Sermon, Sunday April 26, 2020 What are You Wearing?

By Grace Alone – Ephesians 2:8-10

What are you wearing? Rather, what are you wearing spiritually?

More about that later.

In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writing to the church in Ephesus says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—”

You may have heard this said:

Justice is getting what you deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
And Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Paul says that this saving grace comes to us through faith, and faith is the instrument that allows us to grab hold of the truth of the Gospel and be saved. But faith itself is a gift from God, we cannot muster up faith. Faith comes from God, for us to believe in God.

Everything is a gift; grace is a gift, faith is a gift and salvation is a gift.

We must never ever think of our salvation as a transaction, whereby I give my life to Jesus and he saves me. Rather God gives me grace, then He gives me faith to believe and He saves me.

Because grace, faith and salvation are divine gifts, we cannot earn them, nor do we deserve them. Every human being is equally lost before God grants them grace. We were dead in our sins, dead people cannot have faith in God.

Ephesians 2:9 continues, “not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Salvation can only be attributed to Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, and he deserves all the glory.

God sent Jesus to live the life we couldn’t live, to die the death we should have died, and rise from the dead on our behalf.

We really struggle with this in our culture, we as a culture loves accolades for doing something noteworthy. But in our salvation the glory goes to God (see 1 Corinthians 1:31).

Paul continues in verse 10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

After saying clearly that we are not saved by anything we do, Paul notes the importance of works. Works are not the root of our salvation, but they are the fruit of our salvation.

The Greek word for handiwork here is poiema, which is where we get the word Poem from. The word refers to a work of art or masterpiece, a piece of art created by a master craftsman.

This word is only used one other time in the New Testament, in Romans 1, referring to the glory of God’s creation.

We, as saved believers in Jesus, are God’s new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)

But God does not create a masterpiece to hide it away, we were created to display the work and the glory of God.

As God’s workmanship people around us should see our works and say, “That is a work of God!” (see Matthew 5:16).

We should never be working out of duty or guilt. We do good works because we are walking in a new nature, and as a result we cannot help ourselves from being used by God to do good works.

But not only are we to do good works, we are told that God has prepared these works for us to do. God, in His sovereignty, had tasks in mind for us when He saved us.

We are not saved by faith plus good works, but by a faith that works

The believer has God working in him, and therefore his works are good. His works are not good because he himself is good, but because he has a new nature and the Holy Spirit works in him and through him to produce these good works.

We do not perform good works to glorify ourselves, but to glorify God. Paul wrote that we should “abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8), and to be “fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10).

Back to the question, what are you wearing?

In John 11 we read the account where Jesus raised Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for four days. Jesus stood in front of the tomb and in a loud voice commanded Lazarus to come out. Notice what Lazarus was wearing, he was wearing grave clothes, the embalming material that was wrapped tightly around his body.

As Lazarus comes out of the tomb, Jesus instructs those standing around to… “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:44).

So, what are you wearing?

Are you wearing “grave clothes” or “grace clothes”?

Are you enjoying the liberty you have in Christ, or are you still bound by the habits of the old life of sin?

Lazarus was freed from the restrictions of the grave clothes and freed to do what he had been raised to do.

We were dead in our sins when God raised us up with Jesus, sadly many of us are wrapped in the grave clothes. Some of us are so comfortable in the grave clothes that we don’t know how to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do.

They are the grave clothes of addiction, anger, jealousy, lust, pride, fear, self-sufficiency and many more. All of these hold us back and restrict us from being and doing what we are created for. All these are clothes that were your grave clothes, and Jesus commands them to be taken off, for you to be set free. Why are you holding on to your grave clothes?

As a Christian, you have been raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places, you have been clothed in righteousness.

Practice your position in Christ!

You are clothed in righteousness in Christ Jesus.

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 3:1-7 – Sermon February 03, 2019

Philippians 3:1-7

It’s tax season, time when we look back and gather receipts and documents, to give an accurate report of our finances to the IRS. Accounting can be complicated to understand, but the simplest form in accounting is the trial balance with your income on one side and your expenses on the other, when you total them up, and subtract the two, you can determine if you made money or lost money, whether you were doing well or you were heading for bankruptcy.

