Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Foolishness of Going Back to the Greek and Hebrew - sermon notes

Whenever someone gets into a pulpit and picks up a Bible and says, "We're now going to read from God's error free word," and doesn't believe that the book he has in his hands is that word of God then he's a liar by profession and in deed. That preacher will say that the Bible is inerrant and infallible only in the originals, which neither he nor the person he trained under has ever seen.

Then there are those people who say they understand that this is truly God's word in the English language and that it is indeed the very words of God. However, when they go to translate the Bible into a foreign language they go back to the Greek Textus Receptus or the Second Great Rabbinic Bible's Masoretic Text to do so making their profession that this Book is God’s word, the Authorized Version, what we call in 21st century advertising parlance the KJB or KJV, also a lie. It's sort of like you trying to impress upon me what an adult you are and then asking me to get you a drink only in a sippy cup or a baby bottle. We've moved beyond the Greek and Hebrew and have been moved on for nearly 400 years.

This Book, the King James Bible, the one that you have in your hands is God's perfect, infallible word.

Now, there is always that know-it-all who, when you are having a Bible study, will try to impress you by saying that the real meaning of this or that word is this or that and it will help you understand the Bible better. May I say "Baloney?" How about "Hogwash?"

Let me give you some examples. First let's look at something every funnymentalist (fundamentalist) apparently wants to understand more than the Resurrection, a wife's submission to her husband.

Ephesians 5:22 says,   "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."

Two verses later, this statement is further defined and explained by a parallel;

Ephesians 5:24 says  "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing."

Is this clear? Look at this verse;

Colossians 3:18 gives a further narrowing and definition of wifely submission; "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."

1 Peter 3:1 gives a good reason why a wife should even submit to an unsaved husband,  "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;"

So, wives are to be in submission to their OWN husband as the church is in submission to Christ and even to an unsaved husband in order to lead him to salvation. Submission and subjection are synonyms, meaning they have like meanings. Picture how the church is to respond to and obey Christ and you can get an idea of how a wife is to respond to her husband and, of course, how he is to act. In fact, we are all called to submit to each other in the fear of God in Ephesians 5:21 which, although the remainder of a sentence, in some 1769 editions of the Authorized Version is the start of the paragraph in which we find instructions as to how we are to treat each other as husbands and wives. A simple cross referencing word study using any computerized King James Bible can explain to you, IN ENGLISH, what submission means. It's not rocket science.

Now, if we have a smarty pants Greekophile among us he will then say, these words; "submit", "subjection", etc. are all translated from one Greek word even in verse 21 where it tells all of us to submit to each other plus all of those verses where we are told to submit to the higher powers of government.

But, he will point out that the Greek word, hupotasso, is a military term referring to placing things in proper order, and that it was a voluntary attitude of giving in and cooperating as your duty. Under the Republic in Rome when the entire army was called out it would be commanded by the two elected consuls on alternate days. So, the wife is to submit to her husband's authority as a wise and dutiful Roman consul will submit to someone if only his equal but in command.

Is this clear as mud? Is a wife a general or political rival, who is simply living as if she is waiting for her turn to command the army, err, I mean house? Does Mr. Greek fancypants' explanation make things clearer than the Bible definition? I DON'T THINK SO.

Now, let's use some Hebrew examples;

Genesis 6:4 says "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."

These giants appeared "also after that" so we know that these shenanigans were going on in the days after the Flood and perhaps even now. In any event giants existed much later and you can see this by Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 2:11, 20; Joshua 17:15 and many other references. The wicked sons of God who fathered those giants and are reserved in chains in darkness in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6 awaiting judgment. They fathered giants, as in very tall and strong people as is evidenced by the supposed archaeological finds of people from 7ft to 12ft and taller in graves around the world.

Okay, Genesis 6:4 is clear enough. But, here comes Mr. Hebrew I'm Brilliant. He says that this word is Nephilim. The Nephilim means, he will tell you, "the fallen ones" and these Nephilim were the leaders of the pre-flood world.

What? Does that make things clearer? I DON'T THINK SO. Mr. Brilliant Guy will then say that the KJV translated giants from the Greek word, Gigantes, of the phony Septuagint which really means Nephilim. Not only is he disregarding the King James translators’ own declaration in their letter to the readers that the Septuagint was unreliable but also the fact that in Greek Mythology the Gigantes were, guess what? Giants. So, Mr. Hebrew guy hasn't helped us to understand the Bible one little bit. In fact, he's making things as murky as his Greek buddy. The word in English in 6:4 is GIANTS and it says and also after that there were GIANTS, and that means large, strong men of an unnaturally tall stature, as in GOLIATH.  

So, then we have other, more simple expressions that are adequately explained by the Holy Spirit in the authoritative English Bible but the scchhollaaarrrrr, as he can't stand the idea of anyone having authority over his own intellect, which he worships, by the way, will try to muddy the water and muddle your brain.

