Monday, July 16, 2018

180715 The Call of God in Jesus Christ


John 1:14-16 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
The call of God is spoken through the human proclamation of the gospel. The call of God is not simply human words but requires a saving faith on the part of the person who hears the call. Paul asked the question of the Roman believers. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). It is very important that the lost world hear the gospel and understand the love of God that’s found in Christ Jesus. You and I have the responsibility to share the good news that we have received for ourselves. Jesus calls us to invite our friends and family to come to Jesus, and with that, to come to a church where they will hear the Bible taught and can worship God in spirit and truth!
The call of God in Jesus Christ is found throughout the gospel of John. John the Baptist (not John the gospel writer) began the process of calling. He came to be a witness to the light that would come after him. The Baptist understood that he was not what it was all about! He knew, from the very beginning, that it was all about Jesus! Remember, when he was still in his mother’s womb and she met Mary who was carrying the baby Jesus in her womb, John jumped excitedly at the presence of his Lord. (Luke 1:39-42). John, who would later be called the Baptist, recognized his Lord before either of them were born!
We need to carry on with exactly that same theme. It’s not about us! It’s about Jesus! Let’s look at a few of the times that Jesus extended a call.
First of all…
Jesus extended the call to disciples. Let’s look ahead to John 1:40-42. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
These two disciples were first of all disciples of the Baptist. They had often heard John say that he was not worthy to tie the sandals of the one coming after him. One day, the Baptist looked across the crowd and saw the subject of his ministry. In my mind’s eye, I see John standing by the river Jordan. He was baptizing people as they repented of their sin. Suddenly he felt an unseen presence and lifting up his eyes he sensed that the One had come! I believe he pointed across the crowd and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b). His recognition was made complete when he saw the Spirit descending from heaven and remaining on Jesus.
His disciples observed all this and must’ve had long conversations about what they had seen that day. The next day two of his disciples stood near him when he said again, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). Immediately, John’s two disciples graduated from his school and moved on to graduate school. They followed Jesus. One of these men was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. Immediately he went to find his own brother with the good news — the gospel — “We have found the Messiah”. It’s important to recognize that Jesus immediately knew who Simon was. Jesus gave him a new name, Cephas! The name translates as “Rock”! He was not to be the stone foundation of Christ’s new church but he was a chip off the block so to speak.
In looking at all of the gospel records we can see that Jesus ended, what was essentially his first day of ministry, with four disciples: James and John the sons of Zebedee, Andrew, and Simon, his brother.
The very next day he found Philip and commanded him to follow. Not only did Philip follow Jesus but he went, immediately, to invite his friend Nathaniel. He told Nathaniel that he had found the Messiah — a man named Jesus from Nazareth. Nathaniel doubted that anything good could come out of Nazareth. He was quickly set straight.
Going on with his new group of disciples Jesus attended a wedding in Cana with his mother as well as his disciples. There John, the gospel writer, tells us that Jesus did his first sign when he turned the water into wine. As we follow on in the gospel of John we see that…
Jesus called a Pharisee. Let’s move ahead to John 3:11-15. Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
I have heard many explanations of why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. Usually, the explanation has something to do with wanting to hide from the crowds. I think that’s part of it but not for the usual reasons. Both men, Jesus and Nicodemus, had a very busy ministry. In order to have an uninterrupted conversation, they needed to get away from the crowds. Nicodemus revealed his growing faith in Jesus by saying the obvious. He calls Jesus “Rabbi” which means teacher and he affirmed that the source of Jesus’ teaching was none other than God himself!
Nicodemus met the first test of faith. That test is described by the writer of Hebrews as, “whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6b). Before he ever heard of Jesus Nicodemus believed in the existence of God.
