You Want Me to Do What?

An exposition of Matthew 18:21-35. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 23, 2014.

Intro:
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but good relationships require hard work!  They do not come “naturally.”  They require constant maintenance and it is an unending battle.  You may be thinking, “What kind of relationships is he talking about?  What kind of relationship requires constant battling?  It must be a mother-in-law thing.”  No, I mean common, ordinary, run or the mill relationships.  If you are going to maintain a good, healthy relationship with anyone, you will have to work at it.  Whether it is a relationship with a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, and a coworker – relationships are work.  There will be hurt feelings, differences of opinion, different perspectives and that leads to conflict.  The question then is how do you respond to conflict?  How do you respond to strained relationships?  That is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching recorded for us in Matthew chapter 18.

In the early part of the chapter our Lord instructs us about “greatness” in the Kingdom of heaven.  He says we must become child-like if we desire greatness.  He then warns about our actions causing others to stumble or falter in their faith.  Then in verses 15-20 he deals specifically with seeking restoration for fractured relationships.  He tells us that, as individuals, we must be willing to pursue every avenue of reconciliation.  And he says that as a church, we must be willing to safeguard the fellowship.  The driving force or concern about each of these actions is the sake of the Gospel and the extension of God’s Kingdom.  In our text this evening this thought is taken a step further.

Text: Matthew 18:21-35

Do you ever struggle with forgiveness?  Not asking for it – granting it.  Do you easily forgive others?  Are you quick to forgive?  Keep in mind we are talking about forgiveness and not probation.  There is a difference.

Do you get “historical” whenever someone asks you for forgiveness?

Note the context of this passage.  It is found in a question asked in verses 21-22.
Remember the issue in 15-20 is reconciliation.
It related to dealing with a brother who had sinned against you.
How must you respond?

Immediately Peter came to Jesus with a question.  I’m convinced Peter was a Baptist preacher – he asked and then answered his own question!
“Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?”

The typical rabbinical teaching of the day suggested that you are to forgive your brother three times.  For the fourth there is no forgiveness.  The conventional wisdom of the day had set a standard.  And given the attitude of the world of that time it was fairly generous.  The ancient world was not a “forgiving place.”  Character traits such as humility, service and self-restraint were not considered virtuous by most folks.  The rabbis taught that you must forgive – three times.

Peter doubled that and threw in one more for good measure.  That brought the number up to seven – the perfect number.  The number representative of the divine.  You can almost see the smile of self-satisfaction on Peter’s face.  He was proud.  You know he has given a good answer before.  He is confident he has done it again.  He is fully expecting another, “blessed are you Simon son of John.  Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but rather my Father in heaven.”  But our Lord’s response shocked Peter and his fellow disciples as our Lord laid down one of the principle laws of kingdom living.

Through this passage we are reminded that:

Thesis: Kingdom living demands a life of perpetual forgiveness.

Forgiveness, grace and mercy are to mark the church of the Lord Jesus.  As the church we are to be distinct, different, set apart, unique in both our attitude and our actions.  Yet some of the most bitter, hateful, cold and malicious people I’ve ever met are members of Baptist churches.  I’ve met people who say they have the life of God flowing through them and yet they bear grudges.  They harbor unforgiveness.  They nurse old wounds and they can’t move beyond things that happened years ago.  Beloved, it ought not to be.

There are two things I want us to note in this text.  We’ll note the principle laid down and then the rationale behind the principle.

  1. The principle stated (18:22)
  2. How are we to fulfill this command?  (18:23-35)

There are two great truths driving this response of forgiveness.

  1. Forgiveness flows from your experience of God’s grace and forgiveness.  (18:23-27)
  2. The failure to recognize the extent of God’s grace to us, results in a calloused, unforgiving heart.  (18:28-30)

Conclusion:

As the people of God we are called to a life of perpetual forgiveness.  We can do this because we have experienced the grace of God.  We forgive because we are forgiven.  I am forgiven by the grace of God and it is by the grace of God I forgive others.  Relationships are work.  I am responsible before God to do all within my power to be right with others.  That will demand a life of forgiveness and grace.