Now, we all believe that the serpent in Genesis 3:1 was Satan, and we know from Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 by way of Isaiah 27:1 and Job 41 that Satan is a dragon, which is what dinosaurs used to be called, and a serpent and a leviathan. We know from history that dragons were called serpents but dragons had legs as we know the one in Genesis had, which that one that allowed himself to be used by Satan had removed by God.

We know how beautiful Satan was in the Garden of Eden and why Adam and Eve were probably so used to him and unafraid of him by the reference to him in Ezekiel 28:13-15 as God weaves a description of Satan into his attack on the king of Tyrus, as God does in His descriptions of human beings who act like Satan.

But, Mr. Hebrew I’m Brilliant says, NO! It’s a nawchawsh, a snake, in Genesis 3:1. The word pronounced taneem means dragon or sea monster. And I say, Balderdash! When Moses is talking to God and throws his rod on the ground in Exodus 4:3 and it is turned into a snake it is nawchawsh. 

But, when Aaron confronted the Pharaoh’s sorcerers, magicians, what they both threw down became taneem.  Does anyone believe that after Moses rod became a snake that Aaron’s and the Egyptian sorcerers’ became fire-breathing dragons in the context of the story in Exodus 7? No, of course not, because the meaning of a word in the Bible is based on the context in which it is used and the cross-references by which it is linked to other writings given by inspiration of God. Whether it is nawchawsh or taneem is not important. It is the context that is important. Whether the word is serpent or dragon is not important, but it is the context in which those words are used that is important. In Ezekiel 29:3 the Pharaoh is likened to a taneem, a dragon. So, we see these words are all interchangeable by the linkage between cross references, something to which a modern translator is blind, not believing in the unity of the Bible as given by inspiration of God.

A serpent can be a dragon or a snake, depending on the context. A serpent that had legs is hardly a timber rattler, is it? A serpent that slithers and can be picked up by its tail is hardly a dragon, a dinosaur, is it? This is not rocket science, unless you are a highly educated buffoon with a reading comprehension problem.

For my last example, let's look at another darling of liberal Bible expositors; John 21:15-17.
After the resurrection Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him, which calls into sharp, painful memory that Peter had denied His Lord three times as Jesus predicted He would. And there are many other great sermons from this passage, I'm sure.

But, there is a problem. My friend who pretends to be a Greek expert is about to burst. He excitedly points out that the first and second time Jesus asks the question He uses the word Agape' for to love someone from esteem or respect and also used for divine love. Each of those times Peter responds with Phileo, the love that comes from friendship or brotherly love. The last time Jesus Himself uses Phileo and once again Peter responds with the same. My pseudo-scholarly friend will say that this lends much more meaning to the conversation because Jesus is asking for a different kind of love, a divine love, which Peter is not capable of and this reflects a fundamental failure in mankind's capacity or willingness to love God in the right way blah, blah, blah.

What my friend who likes to think he is more intelligent and knowledgeable than a Christian janitor who can read English has done is to reveal his own ignorance. Agape' and Phileo are words for love that are used interchangeably. No extra insight into these verses is gained by playing ping pong with them. In Matthew 6:5 hypocrites phileo to pray standing in the synagogues, in Matthew 19:19 you are told to agape' your neighbor as yourself, John 15:19 says the world won't phileo the disciples, 1Corinthians 16:22 says that if any man phileo not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maranatha, and when we are repeatedly told to love our neighbor as ourselves with agape' the Scriptures in no way imply that this is superior to our brotherly love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I doubt anyone would imply that the kind of love Jesus says we are to have for each other, which distinguishes us as His followers, is inferior to the love we are supposed to have for a stranger who is in need.

Titus 3:4 doesn't have the love of God our Saviour toward man as agape'. Paul's admonition in Titus 3:15 isn't agape'. 1 Peter 1:22 uses both words for the same thought with phileo first and then agape'.

 Does knowing this change your understanding of the text? Does it help you know what you are to do? Is your lack of access or availability of access to the Greek a determinant of your ability to understand God's words? Finally, in Revelation 3:19 does it matter to you that Jesus phileos here?
Now, my point in saying all of this is very clearly, in a limited time, and taking only a few examples, is that you will gain no valuable insights in the Bible by going back to the original languages. It's like telling me you are going to really get to know the Gettysburg Battlefield and then immediately digging the deepest hole in the ground that you can. I would tell you to compare verse with verse in the Bible or tour the entire battlefield. Keep in mind Paul's admonition in 1Corinthians 2:13  "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and even Strong's Concordance, as well as the references I just gave you are not given by inspiration of God and are often corrupt. Lexicons, dictionaries of Hebrew and Greek are notoriously corrupt. Even their own creators and those modern translators who use them and revise them say so. Here are some quotes from the book, Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography.

“The fact is that opinions will very often differ over the precise wording of lexical definitions even - or perhaps, especially - after careful consideration of a proposed definition.”

“…there is the fact that even the latest lexicons derive their material from their predecessors, and a great deal of it has been passed on uncritically over the course of centuries.”