Later, Nicodemus would challenge the other Pharisees with these words, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (John 7:50). This certainly showed his willingness to speak on behalf of Jesus. Finally, Nicodemus was one of two men who came to take the body of Jesus from the cross and prepare him for burial. I think it is interesting, but not essential, that Jesus came into the world with the adoption of a man named Joseph, and at the end of his life, he was buried in a tomb borrowed from Joseph of Arimathea, the other man who was with Nicodemus. Jesus only had need of that tomb for a part of three days. On the third day, he rose from the dead. Well, I’m getting ahead of myself.
After calling his disciples, and a Pharisee Jesus did the unexpected…
Jesus called a Samaritan. Let’s move ahead to John 4:10-11. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
Jesus’ disciples were growing in number faster than the growth of John’s disciples had been. The Pharisees were very unhappy about this. So he left Judea and went north through Samaria. Now, this was highly unusual. In order to go from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north, most Jews would never go through Samaria. Because they had no dealings with Samaritans!
I believe Jesus intentionally set out to meet one particular Samaritan that day as he traveled north. As they came to the middle of the day they stopped by Jacob’s well. Jesus sent his disciples into the nearby town to buy food. The first taboo had been going into Samaria the second would have been eating Samaritan food. The disciples must’ve left him with some uneasiness but he did not need their protection. As soon as they were gone a woman came to the well. Remember, it is the middle of the day. Most of the women would have gone to the well in the early morning to draw water for the day. Or they might have gone in the evening to draw water for the cleanup before going to bed. It was not likely that many of them would have gone there in the middle of the day. I think it is very likely that this woman intended to go at a time when no other women would be there because she was a woman with a tarnished reputation. Jesus did not reject her instead he asked her for water! She immediately questioned why a man who was obviously a Jew would accept water from her, a Samaritan! Jesus’ response was to offer her living water.
He convinced her that he was the Messiah and she dropped her water pot and hurried back into the town to invite her friends and neighbors to see a man who had told her all that she had ever done. Well, we know he didn’t talk about everything she had done, but he did tell her the significant events in our life. He called a Samaritan…
And many more. John 4:39-40 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.
She must’ve been obviously changed in some way causing her friends and neighbors accept her testimony. Many of them believed in Jesus because of her words. The situation was so convincing that they asked Jesus to stay with them a while. He stayed there two more days and many more believed in him! Might this have laid the groundwork for Phillip’s successful ministry in Samaria as recorded in the book of Acts? Since the Bible does not explicitly tell us we can’t know for sure.
As we move forward through the gospel we find explicit teaching that…
The Father enables the call. Let’s look at John 6:35-37. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Jesus had healed the son of an official in Cana and in Jerusalem a man who had been paralyzed all his life. In doing so, Jesus had asserted the truth that he was the Son of God! As far as the Pharisees were concerned he deserved to die because he healed on the Sabbath and claimed to be the Son of God!
This gave him the opportunity to tell them clearly that he was only doing what the Father wanted him to do. He came to meet their spiritual hunger and thirst assuring them that they only had to come to him and believe in him. But this was not something they could do on their own. The ones who would come and believe were those that the Father gave to him. Looking ahead we see that…
The call includes a promise. In John 6:38-40. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
His promise that he would never cast out anyone who came to him was reinforced by the fact that he came from heaven, and would soon be returning, only to do the will of the Father. Repeatedly, Jesus asserted that anyone coming to him would be coming because of the Father’s work in them. In fact, it is the will of God the Father that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him will never be lost.
God’s call is effective because he has spoken to all aspects of our human nature. He speaks to our intellect by explaining the facts of salvation. He speaks to our emotions by giving an invitation to respond. He speaks to our wills by asking us to hear and respond in repentance. Our repentance involves a decision to turn from our sin, receive Christ as Savior and cast our cares on him in all matters.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.

