Emory Baptist Church
RISE UP! And Reclaim God’s Vision!

RISE UP! And Reclaim God’s Vision!

October 3, 2022

We are in week 3 of our RISE UP! Capital Campaign.  In the recent weeks, we have begun studying the book and story of Nehemiah.  Two weeks ago, we were challenged to RISE UP! And Remember God’s Faithfulness.  Last week, we were challenged to RISE UP! And Kneel Down.  That was a reference to prayer.

 

By the way, we still have available 1-hour time lots for our weekly prayer room and our 24-hour prayer vigil scheduled for October 15-16.  Brothers and sisters, if you are retired or determine your own work schedule, help me understand why you aren’t part of our weekly prayer room ministry.  Furthermore, with the 24-hour prayer vigil happening on Saturday and Sunday morning, it should not take us long to fill all of those time slots.

 

Today, we turn our attention to Nehemiah 2:1-8, and consider the challenge of RISE UP! And Reclaim God’s Vision, and vision is important.  I know that you are familiar with KJV of Proverbs 29:18.

 

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish.

 

What was God’s vision in Nehemiah 2?

 

 

Exposition

In verse 1, we see that this scene takes place approximately 4 months after chapter 1.  Back in the chapter 1:1, we saw that the time marker was the month of Chislev.  That is our November and December.

 

Here in 2:1, it is the month of Nisan.  This our March and April. 

 

Also in this first verse, we see Nehemiah doing his job.  Remember, he was the king’s cupbearer.  A cupbearer was a trust individual whose job was to drink the king’s drink and eat the king’s food to make sure it was safe for the king.

 

Nehemiah took the cup of wine after he had tasted it, and gave it to the king.  However, the king noticed something about Nehemiah that he had never seen before.  Nehemiah was sad, and the king could tell it.

 

When asked why, Nehemiah became deathly afraid.  He didn’t want the king to think his sadness had anything to do with him. 

 

In verse 3, we see the reason for his sadness.  He was grieved at the state of Jerusalem.  Remember, King Nebuchadnezzar ransacked Jerusalem in 586 BC, and it had laid in ruins for 140 years. 

 

Without saying the name of the city, he said the place where his fathers’ tombs were laid in waste.  Furthermore, the gates had been burned with fire.  In case you are thinking about gates that we are accustomed to, these were wooden gates.  In verse 4, King Artaxerxes asked what Nehemiah wanted him to do.

 

To be clear, God’s vision was Jerusalem, His holy city, to be safe and secure.  Consequently, He put that vision in Nehemiah’s heart, and Nehemiah’s part was then to rebuild the walls and gates. 

 

Here at Emory Baptist Church, what is our vision?  Our vision is to love God, love people, and make disciples.

 

Of course, the first step in making disciples is evangelism, and if you were here last Sunday, you remember how I demonstrated the importance of evangelism children and teenagers because once they turn 18 years of age, there is only a 16% chance that will be saved as adults. 

 

Consequently, God’s vision is to save the children and teenagers of Rains County.  A Family Life Center can be a tremendous resource and tool in aiding that effort. 

 

That is the big picture goal…making disciples.  However, what is the specific goal of RISE UP?  You can find it on page 8 of your RISE UP! booklet: To pay for the entire cost of our Family Life Center in a three-year period beginning November 2022 by engaging every member of Emory Baptist Church in biblical financial stewardship.

 

Therefore, how do we accomplish our vision in light of God’s vision?  What did Nehemiah do?  Look at verse 4.

 

 

  1. Nehemiah prayed, 2:4.

So I prayed to the God of heaven.

 

Nehemiah’s normal practice was to pray.  He prayed here, and we saw him pray last week.

 

Do you remember the contents of his prayer? He asked for God’s attention.  What is a great way to get God’s attention in prayer?  Tell Him how great He is.

 

Next, Nehemiah confessed his and Israel’s corruption or sin.  In short, they were disobedient to God’s commands given to them through Moses. 

 

What are your sins to confess specifically as it relates to RISE UP?  Are you guilty of fear or doubt or self-indulgence?

 

Finally, he petitioned God for prosperity.  Nehemiah prayed for God to prosper him in his efforts to rebuild the walls and gates. 

 

What would prosperity or success for us look like in this capital campaign?  Join me in praying for our construction costs to be no more than $225/square foot.  Join me in praying for every single EBC Family to live out biblical, financial stewardship, and that starts with giving and working toward tithing. 

 

Finally, join me in praying for God to provide every single cent to pay for our Family Life Center in a three-year period.  Humanly, it can’t be done, but when you call on the Lord God Almighty who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and can feed 5,000+ people with 5 biscuits and 2 sardines, He can turn our impossible to possible. 

 

 

  1. Nehemiah planned, 2:4-8a

5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”  6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.  7 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.”

 

When the king asked Nehemiah what he wanted or needed, he had obviously been thinking about it and planning it out.  Verse 5 says that Nehemiah told the king that he wanted to go and rebuild the city.

 

Of course, the king asked some details questions about timing, and then Nehemiah make some more requests of the king.  Verse 7 says that he requested some letters of permission and protection as Nehemiah traveled into enemy territories. 

 

Verse 8 is how we know that Nehemiah was rebuilding and repairing wooden walls and gates.  He needed access to king’s forest.

 

At least since August 2008, I believe EBC has been planning for where we are today.  Keep in mind, that is at least 14 years in the making.

