Certainty in the Midst of Uncertainty

Certainty in the Midst of Uncertainty: 2 Kings #02

Exposition of Second KingsThis is an exposition of 2 Kings 2:1-25. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, May 22, 2016.

We’ve all experienced that uncomfortable feeling of everyone knowing something and yet no one wanting to talk about it.  It’s inevitable yet off limits.  No one is willing to address the “elephant in the room.”  That’s the scene at the beginning of 2 Kings 2 Kings 2.  The writer even lets us in on it, “Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.”   We discover, as the story unfolds, that Elijah and Elisha are making a farewell tour.  They are leaving Gilgal and on their way to Bethel.  From Bethel they proceed to Jericho and from Jericho they head down to the Jordan.  Along the way they are met by various “sons of the prophets.”  This is a reference to those who are associated with the prophet.  Students who attached themselves to a more prominent teacher or leader.  These groups keep asking Elisha if he is aware that the Lord is going to take Elijah away on that day.  Each time Elisha says, “Yes, I know.  Now stop talking about it.”  This is Elijah’s last day and it seems everyone knows it but no one is talking about it!  This is a strange chapter and it gives critical scholars fits.  You have Elijah and Elisha take this trip from Gilgal.  They go northwest to Bethel.  Turn around and come back southeast to Jericho then east across the Jordan.  Then Elisha goes from east of the Jordan back west to Jericho then north to Bethel.  Along the way Elijah parts the waters of the Jordan and then is taken up in a fiery chariot.  Elisha parts the Jordan then goes to Jericho, throws salt in the water and “heals” the water.  He then goes to Bethel were some boys make fun of his bald head.  He curses them and 2 bears maul 42 of the boys and Elisha goes to Mt. Carmel then back to Samaria.

It’s a little confusing.  Why are we told these things?  Why these things together?  How do they fit?  What ties them together/do thy tie together?  Did any of this actually happen or is this just a collection of myths and legends?  There are some “scholars” who say this is an example of “prophetic legend.”  What is prophetic legend?  Short answer: it is something they made up because they were embarrassed that these stories were in Scripture!  I’m not embarrassed.  In fact I’m convinced there is a reason for this passage in this way.  The key is in understanding that the passage is not about Elijah or Elisha.  It is about God.  Our text this evening is the second chapter of 2 Kings.

Text: 2 Kings 2:1-15

This is a story about change.  History, shaping, epoch shifting change.  Elijah has been the dominant figure on the stage of history since he first appeared back in 1 Kings 17.  He burst on the scene to announce God’s judgment of drought and famine.  By his word the heavens where shut up and rain did not fall for 3 years.  By his word the rains returned.  He dared to stand up to Ahab and Jezebel crying out against their sin and demanding their repentance.  He stood against the prophets of Baal at Mr. Carmel.  Most recently he declared God’s judgment on Ahaziah.  After years of being God’s man in Israel, God’s champion – he is being taken away.  What will happen?  Who will take up the cause?  Who will stand as the people’s champion?

This strange chapter serves to remind us that…

Thesis: In times of great change, uncertainty and upheaval God remains the one constant and He consistently exercises His sovereignty in all things.

When everything changes we grasp for something to hold onto.
When the world we know becomes unknown we look for something to make sense of it all.
When our world is shaken we look for that which cannot be shaken.
This chapter points to the Eternal One.
It points not the king or the Lord’s servant but to the Lord himself!
That’s what you need to see in this chapter.

It’s what you need to understand about the times in which we live.  We are entering the “unknown.”  The world we are entering is vastly different from the one in which we were born and in which we have lived.  What was evil is now declared good and what was good is now declared evil.  Our world is not changing it has changed.  But our God has not and He has not gone away.

There are four (4) things I want to point out in our text.

  1. Even in epoch changing times God raises up leaders endowed with his power.  (2:1-15)
  2. In the face of great uncertainty and upheaval God’s wisdom abides with his people.  (2:15-18)
  3. In times of crisis God’s mercy and grace is extended to the underserving.  (2:19-22)
  4. Though merciful, gracious and kind our God remains terrifyingly righteous.  (2:23-25)

For too long the God preached in cultural Christianity is always loving, and forgiving but seldom righteous.  To speak of God’s wrath or judgment on sin is to raise the ire of the “tolerant” among us.  We need to recover a sense of the terrifying reality of our God.

