Let's Help with Harvey Disaster Relief

As we start to see a little rain in West Tennessee, I know we're thinking about how it's coming from what was the hurricane in Texas

Our denomination has an excellent disaster response team which is getting ready to go into Texas once they can. 

If you want to go (I talked to one of you tonight who's considering it), you must register to go with the denomination's team. 

If you want to give, you can donate online and get a receipt in your email box right away.

If you want to put together relief kits, you can also do that. The need is most acute for cleaning kits, but there are also bedding and hygiene kits.

If you want to donate at the church during the offering time on Sunday, we'll make sure it gets to PCA disaster response. Please make clear on your check that it's for disaster response. 

The website for all of this info is: https://pcamna.org/disaster-response/storms/ 

Entering the Land through Jacob's Son

Everything we love about Joseph points us to Jesus. Genesis 47 is no exception. 

The setting of the chapter is the people of God settling in Goshen, after which the famine in the Fertile Crescent gets worse. It would be one of those chapters in which you might skim during your personal devotions and say, "Huh, I already knew all this was happening. Maybe something will happen in chapter 48." But, this is chapter in which the Bible tells us something in subtly that the New Testament tells us in starkly. Sometimes, subtle reminders are more potent.

In vv. 1-12 we see the Old Testament church's presentation, dwelling place, work to do, and feeding.

1) the presentation of the people of God before the King of Egypt (vv. 1-5)

2) the dwelling place of the people of God in the land of Egypt (v.6a)

3) the work which the people of God will do in Egypt (v. 6b)

4) the feeding of the people of God (v 12)

In the midst of all this, Jacob speaks to Pharaoh confessing that his life has been a short life of sin, and that his life has not been as long as Abraham's and Isaac's lives. This is a confession of his sinfulness and a recognition of sin's consequences; but it's also a confession of the faithfulness of God. God has preserved His pilgrim people in the land for about three hundred years.

Let's review:

  • They are presented by the son of Jacob before the king.
  • They enter a land which the son of Jacob has been preparing for them.
  • They are given work to do by King and the son of Jacob.
  • Finally, the people of God are fed through the provision of the son of Jacob.

Do you see and subtle reminders of New Testament truths in those four things?

The chapter ends in vv. 29-31 with joyful confidence that Jacob's eyes will be closed by Joseph when he dies, and that his bones will be buried in Canaan, the promised land.

Why is this important? Because it means Joseph wants be resurrected in the land. The people of God in the Old Testament believed in the resurrection. The land of Canaan has pointed all along to the new heavens and the new earth, which believers enter together with Jesus at the resurrection.

The New Testament tells us in starker languagethat we are pilgrims in this world (1 Peter 2:9-12), who will be presented before the Father by Jesus (Jude 24-25), who will dwell in a place Jesus has been preparing for us (John 14:1-6), who will be given work to do when we get there (Luke 19:7), and who will be fed by His provision and sup with Him (Revelation 19:9, Luke 22:18).

In between the beginning and end of the chapter, we have vv. 13-28 where the famine gets worse and all the Egyptian people trade their livestock, land, and selves for food. But in the beginning and end of the chapter, the people of God have the daily bread they need so that they might serve the Covenant God.

Beloved, the whole passage of Genesis 47 points us subtly to our home-going, brothers and sisters, through Jesus, the son of Jacob, Who sustains us in this life of pilgrimage.

Isn't it wonderful when an unfamiliar passage shows you familiar truths? Isn't it wonderful when the Lord tells us things subtly in His Word that we already know from clearer passages? Sometimes the subtle reminders are more potent. Amen.

 

 

 

 

The Means of Christian Nurture Matter

Both time and nurture are needed for growth in grace. We need time to mature in the faith. But time alone isn't enough. We also need nurture -- the nurture of the Word read & preached, the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, prayer, and the fellowship of the saints. But though we need nurture and must use the means of nurture, we mustn't trust the means. We trust God to grow us in grace through His means. And though we trust God, we must use His means.

John Trapp: "Means Must be neither trusted nor neglected."

