UPDATES & REPORTS
RIVERVIEW NEW BRUNSWICK CANADA
We've made it safely to our East Coast mission destination, Moncton New Brunswick Canada. Our journey consisted of 1800 miles, 6 days driving through the States. We crossed the Border at Saint Stephens, from the State of Maine.
The movers had not packed our belongings properly in the U-Haul. This resulted in broken, badly damaged, items (i.e. love seat, computer desks, book shelves). There is no coverage for such a thing but on a positive note, those things are replaceable. Our lives are healthy and safe.
We are almost done unpacking and making this our home for the following years. I've contacted the congregation and we are in good spirits.
The quarantine has us locked inside the house for two weeks. And the community lockdown will last for a minimum of 3 months. This of course has already caused challenges for us to receive our legal license, registration, and plates. We will do our best to manage.
I've set up my office/studio. It makes me so happy to work for God and create gospel material. I'll need to upgrade my macOS sooner than later. Once that is done I'll be on track once again. I've already got Bible studies set up and evangelistic visions to administer once this virus goes away. Till then we shall proceed digitally.
I will continue to produce Bible studies and sermons for the Spencer church of Christ via their Facebook page (i.e. Wed. evenings and Sunday mornings) until their new evangelist makes gets there. This also allows the Riverview congregation here in NB Canada to follow along also and learn with us all.
My wife is preparing the homeschooling section of the house. She does a wonderful work teaching the kids. They are good kids and learn quickly.
Kids love their "new" home and can't wait to see their grandparents again.
We still are far from the necessary financial support, and so I might have to build tents. Which is not possible at this time because of the virus no one is hiring. If you know of any Christian (or congregation) willing to spiritually invest in this mission field. Please share the opportunity.
We continue to be grateful to God for all of you who partake of this labor along with us.
Thank you. God bless.
"May we stay loyal to one another without deceit, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."
Thank you kindly for being interested in our updates & reports.
We are currently Stateside, at our Marshfield WI house rental till Friday, March 27th, 2020. Packing for the big move 1800 miles to NB Canada. From up North we hope to cross the border without any hindrance. Myself in the 26' UHaul, my eldest son riding "shotgun." In the back, my wife and the other kiddos following. Supplies for the trip are available and ready. From the Country crossing we journey eastbound through the Provinces until we reach NB.
There are many things involved at this time in history. The COVID 19 mandates and precautions are growing stronger each day. We are trying our best to stay ahead of any legal lockdown. This is certainly causing a challenge. We are making phones calls and taking necessary actions to prepare ourselves for the road ahead. Your prayers and monetary support is welcomed and warmly received.
No matter the circumstances, we evangelize. I continue to create gospel material. Preach and teach. This will only end, from my part, once I leave this earth. And even then, the ministry will live on until our Lord returns.
Because of our unforeseen early departure. Our necessary support is still short $2,975/M. No amount is too small. Special collections. Donations.
We love all of you and are thankful for the compassion and faith you have for this most pressing work.
WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? EVERYTHING.
1 Cor. 13
Christians in Corinth had been given the ability to perform miraculous gifts. They needed instruction as to how to properly conduct themselves with these gifts. They also needed to utilize them with a righteous mind, intended to be used for the further growth of the gospel and the kingdom therein.
1. Communicating to men with language, void of love & truth.
“Tongues of men” = Supernatural ability allowing one to speak in a known language that they had never learned before. A natural linguistic among mankind, uninspired, common. If this power was not used for the gospel, it became noisy and useless.
I’ve never spoken Chinese, I’ve never learned the language. If at this moment I would begin to speak the language (with the understanding of the words I am uttering). This would be miraculous. For it would break the natural law.
“Tongues of angels” = a known language that would come from a messenger of the LORD with a purpose to declare direction or command. This language, if not for the further purpose of Christ, is nothing but useless noise.
This language has absolutely nothing to do with modern-day denominations who claim the gift by incoherent mumblings. God always communicated in an orderly and understandable manner. That’s why Paul made sure they knew what the gift was for, who was to use it, how it was supposed to be used, and the office of interpreter.
Paul is simply revealing a spiritual fact. It doesn’t matter what kind of known language you speak if it is not backed by agape love, it bears no fruit. If it does not seek to further the cause of Christ, it is noisy and useless.
2. Communicating to men with powerful display, void of love & truth.
So not only are verbal communicative skills useless without love (whether from men or from messengers). The same applies to anyone who would have power beyond their ability. If you had powers above and beyond your ability, perfect power and faith like God, without love? Useless. If you could literally move a mountain (an impossible task but for God), without love? Useless, you’re just making noise.
If you’re not proclaiming the right gospel (Gal. 1). If you’ve either removed or added to it. Your talents and opportunities are nothing but deafening, loud and useless, so much so people can’t hear the purity of the true gospel around you, because your noise drowns out the truth.
How many religious leaders out there, with big names and big money, have millions following and supporting them? Noisy gongs. Who are they converting to Christ? No one. They are useless. Why? They don’t use their influence for the greater good of the kingdom. They are enemies of the cross.
Paul is making it very clear for these Christians. If you’re not speaking the truth in love, stop your noise!
3. Communicating to men with benevolence, void of love & truth.
It doesn’t matter how many needy people you help out, feed, lodge, cloth. If there is no purpose to give them gospel truth? Useless, noisy, unproductive. You are producing nothing but a deafening racket.