Elijah is gone but nothing has changed.  God’s power, wisdom, grace and judgment remain.  Elisha asked, “Where is the God of Elijah?”  The answer is right here, where He’s always been.

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One Uniquely Qualified

One Uniquely Qualified: 2016 Gospel of Luke #14

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 4:31-41. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 22, 2016.

He came into a world of tension and uncertainty.  A world of political unrest and spiritual darkness.  There had been others who claimed to possess the answers to life’s problems and societies woes but their words were hollow and without power.  These false prophets left in their wake a discouraged, disheartened and cynical people.  They had believed only to be disappointed.  Along came an obscure figure from a backwater village preaching a message of repentance and faith.  The word on the street was that this one was different.  There was a ring of authenticity in His message.  There seemed to be power behind His teaching and compassion in His eyes.  Enthusiasm was building.  People were even daring to ask, “Could this be the Messiah?”

Such was the scene in the early days of our Lord’s Galilean ministry.  Early on our Lord established Capernaum as His base of operations and launched an intensive campaign throughout the region of Galilee.  These were days of excitement and joy.  Days of power and blessing.

In Luke Luke 4 we find a description of one action-packed Sabbath in Capernaum.  In exploring the events of that one day we find some of what set Jesus apart from all those “pretenders.”  In our text we will see some of those qualities of Jesus of Nazareth that clearly support His claim of being the Messiah.

Text:  Luke 4:31-41

Capernaum was located about 20 miles northeast of Nazareth.
It was a major city in Galilee and the center of activity.
3 major highways came through Capernaum:

  • The main road to Tyre and Sidon
  • The main road to Damascus
  • The main road to Jerusalem

Our Lord made Capernaum the base of His public ministry for at least 2 years.
It was the Sabbath and as was His custom Jesus went to the synagogue service.

In the material that follows we discover that…
Thesis:  The activities of Jesus, on this one day in Capernaum, unquestionably demonstrate His unique qualifications as the Messiah.

Context of Luke’s Gospel = Jesus is the universal Savior of all men.
Luke is determined to present Jesus as the Anointed One of God.

There are three (3) things I want you to note in our text this morning.

  1. The teaching ministry of Jesus reveals his unique authority.  (4:31-32)
    Jesus’ authority is an inherent authority is comes because of who He is.  His very nature demands it.
    As the second person of the Trinity His divine nature shinned through His spoken words revealing His true identity even to some unexpected visitors in the worship service that day.  Which brings us to the second qualification found in our text.
  2. The power of Jesus over the demonic reveals His absolute Sovereignty.  (4:33-37)
    As Jesus was teaching the spirit cried out:
    “Ha!  What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth?”
    Jesus said sternly, “Be silent and come out of him!”
    “Be muzzled” – don’t say another word and get out now!
    Immediately the demon responded and everyone knew it.
  3. The healing ministry of Jesus reveals His great compassion.  (4:38-41)
    I don’t want to be guilty of reading into the text or basing my interpretation simply on the silence of the text however I think it is interesting to note that as they brought the multitudes to Him, He laid His hands on all them and healed them.  He healed them without reference to their faith as a condition for their healing.  They had a need, He laid his hand on them and they were healed.  That was the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus.  It flowed from His compassionate heart.  It was due to His goodness, mercy and grace.

Here we’ve seen the authority in His teaching.  We’ve witnessed the power of His sovereignty but all of this must be seen in the light of His compassionate heart.

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Sure Life is the Pits but there is a Way Out

Sure Life is the Pits but there is a Way Out

cropped-theplowman512x512.jpgAn exposition of Psalm 40. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 18, 2016.

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Our Very Politically Incorrect God

Our Very Politically Incorrect God: 2 Kings #01

Exposition of Second KingsThis is an exposition of 2 Kings 1:1-18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sundya evening, May 15, 2016.


