Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We Are the Body of Christ

Part 4 of We Are the Church

Text: Romans 12:3-8

You can listen to this sermon here.

"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another" (Rom. 12:4-5). 

Church Is Not Optional

We’re sometimes guilty of downplaying our Christian duties. It’s sometimes said, “You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” It’s true that we aren’t saved by going to church, but there’s a clear statement in Scripture that says Christians must meet together: “not neglecting to meet together” (Heb. 10:25). So church isn’t optional.

Watching a church service on TV or the internet is not an acceptable substitute for being a part of a church. The Christian life is meant to be lived alongside other Christians.

Like Parts of a Body

The apostle Paul writes that the church is like a body, and the members of the church are like parts of a body. How are church members like parts of a body? 

1. As all the parts of a body are joined together to make one body, we all are joined together to make one church. 

Paul writes, “We, though many, are one body” (v. 5). We are joined together as one body because we are “in Christ” (v. 5). Faith in Christ unites us not only to Christ, but to one another. But when any group of people get together—even Christians—disagreements happen. We naturally have self-centered hearts. Paul writes, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (v. 3). It’s not all about “me.” The cure for self-centeredness is to remember the gospel—that God saves us by his grace through the death of Christ.

When Paul writes about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, he quotes Jesus saying, “This is my body” (1 Cor. 11:24). He then adds, “Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor. 11:29). The “body” in v. 29 is often interpreted as the church (i.e., the body of Christ). When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are to remember Christ’s death for us and we are also to remember that we are to act like Christ within the church (something the Corinthians weren’t doing).

When you start to look down on others, remember the gospel. When you become consumed with your own needs and problems, remember the gospel. When the concerns of others don’t matter to you, remember the gospel. When you are struggling to forgive, remember the gospel. When you start complaining about other people, remember the gospel.

2. As all the parts of a body have different abilities, we all have different spiritual gifts. 

Paul writes that we have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” (v. 6). A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to be used to help others. The apostle Peter writes, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10). We must have the heart of a servant, not the heart of a consumer. We shouldn’t really use the term “church shopping.” Don’t ask, “What can I get?” Ask, “What can I give?”

Paul adds, “Let us use [our gifts]” (v. 6). Paul said to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have” (1 Tim. 4:14; cf. 2 Tim. 1:6). You might say, “But I don’t know what my gift is!” Just do something. Eventually you’ll discover your gift(s).

3. As a body has one head, we all have one head: Christ. 

Many times there are power struggles within churches. This kind of behaviour is totally opposed to how we are to behave as Christians. The one who is our leader is Christ: “he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). The church is Christ’s church. He’s the one in charge. We follow him. And how does he want us to interact with one another? With humility and love.

We're Better Together

We might sometimes think that we’d be happier if we were on our own and not part of a church. But how could we use our gifts if we were on our own? And how could we benefit from others using their gifts?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

We Are the Bride of Christ

Part 3 of We Are the Church

Text: Revelation 19:6-8

You can listen to this sermon here.

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). 

The Big Day! 

We call a wedding day “the big day,” and Canadians spend a lot of money to celebrate the big day.

  • The average cost of a Canadian wedding (including the honeymoon) is $31,110. 
  • The average cost of a bridal gown is $1,716. 
  • The average cost of being a bridesmaid is $1,695. 
  • A destination wedding costs guests $1,500…and that doesn’t include the gift. 
  • The average cost of a wedding gift is $109; however, if the couple is close family, the price almost doubles to $200. [1]

There’s a wedding day coming for the church: “The marriage of the Lamb has come” (Rev. 19:7). The “Lamb” is Christ, and “his Bride” is the church. Why is the church called the bride of Christ?

Here Comes the Bride

Sometimes a metaphor can be taken too far. The church is not like a bride in every way. We are called the bride of Christ for two reasons.

