hanged by a U.S. court for robbery and murder. Yet, President Andrew Jackson pardoned him, but Wilson refused the pardon. The courts of our country found itself with a situation they had never faced before. Should they let him live or go ahead and execute him? He had been pardoned but had refused the pardon.

 

The Supreme Court had to settle the matter. Chief Justice John Marshall gave the following decision: "A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hardly supposed that one under a sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged."

 

And George Wilson was hanged.

 

How tragic.  A man’s pardon had been signed, sealed and delivered, but to no avail.  George Wilson would have rather died than become a free man.

 

Yet, every lost soul is a George Wilson.  Their pardon has been signed, sealed and delivered; yet, every time they reject it they are being hanged by the cords of sin.

 

So too, many Christians have been set free from the penalty of sin, but they are being hanged by the power of sin.  They have been given a pardon through the Will, the Work and the Word, but they are still living on death row.

 

I don’t know about you, but I will not be bound by sin.  I will not be blinded by sin.  I will not be enslaved by sin.  I will not be ensnared by sin.  I will not be entangled with sin.  I will not be entrapped by sin. 

 

I will not be pauper living on the devil’s scraps when I can be a prince that feasting on Heavenly manna.  I will not live like a slave when I am a son. 

 

I will not live in jail when I am a “joint heir” with Jesus Christ.  I will not live like an orphan when I am a child of the King.

 

Let freedom ring in your head, in your home and in your heart.  Let freedom ring from the White House to the Courthouse to the Schoolhouse to God’s House to your house.

Let freedom ring from the pulpit to the pew.  Let freedom ring from the harlot to the Heavens.  Let freedom ring from the pit to the palace.  Let freedom ring from hell’s angels to Heaven’s angels. 

 

Let freedom ring from the poorhouse to the Penthouse.  Let freedom ring from the down-and-out to the up-and-out to the in-and-out to the out-and-out.  Let freedom ring from the sinner to the saint. 

 

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

 

LET FREEDOM RING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Anchor Holds

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 6: 13-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

July 29. 2007

 

“The Anchor Holds”

Hebrews 6: 13-20

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

July 29. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  The Pledge that is Unbreakable!

A) The Pledge that was Given

B) The Pledge that was Guaranteed

2.  The Provision that is Unmovable!

A) Help in the Present

B) Hope for the Future

3.  The Person that is Unchangeable!

A) He cannot be Rivaled

B) He cannot be Replaced

In October of 1991, a storm stronger than any in recorded history hit the coast off Gloucester, Massachusetts. The storm was officially known as “the Halloween nor’easter of 1991.” It has become known as the “Perfect Storm” inspiring both the book and movie with the same title. It is called the “Perfect Storm” because it was three storms combined into one—Hurricane Grace that was beginning to die out in the Atlantic, energy coming across from the Great Lakes, and an old frontal system that was around the New England area. 

Sebastian Junger in his book “The Perfect Storm” wrote: “A mature hurricane is by far the most powerful event on Earth. The combined nuclear arsenals of the United States and the former Soviet Union don’t contain enough energy to keep a hurricane going for one day.” 

In the case of the Perfect Storm, when these three storms combined, it regenerated the hurricane creating an almost apocalyptic situation in the Atlantic Ocean. Boats encountered waves of 100 feet—the equivalent of a ten-story building. Winds blasted over the ocean at more than 100 mph. Waves 30 and 40 feet high battered the New England coast, destroying 200 homes, and property damage totaling $500 million. Nine people died, including the six-man crew of a swordfish boat named the Andrea Gail from Gloucester, Massachusetts.

One need not be a Christian very long to encounter the storms of life.  It might not be in the form of a hurricane, but it could be through the loss of a job, the break-up of a marriage, the problems in a church, or the death of a loved one. 

Suddenly, by the storm of disease, the storm of defeat, the storm of depression, the storm of discouragement, or the storm of death our life can become like the Andrea Gail, tossed like a loose piece of garbage, on the angry sea of life.  It is not a matter of “if” they come; it is only a matter of “when” they come.

 

 

Yet, through it all, we have the assurance that God is still God; He’s still on the throne; He’s still in charge; He’s still the Master of the Sea; and, the anchor still holds.

As C. H. Spurgeon said, C. H. Spurgeon said, "There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God's sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained them, overrules them, and sanctifies them. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation-the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands-the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne...for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust."

As I ponder the verses of our text, I am drawn to the wonderful song penned by Ray Boltz:

The anchor holds, though the ship is battered.

The anchor holds, though the sails are town.

I have fallen on my knees

As I faced the waging seas,

 

The anchor holds

In spite of the storm.

In verse 18 the writer speaks of how we have “a strong consolation.” The word “consolation” is the Greek word paraklesis that Jesus used to speak of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  He is the Paraklete, or One who comes alongside to help us.  It is a word that speaks of exhortation and encouragement.

The adjective “strong” is a word that means “powerful, mighty.” It was used at times to speak of an army. The writer is telling us that we have a mighty source of encouragement. This source of encouragement acts like an army or fortress against any discouragement in our life.

A.W. Pink said of our text: “These words are a most glorious message which is designed to set the hearts of God’s children at perfect rest, allay their fears of uncertainty, strengthen their faith, and cause them to look forward to the future with the most implicit confidence.”  

In other words, the writer of Hebrews is reminding that regardless of what we are fighting, what we are facing, what we are feeling, what we are fleeing, or what we are fearing, we have a mighty source of consolation and encouragement because “The Anchor Holds.”

From our text we find 3 reasons why the anchor holds in spite of the storm.  First of all, the anchor holds because of:

1.  The PLEDGE that is UNBREAKABLE!

In verse 18 we read that it is “impossible for God to lie.” The writer assures us that what God has said is absolutely reliable; and that God cannot break His promises. 

I read about a fifth grader named Johnny that was always late for school and he always had a big lie explaining why. The teacher was fed up with his lies and told him that if he was late again she was going to take him to the principal. The next day he showed up two hours late. His story was, “I left home two hours early today so I had time to fish in a pond on my way to school. I caught a 17-pound trout and had to take it home. If I hadn’t cleaned it and put it in the freezer, my mom would have been mad. That’s why I’m late.” The teacher took him by the arm and escorted him to the principal.

She explained what had been happening and told him the story Johnny had just told her. The principal thought to himself, “I’m going to tell this boy a lie so big he will never tell another lie again.” The principal sat down in front of Johnny and said, “Let me tell you about you my trip to school this morning.

I was walking to school through the park when I heard something behind me. I turned around and there was a giant grizzly bear behind me. He was 24-feet tall and had 6-inch fangs. He was going to eat me, Johnny! Just then a little dog ran out from the bushes, jumped on the bear, killed it, and ate the whole bear right there in front of me. Now, what do you think of that, Johnny?” Johnny smiled and said, “Oh yeah, that’s my dog Sparky. That’s his third bear this week.”

A new book, "The Day America Told the Truth," reveals that only 13 percent of Americans see all 10 Commandments as binding on us today.  91 percent lie regularly, at home or work.  In answer to the question, "Whom have you regularly lied to?" the numbers are staggering.  86 percent lied to parents, and 75 percent to friends.  One-third of AIDS carriers admit not to having told their lovers. Most workers admit to goofing off for an average of 7 hours a week, and half admit that they regularly call in sick when they are perfectly well. [1]

There is one thing you can be absolutely certain about and that is God will never lie. He cannot lie! Titus 1:2 tells us that one thing God cannot do is that He “cannot lie.”

It is not that He has not lied, or He will not lie; but HE CANNOT LIE.  His word is unbreakable. To illustrate this truth, the writer of Hebrews used the illustration of Abraham. He reminds us of how God assured Abraham of the total reliability of His sacred pledge that is unbreakable. First, notice:

A) The Pledge that was GIVEN

Verse 13 speaks of God making a promise to Abraham. What was promised is identified in verse 14: “Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.”

We find God giving Abraham a 7-fold promise in Genesis 12: 1-3 to make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, make him a blessing, bless them that blessed his seed, curse them that cursed his seed, and that all of history’s families would be blessed through him. That is the pledge God gave to Abraham.

But, just as God gave Abraham a pledge, God has given us many wonderful pledges.  In verse 12 we are encouraged: “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

2 Peter 1: 4 states that we are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” 

 

In other words, this Book is filled with the many pledges and promises that God has given us to enjoy and experience.  Furthermore, God wants us to experience the reality of these promises.

We not only see the pledge that was given, but also:

B) The Pledge that was GUARANTEED

We read in verse 17, “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath.” The word “immutability” simply means that God’s promises are unchanging. To say it another way, if God makes a promise, He will keep that promise.

