Sunday – August 29, 2021 Romans Week 18 Romans 4:16-22 “The Nature of Saving Faith”

Sunday – August 29, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 29, 2021

Romans 4:20-22
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness”.

The bad news of universal condemnation seen in the beginning of Romans is overshadowed by the good news of a righteousness of God provided to all who believe in Jesus Christ. What man cannot do by his own efforts, God has done in the Person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. His death appeased the righteous anger of God toward the sinner. His death and resurrection provide the righteousness which men need to be declared righteous by God. Faith in Jesus Christ makes men righteous before God without Law-keeping.

Jules Henri Poincare, who in extolling the memory of his distinguished friend, uttered these terrible words: “It matters little what God one believes in; it is the faith and not the God that makes miracles.” No statement can be farther from the truth because the Bible teaches it is the object of our faith that makes all the difference between heaven and hell. Here Paul proves this point by examining the faith of Abraham that was credited as righteousness.

Abraham’s faith was in a God Who could create something out of nothing. So far as his chances of having a child, they were nil. He and Sarah were as good as dead. Yet Abraham trusted God to create something out of nothing, a son from an old man and a barren woman. Abraham also believed in a God Who could raise the dead. This is evident in his faith in the promise to have a son of his own loins and Sarah, for they were both as good as dead so far as producing children was concerned. Nowhere is this faith in God’s ability to raise the dead more evident than in Abraham’s willingness to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice (Genesis 22).

In addition, Abraham’s faith was one that did not dwell on the obstacles to faith but on the object of faith. Abraham knew all too well the difficulties, but did not waver in his faith. The point is that Abraham, in spite of tremendous human obstacles, trusted in God to do as He promised. His faith overlooked the obstacles and focused upon the object of faith, God the Father. Because of this kind of faith, Abraham was justified before God. I invite you this morning to receive your reconciliation with that same God by placing all your faith in the work of the one man, His Son Jesus Christ. Then, you too, having been justified by faith, can have peace with God.

Sunday – February 28, 2021 Job 16 “Christian Thinking During COVID 19” Pt 9

Sunday – February 28, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – February 28, 2021

Romans 14:2-3
One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

Christians are in the building business—not in the demolition business. Judging others and demanding the right to exercise our liberty, regardless of its effect on others, tears others down. In the abstract, all things are clean for the one whose faith is strong and whose conscience is clean concerning their exercise. Yet these “good” things become “evil” for the strong if and when they cause another to stumble.

Paul provides two illustrations of differing convictions in Romans 14: eating meat (14:2) and the observance of certain holidays (14:5). Both the strong and the weak are tempted to sin against their brother. The danger for the strong believer is to look upon his weaker brother with contempt: “How could he be so shallow in his grasp of God’s grace and of Christian liberty?” The weaker brother stands in danger of condemning his stronger brother for his liberty in Christ: “How could he be so liberal? Does he not believe in separation?” Both of these brothers, the strong and the weak, are represented as judging the other. Both are looking down on each other, while at the same time thinking too highly of themselves.

How quickly and easily sin corrupts! For those who are strong in their faith, every Christian liberty is clean. The strong believers have more faith and a greater grasp of grace and Christian liberty.  But the moment my “good” causes “evil” for another, it becomes evil for me also. Any liberty I exercise at the expense of a brother becomes a sin for me (verse 20). For those who are weak in faith tend to fail to grasp the full implications of the work of Christ. This leads weaker saints to be inclined towards being legalistic. So weaker saints lean towards thinking believers cannot do what God’s Word allows.

The strong Christian then is left with two principal concerns. The first danger is exercising a liberty to the detriment of a weaker brother. The second danger is to be tempted to approve that which God does not—to press his liberty too far. To him, Paul says, “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (verse 22). The weaker Christian is left with one exhortation: “Don’t act out of doubt, but only out of faith.” The principle governing his actions is simple: “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (verse 23). Doubt is the opposite of faith, so actions produced from doubt result in sin.

Sunday – January 31, 2021 Job 32 to 38 “Christian Thinking During COVID 19” Pt 5

Sunday – January 31, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 31, 2021

Job 36:1-4
Elihu continued: “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you that there is more to be said in God’s behalf. I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you.”