 

  • Slide 1: August 24, 2008-First worship service in existing facility
  • Slide 2: May 23, 2010-EBC votes to establish our first Family Life Center Committee
  • Slide 3: May 15, 2011-EBC votes to purchase first of 4 lots on the east side of Ravine Street for future growth
  • Slide 4: August 17, 2014-EBC votes to build a Family Life Center
  • Slide 5: August 17, 2014-EBC votes to purchase the second of 4 lots on the east side of Ravine Street for future growth
  • Slide 6: November 16, 2014-EBC votes to call Richard Piles as their 29th pastor
  • Slide 7: July 2017-EBC is completely debt free having paid off our note on this main building
  • Slide 8: 2017-EBC acquired the Avon Rice property on this city block
  • Slide 9: January 2020-EBC votes to purchase the Wright property on this block
  • Slide 10: December 2020-EBC votes to hire Godwin Design Architects for our Family Life Center
  • Slide 11: January 2021-FLC Committee received input from the congregation on the design of the FLC through multiple bulletin inserts and multiple listening sessions
  • Slide 12: March 20, 2022-EBC votes to approve GDA’s design for our FLC
  • Slide 13: March 20, 2022-EBC votes to establish the Capital Fund-Raising Team for the FLC
  • Slide 14: September 18, 2022-RISE UP! Capital Campaign begins for 6 weeks
  • Slide 15: September 25, 2022-EBC votes to purchase third and fourth lots of 4 on the east side of Ravine Street for future growth

 

Brothers and sisters, we have not rushed to where we are today.  As a matter of fact, we have been planning, like Nehemiah, for 14+ years moving closer to our goal.

 

 

  • The King perceived, 2:8b

And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

 

At the end of verse 8, Nehemiah said the king granted his request.  Why did he do this?  He granted his request because he perceived or trusted that God was leading Nehemiah.

 

Brothers and sisters, sooner or later, as it relates to our FLC and how to pay for it, you are going to have to perceive whether or not your leaders are being led by God.  Is your pastor following the Lord?  Are you deacons following the Lord?  Is your Family Life Center Committee following the Lord?  Is your Capital Fund-Raising Team following the Lord? 

 

If no, then sit back and do nothing but watch.  If yes, then it is incumbent upon you to follow your leaders as they follow the Lord.

 

Here is one couple that doing just that. 

RISE UP! And Kneel Down!

RISE UP! And Kneel Down!

September 26, 2022

Last week, we began our six week RISE UP! Sunday School Series and Sunday Morning Sermon Series.  If you weren’t here, we looked at Nehemiah 1:1-3, and we remember God’s faithfulness.

 

In that text, we were reminded of God’s faithfulness in being in control, in always providing, and in being holy and calling us to the same.  As a matter of fact, the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and the gates were burned with fire as God was disciplining Israel for their disobedience.  God is faithful to always bless obedience and always discipline disobedience.

 

Specifically, in 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar had attacked the city, its walls, and its gates, and they had been in ruins for 140 years before Nehemiah.  RISE UP! is about God raising up Nehemiah to lead the people in restoring what had been destroyed and raising up the people of EBC to build what God can use to bring more people to Himself for salvation.

 

 

  1. The Cause of Nehemiah’s Prayer, 1:4

4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 

 

Verse 4 says that Nehemiah heard some words, and when he did, he prayed.  What words had he heard?  Look at verse 3.

 

3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

 

Jews who had escaped and survived the Babylonian captivity were now in Jerusalem, and they reported to Nehemiah through his brother, Hanani, that wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the gates had been burned with fire.

 

Understandably, this broke Nehemiah’s heart.  How do we know?  After he heard, he sat.  When he sat, he cried.  In his crying, he mourned for many days. 

 

However, his grief and his mourning drove him to his knees.  He fasted and prayed before the God heaven.

 

Brothers and sisters, the walls had been torn down, and they needed to be rebuilt.  It was this need that drove Nehemiah to his knees in prayer. 

 

I am not going to stand before you this morning and tell you that a Family Life Center is a need that we have.  However, I will tell you that ministry to children and teenagers in our community is absolutely a need, and FLC would be a tremendous resource and tool that could help us in this ministry. 

 

By the way, statistics tell us again and again, that an individual doesn’t accept Christ as Lord and Savior as a child or teenager, chances are he or she won’t after they turn 18.   Specifically, 84% of Christians came to Christ before 18 years of age.  After 18, the number drops to 16%.

Personally, I want you to know our CFT understands this need.  Consequently, back on August 14-17, we did intermittent fasting for 3 days.  We fasted from breakfast and lunch on Monday and ate dinner.  We fasted from breakfast and lunch on Tuesday and ate dinner.  We fasted from breakfast and lunch on Wednesday and ate dinner. 

 

During breakfast and lunch, what did we do?  We read the entire book of Nehemiah in parts, and prayed.  We asked God to give us the resource and tool that would help us tremendously in reaching more children and teenagers in Rains County for Christ.

 

 

  1. The Content of Nehemiah’s Prayer, 1:5-11a

5 And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name.

 

I see three parts to Nehemiah’s prayer.  You may see more, but first, he asked for God’s attention in verses 5-6. 

 

Verse 6 says please let Your ear by attentive and Your eyes open that He might hear our prayers.  Do you know the best way to get God’s attention in my opinion? 

 

Tell Him how great He is. That may sound odd or weird, but isn’t that exactly what Nehemiah did?  Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments. 

 

As it relates to building a FLC debt free, we at EBC cannot do it!  But God…the God who is great and awesome, the God who loves children, the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the God of the possible and not the impossible.  But God can, and when He does, He will get all the glory and honor.

 

Let’s pray and first ask for God’s attention.

 

Second, notice that Nehemiah confessed their corruption or their sin.  There in verse 6, he said they had sinned against God.  They acted corruptly in verse 7 by not keeping or obeying God’s commands. 

 

By the way, the truth of verses 8 and 9 is all throughout the OT and needs to remain before us in our study of Nehemiah.  God is always faithful to bless our obedience, and He is faithful to discipline our disobedience. 

 

Verse 8 says He will scatter because of disobedience and gather because of obedience.  Whether we are talking about a FLC or not, brothers and sisters, learn this truth.  Live this truth.  Heed this truth.

 

What is your corruption or sin that needs to be confessed this morning?  As it relates to the FLC, is it the sin of fear? Did you know that “feat not” is the most prevalent command in the entire Bible?  God knows what He is doing, and His time is always right, and I believe that we are following God’s timing.

