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.

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.

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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Keys to Christian Hope

Hebrews #25: an exposition of Hebrews 10:32-39. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 5, 2014.

Often our view of the Christian life is shallow.  By that I mean we think faith in Christ solves everything.  Some are guilty of implying if not declaring, “If you just trust in Jesus you will not have any problems.”  You’ll not find chapter and verse on that because it is not a biblical teaching.  Faith in Christ certainly solves your greatest problem in that your sins are forgiven and you have passed from death to life but that does not ensure smooth sailing through the rest of your journey.  Life in this sinful, fallen world is filled with heartache and trouble.  Life is a mixture of joy and sorrow of victory and defeat.  The promise of God is not that we will not encounter trials and tribulations but that we will not face them alone.  We are not left to fend for ourselves and ultimately we will prevail by the grace of God.  Along the way we will struggle.  We will be hurt and we may very well suffer.  Truthfully we, in the American church, know very little about that.  While our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world face hardship, persecution and even death we’ve enjoyed a life of ease.  That’s beginning to change.  Our views are no longer dominant.  The teaching of the church is questioned with a greater degree of skepticism and unbelief the result is we are losing our cultural standing.  In some areas our views are not just considered wrong or outdate they are considered dangerous.  The day is approaching when some of what we’ve have always taught will be consider a crime.  I’m not an alarmist.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  I’m not a prophet nor the son of a prophet but I know dark days are ahead.  How do we continue on when the tide turns?  How do we remain faithful when faithfulness becomes costly?  How do we maintain our Christian hope when the outlook is not so hopeful?  For some help we turn again to the book of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrews 10:32-39

The writer has just spoken clearly about the consequences of unbelief.
Hebrews 10:26-31 is a hard passage.
Hard because it deals with a hard truth.
He pulls no punches – abandon the Gospel and you abandon all hope.
He ends on an ominous note, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

But of course that was not the “end” of it.

He goes on to say, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (10:39).

It is here in verses 32-39 we are given insight into how we maintain hope in the face of dark and difficult days.  These verses serve to remind us that…

Thesis: Genuine Christian Hope is anchored by the past experience of God’s grace and fueled by faith-filled confidence in future glory.

Two keys are given to us: We are to remember the past and we are to respond in faith.

  1. The past experience of God’s grace inspires future hope.  (10:32-34)
  2. Faith in God’s sovereign promise fuels perseverance.  (10:35-39)

It is interesting Paul quotes this same passage in Romans 1:17 to say salvation is by faith.
Now the writer of Hebrews quotes it to say the whole of the Christian life is by faith.

Genuine Christian Hope is anchored by the past experience of God’s grace and fueled by faith-filled confidence in future glory.

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You Be the Judge

This is an exposition of Matthew 7:1-5, and was delivered by Pastor Rod Harris at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, September 28, 2014.

Can you believe the number of those courtroom programs that are on TV?  It all started with the People’s Court.  Do you remember judge Whopner?  Later he had a courtroom program on Animal Planet!  Then there was Judge Joe Brown, Judge Miles Lane and of course Judge Judy.  We even have an entire cable network – Court TV.  CNN, Fox News, all the networks and their cable affiliates have “legal correspondents” who bring you to latest on high profile court cases.  Turn on any news program on any given night and you will find any number of people sitting in judgment of others.  And it’s no wonder that there is so much of it on TV – they are giving us what we want.  Sitting in judgment of others is one of our favorite pastimes!

None of us like it when others sit in judgment of us and yet that does not seem to detour us from sitting in judgment of others.  Is it always wrong to sit in judgment?  Is there ever a time in which it is appropriate for me to make judgment on another?  If so when and where?  Folks are quick to cry, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” as if to suggest that it is never appropriate to make any judgment of anyone under any circumstance.  But is that what the Scripture teaches?  If you will pardon the pun – you be the judge as we consider the teaching of our Lord in the opening verses of Matthew chapter 7.

Text: Matthew 7:1-5

Context of the SOM
Genuine righteousness 5:20,48
Our Lord has dealt with our dealing with things 6:19-34
Now our dealings with others

The passage before us is one of the most recognized and probably one of the most misinterpreted passages in all the Gospels.  I have heard this quoted on numerous occasions and almost always out of context and in clear opposition to the teaching of the Lord Jesus.  Look carefully at this passage.  Note its context and let it speak for itself!  I’m convinced that an honest straight forward interpretation of this text informs us that:

Thesis: Our Lord commands His followers to exercise judicial discernment.

