Sunday July 17, 2022 Romans Week 59 Romans 11:13-24 “The Sweetness and The Severity of God”

Sunday – July 17, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 17, 2022

Romans 11:13-16
“Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

In coming to faith in Christ, Paul has not denied his Jewish heritage. His conversion was no denial of his Jewish hopes but an entrance into them through Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. This raises a question: If Paul is a faithful Jew, what is he doing ministering to Gentiles? If there is still hope for Israel, how can Paul justify ministering to Gentiles rather than to Jews? Paul’s answer proves that his ministry to the Gentiles is completely consistent with His Jewish heritage and hope.

We have here a very important lesson to be learned. Frequently, we are called to achieve God’s purposes in ways which may seem contrary to His purposes. In biblical terms, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight, to walk in obedience to His Word, even when doing so seems contrary to God’s purposes. For example, God calls upon us to give up our lives in order to gain them, to take up our cross in order to serve Him. Obedience to God’s Word by faith may often seem inconsistent with what He has promised to accomplish, but God’s ways are often accomplished by the most unlikely means.

The church has been commanded to “make disciples of every nation” (Matthew 28:18-20), which necessitates evangelism (Romans 10:14-15). Often there are often those who lay a guilt trip on every believer, insisting that we obey the Lord’s command by doing what appears to be evangelistic. If we are not passing out tracts, going door to door, or doing what others expect of us, we can often feel guilty. If Paul had done what appeared to be necessary to evangelize the Jews, he would have been aggressively pursuing Jewish evangelism. He did actively pursue Jewish evangelism, by going to the synagogues and preaching Christ. But he also saw that his ministry to the Gentiles was playing a part in Jewish evangelism too even if it did not appear so.

A young man may be out mowing the church lawn and may wonder if he should be mowing the grass when he could be out witnessing. But it may be the neatly-kept lawn which attracts and encourages a passerby to visit the church and thus hear the gospel. A housewife making a plate of cookies for an ailing neighbor may very well be playing a part in God’s plan to bring that neighbor to faith. God has given each member of His body, the church, different gifts and a different ministry. We must exercise our gifts and fulfill our ministry, even though it may not “look” spiritual or appear to be directly related to God’s purposes. It is only when we see our obedience to Christ’s calling as a part of the larger program and purposes of God that we are able to “magnify our ministry,” knowing that God will use it to achieve His purposes.

Sunday June 5, 2022 Romans Week 53 Romans 9:30:33 “The Right Way to God”

Sunday – June 5, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 5, 2022

Romans 9:32-33
Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

Romans 9 has the dubious honor of teaching one of the most emotionally volatile doctrines of all the Bible, that of election.  “What shall we say then?” (9:30) serves both to draw a conclusion and to introduce a new section- more on this next week. The question that Paul has been focused on is, “If God is faithful to His covenant promises to His chosen people, then why are most of the Jews rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and Lord?” Paul has given several explanations for the condition of Israel in his day and in ours as well. Israel’s widespread unbelief and rejection of Jesus is explained by the doctrine of divine election. God did not promise to bless every descendant of Israel but only those to whom He gave the promise. Not all the physical descendants of Israel are true Israelites but only those whom God has chosen as such (9:6-23).

The salvation of the Gentiles is also explained in that God had both purposed and promised to save some Gentiles as well as some Jews. God’s promise to Israel through Hosea was also a promise for the Gentiles, who like Israel, are “not God’s people,” due to their sin, but who can become God’s people by His grace (9:24-26). The small number of believing Israelites is no problem to God or to the fulfillment of His promises. God promised to judge the sins of His people, and in so doing many Jews were destroyed. But God also promised to restore and to bless His people, and consequently He has assured the Jews that He will preserve a remnant, insuring the fulfillment of His promises (9:27-29).

The salvation of the Gentiles and the failure of the Jews is also explained in the Old Testament. God has always saved and blessed men by faith and not by works. Believing Gentiles have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Unbelieving Jews are condemned for their lack of faith and for their determination to be declared righteous through law-keeping. For those who believe in Him, Jesus is God’s rock of salvation. Jesus is, for those who reject Him, God’s “stone of stumbling”.

What kind of a “stone” is Jesus to you, my friend? Is He the rock of your salvation, or is He a stone of offense? Is Jesus the basis of your stumbling or the source of your salvation? Do not leave this passage without making your decision about this most crucial question. It matters not whether you are Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, but only if you are trusting in Jesus alone for salvation and not in your own merit and works.