In the case of Abraham, to assure him that He would keep His promise, he “confirmed it by an oath.”   In other words, God gave a pledge and then guaranteed that pledge by an oath, or a covenant.

God gave Abraham a promise in Genesis 12 and then confirmed that promise in Genesis 15. In Genesis 15:9 we read that God told Abraham: “Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then, we read that Abraham “took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another.”

In the Old Testament there were three kinds of legal covenants. There is what is called the covenant of salt. Salt was a preserver, and the salt covenant was symbolic that a covenant would endure and be preserved. An example is found in 2 Chronicles 13:5 where God gave the covenant of salt to David, and his sons, regarding the throne of Israel. 

There was also the covenant of the sandal. An example is found in Ruth 4: 7-8, where Boaz “drew off his shoe” to buy a piece of land.  One would take off their shoe or sandal and give it to another to guarantee the transaction. Today, we would call it lien.

The third type of covenant was called the blood covenant. It was this kind of covenant that we find in Genesis 15 between God and Abraham.

When two people would close a deal, or as we would say, notarize a contract, they would take sacrifices and divide them. Then, the two would walk between the sacrifices sealing or guaranteeing the covenant by blood.

When God asked Abraham to take and divide the sacrifices, He was telling him that He was going to guarantee His promise by a blood covenant. 

However, as you read the story you find something interesting happening. We read in Hebrews 6:13, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself.”

You read in Genesis 15 that as the sun was setting a deep sleep came upon Abraham. While Abraham was sleeping, God passed through the sacrifices by Himself. Why?

God was telling Abraham that the keeping of His promises did not depend on Abraham, but totally upon Him. It was an oath that God took alone in which He was saying to Abraham, “I have made you a promise and I will keep that promise. It is a promise that is binding on me and me alone.”

Just as God gave and guaranteed His pledge to Abraham, He gives and guarantees the reliability of His promises to us in Hebrews 6. He is saying to us, “I have given you my pledge, and it is guaranteed.  If I said it, I will do it.  I will keep my promises, because it doesn’t depend on you, it depends on ME!”

While a member of Congress, Abraham Lincoln was once criticized by a friend for his seeming rudeness in declining to test the rare wines provided by their host. When challenged, Lincoln replied “I mean no disrespect, but I promised my precious mother only a few days before she died that I would never use anything intoxicating as a beverage, and I consider that promise as binding today as it was the day I gave it.”     

The friend objected, “But, there is a great difference between a child surrounded by a rough class of drinkers and a man in a home of refinement.” Lincoln replied, “A promise is a promise forever, and when made to a mother, it is doubly binding.”

The writer of Hebrews spoke of “two immutable things” in verse 18. Those two immutable things are His “counsel” and His “oath.” There is the pledge itself and the oath by which God confirmed that pledge. Thus, it is a “doubly binding” promise, and a promise from God is a promise forever.

W. E. Daniels comments, “In a promise, the assertion of an intention is made; in an oath, the person’s character is publicly and solemnly put behind the assertion.  In a promise, we look at the words of the person; in an oath, we look at the person behind the words.” [2]

The eternal character and integrity of God is on the line here.  Either He keeps His promises or He doesn’t.  But, the text states that God has given and guaranteed His pledge. 

Let me put it this way.  If God has pledged to save, you can rest assured that He will save.  If God has pledged to secure, He will secure.  If God has pledged to sustain, He will sustain.  If God has promised to supply your every need, you can take it to the bank that, He will supply your every need.

You say: 'It's impossible.'  God says: “All things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)  You say: 'I'm too tired.'  God says: “I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28-30) 

You say: 'Nobody loves me.'  God says: “I so loved the world that I gave my only begotten Son.”(John 3:16)  You say: 'I can't go on.'  God says: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

You say: 'I can't do it.'  God says: “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Philippians 4:13) 

You say: 'I'm not able.’  God says: “I am able.”(2 Corinthians 9:8)  You say: 'It's not worth it.'  God says: “The sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.”(Romans 8:17) 

You say: 'I can't forgive myself.’  God says: “I forgive you.”(I John 1:9)  You say: 'I can't manage.'  God says: I will supply all your needs. (Philippians 4:19) 

You say: 'I'm afraid.'  God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)  You say: 'I’m at my wits end, and I don’t know what to do.'  God says: “Cast all your cares on ME, for I care for you.”  (I Peter 5:7)  You say: 'I feel all alone.'  God says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

God has given us His pledge, He has guaranteed His pledge through His counsel and His covenant; thus, if God said it, HE WILL DO IT!  The anchor holds because of the sacred pledge that is unbreakable.

Secondly, the anchor holds because of:

2. The PROVISION that is UNMOVABLE!

In verses 18-19, the writer moves from the promises of God to the provision of God.  His pledge is sacred and unbreakable.  His provision is special and unmovable.  He describes a place of safety and a position of security.

In so doing, he reminds us that, through this provision, we find:

 

A) HELP in the PRESENT

 

In verse 18, he states that we “have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.”  His reference is to the cities of refuge that God appointed in Numbers 35:16. 

 

God appointed 6 cities as a place of refuge for someone who accidentally and unintentionally killed someone. In case an angry family member or friend sought revenge, a person could flee to one of these cities. These cities of refuge were built on high hills or mountains so the one seeking asylum would have no difficulty seeing them or keeping them in sight.

 

The roads that led to these cities were lined with stones to serve as a guide. Once a person was inside one of the cities of refuge, no one could harm them or lay a hand on them. 

 

The names of these 6 cities of refuge are a message in themselves.  The name Kedesh means, “Righteousness.”  The name Shechem means, “Shoulder.”  The name Hebron means, “Fellowship.”  The name Bezer means, “Fortress.”  The name Ramoth means, “Heights.”  The name Golan means, “Exiled.”

 

Do you see the connection between those names, the meaning of those names and our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ?  The writer says that we have a “strong consolation” and can flee for “refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” 

 

In other words, in times of danger, distress, depression, desperation and discouragement, we can come to Christ who is our Kedesh, and gives us His “righteousness.”  Then, like a “good shepherd,” He becomes our Shechem and carries us on His “shoulder,” and we enter into Hebron or “fellowship” with Him.

 

His name becomes our Bezer, or our “fortress.”  As believers, we are now seated in Ramoth, in the “heights” of Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, even though we belong to Golan, and are nothing more than “exiles” in this world.

 

I once read how in a certain section of the Holy Land the wild rabbits had learned a secret found in large lily patches that protected them from the wild dogs. The rabbits would run to these lily patches and the fragrance of the lilies prevented the dogs from picking up their scent and finding them.

 

Thank God we have a refuge when the hounds of hell and trouble are on our trail. We can run to the Lily of the Valley, who is our City of Refuge, and find help in the present.

 

But, as if that wasn’t enough, we not only find help in the present, but:

 

B) HOPE for the FUTURE

 

The writer reminds us that we not only find help in the right here and now, but we have hope for the sweet bye and bye.  In verse 19, he describes it, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”

 

He tells us that our anchor is not anchored in this world, but in the very presence of God. The word “sure” stresses the indestructibility of the anchor.  The word “steadfast” refers to the incorruptibility of the anchor.   This anchor knows no weakness and cannot be weakened by time.

 

Stuart translates the phrase, “We have an anchor the soul that is unfailing and firmly fixed.”  In other words, this anchor of the soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, gives us help in the present and hope for the future.  WE have the anticipation of a better day, and the assurance of a brighter day.

 

I once came across an ad that read:

 

FREE

BEAUTIFUL HOMES

To be

GIVEN AWAY

In a

PERFECT CITY!

With:

100% Pure Water Free

No Light Bills

Perpetual Lighting

Permanent Paving

Nothing Undesirable

Everything New

Perfect Health

Immunity from Accidents

The Best of Society

Beautiful Music

Free Transportation

SECURE A CONTRACT TODAY FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM

 

Praise God I have secured a contract for a new world. The old account was settled long ago and I know that I will live in a land where:

 

No chilling winds, nor pois’nous breath,

Can reach that healthful shore;

Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,

Are felt and feared no more!

As believers, we are not vagabonds, who have no home, or strangers, who are away from home; but, we are pilgrims on our way home.  We are headed to a land that is fairer than day where there will be no more sea (Rev. 21:1), no more curse (21:3), no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain, no more death (21:4) and, no more night (22:5).

 

Thanks be to God, this life is not all that there is, because the “half has not been told.”  My Heavenly Father owns the property on both sides of the river, and what lies ahead is a bigger day, a brighter day, and a better day.

