Understanding God and the Bible
God has dealt with people in three ages: Patriarchal , Mosaic, and the Gospel age. The Patriarchal age is when God spoke directly to the people through the Fathers. There was no recorded law. Instead, there was a universal law for all. This all was around the time of Adam to Moses recorded in the book of Genesis. In the Mosaic age, God spoke through Moses. They were given a written law (the ten commandments) which was just for God’s people, the Israelites. This period was from Moses to the cross and was recorded from Exodus to John. In the Gospel Age, God spoke through Christ (Heb. 1:1-2). There is a written law for all (Mk. 16:15), and this period is from the cross to the second coming, recorded in Acts through Revelation. God has labored and communicated with His people through all three ages.
Now there are some who claim that we, in the Gospel age, are to still follow laws that are found in the Mosaic age. We know this can’t be completely true due to contradictions between the two laws. For example, under the Mosaic Law, certain animals were considered unclean and could not be eaten, yet 1 Tim. 4:1-5 shows that all things are good, allowing us to eat such animals. Another example is that under the Mosaic Law, they were to worship God on the Sabbath, and as we read in Exodus 20, we see that the Sabbath was on the seventh day of the week. Now the NT teaches that Christians gathered on the 1st day of the week in Acts 20:7. These days are not the same. It’s the seventh and the first. Matthew 28:1 shows this. How can we worship God when 2 Laws specify 2 different days. It cannot and is not to be done.
We know the verse Col. 2:13-14, the law of Moses was taken away by the cross. We are bound by the law of the blood of Christ now. However, though we don’t worship or follow the same laws of the early era, there are some things that stay the same through all three; some things which apply to all three times which I believe are important to notice. And so, for the rest of our time, I’d like to look at what has stayed the same through all three laws.
1. All are saved by Grace through Faith
Hab. 2:4 shows that the righteous shall live by faith. Those who are of the Lord’s righteous shall live by faith. Romans 7:4-6. We cannot be saved by the law, by perfect record keeping. Romans 8:3. Those before this law, before Christ, those who remained faithful, are also saved – Heb. 9:15. Look at Heb. 11:39-12:2. Receiving the promise of Christ, redemption by Grace through faith. It has always been this way. Yet what we must understand about this concept of grace is that it is conditional. Look at Genesis 6:8. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, yet! V. 14 he is given strict instructions for his safety and we see in v. 22 he did all God asked of him. God’s grace was conditioned upon strict obedience. Here’s another example: Joshua 6:1. God gave them Jericho, there’s grace; yet v. 2-5 we find strict instructions and when followed, v. 20, the walls fall down. Would they had fallen if they skipped a day or strayed from God’s plan? Absolutely not. John 9 and the example of the blind man being told to bathe in a specific pool. Its another example of God’s grace to the faithful conditioned by strict obedience.
2. God wants obedience from the Heart
This goes back to Deut. 6:4-5, with all your heart. God does not accept nor tolerates worship that doesn’t come from the heart. The prophet Amos was given the task to preach to Israel concerning their degrading worship. He says in Amos 5:21-24. God wants sincere worshipers, servants. God has made it clear how He wants things done. Micah 6:6-8. Can I give you this and this? Does God want me to climb a mountain, lift my hands, and bring instrumental music? God has told us what He wants: obedience through the heart. Romans 7:17 – the right attitude, the right intentions and motives. Paul mentions our worship with our singing and how it must be out of the heart in Col. 3:16. God has always desired and required worship and obedience through our heart. That means it’s not enough to show up. It’s not enough to go through the motions. God wants pure hearts seeking to give Him glory. Always have, always will.
3. God has rewarded the obedient, and punished the disobedient
2 Cor. 5:10-11. All will stand before God. All must claim the deeds they’ve done. This is a grand judgment for all people who have ever existed. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10. The wicked will be punished one day, and the righteous shall be rewarded
Though the cross took away the Mosaic law, it is absolutely important to see what our Lord has required of His people, what He requires today. We need to learn from our ancestors. We need to focus on these parts of living by faith to obtain grace, and to do all God commands us. We need to obey the father with pure honest hearts, so that when judgment comes, we may enter in.
Habakkuk: The Righteous Will Live by Faith
The book of Habakkuk was written between 625-612 BC. It is a message from God to the prophet Habakkuk concerning Judah. Judah had fallen into wickedness and perversion (v.2); and Habakkuk is faced with a question that we find ourselves still asking today: why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? Psalms 37, 49, and 73 are devoted to this same thought. Men such as Joseph, Job and Jeremiah also dealt with this topic. It is a common theme in scripture.
