God has spoken to us. We have His Word.

Click here to listen to the entire sermon.

I began a series in our Sunday evening service February 15 about the Bible.  In the opening message, I identified the following questions we will address:

Has God spoken?

What has He said?

Do we have His Word?

If so, in what form?

How do we know?


I also outlined the subjects we would cover concerning God’s Word including:

How it came from God:  Revelation, Inspiration, Canonization

How it came to us:  Preservation, Transmission, Translation

How it profits us:  Illumination, Interpretation, Application


We covered the first step, Revelation, in the first two messages.  You can download the audio and outlines of these messages here.

I asked last night for your help in suggesting a title for this series.  I welcome your input.  Click on Comments below and give me your ideas.  I will take them into consideration and hopefully together we can produce a good title.

Every idea will be considered.  Obviously I can’t use every one, and may end up with a combination of several of the ideas that are submitted.  I hope that you will be blessed and will benefit from thinking about and discussing the topics above in order to share your ideas.  Thank you!

Confronting the Competition

From sermon preached at Calvary Baptist Church Sunday morning, February 22, 2009

Click here to listen to the entire sermon.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3

This verse contains one of the most beautiful and eloquent phrases in scripture: the simplicity that is in Christ.

I studied and savored this phrase last week. Let me share some of what I learned. I’ve divided the following into three sections (word definitions, context, commentaries) in order to help you understand how I arrived at my interpretation of this phrase.

Word definitions
Simplicity means “singleness.” It means to be whole or undivided. Paul used it in Ephesians 6:5 when he challenged servants to obey their masters and do their master’s will “in singleness of heart.” He said servants should have no divided loyalty and no hidden agenda. He used it in Romans 12 and also in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 where he talks about giving, encouraging people who give to do it “with simplicity,” that is, sincerely, without a selfish motive, and openly and generously. “Simplicity” is the quality of being single-minded, whole-hearted, undivided and without dual loyalty or hidden agenda.

Then Paul said, “that is in Christ.” The Greek preposition translated “in” is eis; it means unto, toward. He is not talking about a simplicity that belongs to Christ. He is talking about a simplicity toward Christ or with respect to Jesus Christ.

So, this simplicity that is in Christ or that we have toward Christ involves a condition of being single or sincere and whole and undivided and without an ulterior motive or a hidden agenda, a simplicity toward, with respect to Jesus Christ.

Is he talking about simple, childlike faith in Christ for salvation? We know that is how we are saved, by simply believing in and trusting like a child would do, simply, in the finished work of Jesus Christ for our salvation. He could be including that. Is he talking about faith alone in Christ alone? It is possible that he is including this important principle. But I think what he says goes further. I think what he is describing goes much deeper than that.

Context
Notice the illustration that Paul used in verse 2, For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. He was calling himself the “father of the bride.” He was saying that he was like the father of a young woman who is a virgin and who is betrothed. She has been promised formally and legally to a man and she is awaiting and preparing for the marriage ceremony, the consummation of the relationship, and the life that she will spend together with him. It is normal and right for her to be single-minded about her betrothed bridegroom, her husband-to-be. She should be wholehearted and fully devoted to “one husband” (v. 2). There should be no other suitor. She should never entertain or give the impression that she is open to someone else coming into her life and stealing her heart from that one man. There should be no seducer who has a chance to steal her away or even raise a doubt in anyone’s mind about her loyalty and her devotion to her husband-to-be. She should be totally and exclusively devoted to her future husband. So, Paul is emphasizing here total, exclusive loyalty and devotion.

Commentaries
Here is how some writers have described the meaning of this phrase, “the simplicity that is in Christ.” One calls it “single-minded faithfulness to Christ” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary). Another identifies it as, “exclusive devotion to Christ” (Walvoord & Zuck). Another says that it is “freedom from duplicity toward Christ” (F. F. Bruce).  And, here is my favorite, by Alan Redpath from his commentary on 2 Corinthians called Blessings Out of Buffetings: “It is a faith that is exclusively resting in and centered upon Jesus Christ alone and a love that is clear from every competing affection.”

The word definitions, the context, and how other students of the Word interpret this beautiful, profound phrase have helped me arrive at this conclusion: “The simplicity that is in Christ” equals faith in Christ alone and love for Christ above all. Paul said, “Here is what I want for you, what I am concerned about for you, what I am on guard to protect in your lives – your faith in Christ alone and your love for Christ above all. It should be absolute; it should be supreme; it should be unconditional; it should be unquestionable.

Paul’s use of the analogy of betrothal and marriage shows that we as believers should reject any interest, any advance by another suitor or seducer. We should remain steadfast and faithful to our bridegroom, Jesus Christ, as we wait for Him to come and as we anticipate the ceremony, the consummation, and being united to Him, as the Bride of Christ with our Bridegroom, to be with Him forever.