 

The anchor holds because of the sacred pledge that is unbreakable, the special provision that is unmovable; but, also because of:

 

3. The PERSON that is UNCHANGEABLE!

 

What a glorious thought, the pledge that is unbreakable.  What a glorious thought, the provision that is unmovable.  But, all of this is made possible because of the person that is unchangeable.

 

Who is this person?  It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and the writer reminds us that:

 

A) He cannot be RIVALED

In verse 19, we are reminded of the “anchor of the soul that is sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”  What or, a better question would be, Who is this anchor that has “entered…within the veil.”

 

The answer is given in verse 20, “The Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”  You can say, “Preacher, how can you be so sure that the anchor will hold through all of the storms, struggles, stresses, problems, perils, predicaments, difficulties, dilemmas and discouragements of life?”

 

I know that the anchor holds, because the anchor is none other than the unrivaled person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Anchor of the Soul!

 

I love the picture of the Forerunner that is given to us in this text. The picture is that of an ancient sailing vessel finding its way through a narrow entrance into a harbor. This was one the trickiest maneuvers the captain of a ship had to make. As his ship moved through the opening, he had to guard against a gust of wind running it onto a reef or a sandbar.

 

To minimize the risk, the captain would lower the ships anchor into a smaller boat, which would then be rowed through the narrow entrance of the harbor. The anchor would then be dropped and the ship, with its sails down, would be pulled past the obstacles, through the narrow opening, and into the safety of the harbor.

 

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is our both our Anchor and Forerunner. As our Anchor He will never be moved; as our Forerunner, He has already entered the harbor, “into that within the veil,” into the very presence of God. He has a hold of us and is pulling us into the harbor. Seeing that He is already there guarantees our safe arrival.

 

He has not left it up to anyone else, but Jesus Himself has gone ahead and is the presence of God assuring us that He will bring us home safely. 

 

You say, “Pastor, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to take it, or if I’m going to be able to make it!”  If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, I guarantee you that you can take it, and I know that you will make it, because the He is the anchor that, through all of the troubles of life, is pulling you to Himself.

 

He cannot be rivaled, and thank God:

 

B) He cannot be REPLACED

 

He is our “anchor of the soul.”  He is “sure” and “steadfast.”  He is our Forerunner.  He is the Lord of Glory.  He is the Lord of Lords.  He is the Lord Jesus Christ who cannot be rivaled and He cannot be replaced.

The writer states that He has been “made an high priest FOR EVER after the order of Melchisedec.”  In other words, the position of Christ can never be replaced or superseded.  God placed Christ into this position, and no one else can ever step into it.  He cannot be impeached, He cannot be replaced, and He cannot be voted out of office.

 

The Levitical high priest did not enter the sanctuary as a forerunner, but as a representative.  He entered a place into which no one else might follow him, in the people’s stead.  That was the Old Economy.

 

In the New Economy, Christ is the High Priest, but He has gone somewhere as a “forerunner” where His people CAN follow Him.  In other words, He has gone “within the veil” into the very presence of God to pave the way for us to come “boldly into the throne of grace” into full fellowship with God, both now and forever.

 

I think of the time that the renowned Lloyd C. Douglas visited an old man for his daily violin lesson.  One morning, Douglas walked into his teacher’s studio and said, “Well, what’s the good news for today?”  Putting down his violin the teacher walked over to a tuning fork to strike it bluntly and said, “There is the good news for today.  That, my son, is the musical note ‘A.’ It was ‘A’ all day yesterday, it is ‘A’ all day today; and, it will be ‘A’ all day tomorrow.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, He was “the anchor of the soul” all day yesterday, He is “the anchor of the soul” all day today; and, He will be “the anchor of the soul” all day tomorrow. 

 

He stands in a class all His own.  He is forever the Great Unlike.  He is without rival or replacement to His person, His position, His prominence, His preeminence, and His power.  So, in the midst of:

 

Adversity/Affliction—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Burdens/Battles—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Chaos/Confusion—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Discouragement/Death—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Enemies/Evils—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Foes/Folly—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Grief/Gloom—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Help-Hopelessness—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Loneliness/Loss—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Misery/Misfortune—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Need/Nothing—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Problems/Pain—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Rejection/Remorse—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Stress/Struggles—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

Troubles/Trials—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

War/Want—THE ANCHOR HOLDS

 

He can create a world by stepping out from behind the curtain of nowhere onto the platform of nothing, and speak it all into existence.  He can part the waters of a sea simply by blowing His nose.  He can sustain 4 million people on manna and water for 40 years, and none died of starvation.

 

He can touch the womb of a virgin and cause her to give birth to a Son and call His name Jesus.  He can walk on the water, He can open blinded eyes, He can give life to the dead, He can make the lame to walk, He can turn water into wine, and He can come back to life after being dead 3 days.

 

He can take a hell-bound, hell-deserving sinner, an outcast of society, a murderer on death row, and make him a brand new creature.  He can do all of those things; but, He cannot FAIL US, He cannot FLEE us, He can FORGET us, and He cannot FORSAKE us.

 

Why?  Because the anchor holds!

 

All you need to do is drop your anchor on the “anchor of the soul” that holds today, tomorrow and forever.

Endnotes

1) "Disciplines of a Godly Man," R. Kent Hughes, pg. 123.

2) Hebrews, W. E. Daniels, pg. 57.

 

 

“A Question Every Man Must Answer”

Job 14: 14

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Funeral Sermon

 

During an impassioned sermon on death and facing judgment, the visiting evangelist said forcefully, "every member of this church is going to die and face judgment."  Early on in the sermon he noticed a gentleman smiling on the front row.

 

The minister kept pushing his theme, "Every member of this church is going to die."  The guy smiled even more while everyone else in the congregation had a very somber look.  In an effort to get through to the guy, the preacher repeated it several more times forcefully, "EACH MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO DIE."

 

Each time the phrase was repeated, the man smiled more.  This really got the preacher wound up and he preached even harder.  The man still smiled.  The preacher finally walked down off the platform to stand just in front of the smiling man and shouted, "I SAID EACH MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO DIE."

 

At the end of the service the man was smiling from ear to ear. While everyone else was looking pretty grim from the prospect of entering eternity, the man seemed quite happy.  After the service the preacher jumped down off the platform and worked through the crowd to find the man.  Pulling him aside, the preacher said, "I don't get it. Every time I said, 'Every member of this church is going to die,' you were laughing.  I want to know why you did that?" 

 

The man looked the preacher square in the eye and said confidently, "Because, I'm not a member of this church."

 

One of the Bible’s greatest forms of communication is by means of questions. 

 

Cain--“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Abraham--“Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”

Moses--“Who is on the Lord’s side?”

David—“Is there not a cause?”

Malachi—“Will a man rob God?”

James—“What is your life?”

Jesus—“What shall it profit a man?”

 

One of the greatest questions is asked in Job 14: 14, “If a man die shall he live again?”  That is a great question because it is a question everyone must answer.  Everyone faces the question, and everyone must find an answer to the question, “If a man dies shall he live again?”

 

It leads us to consider:

1.  The FACT of Death that LIES BEFORE Us!

 

Throughout his discussions with God Job asked many great questions.

“Why did God bring man into being?”

Can a man really know God?”

Does God really care about man?”

Does a good man have a chance with God any more than an evil man?”

 

All of those are great questions, but none greater than the question, “If a man die, shall he live again?”  It is a great question because it brings into view the fact of death that lies before every one of us.

 

I'm sure most of you have heard the expression, "The Dead Man's Hand."  It originated on August 2, 1876.  Wild Bill Hickock sat down at a poker table in Saloon #10, in Deadwood, South Dakota, and began to play his hand. 

 

Jack McCall entered the saloon, pulled out a gun, and shot Wild Bill Hickock in the back.  As he laid there, those around noticed the cards that remained in his hand, a pair of Aces, and a pair of 8's.  That combination, ever since, has been known as "the dead man's hand."

 

Every one of us has been dealt, and at some time or another must play “The Dead Man’s Hand.”  The facts of death are astounding.  The death rate is 100 PERCENT.  In other words, 1 out of 1 person dies.  That’s 3 every second; 180 every minute; 11,000 every hour, 250,000 every day play “The Dead Man’s Hand.”

 

The fact of the matter is that death is just as much a part of life as is birth.  The day we are born is the day we begin to die.  Death is not a fable or a folly; it is a FACT!  There are no excuses, no escapes and no exits.

