Christmas Is About the Gospel

A Christmas message from 1 Timothy 1:12-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 21, 2014.

Intro:
Christmas is one of those times when nostalgia reigns.  As our thoughts turn toward Christmas we are magically transported through time to enjoy more innocent and carefree days.  Images of Christmas past warm our hearts.  I remember sleepless nights as I dreamed what would be under the tree the next morning.  I remember my excitement when I opened that G.I. Joe complete with scuba gear!  I remember the year Christmas was spent at my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ed’s.  That’s the year I got the peddle-car with the red racing stripe.  Of course I also remember the sting of my brother’s grenade launcher when he beaned me while I was making laps through my Uncle Ed’s laundry mat!  I remember the year we were awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of breaking glass.  My brothers and I rushed into the living room to find Dad standing in the doorway looking down at the shattered glass from the storm door, as he was holding a large piece of plywood on which was mounted the track for a miniature train.  When we asked what happened he shouted, “I’m helping Santa Claus – now go to bed!”  I think of cousins assembled from Washington D.C., Atlanta, Little Rock and Houston.  I remember the laughter, the practical jokes and the joy that was shared.

I remember the joy and excitement of the first Christmas Zac was old enough to know what was going on.  I’m sure I was more excited than he was.  I remember the year Zac got his first bicycle and Jessie got her first tricycle.  Zac said excitedly, “Hey Jessie, that’s just like my tricycle.”  Not knowing it was his tricycle with streamers and a basket!  Of course not all of our Christmas memories are joyful.  We are, at times, haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.  I remember my first Christmas without my mother.  That reminds me that memories can warm and they can wound.  While it is often good and helpful to remember we must look beyond our memories to the reality of Christmas.

Christmas is not about presents, family, food and fun.  It’s not about warm fuzzy feelings and sentimental tales.  The problem is that when we think of Christmas only or primarily in those terms we miss out on the real joy of this season.  When we fail to recognize the deep eternal truths connected to the Christmas story we miss the whole point – Christmas is about the Gospel.  Christmas is about how sinful, fallen humanity has been restored to life and fellowship with God.  The “good news” announced to the shepherds that night was that unto them had been born a Savior!  Our text this morning is found in 1 Timothy chapter 1.

Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

I recognize that this is not the typical “Christmas” text.  Yet I’m convinced it contains the heart and soul of the Christmas message.  For you cannot talk of the birth of Christ without speaking of the reason for his coming.  He came on mission.  He came for a specific purpose.  He was driven by a specific passion.  Jesus, himself, said, “I have not come to be served but to serve.  And to give my life a ransom for many.”  The angel said to Joseph, “Mary is telling the truth.  The Holy Spirit has conceived the child within her.  You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-21).

We must never forget that…

Thesis: Christmas is without meaning apart from the Gospel.

There are three great truths concerning the significance of Christmas reflected in our text.  When we think about the meaning of Christmas we are reminded that:

  1. The love of God overcomes the greatness of our sin.  (1:12-14)
  2. The Lord Jesus came to saved sinners and make them trophies of His grace.  (1:15-16)
  3. Such a God is worthy of our praise and devotion.  (1:17)

Conclusion:

No doubts your minds are filled with memories of Christmas past.  Some of them warm your heart.  Others wound your soul.  Look beyond all of that to the reality of Christmas.  Fundamentally Christmas is about the Gospel.  It is about how God so loved, he gave his only Son so that whoever believes might not perish but rather have eternal life.

Don’t miss Christmas this year.
Come to Christ.
Come to Christ and live.

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The Wonder of Christmas

This is an exposition of Galatians 4:4-7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, December 14, 2014.

Intro:

It is the only word that really captures the essence of this season.  It is the one expression that comes close to describing the indescribable.  It is the word – “wonder.”  Wonder refers to the cause of astonishment or surprise; the quality or state of amazed admiration; it refers to something beyond anything previously known or anticipated.”  This is a wonderful time of year.  Not because of gifts, parties, programs or “Christmas cheer.”  It is wonderful because of the one who came.  It is wonderful because the Eternal One step into time; because the creator became part of his creation; because God moved into our neighborhood in order to redeem us.  It is easy to lose sight of that in all the busyness of the season.  Too often our minds are flooding with shopping lists, decorations and social obligations.  It’s not that we don’t care or that we are indifferent – it’s just, well we’ve got so much going on.  Or maybe we have so much going on because we really don’t want to deal with the loneliness and emptiness of the season.  If Christmas is nothing more than a momentary relief from the monotony of everyday life…it is of little value or significance.  If Christmas is nothing more than a religious observance or annual feast…it is a sorry substitute for celebrating the history-altering event of 2000 years ago.