 

Maybe you need to confess the sin of doubt.  Where is your faith?  Do you have more faith in the mountain or the mountain mover?  If we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can say to that mountain go, and into the ocean it will go. 

 

Maybe you need to confess the sin of self-indulgence.  I read just this week that every adult in Texas has on average $5,308 in CC debt.  That means $10,000 per couple.  I’ve been there, and it was sin, and Christy and confessed and repented never to go there again. 

 

Third, Nehemiah prayed for prosperity.  Why was it ok for Nehemiah to prosper?  What was Nehemiah doing?  He was leading the people of God to be obedient to the word of God and rebuild the walls of the city of God. 

 

If we are able to build a FLC debt free, it will only be because God has provided.  Logically and financially, it doesn’t work out on paper, and people thought Noah was crazy building an ark when they had never seen rain. 

 

What would prosperity look like for this occasion?  First, pray for construction costs to come down to at least $225 per square foot. 

 

Second, pray for God to drawn in every single family at EBC to live out biblical, financial stewardship.  That means honoring God with you spend your money.  That means not spending more than you take in.  It means tithing.  It means being generous. 

 

Third, pray for God to provide every single cent to pay for this FLC in three years’ time beginning November 2022. 

 

 

  1. The Consequence of Nehemiah’s Prayer, 6:16-16

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

 

The consequence of Nehemiah’s prayer is that it was answered by God, and it was God who rebuilt the wall.  Remember, this remnant did the unthinkable.  They rebuilt the wall in 52 days after having been broken down for 140 years.

 

When God pays for this FLC through your generous giving, all the naysayers will be forced to say, “God showed up!”  I look forward to that day.

 

What can you do today?  Pray individually.  Pray during our 24-hour prayer vigil.  Pray in our prayer room weekly.

 

 

 

Believing is the Beginning Not the End of Salvation!

Believing is the Beginning Not the End of Salvation!

September 19, 2022

In the recent weeks, we have been looking at the ongoing dialogue between Jesus and Jewish religious leaders who did not believe His message.  It all takes place in Jerusalem, and for the most part, they are trying to trap Jesus and discredit His ministry. 

 

However, what usually happens is that He refutes their claims and ends up making them look ridiculous which further multiplies their anger.

 

Today, we finish John 8, and I want to give you 5 signs of a true follower of Christ in this message that I have entitled, “Believing is the Beginning not the End of Salvation!”

 

 

  1. A true follower of Christ perseveres in life, John 8:31.

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

 

Evidently, there were some Jews who may have been starting to give Jesus a listen.  We ended last week with verse 30 that said that many believed in Him. 

 

However, believing is just the beginning of salvation not the end.  In verse 31, Jesus pointed them to the next step in their salvation journey.   

 

The first evidence of a true follower of Christ is one who abides in His word or perseveres in life.  True followers may fall a way for a time but not forever.  All true followers of Christ return to Him before they die.

 

People ask me regularly if I think this person or that person was a Christian.  I always say it doesn’t matter what I think, but if they walked away from Christ and never returned, the answer would appear to be no.

 

John talks about some people who left the church he was pastoring in 1 John.  See 1 John 2:19. 

 

19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

 

We have members of EBC who joined our church at one time but no longer attend.  Did they lose their salvation?  I would say that if they don’t return, they were never saved in the first place, and that should scare us to death because plenty of those people are close friends and family members. 

 

We ought to be do all that we can to minister to them and hopefully see them return to Christ and His church.  A true follower of Christ perseveres in life.

 

 

  1. A true follower of Christ is pure in his living, John 8:32-36.

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

Not only will a true follower of Christ persevere in life, but he will also be pure in his living.  Does that mean that Christians are perfect?  Does that mean that Christians don’t make mistakes?  No, it means that Christians are not slaves to sin.

 

In verse 32, Jesus said you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  The truth is liberating. 

 

However, these Jews did not understand Jesus to be speaking spiritually but literally and physically.  In verse 33, they contended they had never been enslaved to anyone.  This statement makes you wonder.  Had they forgotten about Egypt?  Were they not enslaved to the Romans right then? 

 

Regardless, Jesus was speaking spiritually and told them that the one who commits sin, that is habitually practicing it with no remorse, is the slave to sin.  In verse 35, He used an analogy to illustrate that they would certainly understand. 

 

The slave is not a slave forever and doesn’t get to stay in the house.  However, the son is always a son. 

 

Wasn’t this true with Ishmael and Isaac?  Ishmael was the son of the slave woman and even though he was a son of Abraham, he was not the son of promise. 

 

The son of promise was the son of the free woman, Sarah.  That was Isaac, the son from which Christ eventually came.

 

Therefore, if the Son, that is Jesus, saves you, you are free from sin and no longer a slave to it.  That is exactly what Paul said in Romans 6:1-7. 

 

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

 

Again, you are perfect as a follower of Christ.  You are a sinner but you hate sin and want very much to be pure in your living.

 

 

  • A true follower of Christ has a paternal likeness, John 8:37-39.

.  37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”  39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”  Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.

 

In talking about Abraham, Jesus challenged them on the point of being Abraham’s descendents because they were trying to kill Him.  Rather Jesus insisted they had another father in verse 38. 

 

Again, they didn’t get it.  They retorted that indeed Abraham was their father.  Jesus said to them, if that is true, then act like your father.  Demonstrate your paternal likeness.  After all the cliché says, “Like father, like son?”

 

Well, what exactly were they to imitate about Abraham?  See James 2:21-24. 

 

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

 

Abraham believed and obeyed.  He didn’t try to kill Jesus, yet that is what you’re doing.  A true follower of Christ has a paternal likeness. 

 

 

  1. A true follower of Christ is passionate about the Lord, John 8:40-42.

40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”  Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”  42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

 

However, in reality, the Jews were demonstrating paternal likeness, but their father was not Jesus’ father.  If so, they would love Jesus or they would be passionate about the Lord. 