Far from telling us we are never to judge – this passage instructs us in how we are to judge.  This is not a prohibition against passage judgment but rather making sure that our judgment is godly.  Making sure than we exercise godly discernment and that our conclusions are reached in a godly manner.

There are three principles of godly judgment I want us to note in our text.

  1. Godly judgment understands the difference between faultfinding and discernment.  (7:1-2)
  2. Godly judgment avoids the subtle trap of hypocrisy.  (7:3-4)
  3. Godly judgment deals first with one’s own sin and then seeks to serve others in humility and grace.  (7:5)

There is a time and place to use godly judgment.  We are to exercise judicial discernment.  But in a way that understands the difference between faultfinding and discernment.  In a way that avoids the trap of hypocrisy.  In a way that deals with our own sin before presuming to deal with the sins of others.

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The Terror of Apostasy

Hebrews #24: an exposition of Hebrews 10:26-31. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 28, 2014.

You don’t hear it much anymore.  It makes few top ten lists.  I’m not all that crazy about it myself – preaching on the judgment of God.  The truth of God’s wrath is heard from few pulpits today.  Where are the “warning sermons” of years past?  No, you won’t hear much about God’s judgment on sin or too many messages geared toward warning the backslidden.  The church is supposed to encourage.  The church is supposed to love and support people.  People should feel better about themselves and their lives when they leave church.  You can’t grow a crowd with judgment!  The world is frightening enough we don’t need to come to church and be scared.  A few years ago it was reported that a majority of seminary students, according to surveys, believed it was poor taste to tell someone that they would go to hell.  We don’t like that thought so we are just not going to talk about it.  Now, I hope you don’t like the thought of people going to hell – if you do like that, you’ve got a problem; but truth is not determined by popularity.  Truth is not decided by a majority vote.  Like it or not; uncomfortable about it or not we, the church, have been called to declare the whole counsel of God.  We’ve been called to declare the Gospel.  The Gospel is the “good news” that God has provided salvation in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, the good news only makes sense in light of the bad news.  Unless you understand the danger you are in; unless you appreciate the fact you are dead in trespass and sin, the object of God’s wrath, the good news doesn’t sound all that good.  Love, in a time of danger is expressed as a stern warning.  Acceptance and encouragement in a time of danger is treachery.  This sets the context of Hebrews 10:26-31.

Text: Hebrews 10:26-31

Times were hard.
They had been stretch to the breaking point.
Some of their dearest friends had abandon the faith.
They were wondering if they should do the same.

What do you say to people in that condition?  Certainly you need to encourage them.  You need to point out reasons to believe.  You need to remind them of the truth of the Gospel and the glory of Christ.  You must point them to the faithfulness of God and His great promises.  Through it all you must tell them the truth.  Truth demands that you tell them everything.  That includes warning them of the disastrous consequences of unbelief.  Our text is a difficult passage.  Difficult not because it is hard to figure out what the writer is trying to say but hard because it is a hard truth.  It is especially hard in our day when truth is relative.  When there are no absolutes and you are free to make it up as you go along.  In our pragmatic world truth is what works for you.  Here the biblical writer says there is one truth and you reject that truth to your own peril.

Having called the struggling church to persevere by drawing near to God, clinging tenaciously to their blessed hope and stirring one another up to love and good works the writer now warns them of what happens if they walk away from the faith.

As we work through this passage we discover that…

Thesis: Faithful Gospel preaching warns of the devastating consequences of apostasy.

I want to share with you three (3) demands of Gospel preaching from this text.

  1. Love demands that we warn of the dangers of apostasy.  (10:26-27)
  2. Honesty demands that we speak frankly about the true nature of apostasy.  (10:28-29)
  3. Compassion demands that we tearfully warn of the certainty and the terror of the coming judgment.  (10:30-31)Conclusion:
    This is definitely not a “feel good” message.  It is not the kind of thing we want to hear but it is the kind of thing we need to hear.  Be warned to reject the Gospel is to reject your only hope.  To walk away from Christ seals your fate.  All that remains for you is the fearful expectation of judgment.
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Don’t Worry

This is an exposition of Matthew 6:25-34. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, September 21, 2014.