You can have all the money in the world, without love you are but a sounding brass. It seems to be greatly important, it calls attention to itself, but not to what is important. It has no lasting value. It does not lead anyone to Christ. It does not have the right kind of heart.
Paul tells the church that anything they do without love is useless. So naturally, Paul is now going to tell them what love looks like. In order to be useful, productive, fruitful.
4-7. Communicating to men with love, the Bible kind of love.
“Patient” = You’re suffering long with everyone. Not quick to dismiss someone because of their immaturity or lack of scriptural knowledge.
“Kind” = Gentle with people. You don’t want to break them. You want to build them.
“Not jealous” = It does not find joy at the misfortune of others. You pray for their success.
“Does not brag” = It does not try to build self up while tearing others down.
“Not arrogant” = It does not boast in societal standards (i.e. I’m smarter, bigger, richer, etc).
“Unbecomingly” = Not rude, do nice things to others (i.e. open doors, etc)
“Does not seek its own” = You don’t have to have it your way all the time, allow other people to decide also. You might be surprised at the value of their participation.
“Not provoked” = Not irritable, being easily annoyed or made angry at everything and everyone. Getting worked up about every little thing that ultimately holds no true spiritual wealth for your faith.
“Account a wrong suffered” = Taking inventory of the things people have done wrong against me. Holding a grudge till the nth degree. Never letting it go. Waiting for a reason to bring it back up as a weapon.
“Do not rejoice in unrighteousness” = in words, behavior, and practice which is against doing what is right.
“Love rejoices with the truth” = the truth being preached and practiced, honesty.
“Bears all things” = puts up with everyone, no one is perfect.
“Believes all things” = desires to believe the good in others.
“Hopes all things” = has full trust in the promises of Christ and counting on His faithful followers.
“Endures all things” = perseverance in the most difficult trials, tests, circumstances. Never give up on Christ and His church. No matter how difficult things may come.
8. Miraculous Gifts will cease, but love will remain.
Love is the great equalizer, everyone can be the same with love. Back then not everyone had the same miraculous gifts. And so it caused problems. It was not perfect. It was transitional. It was to confirm the word of God. All of the miraculous has since ceased in the 1st century. And now we have the two remain elements, the Bible & love.
And who better teach us about the Word of God & love, than He who is love (1 John 4:8) and is the word. Jesus Christ (John 1:1).
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” - John 15:13
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16
“If you love me keep my commandments.” - John 14:15
If you want the love of Jesus and His family in your life this morning, you simply need faith in obeying His loving gospel.
“Whoever believes and is immersed shall be saved. Whoever does not believe shall be damned.” - Mk. 16:16
Without Jesus (who is love) in your life, you are but a noisy gong. Stop being spiritually useless, repent of your sins and allow Him to save you.
Come forward as we stand and sing.
TITLE: The unity of weak & strong Christians.
TEXT: Romans 15:1-7
ILLUSTRATION: Two armies meet for battle, each has a representative.
On one side we have a warrior, nine feet tall, wearing armor approx. 150-200 pounds, a giant. But he had no wisdom. He never had to trust in anything else but himself and his items of warfare. Like the Egyptians to their horses. He’s a heathen. He has raw strength but a weak spirit. His appearance is strong, no doubt. But he is the weaker one inwardly. Very intimidating outwardly, lacking maturity inwardly and as a result it cost him his life and the defeat of the army that day.
On the other side one much smaller in stature, a youth, but he had wisdom. His experience with trusting God when conquering beasts (bear & lion), gave him the upper hand. Because of his experience in life, though limited in time on earth, grander in knowledge, He had God on his side. And he had the wisdom to know that. In this sense. And this is why David was able to kill Goliath with a sling and a stone (1 Sam. 17).
We Christians might face outwardly strong adversaries in the religious world, yet with the Bible and a faithful heart, we can persevere and conquer.
There is another interesting perspective in the account of David & Goliath which pertains to the principle we seek expound on this day. David was the outward weaker brother according to his own people the Israelites and his siblings. His inward strength was able to unite the army in defeat of the heathen (Philistines). David was able to pass judgment on the opinion of his weaker brethren and siblings in order to become selfless and victorious for God, uniting his people. This was the greater objective.
THESIS: “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.” (Rom. 14:1)
THEME: “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weakness of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1)
1. The Weak brother
2. The Strong brother
3. Our unity and fellowship in Christ.
Romans 14, gives us insight on the interaction which must take place between weak and strong Christians. The weak brother may appear strong on the outside, yet weak on the inside. The weak brother is one who’s opinion, scruple, conscience, is fragile and needs proper attention. He might find offense in things the stronger brother has since studied and settled on.
* Perhaps matters of eating certain foods, and/or practicing certain holidays. The weak brother means well and is convicted in his current positions and he is faithful to God in his liberties. The strong brother must respect that in so much it does not breach the doctrine of Christ our Lord and Master.
The Romans 15, brother, is the stronger one. Perhaps appearing weaker outwardly, yet stronger inwardly. He is the brother who will suffer long the weakness of his fellow saints and in such being selfless to conquer any divisive temptation.
*This of course in no way means compromise regarding matters of salvation (i.e. social drinking of alcohol, MDR, plan of salvation, method of worship, and Christ-like behavior).
1. The strong have responsibility, a higher standard of patience, bearing the weakness of those without strength, and doing so without passing judgment on their opinions, all while remaining selfless, thoughtful of their spiritual wellbeing before our physical wellbeing.
