Second Reformed Church

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday Night Study

D.V., we will continue our study of "Behold Your God" tonight at 7 PM.  Do you know what pragmatism is?  Is it a correct way to approach worship?  Join us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: "Good & Angry"



Good & Angry:  Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness by David Powlison.
I suspect most people would be willing to make the distinction between being righteously angry and being sinfully angry – being angry for the right reasons and in the right way, and being angry for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way.
In the first six chapters of this book, Powlison reviews this distinction and shows that every reader of his book has been angry and has been angry badly.
Good anger – righteous anger – Powlison argues is accomplished through what Powlison calls “the constructive displeasure of mercy.”  In chapters seven through ten, Powlison explains that anger should be a displeasure about something – something out to appear to us to be wrong, sinful, evil.  Once we identify what this thing is, we ought to respond – mercifully and constructively.  Shining a light on what is wrong and working for the correction or rehabilitation of that which is wrong.  A mere screed is not helpful, nor is it good anger.
How does one change such that one produces good anger?
Chapters eleven through thirteen discuss this work of maturity.  Powlison pens eight questions to put to one’s anger to bring the reader to a place of good anger.  This section is one to practice over and over again, so when one is taken aback, one does not shoot off with bad anger, but through practiced and prayerful preparation, one offers good anger in such a situation.
Powlison ends his book with three “problem” sections – how to get over wrong anger and hurt, how to stop being wrongfully angry with yourself, and how to stop being wrongfully angry with God.  Each to these he carefully guides the reader through taking apart the issue and facing what is really real.
Powlison mentions it took years to write this book, and I believe it.  It is a manual of thought and work to bring the reader to a natural state of good anger.  This is not an easy discipline, but a worthwhile one.  This is a very worthwhile book.  One worth reading over and over and working with.  It is one I will come back to as I work to throw off bad anger.
#Good&Angry
 [I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This review appears on my blog and on Amazon.com.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"The Father Has Told Me" Sermon: John 12:44-50