There was a threat, influences and people who were stealing the Corinthian Christians’ hearts and minds away from all that Paul had taught them and the truth about Jesus Christ. Paul fulfilled the responsibility of an authentic Christian minister as he confronted that threat. He was aggressive, forceful, and did not hold back. He confronted the competition.

Outline of Sunday AM Sermon

Confronting the Competition

2 Corinthians 11:1-4

 

There are several dynamics at work in a person who is willing to confront the competition, to guard his or another’s faith in Christ alone and love for Christ above all.

  1. Experience the Force of Jealousy (1-3)
  2. Recognize the Importance of Purity (2)
  3. Identify the Place of Vulnerability (3-4)

Meditation on Psalm 4

Psalm 4
(NKJV)

To the Chief Musician.
With stringed instruments.
A Psalm of David.

(1)
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!

You have relieved me in my distress;
have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

(2)
How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood?
Selah

(3-8)
But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The LORD will hear when I call to Him.
Be angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.
Selah

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
and put your trust in the LORD.
There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?”
LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.


David talked to God  (1)
David’s insistence that God listen to him was not a brash demand, but rather bold desperation.  The only way out of his problem was to get help from God.  He dialed 911.  “Listen to me, I need help.”  He was familiar enough with God’s character to know that He would listen and would do what was right and just as well as what was gracious and favorable.  Do I know God that well?

David did not remind God, but himself, that God had opened a way for him through tight spots in the past (KJV “enlarged me when I was in distress”).  I am encouraged when I remember all the times God has rescued me from or carried me through personal failures, ministry pressures, financial needs, family crises, and more.

David talked to his enemies (2)
There may be people who design to dishonor, not merely me personally, but what my life and work represent.  Certainly there are evil spirits, the devil and his demons, who plot to defame my Lord by disgracing me.  They should realize what they have an appetite for will never satisfy them.  What they pursue is not even real.  My saying it won’t stop them from trying to harm me, but it sure helps me to remember how futile their efforts are.

David talked to himself (3-8)
David overcame several emotional, mental, and spiritual problems.  Many people battle one or more of these every day.  He controlled how he thought and felt.  You can get through a lot of problems by learning to counsel yourself.  Rather than popping pills or curling up in a fetal position and withdrawing from life’s responsibilities and challenges, David purposefully directed his thoughts. You and I can too.

I am identifying these problems and presenting them in the form of a remedy.  The word which indicates the problem he addressed is underlined.  A few thoughts accompany each one.

Remedy for doubt
Know
that God has set apart him that is godly for Himself.

Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David – “set apart” – The fact that you are set apart “as God’s own peculiar treasure should give you courage and inspire you with fervency and faith . . . Since he chose to love us he cannot but choose to hear us.”

Note – “him [or her] that is godly” – godly is Heb. hasid – faithful, loyal; cf. Jewish Hassidim – the faithful ones

I don’t think this means that God doesn’t hear me any time I fall short of perfect faithfulness.  It is describing loyalty to God as a way of life. Cf. Rom 8:28 – “all things work together for good to them that love God” doesn’t require perfect love, but loving God as a way of life.

The Lord will hear when I call on Him.

I have heard a radio commercial for an insurance company in which the announcer promises that callers will always get a live person rather than a recorded voice giving push-button options.  Without irreverence, I am confident that I am talking to God live when I call Him!  I’m glad God listens to me.  I’m amazed, too.

Remedy for anger
Be angry, and do not sin.

Be angry for the right reasons.  Do not be controlled by anger.  Do not remain angry.

Paul repeated and expanded on this in Ephesians 4:26-27: Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

Reacting in anger puts the object of your anger in control of your thoughts and emotions.

Remedy for agitation
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.

Sometimes Restless Leg Syndrome keeps me from falling asleep at night.  Sometimes Restless Brain Syndrome does also.  I can quiet my mind and heart by directing my thoughts to what I know to be true about God.  It works!

Remedy for depression
You have put gladness in my heart

The Hebrew word for “gladness” means being joyful with one’s whole personality and character.  This gladness is not a smile that you paste on or a pretense that you put on.  It is real, springing from the heart and spreading throughout the life.  It is not based on circumstances (increase of oil and wine), but comes directly from God.

Remedy for anxiety
I will lie down in peace

All is as it should be.  I can go to bed, knowing God will keep the world spinning.  He will push the ocean back and forth, crank the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun another time.  He’ll feed the birds and water the flowers.  He will solve the problems I can’t.  He will be there when I wake up.

Remedy for insomnia
and sleep

/ – )

 

The turning point
Put your trust in the LORD.

I see over and over through the Psalms that David cried out and complained about his personal failures and fierce foes.  There is a turning point in almost every Psalm in which David describes these problems.  He “puts his trust in the Lord.”  Telling myself, or someone else, to “trust the Lord” is not merely reciting a platitude.  Deciding to rely only and wholly on God is the answer.  It’s where despair ends, and where real security (“safety”) lies.