Christmas is the incredible story of how God became a man.  It is a story of love and grace.  The story of how God in his holiness made it possible for sinful, stubborn and rebellious folks like you and me, to live in relationship with him!  Rediscover the wonder of Christmas as we explore the message of the apostle Paul from the fourth chapter of Galatians.

Text: Galatians 4:4-7

The book of Galatians is a marvelous treatment of the doctrine of salvation.  Paul is answering his critics who desire to enslave people to a doctrine of works.  According to these false teachers, belief in Jesus was necessary but not enough – you must also live a certain lifestyle, you must observe all the dietary laws of the Old Testament, follow the religious calendar etc.  Paul said no, “You must trust in Jesus alone for salvation.”  As Paul deals with the joy of our liberty in Christ in this passage, he reminds us of the wonder of the Christmas season.

Thesis: “The true wonder of Christmas can only be understood in the light of God’s sovereign grace in salvation.”

What an amazing statement.  Just three brief sentences yet packed full of meaning and profound truths.  He we have this concise statement of the person and work of Christ.  Every word is packed with meaning.

This is the wonder of Christmas…

  1. God sovereignly orchestrated the movement of history to prepare for the coming of his dear Son.  (4:4)
  2. God sovereignly brought redemptive history to its climax with the coming of the Redeemer.  (4:4-5)
  3. God graciously brings us into his glorious family.  (4:5-7)
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The Life of Faith

Hebrews #34: an exposition of Hebrews 11:32-40. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 14, 2014.

Intro:
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.”  That’s the description of faith given by the writer of Hebrews to a group of people who are struggling to survive.  Their world is crashing around them.  They are on the verge of giving up and giving in.  They are seriously considering walking away from their new found faith in Christ.  The writer pleads with them to hold on.  Continue to believe.  Continue to trust, for Christ is better than the best that Judaism and the world has to offer.  In chapter 11 he sets before them a catalogue of the faithful.  Men and women of faith who overcame overwhelming odds.  These are not “super saints” or people with unusual gifts or abilities but rather ordinary people made extraordinary by the grace of God.  It is also important to note that chapter 11 is not given as entertaining stories intended to inspire confidence.  This is “survival truth.”  This is essential teaching aimed at equipping these struggling saints for even more difficult times to come.  Soon these same believers will endure the pains of widespread and wholesale persecution.  The book of Hebrews is intended to give them the necessary tools for survival.  This chapter is helpful not just because it gives inspiring examples but because it is so balanced.  Too often we have a warped understanding of the life of faith.  If you just have faith it will be all sunshine and no rain.  If you just trust Jesus everything will always turn out right – meaning you will be happy, healthy and prosperous.  That is not the case in this sin-cursed world.  The life of faith assures us of future glory but not necessarily the good life now.

We’ve been encouraged by the examples of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses.  We’ve been inspired by Joshua and Israel’s great victory at Jericho and Rahab’s faithfulness and God’s subsequent blessing.  Now the writer piles on example after example in rapid fashion but not all of them are what we expect.  For this section contains both triumph and tragedy.  Our text this morning is Hebrews 11:32-40.

Text: Hebrews 11:32-40

As we work our way through this text we are going to find some clarification about the life of faith.  From this text we learn that…

Thesis: The life of faith gladly yields to the will of God and trusts wholly in the truthfulness and certainty of God’s Word.
The life of faith is the life that trusts God.
The life that refuses to lean on its own understanding but rather yields to the will of God.

The life that faces hardship and adversity assured that God does not lie, that He will do what He said He would do.

There are 3 things I want to point out along the way.

  1. Sometimes God, through the working of miracles and acts of Divine providence leads His people in triumph.  (11:32-35a)
  2. Sometimes God grants courage and grace to enable His people to persevere despite persecution, deprivation and death.  (11:35b-38)
  3. In all things the people of God, whether they triumph, persevere or perish, live by faith for eternal glory.  (11:39-40)

Conclusion:

The word to that struggling first century church was hold on.  Continue to believe.  Walk in faith.

Yield to the will of God and trust wholly in the truthfulness and certainty of His Word.

The same must be said to us.  We too must gladly yield to His will trusting the truthfulness and the certainty of His Word.  The dark clouds are gathering.  A storm is on the horizon.  Dark forces are at work to the extent we find our culture calling evil good and good evil.  It is not only possible it is probable that the church once pampered will become the church persecuted.  Does that mean it’s hopeless?  No.  The message of Hebrews 11 makes it clear that the people who are sure of God and of His Word live in great hope of a glorious future.