J. Hudson Taylor: "The use of means ought not to lessen our faith in God; and our faith in God ought not to hinder our using whatever means He has given us for the accomplishment of His purposes."

Horatius Bonar: "When we can rest satisfied with using the means for saving souls without seeing them really saved, or we ourselves being broken-hearted by it, and at the same time quietly talk of leaving the event at God's disposal, we make use of a truth to excuse and cover up a falsehood; for our ability to leave the matter thus is not, as we imagine, the result of heart-submission to God, but of heart-indifference to the salvation of the souls we deal with. No, truly, if the heart is really set on such an end, it must gain that end or break in losing it." (Words to Winners of Souls, ch 3 "Past Defects")

How to Counter Social Media's Ill Effects: Be Part of a Church

"One of the attractive features of a Facebook-style of communication is that it requires very little of us. It is a low-commitment and low-accountability type of interaction. We control—and entirely control—the duration, intensity, and level of contact. At any moment, we can simply stop. But the Christian life and real Christian relationships don’t work like this. We do have obligations to one another, covenant obligations. Put differently, Christianity has a corporate aspect to it that stands directly against the trend of individualistic and self-determined relational patterns of our modern technological age." -Michael Kruger

Whole article here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/michael-j-kruger/rescuing-the-church-from-a-facebook-culture.html

The Space Jesus Takes

It's Saturday and we're all busy. Some more, some less -- but all busy.

We learned in the Parable of the Sower last week that this busyness puts us all in the dangerous place of telling Jesus how big He can be and how much of our lives His kingdom may take up. But that's not the response of a citizen of the kingdom. He and His kingdom take up a lot of space. How does a busy Christian living in 2017 come to grips with the claims of our King and His Kingdom?

The Lord's Day (tomorrow) is actually one very concrete way. Jesus Christ is alive, and by dying and rising from the dead He has saved a people, and changed the creational Sabbath to the first day of the week. Now the first day is our weekly taste of what we're going to do forever -- rest in Him. Let us prepare for the day of our Lord!

Winter in the Soul

It's winter. And it has been figuratively stated that, "grace groweth best in winter."  Samuel Rutherford said it, and then elaborated, "Faith is a grace for winter, to give God leisure to bring summer in his own season." Does the season -- winter -- provide an apt metaphor for your soul today?

One of my favorite hymns for winter in the soul is, "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee", in which a young German Christian named George Neumark -- who'd been recently robbed of much of his life savings for college -- fought bitterness, perplexity, and perhaps even doubt & unbelief with Truth.

Today is Groundhog Day. And Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. So you might be in a similar place. You might want to hear an encouraging talk on this hymn by some PCA pastors here, or simply let these words of a saint who though yet dead speaks by his faith encourage you:
 

"Only be still, and wait his leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate'er thy Father's pleasure
And all deserving love hath sent...

Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving,
So do thine own part faithfully,
And trust his word, though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee;
God never yet forsook at need
The soul that trusted him indeed."


Sing hymns and psalms, read the Word, pour out your spirit in prayer, and find Him who is the Truth to be true again, again, and again to you, especially in winter.

The Second Advent: Words of Assurance

This is the manuscript for a sermon preached in December 2016.

The Second Advent: Words of Assurance – 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15 - Pastor Sadler

Prayer of Illumination

Blessed Lord, teach us Your statutes now so that we may seek You with our whole hearts, not wandering from the Truth, but delighting in Your testimonies as much as in all riches. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Reading of Scripture

[2Th 2:1-15 ESV] 1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.


Introduction (vv. 1-2)

We have learned for three weeks now about the church in Thessalonica. They needed words of comfort, words of watchfulness, words during trouble, and now words of assurance.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we learned all Christians will be gathered together by Jesus as His return, both those who are asleep and those who are alive.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, we learned that the Church doesn't know when Jesus will return, but she knows that He will. Therefore, she will be watchful.

In 2 Thessalonians, 1:3-12, we learned that truth faith often grows best in trouble, which trouble Jesus will end at His second coming.

