Thursday, October 25, 2012

Piercing the Darkness

Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse gives a succinct overview of Genesis 1.  "A single verse (1) suffices to speak of the original creation of the heaven and the earth.  Another verse (2) is all that is needed to describe the awful chaos into which the ruined earth was plunged.  And less than thirty verses more tell of the six days' work during which the Lord 'made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is'."  The Invisible War, p. 68

Into the darkness of Genesis 1:2 comes the Spirit of God to reveal the divine plan of a renewed earth and the creation of mankind.  God's purpose has not been thwarted by Satan's rebellion.  The "light" will be turned back on and mankind, though made "lower than the angels" (Psalm 8:5), will ultimately be raised to "judge angels" (I Corinthians 6:3) and give all glory to the Almighty.  Satan must have become increasingly angered at this "invasion” of what he considered his realm as the "prince of this world".  Though stating that he would be like the Most High, he has no power or ability to do what God does with simple commands = create light and life!   This new creature, man, placed in his realm with authority and responsibility must be attacked and subjected to his will.  Sounds like spiritual warfare to me!

See you Sunday!

 1.  The Spirit of God "brooded" - this term seems to connect us with the concept of a bird covering her eggs in the nest.  Consider some other passages that give us a symbolic view of God from the "bird world". Ruth 2:12; Psalm 17:8; Luke13:34

2.  Find the Trinity in Genesis 1:2-3.  Compare Hebrews 1:2 and John 1:1-3.

3.  Study about Christ in Colossians 1:15-17. What does the “firstborn over all creation” mean regarding Christ?

4.  The darkness of Genesis 1:2 invaded by God's light in Genesis 1:3 has a wonderful parallel in our salvation.  Consider John 8:12; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Peter 2:9.

5.  Consider God's renewal of the earth from formless, empty, darkened, and deluged to lightened, organized, full of life, and very good as you read Genesis 1.  Quoting Dr. Barnhouse again "Out of the chaos was brought the 'cosmos' which signifies order, arrangement, and beauty." The Invisible War, p. 68

6.  Why would Satan consider the earth his realm and God's intervention to be an invasion?  Luke 11:17-18; John 12:31; 14:30

7.  What could we consider to be God's greatest intervention into Satan's "realm" producing the greatest light of all?  John 17:4


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Victor's View

Have you ever been in a fierce lightning storm?   It is both frightening and fascinating in its power, brilliance and danger! Jesus said that He saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.  This statement from our Savior corresponds to Satan's fall described in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.  When Satan rebelled against God with his 5 "I wills," he was hurled from God's presence to the earth. Many of us watched the recent "fall" of Felix Baumgartner from approximately 24 miles above the earth. It was astounding to observe the speed and twisting with which he hurdled downward! We can only imagine what explosive impact Satan's collision with earth must have had as he was thrown from the presence of God for his rebellion.

Our sermon series' theme is "Jesus Wins!". The words of our Lord that He saw Satan fall speak to that truth in three awesome ways:   1) Jesus was there when it happened = another testimony to His eternality and Deity;  2) He won - Satan lost; and 3) We too can have victory over Satan through Jesus' name!

What a blessing it is to also read in our text of the believer's name recorded in Heaven. Satan is ultimately out of God's presence, but we will be eternally in His presence due ONLY to the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

See you Sunday!

1. There are 70/72 (depending on your Bible translation) disciples of Jesus sent forth to minister. Does the number 70 stand out in the Bible? Genesis 46:27; Exodus 15:27, 24:1; Numbers 11:16; Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:24

2. Who/what are demons? Study 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6

3. How did demons respond to the authority of Jesus? Mark 1:23-25, 5:2-12 What did they know about Him?

4. How vital is the name of Jesus to us? Matthew 1:21; John 16:24; Acts 2:38, 3:6, 4:9-12, 16:18; Philippians 2:9-11

5. How does the O.T. correspond to Jesus' statement of Satan falling from Heaven like lightning? Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:17

6. Consider this sobering Scripture passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:22-23

7. What do the Scriptures mean about our names being written in Heaven? Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5, 20:15, 21:27

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The First Judgment

Perhaps you’ve known a kid like this. His name was Eric Von Fange and he lived in the same neighborhood I did in Virginia. He had an inquisitive mind. When his father bought a new car and brought it home, Eric stayed up for forty-eight hours taking the engine apart to see how it worked. Imagine that! His father buys a car, drives it home and within hours he and his wife are on a plane to California. At the same time Eric’s in the garage ripping the engine from its mounts.