Sadly, this is the approach many people take to their eternal destination. The thinking goes that if I do enough good things in life, then they will outweigh the bad things I do and then at the end of the day, God will look at the trial balance of my life and determine if I get into heaven.

This is completely false and the very definition of religion. Religion is placing value in rituals and beliefs in order to obtain favor from God.

We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and what will determine our salvation is not our religion, but our righteousness, whether or not we have a right standing before God. Righteousness is only found by placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Living a moral life will not get you into heaven. This is the ultimate deception of Satan, letting people think that they can be good enough for God’s approval. Johnny Hunt writes, “Prior to his salvation, the Apostle Paul, had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into Heaven.” Paul had to lose his religion to find Jesus.

This is what Paul is writing about in the first verses of Philippians 3. The theme of the Letter to the Philippians is Joy. but it seems in these verses Paul makes a dramatic turn and rebukes a group of people who were known as the Judaizers. The Judaizers where Christians who taught that in order to become a TRUE Christian, you have to go back to the law of Moses and conform to the ancient Levitical law with all the rituals and sacrifices. These Judaizers were beginning to gain inroads and create confusion in the church, pulling people away from the truth and the freedom that is found in Christ.

In verse 2 he calls them dirty scavengers, dogs and evildoers. The Judaizers prided themselves in their holiness and their morality, but Paul says that they were actually evildoers, deceiving the young church.

Paul wrote that the outwards acts of duty were of no value, the only reality that counts is the condition of one’s heart, being set apart for Christ. Salvation only comes by believing on the name of Jesus and his completed work on the cross where his sacrifice made us right with God. We are only righteous in God’s sight because we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

In verse 3 we read that the true worshippers, worship God from the heart by the Spirit of God. Worship is never and can never be disconnected from the inner man. We cannot worship God simply by mouthing words, it has to connect with our inner man by the Holy Spirit.

We can have no confidence in the flesh. You may be a small group leader, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, attend every prayer meeting and church service, you may be faithful in giving ten percent to the work of the ministry, but if your heart is far from the Lord, it is all vanity.

Today we have so many people who are trying to work for their salvation. In Philippians 2:12, Paul told the church to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling”. This is the working out of that which God has already worked in by His spirit and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus.

We cannot work for our salvation – but we must work out our salvation.

See Romans 3:20

In Philippians 3:4 to 6, Paul then explains why of all people, he should be the first to earn his salvation and be considered righteous. But then he smashes the myth in verse 7, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

All his supposed credits, were of no value at all, he saw that in comparison to faith in Christ, in comparison to the work that Christ did for him already on the cross, all his work and accomplishments were meaningless.

Sometimes our religious activities can become idols. Our position, our ministry our titles can become more important to us than knowing and following the will of God for our lives.

I am not advocating laziness, stopping all service for the Lord and simply sitting back and just being in God’s presence, no rather I am advocating being led by the spirit. I am certain that after Paul’s conversion he worked harder and suffered more, but he was far more joyful and fulfilled in his life.

Being led by the spirit, you will spend your life maximizing your time, you will find that God stretches you and grows you, but you will not be working to earn favor from God, rather you will be working because the Spirit of God is leading you.

What religious activity do you need to drop today?

And what is God calling you to do by His Spirit?

What are you doing to try to make right the balance sheet of your life?

Are you trying to make amends for your past?

Are you trying desperately to make right some sins by helping the poor, feeding the homeless, caring for the elderly. These are all good things, but if done with the wrong motivation, then we are not being led by the Lord and missing out on the tremendous joy and blessing that comes by being led by God.