Monday, July 9, 2018

180708 The Call of God (1)


Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The call of God is extended to all people. In these verses we find Jesus extending the call. In the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when he had just come from the baptism of John, two of John’s disciples went with him. When they asked him where he was staying, Jesus said to them, “Come and you will see” (John 1:39). As he went on in his ministry he added, “Follow me”, when he met Philip (John 1:43). In Matthew’s account Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). Jesus extends his call and it involves all areas of life.
This Sunday, and next, we will be looking at several ways that God extends a call to his people for a special purpose. As Jesus looked on the fields which he called ready to harvest he saw that, instead of needs being met, burdens are being laid on people. Spiritual burdens have always rested on people beginning in the Garden. Those burdens continue today and they have not changed much. Everyone recognizes that they have spiritual needs and there are plenty of false teachers ready to take advantage of them. It is important for us to come to the only one who has real answers to the questions of life. Jesus wants to share in our burden bearing. He does not promise to take the load we are bearing away from us. Instead, he promises to share his yoke with us. When we receive his yoke we find rest for our souls.
We come to him and he meets our needs. We are to…
Come for the bread of life. Let’s look at the words of Jesus found in John 6:35-37. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
Our world is filled with people who are spiritually hungry. Rather than satisfying that hunger with truth people end up like the prodigal son eating slop with the hogs. Just as the prodigal returned to his father people everywhere need to come to the Father. When we do, we participate in a feast that provides us with the bread of life! Responding to the call to come to him satisfies our spiritual hunger. We don’t know everything that we need to but we do know that our hunger is being satisfied. Everyone that the father gives to Jesus will come to him. And that truth is followed by a wonderful promise, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out”.
Our hunger for spiritual bread is met in coming to Jesus. We must also…
Come to quench your spiritual thirst. Let’s look at John 7:37-38. On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
Jesus’ brothers had challenged him to go with them to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Booths. They obviously did not believe that he was the Messiah. He did not take their bait. Instead, he simply told them it wasn’t time. After they had gone to the feast he followed secretly. The crowds were filled with the curious who wanted to see Jesus of Nazareth. They had heard so much about him and they wanted to see him for themselves.
On the last day of the feast, he gave them a promise. That promise is good for us as well. Not only would we receive the spiritual bread if we come to him but also our spiritual thirst will be satisfied. We need to encourage people to bring their spiritual thirst to him.
Jesus gave the same promise to those people who were questioning him in Jerusalem that he had given to the Samaritan woman at the well. He promised her that if she would drink the water that he gave she would never be thirsty again. When we drink his spiritual water it becomes, in us, a spring of water welling up to eternal life. As we look at the news day by day we are reminded that our world is filled with spiritually starving people. Most Christians on a regular basis commit the sin of silence. This hungry, thirsty world surrounds us. Even in our own homes and in our workplaces we rub shoulders with people in need and we need to share Christ with them. We need to daily remind ourselves of the things we learned in our study of William Fay’s, Share Jesus without Fear. If you need a refresher see me after the service. Everybody needs their spiritual hunger and thirst to be satisfied.
When we come to him we also…
Come out of darkness into the light. Let’s look at the promise in 1 Peter 2:9. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
The presence of God is always characterized by light. When Christ called us we were in darkness. Spiritually, we are hungry and thirsty. Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).
We live in a world that is surrounded by darkness and one of our greatest needs is light. John remembered the words about Jesus when he said, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). Even now men prefer darkness in an attempt to hide their sinful nature. We may not all have a “Damascus Road” experience but we will all come to the light if we are going to be children of God. Not everyone will respond to this call of God. But those who do respond have their spiritual needs met because Jesus is the bread of life, the water of life and the light of the world. Our greatest need is met in Jesus when we…
Come to fellowship with Christ. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We have been called into fellowship. I am so grateful to God for the fellowship that we have with him. When we are faithless he is faithful! He has steadfast love and he shows it to us every day. Pay attention you will see the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Now let’s look at 1 John 1:3. That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
John wanted his Christian friends to know that he was sharing with them what he had seen and heard. If they would just listen they would be able to enjoy fellowship with John, with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
All of those who have been called by God will have their hunger and thirst satisfied. Those who have been called come out of darkness into light. Not just light but marvelous light! The light of the world is Jesus! He will take away the dull drabness of our darkened existence and bring us into a place where we are surrounded by his spiritual light. When this happens we will…
Come to his eternal glory in Christ. Let’s turn to 1 Peter 5:10. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Praise God! We do not have to restore ourselves! He has promised, God Himself has promised to confirm, strengthen and establish us.
In his second letter Peter gave us the promise, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3). I am so grateful to God that I did not have to work up the ability to know him. He does the work! That is one of the clearest promises of Scripture! It’s not by some kind of righteous working that we do it is by his divine power that our needs are met. And when we come to him we come to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus! Without Christ mankind is spiritually hungry and thirsty. Without Christ mankind is in the dark! In fact, without Christ mankind desires the darkness in the hopes that it will hide their sin. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, without Christ men and women try to cover their nakedness with the fig leaves of self-righteousness and psychological mumbo-jumbo. It will not work! The path we are born to is the wide road that leads to destruction.
We need to get off that wide road and come to…
The path that is simple yet secure. The gospel road is characterized in the book of Romans. Let’s look at the basics of God’s call. Romans 3:23. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, The first important truth that everyone has to come to is found here. All have sinned! Satan has introduced into the world the psychological teaching that everybody is born good. The Bible teaches the opposite! We were dead in trespasses and sins. Without Christ, mankind is subject to the prince of the power of the air and as such are separated from God by sin. That is bad news and is made even worse by this next verse in the Roman road.
Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Not only are we born in sin and conceived in equity but sin pays its wage — DEATH! Our first ancestors were given one rule to live by. That rule was, do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil! God’s warning to them was that the day they ate of the fruit they would surely die! Not immediately die but surely die. The day they ate of the fruit in the garden all their unborn children died spiritually with them. Yet there is hope! God would have been within his rights as ruler of the universe to simply end everything the day Adam and Eve fell. Instead, God covered their naked bodies with the skins of innocent animals.
Even though all have sinned and the wages of sin is death the next verse in the path gives us hope. It is Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God’s love for the man and woman that he had built out of the mud caused him to cover their sin. That love of God continues to reach down through the centuries. Christ died for us! He did not die for good godly people. He died for the ungodly since that is the only kind of people he could have died for. Without Christ, no one can claim to be godly. Jesus’ death on the cross opens the door for us to be able to respond to his call when we hear it. The next passage on the Roman road is Romans 10:9-10 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
When God calls a person he puts in the heart a desire to be saved. He gives an understanding that Jesus is Lord! As we submit to the Lordship of Christ and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, then and only then, can we be saved! Hearing the call of God allows us to respond to the gospel! The Holy Spirit puts in our heart a hunger for God. Then when we hear the gospel we can respond and have the hunger met and no longer be spiritually thirsty. Instead, we can become dispensers of the water of life.
The call of God is spoken through the human proclamation of the gospel. The call of God is not simply human words but requires a saving faith on the part of the person who hears the call. Paul asked the question of the Roman believers. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). It is very important that the lost world hear the gospel and understand the love of God that’s found in Christ Jesus. You and I have the responsibility to share the good news that we have received for ourselves. Jesus calls us to invite our friends and family to come to Jesus, and with that, to come to a church where they will hear the Bible taught and can worship God in spirit and truth!

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.