Sunday May 22, 2022 Romans Week 52 Romans 9:24-29 “Fulfillment in Failure”

Sunday – May 22, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 22, 2022

Romans 9:23-24
What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

When someone succeeds without even trying, we try to be gracious, especially if we have failed with great effort. We are naturally inclined to resent the success of those who do not strive for it. This is precisely the case with the Gentiles and the Jews. In Romans 9, Paul summarizes the state of affairs with both Israel and the Gentiles. He says that the vast majority of the Jews have labored hard to earn their own righteousness while the Gentiles have attained righteousness with no effort at all. Does this make sense? Does it seem fair? Romans 9 was written with this dilemma in mind.

Paul is dealing with the difficulty of the widespread unbelief of the Jews. Only a small minority of Israelites have believed in Jesus as their Messiah, contrasted with a larger number of Gentile saints. How can it be that God has made so many promises to the nation Israel which have not been fulfilled and which appear at the moment to have little hope of fulfillment? Does Israel’s failure to trust in Jesus not only mean that the Israelites have failed but that God’s promises have failed as well? Is Israel’s failure also a failure of the Word of God? Is God’s Word reliable? Can we stake our eternal future on the promises of God in His Word?

Just as individual salvation is based upon the promises of God, Israel’s hope as a nation is based on God’s Word. God has made promises to the nation which may appear to have failed in the light of Israel’s unbelief. In chapters 9-11, Paul sets God’s promises to Israel and Israel’s history side-by-side. His whole purpose is to show the reader that all that has happened to Israel is in complete harmony with God’s Word concerning Israel. Israel’s present condition does not prove to be an embarrassment to anyone who believes God’s Word. Israel’s condition is evidence of the faithfulness of God’s Word and of His sovereignty in history as He brings about the fulfillment of His every promise.

The matter of the faithfulness of God’s Word is not important only to the Jews. The Christian serves the same God of the Old Testament. The Christian receives God’s promised blessings as a true son of Abraham. We who are Gentile believers are blessed by God’s grace in bestowing on us those things which He promised the true Israelite. If God’s Word, as revealed in the Old Testament, has proven to be unreliable, then His Word in the New Testament is unreliable as well. Every Christian should be convinced of the faithfulness of God’s Word.

Sunday – June 7, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 13:1-13 “What a Way to Go”

Sunday – June 7, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 7, 2020

Acts 13:7-9
The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.”

Many people enter the Christian life with false expectations. They were told that trusting Jesus as their Savior would solve many, if not most, of their problems. They heard that the Christian life is an abundant life, full of joy and peace. What they didn’t hear is that it also is a life of mortal combat with the enemy of our souls, who is not only powerful, but also incredibly crafty. And, the combat intensifies when a person engages in some sort of ministry. When we go out to do the Lord’s work, we should expect and be prepared for satanic opposition. Leading someone to Christ involves more than giving a sales pitch or using logical arguments. We are engaging in battle with Satan himself, who wants to keep the person in his kingdom of darkness.

Although Peter had witnessed to Cornelius and the Gentiles in his home, the Jerusalem church never seemed to pick up on this as a precedent for further outreach to the Gentiles. It was left to the church at Antioch to see this direct approach bring many Gentiles to the faith without coming through the door of Judaism. When Barnabas and Saul begin their mission, they start by witnessing to the Jews in the synagogues of Cyprus. This was always Paul’s approach, to take the gospel to the Jew first, and then to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). Perhaps he did this because of his intense desire to see his own people saved (Rom. 9:1-5). He may have been following Jesus’ approach, of first taking the good news to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and only later mandating that the message go out to all the nations.

Satan uses deceit to undermine the necessity of the cross of Jesus Christ. In our day, there is a resurgence of “spirituality,” but it is a spirituality devoid of the substitutionary death of Jesus on behalf of sinners. It is a spirituality where each person makes up “truth” according to his own likes and dislikes. It even “works.” There are many publications giving evidence that faith contributes to physical healing- but it doesn’t matter what your faith is in. For example, Hindus in India who pray regularly have 70 percent less heart disease than those lacking such faith. This is satanic deception, causing people who read it to think that it doesn’t matter what you believe, just so you believe in something.

Satan does not want the gospel to go out, because he knows that God will use it to open people’s eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. But your only real option is to go into battle, armed with the gospel of truth. With Paul at the end of his life, you will be able to say, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim. 4:18).

Sunday – May 3, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 11:1-19 “Calling Peter on the Carpet”

Sunday – May 3, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 3, 2020

Acts 11:1-4
Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

We all get into mental ruts from time to time and often need a whack on the side of the head to jar us into new and better ways of thinking. Also, we all bring a lot of wrong-thinking baggage with us into the Christian life. If we are to grow into being more like Jesus, every now and then God has to take a 2×4 and gently whack us on the side of the head to help us change our thinking.