“The Father Has Told Me”
[John 12:44-50]
September 18, 2016 Second Reformed Church
            What did Jesus teach the crowd?
            We said that chapter twelve of the book of John is the end of Jesus’ public ministry.  Jesus taught the crowd for three years, and then He went into hiding – to teach the apostles in-depth during His last week on earth.
            These final verses of chapter twelve can be considered a summary of Jesus’ teaching ministry.
            What did Jesus teach the crowd?
            First, Jesus was sent by God the Father.
            “And Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.’
            Jesus was sent by God the Father, so what Jesus said and did is the Word and the message and the plan of God the Father.  Believing in Jesus as God the Son and Savior is believing in God the Father.  Not believing in Jesus as God the Son and Savior is denying God the Father.
            We remember Jesus said, “do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (John 10:36-38, ESV).
            God the Father and God the Son are the same One God, and believing in One is believing in both Persons.  As far as being God is concerned, we cannot separate the Father and the Son into separate beings, because they are the same One God.
            In other words, you cannot believe in God the Father and deny God the Son.
            Jesus teaches that He and the Father are the same One God and to truly believe in One is to believe in the Other.  Jesus teaches that the Savior God promised to send is God Himself incarnate in the Person of Jesus.
            Some people try to say that God the Father – “the God of the Old Testament” – is a horrible, angry, judgmental God, but that is not true.  Everything that is true and to be believed about the Father is to be believed about the Son and vice versa.
            In one of America’s favorite verses, we read, “For God [the Father] so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”
(John 3:16, ESV).
            We tend to talk about this verse as if it is about Jesus’ love for us – it is not – it is about the Father’s love for us.  Yes, the Son does love us and willingly lay down His life for us, because what is true of the Father is true of the Son as far as Their Being God is concerned.  The Father loves us.  The Son loves us.  God loves us.  We are to believe God loves us – all we who believe.
            Jesus teaches that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father.  Now, Jesus is not talking about physically seeing here – the Father does not have a physical body – He is talking about having a knowledge of – knowing God – being in an intimate relationship with God.  You don’t have to know the Father and the Son as though there was some separate process or step of salvation.  If you know Jesus, you know the Father; if you believe in Jesus, you believe in the Father.
            In fact, Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44, ESV).  Remember, it is not possible to truly know God unless you truly know Jesus.
            Jesus teaches that He came into the world as light to illumine the darkness.  Jesus was sent by God the Father to illumine the hearts and minds of all those who will believe – to cast out the darkness of sin and raise all we who believe to spiritual life.
            We remember the miracle that the crowd – including the Pharisees – kept coming back to was Jesus’ healing of a man born blind.  Jesus did not merely heal a blind man, He healed a man who had been born blind – such a thing had never happened before.  Jesus illumined the eyes of a man who have never been able to receive the light through his eyes.
            Similarly, Jesus incarnated, lived under the Law of God, died a sinless and righteous man, rose from the dead, and ascended back to His throne to accomplish the salvation – the illumining – of all we who will believe.  We who were born spiritually blind, Jesus healed, giving us a mind and a heart to believe and eyes to see that He is God the Son and Savior, sent by the Father to save His people from sin and its wages.
            Jesus was sent by God the Father to heal men and women born spiritually blind, to accomplish the Gospel, and to reveal the Father to all we who will believe.
            Second, Jesus was sent to save.
‘If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.’
            Have you heard this before?
            Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world.  Jesus was sent to save the world – to accomplish salvation for all those who will ever believe.  Jesus was sent to secure the salvation of all those God chose to be His sheep – all those He gave to His Son the Good Shepherd.
            “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17, ESV).
            You will remember that there was a misunderstanding among some of the people who thought that the Savior that God would send would be someone who comes in judgment right away.  Some people wanted Jesus to bring judgment now.
            We read this account, for example:
            “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village” (Luke 9:51-56, ESV.)
            Even some of the disciples had times when they forgot that the only reason they believed in Jesus as Savior is that the Father sent Jesus to raise them to new life – that Jesus gave them sight to see and know and believe the Gospel.  They saw unbelief and the growing hostility against Jesus and His Gospel and they wanted to slaughter the infidels.
            In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter, always ready to jump in without thinking – ignoring what Jesus had told him, we read: 
            “And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?’” (Matthew 26:51-54, ESV).
            Jesus knows right from wrong.  Jesus knows the hearts of men and women.  But Jesus was sent to bring the message of salvation and to accomplish it through the whole of His life.
            When the time is right, Jesus, Who has all authority and power, uses it.  Jesus told Peter that He could have called and received the assistance of twelve legions of angels – 36,000 to 62,400 angels.  Jesus could have slaughtered those who came to take Him away, but then how would salvation be accomplished?
            Now is the time for salvation.  Now is the time that God has called us to repent and believe in Jesus as God the Son and Savior and then go forth and proclaim this Gospel to the whole world.
            “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV).
            Jesus was sent to save.
            Third, Jesus will come to judge.
            “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
            The salvation of the elect is the first part of why Jesus was sent by the Father.  The second part is to judge the world and eternally punish those who reject the Word Jesus spoke – the Word He was sent to speak – the Gospel.
            When Jesus is sent back, it will be as the judge of every human being.  In part, we are told:
            “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”
(Revelation 20:11-15, ESV).
            And Jesus teaches that the Word that He taught, the Gospel He lived to preach, was not something He made up as some mere human being.  What Jesus was sent to teach is the Word of God the Father.  Whatever God the Father told Jesus is what Jesus said.  So, again, to reject the Word of Jesus is to reject God the Father and His Word.
            To believe the Word of Jesus is to believe the Word that was sent from the Father – it is the Word that leads to eternal life.  So, the judgement that Jesus brings is based on the Word of the Father.  There is no chance that Jesus will finally sin in His humanity and condemn a person wrongfully in the judgment because He will judge based on whether or not each person received or rejected the Word of God.
            Have you ever heard someone say that God doesn’t care what you believe, so long as you try to be a good person?  Have you ever heard someone say that God just wants you to be faithful, to do the best you can?
            If that’s true, we don’t need a Gospel – we don’t need a Savior.
            If that’s true, God has lied to us and Jesus is a fraud.
            If someone says something like that and we agree – even if we don’t really agree, but we just shake our heads because we don’t want to start an argument, we are misrepresenting God and we are allowing people to continue to follow the sin-soaked path to eternal Hell when we know why Jesus was sent and what God told Him to say and do – the Way to be right with God.
            What does Jesus tell the crowd?
            Jesus tells the crowd that He is God the Son, Who was sent by God the Father.
            Jesus tells the crowd that He was sent – He incarnated – to be the Promised Way of Salvation.
            Jesus tells the crowd that He will come again and judge the world based on whether or not they received the Word of God the Father.
            Jesus tells them the Gospel.
            This Word of the Father is glorious news, is it not?
            Let us pray:
            Almighty God, we thank You for sending Your Son that through Him Your Word would be the Gospel of Salvation for us.  We thank You for choosing and saving us that we could see You.  We ask that God the Holy Spirit would cause us to care for the lost and speak the Word of the Gospel to all.  For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.