 

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezek. 18:4)

 

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  [2] He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” (Job 14:1-2)

 

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

 

“The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

 

During her lifetime, Queen Elizabeth I was considered the most powerful woman on earth.  But, as she was dying, she said, "Oh my God!  It is over.  I have come to the end of it.  To have only one life, and to be done with it!  To have lived, and loved and triumphed; and now to know that it is over!  One may defy everything else, but none can defy death!"

 

In his book, “Can Man Live Without God?” Ravi Zacharias relates a conversation he had with British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge.  Svetlana Stalin, daughter of the evil Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, spent some time in the Muggeridge home.  According to Svetlana, as Stalin lay dying, plagued with terrifying hallucinations, he suddenly sat halfway up in bed, clinched his fist toward heaven, and fell back on his pillow, dead.

 

We all share the same common denominator.  We are all sinners; and, we all must die.  Outside of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, NONE OF US ARE GETTING OUT OF HERE ALIVE! 

 

Death is unpredictable.  Death is unmistakable.  Death is unavoidable.  It is a fact that lies before us.

 

With the fact of death that lies before us comes:

 

2.  The FEAR of Death that LIVES within Us!

 

When it comes to death, most of us are like the late, great preacher B. R. Lakin, “If I knew when I was going to die, I wouldn’t go there!”

 

Death is an uncomfortable subject.  It is a subject that creates fear and unrest.  It is a subject we do not like to think about, much less talk about. 

 

Much of the fear is created because of the mystery of death.  It is unknown territory.  It is unchartered territory. It is unseen territory.  In fact, the proof of the fear of death lies in the fact that man has sought to find an answer to what lies beyond the grave.

 

“Is this life all that there is?  Is there something beyond this life?”

 

Atheist:  No after life, because there is no God.

Agnostic:  Some form of immortality

Religious Leaders:  Believe that man will come back in some shape, form or figure.

 

In one of his works, Edgar Allen Poe pictured a man strapped to a pit and above the pit was a giant pendulum.  The pendulum would swing with a sharp blade on the end of it.  Every time the pendulum would swing, it would get closer, and closer to the man.  Poe would say, "I am the man strapped to the pit of life, and with every beat of my heart, I'm just that much closer to death."

The fact of death that lies before and the fear of death that lives within us must cause us to consider:

 

3. The FUTURE of Death that LOOMS beyond Us!

 

Job asks, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”  The word “live” speaks of much more than physical, temporal existence.  Literally Job is asking, “If a man dies, will he live immediately after he dies?”

 

The indication is that THERE IS something on the other side of the grave.  He goes on to say, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. [15] Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee.”

 

Apparently, Job expected something on the other side of death.  He recognized that death had a future that loomed beyond this life. 

 

Let’s find an answer to the question, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”  Let’s ask:

 

The Rich Man/Lazarus (Luke 16)

 

The rich man died and was BURIED.

Lazarus died and was CARRIED (“by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.”)

“If a man dies, shall he live again?”  Both would testify that after a man dies, he will live again.  However, the rich man would say, “Absolutely!  If a man dies rejecting Jesus Christ, he will live again forever and ever apart from God in hell.”

 

Death for someone who rejects Jesus Christ is altogether different from some who receives Jesus Christ. 

 

Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11: 25)

 

“If a man dies, shall he live again?”  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: [26] And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

 

Paul’s final letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

 

“If a man dies, shall he live again?”  Paul writes, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. [7] I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

 

The word “departure” was a word that carried many pictures.  It was used to speak of yoke being removed from the ox.  The days’ work was over, the labor had ended, and it was now time to rest. 

 

Paul is saying, “My work is over.  My job is complete.  My labor is ended.  It is now time to remove the burdensome yoke of this life and go to rest on Heaven’s bright shore.”

 

The word “departure” was also often used to speak of a ship ready to set sail on its voyage.  The ship would pull up its anchor, hoist its sails and be ready to sail to a new land.

 

Paul is saying, “I have stepped on board of The Old Ship of Zion, and I am ready to lift up my anchor, my sails are hoisted, and I ready to sail to God’s new land.”

 

“If a man dies, shall he live again?” 

 

Let’s allow the same man who asked the question to answer the question.  Job goes on to say, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. [15]Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee.”

 

How can you be so sure Job?  Because:

 

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19: 25-27)

 

Let’s ask Wallace Gene Jewell, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”  If he could answer, he would answer, “If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heaven.”  For, “To be absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5: 1, 8)

 

Wallace Jewell, “if a man dies, shall he live again?”  His answer would be,“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15: 55-57)

 

Wallace Jewell, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”  His answer would be, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Rev. 14: 13)

 

Wallace Jewell, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”  He would answer, not because he was a good man, but because he was a grace man; not because he was a successful man, but because he was a saved man, “You better believe it!  I’m more alive now than I’ve ever been before!”

 

Back during the days of the Civil War, following a battle which left many wounded, hurting and dying, a Confederate surgeon was going from body to body giving comfort and aid to the wounded.  For about 3 hours he had done everything he could do, and as a result, he was totally exhausted.

 

He found a stump and sat down to rest.  Suddenly, he heard a faint voice in the distance calling, "Here!"  "Here!"  "Here!"  He pulled himself up off the stump and said, "Son, I'm coming," and he used that faint voice as his guide.

 

Finally, he came to an 18-year old Confederate soldier who was just a stub of a man.  His wounds were so severe that the surgeon knew that he was dying.  The surgeon stooped down and said, "I'm here, son, and I'll do everything I can do to help you.  I heard you calling 'Here,' and I'm here now to help."  Almost immediately the wounded soldier opened his eyes and said, "Sir, I wasn't talking to you."

 

The surgeon, somewhat surprised, said, "Son, you've been saying 'Here, here' for the last 3 or 4 minutes.  If you weren't talking to me why were you calling out?"  The soldier replied, "Sir, about 10 minutes ago they began to call roll in Heaven.  About 3 minutes ago I heard them call my name; and, I was telling them that I was 'Here!'  'Here!'  'Here!'"

 

Wednesday morning at around 8:00 a.m. they began to call roll in Heaven.  At 8:55 a.m., they called the name of Wallace Gene Jewell and because he had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior he answered, “I’m here!  I’m here!  I’m here!”

 

And some glad morning, the Lord of Glory will step out on the clouds of glory give a shout of glory as the angel of glory blows the trumpet of glory so the children of glory can be taken to their home of glory.

 

At that moment, every one that has been Glory Born will suddenly become Glory Bound.  For the child of God death is not something we need to fear because our Father owns property on both sides of the river.

 

What a great homecoming day,

What a day in Heaven twill be.

When we bid this world goodbye,

And our home at last we see.

 

What is your answer to the question, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”  100 years from now you will be able to answer that question, because 100 years from now you will be more alive than you’ve ever been in 1 of 2 places, Heaven or Hell.

 

You’re not ready to live until you are ready to die!  But, once you are ready to die you are then ready to live.  The only way you are ready to die is to invite Jesus Christ into you heart.

 

“Get Dressed for the Battle”

Eph. 6: 10-18

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

 

In his book “The Holy Spirit,” Billy Graham writes about an Eskimo fisherman who came to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command.

Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets. On one Saturday the black dog would win; another Saturday, the white dog would win -- but the fisherman always won!

His friend began to ask him how he did it. He said, 'I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he is stronger.'

We have two natures within us, both struggling for mastery. Which one will dominate us? It depends on which one we feed.

 

A. W. Tozer said, "The untended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root our error will shortly be a theological wilderness.”

 

1.  WHY we Fight?

 

A) By BIRTH

 

[v. 10] “brethren”

Family matter

God’s soldiers are not drafted, they are born.

 

B) For BLESSING

 

Battle is not meant to break us/bless us

God is in the business of making Giants for Christ.

 

2.  WHO we Fight?

To have a fight, we must have a foe.

 

 

A) An INTERNAL Foe

 

[Gal. 5: 19-21]

 

Our flesh is capable of anything.

Without the devil, we would still sin.

We are not sinners because we sin; we SIN BECAUSE WE ARE SINNERS!

 

We are born with the propensity and capacity for sin.  Thus, our biggest enemy is ourselves.  God and the devil get blamed for a lot of things they have nothing to do with.

 

Maude:  “The devil made me do it.”  Not true!

 

[James 1: 13] “Drawn away of his own lust and enticed.”

 

B) An EXTERNAL Foe

 

[v. 11] “the rulers of the darkness of this world.”

 

World: Gr. kosmos

World system or order

 

This world has always been opposed to truth, to Christ and to Christianity.

 

We fight against the world system every single day.