“…we cannot know for certain that what we find in front of us when we look up a word is sound.”

“…all the existing lexical entries in all our dictionaries are now obsolete and await reassessment in the light of the full evidence,or at least checking to see if there is further evidence to be added.”

“Lexicons are regarded by their users as authoritative, and they put their trust in them. Lexicons are reference books presenting a compressed, seemingly final statement of fact, with an almost legal weight. The mere fact that something is printed in a book gives it authority, as far as most people are concerned. And understandably: if one does not know the meaning of a word, one is predisposed to trust the only means of rescue from ignorance. Yet this trust is misplaced.”

Bernard A. Taylor, John A. L. Lee, Peter R. Burton &Richard E. Whitaker, Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography: Essays in Honor of Frederick W. Danker (Kindle Locations 955-956). Kindle Edition.

 So, compare scripture with scripture and ignore the scholar who says the original languages give more insight than the English. All they are trying to do is to take the authority of your Bible from you and replace it with their own intellect as your final authority.

1Corinthians 11:1-16 comments: hair length on women

11:1 ¶  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3  But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4  Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6  For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7  For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8  For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9  Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10  For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11  Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12  For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13  Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14  Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15  But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

A little context will be helpful in understanding Paul’s response to an apparent question presented to him. I’ll repeat some words I wrote earlier.

Sex was intricately involved with ancient religions as I explained earlier. Rising above Corinth is Acrocorinth, or Upper Corinth. It is the acropolis of ancient Corinth, a monolithic rock rising above.

Now the city of Corinth was known not only for the most expensive and skilled prostitutes in the Greek world but also the temple prostitution, common throughout the ancient world, of the cult of Aphrodite in her temple on Acrocorinth. Aphrodite, who was also Venus, Astarte, and Ishtar or the many other names listed in the Bible for her had, it is said, a thousand temple prostitutes with short hair or shaved heads servicing the devoutly religious pagan men of the city and pious visitors. Paul justifies their custom of their women wearing their hair long so as to differentiate the Corinthian Christian women from the priestesses of Aphrodite clearly. He says that it is perfectly reasonable to do so and offers spiritual arguments to justify their custom.

However, at the end of the passage he says that if any man be contentious or argumentative, disputing the argument, Paul admits that they do not have that custom in the churches of God.

Unlike the modern fundamentalist error this passage does not say that Christian women everywhere and at all times must have long hair. Even those women who feel under conviction to have their hair long should remember that, in America, when women were expected to have long hair to be ‘good’ women, in the eighteenth century, they were expected to wear their hair pinned up. “Letting your hair down,” had sensual connotations and was reserved for the marital bedroom unless the woman was of low moral repute. So, it is good to have your hair presented in a modest style but don’t regard yourself as conservative or spiritual simply because you wear your hair down around your shoulders as that would have been quite shocking in the time in America you are trying to imitate. Possessing the fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians, chapter 5, not the cut of your hair, is evidence of your submission to Christ.

This passage also suggests that individual churches may face circumstances that require a unique approach to counter the world that other churches might not need. As an example, a church in a rural area might justifiably fight the opening of a strip club whereas a church in a city surrounded by vice might not waste its efforts on such a protest.

Verse 10 hearkens back to Paul’s argument that Christians have liberty but should exercise restraint on that liberty for the sake of others in the way he uses the word power.

Friday, June 15, 2018

1Corinthians 10:1-33 comments: Christian liberty versus self-restraint (part three)

1 ¶  Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2  And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3  And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4  And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

This is a hint that many of the Corinthian Christians had been Jews. In the beginning Christianity was thought to be merely a sect of first century Judaism. Paul refers to all our fathers in a clear reference to the Hebrews who passed through the Red Sea. Not only is the Red Sea crossing a type of baptism but also the cloud which God moved in, a clear indication of how not all references to baptism refer to getting wet.

Exodus 13:21  And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

Exodus 14:19  And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

A reference to Manna is made and to the rock from which the Hebrews were supernaturally able to drink.

Exodus 17:6  Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Paul here, I believe, by the wisdom given to him by the Holy Spirit, makes a metaphor as a rock was not literally, actually Christ which Moses was told to strike. Christ wasn’t physically transformed into a rock or disguising Himself as a rock. The rock represented Him. There are those that would say that the rock as actually Christ in a type of disguise, which doesn’t seem in keeping with the way the Bible is written. Paul uses a great many metaphors in his arguments from the Christian’s body being a temple, from Christians being a building, and the church as Christ’s body on earth. All of these things mean something important but you are not made of stone, nor are your fellow church members bricks, and Christ is not a disembodied head floating around in the heavenly realm.

    6 ¶  Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is
written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8  Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9  Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10  Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 14  Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Things that were revealed to us in the past were revealed for a reason. Brush aside all of the sermons on the events of Exodus mentioned here and see how the Holy Spirit, through Paul, interprets their meaning. The warning here is against idolatry, elevating false gods. Paul here also reveals his personal opinion and hope, like ours, that the end must be coming soon.

