The Blessing of Good Wine in the New Covenant

In my sermon this week, we saw a picture of the way Jesus comes and changes water into wine. This sign points to the way he comes and brings about the joy and blessing of the New Covenant in his blood. This covenant at its essence is the gospel; Christ came and died on the cross so that sinners who repent and believe can be reconciled to God.

But what is the ultimate good of the Gospel? Is it a freedom from punishment? Eternal comfort for ourselves? Being reunited with Christian family and friends when we get to heaven? These things are blessings of the gospel but they are secondary and can steal from the ultimate good of the Gospel which is God himself. Here are some passages of Scripture that may help you understand.

 Psalm 42:1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

Philippians 1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

Isaiah 40:9 O Jerusalem, messenger of good news (Gospel); lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

The sin that Jesus paid for on the cross allows you to be in the presence of God forever. As believers in Jesus, we can see and savor the Lord now and forever. This is the good wine of the New Covenant that Jesus brings.

John Piper says this “If God is not treasured as the ultimate gift of the gospel; none of his gifts will be gospel (good news).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged

The Old Testament in John 1:19-51

                  It is breathtaking to see all the things that God promised in the Old Testament come together in the gospel of John. Here are just a few that we see in John 1:19-51.

  • Elijah (v. 21a)

5“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. Malachi 4:5 (ESV)

  • The Prophet like Moses (v. 21b)

15“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV)

  • The Voice in the Wilderness (v. 23)

3A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3–5 (ESV)

  • The Greater Jacob/Israel (v. 51)

As I talked about in the sermon, Genesis 28:10-22 gives us an amazing yet strange vision that Jacob had. He saw “a ladder set up [at Bethel] and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending (going up) and descending (going down) on it!” Jesus, in John 1:51 identified himself with this ladder. He is saying he is the ladder of heaven, the revelation of God, the true, new, and better Bethel (which means house of God in Hebrew).

  • The Son of Man (v. 51)

13“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

14And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV)

  • Others

The Lamb of God (v. 29), the Christ (v. 20), the Messiah/Christ (v. 41), the Son of God (v. 49), the King of Israel (v. 49)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures

A Note from the Pastor

I am very excited to be in the book of John and I am confident that you will be enormously blessed by it! The entire book of John portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of every part of the Old Testament Scriptures.

John 5:39 says: “You search the Scriptures (OT) because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me”

Jesus is portrayed as the fulfillment of the scriptures as:

  1. The word made flesh (John 1:14 from Psalm 33:6; 107:20; 147:15, 18; Isaiah 55:10-11)
  2. The new temple (John 2:21)
  3. The tabernacle (John 1:14 from Exodus 25:8)
  4. The Passover lamb slain for the people (John 1:29, 19:14 from Exodus 12:13)
  5. The steadfast love and faithfulness of God’s name displayed (John 1:14,17 from Exodus 34:6)
  6. The manna that came down from heaven (John 6:51 from Exodus 16:4)
  7. The year of Jubilee (John 8:32 from Leviticus 25:10)
  8. The one lifted up in the wilderness who delivers all who look to him (John 3:14 from Num. 21:9)

   Let us keep in mind John’s motive in writing these signs and witnesses to Jesus:

John 20:30-30 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Here is the book of John from 10,000 Ft.

The First Half: The Book of Signs  Chapters 1-12

  • Jesus performs seven signs
  • Jesus appeals to seven witnesses
  • Jesus is rejected by his people (the Jews)

The Second Half: The Book of Glory Chapters 13-21

  • Jesus Prepares his disciples for his death and departure
  • Jesus turns to the cross where he will glorify the Father

[This outline was adapted from John by Andreas Köstenberger (2004) and The Gospel According to John By D. A. Carson (1990)]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to be Ready for False Teaching in the Last Times

One of the signs that come before the return of Christ is exactly what
Jude is talking about in his letter, deceivers in the church who try
to lead God’s people astray. “For false Christs and false prophets
will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray,
if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). What are we to do in
response to this warning? Peter tells us two things we can do.
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you
are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your
own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:17–18)

(1) Grow in the grace of Jesus Christ. God’s grace to us, seen most
clearly in his giving of Jesus, is the foundation of our lives. We are
to grow in it, be nourished, and strengthened by the grace that we
don’t deserve but do receive. Growing in the grace of God insures that
we persevere to the end and receive our eternal reward. Thank God for
his gift of grace and continually pray for more.

(2) Grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Earlier, Peter says that
God has, “granted to us all things relating to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him” (1 Peter 1:3). We have the Bible, which
is what we need to grow in our knowledge of Christ so that we can find
joy, comfort and salvation in his presence. There is great danger in
not growing in the knowledge of Jesus (see 2 Peter 2:20-21). Let us
allow the knowledge of Jesus Christ in his word grow us so that we can
stand firm until the end. “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have,
so that no one may seize your crown” (Revelation 3:11).