1. The church is loved by Christ. 

Christ is “the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12). When a man loves a woman, he is willing to make sacrifices for her (e.g., time, comfort). The sacrifice that Christ made for the church was his life. The apostle Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25; cf. 5:2). There is no word that adequately describes the degree to which Christ loves his bride.

2. The church is to bring joy to Christ. 

The church is to be like a beautiful bride. One of the greatest joys in a man’s life is seeing his beautiful bride on their wedding day. Revelation 19:8 says, “It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.” The fine line is interpreted for us: “the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” Paul states that Christ died for the church so “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:26-27). [2] The beauty of the church is her righteousness and holiness.

Is Your Life Bringing Joy to Christ?

Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2-3). We desire to have “a sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” but we are often more devoted to other people or things. Thankfully, Christ doesn’t abandon us. He will keep his marriage covenant. But how can we be unfaithful to the one who died for us?

Is your life bringing joy to Christ?

[1] http://www.slice.ca/weddings/photos/canadian-wedding-facts/#!aaf4a67218ebe47626fbc7eb67064a67
[2] There is probably a link between Ephesians 5:27-27 and Ezekiel 16:1-14.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

We Are the Temple of the Holy Spirit

Part 2 of We Are the Church

Text: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

You can listen to this sermon here.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

God Is With Us 

First Corinthians was a letter written by the apostle Paul to a church located in the city of Corinth. Paul tells these believers, “You are God’s temple” (1 Cor. 3:16). In the original Greek, “you” is plural. Paul is saying that the church is “God’s temple.”

Why is the church called a temple? Before the tabernacle (the predecessor of the temple) was built, God said, “Let [the Israelites] make me a sanctuary [i.e., the Most Holy Place], that I may dwell in their midst” (Exod. 25:8). Why was the tabernacle built? It was built so that God could “dwell in [the Israelites’] midst.” In 2 Corinthians 6:16, Paul writes, “We are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”

God dwells in the midst of the church.

Paul writes, “God’s Spirit dwells in you” (1 Cor. 3:16). The church “is [God’s] temple; his Spirit dwells in the church, in each local church.”

Never Alone 

Have you ever walked alone in a forest at night? Everything is scarier when you’re alone in the dark. But as a church and as individual Christians, we are never alone. God is with us. Many times in the Bible God gives the promise of his presence to people who are afraid: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).

God’s presence gives us courage in the face of danger. 

Paul says that there are people in this world (sometimes even in the church!) who want to destroy us (“If anyone destroys God’s temple,” v. 17). How will God deal with a person who destroys a church? “God will destroy [i.e., eternally condemn] him” (v. 17).

The Walk of Faith

There’s coming a day when God’s people will be with God forever in heaven and there will be no reason to ever be afraid: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev. 21:3). The heavenly city will not have a temple “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22). Until then, we—the church—are God’s temple. God is with us. We can’t see him, but he dwells in our midst.

At our church youth group, we had a challenge called “The Walk of Fear.” It was scary because they had to do the walk alone in the dark, not knowing what would happen. We are not to do the walk of fear; we are to do the walk of faith. In every situation, God is with us to give us the courage and strength to face any danger.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We Are the Family of God

Part 1 of We Are the Church

Text: Ephesians 2:19

You can listen to this sermon here.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). 

What's a Metaphor?

In the NT, there are several metaphors for the church. A metaphor is “a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar” [1] (e.g., “The exam was a piece of cake.”) In this series, we’re going to examine four metaphors for the church. The church is (1) the family of God, (2) the temple of the Holy Spirit, (3) the bride of Christ, and (4) the body of Christ. In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, all four of these church metaphors are found (see 2:18-22; 4:11-16; 5:25-27).

The Church Is Not a Place 

We often say, “I’m going to the church,” but the church is not a place; it’s a group of people. In the NT, the Greek word that’s translated “church” is ekklesia, which literally means “assembly,” or “gathering.” A church building is where a church meets. [2]

When we think of the church as a building, there is the danger that Christianity becomes compartmentalized. When Christianity is compartmentalized, we “look at Sunday as the totality of the Church experience.” [3] But wherever we go, we are the church. Wherever we go, we are to take the love of Christ with us.