The account of David displays this caliber of spiritual principle very well. David was the stronger brother who did not pass judgment on his brethren when they mocked him and his statement to defeat Goliath, mere opinions, nothing worth hindering God’s victory that day.
2. The effectiveness of this standard and command is one which allows peace between one’s neighbors for the encouragement of the congregation.
3. Christ is given in this context as the example to the stronger brother, the servant, the one who sacrifices himself for the greater good of the kingdom and the unity therein. The book of Psalm is quoted, again Paul writing to Christians in Rome backing up his inspiration with God breathe literature.
4. The source of our strength, perseverance, is found in the instruction of the Old Testament accounts. Through the Old Testament witness we today as Christians never give up on our hope in Christ.
Our law is the New covenant, and our way to live it out properly is found in the education of the Old Covenant. For it delivers the nature of Christ and principle of God for mankind. In this case, His example of strength, selflessness, and unity.
5. How? Through the Word of God, the work of the Holy Spirit! When we read the account of David & Goliath we grow in the knowledge of our Christ-like faith.
6. Why? That we be united, weak & strong together! And not be divided over matters of opinion.
7. As a result of this information, we must accept each other, all different levels of spiritual maturity and conscience, just as Christ accepted us for His glory and kingdom.
David was the stronger brother during the days of Israel and the philistines. And because he did not pass judgement on their opinion of him, he managed to conquer the Giant. He was selfless. And this united Israel during that event.
We are to be united in our efforts for the greater good of the kingdom. Whether weak or strong, we must work together to bring growth, guide the lost of this dying world, to Jesus Christ.
And we do that with gospel belief and obedience. When the Ethiopian Eunuch had heard the truth of the gospel from Philip the evangelist (Acts , he pointed to water and needed to be immersed in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, therefore being added by God to his kingdom as a citizen.
Once a member of this family, born again into it, given the family name of Christian, you will now learn with us to remain united and grow each day with us for the good of God’s purpose.
If this is your faith this morning, please come forward and be saved by Jesus in the waters of baptism, as we stand and sing.
TITLE: TWO BUILDERS
TEXT: Luke 6:46-49
THESIS: When we build our faith according to the law of Christ, we spiritually prosper.
THEME: Confusion and division is the result of a foolish builder.
1. The wise builder Noah builds the Ark (Gen. 6:13-16, 22)
2. The foolish builder The sons of men build a tower (Gen. 11:1-9)
3. What kind of builder will this congregation be? If wise, we shall remain. If foolish, we shall perish.
LET US READ THE ACCOUNT OF A WISE BUILDER: GENESIS 6:13-16, 22
Noah paid attention to every detail. Not out of meritorious work. But out of faith and love for his God. He respected and feared the Lord. That’s why he didn’t build the Ark with any other blueprint and material. That would have been foolish. And it would have resulted in his death.
If we build our faith like Noah we’ll remain in the vessel of safety, the body of spiritual security, the kingdom of provision, the church belonging to Jesus Christ. How? We will obey the strict instructions commanded to us in this New Testament Law of Christ. We shall not deviate or compromise the plan of salvation. We will remain pure in worship with the right mind and doctrine. We shall respect proper Christian behavior and principle. We shall embrace and practice church discipline when necessary to keep His church undefiled. We shall love our God and His people. We shall evangelize and seek to extend benevolence. We shall utilize all our talents for the greater good of His kingdom. Whether that be on the computer, at the voting booth, or a meal with our fellow neighbors.
In this Ark, this kingdom, this church, we receive all spiritual blessings. May we never take that for granted. May we allow His grace to teach us the craft of discernment. Making us wise. Teaching us to reject what is evil, and cling to what is good.
LET US READ THE ACCOUNT OF A FOOLISH BUILDER: GEN. 11:1-9
The problem with the "sons of men," was that they wanted to build for "ourselves." Selfishness and pride. Thinking themselves high and mighty without the need for God. "Even God couldn't sink the Titanic!" God will not be mocked. Punishment and consequence must be administered, righteous justice.
If we build our faith like the sons of men we’ll be separated and confused, no longer productive. Incoherent. “I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas.” Unable to understand each other. And is that not what we see today in this religious landscape of denominationalism? All sorts of different teachings, confused and separated. Churches built by men. In their misguided attempts to gain God like status they are divided and lost. None of them teach the unique plan of salvation. None of them practice worship in spirit and truth. And because of that none of them is “good” in the eyes of God. Oh they can build, but what they are building will be uprooted. It won’t last forever.
Let us read Luke 6:46-49
46 - Sons of men (foolish builders)
The Lord brings the “sons of men” a question to the accountability of their foolish and vain construction. They publicly speak praise of Christ. Publicly declare to be a religious people, Christians. They reach for the sky. Yet they refuse to live according to the New Testament Law? They neglect to do what is demanded by God? They do not obey the proper plan of salvation? They do not worship in spirit and truth? They do not live right before their fellow man? “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” – Js. 2:14. Of course not! Dead faith never moved mountains, nor has it ever trusted in Christ.
47, 48 – Noah (wise builder) The wise builder is one who seeks Jesus Christ and His words (Rom. 10:17). He is not a hearer only, but he is a doer of the words Jesus has spoken. Because faith Biblically described, is one of love and action. It is a faith which took much sacrifice. It is not just surface and timid. It is inward and productive, public.