The Mission of the Church

In Colossians 3:12-17, Paul exhorts Christians to put on the character of Jesus and exemplify Christ likeness in the church.  Why is it important for the church to exemplify the character of Christ?  The answer is quite simple, to put the gospel on display.

Matthew 5:13–16 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

The mission of the church is to put the gospel on display.  When Faith Baptist Church lives in harmony with one another, putting on love while bearing with one another in humility, meekness, and patience, those outside the church will notice.  Those who do not know Jesus will see the harmony that we have, and be amazed.  With Paul, I exhort you to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” so that it overflows into the community, bringing many people to faith in Jesus through your actions, and through your faithfulness in sharing the gospel with them.

A Note from the Old Pastor Concerning the New Pastor

As you transition from one pastor to another, here are some things to consider…

(1) Recognize him as your pastor. You do me, nor him, nor yourself any favors by either trying to guess what I would have done in a situation (or what Pastor Simpson would have done) or by telling him that Jeremy would never have done whatever it is he has decided to do. Is Faith my church? “Is Christ divided? Was Paul”—or even Jeremy—“crucified for you?” (1 Cor 1:13) Is it not Christ’s church? May your only loyalty be to Jesus as you follow the pastor you have called, ever looking forward, not looking back.

(2) Understand his priorities. If he is to be an effective pastor, his priority must be to his personal relationship with Christ, then to his family, and then to you. This is the model we see in 1 Timothy 3:4-5. If he cannot manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? Understand that his first priority in terms of earthly relationships must be his family. They will validate or invalidate his ministry to you.

(3) Recognize his gifts. He will have greater and lesser gifts in particular areas than either of his predecessors had. Pastor Simpson was an evangelist. Pastor Jeremy was an expositor. Maybe Jonathan will be both, but in very different ways. Give him the latitude to use his gifts. Pretending to be something that he is not will never grow this church.

(4) Don’t let him do everything. He does not have every spiritual gift and neither does the Bible allow him to do everything for the church. Many of you understand this only too well and have done phenomenally. It may still do well to take this question to heart: Does our understanding of a pastor’s job more closely fit with the model of a mom-and-pop store where the proprietor (or pastor) provides a service that we come and consume, or does it fit a team approach with the pastor as captain or coach leading us into action. Come alongside of him and work next to him. The church was never meant to be a one-man show. That is why it is referred to as a body with many parts (1 Cor 12:20) and as a spiritual house, being built up together (1 Pet 2:5). Use your gifts: to reach out to those outside the church, to minister to those inside it, and to consider that we have not come to be served, but to serve (Mat 20:28).

(5) Love him and his family. Don’t wait to get to know him; don’t hesitate to love his family. Christian love involves loving the unloveable as Christ loved us. You have called a man and wife who are extremely loveable. They will be easy to love. Don’t use that as a temptation to love like the world. God calls us to love in this way: patiently, kindly, humbly, respectfully, non-irritably, and truthfully as you bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things (1 Cor 13). Do not believe an accusation of him unless it has been established by the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19). Keep in mind that unless he leaves town, you’re the only family he has. I praise God for your Christian love towards my family and I. Do so even more towards him and his.

Are You Living Like the World?

When we study Ecclesiastes 7:15-29 we find ourselves living in an upside down, paradoxical world—a world where good is punished and evil celebrated. And there is the temptation for us as Christians to succumb to that, rather than to live counter-culturally and counter-intuitively. We mirror culture when we bow to our old natural sin nature. The following are potential evidences that you may be living like the world.

(1) You may be living like the world if you turn to friends, family, money, or the world when you’re in trouble, instead of seeking the Lord’s help, forgetting that He is in control.

(2) You may be living like the world if you turn to friends, family, money, or the world when you need advice, rather than to God’s Word or God’s people. There is a lack of discipleship in the American church. In every place I’ve lived, I’ve looked for 3 kinds of relationships: a Paul (a mentor or someone who disciples me), a Barnabas (a friend and accountability partner), and a Timothy (someone I disciple). Is that your practice, or do you do what you’ve always done, either doing what your parents did (if they did a decent job) or doing the opposite of what they did (if they did not do a decent job)? We are called to make disciples and to be disciples, not pew-warmers.

(3) You may be living like the world if your first instinct is to weasel or work your way out of a situation rather than to pray your way through a situation.

(4) You may be living like the world if your Bible is a decorative, Sunday accessory, rather than a well-worn, well-used manual for life.

(5) You may be living like the world if you do not take any and every opportunity to grow spiritually, whether it’s to be here when the church has something for you, or to invest yourself into building relationships with others in the body of Christ.