One Family

Paul writes that the Ephesian believers (i.e., the church at Ephesus) are “members of the household of God” (2:19). Why is the church called the family of God?

God is our Father, and we are brothers and sisters.

We find the family metaphor throughout Ephesians:

  • God “predestined us for adoption as sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ” (1:5). 
  • “Through [Jesus] we both [Jews and Gentiles] have access in one Spirit to the Father” (2:18). 
  • We are united because we all have “one God and Father” (4:6). 
  • Paul refers to other believers as “brothers” (6:23). 

Being called members of God’s family would give the Ephesians (mostly Gentiles) a sense of belonging.

Family Likeness

Paul writes, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (5:1). We are God’s “beloved children.” The Greek word for “beloved” (agapetos) was often used to describe an only child. God has millions of sons and daughters, but he is able to extend his love to each of his children as if he or she was his only child.

As children of God, we are to imitate him.

How do we imitate our heavenly Father? We are to be people of love. If it were not for God’s love (i.e., the giving of Christ for us), we would not be his children.

Family Responsibilities

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he writes, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). We all know that we have the responsibility of caring for our family members. As Christians, we also have the responsibility of caring for our church family.

As brothers and sisters in God’s family, we have the responsibility to care for one another. 

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). How can we care for one another? There are many ways: (1) pray for one another (instead of gossiping); (2) offer to help others (e.g., a widow) with a need; (3) invite people into your home.

Not Just Individuals

A church is not to be just a group of individuals; it’s a family. God is our Father, and we are brothers and sisters. When we leave our church building, we shouldn’t forget about each other until the following Sunday. We have a responsibility to care for one another throughout the week. 

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphor
[2] In the NT, “church” can refer to either a local church or the universal church (i.e., all believers throughout the world).
[3] Carl Jones, “When We Think of the Church as a Building,” http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/when-we-think-church-building

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

There Is No Middle Ground

Part 26 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 7:13-29

You can listen to this sermon here.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). 

Middle Ground 

Sometimes it’s good to take the middle ground. For example, in politics it can be helpful to take the middle ground between two extreme positions. But when it comes to following Jesus, there is no middle ground.

There Are Only Two Roads

Many people want to live in the middle ground (e.g., “I believe in Jesus, but I’m not religious”). What does Jesus say to people who want to live in the middle ground? Here’s what he says: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). In other words, there is no middle ground.

You’re either on the road that leads to life and the road that leads to destruction, so make sure you’re on the right road. 

People don’t like to hear about hell. But if there is a hell and it can be avoided, my conscience demands that I share the truth. It’s often said that Jesus—known for his compassion—talked more about hell than any other person in the Bible.

The Right Road

How do we make sure we’re on the right road? This is the most important question in life. It’s a question about our eternal destinies!

1. We must do a 180. 

When Jesus began his public ministry, he announced, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). To “repent” means to turn (i.e., do a 180 degree turn). To get on the narrow road, we must turn from our sin (i.e., repent) and turn to Jesus (i.e., put our faith in him).

2. We get confirmation that we’re on the right road by our actions. 

Notice the emphasis Jesus places on our actions:

  • “You will recognize [false prophets] by their fruits (v. 16). 
  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (v. 21). 
  • “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (v. 24). 

But we shouldn’t interpret Jesus’ words to mean that we work our way into the kingdom of God. We enter God’s kingdom by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9), but faith results in works (Eph. 2:10).

The Road Jesus Traveled

Jesus came to earth to go to the cross. He declared, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). “For” means “in the place of.” Jesus died in our place so that we could escape sin’s consequences (i.e., hell).

People often ask, “If God loves us, why do people go to hell?” There had to be atonement for sin. If God could simply overlook sin, why did Jesus die on a cross?