Elihu exemplifies one of the major reasons why we might not listen to what someone has to say about God. Young and obscure, Elihu presents a testimony that carries little weight among many intellectual greats. This may be one reason why God has employed farmers, shepherds, fishermen and even children (the child Samuel) as messengers of inspired truth. Heaven has a way of placing truth beyond intellectual pride. Yet even if God speaks to us through a little child, or perhaps a donkey, He always gives us enough evidence to discern His voice.

In the case of Elihu there is more than enough evidence to recognize this young man as heaven sent. He does not use the same words Job’s three friends did; accusing Job of secret sins or assuming that Job’s suffering proves his guilt (Job 32:14). Elihu’s approach is identical to God’s. They both assert that, at times, Job had spoken without wisdom and knowledge (Job 34:35, 35:16, 38:2). Both affirm that Job has sought to “rebuke God,” “annul His judgment” and “condemn” Him; that Job had “justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2, 40:2, 8). Elihu also introduces, in chapter 37, the same mysteries that God picks up with in chapter 38, the marvels of creation. We should also remember that while God rebukes Job’s three friends, He does not rebuke Elihu or group him with the other three (Job 42:7).

Elihu claims to be filled with the spirit of God and to speak on God’s behalf, which is proved true when we compare his words with God’s as noted in the previous references (Job 32:8, 36:2-3). Elihu is also never rebuked by Job, like his three friends were. Even when Job is given opportunity to speak, Elihu does not hear a cross word from him (Job 33:5). In addition, Job repents of the very mistake both Elihu and God had brought to his attention—speaking words without knowledge (Job 42:3). Elihu’s picture of God is definitely different from the three friends.

Job himself seems impressed with the compassionate entreaty of this young man, for he does not answer him. The empathy and sincerity of Elihu, his words of correction mingled with love, were perhaps a balm to Job compared to the accusations of the others. Some of this young man’s thoughts may even remind Job of his own arguments and the light that had brought hope to his own soul. Elihu’s picture of God is definitely different from the three friends. How does Job respond to the stern rebukes from God? He repents, affirming not only the words of God and Elihu, but also reminding us why Job was called a “blameless” man in the first place (Job 1:1).

Sunday – January 3, 2021 James 5:7-12 “Christian Thinking Durnig COVID 19” Pt 1

Sunday – January 3, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 3, 2021

James 5:10-11
Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Job was a blameless and upright man, who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1). Satan appeared before God and God brought up Job as an example of an upright man. Satan responded that Job only trusted God because He had blessed and protected him. God gave Satan permission to do whatever he chose, as long as he didn’t lay a hand on Job himself to prove that Job was not upright just for the benefits. Satan went out and deprived Job of all his possessions. Worst of all, he sent a powerful wind that knocked down the house where Job’s children were gathered, killing all ten of them.

Job’s remarkable response was to fall before God in worship, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The author adds (Job 1:22), “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Satan returned to God and gained permission to go farther, as long as he spared Job’s life. So God granted permission to smote him with painful boils from head to toe. At this point, Job’s poor wife had had enough. She advised him to curse God and die. But Job responded (2:10), “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” The author again adds, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

James refers to “the Lord’s dealings” with Job. Although it was Satan who worked behind the scenes, Job affirmed that it was God: “the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21); “Shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). James says, “the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” If that is the lesson from Job’s sufferings, then it certainly applies to our sufferings as we deal with COVID and its consequences. Against our feelings and against the temptations of the devil, we must affirm by faith, as the psalmist did (Ps. 119:71), “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”

One of Satan’s earliest ploys was to get Adam and Eve to doubt God’s goodness toward them. He still uses that bait when we go through trials. One reason that we fall prey to doubting God’s goodness is that we think too highly of ourselves and too lowly of God. We mistakenly think that God owes us something good because we deserve it. But even Job, whom God described as the most godly man on earth, did not suffer unjustly in all that he went through. Or, as Paul asks rhetorically (Rom. 11:35), “Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?” God does not owe us anything. Any blessings that we enjoy are sheer grace!

Sunday – October 18, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 24:1-27 “The Preacher and the Politician”

Sunday – October 18, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 18, 2020

Acts 24:5-8
We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

If this world were made up of basically good people, a man of integrity would be well loved and have no enemies. But since this world is made up of people who love darkness rather than light, and since a life of integrity exposes their evil deeds, the world will often slander the man of integrity. We are naïve if we think that if we live with integrity, we will be protected from false accusations and slanderous attempts to bring us down. Living with integrity will not shield us from slander.