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A Determined and Assured Faith

Hebrews #31: an exposition of Hebrews 11:17-22. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 23, 2014.

Intro:
It was crazy.  How would you react?  You’re 99 years old and God says, “You and your 90 year-old bride are going to have a baby!”  Abraham laughed.  Sarah laughed.  God had the last laugh because one year later they had a bouncing baby boy.  Talk about your dotting parents.  They must have been a sight at the little league picnic.  The boy’s name was Isaac.  An appropriate name if there ever was one – Isaac means laughter.  Can you imagine, Abraham was 102 and Sarah was 93 when the kid hit the “terrible twos.”  He was the apple of their eye, their pride and joy.  That’s what makes the events of Genesis chapter 22 so extraordinary.  God came to Abraham and said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”  No.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Why would God do that?  This was the child of promise.  Through him would come great blessing.  Yet, in faith, Abraham obeyed.

Life in this sin-sick, fallen world is filled with heartache and suffering.  The life is faith is not easy.  It regularly requires more of us than we have to give.  But we are not left to ourselves.  We are not on our own.  It is not up to you to gather enough courage or to muster enough faith.  By God’s grace you are given the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.  That’s the message to those struggling believers in Rome and to us.  When life comes crashing down around you.  When you are burdened beyond what you can bear.  When you feel like throwing in the towel and walking away – look to those who’ve gone before.  Look to that catalogue of the faithful found in the 11th chapter of Hebrews.  Our text this morning begins with verse 17 of Hebrews 11.

Text: Hebrews 11:17-22

The background for this text is the story I referenced at the beginning.  God’s call to Abraham found in Genesis 22.  This story, more than any other, displays the wonder of genuine, biblical faith.  It is a fascinating story.  A story filled with drama, suspense, courage and faith.  From Abraham’s example we learn that…

Thesis: Genuine, biblical faith is marked by a determined obedience and an assured confidence.

There are 2 things I want to point out along the way.

  1. The life of faith obeys in spite of overwhelming objections. (11:17-19)
  2. The life of faith comes to the end of days still trusting God’s gracious promise. (11:20-22)

Conclusion:

Faith says God’s Word never fails and God’s Word must be obeyed thus…

Genuine, biblical faith is marked by a determined obedience and an assured confidence.

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Abraham: Obedient, Resilient Faith

Hebrews #30: an exposition of Hebrews 11:8-16. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 16, 2014.

Intro:
He is known as the “father of the Jews” and the friend of God.  His name is synonymous with faith.  Small wonder that when the writer of Hebrews wanted to encourage that struggling band of Hebrew believers in Rome he would set before the the example of “Father Abraham.”  The great patriarch’s story is recorded for us in Genesis chapters 12 through 25.  He is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims as a man of faith.  If faith had a poster child – it would be Abraham.  He was not a perfect man.  In fact there are some glaring faults in his character but his life is a shining example of what God can do in the life of a flawed man who yields to God’s sovereign call.  The life of faith is not an easy life.  It’s not always neat and clean.  It is often filled with heartache but it is well worth the trouble as it is the only life that leads to glory.  Many in the church had already abandoned the Way.  The struggle was too much.  The pain unbearable.  Others were on the verge of giving up when the writer took pen in hand to plead with them to continue in the faith.  He assured them Christ was better than the best that Judaism or the world has to offer.  He reminded them of Christ’s entering the sanctuary not made with hands as He enter the very presence of God and atoned for their sin guaranteeing a future glory.  He pled with them to not throw all that away for momentary relief.  Now, in chapter 11, he is setting before them a catalogue of the faithful.  Men and women who exhibit the faith described as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

There was Abel who offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain.  Then there was Enoch who was well pleasing to God and thus was taken up so that he should not see death.  Then there was Noah, who had been graced by God and thus walked with Him in persevering obedience.  All of these reminding us that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Faith is the essential ingredient for a life pleasing to God.  Now we turn our attention to Father Abraham.  Our text is found in Hebrews chapter 11 beginning with verse 8.