The wise builder will construct a vessel which will conquer the coming challenges. He will dig deep and lay down his foundation on Christ, the solid ground of His Word. He will be reading, studying, listening to faithful sermons and attending the assembly, evangelizing, being benevolent, active in fellowship. And because of his participation in doing things the right way, he will pass on this faith to his children. Who in turn will keep the inspired traditions and remain positioned on a hill in Spencer WI. Being active in this faith will allow us to remain safe and secure when health issues arise (sickness, disease), persecution (hostile people or government), and loss of loved ones (perhaps does passing from this life outside of Christ).
49 - Sons of men (foolish builders) Everything is opposite of the sons of men, the sons of disobedience. They certainly heard the gospel. They had the same opportunity as the wise builder. Yet they refused to do what they read. They did not dig deep. They did not sacrifice much.
And so when hard times came, times of obedience came. They fell and were eternally ruined. Divided and confused. Lost and unproductive. And it is interesting to note that the foolish person can build. He just can’t build anything that will last forever. What he builds is but momentary. It has no deep roots.
CONCLUSION: Two builders. The wise (he who believes and is baptized shall be saved) and the foolish (he who does not believe that shall be damned).
The wise will this day act upon his faith. He will tell others about Jesus. He will obey the gospel and continue to live faithfully.
If you need to respond to the gospel call and have your sins forgiven by Christ, come forward as we stand and sing.
We wish to extend our warm welcome to all friends and family willing to attend worship with the members of the church which belongs to Jesus Christ, here in Spencer. You are our honored guests. And we pray that what you see and hear this day will challenge your curiosity to know more, and return again one day soon. For there is a reason you have been invited, being one of eternal wealth. And it goes far deeper than the wonderful fellowship we shall experience. There is a call to authority taking place, necessary for all who seek freedom in Christ, authority which calls us to obedience, proper worship and behavior.
None can judge a man’s soul into torment, or paradise.
I once had a co-worker at the factory. And he would fall asleep on the job when the boss was not around. I would have to yell at him (“wake up!”), at times shack him, less he lose his job (i.e. pay cheque, benefits, the ability to provide for the family). Not once did he ever say to me, “how dare you judge me.” More often he would thank me for saving his job. You see, we may not have the authority to fire anyone, but yet still we have the authority to warn of the coming danger and consequence. And to remind each other of the benefits if we indeed remain employed and not fall asleep.
The sermon this morning is titled: A WINDOW INTO THE AFTERLIFE
So many walking this earth wish to have insight into the afterlife, yet they go seeking instruction from the wrong sources (i.e. the entertainment industry, perhaps TV evangelists, etc). Either out of ignorance or because they simply rather believe a lie, than the truth. And therefore sadly come away with a false sense of spiritual security. A false hope in a heaven they will never see.
Text: Luke 16:19-31
The historically recorded account of a moment captured in the afterlife between two men. One man sent to torment, and the other to paradise. It can be trusted as true, and we can most certainly learn a great deal about our lives in this lesson. A lesson that will unite friends and family or divide them.
Thesis: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for *Jesus Christ sake shall find it.” – Jesus Christ (Mt. 16:25).
Theme: “verily I say unto you, there is no man that has left house (security and material belongings), or parents, or brothers and sisters, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” – Jesus Christ (Luke 18:29-30).
In this recorded account delivered to us through inspired literature, the tale of two men who once lived on this earth reflected their eternal existence.
READ: LUKE 16:19-31
Luke 16:19 - A rich man who lives a comfortable life. Nothing wrong with riches, we had a sister in Christ written about in the Bible who was also wealthy, remember Lydia? (Acts 16:14). But this man in question, trusted in his riches instead of God. And that’s the problem. His riches made him disobedient, never benevolent, never humble and willing to learn.
Verse 20-21 the account of a different man than the first - Lazarus, a man in need of love and care, scrounging for scraps the rich man would accidently drop from his table. This Lazarus, was laid at the rich man’s gate (they would typically beg for alms), to add to the shame he was covered in sores, on top of that, he’s starving for nourishment, so much so he’ll eat the scraps. Even the dogs have more mercy on him than his fellow man, his neighbor, the rich man.
Verse 22 -This verse is interesting because it tells us that Lazarus, the poor man, was cared for after his moment of death. But the rich man was left in the grave. It’s interesting because on earth the rich man was the one being served and cared for, but Lazarus was neglected.
Verse 23 - And while in the grave he found himself in the land of the dead, in the area in which eternal torment is found and experienced. And to add to his agony, he could see Lazarus now living in paradise, the realm, reality and location of peace, and care. Again, a reversal of circumstance has taken place.
Verse 24 - And this rich man now soberly awakened to his eternal demise, begs for mercy from God, and refreshment from Lazarus. He describes his punishment as agony, extreme pain. - Interesting to note, that this rich man who was used to having everything he wanted from his slaves, still now thinks Lazarus should be put to service. He’s still confused on this reality. He has no authority here. Lazarus is not his servant over here. He doesn’t get to have what he wants here.
Verse 25 - and so the patriarch of God answers his request in a negative form, to teach him this new reality he finds himself living in. During his physical life he could order anyone around, he had all the money and power. Living the good life, not worried about some sick bum begging alms outside the gate. - You see, the roles have been reversed. The rich man gave up eternal wealth for momentary riches. And Lazarus was now the wealthy one, the kind of wealth which never leaves his account dry.