 

Jesus was the Son of God.  He was God’s messenger.  He came from God and acted on God’s initiative.  However, they didn’t welcome Him.

 

The same is true today.  We have plenty of people who claim to believe in God. 

 

However, believing in God is of no benefit if you don’t receive His Son, Jesus.  True followers of Christ are passionate about the Lord meaning they love Jesus and obey Jesus.

 

 

  1. A true follower of Christ is perceptive in listening, John 8:43-47.

43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

                  

These Jews did not understand Jesus because God was not their father.  Their father was the devil, and he is the father of lies and has been lying since Genesis 3.  They did not believe Jesus, and they couldn’t hear God because they were not of God but the devil.

 

The same is true today.  Isn’t it amazing how when witnessing to a lost person, they just don’t understand. 

 

Someone who is not a Christian doesn’t “get” the Bible.  It doesn’t make since.  It is illogical. 

 

Paul told us the same in 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2:14. A true follower of Christ is perceptive in listening.

 

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

 

14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

 

 

Conclusion 8:48-59

48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”  49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”  52 Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”  54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”  58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

 

As a result, the Jews resorted to character assassination.  In verse 48, they called Him a Samaritan and said that He was demon-possessed. 

 

Of course, He wasn’t a Samaritan, and He wasn’t demon-possessed.  He was doing the will of the Father, and if they wanted to spiritually live forever, they would have to keep His word or in other words believe and obey. 

 

However, they went on with their attacks because they didn’t understand in verse 52.  The earthly Jesus had not seen Abraham, but the preincarnate Christ had, and Abraham was glad and welcomed the Messiah.  Actually, Jesus said He was before Abraham because He was God.

 

This they couldn’t handle.  It was blasphemy, and they were ready to carry out stoning right then and there, but it wasn’t God’s time.

 

So what about you?  Are you a true follower of Christ?  Will you preserve in life?  Are you pure in your living?  Do you have a paternal likeness?  Are you passionate about the Lord?  Are you perceptive in listening?

 

You may be a member of EBC, but are you a member of heaven?  You may be a regular church attender, but we you live in heaven for eternity? 

 

If you are not a true follower of Christ, today will you call on the Lord and be saved?  If you are, will you begin living like it?

Will You Die in Your Sins?

Will You Die in Your Sins?

September 19, 2022

The last time we were in John 8, we heard Jesus say in 8:12, “I am the light of the world.”

 

If you remember, He said that at the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles.  The four enormous menorahs had been extinguished, and as the darkness grew and where hundreds and hundreds of people could hear Him, He said, “I am the light of the world.”

 

We then found out what that means for those who come and follow Jesus.  He can dispel the darkness of unbelief in you.  He can dispel the darkness of ignorance in you.  He can dispel the darkness of unbelief in others.

 

Here in John 8:21, Jesus is still addressing the Pharisees, who were the Jewish religious leaders. 

 

 

Exposition

8:21-22

21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”  22 So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?” 

 

In verse 21, Jesus said again to these Jewish religious leaders that He was going away.  He was foreshadowing His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave and His ascension to His Heavenly Father.  Then He said they would seek Him, but would die in their sins.  For where He was going, they could not come. 

 

Jesus’ comments provoked this question in verse 22, “Will He will kill Himself?”  There question was snarky and insulting to the utmost degree. 

 

These Jews thought they were on their way to heaven.  They also thought that Jesus claimed to be headed there as well, but this statement through them off.  If He was going to heaven, why couldn’t they go there?

 

They then concluded that He was talking about suicide, and Jewish thought was that suicide would send a person to hell.  They thought they were going to heaven, and Jesus was going to hell.

 

 

8:23-24

23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

 

In verse 23, Jesus said that He was from God in heaven, and they were from the world.  Of course, that is true.

 

By the way, even though all of us are from the world, if have put our faith in trust as Jesus as Lord and Savior, we better not be friends with the world or love the world.  See James 4:4 and 1 John 2:15.

 

4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

 

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

In other words, when you accepted Christ, all things should have become new.  If that is not true, you ought to be worried.

 

Brothers and Sisters, our marriage cannot be the same as the world.  Our speech cannot be same as the world.  How we recreate cannot be same as the world.  How we parent cannot be same as the world.  How we spend our money cannot be the same as the world.  If the only difference between you and the world is where you spend Sunday mornings, you might be on your way to the same the place the world will go when they die. 

 

Furthermore, Jesus went on to say they would die in their sins if they didn’t believe that Jesus was God.  What does it mean to die in your sins?  I’m going to answer that in just a moment. 

 

 

8:25-30

25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”  And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”  27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.  28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

 

In verse 25, they asked Jesus, “Who are You?”  Jesus told them that His answer is the same as it always has been, and they can trust what He says because He speaking on behalf of the one who sent Him.  Of course, they didn’t understand that He was talking about God the Father. 

 

In verse 28, Jesus prophesied of His death on the cross.  Some of them would finally recognize His true identity after seeing Him crucified and resurrected because Jesus was going to do everything His Father sent Him to do as they experienced perfect unity. 

 

 

Applications

  1. Will suicide send a person to hell? Or, is suicide the unpardonable sin?

 

In short and according to the Bible, a person who commits suicide is not necessarily going to hell.  The only sin that cannot be and will not be forgiven is the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit or attributing to man only what should be attributed to God.  See Matthew 12:31-32.

 

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

 

Therefore, suicide is not the unpardonable sin.  Rejecting Christ is or thinking that you can save yourself and don’t need to be born of the Holy Spirit.

 

What about Judas?  I believe Judas went to hell when he committed suicide, but it was because he rejected Christ and not because he hung himself. 

 

 

  1. What does it mean to die in your sins?

Jesus uses that phrase on multiple times in 8:24. We are all sinners, and we are all living in our sins unless we have asked Jesus to forgive us and confessed Him as Lord and Savior.