We live in a rapidly changing world.  You remember the advertisement that was used to show how vastly different this new car model was from the previous versions was, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.”  If we were to use that expression to state how things are changing today we’d have to say, “This is not your Oldsmobile.”  Morally and culturally change is occurring at a dizzying pace.  5 years ago same sex marriage seemed impossible.  Today not only is it legal but if you are opposed to it you are considered a hate monger and are clearly on “the wrong side of history.”  If someone had said to you a year ago that the federal government would threaten to withhold federal funds from a state because that state passed a law saying you need to use the public bathroom that corresponds with your biological sex you would have thought they were out of their minds.  That happened this past week.  In today’s world gender is flexible.  Gender is not determined by anatomy but psychologically.  How do you perceive yourself?  To those of us who are thoroughly grounded in a biblical worldview – this is pure madness.  We find ourselves pushed to the margins as the world becomes unrecognizable.  Someone said to me, not long ago, “I’m worried about this election.  I think the outcome of this election might bring the judgment of God.”  I said, “Look at our choices – I think this election is the judgment of God!”  Throughout our history as a nation we have enjoyed majority status.  The Judeo-Christian worldview has hold the predominant position.  That is no longer true.  We are beginning to experience what our brothers and sisters around the world have been living with their entire lives.  What are we to do when we are in the minority?  How does our message change now that we no longer have the upper hand?  It doesn’t change!  Our assignment has not changed.  We are to remain faithful to the faith.  Faithful to our God.  Faithful to the task assigned no matter what happens within our culture.

If anything we double down on our effort.
We become even more passionate and determined to remain faithful.

Thesis: In an age of moral relativism and inclusiveness we, the Church, must be faithful in setting forth the God of Scripture.

Our task is not to preserve the American way.  Our aim is not to ensure the American experiment continues.  We are a Gospel people who are citizens of the kingdom of God and our primary loyalty is to our king.  Our first loyalty is the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.  We are to faithfully and accurately represent the God we serve.  Our text this evening is found in 2 Kings 2 Kings 1.

Text: 2 Kings 1:1-18

No one likes to start in the middle.  If I’m going to watch a movie I want to watch it from the beginning.  I don’t want to try to figure out what has happened and try to get my bearings in the story.  2 Kings begins in the middle of the story.  In fact it opens with the paramedics gathered around the broken body of king Ahaziah who has fallen from the second floor.  But 2 Kings hasn’t always been 2 Kings.  It used to be part of Kings.  The Greek translations of the Old Testament divided the book of Kings into 1 and 2 Kings probably due to the length of the book.

So to catch you up – 1 and 2 Kings tells the story of Israel’s monarchy.  The story begins with the last days of king David and concludes with the southern kingdom of Judah in Babylonian exile.  It covers the time period of roughly 970 to 586 b.c.  One writer says that the story of 2 Kings is the story of the fall of God’s people.  The Northern Kingdom, Israel falls in 722 and the Southern Kingdom, Judah in 586.  If you take 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings together you will find that the nation Joshua led into Canaan to be a witness to the surrounding nations becomes instead an imitation of those nations!  God’s people reject God and thus God comes against them in judgment.

The big picture can be outlined as:

  1. The Golden Age (David and Solomon) – 1 Kings 1-11
  2. The Torn Kingdom – 1 Kings 122 Kings 17
  3. The Last Days – 2 Kings 18 – 25

With that background let’s look at our text in 2 Kings 2 Kings 1.

Let’s get the immediate background – 1 Kings 22:51-53.
Ahaziah is the son of Ahab and Jezebel – the guy didn’t stand a chance!

R.G Lee – “Ahab the vile human toad of a man that squatted on the throne of the nation.  Jezebel the beautiful adder coiled next to the toad.”

Ahazaiah is a chip off the old rotten block – 1 Kings 22:53He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done.

2 Kings 2:1-2 sets the context: After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.

Ahaziah has had this terrible accident and is dying or at least fears he is dying and what does he do?  He seeks not the God of Israel but the god of Ekron.  He dispatches messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub whether he would recover.  1 Kings 22:53 makes it clear this was his default position.  This was his habit, his custom.  This was no small matter.  This was the rejection of the God of Israel.  This was an affront to God.

As with all Old Testament narratives we should be asking, “What does this text reveal about God (Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God of the Bible)?”  Scripture is the revelation of God.  Meaning not just that God breathed it but that He is the focus of the revelation.