Are you a worrier?  Are you one of those who can’t sleep at night because you know something awful is going to happen?  Then when nothing awful happens, you worry about what could have happened if you hadn’t been worried about it?  I know folks who get worried when they are not worried because it is just not like them not to worry!  Worry has long been recognized as a major health threat in this country.  As early as 1961 Time magazine published a cover story dealing with anxiety in American culture.  The name of the article was Guilt and Anxiety.  The article stated that a breakdown of faith in God in the 19th century and in reason during the 20th century coupled with the accelerated pace and high tension of modern living have produced intense anxiety in millions of Americans.

I read several years ago that, according to the American Medical Association, every other hospital bed was occupied by a mental patient.  Keep that in mind the next time you are trying to get to sleep in a hospital!  By mental patient they meant someone whose condition was due to mental or emotional stress. We know that stress is a leading cause of stomach disorders, headaches, heart problems and a host of other medical conditions.  Worry has become an epidemic.  And it is no wonder.  Every time you pick up a newspaper or turn on the television set – you find more reason to be worried.  If it is not the threat of terrorism, it’s the economy, if it’s not the economy  – it’s ebola or some form of cancer.  You don’t know what to eat because the data keeps contradicting itself.  Violent crime is up; burglary is up, school shootings.  You can’t go out in the sun but then you stay inside with indoor pollutants and mold – what do you do?  You worry!

Your going to live longer but social security isn’t going to be there for you.  New medicines are going to enable you to live a longer, healthier life but you want have any money left after you buy the medicine to enjoy yourself.  Now that brings us to depression – which of course causes us to be pessimistic about the world around us – which increases our anxiety!

Someone has said that anxiety is “fear in search of a cause.”  I think that is a pretty good description.  The question is, “what is the solution?”  What’s the answer?  The answer of the day seems to be sedatives and psychiatry.  Is that the best we can offer?  I think not.  For help in winning over worry let’s turn to the words of the Lord Jesus found in Matthew chapter 6.

Text: Matthew 6:25-34

We are dealing with the Sermon on the Mount.
The Christian Manifesto.
“This is life in my kingdom.”
“This is what I demand of you.”
Christ, our lawgiver, is establishing our code for living.
Key = Matthew 5:20,48
Character is essential for life in His kingdom.
Genuine righteousness produces genuine acts of righteousness.
The immediate context of our passage = how we are to relate to material possessions.

Now comes this word about dealing with/responding to worry.

Worry is going to come – that’s part of life in a fallen world.
But how am I to respond to it?
What is to be my reaction?

This is profound, get paper and pen ready.
This is our Lord’s response to worry, this is how you can defeat worry in your life.

Don’t do it!

Just say “no” to worry.
Stop worrying!

Our Lord tells us in this text there are some things you are never to worry about.
The issue here is “worry” or “anxiety” the KJV “take no thought” is unfortunate.
It implies that it is wrong to work and plan for the future.
That is certainly not the case for in other passage we are told to be diligent and prudent.
The issues is worrying or fretting about the future.

Some things you do not need to worry about – your life, the basic necessities, and the future.

This is an extraordinary passage.

These are the very things we worry most about – Jesus said – “Don’t ever worry about them.”  How?  Why?

Thesis: Whole-hearted trust in the sufficiency of God enables the believer to conquer worry.

Paul told the Romans that those who are in Christ are “more than conquerors.”
Does that include worry?
You must see this passage in light of the one immediately above it.
In the context of treasure in heaven verses treasure on earth.
In light of our serving our one true master, who is responsible for the care of his servants.

Note from our text 3 characteristics of worry-free believers.

  1. Worry-free believers rest in God’s gracious provision of their every need.  (6:25-26, 27-32)
  2. The worry-free believer refuses to waste time and energy in useless pursuits.  (6:27)
  3. Worry-free believers spend their lives in pursuit of eternal goals.  (6:33-34)

Worry is inevitable.
It is the result of the fall – but you can over come it.

You over come it by whole-heartedly trusting in the sufficiency of God.
You must rest in the assurance of his provision of your every need.
You must refuse to waste time and energy in worthless pursuits.
And you must give yourself to the pursuit of eternal goals.