Text: Hebrews 11:8-16

As we reflect on the life of Abraham we are reminded that…

Thesis: Genuine, biblical faith is an obedient, undaunted and resilient faith.

I want to point out 3 things along the way.

  1. The life of faith produces uncommon obedience.  (11:8-10)
  2. The life of faith dares to believe the impossible.  (11:11-12)
  3. The life of faith enables one to finish well.  (11:13-16)
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Are You Saved?

This exposition of Matthew 7:21-27 from Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 9, 2014.

Intro:
Do you ever think about the future?  Do you ever dream about where you will be in the next 5 or 10 years?  Some of you have a 5 or 10-year plan.  You’ve got the plan and you’re working it.  But what about the distant future?  You say, “Oh, yeah – I’ve got the 401K and some stock.  My future is pretty secure.”  Well good, but I meant really long term.  I’m talking about eternity.  Have you considered where you will spend eternity?  Have you given serious thought to your soul?  It may make you uncomfortable but it’s well worth considering.  In fact I would suggest you really don’t need to think about anything else until that is settled.  Jesus is coming to the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount.  He has laid out His kingdom agenda.  He has described life in the kingdom.  He has made it clear that He expects certain things from those who would follow Him.  He has made clear the need for genuine righteousness.  In the immediate context he has warned of false teachers and their deceptive doctrines.  Now He turns from false prophets to false professors, from unsound teachers to unsound hearers.  Our text is found near the end of Matthew chapter 7.

Text: Matthew 7:21-27

This is a troublesome passage.  It is not troublesome because it is difficult to understand.  It is troublesome because it is so clear.  According to our text there are many within the church that are living under a delusion.  They live in a false peace.  They rest in a deluded security.  “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Arthur Pink wrote as early as 1969 saying, “Never were there so many millions of nominal Christians on earth as there are today, and never was there such a small percentage of real ones.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned of “cheap grace” during the 1930s and 40s.  Cheap grace involves the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance.  According to Bonhoeffer it is grace “without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

With record numbers claiming a “born again” experience and yet dwindling attendance figures across the board – something is wrong, dreadfully wrong.  According to the most recent statistics we, as Southern Baptist, have 15.8 million members worshiping in more than 40,000 churches in the United States.  One study found that an appalling 67.3% of those members do not bother to show up on any given Sunday!  I wonder how many of them will cry out on that day, “Lord, Lord…” and yet be turned away, “depart from me I never knew you?”

This text is disturbing.  But it is one we must explore.  We cannot afford to turn a deaf ear to such teaching.  My purpose is not to “create doubt” but it is without apology designed to cause you to consider.

Our text serves as a gracious warning.  It serves to remind us that:

Thesis: Your eternal destiny depends upon an active, practical obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

For several years now a controversy has raged.
The issue has been the nature of salvation.
Some have dubbed the controversy “Lordship Salvation.”
Must Jesus be Lord or can he be merely savior?
Can a person be saved and then, if they so choose, make Jesus Lord at a later date?

Another question involved in the debate is what is meant by eternal security or once saved always saved?

What about those who have made “a profession of faith” but have left the faith or show no real interest in the things of God at present?

Is there such a thing as a “carnal Christian” or is that a contradiction of terms?
I’m convinced that an honest look at this passage serves to clear the air.
The bottom line to all of this is what does it mean to be “saved?”
What serves as my assurance of salvation?

There are two things I want us to note in our text.

  1. Our text clearly reveals that a mere verbal profession of faith accomplishes nothing.  (7:21-23)
  2. According to our text, mere intellectual knowledge falls short of saving faith.  (24-27)

Conclusion:
I said at the beginning my purpose is not to create doubt but to cause you to consider.  I don’t want you to play games with your soul.  This issue is salvation.  “What must I do?”