As we walk through these 18 verses I want to note 4 characteristics of the God of Scripture.  This is the God we are to preach.

  1. The God of Scripture will tolerate no rivals. (1:1-8)
  2. The God of Scripture will not be silenced by petty tyrants.  (1:9-12)
  3. The God of Scripture deals graciously with the humble.  (1:13-15)
  4. The God of Scripture makes no idol threat.  (1:16-18)


May we be faithful to present the God of Scripture in this age of moral relativism and inclusiveness.

  • A God who tolerates no rivals.
  • A God who will not be silenced.
  • A God who is merciful to the humble.
  • A God who does not make idol threats.
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Gospel Preaching

Gospel Preaching: Gospel of Luke #13

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 4:14-29. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 15, 2016.


It has become quite an issue in the last few years.  Hotly debated in seminary classrooms, seminars and conferences.  What is the role of Gospel preaching within the church?  Some are arguing that the sermon is an outdated method.  Sermons have no place in today’s worship service – some of you are thinking, “Amen to that!”  We live in a visual age.  With television and the internet being our primary means of communication.  Vivid images and short – “sound bites” is the argument.  Sermons are boring.  “That preacher is like the energizer bunny he just keeps going and going and going.”  I know that the standard fare on Sunday afternoon is roast preacher – I do the same thing!  We’ve all had to endure dull, lifeless preaching.  But the answer is not in throwing out the sermon.  The answer is a return to Gospel preaching.  Preaching that points to Christ.  Preaching that is true to the Word of God.  Preaching that is solidly biblical.  Everyone has his or her idea of a great preacher.  I have my favorites.  You may not care for them at all.  You may like someone that I don’t care for.  But we can all agree that the greatest preacher who ever lived was the Lord Jesus!  He spoke as no other man ever spoke.  He spoke as one having authority.  When He talked people listened.

I want us to look to the Lord Jesus and learn something about Gospel preaching.  Now hold on.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “It’s bad enough we have to set through a sermon but a sermon on sermons!  Wrong crowd preacher save that one for a meeting of your preacher buddies.”  We all have something to learn in this area because you preach the Gospel every day.  Every time you speak to a neighbor or coworker about Christ – you’re “preaching Christ.”  Your very lifestyle is preaching Christ.  When others know that you are a believer they are watching you.  Everything you do is declaring something about Christ.  But I will acknowledge it applies specifically to what I’m doing right now.  Yet it is something that we all must consider as more and more churches abandon the sermon for theatre.  What is to be the role of the sermon?  How can we most accurately present the message of Christ and God’s grace?  To help us with that I want us to take a look at Luke 4:14-29.

Text: Luke 4:14-29

Nazareth was filled with excitement.  One of their own has returning.  He left town and obscure carpenter, He is returning a renowned rabbi.  Great crowds are following Him.  Reports of great miracles accompany Him.  Almost a year has passed between Luke 4:13 and Luke 4:14.

Jesus is returning to His hometown following a fairly successful year of ministry.  He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem; He’s already had His conversation with Nicodemus and visited with the woman at the well.  Word is spreading rapidly so folks in the hometown synagogue are excited when He stands up to take the scroll and read from the prophets.  His text was a favorite of the people.  It was a messianic passage describing the work of God’s Anointed One.  After closing the scroll He sits down, indicating this was an “official” message.  The crowd waits with breathless anticipation.  Their initial response is one of wonder and amazement.  But as the message sinks in they become furious.  In fact they get so upset they want to kill Him!

[Read the text]

Thesis: Gospel preaching rather than being focused on results is consumed with the glory of God.

As we explore this great passage we learn three important characteristics about Gospel preaching.  Three timeless truths that relate to us today.

  1. Because of this focus on God’s glory, Gospel preaching relies on the power of the Holy Spirit and not press clippings and reputation.  (4:14-15)
  2. Gospel preaching plainly, simply sets forth the great truths of God’s grace and the Savior’s provision.  (4:16-21)
  3. Gospel preaching pierces the heart.  (4:22-29)

You see Gospel preaching rather than being focused on results is consumed with the glory of God.