Stop looking at your life as a trial balance and trust in Jesus allowing his righteousness to cover you and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Sermon April 29, 2018 Faith and Holiness

Galatians 3:1-14

In Galatians 3, Paul writing to the young church is extremely harsh in his letter. In the first 5 verses, it seems that Paul is interrogating them, as he asks them a series of rhetorical questions. Twice in the first three verses he calls them fools. False teachers had come into the church, teaching that in order to be saved the needed to be circumcised and follow the Mosaic Law in addition to their belief in Jesus. Why is Paul so harsh in his approach? I believe it is because Paul knows that eternity is at stake, he knows that the false teachers are not simply trying to add to their religious activity, these false teachers have been sent by Satan to destroy the church.

By asking these rhetorical questions Paul makes very clear that it is illogical for these Galatians to try to add to their Christian experience by adding works of the law (ch3:2). The key argument he makes is whether they received the Holy Spirit of God by the law or by faith? Three times in those first 5 verses he implies that they received the Holy Spirit only because of faith and not because of obedience to the law.

When you have the Holy Spirit in your life, you cannot add anything to your salvation by following a set of rules or regulations. The Holy Spirit which we receive when we make Jesus Lord of our lives, completes us. It is by the Spirit of God that miracles are done, it is by the Holy Spirit that we can communicate with God (1 Peter 1:3).

As a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ, you have everything you need because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

In the next few verses of Galatians 3, Paul refers to Abraham five times. What makes Abraham so significant to the issue of false teachers? The key is verse 6, just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Verse 6 is the continuation of the rhetorical question he began in verse 5, where he quotes Genesis 15:6.

Abraham simply believed God, he obeyed God and left his father’s home in Genesis 12, and in return God gave him great promises about being a blessing to the nations. Abraham knew that he would never see his home again, he would never see his father again, but he went in faith and obedience.

Abraham was promised many descendants by God, and God tests him once again to see if he would sacrifice the son of the promise. Abraham obeyed God and Isaac is miraculously spared.

Abraham was a man of incredible faith, but how did he become such a man of faith?

In Hebrews chapter 11, Abraham gets eight verses recognizing his faith. The key to faith is found in Hebrews 11:6, faith begins with knowing God. Faith, as a gift from God grows in us as we grow in our relationship with God.

The Gospel message, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ is only good news if it is received by faith. The Gospel is not an academic pursuit or a following of the law, rather it is a celebration of faith in the provision of salvation through Jesus.

The key difference between faith and the law is relationship. Obedience to the law does not require relationship. Many people obey a set of rules, but they have no relationship with God and therefore they have no faith (Galatians 3:11). Many law abiding people will be in hell, because they chose to obey the law when a relationship was offered to them. The narrow road that Jesus taught in Matthew 7:13 is narrow because it is so hard for people trapped in humanism to walk by faith.

We have the ongoing challenge between law and relationship in our church on a weekly basis.

My mother’s generation would say, “you have to go to church”. A good principle but without relationship it is mere legalism.

We have seen this over and over throughout the generations, we force our children to go to church each Sunday, assuming the church will save them. But we don’t teach our children to love Jesus, and as soon as they can they leave the church because they do not see and encounter the living God. Our default condition is legalism, we think if we put enough rules around people they will turn out alright. However, if we invite them into a growing relationship with the living God, then and only then will they experience life change (John 14:15).

Notice Jesus didn’t say, obey my commands and then you will love me. No, the obedience is as a response to our love for Jesus, obedience is a direct response to our relationship with the living God.

What about tithing? We tithe ten percent of our income to the Lord as an act of worship, recognizing the reality of our relationship with God.

In Malachi 3:8-10 we read a challenging prophecy from God on giving to the Lord, which at first glance seems legalistic, but look a little deeper at verse 10, “and thereby put me to the test”. We test someone to learn something about them. Our children test us all the time, pushing the boundaries and testing our patience, why? It is natural for children to test their parents, because deep down there is one fundamental question every child wants to know, “do you love me?”.

There is no where else in the Bible where God invites us to test him. God is calling His people to a relationship with Him. He invites us to test him in the area of giving, for us to learn that He is able to provide. But not only is God able to provide, He is a good Father, a perfect Heavenly Father who we will only get to know as we grow in our faith.

Don’t regard faith as an academic pursuit, live a life of faith, and you will grow in your relationship with God.