First of all, stop!  Listen for the voice of the Savior.  That voice may come through your circumstance, through fear or hurt or anger.  It may come through a hunger for more out of life.  It may come through the voice of a friend, a preacher, a book.  But you must listen.  You must hear God’s call.

Second, when God calls you must acknowledge what he is saying is true and that he alone is the answer to your need.  Our Lord is kind and gracious but he doesn’t pull his punches.  When he reveals your sin and your lack of righteousness – “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” – you must not make excuses or try to deny it.  Instead you must acknowledge the truth of it.

And you must act upon what he has revealed and open your life to him.  In other words you must pass through that narrow gate.  You must enter upon the narrow road that leads to life.

Are you a Christian?  That is the question.  Is it real?  The answer is not based upon your intellectual beliefs or upon your good works, but upon your relationship with Christ.

There are three elements of saving faith.

  1. Knowledge – you know the facts of the Gospel.
  2. Belief or assent – you believe those facts are true.
  3. Trust or commitment – you give yourself to that truth.

So what lies ahead for you?
What is your future?

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Noah: Persevering Faith

Hebrews #29: an exposition of Hebrews 11:7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 9, 2014.

Intro:
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about role models.  We are asking, “Who are our role models?”  “Is it right to expect those who live public lives to live lives worth imitating?”  Few seem to live the kind of lives that inspire confidence and esteem.  There is a famine of heroes.  Values are warped and perverted.  Comic book heroes once fought for truth, justice and the American way.  Good always triumphed over evil.  Now, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.  Good is not so good and evil is not all that bad, it depends on how you look at.

Then we have to add to the mixture the fact that some question the validity of even having heroes.  “You shouldn’t put that kind of pressure on anyone.  No one can live up to other people’s expectations and it is wrong to demand that.”  “I’ll live my life – you live yours and leave me alone” seems to be the attitude of most these days.  Well meaning Christians warn us of the danger of putting “confidence” in any person.  We are warned of the danger of putting anyone on a pedestal.  I know that we don’t put our trust in any man.  Our faith is in Christ alone.  But we also need godly examples.  Paul didn’t hesitate to say, “Be imitators of me as I am an imitator of Christ.”  If you’re looking for a hero the Scriptures are full of them.  One of the great things about the heroes found in the Scripture is that they are flawed like us!  Men and women of flesh and bone.  Frail children of dust who struggle as we do yet are shinning examples of what God can do in and through those who yield to His sovereign will.

This morning as we continue our study of the 11th chapter of Hebrews.  We are going to look at one of those flawed heroes.  His name is Noah and his story is told in Genesis chapters six through nine.  Our text is found in Hebrews 11:7.

Text: Hebrews 11:7

We must not forget the context of Hebrews 11.
Their world had been rocked.
Many have turned from the faith others were considering do so.
The biblical writer pleads with them to continue in the faith.
The immediate context is a call to faith.

The kind of faith that enables you to joyfully accept the plundering of your property (10:34).
The kind of faith described in 11:1-2.
“The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

What follows in chapter 11 is a catalogue of the faithful.  These are folks who lived lives of faith.    Who in the midst of great struggle and heartache knew the peace of the Lord’s abiding presence and His great comfort.

We will start reading in verse 1 of chapter 11 but our focus will be on verse 7.

As we work our way through this text we discover that…

Thesis: Genuine, saving faith produces a life of faithful obedience and ensures a glorious inheritance.

Too often we think of saving fact as a single act.  We think that at some point in time you become convinced and convicted of the truth of the Gospel and you, in faith, believe on the Lord Jesus.  You give yourself to Christ – you trust in Christ and him alone for salvation.  But then every subsequent act of obedience or faith is an “add on.”  Rightly understood saving faith receives Jesus in order to go on trusting Him!  Saving faith is a life of faith.  Listen to Hebrews 10:39: But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.  Saving faith believes and keeps on believing.  That belief is demonstrated by obedience.  We are saved by faith alone but it not a faith that is alone.  That faith is accompanied by action.  What does saving faith look like?  That’s what Hebrews 11 is all about.