In our passage, Tertullus presents his shaky case against Paul. Tertullus’ strategy was to hope that, based on the Jews’ testimony, Felix would act in his usual insensitive manner and have Paul executed. Tertullus flatly lies when he states that the Jews arrested Paul in the act of trying to desecrate the temple (24:6). The fact was, the Jews mobbed Paul with the intent to kill him, but the Roman commander intervened to save his life. But in spite of such blatant falsehood, all of the Jews joined his attack, asserting that the charges against Paul were true (24:9).

In Paul’s defense, he points out that his accusers should have been present (24:19), Paul was raising a point of Roman law, which imposed heavy penalties on accusers who abandoned their charges. Without the appearance of his accusers should have meant the withdrawal of a charge. Paul concludes by pointing out that the only supposed misdeed that any of his accusers had against him was his statement of being on trial before them because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead. Paul answered his accusers by speaking the truth.

We have no guarantee that everything will go well with us when we walk uprightly before God. Joseph acted with godly integrity when he resisted the seductive moves of Potiphar’s wife, and it landed him in prison for several years. But the Lord was with him there, and it’s better to have the Lord with you in prison than to have sinful pleasure without the Lord. It’s better to be in custody with a clear conscience, as Paul was, than to have power and money, but be alienated from God, as Felix was. However difficult your circumstances here, you will sleep well knowing that you will dwell in heaven with God throughout eternity.

Sunday – August 23, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 18:18 to 19:18-7 “Filling in the Right Blank”

Sunday – August 23, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 23, 2020

Acts 18:24-25
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.

Apollos is a most fascinating fellow, and thanks to Luke’s description, we know he was a gifted Jew from Alexandria. This Egyptian city was where the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) was written. Alexandrian Jews were among those with whom Stephen debated (Acts 6:9). If Apollos was “well-versed in the scriptures” (Acts 18:24) it was probably in Alexandria that he became a great student of the Old Testament. Apollos was not only very knowledgeable in the Old Testament Scriptures; he was also a very powerful speaker.

Luke tells us a great deal about Apollos, but he also informs us that there were some gaps in his understanding of the gospel. The question is, “What were these gaps?” Imagine, for a moment, that you were a God-fearing Jew, who eagerly awaited the coming of Messiah. You knew that Messiah would make His appearance at Jerusalem. You would go there for one of the feasts and when you made your trip, it was during the time when John the Baptist was proclaiming the coming of Messiah. But it was still at a time when John had not yet been informed that Jesus was the Promised One. You would have left Jerusalem with heightened expectation, but without the specific identification of Jesus as Messiah. What you would not (and could not) know is who He was.

I believe that is the situation with Apollos, as perhaps also it might have been with the Bereans, Priscilla and Aquila, and the 12 disciples of chapter 19, verses 1-7. For someone who had finally learned of Jesus, and had come to trust in Him as the Messiah, how strange it must have been to hear a man like Apollos preach, a man who was still living in a past era, still looking for Messiah, but not knowing He had come. As Priscilla and Aquila sat in the synagogue and heard Apollos teach, they must have looked at one another and said, “His teaching points to Jesus, and he doesn’t know it.” What Priscilla and Aquila did was to “fill in the blank” for Apollos, informing him that Jesus of Nazareth was not only Messiah, but that He was Yahweh—God in human flesh.

There was a necessity for these “Old Testament saints” to hear of Jesus and trust in Him personally. That need was met through Priscilla and Aquila, as well as by Paul. If these “believers” in the “Christ to come” had to be told of Jesus and His coming, and to trust in Him, then no one will be saved apart from a personal knowledge and trust in Jesus as the Savior today, either. Unlike these “Old Testament saints,” who had not heard of Jesus, you know all that you will ever need to know about Him. But have you ever really crossed the line, from a knowledge about Jesus to a personal faith and trust in Him? If not, the hour is late and the need is urgent. Cross that line today!