Years ago I read of another boy who tore into a grandfather clock to see what made it tick. When he tried to put it together, however, it seemed to have enough wheels and springs to make two clocks. In the process he discovered that all of the parts must move in their proper sequence – certain wheels must move forward and certain ones backward. There are wheels that move quickly, and there are wheels that move slowly. There are large mainsprings and tiny hairsprings. All of the parts need to work together to make the clock go.

So it is with the life of a Christian. When events move forward we are pleased with the progress. If events move backward, we are inclined to be impatient; we want them to move in the direction of our own will, not understanding the purpose that God has in our lives. There are matters that are great and very important to us – mainspring events like births, marriages, deaths, triumphs, and tragedies. There are matters as fine as a hairspring like petty annoyances and trivial happenings that seem little and unimportant at times. Yet, both mainspring events and hairspring events regulate the course of our lives. There are events that move smoothly and rapidly and we rejoice at their action. Some things lag and incite our impatience as we seek to speed them up to the tempo of our own wills. Some events are welcomed and cherished. Others are dreaded and rip at our hearts.

But when all of these events – backward, forward; fast, slow; great, small – are seen in their relationship to each other, we Christians must conclude with the Apostle Paul that to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose and plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good that brings Him glory.

As I write this morning it’s only thirty-eight hours after the discovery that 22-year-old Sara Walendziewicz’s earthly life has been cut short. For Sue and Dave, David and Ashley, and so many of us, this event is a mainspring that conjures up a myriad of questions that strike at the very heart of the plan of God. How could Sara’s final breath be a part of a perfect pattern of good that brings God glory? How can her life and death speak of a loving God who works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose?

Paul’s words in Romans 6:23 help. Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now many think Paul is speaking of sins and their consequences. They think of sins like the seven deadly ones, or the ten chronicled in the Ten Commandments, or any other list of actions that are in opposition to God’s law and reap the wage of death. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Paul is not talking here about acts of sin. (He talks about sin elsewhere.) But here he’s talking about the state of sin. As we will note on Sunday, the sin of which Paul speaks is like poison in the bloodstream and acts of sin are like the resulting boils. Paul is speaking about our natural state in Adam. Before the finished work of Christ is applied, every one of us has a death sentence hanging over our head. Indeed, we are already dead spiritually and on our way to the same end to which Lucifer is destined. But that’s not the end of the story for the believer. The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. It’s a gift that He has already bestowed on you and me and Sara. We are the recipients of that gift. Unlike Lucifer and his armada of demons, our destiny is not death, but eternity – everlasting life with the One to Whom we belong.

We are going to talk about one of the giant mainsprings of existence this Sunday as we look at two great texts: II Peter 3:1-7 and Romans 1:18-23. In a message entitled “The First Judgment” we will look at God’s judgment of Lucifer. We will see in II Peter – the PAST, the PRONOUNCEMENT, and the PLAN of God as we continue to establish a biblical context for our life in Christ and our purpose therein.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:

1. In what ways is Romans 6:23 not an evangelism text?
2. What is the difference between sin and sins?
3. Of whom is Paul writing in Romans 1:21?
4. How were God’s words in Genesis 2:17 fulfilled in Genesis 3:19?
5. What do you make of the Eden described in Ezekiel 28:13f?
6. How does it compare to the garden in Genesis 2? Revelation 21:15-21?
7. What waters is Peter referring to in II Peter 3:5-6?
8. How are they different from the floodwaters Noah endured? (See Jeremiah 4:23-26; Job 9:5-10; Psalm 18:7.)
9. How does God deal with Lucifer’s rebellion?
10. What is God’s word to us in the face of judgment? (See II Peter 3:1-2.)
11. What is the message for Sue and Dave Walendziewicz and you?