Verse 26 - To add to his punishment, the patriarch Abraham reveals to him the seriousness of his situation. There is a chasm/a wall designed to separate those in torment from those in paradise. Interesting how even in the afterlife we see a wall separating the good from the bad. - Interesting to note that Abraham says “between us and you.” In torment you are alone. Yet in paradise you are among friends. And it would not be paradise if we could see our loved ones in torment, would it? Lazarus needed not be reminded of the rich man’s treatment on earth, nor punishment in the afterlife.
Verse 27-28 - Now the rich man tries to find a way to reach his relatives before they continue to choose the same path which led him to everlasting torment. And interestingly enough he still wants to use Lazarus as a means to this end. He knows his family members knew the poor man at the gate.
Verse 29 - the patriarch Abraham further describes the rich man’s inability to perceive the spiritual reality he now finds himself in. - Abraham tells this rich man that his brothers have the BIBLE, if they’d simply read it, study it, believe it, and obey it, they’d have more than what they need in order to stay away from torment.
Verse 30 - The rich man knows his brothers don’t care much for the Bible, Moses and the prophets therein. And so he further gives his last attempt in saying that if Lazarus appears in-front of them, a man risen from the dead, a man his brothers would recognize as having passed away. Then surely they’d repent.
Verse31 - But Abraham, wise in all spiritual truth, says to him that if his brothers don’t care to believe the Bible (Moses and the prophets therein, which speak of Jesus), then they wouldn’t care to see a man risen from dead either. How many people during the age Jesus walked this earth, saw Him heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and yet still never believed in Him.
How many today, during the age in which we have the finished, completed, fulfilled Word of God, the BIBLE, which can be read, investigate, proven, trusted, and obeyed,... will reject the information therein, for the reason, to remain in sinful practices and false religious beliefs.
An atheist once said, “if Jesus wants me to believe in Him He’ll appear before me now.” A Christian replied, “He did, and you crucified Him. Now what?” Many fish deny the existence of water.
For some, like the rich man and his brothers, they will never get it, until it’s too late. For a few, however, they will be carried away into paradise just like Lazarus.
What’s the difference between the two in this current age? Simple, the one who “believes and is baptized shall be saved. The one who doesn’t shall be damned.” – Mark. 16:16.
The one who trust in God enough to know that as a repentant believer he can have his sins washed away by the new birth, being born again, of water and the spirit, will certainly come forward for this spiritual occasion. The un-believer will not trust that Jesus will save Him the way He said He would. So this un-believer will continue to find other ways to satisfy his rebellion. Which one are you? Lazarus, or the other guy?
READ MT. 25:31-40
The rich man should have believed and obeyed this truth. He should have read his Bible, He would have know that the prophets preached this very faith. And now that you’ve had a window into the afterlife. If you are Lazarus this day, you believe in Jesus and want to be carried away by His angels when you pass from this life unto the other, then you need to be born again (Jn. 3:3, 5), immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38). Saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).
If you wish to do that now, please come forward as we stand and sing.
TEXT: Luke 3:1-20
THESIS: The Bible is the Source and System of law and power to make legal decisions and judgments. It reveals to us everything we need to know in order to be made right with God (redeemed, saved, forgiven, sanctified, productive & prepared), and how to worship Him in Spirit (the right mind) & Truth (the right doctrine).
THEME: Through the ministry of John who immersed people (aka “John the Baptist”), we can retrieve practical information to be practiced in our faith this day. Fruits of repentance and how that looks like.
The account of two sons, (Mt. 21:28-32)
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he repented, changed his mind about his rejection of the command given to him by his father, and he went and worked in the vineyard.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
Question, “which of the two did what his father wanted?”
That’s right, “the first.”
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Speaking of John, let’s go find him, shall we? (Luke 3)
The time & Source of John’s ministry (vs. 1-2)
Question, where should our Time & Source of ministry come from? Now & The Bible.
The Location of John’s ministry (vs. 3)
Question, where is our location of ministry? – Spencer, Marshfield, and surrounding. And here in this temple, church, body of believers. We have water for those who wish to repent.
The Prophecy of John’s ministry (vss. 4-6)
We Christians were prophesied of as well, “The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.” – Isaiah 62:2-3
And we see that prophecy fulfilled in Acts 11:26, “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
The Purpose of John’s ministry (vss. 7-14) – [elaborate on each verse]
Question, what is our purpose as Christians?
The Period of Johns ministry (vss. 15-17)
The Prisoning of John’s ministry (vss. 19-20)
We fulfill our ministry, life on this earth, productive for Christ. These earthly vessels we currently have will go back to the dirt. Our souls to the Maker.
Are you a sinner in need of forgiveness? What must you do? Change your mind, stop sinning and start working for Christ and His church.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith” – Eph. 2:8a
Paul the apostle writing to Christians, individuals who had already obeyed the gospel.
Grace is mentioned 156 times in the N.T. It is intelligently created and designed to set us free from the bondage of God’s wrath. And It is a word commonly used by Christians around the world. But do we accurately understand the depth of the word?
What grace is? Where can it be found? Who can receive it? How to obtain it? Can we keep it?