Noah is for us an example of persevering faith.

There are 4 things I want to point out from our text and his life.

  1. Genuine, saving faith inspires a confident assurance.
  2. Genuine, saving faith produces steadfast obedience.
  3. Genuine, saving faith enables a dynamic witness.
  4. Genuine, saving faith results in a glorious inheritance.
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The Demands of the Gospel

This exposition of Matthew 7:13-20 was delivered by Pastor Rod Harris at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 2, 2014.

Intro:
In October of 1985 our family moved to the thriving metropolis of Masham to begin service in our first church.  Rheadon and I had made our first trip to Masham in September of that year.  I had been asked to come and supply at the church with the possibility that they would ask me to serve as their pastor.  Masham is located between Pawnee and Ralston 3 miles west of highway 18.  Now I’m not sure that “small” is the right adjective for describing Masham but like the man said, “I passed through Masham the other day but I didn’t see it.  There was a pickup parked in front of it!”  Masham was once a thriving boomtown complete with a school, boarding houses and stores.  By the time we arrived all that remained was the church, a few houses and a quiet country cemetery.  Masham was a bit off the beaten path.  You traveled at least three miles down a dirt road no matter which direction you came from.  That means no one “happens through” Masham.  You have to make a point to go there.  To borrow from the King James, one has to come to the conviction, “I must needs go to Masham” or you’ll never get there.

In the 7th chapter of Matthew our Lord makes it clear, no one just happens to end up in heaven.  No one stumbles across it on their way to somewhere else.  We enter into the life of faith by choice.  We knowingly chose to follow him.  This comes near the end of his “Sermon on the Mount.”  He had gathered his disciples on that hillside to instruct them about life in his kingdom.  This is life as he intends his followers to live.  This is what he demands of them.  A life of genuine righteousness.  Righteousness that flows from a character transformed by the grace of God.  A righteousness that begins as an inside work.  It is not an exterior make over but a spiritual transformation.  The first great summary statement of the sermon is found in Matthew 5:48 – “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  In chapter 7 verse 12 we find the second great summary statement – “do to others what you would have them do to you.”  Then from verse 13 through the end of the sermon is series of warnings designed to reinforce the significance of the message.  Our text this morning is found in chapter 7 verses 13-20.

Text: Matthew 7:13-20

The issue = genuine righteousness
This is about kingdom living
Character – conduct
It is about who we are

As our text unfolds the message becomes clear:
Thesis: A life of genuine righteousness demands that we embrace the truth of the Gospel and guard against false teaching.

There are two great demands that I want you to note from our text.

  1. The truth of the Gospel demands a clear-cut choice.  (7:13-14)

    Let’s bring this down to a practical level, which means:

    No one can come to God through nature.
    It also means no one can come to God through pious thoughts or religion.  Neither can man find God through morality, either by attempting to live up to

  2. The truth of the Gospel demands vigilance against false teaching.  (7:15-20)

    How do I know a false teacher?  There are some “tests” in our text:

    There is no “narrow gate” in the teaching of the false prophet.
    False prophets do not have disturbing doctrines in their messages.
    There is the test of “good works”

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Encoh: A Life Well-pleasing

Hebrews #28: an exposition of Hebrews 11:5-6. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 2, 2014.

Intro:
He is a mysterious figure in the Old Testament.  We only know him through a genealogy.  There is no narrative.  No heroic story.  No rousing sermon or political movement.  Just the passing word that he “walked” with God.  Oh, and that he didn’t die God just “took” him.  “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).  It’s stated just that way.  Very matter of fact.  In the list of these folks who lived and begat – “he walked with God and was not because God took him.”  That’s it?  What did he do?  What did he say?  Surely there was something extraordinary about this man.  Everyone else’s story in the passage ends the same, “…and he died.”  Enoch was “taken.”  Was he just walking along and poof, he was gone?  Was it a whirlwind, a chariot of fire like Elijah?  We don’t know.  The only other thing we know about him is found in our text in Hebrews chapter 11.