Life's Biggest Question

We often spend a lot of time thinking about lesser questions (e.g., "Will I have enough money for retirement?")

There is no question more important than “Am I on the road that leads to heaven?”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Grateful Heart

A Thanksgiving Sermon

Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God (v. 11). 

Gratitude List

Have you noticed that we’re good at noticing the bad things that happen to us, but we often take the good things for granted? (We often say, “That’s just my luck!” thinking we have an unusual amount of bad luck.) A good practice (not just on Thanksgiving Day) is to make a list of the good things in our lives (i.e., a gratitude list). When we focus on the good things, our perspectives will change.

God Is a Giver

The song “Count Your Blessings” says, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.” But it shouldn’t surprise us. Why should we have grateful hearts? 

We should have grateful hearts because God has given to us an inexpressible gift. 

The apostle Paul concludes his section on giving by praising God for the gift he has given us: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (v. 15). Human words are unable to express how amazing God’s gift is. And what is God’s “inexpressible gift”? It is Jesus (and salvation through his death).

“God loves a cheerful giver” (v. 7) because God is a giver. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32). People who see God as a taker don’t have grateful hearts.

The Benefits of a Grateful Heart

Being grateful has many benefits. In this passage, we see two benefits of having a grateful heart.

1. If we have grateful hearts, we will have generous hearts. 

Paul writes, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way” (v. 11a). Notice that he says we are “enriched in every way” not merely so that we can have more but that we can give more (“to be generous in every way”). Of course, God doesn’t enrich us with only material blessings but also with spiritual blessings. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Gratefulness for God’s grace produces generosity.

2. If we have generous hearts, others will have grateful hearts. 

Our generosity not only helps others; it also can result in people giving thanks to God. Paul says that the gift of money for the believers in Jerusalem “will produce thanksgiving to God” (v. 11b). Paul writes, “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God” (v. 12). God is glorified when we give. And doesn’t God deserve to be glorified? He has given us an inexpressible gift!

Gaining by Giving

We often think of giving as losing something (e.g., losing money, time), but we should really view generous giving as a gain. What do we gain? The joy of helping others and glorifying God. But we won’t see giving as a gain unless we have grateful hearts.

Every child of God can write a long gratitude list, and at the top of the list is God’s inexpressible gift!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Part 25 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 7:12

You can listen to this sermon here.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (v. 12). 

Can You Spot the Difference? 

When I was a kid, I liked to play Spot the Difference games. Sometimes it can be difficult to spot the differences.

How are followers of Jesus to be different?

We are to be different by being people of love. 

Jesus says, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (v. 12). That’s love, and it’s not easy. “This simple principle would by itself revitalize human relationship if people everywhere were to begin to live by it.” [1] “Others” includes anyone. Remember what Jesus said in 5:44: “Love your enemies.” People usually treat others as they are treated (e.g., if you insult me, I’ll insult you). [2]

It's All About Love

Jesus declares that doing good to others (i.e., being a person of love) “is the Law and the Prophets.” In other words, it’s the essence of the Law and the Prophets. “The Law and the Prophets” refers to the Old Testament. Later in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says that on two commandments “depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40). What are these two commandments? First, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (v. 37). Second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 39; cf. Lev. 19:18). [3]

If you’re wondering how you should act, remember one word: love. 

The apostle Paul writes, “The one who loves has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). Obeying God’s commands can be difficult, but knowing what we should do isn’t complicated. Love is the answer. Paul adds, “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8).

So Where Do We Get the Love? 

The word “so” at the beginning of verse 12 points back to verse 11, which says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” If I believe that God will graciously give me all the good things I need, then I “will have the inner freedom and impulse to live the Golden Rule.” [4]

Your Will Recognize Them by Their Fruits 

Jesus states, “You will recognize [false prophets] by their fruits” (vv. 16, 20). “Their fruits” refers to the way they live. Someone who knowingly is a false teacher lacks love. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22).

Can people spot the difference with you? Are you a person of love?