We’ve seen how the Lord whacked Peter in preparation for his going to the house of the Gentile centurion, Cornelius. No Jew would think of going into a Gentile home, much less eating with Gentiles, for fear of contracting ceremonial defilement. The Lord Jesus had clearly told the apostles to go into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature. But in their centuries-old Jewish way of thinking, the disciples thought that Jesus meant for them to go and preach to Jews who were scattered all over the world. But the thought of preaching the gospel to pagan Gentiles and of those Gentiles coming to salvation without first becoming religious Jews was simply unthinkable.

By nature, we all bring wrong theological views into our Christian experience. Charles Spurgeon once said that we’re all by nature born Armenians, so at first we think that we came to the Lord ourselves. Only later we learn from God’s Word that He first sought us. Part of the process of sanctification is God’s transforming our minds (Rom. 12:2) as we begin to assimilate the truths of His Word. Peter had seen this remarkable response, as a whole house full of Gentiles had believed in Christ and were saved. But rather than rejoicing over what God had done, these saints were grumbling about the matter of Peter’s eating with Gentiles!

But before we try to remove the splinter in their eye, let’s deal with the log in our own eye! We often do the same thing. We elevate certain traditions or ways of doing things above the salvation of the lost. We are all for seeing young people getting saved, but they had better make sure that they not delay in looking and acting like those who have been in the church for 50 years! If any of our cultural baggage (including spiritual culture) is getting in the way of our commitment to reaching people from different cultures with the gospel, then drop baggage! Our main focus should be the salvation of lost people to the glory of God. If you see someone come into church who is not “your kind of person” and you don’t go out of your way to make that person feel welcome, your heart is in the wrong place!

Sunday – November 24, 2019 Book of Acts – Acts 1:3-26 “Getting Ahead of God”

Sunday – November 24, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 24, 2019

Acts 1:23-26
So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”

As I approach the study of the first chapter of Acts, one question overshadows all others, and it is this: Just whose name would be on the foundation in place of Judas? Who was the twelfth apostle? In the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation we read these words: The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14). Is the name “Matthias” the name which we will find on the twelfth foundation stone? Some would say, “Yes”; others, an emphatic “No!”

Only one chapter is devoted to pre-Pentecost matters, this tells us something. Of all that could have been said that fits into this category, Luke chose to take up the greatest part of the chapter with an account of the selection of the twelfth apostle. The mystery is that as important as this incident seems to be, Matthias is never specifically mentioned again. The rest of the Book of Acts, and the Epistles as well, virtually ignore Matthias. Why then is the selection of Matthias given such editorial priority? While we are preoccupied with this question, Luke does not seem to have been so troubled by the issue, never choosing to pronounce on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of this action.

The feeling that we must pronounce on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of this selection of Matthias reveals a serious fallacy in our thinking. What real difference does it make whether the apostles were “right” or “wrong”? We seem to think it makes a great deal of difference. But does it? Do we believe the plans and purposes of God collapse when men fail to do the “right” thing? Do we really believe God’s purposes are achieved only when we do the “right” thing? If the Book of Acts underscores any truth, it is that of the sovereignty of God, who works all things in accordance with His will, whether or not men believe or obey. Much of what the Spirit of God accomplished in the Book of Acts was in spite of men.

God can just as easily use the “wrath of man” to accomplish His will as He can the obedience of man. The Gentiles will hear the gospel, and many will come to faith on account of the Jews. Not because of their faith and obedience, mind you, but ultimately because of their stubborn unbelief. As Paul will clearly teach in Romans 9-11, and as Luke will clearly demonstrate in the Book of Acts, it was the rejection of Messiah by Israel that made the preaching of Christ to the Gentiles possible. God was not obliged to use Matthias just because the one-hundred and twenty “rightly” chose him, any more than He would have been prevented from using him if they had “wrongly” selected him. The selection of Matthias is a key to the message of the entire work, the message that God was sovereignly at work, through His Spirit, to accomplish His will in ways in which men would never have conceived and which they would not believe even if they were told.

Sunday – December 2, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 12:1-12 “Hazards of Hypocrisy”

Sunday – December 2, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 2, 2018

Luke 12:8-9
And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”

The Greek word for hypocrisy refers to a mask worn in acting. The hypocrite’s emphasis is on how others see him, not on how God sees him, so his focus is on the outward person, not on the heart. Jesus calls it leaven or yeast because it is subtle, just as a small pinch of yeast will spread until it puffs up a large lump of dough. In Galatians 2:13, Paul charged Peter and Barnabas with hypocrisy because they openly ate with Gentile believers, but when the Judaizers came to town, they suddenly withdrew out of fear of what the Judaizers would think. If such godly, strong leaders as Peter and Barnabas were susceptible to hypocrisy, then it is a sin that we all need to be on guard against!