It is most important we comprehend these various categories pertaining to grace, “because certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped into the church. They are ungodly people, who pervert THE GRACE of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” – Jude 1:4
We don’t want to be found guilty of that, using grace as a means to sinful living and division. You see a fire can be used for survival, warmth. And it can also be used to burn the house down. “So, what shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” – Gal. 6:1-2
Grace, according to Scriptural description, within the contextual atmosphere, is a tool God uses in order to allow us favor in His sight. Approval and support. Favor that is not merited. We don’t deserve His forgiveness, and we can’t earn it. But His grace, this redemptive equipment He has freely extended through His Son, suffers it our way. “For even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.” – Eph. 2:5
Grace is presented to us in such a powerful way, that it can conquer any sinful practice and behavior. This instrument of compassion furnishes our ability for faithful endeavors. It is found in Christ, the sole location of our freedom. Whatever sinful thing you’ve done, or are doing, you can receive pardon for it. For “where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rom. 5:20-21
Grace is also personified in Christ, which acts as a teaching device. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (doing what?) TEACHING us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly (thinking right), righteously (doing right) and godly (God approved), in this present world;” – Titus 2:11-12
Unmerited favor found in Christ, for all mankind. Something you don’t deserve is bestowed upon you because someone died on a cross in your stead. This someone purposely being Jesus, the predestined plan in which His blood washes retrospective to all faithful souls of the Old Covenant, and forward to all living under His Messianic stewardship of time.
So that takes care of the “what, where, and who.” But what about the “how?” How do we receive this grace? Since we can’t earn it with meritorious works. Since it is found in a specific God established location? Since all mankind can have access to it? How do I obtain it? How do I gain entrance into this designed and designated location in which His grace is found?
It is of most important knowledge that we honestly receive the understanding of inspired writ when it declares grace being in fellowship with obedience. This is key in our reception of His grace. Nowhere in the Bible will you find grace at odds with obedience. An honest student of the Bible will realize that James 2 is not contradicting Ephesians of the same chapter.
If we are to obtain the location of grace we must have an active faith. A faith that is not based on meritorious works but rather a submission, obedience, and service of love to Him who first loved us.
To know how to obtain His grace we must look into how people of the 1st century where able to receive it. Faith. Trust in Christ.
Paul the apostle speaking to Christians in Ephesus. Christians who had received the grace of God back in Acts 19:1-7. Had a very specific moment in which that event occurred and was recorded, and that very moment is when they became citizens of the kingdom of God, the church that belongs to Jesus Christ, the location where grace is found. How? When as repentant believers confessing Christ as their Lord and Master, were immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins.
The very moment every single mind in the Bible received grace was through their obedience, their faith in action. Not to meritoriously earn anything, but rather to please God and allow His Son to save their souls.
That is why Paul says there is but one baptism in Eph. 4:5. Because he knows that immersion in water is the very point in which a man is forgiven of sins by the power of Christ, made a Christian, added to the kingdom of God, “saved, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” – Titus 3:5
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5
Grace is the unmerited favor found in Christ, for all mankind. Something you don’t deserve is extended to you because someone died on a cross in your stead. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13. This someone purposely being Jesus, the predestined plan in which His blood washes away the sins of all who participate in obedience.
How? “When you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” – Rom. 6:17. The moment you let go self and put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27), born again (John 3:3). When you came up out of that water you were now found in the location of His grace, His kingdom, the Body of His Son Jesus Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN CHRIST:” – Eph. 1:3
And now free from the bondage of sin we must remain in His grace and not once again go back to our sinful ways, less we fall from His grace, because “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you go back to your old ways; ye are fallen from grace.” – Gal. 5:4.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” – Eph. 2:8-9
A repentant believer confessing Christ as his Lord and Master has nothing to boast about when submitting to the waters of baptism in order to be forgiven of his or her sins. Why is that? Because you haven’t “earned salvation through meritorious works.” You simply love Jesus and want the grace of God to give you peace and purpose in this life. Anyone telling you otherwise has been lying to you!
If you want the grace of God, you must be born again of water and the spirit.
Now if you’ve done that already but have wavered off the beaten path and find yourself outside the favor of God, you can come back this morning and renew your spirit.
Either, or. Please come forward and make it known.
IN CHRIST WE BREAK NETS
Text: Luke 5:1-11
Illustration: Two teams.
One has all the major players, top draft pics, trained and ready to destroy their opponent. Giants. Very intimidating. Many cheer them. Most love them. Millions follow. According to the world this team is the bastion of international pride. Breaking all the records.
The other team is the complete opposite, the underdogs. Nothing pretty. Nothing fancy. Certainly, nothing to be intimidated about. Broken. Needy. The world sees them as losers, fools. “Why would they even bother to try?” many would say. They’ve lost every attempt since forever it seems. No confidence. No hope. “We keep trying but nothing ever happens,” they would often express.
These two teams come to ahead and a war takes place on the ground. And would you know it? A tremendous upset and surprise takes place. The former “losers” achieve the goal, they win the prize and every blessing that comes with it. And those who tried to do things their own way, came home empty handed. Fell on the way side and never again were able to take the crown. But this team belonging to this coach, gathered many believers. Broke many records. So much so they needed to build bigger stands to accommodate the amount of people coming in.
WHICH TEAM (CONGREGATION) ARE WE?
Now, regarding Luke 5:1-11, context:
Thesis: The word of God is taught to the people, obedience to His word comes from a submissive heart. The result is productivity and growth for His Majesty.