Text: Hebrews 11:5-6

Hebrews 11 records for us a catalog of the faithful.
These are folks who were living examples of the kind of faith described in 11:1-3.

The kind of faith that enables one to “joyful accept the plundering of their property because they knew they had a better possession.”

These struggling believers in Rome needed some encouragement.  A key component to that encouragement is the example of those who have gone before.  Those who have experienced hardship and intense struggle yet lived to tell about it.  They had their world rocked and yet they knew the peace and comfort of God’s abiding presence.  These Hebrew believers needed to know that others had survived and that they could too!

Don’t lose sight of the context.

It is stated for us in 10:35-36:
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

This is a call to faith, a call to believe.

As we work through our text we discover…

Thesis: We are called to a life of faith and our faith is to be radically God-centered.

There are two things I want us to note.

  1. The life of faith is well pleasing to God.  (11:5)
  2. The faith that is well pleasing to God is focused exclusively on Him.  (11:6)

There are 2 parts to this faith.

  1. Those who draw near to God must believe that He exists.
  2. Those who draw near must believe that God rewards those who seek Him.

Conclusion:

  • God is pleased when we affirm and delight in the fact He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
  • Faith is focused on His existence, His nature, His person.
    Biblical faith is dependent on what God is like – not on what our faith is like.
  • We are called to a life of faith and our faith is to be radically God-centered.
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Abel: The Fruit of Biblical Faith

Hebrews #27: an exposition of Hebrews 11:4. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 26, 2014.

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The Golden Rule

An exposition of Matthew 7:12. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 12, 2014.

Intro:
How am I to respond to my fellow man?  What are my obligations?  What are the ground rules?  Just what am I supposed to do with the old “crank pot” next door that thinks my backyard is his trashcan?  And while I’m on the subject what about that old busy body down the street who thinks it is her job in life to know everybody’s business?  Then there is that guy at the office who hangs around my neck like an albatross – do I have to take that?  I just don’t like him.  Can I punch him in the nose?  We’ve got all kinds of questions when it comes to dealing with folks.  In fact we even have some answers!  But are they legitimate answers?  Are they godly answers?

And if you are not happy with your own answers there are a whole lot of folks lined up to give you their sage advice.  But as with all questions, we are better off to come to the Book and allow God to speak to the subject.  As we allow the Scripture to speak we will find God has a lot to say about the way we are to relate to one another.  There you will find some answers to your questions.  Now I can’t promise you that you will like the answers you find there.  But I can assure you that they are the right answers.

Jesus is setting on the mountainside instructing his disciples in kingdom living.  He has talked about the necessity of godly character.  He has emphasized the fact that character precedes conduct.  He has talked about genuine acts of righteousness.  He has revealed the proper attitudes toward things.  He has warned about a critical, judgmental attitude toward others.  And now we turn our attention to one of his most famous expressions.

It has been called “the Mount Everest of Christian ethics.”  Bishop Ryle said, “It settles a hundred difficult points…it prevents the necessity of laying down endless rules for our conduct in specific cases.”  We find this jewel tucked away in the heart of Matthew chapter 7.

Text: Matthew 7:12

SOM – key Mt. 5:20 & 48
True and genuine righteousness
Specific context = our relationship toward:
Others 7:1-6
God 7:7-11
Our fellow man 7:12

Thesis: The genuinely righteous person treats his fellow man, not as the law allows but as love demands.

Here we find a simple, concise summary of the law and the prophets.
This is an extraordinary teaching – it is a revolutionary concept.
We know it as “The Golden Rule.”

Of course our modern interpretation of this rule is a bit different.
Now it seems that the golden rule is “he who has the gold makes the rules.”
Or perhaps it is “do unto others before they get the chance to do it unto you!”
Or even “do unto other as they have done it unto you.”

There are those who would say, “This is one of those concepts that is common in religion.”  It is true that Plato and Confucius taught similar things – but the words of Jesus are different.