Hypocrisy in the lives of the disciple can have a devastating impact on the gospel we proclaim. This is why Paul reacted so strongly to the hypocrisy of Peter in dissociating from the Gentiles and eating with the Jews alone in Galatians 2. Why make such a big issue of such a little blunder? Because it was a denial of the gospel. The gospel declares all men, Jews and Gentiles alike, to be lost in their sins, with nothing to commend them before God. The gospel offers salvation to all men, Jew or Gentile, on the same basis: faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of men on the cross of Calvary. To give preferential treatment to the Jews and to avoid the Gentiles was to imply that the Jews were on a higher spiritual plane than Gentiles, a denial of the gospel which makes all believers equal (equally lost, equally saved). Paul rooted out this little bit of leaven, knowing where it could go.

To confess Christ means to proclaim to others the fact that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord and that our salvation is all from Him and not at all from us. We do this initially through baptism, where we publicly confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord. Then, through both our lives and our words, we openly acknowledge that we are followers of Jesus Christ and that He has saved us by His grace, apart from anything we have done. If Jesus Christ has truly saved you, then you will be a different person. You will be growing in righteousness, love, and truth. You will judge and confess your sins. When opportunities come up to tell others of the great love and mercy of the Savior, you will do it because of your gratitude to Him for saving you.

Jesus promises that if we confess Him on earth, He will confess us in heaven (12:8). Every Christian should live every day in light of someday standing before the One who gave His life for us. Our great hope should be that we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Then any suffering or rejection we have experienced will be worth it all!

Sunday – July 30, 2017 Thom Rachford Preaching

Sunday – July 30, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship

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The Kingdom Come

Acts 1:6-7
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.

Jesus disciples knew the many Old Testament prophecies about a coming Kingdom. Jesus had preached that the Kingdom was at hand.  They were anxious to know if today was the day.  James and John wanted positions of authority in the Kingdom and to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand.  In Matt 6:9 Jesus even told His disciples to pray “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heavenThey were expecting a Kingdom on earth with Jesus as King and the Father’s will is done like it is in Heaven.  The time seemed right.

When the disciples asked, Jesus did not refute the idea of a restored Kingdom to Israel. He only said it was not for them to know the time.  After His death and resurrection they asked Him again.  Now, sin had been dealt with, and now death was overcome.  Everything would seem to be in place for the Kingdom to come immediately.  However, the Kingdom was postponed until the Time of The Gentiles was completed.  The Time of the Gentiles was brought on by Israel’s rebellion against God and His commandments.  Like other of God’s Judgments, the Time of the Gentiles must be fulfilled as God directs.  But the Kingdom Will Come.

Sunday – September 20, 2015 Revelation 3:7-13 “Philadelphia: Church of the Open Door”

Sunday – September 20, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Revelation 3:8
‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

The apostles were instructed to wait until the Spirit came upon them, empowering them to carry out the Great Commission. When the Spirit came upon them at Pentecost (Acts 2), the result was Peter’s powerful sermon which God used to save many. In the Spirit’s power, the apostles performed miracles, which provided yet more opportunities to proclaim the gospel (Acts 3). But as the apostles continued to heal and to preach in the name of Jesus, the Sadducees and other Jewish religious leaders became increasingly concerned, so that they began to persecute the apostles (Acts 4 & 5).

The gospel was advancing in a way that partially fulfilled the Great Commission, but this was far less than what our Lord had commanded. For one thing, the gospel was spread only as far as “all Judea and Samaria.” For another, the apostles had not yet come to terms with the fact that the gospel was the good news of salvation for Jews and Gentiles, without distinction. Up to this point in time, it was assumed that in order to be a Christian, one must either be Jewish, either by birth or by becoming a Jewish proselyte. The failure of the apostles to aggressively fulfill the Great Commission seems to have been fueled, to some degree, by their belief that the gospel should not go to the Gentiles.

There were certain excuses for the apostles’ inaction which could have been used. For example, because they believed the Gentiles should not be evangelized as Gentiles because they were considered unclean. In the Book of Acts, God has already dealt with Peter on this matter and now through Peter, God will open the door to worldwide evangelism. Peter was the one to whom the “keys to the kingdom” were given by our Lord (Matthew 16:19). God opened the door to those who would hear his message. It wasn’t Peter who persuaded Cornelius and friends to believe; God did. Peter was an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer, but the Lord Jesus, who has the Key of David, opened the doors that had previously been shut.

We live at a time when people are obsessed with methods. They wish to know the methods of those who are successful. This is not altogether a bad thing but we should take note that the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul, and Cornelius were not saved because of some slick evangelistic approach. They were saved because God prepared their hearts and drew them to Himself by faith. More important than having the right method is preserving and proclaiming the right message. We are not to modify the message of the gospel to make it more palatable. Our task is to proclaim the gospel that God has given us in His Word. If salvation is “of the Lord” – and it surely is – then let us spend more time in His Word and in prayer, asking God to prepare the hearts of lost people and open the door to their hearts with the message of the gospel we take to them.