Theme: Without Jesus, His teachings, and our obedience to Him. We shall never be spiritually successful in anything we do. We will not be provided for, we will lose our nourishment, decay and die. Empty nets for fishermen. Empty pews for our Lord. An embarrassing loss.
READ LUKE 5:1-11
When Christ is in the boat with us, we are successful. When Christ lives in our minds through His Word, we are faithful. When Christ is our head coach, the head of His church, we win souls for Him. When we listen to His words and obey them, we belong to Him. And He teaches us how to gather a people for His kingdom. For His purpose.
This congregation which belongs to Jesus Christ, is going to grow in great numbers. And it will do so because we will listen to His words and obey them. Even when we doubt, even when we are uncertain, in pain, going through health issues, or persecution. We will go out into the field and gather souls for Him. We will become productive and prepared. We will use the talents He has blessed us with, for His glory. We will not burry them. We will use both the digital realm and physical realm. We’ll talk to people in the community. We’ll invite friends & family. We’ll ask those willing, to study the Bible with us. And we will grow. Our faith will grow. And our numbers will grow. Because Christ will be in the boat with us, and His Words will instruct us. This faith heals all mended wounds, and division. It is the cure to a dying world.
And just as Christ was found in the designated area He so chose in order to extend His words and blessings. So, it is for us this day, we must be in the same boat. We must be citizens of His kingdom. Members of His body. Saints in the church (of) belonging to Christ. Jesus says “whoever believes and is immersed shall be saved.” If you are willing to believe in Him, repent of your past sins, confess Him as your Lord and Master, … you now qualify to be immersed in water with His authority in order to be saved. Born again. Washed. Forgiven. Out of that water He will add you to His kingdom, church. And there together, we in Spencer WI, shall be “IN CHRIST BREAKING NETS.”
The Widow & the Warrior
The Widow - (1 Kings 17)
- There was a coming famine in the land during the age of Elijah. No food, no water for several years. And during these times of drought the Lord provided for His prophet. The Lord sent Elijah to go live east of the Jordan, to a brook where water could be found. The Lord also provided Elijah with bread & meat in the morning and evening, through the agency of ravens.
- But there came a day when the brook ran dry. And the Lord commanded Elijah to go live in a place called Zarephath, where a widow (a woman who had lost her husband) would provide for him. Now when Elijah met this widow at the gates of Zarephath he asked her for water & bread. But because of the famine she said to Elijah, swearing on His Lord, that she only had enough nourishment for this one last meal which was to be between her and her son, and then they’d die of hunger and thirst.
- But you see, Elijah was there with the power and will of God. And this Source of power has the ability to provide nourishment, even when none seem to be found. And sure enough that widow never ran out of food and drink while a man of God was with them.
- However, later on in this account, the widow’s son falls sick and dying. She begs Elijah to intercede with His God on behalf of her son. Elijah does so, and the Lord responds by healing her son. She then says “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
- Curious how she would not have known that, earlier on. When through Elijah her nourishment never ran dry. We would think she’d have been sold on the power of God during the first miracle. But no, it took another.
- Interesting how we can do the same, living in this Christian testament. We see God answer prayer time and time again, yet lack faith in His provision the following day (i.e. we don’t have the money, we don’t have the time, we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the numbers). FRIENDS, WE HAVE GOD! We have enough of everything He so desires of us in His church.
- In all instances, PAY ATTENTION TO THE POINT, God saved the widow. She had been set free from the bondage of thirst and famine (starving to death), and also the bondage of loss for her child. She was saved by God through the agency of obedience, brought to her by a prophet. She received the nourishment (the word of God), and life (her son restored). And though she did not know this, Jesus would use her as an illustration when His time to walk the earth had come.
And now, the Warrior - (2 Kings 5:1-14)
We transition to the account of Naaman, captain of the Army of Aram, a great man, highly respected. A valiant warrior through whom God gave Aram war victory, but there was problem with Naaman. Naaman was a leper, he had leprosy, and so he was very sick and dying.
- And through the agency of a prophet, and providence of God, instruction was given for Naaman to obey specific orders, if he wished to be healed of the leprosy. He had to dip in the Jordan River, 7 times.
Of course, Naaman was initially furious at the conditions, but after a word from the Lord, he repented and did as he was told, and his health was restored. God saved the warrior. And though Naaman was unaware, Christ would speak of his account in the New Covenant.
And now we move forward centuries into the account of Christ, in...
- In this section of recorded witness (vss. 1-13), Luke writes of Jesus’ temptation taking place over on the Westside of things. Of course Christ conquers His adversary’s agenda. The Devil tried to use emotion and his own interpretation of the Bible to deceive and swindle the Anointed One, the Messiah. However the serpent of old failed miserably. And this account transitions to where,
We begin now reading vss. 14-16, And so this platform gives way to our portion of study this day, Christ returns to the North-side of things in the power of the Spirit. Folks have been paying attention to this man, the Nazarene. One who grew up in hard labor, not thought to be some-kind of eloquent and well versed scholar, yet respected as noble. But none the less Jesus persists in consistency with his attendance to religious people, places, and affairs. And so they grant him the opportunity to teach in their religious establishments. So He further journeys to Nazareth (where he grew up and was raised) to do what he purposed to do, reading the Scriptures on the Sabbath in the synagogue.