 

I.e. Media, politics, religion

 

C) An INFERNAL Foe

 

[Vv. 11-12]

Our real enemy is exposed.

 

The devil is like a bully on a playground.  His goal is to use our flesh and the world to defeat us; then, he stands back and watches.

 

Our infernal foe uses our internal foe and external foe to try to defeat us.

 

ILLUSTRATION

Child always crawls through the fence to go next door to play and tear something up.  He always blamed it on the devil.  Mother said, “The next time the devil comes say, “Get behind me Satan.”

The next day the boy was next door again.  He said, “I told the devil to get behind me, then he pushed me through the fence.”

 

The Bible likens Satan to 5 different animals.

 

Genesis 3, he's a serpent trying to deceive God's people.

 

Matthew 13, he's a bird trying to despoil God's harvest.

 

John 10, he's a wolf wanting to dismantle God's flock.

 

1 Peter 5, he's a lion trying to devour God's children.

 

Revelation 12, he's a dragon wanting to destroy God's Son.

 

3.  HOW we Fight?

God has not left us empty-handed.  He has given us everything we need for “life and godliness.”

 

A) Our MIGHTY WEAPONRY

 

[Vv. 13-18]

INTEGRITY (belt held everything in place)

PURITY (Breastplate covered from neck to waist.  Protected vital organs.)

SAFETY (Sandals gave sure footing on rocky ground.)

CERTAINTY (Shield made of wood covered with leather.  Primary means of protection.)

SANITY (Helmet protected the head-mind)

VITALITY (Prayer is the life-line.)

 

At the beginning of every day, we must go to battle FULLY CLOTHED! 

Every piece of the armor is important. 

 

B) Our MARVELOUS VICTORY

 

We Have STRENGTH from the Lord [10]

We’re not fighting in our strength, but in His strength.

 

We Can STAND in the Lord [11,13,14]

We don’t have to back down from the world, the flesh or the devil. 

 

Kingdom authority is spiritual authority.  Many Christians are praying for something that God has already given them.

 

He has given us everything we need to fight the fight.  We just need to SUIT up, SHOW up, and STAND up!

 

There is nothing to protect our back, because we aren’t to be retreating, but DEFEATING.

We’re not to be on the defensive, but on the OFFENSIVE.

We not to be moving back; we’re to be moving FORWARD!

 

Jesus has already won the war!  We’re not fighting to win; we’re fighting because we’ve ALREADY WON!

 

Martin Luther tells how he overcame the devil.  He said, "When he comes knocking on the door of my heart and asks, 'Who lives here?'"  The Lord Jesus goes to the door and says, "Martin Luther used to live here, but he has moved out.  Now, I live here." 

 

Then, the devil sees the nail prints in His hands and he takes flight.

 

A tiger met a lion as they set beside a pool.

Said the tiger to the lion, “Why are you roaring like a fool?”

“That’s not foolish,” said the lion, with a twinkle in his eyes,

They call me the King of all beasts because I advertise.

A rabbit heard them talking, ran on like a streak.

He thought he would try the lion’s plan, but his roar was just a squeak.

A fox came to investigate and had his lunch there in the woods.

And, so my friend, when you advertise, BE SURE YOU’VE GOT THE GOODS!

 

As believers, we’ve got the goods.  We have everything we need to fight. 

 

We have:

 

The Word of God

The Truth of God

The Son of God

The Spirit of God

The Promises of God

The Power of God

The Presence of God

 

The Authority of Christ

The Blood of Christ

The Cross of Christ

The Name of Christ

The Provision of Christ

The Work of Christ

 

All we need to do is get dressed for the battle.

 

 

“Free at Last”

Romans 6: 1-14

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

 

At Abraham Lincoln's 2nd inaugural address, shortly before his assassination in 1865, he spoke of how both parties deprecated war, and yet war came.  He stated, "Neither party expected the way, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Each looked for an easier triumph.  Both read the same Bible, and prayed to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other."

 

And with that, Lincoln let his own feelings show through as he spoke of how strange it was, "that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces."

 

Ultimately, the black slaves were set free.  Theoretically, it became legal as early as the first day of the year, 1863, in what has come to be known as the Emancipation Proclamation.

 

The word spread from Capitol Hill down into the valleys of Virginia, and the Carolinas, and evens into the plantations of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama.  The headlines read, 'Slavery Legally Abolished!'

 

However, the greater majority of slaves, in the South, went right on living as though there had been no emancipation.  They went on living like they had never been set free.

 

How tragic.  A war was being fought.  A document had been signed.  Slaves were legally set free.  The word is emancipation.

 

And yet most continued to live out their years without knowing anything about it.  They had chosen to remain slaves, though they were legally free. 

 

Even though emancipated, they kept serving the same master throughout their lives.

 

Yet, 200 years after William Wilberforce helped end the slave trade in Great Britain, and 144 years after Abraham Lincoln freed slaves in the United States, the scourge of slavery still exists. 

 

Today 27 million people are enslaved throughout the world.  Between 600,000 and 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across national borders each year.

 

According to the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, human trafficking generates an estimated $9.5 billion in annual revenue.  Some 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the U. S. lured from poverty stricken nations and they're subjected to force, fraud and coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

 

Although slavery has been abolished nationally, it has also been abolished spiritually.  Yet, there are many believers who, though they have been set free, continue to live as a slave.

 

I saw a sign the other day that read, “I’m a slave for Christ,” and the back of the sign read, “Whose slave are you?”

 

One of the dangers of preaching salvation by grace alone is that it can be interpreted as a license to do whatever one wishes.

 

Baptists, who hold to the fundamental doctrine of the security of the believer, are often ridiculed because others think that we are advocating a license to sin.

 

“You are saved forever, so go live like the devil!”

 

The Apostle Paul begins Romans 6 as if he already knew what the objection would be in regards to the grace of God.

 

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”

 

“GOD FORBID!”

 

J. B. Phillips, “What a ghastly thought.”  Paul is saying that it is ridiculous to think that because we have been saved by grace we can continue to live in sin.

 

He then goes on to point out that, as believers, we are “Free at Last!”

 

There are 3 key words to understanding Romans 6:  “KNOW, RECKON and YIELD.”

 

Understanding and appropriating these 3 words in our lives set us free at last from the presence of sin in our lives.

1. KNOW by IDENTIFICATION

 

Know—3 times (v. 3, 6, and 9)

 

Above everything else, Paul wants us to know and understand our identification with Christ.

 

A) The FACT of It

 

[v. 6] “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

 

“Old man-“Pre-Conversion life

 

At the moment of our salvation, WE DIED WITH CHRIST ON THE CROSS. 

 

He died for sin; we died with Him TO SIN!  It is not that we should die to sin; we HAVE DIED TO SIN!

 

Greek aorist tense

--It is done

--It is accomplished

--It is finished

--It is final.

 

R. Kent Hughes:

“Our spiritual history began at the cross.  We were there in the sense that in God’s sight we were joined to Him who actually suffered on it.  The time element should not disturb us, because if we sinned in Adam, it is equally possible to have died to sin with Christ.” [1]

 

We died to sin, in the past tense, when we accepted Christ as our Savior.  It is not a fable or a folly…IT IS A FACT!

 

B) The FORCE of It

 

Paul paints a picture to clarify our identity/union with Christ.  It is the picture of baptism.

 

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”

 

“Planted” Gr. symphytoi

Botanical term-“grown together.”  Pictures a branch bound to a tree.  They are grafted together.

 

At salvation, we died with Christ.

At baptism, we were buried and raised with Christ.

 

In other words, we died with Jesus at the Cross, and we have been raised with Him so that we now share in His resurrection life.

 

Eph. 3: 20—“according to the power that worketh in us.”

RESURRECTION POWER!!

 

Many view the Christian life as a gloomy struggle.  They look at these verses as the end of the matter.  There are deaths, but they are for a purpose.

 

Jesus didn’t die just to die.  He died for a purpose; the purpose of redemption.

 

Likewise, when we died with Christ, we didn’t die just to die; we DIED IN ORDER TO LIVE

 

Jesus died in history.  Jesus rose from the dead in history. 

 

We accepted Christ in history.  We will be raised from the dead in some real, historical moment. 

 

Now, Paul is saying, “LIVE LIKE IT!”

 

We are live on the basis of what has happened in the past, as though we were already in the future.

 

What is the effect of our identification with Christ?

 

[Vv. 7-10] “For he that is dead is freed from sin.  [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.”

 

2. RECKON with DETERMINATION

 

We “know” that we died with Jesus, have been buried with Jesus, and raised to “walk in newness of life” with Jesus.