The word temptation here is not a reference to our modern notion of being tempted by something like gazing at the air-brushed images on the magazine rack in the grocery store or gossiping. This, in context, is about the traps that are out there that encourage us, attempt to trick us even, to defile our worship of God. A temptation urges us to worship it rather than God. It is also a trial, suffering, and grief that causes us to doubt our faith. In fact, it is anything that damages our faith and trust in God.

A personal disaster and grief, persecution for one’s faith, elevating something like sex, education, employment, or material possessions above God, and sin itself are temptations to turn away from the faith.

I recently have seen someone so bound up in their desire to do what they know God has forbidden that they not only did not repent of their ways but even began to deny their faith. And yet, they once prayed fervently and often for loved ones who did not trust and believe in God. Their desire to sin was a temptation that damaged their faith.

The Hebrews followed God and received a type of baptism but then afterwards committed idolatry and many were killed as a result. Paul warns the Corinthians to run from the idol worship which permeated the Graeco-Roman world of the first century. Many today have made their preferred sin an idol and now worship it rather than God.

Paul and the Corinthians lived in a world where a Christian’s life could be threatened with a warning, to renounce Christ or lose your property and your life. It was a world full of involuntary temptation that presented itself to you in a forceful way.

Lead us not into temptation…is a plea to protect us from malicious things that challenge our faith…but deliver us from evil. The greatest trouble, calamity, or evil is one that draws you to turn your back on your Creator.

    15 ¶  I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18  Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19  What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20  But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21  Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 22  Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Here, Paul draws a parallel between the Lord’s Supper and the religious feasts of the pagans. The Christian honors the Lord and calls to remembrance his death, burial, and resurrection. The pagan worships not God, but devils. We are not to have fellowship with, to worship, or to honor devils. It is inconsistent and wrong to partake of both.

I’ve read that when Christianity was made into the state religion of Rome hundreds of years later that people, still pagan in heart, would sacrifice an animal to a pagan god on the steps of a church building before entering to attend a service.

    23 ¶  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24  Let no man seek his own, but every man
another’s wealth. 25  Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26  For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. 27  If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28  But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: 29  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? 30  For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33  Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

 Paul speaks of Christian liberty here. We are free to do what we want to do but not all things that we can do are good or set good examples. Whatever is sold in the market, the shambles, is perfectly fine to eat. It all belongs to God anyway. If a Corinthian is invited to a feast and he is disposed to go he need not ask if the food was offered to an idol. But, if he is told that Christian must not eat if he is told that the food was part of a pagan sacrifice for the sake of the person offering him the food.

Whatever we eat and drink must be to the glory of God. But, what we do should not give offence, that is, to causes someone else to stumble, to wound their conscience toward God.

Matthew 18:7  Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

The Corinthians were told not to do anything that would prevent someone from coming to Christ, something that would impede the gospel working in their heart. This included eating at a religious feast where it was obvious the food was offered to an idol.

Here, also, we have the three divisions of humanity from a religious perspective. There are Jews, non-Jews or Gentiles, and then there is the Church, which consists of the saved of both of the former.

We are trying to save people, not to justify their idolatry, or to use our liberty in a way that blinds them to the truth. Paul has made it clear that he does not approve of the Corinthian Christian dabbling in both worlds, that of the church and that of the heathen. Paul has defined the limits of Christian liberty.

Monday, June 11, 2018

1Corinthians 9:1-27 comments: Christian liberty versus self-restraint (part two)

1 ¶  Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2  If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

Paul begins to reinforce his argument regarding Christian liberty and self-restraint by establishing his credentials. He is an apostle and free to do what he wants in the Lord. He has seen the risen Christ. The Corinthians became Christians through his ministry to the Gentiles.

    3 ¶  Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, 4  Have we not power to eat and to drink? 5  Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6  Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 7  Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8  Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9  For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10  Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12  If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13  Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Paul asserts that he has the freedom and authority to eat and drink what he wants. He has the freedom and authority to have a wife to accompany him. He has the freedom and authority to be paid by the churches he supports.

But, he has not used this freedom nor exercised this authority and has suffered a great deal as a result for the purpose of not getting in the way of the work of the gospel of Christ. Even though he had the right to expect to have his living from the teaching of the gospel as the priests lived off of the offerings in the temple he has not done so. He has exercised great restraint in his ministry to serve the gospel of Christ.

Power, as a strength and authority under restraint, is an important theme in the Bible. Jesus exercised such restraint even with His strength and authority.

Matthew 26:47 ¶  And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48  Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49  And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50  And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51  And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52  Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 55  In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56  But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

John 10:17  Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Paul will come back to this idea of not doing what one is allowed to do later in his discussion of hair length on Corinthian Christian women.

    15 ¶  But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16  For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17  For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18  What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

Here, Paul insists that he would do nothing that he is permitted to do if he thinks doing it will impede the spread of the gospel. He is compelled to preach the gospel as many Christians find that in certain situations they, urged by the Holy Spirit, feel that they can do nothing else but tell someone about Christ. Jeremiah mentions this feeling that he can do nothing else but speak God’s word.