[1] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, 265.
[2] To love someone doesn’t mean we always have to accept their behaviour (see v. 5). Sometimes doing good to someone requires correcting him when he does something wrong.
[3] Earlier, Jesus had said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (5:17).
[4] John Piper, “The Spring of Persistent Public Love,” http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-spring-of-persistent-public-love.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why We Should Pray

Part 24 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 7:7-11

You can listen to this sermon here.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (v. 7). 

The Greatest Invitation

Imagine being invited to meet your favourite celebrity. We wouldn’t ignore that invitation. Every child of God is invited to enter God’s presence through prayer, but we often ignore that invitation. “The greatest invitation in the world is extended to us, and incomprehensibly we regularly turn away to other things.” [1]


Jesus invites us to pray by telling us to “ask,” “seek,” and “knock.” In the original Greek, these three words are in the present tense, which means that Jesus is talking about habitual prayer (i.e., keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking). Why should we pray?

God is our loving Father and will give us good things when we pray. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly refers to God as our Father. For example, Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name” (6:9). Generally, parents want to give good things to their children (like a father gives his son bread and fish, not a stone and a serpent, vv. 9-10).  Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (v. 11). 

Anything We Want?

Jesus says, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (vv. 7-8). Is Jesus promising that God will give us anything we ask for in prayer? No, though this is a popular teaching. [2] Grant Osborne calls this teaching “materialism made spiritual” and comments that it is “incredibly dangerous, indeed heretical, because it says we control God.” [3]

Only Good Things

The promise that Jesus gives us is that God will give us “good things,” not anything we want. We are often like little children, asking our Father for things we think are good but are actually bad.

God’s “no” is always a good thing.

God is perfectly good, so he always desires what is good for us. God is perfectly wise, so he always knows what is good for us. And God is perfectly strong, so he is able to do what is good for us. 

Prayer Works!

There are many biblical examples of people who were frustrated with prayer. One of these was the prophet Habakkuk. The book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet complaining to God about unanswered prayer: “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab. 1:2). Frustration with prayer is common. We don’t know exactly how prayer works, but what we do know is that Scripture promises that prayer does work.

When we pray, we must not forget that God is our Father and that he loves us and wants what is best for us. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

[1] John Piper, “Ask Your Father in Heaven,” http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/ask-your-father-in-heaven.
[2] Other Scripture passages used to support this teaching are Mark 11:22-24; John 14:12-14; 15:16; 16:23-24; 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15.
[3] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, 264.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Judge Not?

Part 23 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 7:1-6

You can listen to this sermon here.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (vv. 1-2). 

The Non-Christina's Favourite Bible Verse

It’s probably safe to say that the non-Christians favourite Bible verse is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” If you say something is wrong, a non-Christian will often reply, “Didn’t Jesus say, ‘Judge not’”?

Is It Wrong to Judge?

Is it wrong to judge? The answer seems clear: Jesus said, “Judge not.” But if you really think about it, when a person says it’s wrong to judge, that person is making a judgment (i.e., judging a person for judging).

Yes, Jesus said, “Judge not,” but when we interpret Scripture, we must always look at the context. In verse 6, Jesus says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” “What is holy” and “[our] pearls” probably refer to the gospel. “Dogs” and “pigs” are probably people who are only interested in mocking the gospel. Jesus is telling us to stop sharing the gospel with them. This requires us to make a judgment (i.e., to discern whether or not the people with whom we are sharing the gospel are “dogs” and “pigs”).

We should also examine what the rest of Scripture says about the same subject. There are several verses in the NT that tell us to judge between right and wrong and to correct another believer if necessary. For example, Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5; Phil. 3:2; Heb. 3:13; 1 John 4:1).

So what did Jesus mean when he said, “Judge not”? He was saying that there’s a certain kind of person who should never judge.

A judgmental person should never judge. 

Don't Be Judgmental

What are the characteristics of a judgmental person?