 

How do we make it work in our daily lives?  We must reckon by determination to understand:

 

A) The POSITION that is SETTLED

 

[V. 11] “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin.”

“Reckon”-Gr. logizomai

Accounting term.

“To calculate/impute to one’s account.”

 

Because Christ died for sin—once and for all—because we died with Him, our position is settled—once and for all.

 

By faith, we “reckon” and lay hold of what Christ has imputed to our account. 

 

Jesus died in history.  He rose in history.  We accepted Christ and died in history.  We will be raised again in some historic moment.

 

Thus, we “reckon” by faith and live on the basis of the great truth that our position, with Christ and in Christ, is settled.

Then, we determine:

 

B) The PROGRESSION that is SOUGHT

 

We died with Christ.  We will be raised with Christ.  We must “reckon” these things by faith, and then:

 

{Vv. 11-12] “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

 

This is PREVENTIVE THEOLOGY! 

 

We often use CORRECTIVE theology—1 John 1: 9.  However, we should practice PREVENTIVE THEOLOGY. 

 

We don’t have to be bound by sin.  We don’t have to be burdened with sin.  We don’t have to be blinded by sin.

 

The present tense of the verb, “Keep on counting yourselves dead unto sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

 

There is a vast difference between failing to be perfect and allowing sin to reign in our lives.

 

Paul is saying, “Reckon, calculate by faith that you died with Christ and are dead to sin, but you are alive to God.  Thus, do not allow sin to trespass and be the king in your life.”

 

I heard of a missionary whose wife was very fastidious. They moved into a small hut, and soon she noticed that the floor was filthy. The first thing the wife wanted to do was to scrub that floor, so she scrubbed and scrubbed but to no avail. She began to wonder if she would ever get the floor clean. Finally, somebody told her the problem. It was a dirt floor! The more she scrubbed the more dirt she stirred up.

 

Sin is the dirt floor.  We don’t need to scrub it, we need to seize it and not allow it to have any place in the lives of dead people.

 

3. YIELD through CONSECRATION

 

Francis Shaeffer writes, “We have died to sin.  We are, in the present tense, alive from the dead.  We have, in the present tense, everlasting life.  All right, then, let’s yield ourselves to God.” [2]

 

That sounds great, and he is absolutely correct, but we must consider:

 

A) The PROBLEM We FACE

 

In verse 13, we face a serious problem.  The verse indicates that there is a possibility that we will “yield” the “instruments” of our body to become sinful tools.

 

Instruments-Gr. hoplon

“Arms or weapons”

 

Our minds, mouths, eyes, ears, hearts, hands and feet can be, and many times are, used as arms, weapons and tools of Satan to battle against God.

 

B) The SOLUTION We FIND

 

We don’t have to “yield” the “instruments” of our body to sin.  There is a solution to the problem.

 

[v. 13-14] “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

 

Herein lays the key to living free at last.

 

Know your identification that you have died with Christ, been buried with Christ, and will be raised with Christ.

 

Reckon, by faith, your determination not to allow sin to be a trespasser on God’s property.

 

Then, yield by consecration not to allow your body to be a weapon of the devil, but a weapon of righteousness to God.

 

Major Ian Thomas:

“To be in Christ, that is redemption; but, for Christ to be in you, that is sanctification.  To be in Christ makes you fit for Heaven; but, for Christ to be in you makes you fit for earth.  To be in Christ changes your destination; but, for Christ to be in you changes your destiny.  The one makes Heaven your home; the other makes the world His workshop.” [3]

 

Captain Reginald Wallis tells of an incident that took place during the American Civil War when men were drawn by lot to join the army.

 

A young man named Wyatt was called up to fight for the South.  He was the sole breadwinner for his very large family.  Realizing this hardship, another young man named Pratt volunteered to go instead.  He was accepted and drafted, bearing the name and number of Wyatt.

Eventually, Pratt was killed in battle, and having died as the substitute in the name of another man, the full name of Wyatt was recorded as being killed in action.

 

At a later day, Wyatt was again called up for service, but at the recruiting office he stated that he had “died already.”

 

When the entry was researched, it was discovered that although the real Wyatt was alive and well, he was dead in the eyes of the authorities, because he was identified with his substitute.  Therefore, he went free.

 

In the same way, when Jesus died, I DIED WITH HIM; therefore, I AM FREE AT LAST.

 

Charles Trumbull wrote, “Christ does not want to be our helper, He wants to be our life.  He does not want us to work for Him; He wants to do His work through us.  Just as we use a pencil to write with, Christ wants to use us as the fingers of His hand.” [4]

 

Jesus died in history.  Jesus rose from the dead in history. 

 

We accepted Christ in history.  We will be raised from the dead in some real, historical moment.  So…

 

 “LIVE LIKE IT!”

 

I died with Jesus.  I have been buried with Jesus.  I will one day be raised with Jesus. 

 

So, I say with the late, great Martin Luther King, in the words of the great Negro spiritual:

 

Free at Last

Free at Last

Thank God Almighty

I’m free at last!

Endnotes

1) Romans-Righteousness from Heaven, R. Kent Hughes, pg. 124.

2) The Finished Work of Christ, Francis Schaeffer, pg. 161.

3) The Saving Life of Christ, Major Ian Thomas, pg. 19.

4) The Victorious Life, Charles Trumbull, pg. 118.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dead Man Walking”

Romans 7: 14-25

Galatians 2: 20

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

 

The 1995 film, “Dead Man Walking,” based on the book of the same name, tells the story of Sister Helen Prejean, played by Susan Sarandon, who establishes a special relationship with Matthew Poncelet, a prisoner on death row, played by Sean Penn.

 

The title comes from the traditional call in America of "Dead man walking, dead man walking here!" from a prison guard as a condemned prisoner is led onto Death Row.  The phrase originated from the 1909 poem by Thomas Hardy titled “The Dead Man Walking.”

 

They hail me as one living,

But don’t they know

That I have died of late years,

Untombed although?

 

I am but a shape that stands here,

A pulse less mould,

A pale past picture, screening

Ashes gone cold.

 

And when my Love’s heart kindled

In hate of me,

Wherefore I knew not, died I

One more degree.

 

And if when I died fully

I cannot say,

And changed into the corpse-thing

I am to-day.

 

Yet is it that, though whiling

The time somehow

In walking, talking, smiling,

I live not now.

I believe it is safe to say that Paul qualified as a Dead Man Walking.

 

In Romans 6, we learn that we died with Jesus on the Cross; thus, we must KNOW, RECKON, and YIELD.

 

In Romans 7, the battle still rages.  The dead man is still attempting to live.

 

1. The STRUGGLE that He ENDURED!

 

Romans 7 has been a chapter of controversy for years.  Who is the subject?  There are 3 basic views:

 

1.  Non-Christian Pharisee under the law.  This was the view of the Greek Fathers.

2.  A Carnal Christian. 

3.  A Normal Christian.  This is the held of Augustine, Luther and Calvin. [1]

The 3rd view is correct.  Paul writes in the 1st person to describe the struggle he had to endure.

 

A) A SPIRITUAL Struggle

 

7:14: “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

 

7:22-23: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

 

The law is not evil, but essential.  In fact, Paul states in verse 16, If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.”

The law was given so that sin “might appear sin.” 

 

The law is our “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” (Gal. 3:24)

 

It is through the law that a man comes to realize his guilt, and his need of the Lord Jesus Christ as His Savior.

 

The law does not get us into Heaven; but, it brings us unto Jesus who gets us to Heaven.

 

The law reveals our sin.  It numbers our sin.  It lists our sin.

 

The law of God demands satisfaction, and that satisfaction is only found in the finished work of Christ.

 

Paul’s spiritual struggle was that there were 2 natures at work.  One delights in the Law of God.  The other wages war against God.

 

Paul wants us to feel the emotion he experiences in trying to live up to God’s standards in his own strength.

 

He reminds us that A BELIEVER WHO TRIES TO PLEASE GOD IN HIS OWN STRENGTH WILL FAIL EVERY TIME. 

 

It is not that it won’t be done, or it hasn’t be done; but IT CAN’T BE DONE!  Why?  Because the spiritual struggle leads to:

 

B) A MORAL Struggle

 

7:18-19 are some of the most sobering words for a believer in the N. T.  “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. [19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

 

What is the moral struggle?  Verses 20-21, “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. [21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”

 

Someone has said that “Paul must have been a golfer, because all golfers know that what you want to do you don’t do, and what you don’t want to do, you do!”

 

The greatest Christian, apostle, writer, preacher and pastor that ever lived, outside of Christ Himself, admits that a moral struggle wages within his soul.

