Sunday – March 8, 2020
Word On Worship – Sunday – March 8, 2020
Sunday – January 5, 2020
“Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The number one fear that people have is the fear of speaking in public. It ranks ahead of the fear of death! The fear of speaking in public would increase if a person knew that he would be speaking to a hostile audience. And, you have no time to prepare your message. The opportunity presents itself and you’re on—without any notes! This was the situation facing Peter on the Day of Pentecost. The sound of the rushing wind from heaven had drawn a large crowd, which then heard all the apostles speaking of the great deeds of God in the many different native languages of the crowd. This perplexed them as they asked, “What does this mean?” (2:12).
Peter will now take his stand, along with the rest of the apostles, and give them the explanation of Pentecost, its meaning, and its implications. Peter did not hesitate to tell his audience what Pentecost did mean. He quickly turned their attention to the prophecy of Joel. Peter was claiming what these Jews had witnessed was the outpouring of the Spirit. But there was much more to it than that. The question was not so much the source of this phenomenon, but the meaning of it. In the context of Joel’s prophecy, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a sign which was to precede the coming “day of the Lord”. The “day of the Lord” was not only the day when the kingdom of God would be established on the earth and God’s promised blessings would be poured out on His people, Israel. It was to begin with judgment.
Peter did not know how soon these judgments would take place (since Joel does not indicate such). He was not claiming that they had been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost; rather, he is saying that these things would precede “the great and glorious day of the Lord.” Since the prophecy had begun to be fulfilled, as evidenced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is reasonable to assume that the rest will come to pass in due time. Peter’s point is that the outpouring of the Spirit predicted by Joel has happened. The Messianic age has begun.
There is a coming day of judgment for us, one way or the other. That day of judgment may come before our death or it may come after, but there is a day of judgment (Hebrews 9:27). To the threat of eternal judgment is God’s offer of salvation, to all who will “call upon the name of the Lord.” By admitting your sin, and by trusting in Jesus of Nazareth as God’s Messiah and your Savior, you will be forgiven, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and look forward to the coming kingdom of God and all of its blessings. Have you, in simple faith, done this? I pray that if you have not, you will, even now.
Sunday – December 29, 2019
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.”
God purposed to send His Spirit to the church during the Feast of Pentecost because this Old Testament feast foreshadowed Pentecost. Paul calls attention to this relationship between Old Testament institutions and New Testament realities in Hebrews 10:1 “For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship.”
The Feast of Pentecost (or, more commonly in Old Testament terms, the “Feast of Weeks”) was to be celebrated 50 days after the offering of the first fruits. In this way, we can see that Pentecost followed Passover, but was actually 50 days after the offering of first fruits. It occurs in the third month of the Jewish calendar, which would be during the months of May or June on our calendar.
Like the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the offering of Israel’s first fruits followed shortly after the observance of the Passover meal. The presentation of the first fruits always occurred on the day after Sabbath, or Sunday. Sunday after Passover was also the day our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, the first fruits from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). Fifty days later, Israel celebrated the Feast of Pentecost. This was the end of the barley season (the Old Covenant?) and the beginning of the wheat harvest (the New Covenant?). It was the time when God identified Himself with the church, the time when He endowed the saints with power so that they could carry out the Great Commission. It was the time when God came to indwell His saints in a way that was more intimate than any saint had ever experienced it. It was the time, thanks to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, when God could now indwell those who were not yet free from sin and its corrupting influences. God dwells among and in His people, sinful though they will be, because of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.
What does Pentecost mean to us? The story of Pentecost in Acts 2 tells us how our Lord is now present with His church – through the Holy Spirit, whom He has sent. Pentecost assures us that God is present with His people, even though we are not yet sinless. We are forgiven sinners, who will one day be freed from the suffering and groaning that is the result of sin (Romans 8:18-25). But through the atoning work of Christ and the abiding of the Spirit, God is with us in a way that no Old Testament saint ever knew. He is with us, not only to teach, comfort, and guide us, but also to empower us to carry out the Great Commission. What news could be better than this?
Sunday – December 15, 2019
“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.’“
As we saw last week, the Holy Spirit was active before Pentecost. In the Old Testament, we saw the Holy Spirit of God striving against sin (Genesis 6:3), enduing men of faith with skill (Exodus 28:3; 31:2-5; 35:21-35), empowering them for service (Judges 3:10, 34; I Samuel 10:6), and causing some to speak God’s message as prophets (Numbers 24:2; II Samuel 23:2; II Chronicles 20:14). But none of the old testament saints knew Him as the disciples came to know Him at Pentecost. The Pentecostal Person is no less God than is God the Father, and in the Old Testament was even more active than God the Son.
Pentecost was a divinely planned event; not an afterthought with God. The coming of the Holy Spirit was as much a part of the redemptive plan as was the incarnation, death, resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pentecost was in the Old Testament in type and in prophecy. Pentecost was a solemn festival of the Jews. There was a series of seven of those annual feasts which, like the whole of Israel’s divinely appointed ritual, were “a shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1).
