on catching up eight sermon summaries — two weeks worth

I didn’t realize how many messages I have not yet added to my summaries. I have been swamped with work as I am busy with duplex renovations two days a week. This last week we turned a corner on the ‘ripping and tearing’ stage and are now putting things back together. Most of the new sub-floor is into the kitchen/dining room, we only have one more sheet of plywood to install there, then do the entryway and the bathroom upstairs. We also hope to start painting this coming week and then putting in kitchen cabinets… so the end is in sight.

On Wednesday, Jan 24, we covered Rm 6-8, in a message called “The Essentials of Sanctification“. The point I was making with the message was that victory over sin should be the normal experience of the Christian life, with victory being obtained by turning our mind over to Christ (reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to God), remaining constant in the battle with the flesh, and finally relying on the Spirit for the power needed to overcome.

The following Sunday, Jan 28, saw us in Rm 8 for “The Guarantee of Glory“, a message that focused on the end of sanctification, that which motivates us to keep on in the struggle, that is, the great glory that will be revealed in us. These passages contain some of the most tremendous assurances of victory in the New Testament as Paul assures us that the glory is worth all suffering on this earth, that the Spirit within is active, working ‘the glory’ out in our lives now, and that as we trust in God, nothing can separate us from His love. The reason the believer persists in the struggle for sanctification is the exceeding richness of the reward — a reward that is guaranteed.

Our second message that day was “The Question of Israel“, a message covering Rm 9-11, some of the more complicated passages in Romans. A key to understanding these chapters is to understand the objection to the gospel that Paul is answering. The objection is stated this way: How can you trust the promises of God now if God’s promises to Israel have been set aside? Paul answers by showing that God’s promises to Israel have not been set aside, but that men don’t understand what God was doing with Israel in the first place. The first point (ch 9), is that God’s promises are not frustrated by Israel’s unbelief, they are fulfilled in the chosen remnant who believed. The second point is that Israel’s problems are not God’s faithlessness, God has provided the means, sent the preachers (the prophets) and given the opportunities – Israel’s problem is its own unbelief (ch 10). Last, God’s word to Israel is not empty, it remains in force (ch 11) as proven by the remnant in this age, and by the future national turning that will yet occur when the Lord returns. The Proposition: God’s dealing with Israel, past, present, and future, assures us of the wisdom in trusting the promises of God.

Our afternoon message was on Rm 12-13, “The Consequences of Salvation“. These chapters are the great ‘so what’ of salvation. The Proposition: The doctrine of salvation demands the practice of love for God by love for man. In a way we have an inclusio in these chapters, Rm 12.1-2 speak of the need to love God with whole heart mind and strength, i.e., the living sacrifice, and Rm 13.8-14 bring us back to that same idea. In between, we see that the way this is done is by loving our fellow man, first to believers in the church by exercising the gifts and in outdoing one another in showing love for our brethren. Then we are called to do good to men in general, even our enemies, heaping coals of fire on their heads by so doing (something that we can’t do maliciously!). And last, we are called to show the love of God by submission to legitimate governmental authority and paying our taxes. In the end we are obliged to owe man nothing but love for one another.

Last Wednesday, we finished up Romans with a message covering Rm 14-16, but mostly concentrating on Rm 14.1-15.7, the obligation we have to brethren who differ with us on non-moral scruples. The title was “Our Relations to One Another” with this Proposition: Christian love demands the sacrifice of high-mindedness for the sake of our brethren. What I mean is that we can’t be high-minded about our ‘strong consciences’ or about our ‘strong scruples’ – both brothers have to receive each other in love, not despising or judging each other. The strong conscience brother has the additional responsibility of deciding to be considerate of the scruples of the weak conscience brother and an obligation to avoid putting a stumbling block in front of him. Again, the principles of love are our guide and the example of Christ who sacrificed all for us must be our model.

Today, we returned to Acts with “Paul’s Farewell Tour” mostly from Ac 20, a bit from 21. I took a bit of a different tack with this message and preached on a subject I don’t think I have ever heard a message on — preparing for the preacher’s permanent departure from a ministry. The Proposition: Christian churches should constantly be preparing themselves for the succession of the next generation. I showed how Paul spent time with several churches on the way, talking long into the night in Troas (interrupted by a quick death and resurrection), lingering with believers in each place that he visited on the way to Jerusalem. Then we turned to the words of preparation seen in Paul’s message to the Ephesian elders in Ac 20: Paul recounts his satisfaction with his ministry among them, preaching the whole counsel of God, satisfaction with his sincere earnest manner of ministry, satisfaction that he had not withheld anything needful. All of these are preparatory, even in the midst of a vibrant ministry. In this message, Paul knows he is likely not to see them again, so he warns them of certain danger to come, wolves from without, perverse truth twisters from within. Much failure in succession is a failure to adequately prepare people to be discerners of false teaching during the years of ministry. And last, Paul returns to a lesson of practical Christianity where he teaches them concerning industry and generosity – a message he would give as if he were still going to be there next week, but a message that prepares for departure nonetheless. God’s people need to keep their own departure in mind, anticipating that there will be a generation to follow and make their own contributions to the future success of the truth by assimilating truth now and passing it on to those who follow.

In the second service, we covered basically Ac 21-23 with a look at the “Antagonism of Judaism“. We picked up the thread of anxiety that we see as Paul is told by various prophets along the way to Jerusalem that trouble and imprisonment is coming. Then we see the active antagonism of the Jews as Paul is arrested, beaten, threatened, charges and counter-charges slung around and so on. In the end, the Jews plotted to kill Paul, but he is not overwhelmed by these threats and their antagonism. What is remarkable is that what Paul wants to do when threatened is preach to them! Just as he wanted to do with the mob in Ephesus, Paul turned to the mob in Jerusalem and preached to them … his desire was to see them come to Christ. I compared again some of Paul’s thoughts from Rm 11 and 9 and his desire to see them come to Christ. The whole point of this message was that this is God’s will for us when we deal with Jews today who are antagonistic to Christ. We should not react in kind, be frustrated, but we should seek their souls. Are they enraged with you? What an opportunity! Evangelize!

In the last service, we had a similar theme, but this time with respect to the Gentiles. From Ac 24 (and a bit of 25) we looked at “In the Eye of Imperial Rome“. Proposition: The servant of Christ must learn meekness in the hope that the most wicked rascals he meets might be born again. The wicked rascals in question for this message were the Roman governors, primarily Felix and his wife Drusilla. I gave historical background for both Felix and Festus, but concentrated on the two years of witnessing Paul was able to have with Felix. Felix, though under conviction, resisted grace (hah!!) in the interest of a bribe. Paul refused to give a bribe, not wanting to get out of jail with this excellent opportunity to witness regularly to this pair, Felix, a former slave turned brutal governor and Drusilla, great-grandaughter of Herod the Great, daughter of the man who executed James the brother of John. What a great prize of grace they would have been, but they would not repent. The attitude Paul has to those who are trying him is to turn it into a witnessing opportunity. Do we do that with people who attack us? We need the evangelistic heart of the apostle Paul instead of the self-protective self-centered hearts we so commonly carry around with us.

Well, that brings you up to date. We have eleven weeks to go in our through the NT series. It has been a great blessing so far, and a good bit of work, but we are hopeful that it will be a great resource for new disicples for years to come.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3