Jeremiah 20:9  Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

Paul wants to be careful about not abusing his authority or his privilege, using his liberty in a way that might be used against the gospel of Christ.

    19 ¶  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23  And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Paul has not held himself up to be a superior being to those to whom he witnesses. He will not attack Gentiles so that he may win them. Notice two proofs of that. One, regarding the Gentiles is his behavior in Athens.

Acts 17:16 ¶  Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18  Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19  And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20  For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21  (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

    22 ¶  Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27  That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

    32 ¶  And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33  So Paul departed from among them. 34  Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Notice the difference here in how Paul dealt with Gentile non-believers and how the modern fundamentalist deals with variant religious and philosophical beliefs. Instead of screaming at them he reasoned with them, even quoting their own poets, using their words to make his point.

Regarding the Jews Paul was rather conflicted. Saying that his ministry was to the Gentiles and that he would no longer go to the Jews he bore a heavy burden for his people and went after them often. This resulted in some rather negative outcomes that would take too long to discuss here. Still, Paul has a heart for those who did not know the Lord who created them and wants very much to win them. For this he exercises restraint over that liberty he has in Christ. His desire is to be a diplomat for Christ, an ambassador, and a faithful representative.

Ephesians 6:20  For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

    24 ¶  Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Finally, Paul points out how an athlete has to bring himself under discipline, governing his body, if he wants to win a contest. Paul himself, showing the limit of the typology of comparing a Christian to an athlete, shows that he is not running for a temporal crown, is not shadow-boxing. He is running toward a finish line where all eternity awaits. He is in a real fight. Paul uses sports analogies like this elsewhere.

Galatians 2:2  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

Galatians 5:7  Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Philippians 2:16  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Hebrews 12:1  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

A Christian has to be disciplined to keep their body under control as a successful athlete must do. More is at stake than whether or not a crown is won. There is a testimony to be seen by the world. Now, Paul will give the conclusion of this argument on Christian liberty and self-restraint.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Why We Must Be Saved - sermon notes revised

All of us here believe the Bible testimony that the natural fate of all mankind is a burning Hell.

Deuteronomy 32:22  For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Psalm 86:13  For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

Luke 16:19 ¶  There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20  And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21  And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

And that this is just the holding place for a much worse fate…

Revelation 20:10  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever…14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death…15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

And that the only way out of that horror is to trust in Christ’s righteousness and not our own, to live forever in Heaven with the God who created us.

John 10:28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Philippians 3:8  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

    9 ¶  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So, the possibilities are eternal life or eternal suffering. Street preachers will shout, “Born once, Die twice. Born twice, Die once!”

So, we tell people about the free gift of salvation in Christ.

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Acts 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and we believe what He said about Himself.

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

But very few will hear what we have to say, sadly.

Matthew 7:14  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Each of us who witness to others about our faith and why we believe what we believe have come across someone who has said, “why do I have to be saved?” To risk oversimplifying complex human justifications I think there are two main types of person who ask this question.

The first type of person has lived an honorable life. They may have served in the military, raised a family, followed traditional morality, payed their taxes, obeyed the law, didn’t lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate anyone who did. I know some atheists with a stronger moral code than most Christians. Maybe they are a Freemason and do lots of good works. Their works are just based on the wrong thing and they are holding on to it as a justification for their life. They don’t believe there is a God or a Heaven but if there is they deserve His and its blessings.

I’m not going to foolishly tell them that if they ever lied in their life they ought to consider themselves a liar or if they took a pencil home from work they are a thief. We don’t think like that in this culture and you don’t think like that. We typically think of a thief as someone who has that as part of their character or just has a bad character as if that was a fixed, definable thing in each person. They might even define themselves by their sin. They don’t feel guilt about it. They don’t feel shame. They have not repented of their wicked sinful nature or their behavior. Paul said that unrepentant sinners shall not be saved, will not come to Christ unless they reject what they are.

1Corinthians 6: 9 ¶  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

But, let’s look at a “good” person, by the world’s standard. This person has done nothing, they say, that would merit them needing to be punished in Hell or saved from it.

But, they are missing the point. The point is that we have inherited a sin nature. Who here has not stolen something or lied to someone? Who here has not thought of someone’s death in their heart? The problem is our sin nature not an individual sin or careless pocketing of an employer’s pencil or a too long glance at the magazine rack in the airport. Those things are just evidence of a much bigger problem. In the old Perry Mason TV show from the 1960s they used to always have a defendant on trial for murder whose character witness would insist that they were not capable of murder. Of course, we know better. There is no one sin on earth, one thing that we snort at when watching TV, that we are not perfectly capable of doing ourselves.

You see, the problem is in your heart.