That is why it:

  • Relies on the power of the Holy Spirit and not press clippings and reputation.
  • Plainly, simply sets forth the great truths of God’s grace and the Savior’s provision.
  • And pierces the heart of those who hear it.
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Justice Demanded

Justice Demanded: An exposition of Psalm 7:1-17

This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 11, 2016.

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The Overcoming Life

The Overcoming Life: Gospel of Luke #12

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 4:1-13. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 8, 2016.


It is a common syndrome.  The “Monday Morning” quarterback.  The guy, who the day after the game, has all the answer about how they could have won the game.  9 times out of 10 they are experts in stating the obvious.  “You know if they had scored more points that the other team – they would have won the game.”  They seldom offer any real insight into the game or offer anything constructive for the future.  Of course such thinking is not limited to sports.  You have the same thing in politics.  An endless number of analysts from the right, the left, the center, the far right, far left and every oddball group has to put in their two cents worth (Most deserving  some change!).  Now we have “legal” analysts seconded guessing every court decision and jury verdict.  Everyone is an expert and yet according to the experts, no one ever gets it right!

The same can be said in the spiritual realm.  A growing number of “experts” and analyst sharing insights into victorious living.  Offering play by play analysis on how to have victory, claim dominion and live as a child of the king.  You’ll have to excuse me if I do not show the proper enthusiasm for these experts showing us the way to the promise land.  But I’m convinced there is only One who has ever lived or ever will live the victorious Christian life.  Only one who has been “sold out for Jesus” and lived the “surrendered life” and that is the Lord Jesus himself.  He is our model.  Scripture is our guide.  We have our expert and He provides insight worth listening to.

This morning I want us to consider what He taught us concerning the proper response to temptation.  Our text is found in Dr. Luke’s gospel Luke 4 Luke 4:1-13

Text: Luke 4:1-13

Temptation is a universal problem.
If you say you do not struggle with temptation – you probably lie about other things too!
We are all tempted in many ways – from various sources.
By what we see.
By what we hear.
By our thoughts.
From without and from within.

Like Flip Wilson we are quick to claim “The devil made me do it” but few if any of us have ever actually dealt with the devil.

The Lord Jesus on the other hand dealt with him – head to head – straight on.
It was a showdown in the wilderness.
According to our text it was in the desert that this battle took place.

Between the inhabited part of Judea and the Dead Sea was a stretch of wilderness 35 miles by 15 miles.  It was called Jeshimmon which means “The Devastation.”  The hills were like dust heaps; the limestone looked blistered and peeling; the rocks were bare and jagged; it glowed with heat like a vast furnace.  It was in this region that our Lord met the enemy.

Let’s take care of a few preliminary issues before moving on.

Luke, more than any other gospel writer presents the Lord Jesus as our sympathetic
High priest.  The writer of Hebrews says we have a high priest who understands our weakness and our struggles because he has been tempted in all points as we are – yet he is without sin.  This story is central to Luke’s presentation.  Remember a gospel is a selective history with a purpose.

The scripture is clear on this matter.  Our Lord experienced temptation.  On that there is no debate.  From that truth we can debate many interesting things.  Is it that he could have sinned but did not or that he could not sin?  Was sin a legitimate option for Him?  Some, stressing the humanity of the Lord Jesus, argue that it was possible for him to sin.  Others, stressing the deity of the Lord Jesus, argue that as God he could not sin.  Which is it?  I don’t know.  The end result is the same – He did not sin.  Yet somehow, on some level He most certainly did experience real, legitimate, genuine temptation.  Similar to ours?  Yes.  Exactly like ours?  No.

Jesus was the GodMan.  Fully God and fully man.  You cannot consider His humanity apart from His deity or His deity apart from His humanity.  He was unique.  But it was in the same manner – tempted at the same points – through the same means – experiencing the same struggles – yet different.  That doesn’t make it any less real.  You and I cannot experience the “same” temptation.  For it to be the same would require the exact same circumstances as well as our having the same personality, likes, dislikes, desires etc.

The issue as far as I’m concerned is that our Lord faced temptation and rose above it.  The kingdom of darkness sent it’s best man, took its best shot and failed!

In responding to temptation, our Lord establishes a pattern we can follow.