Sunday – May 17, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 11:20-33 “One Step Back to Move Forward” Pt 2

Sunday – May 17, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 17, 2020

Acts 11:22-24
News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Most people in the world would say, “The way to get into heaven is to be a good person.” Again, the definition of “good” in the minds of those who say this is so vague and broad that almost everyone qualifies. If you’ve ever done a good deed for someone, even if it was to earn your Boy Scout badge, you’re in! But the Bible teaches that no amount of human goodness can qualify a person for heaven, because God is absolutely good and He cannot and will not allow even a single sin into His perfect heaven. Thus the apostle Paul builds his argument that “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12), because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

In light of this, when the Bible calls a man “a good man,” we should sit up and take notice. Although it is speaking relatively, not perfectly, here is a man whose life we should study and learn from. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke says that Barnabas “was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24). The description starts on the surface and works inward. He was a good man—how so? He was full of the Holy Spirit. How so? By being a man of faith. By studying Barnabas’ life, we will look at what a good person is, namely, a person who loves God and others (the two great commandments).

When we first meet Barnabas, he is selling his property to lay the proceeds at the apostles’ feet to meet the needs of the early church in Jerusalem (4:36-37). Years later, the apostle Paul referred to Barnabas as one, like him, who labored with his own hands to support himself in the ministry of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:6). Barnabas’ generosity toward those in need took precedence over his thinking about his own future. Later, when the famine threatened not only Judea, but also Antioch, the church in Antioch gave to help the needy saints in Judea. Although the text does not say, I’m sure that Barnabas contributed to that gift, and he gave his time to deliver it to Jerusalem. The church could trust him with the money, because he was a generous man, free from greed and obedient to God.

Having considered Barnabas, can it be said of you, as it is said of Barnabas, that you are a good man or woman, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith? Is your love for God vital and growing? Is your love for people becoming more tender and compassionate? Do you seek to help others grow in their faith? Do you ask God to use you to reach the lost for Christ? Are you aware daily of your need to depend on the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit of goodness in your life? When you do stumble, do you turn from it and go on with the Lord? That is how you can become a truly good person before God.

Sunday – February 23, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 6: 8-16 “Stephen the Man”

Sunday – February 23, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – February 23, 2020

Acts 6:8
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.”

Stephen was described as a man who was both “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (6:3) and as one who was “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (6:5). His ministry to Hellenistic widows seems to have put him in contact with a great many Hellenistic Jews. Through Stephen, among the Hellenistic Jews, God accomplished many “great wonders and signs” (6:8). Feeding the widows gave Stephen a much greater exposure and the opportunity to function in a way that was similar to the twelve apostles. The mention of Stephen’s ability to perform “signs and wonders” is very significant. Up to this point, only the apostles were said to have worked signs and wonders. Since the twelve apostles would remain in Jerusalem after the church was scattered (Acts 8:1), it would seem that Stephen (here) and Philip (Acts 8) would serve as apostles to a more diverse group.

We are not told how the power to perform signs and wonders came upon Stephen. Had we been told, we would probably find this viewed as a formula by which saints are to manipulate or persuade God into acting as we would desire. Every indication is that both Stephen and the apostles were surprised by his ability to perform such miracles. It was not because Stephen “prayed through” the right formula nor because of the apostles, of their training, of discipleship, or ordination that these signs and wonders were performed. The simplest explanation for the mighty power which Stephen possessed was that the sovereign God had purposed to make him an apostle, in His own time, and in His own way.

In previous sermons in Acts, many have been saved. Here (and for the first time), the preacher is put to death. God prospers some sermons in the salvation of many, but He also uses sermons for other purposes, as here. We also see that there is an evangelistic thrust, resulting from this sermon. This is an evidence of God’s sovereign control. Those who are saved are not the audience of Stephen, but the Samaritans and Gentiles who will be saved because of the persecution resulting from Stephen’s death. Without knowing it, these Jews are propelling the gospel beyond Jerusalem to the very places from which they have come. Many will be saved because of the sermon and the death of Stephen. And the one who was a part of Stephen’s death—Saul—will be God’s chosen instrument to reach the Gentiles.

No wonder Stephen, a man who was “full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” did not fear death and did not revere the physical temple in Jerusalem. He was a man who “saw” a better temple and whose hope was not earthly. He was free to die, as were the saints of old, because of His faith in God and the promises which were sure to come. May we be more like this great man of old whose life and ministry were short but significant.

Sunday – October 27, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 23:40 to 24:35 “Dealing with the Death of Jesus”

Sunday – October 27, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 27, 2019

Luke 23:50-52
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.”