The great rabbi Hillel, founder of the Pharisees, was asked by a young proselyte to sum up the whole law while standing on one leg.  Hillel replied, “That which is hateful to you, do to no other.  That is the whole law, the rest is only commentary.”

Rabbi Shammai was asked the same question and he chased the questioner from the room with a stick!

Hillel’s concept was in keeping with Plato’s and Confucius.  But look carefully.  It is not the same thing Jesus taught.  They may sound the same but they are radically different.

Before Jesus – all of this type of teaching was negative.  They all dealt with “do not do…”  They were relatively easy to keep.  You could avoid doing things to others that you did not want them to do to you.  But look again at what Jesus said.  It is positive.  “Do unto others what you would like for them to do to you.”

The former is “self-centered” while the latter is “others-centered.”
That is a tall order.
There is no easy fulfillment to this requirement.

As we consider what this requires of us I want you to note three things.

  1. This commands requires a new perspective on life.
  2. This command not only requires a new perspective but it requires a new principle in action.
  3. Obedience to this command results in a new person.
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Biblical Faith & Endurance

Hebrews #26: an exposition of Hebrews 11:1-3. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 12, 2014.

Intro:
The old man pulled over to the side of the road.  Slowly walked to the middle of the bridge.  He stared into the water below for several minutes.  He took a deep breath as he looked toward the heavens.  With a sense of resignation he climbed over the rail and was about to jump when he heard a voice, “Don’t do it!”  The old man turn and a young man was running toward him.  “Sir, I’ve been watching.  You don’t want to do this.”  The old man looked back toward the water below, “No, life is just not worth it.”  The young man in desperation pled with him, “Take just five minutes and tell me why you think life’s not worth it.  Then give me five minutes to tell you why it is.  If you still want to jump I won’t stop you.”  The old man took five minutes to rehearse the miseries of the world.  The young man passionately spoke of the goodness of life.  After his five minutes the old man, smiled and held out his hand.  The young man took it.  Together they jumped off the bridge!  Sometimes life stinks.  This world is often filled with heartache and sorrow.  Sometimes life is just so overwhelming you cannot see the goodness of life.  Sometimes the pain is so great you can’t imagine going on.  During such struggles you need something greater than a pep-talk.  You need something more powerful than a stranger’s assurance things are going to “turn around.”  You need assurance born of the word and Spirit of the Living God.  You need faith.

Not wishful thinking, sentimental, brainless faith but faith that is born of an experience with the God who is.  A faith that is the result of God’s faithfulness, that is the fruit of a genuine encounter with God.  The biblical writer is pleading with these Hebrew believers to remain faithful when everything around them says, “Run!”  He pleads with them to remember their past experience of grace and to expect that same grace in the future.  Hebrews chapter 11 is the great “faith chapter.”  The chapter begins with a description of faith and then links that faith with hope and then goes on to show how this hope gave power for all kinds of radical obedience.  That is what Hebrews 11:4 and following is all about.  It is a catalogue of people who demonstrate the kind of faith described in 11:1-3.  How do we remain faithful when the days get dark?  How do we go on when all seems lost?  We follow the command of chapter 10 – we live by faith.  We become those who have faith and thus preserve their souls.

Text: Hebrews 11:1-3

Look back for a minute at 10:32-34
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,
33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

This is an incredible description of this little church in Rome.
They lived extraordinary lives.
We looked at this last time – “Joyfully accepted the plundering of their property?”
Extraordinary, yet this is the aim of the entire book of Hebrews.
Bringing us to live this kind of life.

How were they able to do it?  “Since [because, for] you knew you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding hope.”  By faith.

This brief text serves to remind us that…

Thesis: Biblical faith inspires hope and engenders perseverance.

3 characteristics of biblical faith.

  1. Biblical faith is absolutely certain of the truth of God’s promises.  (11:1)
  2. Biblical faith is confident of God’s power to keep and commend.  (11:2)
  3. Biblical faith enlightens our understanding.  (11:3)
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