These feasts are set forth in order in Leviticus 23. The first of the feasts was the Passover (v. 4- 5). This was the feast of redemption, reflecting upon Israel’s deliverance from her bondage in Egypt. The next was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (v. 6-8). It was closely associated with the Passover and lasted seven days. The third was the feast of Firstfruits (v. 9-14). There was no set date for this event since it came, of necessity, when the grain was ripe and ready for harvest. The fourth of the solemn feasts is called the feast of Weeks, or Pentecost (v. 15-21). The joyous season of the grain harvest lasted seven weeks, and on the day of the seventh sabbath, “fifty days” to be exact, the feast of Pentecost was celebrated. Now we begin to see more clearly the deeper significance of Israel’s solemn feasts. The Greek word for “Pentecost” means fiftieth, and it was celebrated the fiftieth day from the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was “the day of Pentecost” (Acts 2:1) when Jew and Gentile were made fellow heirs and of the same body by the Holy Spirit.
There is no record in the Bible of Israel observing the feast of Weeks until we read of Pentecost in Acts 2. The grace of God in Jesus Christ was to reach out beyond the limits of Israel, and Pentecost marked the beginning of the fulfillment of the divine plan, the Gospel into all the world. We should bow in humble gratitude and praise to God when we realize that the birthday of the Church was in preparation through every stage of human history.
Sunday – December 1, 2019
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and the other believers on the Day of Pentecost, those who heard them speaking in tongues were perplexed and asked, “What does this mean?” (2:12). The question persists in our day. Many claim that the meaning of Pentecost is that we should have the same experience as the disciples, namely, to speak in tongues. You have probably had other Christians ask you, as I have, “Have you spoken in tongues?” If you have not, they are eager to help you have this experience for yourself. We all need to answer biblically, in light of the context: What is the meaning of Pentecost?
Acts 2 must be interpreted in light of Acts 1:4-8, where the risen Lord Jesus instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained that they would “be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (1:5) and they would receive power to be Christ’s “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (1:8). Just as the ministry of Jesus depended on the Holy Spirit descending on Him at His baptism, so the ministry of the disciples depended on them receiving the Holy Spirit and relying on His power. While they had experienced a measure of the Spirit’s power before (John 20:22), now He would come to dwell in them permanently.
We need to be careful to distinguish several terms that are often confused. In Acts 1:5, Jesus said that the apostles would be baptized by the Holy Spirit, which occurred on the Day of Pentecost. Baptism refers to being totally identified with the Spirit and to the initial reception of the Spirit. Paul tells the Corinthians, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). If the baptism of the Spirit were a special experience for the spiritually elite, Paul would not have said such a thing to the Corinthians. Nowhere does the Bible command believers to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, since it is not an experience we are to seek, but God’s action performed on the believer at the moment of salvation.
God’s purpose at Pentecost was to equip His church with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit so that we would be His witnesses to all the nations, resulting in His eternal glory. We need to ask ourselves is my daily desire to bear witness of Christ to those who are lost and perishing? The power of the Spirit isn’t given just to make me happy. It is given to make me holy so that my life and my words bring glory to God as I bear witness to His saving grace. That should be the meaning of Pentecost for you and me.
Sunday – Date – Read the Word on Worship
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
It is true that we cannot “have it our way” when it comes to church, but rather we must function in ways that are consistent with sound doctrine, and which are obedient to the principles and commands of Scripture, illustrated by apostolic practice. We have been given certain terms like elders and deacons, and we have seen how the early church functioned. But let us not err by concluding that being a New Testament church is primarily a matter of terms and forms. The essence of a New Testament church is more a matter of the heart.
The New Testament church is made up of those whose sins have been covered and atoned for by the shed blood of Jesus, and who now have hearts of flesh, rather than hearts of stone. The New Testament church is one in which the Spirit of God dwells, empowering Christians to play their unique role in the body of Christ so that our Lord now ministers to the world through His body, the church. We can use all the right terms and have all the right forms and traditions, but fail to be a New Testament church because we lack hearts that are filled with faith, hope, and love – not to mention many other attitudes that should characterize the Christian (like humility, servanthood, joy, and thanksgiving). This is why a church may not have all the right terminology or just the right forms, but may nevertheless manifest the life of Jesus.
A New Testament church manifests Christ to the world. Through the presence and power of Christ, the church ministers to itself and then to the world. Thus, the church is not just about principles and procedures, but about people, people who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, who have been joined to the church, and who are divinely indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit. A New Testament church has New Testament life and power. It not only carries on the work of Christ, it manifests His character. The heart of a New Testament Christian (and a New Testament church) is the work of God’s Spirit, the outworking of the New Covenant inaugurated by the shed blood of our Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. It all begins with Jesus, just as it ends with Him. I pray that you have trusted in Him, and thus have become a part of His church.
Sunday – August 30, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship
‘Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
It has been said, “Any idiot can be complicated; but it takes genius to be simple.” Indeed, the most effective oral and written communicators are those who take profound truths and make them simple. This has bearing on every area of our lives. When we communicate with others either individually or corporately, we must be clear and simple. The well-known acronym K.I.S.S. (“Keep It Simple Stupid”) applies here.