 

For the person who receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that person does not die in his or her sins, but trades his or her sins for Jesus’ righteousness when you call on the name of the Lord to save you. 

 

However, if you do not receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, then you are depending on your own morality to get you into heaven, and you will die in your sin even if it is only one sin because even one sin violates God’s perfect holiness.   

 

 

  1. Who is Jesus?

That is exactly what the Jews asked in verse 25.  First, Jesus claimed to be God.  He did this in verses 21, 23, and 28.  Every time Jesus said, “I am,” He was claiming to be God, and we know this was true because He was God’s Son.

 

Second, Jesus claimed to be Promised Messiah.  When He spoke in verse 28, He was both looking back and looking forward.  He was looking back comparing Himself to Moses who lifted up the brass serpent to heal the people.  He was looking forward to when He would die on the cross for the sins of the world. 

 

Third, Jesus can be your personal savior.  In verse 30, many believed in Jesus.  Is Jesus your personal savior.

 

Back in 8:12, Jesus invited His audience and us to follow Him as the light of the world.  Would you follow Him today as light of the world and let Him dispel the darkness of unbelief in your life?

 

How you answer “How is Jesus” will determine where you spend eternity.  I pray that you have chosen Him as Lord and Savior and eternity in heaven.

Nehemiah 1:1-3, RISE UP! And Remember God’s Faithfulness
Get Back in the Game!
Jesus is the Light of the World!

Jesus is the Light of the World!

August 21, 2022

Has there ever been a time in your life when you were scared of the dark?  When my girls were younger, they all preferred to have some type of nightlight on so that their rooms are not completely dark while they’re sleeping.  Many of us can identify with that in thinking back to our own childhoods.

 

In another regard, I am still afraid of the dark today.  I am afraid of spiritual darkness, and I hate to be the barer of doom and gloom, but I believe that the Bible teaches that until Jesus returns, our world and our culture will grow darker and darker as it relates to violence and immorality and injustice.  All you have to do is see the news on the internet or watch a local newscast. 

 

However, I have good news for us in John 8:12.  Please allow me to give you some context. 

 

Last week, Jesus was in the temple when He didn’t condemn and forgave the woman caught in adultery and told her to her to sin no more.  Today, He is still in the temple most likely in the Court of Women. 

 

Also, remember that this was the end of the Feast of the Tabernacles.  Bible commentators tell us that during that festival, four gigantic menorahs or candelabras were used to light the entire city of Jerusalem.  However, at the end of the festival, they were extinguished. 

 

It was with this backdrop that Jesus mage His second “I am” statement in John’s gospel when He said in 8:12, “I am the light of the world.”  His first “I am” statement was in John 6:35 when He said, “I am the bread of life.”

 

Notice that Jesus didn’t say He was a light.  He said He was the definitive light of the world.

 

With this statement, He was again claiming to be God as light is symbolic of God throughout the Scriptures.  See Psalm 27:1, 36:9; Acts 9:3-5; 1 John 1:5.

 

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

 

9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.

 

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”  Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

 

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

 

And of course, many of us remember God in the OT demonstrating Himself in a flame at night as He guided the nation of Israel and the people of God at night.  The gigantic menorahs I spoke of earlier were supposed to remind these orthodox Jews of that experience during the Feast of the Tabernacles.

 

However, as we have come to expect, Jesus’ declaration was again challenged by the Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders of the day, and in today’s text, we see how Jesus who or what affirmed Jesus as God.

 

 

Exposition

  1. Jesus was affirmed as God by Himself, 8:13-14.

13 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”  14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.

 

The Pharisees accused Him of lying because they didn’t think He had others to testify on His behalf, but He assured them of the contrary.  His testimony was true as He knew where He came from and where He was going. 

 

He clearly knew that He was God.  He clearly knew He came from God, and He clearly knew that He was returning to God after He completed His mission.

 

 

  1. Jesus was affirmed as God by the Father, 8:15-16.

15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

 

Jesus countered their attacks with an assertion of His own.  They judged Him according to the flesh or what they saw.  He did not measure up to their physical visions of what a Messiah should be.  He was not political leader.  He was not a military power.  He was not an earthly king.

 

However, Jesus did not come to judge anyone but to save, but even if He did come to judge, His judgment would be true as God the Father had affirmed Him. 

 

 

  1. Jesus was affirmed as God by the Scriptures, 8:17-18.

17 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”

 

With this affirmation, Jesus’ testimony would even now hold up in a court of law according to the OT because He had another witness making two.  See Deuteronomy 19:15.

 

15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.

 

After Jesus mentioned His Father in 8:18, the Pharisees sarcastically asked Him about His father in 8:19.  Look at His response. 

 

Jesus said that they didn’t know His Father because they didn’t know Him.  That statement got all over them

 

However, as we have seen before, Jesus didn’t operate on His own time table. He operated on God’s time table, and because of that, He was protected until it was time for Him to lay down His life.

 

 

Applications

When we think about applications for this text, the invitation is clear, and that is for you to come to the Light of the world.  If you do, here’s what happens.

 

First, Jesus will dispel the darkness of unbelief.  Because Jesus is the light of the world, if you come to Him, you will be saved because He is the light of life in 8:12.

 

Even Simeon said this about Jesus in Luke 2:27-33.

 

27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”  33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.

 

Second, Jesus will dispel the darkness of ignorance.  By nature, light illumines the path and shows us where to go.

 

If you come to Jesus, He will provide light and guidance for daily living.  Consider Matthew 18-19.

 

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.  18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

 

  1. Jesus doesn’t want you to live in sin.
  2. The Church is God’s plan for your spiritual maturity and that includes holding you accountable for the life you live.

 

1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.  3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”  4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

 

  1. There are only two genders, and those genders are the two that God assigns at birth.
  2. Marriage is only between one husband and one wife at one time.
  3. Divorce is not God’s ideal for you.

 

Therefore, when we come to Jesus, we don’t have to live in the darkness of ignorance.  Jesus will light the way for us.