Finally, today in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15, we learn that the Church should not be deceived about Jesus' second coming, bur rather hold fast to God's Word.

There is a danger of false teaching in the church at Thessalonica. It is that Christ has already returned. (vv. 1-2) Paul answers this false teaching by reminding them of everything they know of sound teaching. They need it. We do, too.

There are three doctrinal points here:

First in vv. 3-5. Before Jesus' return, there will be a rebellion in the church led by a wicked figure.

Second in vv. 6-7, Before Jesus' return, there is currently restraint of the leader of that rebellion.

Third in vv 8-12, At Jesus' return, Jesus will kill the leader of the rebellion.

Body

So, First in vv. 3-5. Before Jesus' return, there will be a rebellion in the church led by a wicked figure.

Now the text doesn't say it will be in the church, but the Greek word is “apostasia” (apostasy), which could also be translated “a falling away”. I think Paul's call in the whole section to not be deceived supports the interpretation that the falling away will be from within the church. Professing Christians will be deceived and by following this wicked person, will prove not to have been true Christians.

This wicked figure is “the man of lawlessness” or “man of sin”. What he is and what he will do Paul describes by 4 phrases:

-He will be hostile to God's law (lawlessness is anomia in Greek, against the law)

-He is destined for destruction (son of destruction)

-He is God's enemy (he opposes everything having to do with God, and he even counterfeits God)

-He will be envious (he will exalt himself over God)

So Paul is saying in AD 51 that this wicked leader of the apostasy hasn't come yet, so the saints need to be aware. His revealing and the rebellion in the visible church will happen before Jesus comes back.

As I taught you when we studied Daniel's prophecy, as well as 1-2 John, the Bible teaches that there is a line of antichrists that appear throughout history, and then a capital “A” Antichrist appears at the end, just before the Second Coming of Jesus. The danger of being deceived by any of them is real to Christians, so we are told by our loving God to be aware of it. I don't think we know who it will be. The following have been in his line:

-The Early Christians in Roman provinces said it was vandals.

-Christians in the middle ages said it was Mohammed.

-Christians in the late middle ages said it was corrupt popes.

-Christians in the Reformation said it was the papacy itself and therefore the Pope himself.

-Since the Reformation, it has been said that Napoleon Bonaparte, Kaiser Wilhelm, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin were the final, capital “A” Antichrist.

But all of them are dead. And since Paul is saying the Antichrist will be a human person , they can't be him. But they were all, I believe, little “a” antichrists – by which I mean they opposed Christ and sought to take His place as God and Lord

John says in 1 John that all false teachers are antichrists. So there is a line in history of antichrists who oppose Jesus, and this final one Antichrist will appear at the end.

John Stott says, “All these together, with other evil leaders down the centuries, have been forerunners or anticipations of the final man of lawlessness, and eschatological yet historical person, the decisive manifestation of lawlessness and godlessness, the leader of the ultimate rebellion, and the precursor and signal for the parousis [which is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ].”

Remember what Paul is addressing. The saints in Thessalonica have been hearing and reading false teaching that Jesus has already returned. And Paul is telling them, “No, He hasn't. Not only would you be with Him already with all God's Church in the new heavens and new earth, but the man of lawlessness would've first appeared.”

And Paul reminds them of previous teaching in v. 5: “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?

This leads us to our second point...

Second in vv. 6-7, Before Jesus' return, there is currently restraint of the leader of that rebellion.

They know, Paul says, what would have been restraining this man of lawlessness in their time. We don't what they knew. Commentators have admitted this for centuries. We don't know.

We regularly pray here at Grace Pres. that God would convert, remove, or restrain civil magistrates. This idea of restraint is something we regularly pray about. We believe that God ultimately restrains all evil and permits it, and He often used angelic or human means to restrain evil. Even the civil magistrate punishes evil says Paul in Romans 13, and is therefore used of God to restrain evil.

So we know God is restraining this leader, but we don't know by what means.

Now to Paul's last doctrinal point:

Third in vv 8-12, At Jesus' return, Jesus will kill the leader of the rebellion.