 

He wants to do right, but finds it hard to do.  He doesn’t want to do wrong, but finds it easy to do.

 

Paul says, “I cannot blame the law.  The law is good.  Thus, the problem is not the law, the problem is ME!”

 

This is the cry of a believer who is trying, but relying on himself to serve God, please God and honor God.

 

Most Christians should want to do right, yet we struggle everyday to do it.

 

Thus, contrary to our good desires and intentions, we find ourselves slaves to sinful appetites, ambitions and attitudes.

 

We don’t want to lose our tempers, but we do it constantly.  We don’t want to use those words, but they just fly off our tongues.

 

We don’t want to watch those movies, but our fingers are frozen from changing the channel.  We don’t want to have those thoughts, but our minds fantasize constantly.

 

It’s not that we don’t have the right intentions, but we are trying to please God in, and of our own sinful flesh.

Christ has justified us, but we are still part of a fallen world.

 

Legally, our guilt has been removed; but, factually, we are still waiting for the redemption of our bodies.

 

Until then, we will endure a spiritual struggle, a moral struggle, and:

 

C) A PHYSICAL Struggle

 

We feel Paul’s disgust, and we hear Paul’s desperation in 7: 24, O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

 

Wretched: “miserable condition”

 

A murderer, who wasn’t sentenced to crucifixion, was sentenced to be chained to the dead body of the person he had killed.

 

He would be chained hand to hand, and foot to foot with that dead body for the rest of his life.

 

Eventually, as the dead body began to decay, the decay would spread to the living man; until, ultimately, the man would die a slow, awful, horrendous death.

 

That is the picture here.  Paul is saying, “I am chained to this body of death.  I am disgusted.  I am desperate.  I am miserable.”

 

In one of his works, Edgar Allen Poe pictured a man strapped to a pit and above the pit was a giant pendulum.  The pendulum would swing with a sharp blade on the end of it. 

 

Every time the pendulum would swing, it would get closer, and closer to the man.  Poe would say, "I am the man strapped to the pit of life, and with every beat of my heart, I'm just that much closer to death."

 

Those words perfectly echo the feeling of the apostle Paul.  He has to endure a spiritual, moral and physical struggle.

 

2. The SECRET that He ENCOUNTERED!

 

In Paul’s cry of desperation, he does not say, “What must I do?” but rather, “Who shall deliver me?”

 

He found the answer to that question in verse 25:  “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

In spite of the struggle that he endured, Galatians 2:20 reveals the secret that he encountered.

 

Paul discovered the secret to being a dead man walking.

A) The EXTINGUISHED Life

 

How could Paul “thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” in the midst of his great struggle.

 

It is because He discovered the blessed truth, “I am crucified with Christ.”

 

Paul seems to come to the end of himself with his spiritual, moral and physical struggle; thus, he cries out, “Lord Jesus, I died with you.  I am crucified with you.  This is your problem; so, you take it!”

 

IN other words, Paul is saying, “The Law is not enough.  It will never be enough.  But, Christ is enough.  I am crucified with Him. My life is now finished and extinguished.”

 

I reiterate what I said before, Jesus died in history, He arose in history; we accepted Him in history, we were buried with Him in baptism in history, we will be raised in some glorious, future historic moment.

 

WE ARE DEAD, SO LIVE LIKE IT!!

 

Our live has been extinguished.  We are crucified with Christ. 

 

Thus, every time the flesh loses its temper, utters vulgar speech, beholds obscene images, thinks ungodly thoughts, we are living an UNNATURAL life.

 

A dead man cannot do any of those things.  Thus, the extinguished life leads to:

 

B) The EXCHANGED Life

Paul states, I am crucified with Christ” that is the extinguished life.  He continues, “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”  That is the exchanged life.

 

When we came to Christ, our life was put to death.  Our life was extinguished that it might be exchanged with the life of Christ.

 

Lloyd John Ogilvie said, "Today's personal Calvary, death to self, makes way for resurrection living tomorrow."

 

What is the exchanged life?  It is the Holy Spirit living out the life of Christ in us, and through us.

 

There has only been 1 person who has ever lived the Christian life, and that is Jesus Christ Himself. 

 

Thus, the Christian life is nothing more, nothing less than Jesus.  The Christian life is “the outliving of an indwelling Christ.”

 

The real question is not is He residing in you; but, IS HE LIVING THROUGH YOU?

 

If He is it is because the old life has been extinguished and exchanged with His life.

 

3. The SUCCESS that He ENJOYED!

 

Paul found the secret to pleasing God.  He could not do it, so He allowed Jesus to do. 

 

His old life of sin had been extinguished, and exchanged with the new life of the Savior.

 

F. B. Meyer:  “This is Paul’s confession of the power of the cross in his own life.  It stood between him and the past.  His self-life was nailed there, and this new life was no longer derived from vain efforts to keep the Law, but from the indwelling and overflowing of the life of Jesus.” [2]

 

How was it that he enjoyed such success in his Christian life? 

 

A) The Christ-Life was APPROPRIATED

 

Paul had been “crucified with Christ,” but he says, “I live.”  That is only half of the story.

 

The rest of the story is, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”

Paul was saying, “I live, but it’s not really me who lives any longer.  It is Christ living out His life in me, and through me.”

 

Paul could say, it is:

Not I, but Christ

And His Death

           And His Life

           And His Faith

           And His Love

           And His Grace

 

Leonard Ravenhill writes:

“Paul had no reputation, and so he had nothing to fight about.  He had no possessions, so he had nothing to worry about.  He had no rights, so he had nothing to defend.  He was already broken, so no one could break him.  He was dead, so no one could kill him.  He had lost everything, so no one could defraud him.  He had nothing, but he needed nothing, because Christ, the all-in-all, was everything to him, for him, in him and through him.”

 

Let me repeat:  The Christian life is JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF.  It is no denomination, affiliation or participation. 

 

It is not codes, creeds, or even conduct.  It is nothing we do, but everything HE IS!

 

So, how do we appropriate the Christ-life?  Paul says, “By the faith of the Son of God.”

 

We learn it.  We love it.  And, then we trust Christ enough to LIVE IT!

 

In his book, “They Found the Secret,” V. Raymond Edmon writes:

“Just as salvation is by faith, so is the exchanged life.  Just as we accept the Lord Jesus by faith as Savior, so by simple faith we receive the fulness of His Spirit.  Just as we took Jesus as our sin-bearer, we take the Spirit as our burden-bearer.  Just as we take Jesus as our penalty for sins that are past, we take the Spirit for power over sins that are present.  The Savior is our atonement, the Spirit is our advocate.” [3]

 

We have same the same old engine, but we have received a NEW TRANSMISSION. 

 

Thus, because we are “crucified with Christ,” we can now SHIFT TO A NEW GEAR, WE NEVER HAD BEFORE!

 

B) The Christ-Life was APPRECIATED

 

Paul seems to become overwhelmed with the emotion of it all.  He learns that he no longer has to endure the spiritual, moral and physical struggle.

 

He has found the secret.  It is the Christ-life. It is all made possible, because, Christ loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

He appropriates who Christ is in him; but, now he appreciates what Christ has done for him.

 

This “outliving of the indwelling Christ” is all because Christ loved us enough to remove the penalty of sin, and be our victory over the power of sin.

 

In South America many years ago, an engineering firm was commissioned to work on a major project.  Ultimately, the task had to be abandoned because so many died of malaria.  But, before the work was totally abandoned, the thickly wooded land was set ablaze in order to cleanse the infected area.

 

About 2 years later, the workmen returned to resume operations and were surprised to find the blackened ground, that had been burned, covered with a new and unknown type of plant with an exquisite blue flower.  The only conclusion they could make was that the bloom had resulted from the fire.

 

Yet, in the same way, from the sentence of death to our sinful flesh can spring up the blue flower of victory in Jesus.

 

As Daniel Whittle expressed:

 

Dying with Jesus by death reckoned mine,

Living with Jesus a new life divine.

Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine

Moment by moment, O Lord, I am thine.

 

Moment by moment, I’m kept in His love,

Moment by moment, I’ve life from above.

Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,

Moment by moment, O Lord, I am thine.

 

You might say, “Pastor, I’m doing all I know to do to try to please the Lord.”

 

That may very well be the problem, because you can do nothing to please God except die.

 

I say to you that it’s time to quit TRYING, and start TRUSTING.

 

We are dead men walking; so, it’s time we start living like it.

Endnotes

1) Romans: Righteousness from Heaven, R. Kent Hughes, pg. 142.