 

Finally, if you come to Jesus, He will also dispel the darkness in others through you because you will become the light as well.

 

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

God’s plan for you right now wherever you are and whatever you’re doing is to be the light for others.  Otherwise, He would have already take you to heaven.

Caught Red-Handed

Caught Red-Handed

August 15, 2022

Have you ever been caught red-handed?  What does that mean?  It means you were doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing, and you were caught in the act. 

 

Maybe you were eating something you weren’t supposed to be eating.  Maybe you were watching something you weren’t supposed to be watching.  Maybe you bought something you weren’t supposed to buy.  You were caught red-handed or in the very act.

 

This morning, we come to a text that is probably very familiar to many of us. However, it is surrounded in controversy, but the controversy is more about its origin rather than its content.

 

I suspect that every Bible in the room has some kind of comment or footnote regarding this text.  Most comments allude to the fact that these verses were not included in our earliest copies of the NT.  However, they are in most copies of our earliest NT and in every Bible in the room this morning. 

 

Therefore, we will trust them to be profitable for us today as we continue our study of John’s gospel.  Let’s read the text from 7:53 to 8:11.

 

I need to rewind for just a moment.  Go back to 7:2. Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles.

 

2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

 

One of His many invitations to those who were listening to Him and dialoguing with Him was to come and drink of Him.  We see this 7:37.

 

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

 

As you know, there were mixed responses to this invitation.  Look at 7:40-44.

 

40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.”  But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

 

This takes us to the end of chapter 7.  At the end of the day, everyone went to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  Maybe He was sleeping under the stars.  Maybe He stayed with friends. 

 

Regardless, verse 2 takes us to the next day, and it was early in the morning, and Jesus was in the temple again teaching.  Notice also that many people were coming to Him.  Why?  Look at 7:45-46.

 

45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”  46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”

 

His teaching was like nothing they had ever heard.  His ability to explain the Scriptures to them left them in awe.

 

  1. An Attempt to Entrap, John 8:3-6

3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.

 

This attempt to entrap involves three parties.  First of all, we have the cynics played by the scribes and Pharisees in verse 3.  The scribes were experts in the law.  The Pharisees were the Jewish religious leaders.  Evidently, they broke into the circle bringing some woman they had supposedly caught sinning and throwing her into the middle of the circle. 

 

Even though they called Him “Teacher” in verse 4, you can bet it was sarcastic as you see their motivation in verse 6.  They were saying these things to test or trap Him. 

 

The second party here is the sinning woman.  There is no question of her guilt.  She was guilty of the alleged crime.  The question was her punishment or discipline. 

 

The third party is the Savior.  Again, the cynics wanted to trap Jesus.  They wanted to get Him to say something that they could use against Him later with the people. 

 

As it relates to their question, the cynics were right.  This woman was guilty and deserved stoning according to the OT Law.  See Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 22:22.

 

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

 

22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.

 

However, we should ask a couple of questions.  First of all, where is the man?  Isn’t he guilty as well?  Secondly, if they caught them in the very act, are these cynics guilty of lust of the flesh which Jesus equates to adultery in Matthew 5:27-28?

 

 

27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

 

However, the cynics thought they had trapped Jesus.  If he said let her go, He would have been guilty of contradicting the Mosaic Law. 

 

If he said stone her, He would have compromised His mercy and compassion, and furthermore, He would have been trouble with the Romans because Jews were not allowed to carry out the death penalty (See John 18:31).  What was He to do?

 

31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”  Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,”

 

 

  1. An Answer that was Enigmatic, John 8:6-9

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.  7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

 

The middle of verse 6 tells us that Jesus began writing on the ground. What was He writing? 

 

Was He writing the names of all those present that were guilty of adultery?  Was He writing the sins of those present?  Was He writing the ten commandments that we have all broken? 

 

The bottom line is that no one knows.  Anyone who tells you certainly what Jesus wrote is not be honest.  Any and all answers are speculation.  John didn’t feel like it was important for us to know.

 

Jesus continued to write in the sand and not answer the cynics until they persisted.  Finally, He stood up and instructed them to go ahead and stone her, and the one without sin should throw the first stone. 

 

This was also part of the OT Law.  See Deuteronomy 19:15-19.

 

15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16 If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

 

In other words, the witnesses had to be credible.  They had to be seeking justice rather than malice.  He stooped down and wrote some more.

 

Now let’s be clear.  This passage does not teach that Christian brothers and sisters cannot hold each other accountable.  See Matthew 18:15 and Galatians 6:1.

 

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

 

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

 

When no credible witnesses could be found, the crowd of cynics thinned beginning with the older.  Was it because they were humbler and recognized their faults?  Was it because they had accumulated more faults by living longer?  The story doesn’t say. 

 

 

  • Applications for Everyone, John 8:10-11

10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”  11 She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

 

Finally, it was just the woman caught red-handed and Jesus. He asked her if she had any more accusers.  Answering respectfully, she said, “No one, Lord.”

 

Notice then Jesus’ response in verse 11.  No one condemned her and neither did He.

 

First, there’s an application for the saints: don’t be two-faced.  Stop your hypocrisy.

 

See 8:7. Live a life that honors Jesus and is the same whether in public or private.

 

Also, learn to be gracious and compassionate.  There is only one Holy Spirit and you aren’t Him. 

 

Second, there’s an application for sinners: stop sinning.  See 8:11. Jesus didn’t condemn this woman who caught red-handed, but He emphatically told her to stop her lifestyle of sinning. 

 

Christians who are sinners: stop your griping and complaining, stop cheating on your spouse, stop being racist at work, stop spending so much money trying to have all the new toys and gadgets that you don’t give to your local church, stop worshipping youth sports.

 

For those of you who are lost: stop your sinning with unbelief.  Call on the name of Jesus to save you.

 

Finally, there’s an application about the Savior.  This story has one main character. It is not Pharisee who spoke.  It is not the adulterous woman.  It is Jesus. 