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What’s in a Name?

Sunday PM
“What’s in a Name?”
Matthew 1:21
December 7, 2014

Intro:

You’ve just found out.  You’re going to have a baby!  When you come to and pick yourself up off the floor – you’re thinking, “I can’t believe it – a baby.”  You’re numb.  As the initial shock wears off you begin to get excited.  Now you are fighting over who gets to tell who – “Let me tell them,” “No let me!”  You are just so excited, a baby.  Things rock along just fine until one day someone says to you, “What are you going to name this kid?”  That’s an innocent enough question but it ignites a storm of controversy.  You enter into a time of intense negotiation.  Everyone has a suggestion.  By the way, Rodney is always an excellent choice!  You’ve got to weigh all the suggestions.  You find yourself paying attention to names wherever you find them.  You’re watching a movie and your wife says, “Oh I like that.”  “You like what – the man’s been murdered!”  “No, the name.  The killers name was Jeb.”  Of course you have to give careful consideration to family names.  Rheadon was not fond of my grandmother’s name.  She didn’t like the sound of Zephie.  Of course you also have to get a couple of those “name” books.  Then you have to experiment with different names and combinations.  Rheadon liked Charis, which is Greek for grace.  I liked the name itself but come on – “Charis Harris?”  I couldn’t do that to a kid.  This is a time consuming process.  And it’s important because this is a label for life.  Names are important.

In ancient times names were important as well.  Names were intended to express the character and nature of the person.  Parents often instilled their hopes and dreams in the name given to their child.  Biblically, names are important.  Abram meant, “exalted father.”  God changed his name to Abraham, “father of a great multitude.”  So names do matter.  You want to get it right.

That is the backdrop of our text this morning.  It prepares us for what happened 2000 years ago in the tiny village of Nazareth as the angel of God came to a carpenter by the name of Joseph.

Text: Matthew 1:18-25

This is Matthew’s account of the events surrounding the birth of the Lord Jesus.  Luke focuses on Mary.  Matthew views events from Joseph’s perspective.  In the heart of the angel’s message to Joseph is a very important statement.  A statement that you have read and heard many times.  You are so familiar with it – it no longer stands out in your thinking.  Yet it is a profound announcement bringing great insight into the significance of the birth of this child.
Look at the text and take special note of verse 21.  For it is there that we learn:

Thesis: The name of Jesus reveals the true beauty and wonder of Christmas.

It is easy in the midst of parties, the shopping, the celebrating, the coming and going to loose your focus during this time of the year.  The beauty and wonder of Christmas is not found in the giving.  It is not in the lights or the singing.  It is not in the “good cheer.”  It is not even in family.  The beauty and wonder of Christmas is found in understanding the love of God demonstrated so wonderfully in the name of Jesus.  Oh we say it.  He is the reason for the season.  We even print it on T-shirts and sweatshirts.  But what does that mean?  In what way?  How is He the reason for the season?  The answer is found in His name.

There are three things I want us to note about the name of Jesus.

The name of Jesus reveals the purpose of His coming.

The name of Jesus reveals the nature of His people.

The name of Jesus reveals the heart of God.

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Courageous, Impossible Faith

Hebrews #33: an exposition of Hebrews 11:30-31. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 7, 2014.

Intro:
Sometimes you are put in impossible circumstances.  It came around every year.  It was ridiculous.  There was no point to it.  It was the same every year but we had to go through the motions.  It was called, “The President’s Physical Fitness Test.”  I don’t think the president ever look at the things!  Push-ups, sit-ups, running and the dreaded pull-up.  Every year Mr. Robinson called me up in front of the class and forced me to hang on that bar trying to pull myself up.  Every year I’d hang there a few seconds before dropping to the floor.  He would say, “Oh I thought you were going to make it this time.  You were so close.”  He was a good man.  Trying to be encouraging.  It wasn’t close.  It was always humiliating.  It’s one things to be the “fat kid” who gets embarrassed once a year in gym class in the face of an impossible task – it’s quite another to lead troops into battle against overwhelming odds.

Joshua and the people of Israel where on the outskirts of Jericho.  Israel had crossed the Jordan in miraculous fashion and war was just hours away.  Just ahead of the encamped Israelites towered the great city of Jericho.  Most of the Israelites had never seen a walled city.  Joshua was restless.  I’m sure he would have loved to talked to Moses but Moses was dead.  The mantle of leadership now rested on Joshua.  Joshua slipped out of camp to talk with God in the quiet of the night.  Something flashed before him.  There stood a warrior in full battle dress.  His sword drawn.  A less courageous man would have run but not Joshua.  Instead he asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

This encounter would become a milestone in the life of Joshua and the people of God.  It also forms the backdrop for a portion or our text this morning.