Habakkuk asks 2 Questions: v. 2 and v. 12-2:1. After each question, God answers. In His answers we find 3 great statements: “You would not believe me if you were told” 1:5; “The righteous will live by faith” 2:4, “the Lord is in His holy temple, Let all the earth be silent before Him” 2:20.
We are going to look at the second phrase in chapter 2 verse 4: “but the righteous will live by faith.” Such a powerful phrase form a book that is often times over looked or not read. This phrase is quoted 3 times in the NT. It’s important! We are going to look at what the phrase meant for Habakkuk and Judah, and what it means for us.
For Habakkuk and Judah:
Judah had fallen from God and turned from His ways. It has come to the point where God must punish and correct His fallen nation. How does he do so? We’ve seen it before.
722 B.C. Israel, the northern nation who had been unfaithful to God, was captured by the Assyrians.
• Isaiah 10:5-7
The same thing will happen to Judah by the hands of the Chaldeans or Babylonians. God will raise up a nation to take over His in order for them to come to their senses and repent.
Habakkuk responds to God’s revealed plan and questions Him
• Hab. 1:12-2:1
• How could a God who is loving, use a nation that is so corrupt?
Notice God’s answer – Hab. 2:2-4
• His plan is designed for a specific time
• His plan is going to occur
• His plan will not fail
• Thus, the righteous will live by faith
o Righteous shall believe that God will provide
o Righteous shall believe that God will answer prayers
o Righteous shall believe that God has a plan
o The Righteous will have faith to look past the present dangers and toils and to rely on the God who saves.
o It’s as if God is saying “you may not understand why or how I do things, nor any of my plans, but have faith in ME.
You see, Israel had always struggled with this. One of the greatest examples is Numbers 13 when the twelve spies searched the Land of Canaan. They saw the great produce. They saw the great land to farm and live on, and they saw the men they would have to defeat.
• Num. 13:27-31
• They all saw the same things
o The same land
o The same fruit
o The same armies
• Only 2, (Jacob and Caleb) saw the Lord. They believed that God would give them strength, that God would provide. They chose to see the Lord
• The other 10 only saw the danger in front of them. They failed to see the God who provides. They failed to live by faith.
• 2 Cor. 5:7
It is a theme that is repeated all throughout the Bible. Let’s look at the three times Hab. 2:4 is quoted in the NT.
1. Romans 1:17
a. The emphasis in this verse is on the word “righteous”
b. The righteousness that comes from God – Phil. 3:9
c. The righteousness of God is revealed through salvation – Rom. 1:16
d. This helps answer: “who shall live by faith”
i. The righteous will live by faith, those who have received God’s righteousness, His true believers
2. Galatians 3:11
a. The emphasis in this verse is on the word “live”
b. Look at the content of the verse – “v. 10-12”
c. Obedience to the laws only will not result in Salvation. We must live by faith as well
d. Jas. 2:26 – It’s a relationship, a correlation between faith and works
e. Remember to not only keep God’s laws, but to live by faith, keeping our belief strong and grounded in the Lord
3. Hebrews 10:38
a. The emphasis in this verse is on the word “faith”
b. Look at v. 35-38
c. Christians are to endure, to believe that Christ will come
d. Living in faith and not shrinking back to old habits or non belief
Now what does this mean for us?
As God’s people we must live in a manner worthy of the Gospel – Phil. 1:27. We must live by faith.
We know from 1 Peter that we can expect trials, and that corrupt people will prosper. But that is why we, if we are going to be of the righteousness of God, must live in such an appropriate and consistent way; and that way is through faith.
• Believe that God will provide, that He will care, that He has a plan
• 2 Tim. 1:12
Habakkuk corrects this thinking and gives a faithful reply: Hab. 3:1. He changed from living in fear, to living by faith.
The Severity of Sin
Most are familiar with the passage Romans 3:23 and have come to grips with the fact that all have sinned. We know that the only one to live a sinless life was Jesus, the son of God. Most also know that He came to this Earth and died as a sacrifice for the atonement for all of our sins, that they would be washed away for all who would put Him on in baptism. What seems to be missing today is the correct attitude towards sin. There seems to be a lax, laid back and careless attitude surrounding the issue of sin. Through a look and study of sin throughout the Bible, we can uncover what may be today over glanced.
• This is not coming as a rebuke or a personal corrective matter. The purpose of this sermon is to encourage all to focus on what is important; to see with eyes tempered by the scripture.