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The Demands of Perseverance

Hebrews #23: an exposition of Hebrews 10:19-25. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 21, 2014.

It is a cardinal doctrine for us.  It is central to our understanding of salvation.  We Baptist are known for our doctrine of eternal security or as it is popularly known, “Once saved, always saved.”  That once you come to saving faith you are forever saved.  You cannot lose your salvation.  It cannot be taken from you.  You are in Christ, Christ is in God the Father and no one can take you out of the Father’s hand – including you!  Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”  In John 10 he said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who had given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  That is secure.  Yet we all know people who were once committed to the church, seemed to have genuine faith, who have left the faith.  These folks seem to have no interest in the things of God.  Some have gone so far as to denounce the faith.  How is that possible?  On the one hand our doctrine, our theology says that once God begins a work in us He completes it.  Having redeemed us and justified us, His spirit is placed within us and begins a sanctification process that will carry us to glory – yet some seem to fall out along the way.

This is not an easy question.  I will admit my struggle to understand.  However I do know that I must not allow my experience or my perceptions interpret the Word of God.  The Word of God must always interpret my experience.  I begin with the understand that the Word of God is true and from there make sense of my experience.  I also must allow the whole counsel of God inform my understanding.  Scripture admonishes us to test the fruit of a person’s life in discerning their convictions.  Scripture also warns against placing new believers in leadership roles.  There is much to be said for the test of time.  The apostle John when speaking of some who had abandoned the faith says in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” I am thoroughly convinced that the grace that saves us is the grace that keeps us.  Our salvation is of grace from beginning to end.  That does not mean it is easy.  That does not mean that there are no difficult days.  It does not mean there will not be times of backsliding and failing.  It does mean that ultimately we make it home to glory by God’s grace!

They were discouraged and struggling to believe.  Rejected by family and targeted by the government it was all they could do to just hang on.  The biblical writer pleads with them to continue in belief.  He speaks of the glory of Christ as God’s ultimate revelation of himself.  He is the effulgence, the shining forth of God’s glory.  The exact imprint of his divine nature.  He is our glorious, eternal high priest – seated at the right hand of God pleading our cause night and day without end.  Having laid the doctrinal foundation the writer now turns to application.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews chapter 10 beginning with verse 19.

Text: Hebrews 10:19-25

I’m convinced this text helps us understand perseverance.
How do we stay faithful?
What can we do to ensure we continue in belief?

As we work our way through these few verses we discover that…

Thesis: Perseverance demands focus, determination and community.

I want to point to three demands of perseverance from this text.

  1. Perseverance demands a single-hearted devotion.  (10:22)
  2. Perseverance demands that we cling tenaciously to our blessed hope.  (10:23)
  3. Perseverance demands that we commit passionately to our life together.  (10:24-25)
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Our Glorious Salvation

Hebrews #22: an exposition of Hebrews 10:1-18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 14, 2014.

It wasn’t that long ago belonging to the church was a great benefit.  Being a churchman gave you standing in the community.  It was good business to be a member of the “right” church.  Publicly professing your faith commended your character.  The church was respected.  Faith in Christ was an honorable thing.  Church schedules were given priority even in the community.  No ball games on church nights.  School functions respected church activities.  Prayer at ball games was expected.  Church doctrine was respected.  Not so much anymore.  Oh we know not everyone believed.  Not everyone was committed to the truth and authority of Scripture but biblical faith was treated with respect.  What happens when that is no longer the case?  What happens when the church no longer holds that honored position?  More than that what happens when the church and its doctrine are called into question?  When its cherished truths are considered foolish or even dangerous?  We are beginning to see.  Church attendance has rapidly declined.  Church closings are increasing.  Look in our own community.  Three churches have closed their doors others are fighting for their existence.  Along with falling numbers comes a loss of political and social clout.  Society’s moral compass has been calibrated to a new standard.  So that what once was considered evil is now declared good and what was good is now evil.  The result is a “falling away.”  Many are walking away from the faith of their youth.