Although the Lord is the deepest thinker, after all “His ways are not our ways.” He always strives to bring His great truth down to common folks like you and me. However, many who have taught from the Book of the Revelation have produced a most unfortunate history of application in the church. Unfortunately, this trend continues today. By appealing to “hidden manna” and “white stones” all kinds of false doctrines are being perpetuated and widely accepted. Therefore, we must be on the alert against this passage and others like it being abused. Our goal must be to understand why our Lord Jesus has written to this letter to these churches and how it applies to our lives.
The wonderful mysteries God has prepared for those who love Him are not knowable only by a select group of Christians. Any and every believer can understand and appreciate them because the indwelling Holy Spirit can enlighten us. However, without the light of God’s Spirit, we’ll be in the dark. This is why our Lord instructs each of these churches to listen to what the Spirit has to say to each of these seven churches. The Holy Spirit searches the very depths of the heart and mind of God. He can do this because He is God – the third member of the Trinity.
There will be many things about life and faith we will not understand on this side of heaven. They are mysteries – but mystery is not a bad thing. It ultimately comes down to whom do you believe? Do you believe God and what He has promised to those who overcome or do you believe what the world says about what will make your life pleasant and meaningful. The walk of faith is one that trusts what God has promised even though we cannot know what the results will be because the One who has promised it is faithful to what He has promised and is all powerful to accomplish what He has promised.
Sunday – June 7, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship
“Why, O Lord, do You cause us to stray from Your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.”
Through God’s Spirit, the prophet Isaiah saw a desperate future time in Israel’s history. Because Isaiah predicted conditions that would take place about 100 years after he wrote (after the Babylonians conquered Judah), liberal critics have said that Isaiah couldn’t have written this. But I believe that God revealed the future to the prophet and led him to pray this prayer as a gracious way of teaching us how to lay hold of Him and His power in times of great spiritual need.
Isaiah pictures God as shut up in heaven, removed from His people who are suffering because of their sin. In an emotional outburst, the prophet calls upon God to rend the heavens and come down in great power, even as He did at Sinai, to restore His people and to make His name known among the nations. His point is that complacency with the existing low spiritual condition among God’s people is the enemy of revival. Remember the lukewarm church at Laodicea? They were content: “We’re rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” But God’s evaluation was that they were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
I know of two ways to keep from lapsing into lukewarmness and thinking that it is normal. First, steep yourself in the Bible so much that when you hear of the worldliness of the modern church, you are appalled. God’s Word must shape our worldview.Second, read church history and read some of the great men of God from the past. You will learn how God has worked in history, and you will read men who were not tainted by our modern worldview. But the fact that they wrote in a different time and culture will often jar you to see how far we have drifted. That is the start of revival praying – when some of God’s people begin to feel the lack of His working in our day.
Never before has the church had so many methods available to us, but at the same time, so little experience of the power of God. Christians need to know the living God in a deeper way. Also, we need to entreat God to pour out His Spirit through a revived church, so that His power in salvation would turn millions in repentance and faith to Him.
Sunday – March 22, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship
“These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”
If Jude were written in article format and submitted to the leading evangelical magazines of our day, there’s not a chance that it would be accepted for publication. The rejection notices would say, “Too harsh and judgmental!” and “Too negative!” and “Too critical of others’ ministries!” “Where is the grace?” “Rewrite in a kinder, gentler tone!” Because tolerance has become the chief virtue of our culture and because the culture always creeps into the church, the church today is decidedly against anything that smacks of judgment or criticism of those who claim to be evangelicals. I often hear the mantra, “They will know that we are Christians by our love, not by our doctrinal correctness.” The implication is that love and correct doctrine are somehow opposed to one another.
Also, our evangelical culture has followed our morally lax worldly culture by mistaking God’s grace to mean that we get a daily allotment of free passes for sin. We wrongly think that grace means that God is like an indulgent parent who isn’t bothered by our sin. Just this week Presbyterian Church (USA) will now define marriage as a “unique commitment between two people,” rather than a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman. Where has the biblical teaching that salvation results in a life of obedience to God (Titus 2:11-14); or a lifestyle of sin is evidence that we are not truly saved (1 John 3:4-10) gone?
In contrast to our culture’s emphasis on being nice to everyone who calls himself a Christian no matter what he teaches, the Holy Spirit saw fit to put Jude in Scripture. In case we missed it, He virtually repeats it in the letter of 2 Peter. Both passages give us this extended portrait of false teachers so that we will study it carefully, like a Most Wanted Poster, so that we will be able to spot these guys when they show up and avoid them and their teaching.
So, is Jude too harsh and judgmental of these false teachers? Should he join us more enlightened 21st century evangelicals in joining hands with them and singing, “We are One in the Spirit”? Or, did the Holy Spirit inspire Jude to give us this sad portrait to study so that we will be able to spot such false teachers and avoid following their sins? Why has Jude expended so much condemnation on the false teachers? Because he is primarily a pastor. He is concerned to feed his Master’s sheep and he is furious to find them being poisoned by lust masquerading as religion.” Study this portrait carefully!