Text: Hebrews 11:30-31

The writer is seeking to encourage these struggling believers by giving them examples of those who have gone before.  Those who overcame overwhelming odds by the grace of God.  Men and women of genuine faith.  This morning we come to two examples.  One of faith overcoming by unusual means the other of faith through an unlikely person.  Our text is just two verses but we will spend time in the Old Testament book of Joshua to understand the context.

This text serves to remind us that…

Thesis: Biblical faith accomplishes remarkable things through unlikely people and by unlikely means.

2 things

  1. Courageous faith overcomes incredible odds in a most unlikely way.  (11:30)
  2. Real, courageous, genuine faith is often found in the most unlikely person.  (11:31)

Conclusion:
This struggling band of believers found themselves up against overwhelming odds.  They needed to know God is about to deliver.  They needed to know that even though they were no match for the mighty Roman Empire God is more than able.  This is the life of faith.  “If God be fore us who can possibly stand against us?”  The struggling believers needed to know faith is not the possession of the spiritually elite.  It can be found in a Canaanite prostitute.

The good news for them and for us is that Biblical faith accomplishes remarkable things through unlikely people and by unlikely means.

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The Life of Faith

Hebrews #32: an exposition of Hebrews 11:23-29. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 30, 2014.

Intro:
The apostle Paul told the Romans, “The righteous will live by faith.”  He told the Galatian believers, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Repeatedly the message of the writer of Hebrews is that we must live by faith.  How are we saved?  By grace through faith.  How do we walk in obedience to the call and command of Christ?  By faith.  We know that.  We understand that.  We know that to accomplish great things we must be men and women of faith.  You must also understand you must lived by faith in the ordinary and the mundane.  It takes faith to stop and listen to your child when you’re late for the office and you’ve got a thousand things to do today.  It takes faith to believe that being at home changing diapers, doing laundry and raising your kids is just as much a calling of God as “losing your life in some Muslim country for the sake of the Gospel.”  Both callings demand faith to stay where God has put you and accomplish the task He has assigned.  Too often we think faith is necessary for the “really big” things, the rest we are just to handle ourselves.  “I’ve got this one Lord.  I’ll let you know if and when I need help.”  No, you need faith for every task assigned.  You are to exercise faith in all matters.  To some degree it is easier to give your life away in some distant land than it is to set in an office crunching numbers and wondering if you are really sold out for Jesus or if you’ve just sold out?  Whether you are called to serve Christ on the mission field in some distant land or called to live a normal, ordinary life were you go to work, love and provide for your family and serve your local church it demands the same faith.  It demands the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.

What does that faith look like?
That is the focus of Hebrews chapter 11.
Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 11 beginning with verse 23.

Text: Hebrews 11:23-29

The biblical writer describes faith for us in 11:1.
Then, beginning with verse 4 he sets before us a catalogue of the faithful.
Here are men and women who live out that faith.
Here are examples for us to follow.

There is Abel with his more acceptable sacrifice.  Then Enoch who was well pleasing to God.  Well pleasing because he walked by faith for without faith it is impossible to please God.  Noah is a shining example of persistent faith.  Verses 8-22 give us the example of Father Abraham.  Now we come to Moses.

You knew Moses would have to be included in this list.
If ancient Israel had trading cards – Moses’ rookie card would be worth a fortune.
He was Israel’s greatest prophet.
He was their deliverer.
Their lawgiver.
Their historian.
He was the friend of God.

Listen to his epitaph:
And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.  (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

Consider Numbers 12:6-8:
And he said, Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.
7 Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house.
8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD…

Yet:
Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.  (Numbers 12:3)

(Read the text)

Thesis: Biblical faith defies paralyzing fear, choses the things of God over the pleasures of this world and assures a profound deliverance.

There are three (3) things I want to point out along the way.

  1. Biblical faith produces risk-taking courage and profound love.  (11:23)
  2. Biblical faith chooses identification with the things of God over the pleasures of this world.  (11:24-27)
  3. Biblical faith assures a profound deliverance. (11:28,29)

Conclusion:

The life of faith is not an easy life.  You will regularly find yourself at a crossroad.  Will you act in faith?  Trusting His grace and power?  Or will you surrender to your fear?  Throw it all away for a moment of fleeting pleasure?

Biblical faith defies paralyzing fear, chooses the things of God over the pleasures of this world and assures a profound deliverance.

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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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