Now, let’s look at this another way.  Yes, numbers don’t lie.  The church is not what it was.  However a closer look reveals the percentage of people who are deeply committed to the church.  Those who are convinced of the truth and authority of Scripture and are passionately committed to the church have not changed!  What has been lost are what we would consider “nominal” believers.  Believers in name but not in conviction.  Okay, but as the church declines and culture shifts, what happens when it is not just that the church has lost respect but the church is persecuted?  What happens when the church is considered the enemy?  Well, if God is there.  If the Bible is true…my question to you would be, “Where can you go?”  Do you remember when the crowds walked away from the Lord Jesus?  Jesus looked at his disciples and asked, “Will you go away as well?”  Peter said, “Where would we go?  You alone have the words of life” (John 6:68).  Salvation is found in Christ and in Christ alone!  That was the message to the Hebrew believers as they considered abandoning the faith and it is the message to us.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews chapter 10.

Text: Hebrews 10:1-18

There world was crashing down around them.
Rejected by their families and targeted by the government – they struggled to believe.
Their was costly – 10:32-34.

The writer says to these frightened believers, “Hold on.  Christ is better than the best Rome or Judaism have to offer.”  He sets for the Lord Jesus as superior to angels, to Abraham, to the high priest and the whole sacrificial system.  As God’s final word he is unsurpassed in revealing God and in guaranteeing our acceptance before a holy God.

In this text the writer leaves no doubt…

Thesis: The sacrifice of Christ alone enables cleansing and forgiveness.

This is our greatest need.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of our sin is death.  Separation from God now and forever.  Left to ourselves, to our own devices, we are without hope.  But, the Gospel is that God has not left it to us.  He has redeemed us.  He has saved us.  There are three things about this salvation I want to point out from this text.

  1. The biblical writer makes clear the weakness and ineffectiveness of the Old Covenant. (10:1-4)
  2. The biblical writer declares the power of Christ to save. (10:5-10)
  3. The biblical writer glories in what Christ has accomplished for us. (10:11-18)

Christ died and rose again to make you and me perfect, forgiving us completely and renewing our hearts.  Heaven has been laid at our sinful feet.  There is no greater folly than to turn away from such a glorious salvation.

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The Blood of Jesus

Hebrews #21: an exposition of Hebrews 9:15-28. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 7, 2014.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Some are horrified by these images.  Some say Christianity is a “slaughterhouse” religion.  All this talk of blood and sacrifice.  That’s just so primitive, so ancient!  We are too sophisticated for such nonsense.  Thus some are determined to “protect” God’s image by declaring such notions as the rantings of wild-eyed fundamentalists.  They prefer a religion that is less nauseating and more in tune with the finer things of life.  God’s role is to lovingly serve humanity.  They want no part of a God who is full of wrath and demands an accounting for sin.  But the fact is, our faith is a bloody faith.  The Old Testament system rests on a sea of blood.  The New Testament is clear, Christ came to die.  His death was no tragic consequence of mistaken identity or runaway religious fervor, it was the eternal plan and purpose of God.  The shedding of His blood, His dying is our only hope.  Our text this morning is found in the 9th chapter of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrews 9:15-28

In our text Christ is identified as mediator and testator.

Mediator = one who mediates between two parties.
He is the bridge that brings together God in His holiness and man in his sin.
One of the glorious things about his mediation is that it is both proactive and retroactive.
Proactive in that he paid for our sins.
Retroactive – (9:15) He paid for Israel’s sins!  It reaches all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

Testator = one who makes out a will.
Now a will is no good unless someone dies!

You could be listed in a will to inherit $100,000,000, your own Island and a glorious mansion but until the person who has so named you dies – you got nothing!

The writer of Hebrews informs us that Christ died putting the will into effect yet he lives enabling Him to mediate the covenant.  He is both the testator and the mediator.  The same word is used throughout.  In verse 15 it is used in a religious sense thus “covenant.”  In verses 16-17 in a legal sense thus “will.”

The biblical writer has been talking about Christ as our great high priest.  In the first half of chapter 9 we discovered the glory of the New Covenant is found in the substance of Christ’s death and what that death actually accomplished.  This morning’s text follows that same theme.  As we work our way through the text we are reminded that…

Thesis: Our blessed hope, as the people of God, is that the blood of Jesus Christ atones for our sin.

There are two (2) things I want to point out in relation to this text.