The word sin comes from the Greek word “Hamartia” and is defined as “missing the mark”
• Much like in the game of darts, sinning is landing the dart off center, or in some cases, not even hitting the board
• But sin is more serious than a simple error or miscalculation that the game of darts presents
• Romans 6:13
o The price or cost of sin is death yet it seems that this verse escapes unnoticed or heeded in the lackadaisical attitude that is presented today
Let me paint for you a picture:
• In Genesis 2, we read the repeated account of the creation of man.
o Here we find Adam, the 1st man. God gives him the privilege to cultivate and keep the garden
o God notices that Adam needs a helper and He brings every beast to Adam and he gets to name them
Can you imagine this scene of peace?
No killing, no fighting, no pain or stress or worrying
No thorns or weeds, no storms,
o It says in Gen. 1:29 that God gave every creature a plant to eat from
Can you imagine walking in this beautiful garden and seeing lions, and bears, and Dinosaurs, but not being afraid… not having to worry because all was in harmony in the garden.
o God notices that Adam is still without a suitable helper and creates woman
What a perfect scene: man finally has a suitable helper who he loves greatly. They live in a beautiful garden with all that they would ever need provided for them. All life is at peace. There is a closeness and fond relationship with the creator who walks with them, in their presence, in the garden.
• Notice how Chapter 3 begins: “Now the Serpent…”
o From this we know that the serpent lied to Eve that she would not die and she believed it and ate from the forbidden tree, disobeying the God who had brought her into life
o And she went and gave the fruit to Adam and he ate the fruit and turned his back upon the God who had given him everything
From this point everything changed:
• Pain and suffering now entered
• Hatred, killing, murder, wars
• Generations of people who would not know the Lord
• Sacrifices must be offered as atonement for their sins
All of this came about through sins entrance into the world. The once perfect life of Eden was shattered by man’s sin against God; the very sin that brought about death: death to the world, death to the peaceful way of life, death to mankind themselves.
Can you not see the severity of sin, as well as the danger for having a casual attitude towards it. Dangerous thinking such as:
• It’s just a fib, a little white lie
• It was just a joke
• It’s just a movie
• It’s just a cigarette, or alcohol
• It’s just one party, or one dance, or one cuss word
o By holding such a casual view or agreeing to such a phrase, what comes about is a justification for sin. Trying to rationalize or validate sinful actions
o The only justification for sin is death
o This is hard to handle for some due to the lies that many have come to believe about sin
Let’s look to the Bible to see the truth about sins’ Nature. Sin:
a. There are several examples of people in the Bible who were caught by sins’ lies
b. Adam and Eve; Samson; the young prophet in 1 Kings 13
c. I am reminded of the harshness of the young man in Proverbs 7
i. He is enticed by the desires of his flesh
ii. He is seduced by a deceitful woman
iii. She lies to him, leads him to commit sin and Kills him
iv. Sin is harsh and will lie to us, trick us and make us believe that everything will be alright, that we can have everything we want. We know this is not true and sin is not to be believed
a. If not confronted and taken care of, sin will continue to grow
b. I am reminded of Achan in the book of Joshua 7:21. Notice the progression of his sin
i. I saw, I coveted, I took, I concealed
ii. If Achan would have confronted his feelings as soon as he saw what he desired, he could have saved his and his family’s life.
iii. This theme is similar to Paul’s thoughts in Romans 7:15-20
a. Ezek. 18:4
b. Romans 6:23
If sin reaches the point of destruction in a person’s life to the point where all they know is sin… all they live for is themselves, leaving behind the Father and His son; sin will also
a. Sin will deny the sinner from Salvation, from Heaven, from Eternal peace and love, from the Father
b. Matthew 7:21-23/ Gal. 5:21/1 Cor. 6:10
c. Sin is Serious
This shows us the importance of keeping a right approach towards sin. The question could be asked: “how does one keep a right attitude towards sin?”
1. Consider where temptation for sin originates
a. Matt. 4:1 - Satan is called the “tempter”
b. He wants you to fail, to give in, to lose your soul. He wants you to sin and turn your back on the Father.
c. 1 Pet. 5:8
d. James 4:7
2. Consider the wages of sin
a. Rom. 6:23
b. James 4:4 – an “enemy of God”
c. Gal. 5:21 – will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1Cor. 6:10)
3. Consider the price that was paid for your soul
a. Romans 6:10
b. Hebrews 9:27-28
c. 1Pet. 2:24
d. 1 john 1:7
e. Jesus took on the sins of the world for us, to set us free
f. Isaiah 53:4-6
There was a three week period where the Mid American Energy Company had several tragedies such as two deaths and severe injuries. All of these men were found to have violated some kind of safety procedure. The company, after these tragedies, implemented a “Zero Tolerance Policy” which meant that any infraction of their company’s policy and they would be immediately terminated.