 

He is worthy of our worship and worthy of our praise.  He is authoritative in His teaching. He is wise in His judgement.  He is forgiving in His treatment of us. 

 

Will you ask Him to forgive you this morning as you’re caught red-handed? 

 

 

 

Encouraging Words for Difficult Days
Why We Do What We Do at EBC with the Lord’s Supper

Why We Do What We Do at EBC with the Lord’s Supper

July 24, 2022

This morning, we are taking a break from John’s gospel, and I want to take the opportunity not only to lead us in taking the Lord’s Supper in just a few minutes but also understanding the Lord’s Supper before we take it. 

 

Today’s sermon will be more of teaching than preaching as I attempt to answer some of the more important questions regarding the Lord’s Supper.  As a matter of fact, you might call them our Top 10 Questions about the Lord’s Supper. 

 

  1. Is the Lord’s Supper a sacrament or an ordinance?

Our friends from liturgical congregations, such as Catholics and Episcopalians and Methodists and Presbyterians call it a “sacrament.”  When I say, “liturgical,” I mean related to liturgy or ritual in a worship service. 

 

Those in the free church tradition, meaning there is no pope over us or hierarchy for that matter (autonomous), have chosen not to use the word “sacrament” because not only does it mean what is sacred, but also it has come to mean dispensing or giving out of grace or a tool or vehicle for salvation.  In other words, it saves you.

 

Baptists believe that salvation is through grace alone and faith alone in Christ alone.  Therefore, we have chosen to use the word “ordinance” which means ordained or ordered and specifically ordered by the Lord Jesus. 

When we baptize here at EBC, we are practicing one ordinance.  In a few minutes, we will practice what we understand as the second of two ordinances, the Lord’s Supper.

 

Therefore, Baptists recognize only two ordinances in the NT for the local church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

 

 

  1. What should we call this ordinance that has many names?

 

There are actually several of what I would call biblical names for the ordinance that we most often call “The Lord’s Supper.”

 

In Acts 2:42, Luke called it “the breaking of bread.”

 

Acts 2:42, 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

 

In 1 Corinthians 10:16, Paul used the word, “communion.”

 

1 Corinthians 10:16, 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

 

By communion, we mean a mutual participation or communing or sharing or fellowship with one another.  As the body of Christ, we commune with the Lord and one another.

 

 

In 1 Corinthians 11:20, Paul used the word that is probably most common in Baptist churches, but this verse is actually an indictment to the Corinthian Church.

 

1 Corinthians 11:20, 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.

 

They were coming together to sin rather than to take the Lord’s Supper.

 

Another word that is often used in more liturgical churches like I mentioned previously, Catholics and Episcopalians and Methodists and Presbyterians, is the word “Eucharist.” 

 

It comes from a New Testament word that means to give thanks.  See 1 Corinthians 11:24.

 

1 Corinthians 11:24, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

 

A final word that I want to mention that does not have its origin in the Bible is the term “mass.” 

 

It was originally used as the closing blessing or benediction of any worship service. 

 

In the Roman Catholic Church, it eventually was applied to the liturgy of the Word or preaching and the liturgy of the Eucharist or Communion.

 

 

 

  1. Do we understand the Lord’s Supper to be a “Christian ordinance” or a “Church ordinance?”

 

In other words, are the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper given to any Christian to observe on any occasion and in any circumstance or were they given to the local Church to administer?

 

Historically, and I believe biblically, these ordinances were given to the local church, and here’s why.  Listen to the 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 and notice the repetition of a particular phrase.

 

17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.  23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.  33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

 

On five occasions, Paul speaks of coming together.  Individual Christians don’t come together.  Churches come together. 

 

Therefore, again, I would contend along with Baptists through the years, that believers are to participate in baptism and the Lord’s Supper under the authority and administration of a local church.

 

Consequently, when we take teenagers to youth camp and preteens to children’s camp, we don’t go to camps that baptize and take the Lord’s Supper.  Why?  Because that is not the local church.

 

Furthermore, the local church is also not your uncle Joe and your aunt Mary and your cousins.  Therefore, we don’t recommend being baptized by your uncle in his pool or taking the Lord’s Supper on vacation with your grandparents. 

 

Why?  Because they aren’t Christians?  No, because they aren’t a local church. 

 

 

  1. When did the Lord’s Supper begin?

 

The Lord’s Supper began with Jesus and is recounted for us in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22. 

 

Let’s look at Mark’s account beginning in Mark 14:12.

 

12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”  13 And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”  16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.  17 In the evening He came with the twelve. 18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.”  19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?”  20 He answered and said to them, “It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”  22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”  26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

As you can see from Mark 14, the Lord’s Supper is closely tied to the Passover.  However, do we remember what the Passover was?

 

 

  1. What is the Passover?

 

The nation of Israel was being held captive by Pharaoh of Egypt.  The Lord had brought nine plagues on Pharaoh and his people in an effort to force him to let His people go.  However, he still refused.

 

The Passover is then introduced in Exodus 11 and described in Exodus 12:12-14.

 

As a tenth plague, God had announced that He would take the life of every first-born Egyptian male child and animal. 

 

Consequently, each Jewish family was to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and mark the doorway of their home with its blood. 

 

The Lord would then see the blood and pass over that home in His looking for the first-born Egyptian male children and animals. 

 

Exodus 12:12-14, 12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.  14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

 

Therefore, the Passover and the Lord’s Supper are tied together in that the Lord Jesus is the perfect Lamb whose blood was shed. 

 

When the blood of Christ is applied to your heart by Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, the judgment of God passes over you and gives you eternal life in heaven.

 

 

  1. What elements should be included in the Lord’ Supper?

 

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 mentions two: the bread and the cup. 

 

1 Corinthians 11:23-26, 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

 

Therefore, we normally offer unleavened bread and grape juice. 

 

Why unleavened bread?  Leaven in the Bible is often used to symbolize sin.

 

The first church probably used a single loaf of a bread, and drank wine from a common cup. 