2) “Not I, but Christ,” Stephen Olford, pg. 27.

3) “They Found the Secret,” V. Raymond Edman, pg. 55.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What Does Jesus Look Like?”

Galatians 5: 22-24

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

 

A little boy was punished, confined to his room, but he would always sneak out after his parent’s went to bed.  He would escape from his window, and then climb down an old fruit tree.

 

One day, his father told him that he was going to chop down that fruit tree because it had not borne any fruit for years.  That evening, the boy and his friend bought a bushel of apples and, during the night, tied the apples on the branches of the true.

 

The next morning, the man could not believe his eyes.  He said to his wife, “Honey, I can’t believe it.  That old tree that has been barren for so long is covered with apples.  And the most amazing thing is that it is a PEAR TREE!

 

Did you know that the Bible compares every good, godly and growing Christian to a tree?  It is because a tree bears fruit of itself to indicate that it is not dead and lifeless.

 

I think of the little boy who was disappointed with the smallness of the egg his bantam had laid.  He went downtown, returned with a large package, unwrapped it, and pulled out a large ostrich egg.  He held it up to his little bird and said, “Now, take a good look at this and try harder.”

 

I’m sure that is the way many Christians feel as they look at their unproductive and unfruitful lives. 

Major Ian Thomas said, "Through the Holy Spirit, man can make himself available to God, and God is prepared to make Himself available to man.  The Spirit becomes the Agent of a mutual inter-availability.  All there is of God is available to every human being who is available to all there is of God."

 

Let’s review what we have discovered so far from the past several weeks.

 

Ephesians 6:  We are in a battle against the world, the flesh and the devil.  But, we have been given the “whole armor of God” to use in the battle.

 

Romans 6:  We learn some truths that many Christians never learn.

 

We have been crucified with Christ.  The day that we were saved, our “old man was crucified with him.” 

 

We died with Jesus on the cross.  As he died for our sin, the day we were saved, we died TO OUR SIN.  We must “know” this blessed fact.

 

Then, we must “reckon” ourselves “dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ.”

 

Once we “know” that we died with Christ; we then, “reckon” and determine that we will not allow sin to “reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

 

Then, once we “know” and “reckon,” we then “yield” the members of our body as “instruments of righteousness.”

 

Romans 7:  Paul knew that his old man was crucified with Christ; he reckoned himself dead unto sin; and, he yielded his members as instruments of righteousness; but, the BATTLE RAGES ON!

 

He admitted that “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.”  And, the good things that he desired to do, he found hard to do; and, the bad things he despised to do, he found easy to do.

 

He felt as if he was chained to a dead, defiled, and despicable body when he cried, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver from this body of death?”

 

He didn’t ask, “What can I do?” because he discovered that he couldn’t do anything to win the battle against the flesh. Instead, he cried, “Who shall deliver me?” 

 

Galatians 2: 20:  Apparently, Paul found the secret to his struggle, because he declared, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet, not I, but Christ liveth in me.  And the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

 

Paul was saying, “Lord, I died with you.  I was buried with you in baptism.  I will be raised with you some glorious day, so this is your battle.  You take it.  You fight it, because you’ve already won it.”

 

Paul reminds us that any Christian who tries to serve God, honor God, please God, or live for God in their own strength, will FAIL EVERY TIME.

 

There is nothing we could ever do in our flesh to please God.  The only thing God will accept is the finished work of His Son.

 

Thus, God never intended for us to do anything, except die so Jesus can live the live only He can live.

 

So, we have established the blessed truths that Jesus died in history, he was buried in history and He rose again in history.

 

Thus, as believers, we died with Christ in history, we were buried with Christ (in baptism) in history, and we will be raised from the dead at some future historic moment.

 

In other words, we are DEAD PEOPLE; IT’S TIME WE LIVE LIKE IT!

 

We are dead positionally, and must die progressively, every day, so that Christ can live the live only He can live through us.

 

When that happens, how will we know?  What will Jesus look like? It is revealed in Galatians 5: 22.  This is the resume of Christ.  It is known as the fruit of the Spirit.

 

These are not the “fruits” of the Spirit, but the “fruit of the Spirit.”  It is not 9 different fruit; but, it is ONE fruit with 9 flavors.

 

When we are dead, the Spirit of God becomes alive and manifests the fruit of Christ in our lives.  It is manifested inwardly, outwardly, and upwardly.

 

1. The INWARD ESSENCE of Christ!

 

Being “filled with the Spirit” is not an option, but a COMMAND.  We are to constantly, continuously and completely be filled with the Spirit.

 

The result is the “fruit” of the Spirit or the inward essence of Christ.

 

The reason that this quality is referred to as fruit is because fruit is:

 

VISIBLE:You can see it

VIABLE:You will know it

 

A tree is known by what?  By it’s fruit!

 

How do we know if we are dead, and Christ is alive in us?  By the fruit of His inward essence, “Love, joy and peace.”

 

Love:  WHO HE IS

[1 John 4: 8]

“God is love.”

 

Love is the badge of Christianity.  All of the attributes have their root in love.  If we are people whose hearts are consumed with love, then we are not filled with the Spirit of God.

 

Peace/Joy: WHAT HE GIVES

 

We gain peace with God, through salvation; then, we get the peace of God, through satisfaction.

 

With love comes peace; and, with love and peace comes joy.  “The joy of the Lord” becomes our “strength.”

 

Jesus is Joy.  He came to give us not just life, but overflowing, superior, abundant life.

 

2. The OUTWARD EXPRESSION of Christ!

 

When He is at work on the inside, He will be at work on the outside thru

“longsuffering, gentleness, goodness.”

 

Longsuffering

Gr. Makrothumia

Macro-Long

Thumia-Temper

“Long-tempered”

 

God is long-tempered.  God is gentle.  God is good.  And, when we die and He becomes alive in us, we will deal with others the way God deals with us.

 

3. The UPWARD EVIDENCE of Christ!

 

We are right inwardly, we will be right outwardly; and, it will be because we are right upwardly.

 

“Faith, meekness, temperance”

 

Faith is KNOWN

God gives to every man “the measure of faith.”

 

When Christ is alive and well, and the Spirit of God is in control, our faith will become known.

 

Faith is SHOWN

Meekness is not weakness…POWER UNDER CONTROL.

 

Faith is GROWN

Temperance

Gr. enkrateia

“Inner strength/Self-Control”

 

The maturity of our faith is grown to the point that because we know WHO we are and WHOSE we are, we need not worry about what others may think.

 

Watchman Nee recounts his day of full surrender:  "I returned to school to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit, and the love of Christ, but I found that I still count say with conviction that all was well.  At last, on February 13, 1922, I was willing to lay aside the relationship that had dominated my course, and then I knew an experience of great elation.  On the day I was converted, I shook off the burden of my sins, but on this later occasion, my heart was emptied of everything that would separate from God.  From then on, people began to be saved.  The old man was dead, the NEW man was alive.”

 

One day, a little boy went into a flower shop.  He had his fist full of money and a bundle of newspapers under his arm.

 

He walked up to the counter and said, “I want the biggest bouquet of flowers you have in the store.  I’ve been selling newspapers all day, and I’ve sold 37 cents worth.  Today is my mother’s birthday, and I want to buy her the biggest bouquet of flowers with my 37 cents.”

 

This moved the owner, so she went to the back and came back with the biggest bouquet of flowers she could find.  He asked her, “How much?”  She replied, “37 cents.”  He shouted, “Wow!  That’s exactly what I have, 37 cents.”

 

He went bouncing out of the store with that fresh, new bouquet of flowers under his arm. 

 

Within a moment, the shop owner heard an awful crash outside her store.  She rushed out and found the little boy lying under a big truck.  He was taken to the emergency room, but the situation was completely hopeless.

 

A Christian doctor, who knew the boy, attended to him, but there was nothing more he could do.  About that time, the little boy looked up to the doctor and asked, “Doc, I’m not going to make it, am I?  The doctor replied, “No son, unless the Lord intervenes, you are going to die.”

 

The little boy said, “Do, it’s all right.  I know Jesus and I’m ready to go, but there is something I want you to do for me.  It’s my mother’s birthday.  I want you to tell her that I love her and take these flowers to her.  And tell her that it’s only 37 cents worth, but it’s all I’ve got.”

 

Have you ever said that to the Lord Jesus Christ?  Have you ever said, “Lord, I’m not much, I don’t have much, and I can’t do much.  I’m only 37 cents worth, but if you can use me, you can have me, ALL OF ME!

 

What does Jesus look like?  He will look like “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance” through your life if you will die so He can live.