  1. The necessity of blood is clearly revealed by the Old Testament system.  (9:18-22)
    The Law was initiated with blood
    The tabernacle was initiated with blood
    This underscoring two important truths:

    1. The seriousness of sin
    2. The cost of forgiveness
  2. The efficacy of blood is gloriously demonstrated by what Christ has done.  (9:23-28)

Just what has the death of Christ accomplished?
The short answer is found in verse 26:
…But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

This is made possible because of…

A better sacrifice – 9:23
A better representative – 9:24
A greater power – 9:25-28
And gives us…A greater hope – 9:28b

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The Glory of the New Covenant

Hebrews #20: an exposition of Hebrews 9:1-15. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 31, 2014.

We love spectacle.  We want to be thrilled.  We desire to “feel” something.  It’s not enough to know the truth or to be assured of reality, we need some sensation to confirm our conviction.  “God was really present, I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck.”  “It must be true something just came over me and I can’t explain it.”  Add to that our love of ceremony and the fact we want to “do” something to gain the favor of God it’s understandable why it can be difficult to simply believe.  Can saving faith be as simple as acknowledging I’m a sinner and then trust in what Christ has done on the cross?  Understand that I am helpless and throw myself on the mercy of God in Christ?  No ceremony?  No ritual?  No service to perform to prove I mean it?  How can that be?  It sounds too simple.  It sounds too simple because you’ve not yet come to understand just how desperate you really are.

You’ve not yet come to understand that our problem is that we are radically sinful.  Sinful to the core, the radius of our being.  Everything about us is marred or tainted by sin.  Our mind, our will, our emotions, everything.  Thus anything we do is touched by sin.  We cannot save ourselves.  Salvation is wholly the work of God.  We are saved by the mercy and grace of God.  We are dead in trespass and sins.  Dead people don’t do anything for themselves!  Dead people are wholly dependent upon others.  We are saved because of what Christ has done.  His perfect life lived in full obedience to the Father.  His death on the cross as our substitute.  He is our propitiation.  We’ve been reconciled to God by His blood.  Our part?  To trust in Christ and Him alone.  When the winds of doubt begin to blow – look to Christ.  When feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness begin to swirl about you – look to Christ.  When fears threaten to overwhelm – look to Christ.  Your security, your certainty of salvation is not dependent upon your ability to believe but the power of Christ to save.  Our text this morning is found in the 9th chapter of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrews 9:1-15

They were struggling to believe.
Life had become increasingly difficult.
Hardship and sufferings abound.
Their minds said, “Just give up.  Walk away.  It’s just not worth it.”
The biblical writer responds, “It is the only thing worthy of your trust.”
“If you walk away – there is nothing that can save you.”

He has been pointing to Christ as our Great High Priest.  He is better than the angels, He is greater than Abraham, He is God’s ultimate revelation.  He is better than anything Judaism or Rome has to offer.  The old order, the Old Covenant is inadequate.  It is weak and worthless.  We have a New Covenant based upon superior promises.  The New does what the Old could never do.  In our text this morning the comparison between the Old and New continues.

This text makes it clear that…

Thesis: The glory of the New Covenant rests securely in the substance of Christ’s death and what His death actually accomplished.

Remember we have been told that all those things connected to the Old Covenant (the sacrifices, the rituals, the ceremonies) were copies or shadows of heavenly realities (8:5).  That our hope and confidence rests in the fact that Christ entered the “true tent” not set up by man – He entered heaven itself, the presence of God, and offered not the blood of bulls and goats but himself for our sin.  Then the writer gave an extensive quote from Jeremiah 31 about the glory of the New Covenant.  That’s where our text picks up.  I want to point out two things.

  1.  The Old Covenant, though awe-inspiring and a grand spectacle, proves to be wholly inadequate in meeting our greatest need.  (9:1-10)
  2. The New Covenant, though horrifying in appearance and uninspiring on the surface, gloriously fulfills our greatest need.  (9:11-14)

How do you have your sins forgiven and experience the cleansing of your conscience and enter into the joy of the New Covenant?  You look to Jesus and you say along with Horatius Bonar,

I lay my sins on Jesus
The spotless lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us
From the accursed load:
I bring my guilt to Jesus.
To wash my crimson stains
White in His blood most precious,
Till not a stain remains!

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