This man of lawlessness' career will be very short. As soon as he shows up and there is the rebellion, Jesus will kill him at His second coming.

The man of lawlessness will deceive many because they had pleasure in unrighteousness (that is they did not love the truth) and weren't saved. They will be judicially hardened by God. This is a process laid out in Romans 1. Judicial hardening is the beginning of God's just judgment of those who reject Him. It is the penalty for those who have hardened themselves.

There is a warning for us in this, friends. Some of these folks did appear to love the truth. Some of these folks appeared to have pleasure in righteousness. But they were deceived in the end.

Conclusion (vv. 13-15)

And that's why Paul ends with the call stand firm in vv 13-15. Let's read them again:

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

Don't be deceived. Hold fast to the Word. And here are some glorious truths for your assurance:

  • Be comforted by God's election.

    This is what the doctrine is for, not for doubt. Sadly, it's a good doctrine regularly used for the purposed of sinning. Some of us learn the doctrine of election and then misuse it.

    There's a place where JC Ryle says in his book, A Call to Prayer, that God commands us to pray. And then he says, some people respond to God's command by saying, “I can't pray until God saves me and give me a new heart!” Ryle responds by basically saying that this response is using good theology to sin. Yes, you can't respond to God until He saves you. But the Bible doesn't tell us to fret about that. The Word of God says this in effect: if you would be saved and have a new heart, cry out to Him for it, and He'll give it to you. Don't use His sovereign grace as your excuse!

Likewise the same is true with election. We learn the doctrine because it's everywhere in the Bible. And then some of ask the question, “Since salvation is of the Lord who chooses all those who He saves, what if I'm not elect?” And then we spiral into a fatalistic, deterministic, non-Christian worldview!

The Bible never tells us to peer into God's decrees like this, because we can't. The Bible tells us, “Would you be saved from your sins? Then cry out to Christ to save you, and He will. And then be comforted when you doubt by the truth that He chose you and He won't let you go.”

Paul never tells the saints to use the doctrine of election to perplex themselves. He assures the Thessalonians with this doctrine!! He's saying, “We're assured by the election of God that when we warn you not to be deceived and hold fast to the Word, you won't! His election assures us, Paul's saying, that you saints will make it through this life til the Second Coming, if you live that long.” So be comforted, be assured, by God's election.

    • Be comforted by the means of salvation.

      They were made holy by the Holy Spirit and the truth (that is, the Word of God). They were called by God through the gospel – when He proclaimed to them by His Spirit that Jesus died for their sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He has risen from the dead. Be comforted, God granted you to hear the Gospel and believe Him!

    • Be comforted that your end is secure.

      Though the Antichrist will deceive many though the activity of Satan (the arch deceiver himself), the man of lawlessness will be gone quickly, and what will follow is what we've learned about all month –

      Having met Jesus in the air with the Christians who've fallen asleep, we'll shout His victory and be together with Jesus and all His people forever!

    Therefore, beloved, don't be deceived. Hold fast to the apostolic Word! Christians, do not be afraid of belonging to a minority who trust Christ, know the Word, who believe Jesus is coming again, and who resolutely call His coming their Blessed Hope! All others are deceived, and will be further deceived, and finally condemned. But let us, saints, keep on holding fast!

    I visited a sick saint in the hospital this week. She said, “Pastor, my only hope is that I'm going to be with the Lord forever whenever He's ready to come back or take me home.” She was exactly right. It's her only hope and ours.

    Perhaps there are some here today who are not Christians. Friends, don't be foolish. This is real. Sin has no lasting pleasure in it. Only Christ has solid joy and lasting pleasure. Only Christ has the truth. Only Christ can save you. Turn to Him! Rise and run to Him! He'll embrace you.

    How in the world do I know that?

    Because, at His first coming, when He came as a baby in a manger, He suffered, and was humiliated, and died by subjecting Himself to crucifixion for sinners. God made Him to be sin Who knew no sin that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. He came once to save you by dealing with your sin and my sin. If you'll receive Him today, He'll make the Blessed Hope of His return real for you.

    Let's pray.