I think it’s time for Christians to implement a “zero tolerance policy” towards sin. No matter what circumstance, the who what when where or why, sin is always wrong. Sin is always something to avoid, to deny, to rebuke and correct. Let’s not become so insensitive to sin that we don’t blush any more, that we don’t leave the room when a bad joke is made, that we don’t correct someone’s foul language, that we don’t turn down dangerous advances. It’s time for Christ’s people to start acting like Christ. It’s time to realize how serious sin is.
I was given this a few months ago from an old friend. When I use the term old, I mean he is elderly. What is great about this man and what he gave me is the common revelation over a topic that is much overlooked and seldom confronted. I've used it in a few sermons. It's something to think about.
A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small Texas town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries, and comedies.
If I wanted to know anything about politics, history, or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. ( I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave).
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home...not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.
Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely) about sex.. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked...and NEVER asked to leave.
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still you can walk into my parents' den today, you would find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk, and watch him draw his pictures.
We just call him "TV"
He has a wife now.... We call her "Computer"
If actions stand for more than grounds of passing moments but rather of echos towards an eternal life, why is there such a defended wall between the separation of this world and those who live in it. I love the words of Jesus in John 17. In His prayer He prays for those who are "in the world, but not of the world". Dad just gave a sermon on shake the salt and shine the light. It was excellent. But light and salt go unnoticed when overshadowed by futile fabrications. The lies that we believe, its astounding.If you can't tell, I get fired up over this topic. I'm tired of seeing the results of such a preventable cause. I cringed when I heard the statistic that 50% of the Christian youth will fall away. Perhaps its time for change...
Do you remember the story of Josheb-basshebeth? I didn't. In fact, I don't think I could have come close to guessing who this man was. He holds a significant role in the scripture. It is a role that is not viewed in the spot light. His name is only mentioned twice in the entire Bible. He and thirty-six other men hold their forgotten place in the 23rd chapter of 2 Samuel. They were David's mighty men.
These 37 men were extraordinary! They were some of the worlds greatest warriors. Take the time, if you have it, to read the chapter. What they accomplished in the field of battle is beyond compare, yet their names are easily forgotten if even known. Josheb, for example, the chief of the captains for David's army, slew 800 men at one time. Those odds are astounding. I can't even comprehend such a feat. We see glimpses of this type of heroism in modern films, but once the movie is over our captivation is dulled by the draw and focus of reality; but as we know that what happened in the Bible actually took place. There was a flood that destroyed the Earth, God did come down upon mnt. Sinai, David did kill Goliath and Josheb slew 800 men at one time. Sit back, take this thought in and allow it to momentarily impress you. God used this man's talents and amazing results occured.
Now ask yourself, why do we have the list of the 37 mighty men? Besides showing God's greatness and the marvelous tasks these men were able to perform, why are they in our Bible. 2Tim. 3:16-17 gives us an appropriate response "All scripture is inspired by God and is PROFITABLE..." All scripture is profitable, which means the several different types of sacrifices mentioned in the first 4 chapters of Leviticus and the long messages of the prophets and even the 37 mighty men are in our Bible for a reason and that reason is to benefit and aid us. Think about what the mighty men show us. We could notice their courage in the face of oppression. We could observe their alligience to God and how He allowed great things to be done by these men.
What I notice is a dedication and service to their king, David. Look at what this shows: David who at this time was exposed as the sinner, he had lost his kingdom to his son, his daughter was raped; the great man of Israel is starting to look like a dud. However his mighty men stick with him. They follow him as he flees from Absalom, they support his decisions and his judgments. That is dedication. That is true loyality. That is pure alligience. How much more should we offer to our king? These men gave it all for an unworthy sinful man. Our king is righteous, faithful and everlasting. Something to think about.
One last final thought is the view towards David's view point. David, in most peoples eyes, was a great individual, and rightly so. After all he was a man after God's own heart. His love for the Lord was beyond compare. What the mighty men show us in accordance to David, is that even great individuals such as king David, need support. Everyone needs help. Its true. For the modern American view it may sound weak or passive but that's not God's view. Wasn't it God in Genesis 2 who said it wasn't good for man to be alone and created eve? Abraham had his Sarah, Moses had his brother Aaron, Joshua had Caleb, the Apostles used several indivduals such as Pricilla and Aquilla. This gives us two responsibilities, 1. To remember that no matter how great we think we may become, we must always be willing to recieve help or aid. It is there for a reason. Humble the pride and recieve the loving helpful hand. 2. We must put ourselves in positions to be of help. Doors will open, oppertunities will arise; it is our responsibility to be prepared to help others. Obviously we cannot predict the future or what we may be asked to do, but make by making yourself availiable and extending your willingness to serve, you allow possibilities to occur. Be brave mighty men. Carry your cross - Matt. 16:24-26