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The human heart is not just evil. It is desperately wicked. Do you know what that means? This is going to trouble some of you because you don’t look at yourselves this way. If you chanced to be out walking and happened upon a nightclub fire like some of the famous ones we’ve had in past days, say, the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston in 1942 during World War Two where in 15 minutes 492 people died and 166 people were injured you’d see what desperate means. People crowded the exits and would have pulled anyone trying to get out or trying to pull them out to their death in total panic. They were desperate to get out but in their panic kept themselves and others from escaping. Your heart is that desperate to be wicked.

You aren’t just prone to sin, or just an imperfect person who does his or her best in life. You aren’t trying to do your best but making a few mistakes along the way, with the best of intentions. No, your heart wants so badly to do what it knows to be wrong it takes a great deal of socialization, fear of public humiliation, and a desire for approval from others to keep you from winding up on death row or being a permanent resident of the rescue mission if you haven’t trusted Christ.

Admit it, you’ve been angry without a cause, you’ve sought your own, just what you wanted regardless of anyone else’s feelings. You’ve lied, cheated, stolen, and committed sexual immorality all the while justifying it by some misunderstanding or unmet need. You’ve murdered people in your heart, hated them and wanted them to die. I’m not talking about telling the proverbial little white lie or stealing some paperclips from work so I can make some kind of trendy argument to get you to admit something you don’t really believe about yourself. I’m talking about what you and I really are like.

I had a customer in housing sales once who told me an interesting story. He was a good guy, a little abrasive, but a skilled craftsman who loved his wife and family. He was just pure Baltimore, if you know what I mean. He had heart problems. Once, in an unnamed hospital in Baltimore he died on the operating table and had to be revived. He became conscious cursing and screaming and talking about fire and a Hell he didn’t believe in. When he was able to he apologized to the nursing staff for his language. They shrugged it off. A nurse told him that they’d experienced that even with sweet little old ladies at the end of their lives. He thought it was funny and dismissed my efforts to suggest it was real.

You see, this person you’re talking to, and it may be a relative, even a sweet, little old lady, your mother maybe, is a vile, believe it or not, wicked, nasty sinner by nature who cannot enter into the presence of God without Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Until most people can wrap their minds around that they will just look at you like a cow looks at a new gate. Good people are hard to convince that they are not good people. They have the testimony of their hearts, their friends and family, their accomplishments, their material success, and, yes, the testimony of their own seared and twisted conscience.

They’ve got to be made to understand that they are not being compared to other, lesser mortals. They are being compared to Christ. In comparison to a sinless, righteous, perfectly moral and obedient man to God, who happened to be God in the flesh at the same time He was fully a man where would this good person you are talking to stand? Imagine that. This good guy or good girl is being compared to God. They are lost without His righteousness as theirs does not and cannot measure up.

It even happens with religious people, people who say they believe in God. Remember,

James 2:19  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

And their works, which they trust in, while good and wonderful have no effect on getting them into Heaven. Their works are dead works, on which they are banking their justification, apart from Christ’s righteousness.

Hebrews 6:1 ¶  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Whatever they think justifies themselves before God other than Christ’s righteousness is a lie and a sham. If they don’t wrap their minds around that they are not going to be saved.

Another person that is perplexing is that guy or girl who has led such a rotten, miserable existence and is usually in such awful trouble when you talk to them that they cannot believe that they even could be saved if they wanted to. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They hate themselves even while they continue to mess up their lives and the lives of others. I’m going to focus on them. You good people won’t understand what I’m about to say, you folks who’ve been good all your life, exemplary, first-rate citizens. Only people like me will understand this.

Their wickedness is a stench in their own nostrils and they’ve lost all hope of redemption. Their family is going or gone and all sense of self-respect or self-value has fled their disgustingly failed lives. Sometimes, the first person I mentioned is really putting on a front and in his or her heart they are really the second person but you might not find that out in conversation, or you might.

They’ll say they’ve gone too far to be saved. But, they are missing something important, too. I want to thank Jonathan Edwards, a great preacher of the 1700s for this and I’ll use his words sometimes and paraphrase his words at other times. It can be overwhelming but just try to pick through it and get the gist of what is being said, and think about it.

King David wrote;

Psalm 25:11  For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 

When this Psalm was written it was a time of great trouble and trial for David. This is very clear by what he asks and what he says;

Psalm 25:7  Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.

Psalm 25:18  Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

Look at the argument he makes pleading for forgiveness.

He pleads for pardon for God's name's sakeHe has no expectation of pardon for the sake of any righteousness or worthiness of his for any good deeds he had done, or any compensation he had made for his sins; though if man's righteousness could be a just plea, David would have had as much to plead as many powerful leaders of men. But he begs that God would do it for his own name's sake, for his own glory, for the glory of his own free grace, and for the honor of his own faithfulness.

 David pleads the greatness of his sins as an argument for mercy. He not only does not plead his own righteousness, or the smallness of his sins; he not only does not say, Pardon mine iniquity, for I have done much good to counterbalance it; or, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is small, and you have no great reason to be angry with me; mine iniquity is not so great, that you have any just cause to remember it against me; my offence is not such but that you may well enough overlook it: but on the contrary he says, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great; he pleads the greatness of his sin, and not the smallness of it; he enforces his prayer with this consideration, that his sins are very heinous.