Vs. 17, In this instance the scroll (the prophet Isaiah therein) was handed to him for public reading. Well, Jesus receives the Bible, and finds His book/chapter/verse (if you will), because He has something to say to them about what the Bible says,
- Small excursion, practical practice in the application of this principle: Where did Jesus find His Source of truth? Both when dealing with Satan, and now these religious people? In the Bible! Question, where do you find your source of religious information? Dreams? Emotional experiences, (aka your “feelings”)? Perhaps Family members? Friends? Pastors and Priests? A man in white robes sitting at the Vatican? A man with nice shiny teeth and wavy hair on TV? Will you trust men with your eternal soul? Or be like Jesus, and trust the Bible? Food for thought, a challenge for your mind (free of charge).
Back to the text...
Vs. 18-19 Jesus here quotes a messianic prophecy about Himself. Speaking of One who would preach the gospel to all who are seeking spiritual freedom, the humble and honest! And just like the day of jubilee was a physical freedom from sin, in the age of Christ the spiritual shackles of iniquity and lawlessness would be broken with the obedience to this good news preached by His Majesty.
- “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” And the conditions to be met for entrance as citizens of this kingdom would be extended to all who love Jesus.
Vs. 20, This was an authoritative position seeking audience for teaching purposes, and those hearing were paying close attention to what He was saying.
Vs. 21, The Word of God transmitted through the agency of man, the prophet Isaiah, had now, that very day, been quoted and fulfilled. Christ Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One on the verge of teaching them the truth.
Vs. 22 now the people didn’t really understand the depth of Christ’ declaration, but they were all speaking well of Him and the accuracy of His words. So much so they even question and doubt Jesus’ upbringing in Nazareth as a simple carpenter’s son. He speaks like a well versed and seasoned scholar, so how on earth can this man be a carpenter, the son of a carpenter, from Nazareth of all places?
- Don’t you know if God can give us a mustard seed from Nazareth, it can surely grow in Spencer. Amen?
- They flatter Him none the less because these Jews think He’s quoting a prophet speaking of a Messiah that was going to come and release them from the physical oppression of the Roman government. That this Messianic prophecy would build an earthly throne in which they would have positions of secular influence and power. Similar in thought with His disciples in Matthew 18, “who then is the greatest in the kingdom?” Sizing their selfish wants according to the world’s standard of judgment.
Vs. 23, And so Jesus recognizes their vain praise and further states the fact that they would indeed wish to hear and see the things He said and done in other districts. The Word had been buzzing around about Jesus and these religious people wanted a piece of the cake. Thinking they had come to the wilderness to find a reed shacking in the wind. Not so!
Vs. 24, Jesus says this because He knows how they are going to act once He tells them gospel truth. “You’re going to hate my preaching, because it’s strong and true, it’s not what you were expecting to see and hear, and in turn you’re going to hate me for it. But I’m not in this ministry to pander my submission upon the rebellious. Rather I’m invested in it for all who will love Me by keeping my commandments.”
- Remember, Jesus is speaking to His people, religious people who belong to the household of God. It would be like Jesus standing behind this pulpit and telling you what he’s about to tell them.
Vs. 25-30, what was so offending, what triggered these Jews to violence against Jesus? Can’t you see? Jesus revealed to them that the Messiah they’ve been waiting on was going to be releasing the Gentiles. He’s telling them that God is going to release the Romans and all other heathens and pagans. And He did so with Bible evidence declaring God had saved the widow and the warrior, BOTH GENTILES, HEATHENS AND PAGANS! Very wise of Luke to record this account for the Greeks, don’t you think?
- These religious people the Jews, wanted to hear and see what Jesus was all about? Well, the Messiah provided. He told them the truth and He miraculously slipped from their murderous midst.
- When you preach the truth to Christians, members of the church that belongs to Jesus Christ, who have a misguided idea of the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and His apostles? When you preach to Christians who have a worldly understanding of what a man of God looks like, sounds like, and acts like? When you preach to Christians who have allowed their own emotions and idleness guide them? They’re going hate you. Our own people!
- This kind of approach and preaching of Christ is spiritually beneficial for two reasons, it gets rid of fake Christians in the assembly and it renews and strengthens into repentance those who wish to remain and grow. This kind of preaching is very hostile to idle cowards in the fold, but it is the breath of life and freedom and courage to all who love Jesus. The Widow & the Warrior.
The Jews thought the Messiah was going to come and release them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. And here Jesus says to them “I’m the Messiah, and the ones I’ve also come to free from oppression are the Gentiles, from their bondage in sin. I came to seek and heal the sick (the Gentiles), not those who think themselves already healthy (Jews).”
God saved the widow from Zarephath with water, and the Aramean Warrior with water also. You want to try and convince me this morning that God can’t save us with water? He can save you too this very moment if you so choose to love Jesus. Here are the very simple conditions.
- Change your mind, repent, turn towards God. Let go everything you think is so important. Everything you thought you knew about religion. Trust in Jesus, the God of the Bible, confess Him as your Lord and Master when He says you must be born again of water and the spirit, and live faithfully as a forgiven citizen of His kingdom, His church.
“Whoever believes AND is immersed shall be saved. Whoever does not believe shall be damned.” – Mk. 16:16
When you come out of that water, you are safe with God and His Son. You have His church as your family and system of support, priority, responsibility, fellowship, and comfort.
If you want Jesus to save your soul, He will make you a citizen of His kingdom, a congregation in which you see here this morning in Spencer WI. Not perfect, but serving a perfect Master.