When Were the Good Old Days?

I’m not sure how many of you are old enough to remember Archie Bunker, from the 70’s TV show All in the Family. I was born in the late 70’s, so I’ve only caught it on re-runs. The show centers on a man in his 50 or 60s who’s having a hard time coming to grips with the rest of the world. He’s a working class bigot with changes swirling about him: from African-American neighbors to women’s lib to homosexuality and on and on and on. And the opening theme of this sitcom had Archie and his wife, Edith, singing a song called Those Were the Days. It talks about how good everything used to be: “You knew who you were then, girls were girls and men were men; didn’t need no welfare state, everybody pulled his weight. Those were the days.”

That mentality runs contrary to what we see in Ecclesiastes 7:10, “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” Anyone over a certain age has said and meant and believed otherwise. The question is: do we really want to go back? Ever since most of us were alive there’s been world wars, nuclear bombs, racism, depression, and sin, left and right. Things may be different now—certainly not better—but it’s foolish for us to want to go back. Perhaps most of our youthful days were somewhat idealistic (unless you grew up in the middle of a war zone—domestic or otherwise). What former days truly were better? We would have to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, before the fall into sin, to find one. Since then there has been disobedience, murder, envy, strife, wickedness, idolatry, and beyond. It may have been packaged in more palatable forms (for you), but it was sin all the same. The answer to our problem ultimately lies in the future—when our faith will be realized in Christ. Certainly our pardon was purchased in the past, with Christ on the cross, but even that day was not the day we ultimately love and want to experience. We long for Christ’s return—not a former day, but a future one—when things truly will be better. Don’t live in the past, your hope is in the future.

The Chiasm of Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:9

Last year, I introduced the church to chiasms (ki’azem) in the Bible while we studied the book of Daniel. For those of you who did not see that note, let me remind you what a chiasm is: it is a pattern of repetition for clarification and emphasis; a pattern within a passage in which the second half parallels the first half, but in reverse order. For instance a verse, chapter, or book may be laid out in a pattern of A-B-C-B-A. The first ‘A’ corresponds with the last ‘A’, ‘B’ with ‘B’, etc. Whatever lies at the center is the main point. What we see in Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:9 is also a chiasm. The main point in Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:9 comes in 5:18-20 where we see the blessing of basking in—or enjoying—God’s gifts (point ‘C’ below).

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Our first point (5:8-12 & 6:7-9) acts as a picture frame setting up the argument. Our second point (5:13-17 & 6:1-6) acts as a matte in that frame, in which the picture, our third point (or main point) is offset and embellished. And all of that draws us right into the middle of our text in 5:18-20. Unlike the English language, where we typically move linearly through a passage from point A to B to C and so on, Hebrew oftentimes makes a point (point A), then moves to point B, and C, and then back to point B, and then to point A. And whatever is at the middle of all of that is what the author really wants you to hone in on: in this case, “The Blessing of Basking in God’s Gifts.”

I am indebted to Sydney Greidanus, and his extremely helpful book Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes: Foundations for Expository Sermons in finding the chiasm within this passage.

Who is Worship For?

I recently read an article from an evangelical music minister entitled, Are We Headed for a Crash?: Reflections on the Current State of Evangelical Worship.   This music minister had recently attended the National Worship Leader Conference. He said it was eye opening in many ways. He had several good things to say, and certainly didn’t see the entire conference in a negative light, but he did express concern over a common, troubling theme. It’s the theme of what he calls ‘performancism.’ In many a church the worship leader is the performer, the congregation is the audience, and the sanctuary is the concert hall.

Now I doubt that we will ever be technically and musically sophisticated enough here at this church to succumb to that problem. Yet, there is perhaps a greater problem that all churches remain susceptible to. That is, the man-centeredness of worship. When worship becomes about us: our needs, our preferences, and our tastes, we have ceased to make God the object of our worship and have replaced Him, with us.

In Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 we come to grips with a God who is there. Sometimes, we come to worship with hardly a thought as to whom we’re worshipping. There may be moments we do not forget in every hour we meet, but for the most part we forget that God is here in our midst. When we’re more about what we get out of our time together—whether it’s good company in the presence of friendly people, or songs we like, or a good message that does something for us (a message that we stand in judgment over)—we forget that God is here. We’re here because God is here.

In Matthew 21, Jesus entered the temple and saw that people had turned it into something that strictly profited them, at the expense of honoring God. Jesus turned over tables, with a zealous and righteous anger for the glory of God. He later went to the cross and became that house of worship (John 2:21). Jesus invites us to come and worship Him. Stop playing church and take up your cross and follow Him: worship Him, love Him, fear Him, and serve Him. Anything less, is for someone less.