See you Sunday!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"The Futility of Time"

Before Billy Graham there was Billy Sunday. People used to marvel at how a Presbyterian minister with a fourth-grade education could get so worked up about the love of God that when he preached, he would literally rip his clothes. And yet, men of intellect and privilege would hang on his every word. They’d follow him around going from meeting to meeting listening to his words and studying his mannerisms, trying to find the secret of his passion. (They did the same thing with Billy Graham and many concluded it was his eyes!)

But to understand the passion of Billy Sunday you have to go back to a time four months before his birth. Billy was born in 1892, four months after his father was killed in the Civil War. When he was six, his mother took him and his 8-year-old brother to spend the night at a hotel. The next morning when she woke them up, she had tears in her eyes. Billy asked her, “What’s wrong, Mama?” His mother replied, “I can’t afford to raise you ‘cause I’ve got no money, so I’m sending you to Glenwood to the veteran’s orphanage.” And with that she put a ticket into their hands and put them on the train, never to see them again.

When the conductor came around to collect the tickets he said, “These tickets don’t go as far as Glenwood. I’m going to have to put you off the train.” Billy pleaded with him, “Don’t do it Mister. We’ve got no money ‘cause we’ve got no daddy. He was killed in the war.” To which the conductor said, “I fought in the war, too. Ain’t nobody gonna put you off this train.” So he let them ride all the way to Glenwood. And when they arrived he took both boys by the hand and walked them all the way to the orphanage. For the next ten years he was the only person to ever come and visit them.

When Billy Sunday came to know Christ, you know what he said? He said, “I now have someone who will hold my hand and never let go.” To understand Billy Sunday and his passion for Christ you have to know the scars.

It’s something like that when you come to much of the prophetic literature of the Scriptures. One of the great fallacies today is the notion that the prophets of Scripture were men who stood outside the judgment of God. They didn’t. They all occupied the same context as the ones to whom they spoke.

So this Sunday we come again to the prophecy of Isaiah, Chapter 14. Just like Ezekiel 28, Isaiah is speaking within a particular historic context, and yet his words apply to other times and other contexts.

For instance, in Isaiah 14 the prophet is speaking about God’s judgment to come on Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. The funny thing is that Isaiah was speaking 200 years before God brought judgment on Nebuchadnezzar. Moreover, like Ezekiel, Isaiah is repeating words of God that were addressed to Lucifer before the beginning of time. In fact, as we will see on Sunday, time as we know it begins in Genesis 1:2 after the fall of Lucifer and will end when God carries out His sentence against him. Time is then, like a parenthesis between eternity past and eternity future. It is only a fraction of God’s plan.

This week, therefore, we are going to dig more deeply into two texts: Isaiah 14:3-20 and II Peter 1:1-11 and take a closer look at Lucifer’s rebellious will. Here we will see:

1. The Setting of Isaiah’s words in verses 3 & 4
2. The Strategy of Lucifer in verses 13 & 14
3. God’s Solution in II Peter 1:1
4. The Significance in II Peter 1:11

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:

1. What is meant by the term “sequential revelation” when applied to prophecy?
2. What parallels can be drawn between Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel) and Lucifer?
3. What grounds are there for applying God’s word to the King of Babylon to Lucifer and his fall in eternity past?
4. What do you make of Lucifer’s five “I wills” in verses 13 & 14?
5. How are they distinguished from one another?
6. What can you discover about Lucifer’s will in the name he uses for God in verse 14?
7. How is Jesus the remedy to Lucifer’s ruinous strategy?
8. How comfortable are you with saying that Jesus is not only the second Adam, but the second Lucifer?
9. How does time fit into God’s plan regarding Lucifer’s challenge?
10. How is communion related to all of this?

See you Sunday as we gather around His table on this World Communion Sunday!