 

When church members ask me about using real win so we can be more biblical, I ask them if they want to use a common cup as well to be more biblical. 

 

For some reason, they usually reconsider.

 

Christy and I, have actually used a common cup and real wine when taking the Lord’s Supper at a Baptist church in Kiev, Ukraine.  I don’t recommend it.

 

 

  1. When should we take the Lord’s Supper?

 

Some of you will probably be surprised at my answer to this, but the Churches of Christ got it right. 

 

In the New Testament, the Lord’s Supper was taken weekly…every time the church met…and probably on Sunday night.

 

Acts 20:7, 7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

 

My experience growing up at FBC Venus and FBC Alvarado, the Lord’s Supper was observed on a quarterly basis. 

 

For many of you, I think that was also true here at EBC in the past.   

 

Personally, I prefer monthly compared to quarterly, and the Bible does not prescribe how often we should take it.

 

 

  1. What does the Lord’s Supper mean?

 

The answer to this question is what separates denominations. 

 

By the way, I don’t think having denominations is bad when we separate over Biblical interpretation.

 

While it won’t be that way in heaven, I don’t think it is bad here on earth…especially since we can’t interpret perfectly here, but we will there.

 

Our Catholic friends hold to what is called transubstantiation.  Transubstantiation “simply means ‘the bread and the wine actually become (or are transformed into) the body and the blood of Christ.  This happens at the moment the priest says, ‘This is my body’ during the celebration of the mass’” (White, 144). 

 

Where did this idea originate?  See John 6:53-56.

 

John 6:53-56, 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

 

Our Lutheran friends differ just a little from the Catholic Church.  They hold to what is called consubstantiation.  This means “that the bread and the wine contain the body and blood of the Lord but the elements themselves are not substantively changed” (White, 146).

 

Our Presbyterian friends hold to the Spiritual Presence view of communion. 

 

They believe that Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper, but it cannot be His literal body and blood because He ascended into the heavens. 

 

Most Baptists believe in what is called the Memorial or Symbolic view of Communion. 

 

This view is credited to Ulrich Zwingli who said the Lord’s Supper is taken in memory of what Christ has done, and the elements are symbolic of the Lord’s spiritual presence (Hammett, 280).

 

In other words, the bread symbolizes Jesus’ body.  The cup symbolizes Jesus’ blood, and we do this in remembrance of Him.

 

 

  1. Why do we take the Lord’s Supper?

 

We find our answers to this question from 1 Corinthians 10-11, and there are four.

 

First, we take the Lord’s Supper to renew our commitment to Christ and to one another, brothers and sisters in Christ who are mostly committed to one church, Emory Baptist Church.

 

1 Corinthians 10:17, 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

 

Second, we take the Lord’s Supper to give thanks.

 

1 Corinthians 11:24,…24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

 

Third, we take the Lord’s Supper to remember what Jesus did for us through His death on the cross.

 

1 Corinthians 11:24-25, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.

 

Fourth, we take the Lord’s Supper to proclaim the message of Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 11:26, 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

 

 

  1. Who should be invited to take the Lord’s Supper?

 

The answer to this question will be different depending on how you interpret the Bible.

 

From my understanding of the Scriptures and as pastor of this church and not any other church, I believe the Scriptures speak to two general qualifications for taking the Lord’s Supper.

 

First, you should be a follower of Jesus Christ.  It makes no sense for a lost person to take the Lord’s Supper.  See 1 Corinthians 10:21.

 

1 Corinthians 10:21, 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s Table and of the table of demons.

 

Keep in mind moms and dads that this applies to children as well. 

 

Caleigh and Sarah didn’t start taking the Lord’s Supper until they were in the fifth grade, and Caroline started taking it when she was in the third grade.    

 

That is not meant to be mean or insensitive.  That is an effort to be biblically responsible. 

 

Therefore, don’t neglect the opportunity that taking the Lord’s Supper brings for you to share the gospel with your young children.

 

The second requirement for taking the Lord’s Supper is that you be in right standing with the Lord and with your neighbor.  See 1 Corinthians 11:27-30.

 

1 Corinthians 11:27-30, 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

 

What does it mean to be in right standing with the Lord and with your neighbor? 

 

  • Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?
  • Is there any unrepentant sin in your life?
  • Are you fighting with your spouse?
  • Are you fighting with your parents?
  • Are you unforgiving and bitter toward your neighbor?

 

These are the types of questions that you should ask every time you take the Lord’s Supper, and on some occasions, it would be better if you don’t take it all.

 

Why?  Look again at 1 Corinthians 11:29-30. 

 

29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

 

In Corinth, these Corinthian Believers were using the occasion of the Lord’s Supper to engage in sexual and drunken debauchery. 

 

As a result, the Lord disciplined them with sickness and even death.  Don’t run that risk when you take the Lord’s Supper.

 

There is one last thought I need to share regarding being in right standing with the Lord. 

 

I don’t think you have to be a member of EBC to receive the Lord’s Supper. 

 

However, as Baptists, we understand believer’s baptism to be an act of obedience for every Christian, for every follower of Christ. 

 

In the same we way that we invite those who are saved and baptized to join EBC every Sunday morning, we invite those that are saved and baptized to take the Lord’s Supper.

 

To require baptism for church membership but not to take the Lord’s Supper would undermine our commitment to baptism and an act of hypocrisy. 

 

We invite anyone who is a member of EBC and anyone who could be a member of EBC to take the Lord’s Supper.   

 

You can be Baptist or Catholic or Lutheran or Methodist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian as long as you have been born-again and are in right standing with the Lord and have followed through with believer’s baptism by immersion. 

 

But before we take the Lord’s Supper, I invite you to repent and be saved from your sins?  If you’re without Christ this morning, would you answer the call this morning to put your faith and trust in Him as Lord and Savior of your life?

 

Would you unite with Emory Baptist Church this morning if you are guest and the Lord is leading you formally join this church?

 

Our invitation is for you!

 

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