 But how could he make this a plea for pardon? I can answer that. Because the greater his iniquity was, the more need he had of pardon. It is as much as if he had said, Pardon my iniquity, for it is so great that I cannot bear the punishment; my sin is so great that I am in need of pardon; my case will be exceedingly miserable, unless you be pleased to pardon me. He makes use of the greatness of his sin, to enforce his plea for pardon, as a man would make use of the greatness of calamity in begging for help. When a homeless person asks for food, he will plead the greatness of his poverty and necessity. When a man in distress cries for pity, what more can he say but that he desperately needs help?—And God allows such a plea as this: for He is moved to mercy towards us by nothing in us but the miserableness of our case. He does not pity sinners because they are worthy, but because they need His pity.

Now, let’s put this into focus.

If we truly come to God for mercy, the greatness of our sin will be no impediment to pardon.—If it were an impediment, David would never have used it as a plea for pardon, as we find he does in the text.—The following things are needful in order that we truly come to God for mercy:
 That we should see our misery, and be sensible of our need of mercy. They who are not sensible of their misery cannot truly look to God for mercy; for it is the very notion of divine mercy, that it is the goodness and grace of God to the miserable. Without misery in the object, there can be no exercise of mercy. To suppose mercy without supposing misery, or pity without calamity, is a contradiction: therefore men cannot look upon themselves as proper objects of mercy, unless they first know themselves to be miserable; and so, unless this be the case, it is impossible that they should come to God for mercy. They must be sensible that they are the children of wrath; that the law is against them, and that they are exposed to the curse of it: that the wrath of God abides on them; and that He is angry with them every day while they are under the guilt of sin.—They must be sensible that it is a very dreadful thing to be the object of the wrath of God; that it is a very awful thing to have Him for their enemy; and that they cannot bear His wrath.

They must he sensible that the guilt of sin makes them miserable creatures; that they can be no other than miserable, undone creatures, so long as God is angry with them; that they are without strength, and must perish, and that eternally, unless God helps them. They must see that their case is utterly desperate, for any thing that any one else can do for them; that they hang over the pit of eternal misery; and that they must necessarily drop into it, if God have not mercy on them.

 They must be sensible that they are not worthy that God should have mercy on them. They who truly come to God for mercy, come as beggars, and not as creditors: they come for mere mercy. for sovereign grace, and not for any thing that is due. Therefore, they must see that the misery under which they lie is justly brought upon them, and that the wrath to which they are exposed is justly threatened against them; and that they have deserved that God should be their enemy, and should continue to be their enemy. They must be sensible that it would be just with God to do as he has threatened in his Bible, to make them the objects of his wrath and curse in hell to all eternity.— They who come to God for mercy in a right manner are not disposed to find fault with His severity; but they come in a sense of their own utter unworthiness, as with ropes about their necks, and lying in the dust at the foot of mercy.

 They must come to God for mercy in and through Jesus Christ alone. All their hope of mercy must be from the consideration of what He is, what He has done, and what He has suffered; and that there is no other name given under heaven, among men, whereby we can be saved, but that of Christ; that He is the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world; that His blood cleanses from all sin, and that He is so worthy, that all sinners who are in him may well be pardoned and accepted.—It is impossible that any should come to God for mercy, and at the same time have no hope of mercy. Their coming to God for it, implies that they have some hope of obtaining, otherwise they would not think it worth the while to come. But they that come in a right manner have all their hope through Christ, or from the consideration of his redemption, and the sufficiency of it.—If persons thus come to God for mercy, the greatness of their sins will be no impediment to pardon. Let their sins be ever so many, and great, and aggravated, it will not make God in the least degree more backward to pardon them. This may be made evident by the following considerations:

The mercy of God is as sufficient for the pardon of the greatest sins, as for the least; and that because his mercy is infinite. That which is infinite, is as much above what is great, as it is above what is small. Thus God being infinitely great, he is as much above kings as he is above beggars; he is as much above the highest angel, as he is above the meanest worm. One finite measure does not come any nearer to the extent of what is infinite than another.—So the mercy of God being infinite, it must be as sufficient for the pardon of all sin, as of one. If one of the least sins be not beyond the mercy of God, so neither are the greatest, or ten thousand of them.—However, it must be acknowledged, that this alone does not prove the doctrine. For though the mercy of God may be as sufficient for the pardon of great sins as others; yet there may be other obstacles, besides the want of mercy. The mercy of God may be sufficient, and yet the other attributes may oppose the dispensation of mercy in these cases.— So, it is important to consider,

 That the satisfaction of Christ is as sufficient for the removal of the greatest guilt, as the least: 1 John i. 7. " The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin." Acts xiii. 39. " By him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." All the sins of those who truly come to God for mercy, let them be what they will, are satisfied for, if God be true who tells us so; and if they be satisfied for, surely it is not incredible, that God should be ready to pardon them. So that Christ having fully satisfied for all sin,or having wrought out a satisfaction that is sufficient for all, it is now no way inconsistent with the glory of the divine attributes to pardon the greatest sins of those who in a right manner come to Him for it.