As we explore the text of Luke 4 we find three characteristics of an over-comer and how he faces temptation.

  1. An over-comer relies solely on God’s gracious provision.  (4:1-4)
  2. An over-comer yields unwaveringly to God’s Sovereign rule.  (4:5-8)
  3. An over-comer refuses to presume upon God’s goodness.  (4:9-13)

3 common areas of temptation

  1. The temptation to take matters into your own hands.
  2. The temptation to compromise to get what you want.
  3. The temptation to presume upon God’s grace.

How do you over-come such temptations?
Trust God’s gracious provision no matter what.
Refuse to bow to any other god.
Do not presume upon God’s goodness but trust in His grace.

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Deliverance for the Troubled Soul

Deliverance for the Troubled Soul

cropped-theplowman512x512.jpgThis is an exposition of Psalm 6. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 4, 2016.

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The Coming Judgment

The Coming Judgment

This is an exposition of Psalm 50:1-23. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, May 1, 2016.


With rare exception these days, we don’t like to talk in terms of “judgment.”  The idea of someone being held accountable or responsible is considered by many to be anathema.  With the exception of course of “child abuse” or terrorists attacks or those “greedy corporate hotshots!  We want to see them “get theirs.”  But it seems in other areas – no one is responsible.  We are all “victims.”  It is never anybody’s fault.  Have you noticed that?  Even Christians have developed a mindset that believes it is wrong to pass judgment on someone.  Yet I will suggest to you that judgment is a major theme throughout the Scripture.  It’s New Testament as well as Old Testament.  We will give an account.  We are responsible.

We love the doctrine of the “priesthood of the believer”.  The problem is the biblical doctrine has been perverted into meaning, “I’m free to believe whatever I choose to believe.”  It’s just me and my Bible.”

The biblical doctrine of priesthood of the believer is not that I’m free to believe as I wish but rather I am responsible before God.  Judgment is dominant theme throughout the Scripture and it is the theme of our text found in Psalm 50.

Text: Psalm 50:1-23

It has long been suggested that the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture.
By that we mean that often insight into a passage can be found in other passages.
In many respects 1 Peter 4:17 is a commentary on the Psalm that is before us.

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

Often when we think of judgment we think immediately of that wicked world “out there.”
We think about how awful it will be for those heathens; those nasty pagans.
We often, wrongfully assume, that as God’s children we have nothing to worry about.
We are too quick to presume upon the grace of God.

This is a fine line between trust in and presumption upon God’s grace.
I’m confident that is part of the message of this Psalm.

Psalm 50 is a Judgment Psalm.
It is courtroom drama at its finest.
But it may leave you a bit uncomfortable with our role in this drama.
We have somehow thought that to be accepted by grace is to be free of responsibility.
Such is not the case.
Careful consideration of this text reminds us that:

Thesis: The fact of God’s grace does not nullify God’s setting in judgment of his people.

As a Father, God still makes demands of his children.
I am responsible for my life.
I am responsible for my obedience before him.
I will give an account some day.

There are four things I want us to note in this Psalm.

  1. The Sovereign Judge of the whole Earth summons His people to judgment.  (50:1-6)
  2. The Sovereign Judge rebukes his people for substituting empty ritual for genuine worship.  (50:7-15)
  3. The Sovereign Judge condemns the hypocrisy of alleged believers.  (50:16-22)
  4. The Sovereign Judge delights in a grateful heart and a repentant spirit.  (50:23)


Being a child of God, accepted by his grace, clothed in the righteousness of Christ is not a free pass to do as you please.  Woe to those who presume upon God’s grace.  With the privilege of God’s acceptance comes the responsibility to order our lives accordingly.  To trust in God’s grace is not to be freed from accountability.  To whom much is given, much is expected.

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Lessons from the Family Tree

Lessons from the Family Tree: Gospel of Luke #11

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 3:23-38. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 1, 2016.