We should be very interested in the story of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus. No one knows where Arimathea was located, but the designation helps distinguish him from other Josephs. He was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the body of 70 men who governed the religious and many of the civic matters in Israel. It was the Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus to death, although Joseph had not consented to their plan. Probably he had not spoken out as vigorously as he should have. John 19:38 tells us that he was a secret disciple of Jesus, for fear of the Jews. His fear had caused Joseph not to take a bold stand for Christ, even though in his heart he knew that he should have done so.

But now, after Jesus was dead, when His followers had gone into hiding, Joseph gathered up his courage (Mark 15:43), went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus so that he could give Him a proper burial. If he had not done so, Jesus’ body probably would have been thrown on a garbage heap and burned, robbing us of some of the major proofs of the resurrection, as we’ll see. We can thank Joseph for honoring Jesus with a proper burial and for giving us many evidences for our faith.

I believe Luke is commending the faith of Joseph and the women, seen by their concern for Jesus body and burial, at a time when this was a most unpopular, and even dangerous, thing to do. Faith in Christ requires an identification with Christ, which includes an identification with Him in His death. In their actions, they stood with Jesus, and apart from the Jewish religious leaders. Saving faith requires those saved from their sins stand apart from a world that has rejected Jesus, and stand with Him who was rejected and put to death. Joseph, Nicodemus, and the women are a picture of what faith requires by those who would be saved. Faith is expressed by an identification with the Jesus who died on the cross of Calvary. No wonder there is no focus on the eleven at this point, whose faith may not have failed, but whose faith surely is not praiseworthy at this point in time.

It does remind us that even when those who are chosen to lead fail to do so, God always has someone in the wings. Joseph was a man whom the disciples would never have considered a prospect for discipleship. He was a prominent member of the Council which, as a group, rejected Jesus. He was a man of influence and apparent wealth. And yet he was the one whom God had prepared so that the body of Jesus would be honored in death. God always has a person in place, but this is often not the person we would have expected to be God’s choice.

Sunday – August 4, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 20:41-47 “The Son of David”

Sunday – August 4, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 4, 2019

Luke 20:41-44
Then Jesus said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

In April of 1984, at 9:47 AM, hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Britons suddenly leaped in the air. They had been convinced by astronomer Patrick Moore on BBC radio that the planet Pluto would pass directly behind Jupiter at that moment, producing a gravitational pull on Earth that would make people feel lighter. Minutes after 9:47, the switchboards at BBC lighted up. One woman said that she and 11 guests had floated around the room. A man called in to say he had hit his head on the ceiling. Had any of the bounding multitudes looked at a calendar before they leaped, they would have realized it was the first day of April… (Reader’s Digest [4/85]).

That was a harmless and humorous deception. But one area where deception is neither harmless nor humorous is religion. Satan is a master deceiver. One of the most common complaints that you hear from those who avoid church is that the church is full of hypocrites. Of course, so is the world; but it is true: the church is full of hypocrites. Satan makes sure of that. He deceives many into thinking that they are right with God when really, they are not. He uses these hypocrites to keep others away from true Christianity. We need to make sure that we understand what true religion is and that we steer clear of false religion.

The intent of Jesus was to show His audience in the temple courtyard that neither they nor their teachers of the Law understood their own Scriptures. They rightly thought that Messiah would be the physical descendant of David, but they wrongly thought that he would be just a great man, a political Savior, who would bring in an age of peace and prosperity. Jesus wanted them to see that the Messiah (or Christ) would not only be David’s son, but also David’s Lord- God in human flesh. They needed a right view of Messiah so that they would not be deceived by false religion.

To know who Christ is—that He is both David’s son, a man born of the flesh; and, David’s Lord, the eternal God—is one thing. But each person must respond to this truth by trusting Christ as Savior and yielding to Him as Lord, even as David did. On this occasion, Jesus did not answer the question He posed nor did He call for a response. He just left His audience to ponder the implications of the question for themselves. But the clear implication is: If Jesus is the Messiah and Messiah is Lord over such a great man as King David, then should not I submit to Him as my Lord? True Christianity is not just believing intellectually that Jesus is the Messiah or that He is your Savior. True Christianity means believing in Jesus in the sense that you follow Him as Lord, so that in thought, word, and deed you are growing to be more and more like Him.