God may now pardon the greatest sinners without any prejudice to the honour of His holiness. The holiness of God will not suffer Him to give the least countenance to sin, but inclines Him to give proper testimonies of His hatred of it. But Christ having satisfied for sin, God can now love the sinner, and give no countenance at all to sin, however great a sinner he may have been. It was a sufficient testimony of God's abhorrence of sin, that He poured out his wrath on Christ, when he took the guilt of it upon himself. Nothing can more show God's abhorrence of sin than this. If all mankind had been eternally damned, it would not have been so great a testimony of it.

 God may, through Christ, pardon the greatest sinner without any prejudice to the honour of his majesty. The honour of the divine majesty indeed requires satisfaction; but the sufferings of Christ fully repair the injury. Let the contempt be ever so great, yet if so honourable a person as Christ undertakes to be a Mediator for the offender, and suffers so much for him, it fully repairs the injury done to the Majesty of heaven and earth. The sufferings of Christ fully satisfy justice.

The justice of God, as the supreme Governor and Judge of the world, requires the punishment of sin. The supreme Judge must judge the world according to a rule of justice. God does not show mercy as a judge, but as a sovereign; therefore His exercise of mercy as a sovereign, and His justice as a judge, must be made consistent one with another; and this is done by the sufferings of Christ, in which sin is punished fully, and justice answered. Rom. iii. 25, 26. " Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time, His righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."—The law is no impediment in the way of the pardon of the greatest sin, if men do but truly come to God for mercy: for Christ hath fulfilled the law, he hath borne the curse of it, in his sufferings; Gal. iii. 13. " Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."

Christ will not refuse to save the greatest sinners, who in a right manner come to God for mercy; for this is his work. It is His business to be a Saviour of sinners; it is the work upon which He came into the world; and therefore He will not object to it. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, Matt. ix. 13. Sin is the very evil which he came into the world to remedy: therefore He will not object to any man that he is very sinful. The more sinful he is, the more need of Christ.—The sinfulness of man was the reason of Christ's coming into the world; this is the very misery from which he came to deliver men. The more they have of it, the more need they have of being delivered; " They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick," Matt. ix. 12. A doctor will not make it an objection against healing a man who applies to him, that he stands in great need of his help. If a physician of compassion comes among the sick and wounded, surely he will not refuse to heal those that stand in most need of healing, if he be able to heal them.

Herein does the glory of grace by the redemption of Christ much consist, viz. in its sufficiency for the pardon of the greatest sinners. The whole contrivance of the way of salvation is for this end, to glorify the free grace of God. God had it on his heart from all eternity to glorify this attribute; and therefore it is, that the device of saving sinners by Christ was conceived. The greatness of divine grace appears very much in this, that God by Christ saves the greatest offenders. The greater the guilt of any sinner is, the more glorious and wonderful is the grace manifested in his pardon: Rom. v. 20. " Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." The apostle, when telling how great a sinner he had been, takes notice of the abounding of grace in his pardon, of which his great guilt was the occasion: 1 Tim. i. 13. " Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. But I obtained mercy; and the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."

The Redeemer is glorified, in that he proves sufficient to redeem those who are exceeding sinful, in that his blood proves sufficient to wash away the greatest guilt, in that he is able to save men to the uttermost, and in that he redeems even from the greatest misery. It is the honour of Christ to save the greatest sinners, when they come to him, as it is the honour of a physician that he cures the most desperate diseases or wounds. Therefore, no doubt, Christ will be willing to save the greatest sinners, if they come to Him; for He will not be backward to glorify himself, and to commend the value and virtue of his own blood. Seeing He hath so laid out himself to redeem sinners, He will not be unwilling to show, that he is able to redeem to the uttermost.

 Pardon is as much offered and promised to the greatest sinners as any, if they will come aright to God for mercy. The invitations of the gospel are always in universal terms: as, Ho, every one that thirsteth; Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden; and, Whosoever will, let him come. And the voice of Wisdom is to men in general: Prov. viii. 4. " Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men." Not to moral men, or religious men, but to you, O men. So Christ promises, John vi. 37. " Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." This is the direction of Christ to His apostles, after His resurrection, Mark xvi. 15, 16. " Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved." Which is agreeable to what the apostle said, that "the gospel was preached to every creature which is under heaven," Col. i. 23.

So, finally, good person or bad, hero or villain, admirable soul or monster, you need God’s mercy as expressed in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead and He will give it to you.

Now, one final word on what you are being saved from. Eternity is a long, long time. Humanity, at its best, is wicked and cut off from the God who created them. But God provided a means by which they could be with Him in that eternity. He did all the work Himself and what we must do is receive His immeasurable gift.