Years ago Dr. Adrian Rogers became the pastor of the historic Bellevue Baptist Church of Memphis Tennessee.  It was a grand old church within the Southern Baptist Convention and had been pastored by R.G. Lee and Ramsey Pollard who were pulpit giants within the convention.  Dr. Rogers came to the church as a 40 year-old man from Florida and some of the grand ladies of the South were concerned about his lineage.  One of the ladies approached Dr. Rogers and ask, “Sir, who are your people?”  Dr. Rogers, knowing what and why she was asking said, “Well Mam, my family goes back to a drunken sailor and a crooked farmer.  The sailor’s name was Noah and the farmer’s name was Adam.”  Family is important.  We need to know who we are and where we come from.  Family histories give us grounding and connect us with the past.  This is why there is such fascination with genealogy and family origins.  Someone in my mother’s family decided to research our history.  They barely got started when they found a whole bunch of the family were hung for stealing horses!  They stopped the search afraid of what they might find.  Genealogy has always been important.  Remembering the family story connected folks with the past and the wisdom of those who had gone before.  So it was with Israel.  The Jews of Jesus day maintained their identity by remembering their fathers all they way back to the 12 original tribes.  This remembrance was first transmitted orally but later was recorded for the generations to come.  Knowing who you were was tied directly to knowing from whence you came – witness the numerous genealogies of the Old Testament.  Luke is about to introduce the public ministry of Jesus and he begins with a genealogy in the ancient style.  Our text this morning is found in Luke the 3 beginning with the 12:23.

Text: Luke 3:23-38

Yes, this is normally one of those “skimming” passages.
When we come to these “son of” or “begat” texts we hit the snooze button or skip over it.
But it is here for a reason.
God the Holy Spirit thought it was something we ought to know.

As we reflect on this text we discover that…

Thesis: Contained within this genealogy is the glory of the Gospel: Jesus the Son of God, the Son of Man, Savior of all who will trust in Him.

There is one technical matter we must take up in connection with this passage.  Luke is giving us the genealogy of Jesus.  Matthew gives us a genealogy as well, Matthew 1:1-17.  Even a casual reading of the two make it plain they are different!  They are not the same.  There are overlaps.  There are some common names but they are different.  In Luke we read that Jesus’ grandfather is Heli.  In Matthew it is Jacob.  Well, everyone has two grandfathers.  Yes, but both are connected to Joseph in the text.  There are other differences.  Matthew goes back to Abraham while Luke goes back to Adam.  In addition there there are nearly 40 names that are different.  Most of them between David and Jesus.  How do we explain this?  Did one or both of the gospel writers make a mistake?  There are various theories.

One theory is that both Matthew and Luke record the family tree of Joseph but they do it in two different ways.  That Matthew gives the legal descendants of David and Luke gives the bloodline.  In effect Matthew and Luke are asking different questions.  Matthew is asking, “Who is the next king of Israel?”  Luke is asking, “Who was this person’s father?”  This is reasonable but not provable.  The other main theory is to say that Matthew gives Joseph’s family line while Luke gives Mary’s family line.  Thus Jesus was descended from David through two different lines, one on each side of the family.  This would mean that Mary and Joseph were distant cousins.  This would be consistent with Jewish culture and tradition.

Then why would Luke refer to Joseph as the son of Heli?  There are 2 possibilities one being that Joseph was adopted by Heli because he had no sons.  The other possibility is that the son of Heli doesn’t refer to Joseph at all but rather skips to Jesus.  This could be supported by the language of the text.  In keeping with custom all the names in the list have the definite article attached except for Joseph.  “The Heli, the Matthat and so on.  Joseph is simply Joseph.  The reference of Joseph is a parenthesis pointing back to the virgin birth.  Thus Luke says, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph.   That Jesus was the son (descendant) of Heli.

All things considered I think it best to say Matthew and Luke give two different genealogies.  Matthew the genealogy through Joseph, his legal father and Luke through Mary his actual mother.  After all his humanity came through his mother.

There are three observations I want to make related to this text.

  1. The genealogy of Jesus connects our blessed Lord with our common humanity.
  2. The genealogy of Jesus shows He is the fulfillment of God’s promise.
  3. The genealogy of Jesus declares Him the Savior of all who will trust in Him.

…made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  (Hebrews 2:17)

He is connected to our common humanity.
He is the fulfillment of God’s promise.
He is the Savior of all who will trust in Him.

Hallelujah what a Savior!

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