1. A judgmental person lacks honesty about his own sinfulness. 

Jesus describes a judgmental person as someone who tries to remove a speck from someone else’s eye while he has a log in his own eye (vv. 3-5). A judgmental person feels superior to others, but he’s a “hypocrite” (v. 5). “If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:2). A biblical example of a judgmental person is the Pharisee in Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

2. A judgmental person lacks a loving concern for others. 

If we need to correct someone, we are to do it as an act of love. We are to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). When someone sins, we are to seek to “restore [that person] in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1). “Admonition has a humility that says, ‘I love you enough to want to help you, and tomorrow you will need to correct me.’” [1]

How Can We Look Down on Others?

Jesus says, “With the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (v. 2). “The absence of mercy and love in the way we treat others will result in unmerciful judgment from God at the final judgment.” [2]

Someone who has experienced the mercy of God can’t be judgmental. We “were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). We were helpless and hopeless. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5). How can we look down on others?

[1] Grant R. Osborn, Matthew, 258.
[2] Ibid.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Faith or Worry?

Part 22 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 6:25-34

You can listen to this sermon here.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33). 

An Anxiety Epidemic

It’s been said that worry is “the disease of the twenty-first century.” There’s an anxiety epidemic in our world. People worry about the safety of their children, their finances, their health--the list goes on and on.

Of course, worry is not a new thing. It plagued people of the first century also. [1] To people who struggle with worry, Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on” (v. 25). [2]

The Antidote for Worry

The Greek word translated as “anxious” is merimnao. Sometimes merimnao “expresses an appropriate feeling of intense concern” [3] (e.g., Timothy was “genuinely concerned for [the Philippi-ans’] welfare,” Phil. 2:20). Other times merimnao “expresses intense feelings of anxiety about the issues of life” [4] (e.g., “do not be anxious about anything,” Phil. 4:6). This is the meaning of merimnao that Jesus has in mind when he says, “Do not be anxious.” [5]

Is there an antidote for worry?

The antidote for worry is to daily put our faith in a sovereign God who loves us. 

Faith can either be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the object of our faith. Faith in God is a good thing because (1) he is able to provide what we need (“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”, v. 25), and (2) he cares about us (“Are you not of more value than [the birds]?”, v. 26). We can “[cast] all [our] anxieties on [God], because he cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7).

The Irrationality of Worry

Worry is irrational. You can try to reason with a worrier, but worriers are immune to reason. (They’ll say, “I know, I know, but….”) Jesus asks, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (v. 27). [6] In other words, he’s saying that there’s no benefit to worrying.

Our Priority

Jesus says, “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (vv. 31-32). Unlike the pagan Gentiles, we have a heavenly Father who knows about our needs. They were filled with worry, but we are to be different.

Instead of worrying about the future, we should be doing what's right in the present. 

Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33). “First” means “above all else.” [7] We are to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (5:6). We can’t control the future, but we can seek to live righteous lives right now.

When the Time Comes

Worriers live in the future, but Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (v. 34). [8] When you catch yourself worrying about something, remember the phrase “when the time comes.” The worrier thinks, “What will I do when [something bad] happens?” God will give you the strength to handle it when the time comes. 

Remember that God is sovereign and that he cares for you. Trust him.

[1] Many first-century workers were paid one day at a time. Most lived from hand to mouth. If a man couldn’t work (e.g., because of illness), his family would have no money for food, drink, and clothing (D. A. Carson, “Matthew” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 171.)
[2] The words “Do not be anxious” are found three times in 6:25-34 (vv. 25, 31, 34).
[3] Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, 296.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Jesus was not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future or that we don’t need to work. God provides food for the birds (v. 26), but he doesn’t drop it into their beaks.
[6] Actually, chronic worry can be harmful to one’s physical health.
[7] Charles L. Quarles, Sermon on the Mount, Kindle location 5412.
[8] Jesus told us to ask our heavenly Father for our “daily bread” (6:11).