The Victorious Humility of the Last Adam

December 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Matthew | 8 Comments
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Lord, help us to accept our circumstances, which are ordained by You. Help us to learn truths which will be encouraging. Help us not to be pessimists, drudging along dreading each trial. At the same time, please help us not to be fragile children, happily hopping around when things are great, but losing faith each time You test us or try us. Help us to delight ourselves in Your statutes, and not to forget Your Words when everything around is yelling at us to depend on ourselves, and not on You. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

As people gathered to hear the message of John the Baptist, he called the religious leaders a generation of vipers.

And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Matthew 3:4-9

This should remind us to be humble. God can raise up stones to do what you do – and do it better. John’s humility made him reluctant to baptize Jesus, but he did it upon Jesus’s insistence. When he did so, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove. Not like a royal eagle and not like not a bird of prey, but a bird of peace, a bird of mourning, a skittish bird. The Spirit of God indwelling us may be made to retreat when we sin against Him.

The Adam of Genesis 1 and 2 was the “first Adam.” Christ was the “last Adam.” Both the first Adam and the last Adam were tempted by Satan. The first Adam had everything he needed to resist this temptation. He lived in paradise. In Matthew 4, the last Adam went alone into a terrible wilderness, subjecting Himself to 40 days of fasting. The first Adam lost his battle with Satan, but Christ won.

Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness with three specific temptations.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Matthew 4:3

This was Satan’s lie: “God doesn’t really love You, so put Your physical needs ahead of Your spiritual needs.”

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Matthew 4:7

Satan based this second temptation on a Bible passage:

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Psalm 91:11-12

His lie to Jesus amounted to “God’s Word isn’t really true,” but he omitted “in all Thy ways” when he quoted it to Jesus. It is very common for the devil to challenge God’s Word by trying to twist Scripture.

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Matthew 4:8-9

In the third temptation Satan tried to convince Christ to take the easy way – to adopt a form of “worship” that did not include service. It was as if he hoped Christ could be tricked into thinking He could abandon the Cross and still receive the glory. Beware of temptations that invite you to take a short cut around God’s will.

Two Kings

November 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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Our Savior’s name is “Jesus.” His title is the “Christ,” because He was anointed and sent by the Father. His description is “Immanuel,” because He is “God with us.”

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 2:1-2

Gentiles came to worship Jesus as King of the Jews, but the traditional manger scenes are inaccurate. The Magi arrived much later.

The Jewish people themselves did not recognize Jesus as their king. Herod the Great was called “king” because of the influence of Marc Antony on the Senate in Rome. Herod was a descendant of Esau, whereas Jesus was a descendant of Jacob. Esau was carnal and Jacob was spiritual. Esau was worldly and Jacob was godly.

Herod died in 4 B.C. and Jesus was born in 6 or 5 B.C. Jesus had a reputation of being “from Nazareth,” even though He was born in Bethlehem, because He grew up in Nazareth. Nazareth was a humble place, and this prepared Him for a life of humility. As a parent, your prayers for your children may be answered in their persecution and humiliation. Contrary to the cliche’ whereby it sounds noble to want your children to have all the things you never had as a child, there is no command in the Bible to give them all the things that we never had. Sometimes we perceive over-bearing parents as legalistic when in reality they are just preparing their children for adversity for Christ’s sake later in life. Will a child who is embarrassed to dress modestly ever stand up in public and proclaim Christ? Will he ever knock on a stranger’s door and confront him about the condition of his soul? Jesus “of Nazareth” was probably used to being looked down upon, scorned, and ridiculed.

Matthew Chapter 3 records the first information on John the Baptist. John the Baptist appears in the New Testament of the Bible, but he was not the first New Testament prophet. He was actually the last Old Testament (Covenant) prophet. I doubt he would be any more popular today than he was in his own day. As people gathered to hear his message, he called the religious leaders a generation of vipers.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Matthew 3:11

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 1:5

Lord, help us to turn away from our idols, and to turn toward You. Help us to turn our faces, and our feet, and our minds, and most of all our hearts, to You. Lord, turn Your face toward us. Draw near to us, Lord. We don’t say this lightly, for Your presence will destroy the unholy and the vain – the empty and foolish things which stand in places where only Your glory should stand. We make a dangerous request, Lord, for You are holy, but we do it with great trust in Your mercy, and in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

The Amazing Accomplishment of Fulfilled Righteousness

March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Matthew, Uncategorized | 23 Comments
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John the Baptist got his moniker because he was in the business of baptizing, but he was extremely leery of baptizing Jesus, the Lamb of God.

And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

John 1:36

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Matthew 3:13-14

The reason Jesus gave to John for insisting that he baptize Him is very interesting.

And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Matthew 3:15

Jesus wanted to be baptized because it was God’s will, but also because it served as a part of one of His greatest incarnate accomplishments: the fulfillment of all righteousness. You and I can hardly grasp this. As unredeemed sinners we were utterly incapable of any righteousness at all – and certainly unable to “fulfill” any righteous demands of God. Even as regenerate and redeemed children of God, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, we find it very difficult to truly initiate any righteous behavior because of the ongoing battle waged against us by our sinful flesh and the constant temptations of our enemy, Satan.

Christ the Lord, on the other hand, never knew the taint of sin, and yet consider to what extent He went to fulfill the righteousness spoken of in Matthew 3:15. Not only did He keep the Old Testament Law perfectly, in every jot and tittle, not only did He endure – and overcome – every temptation known to man and devil, not only did He bear the weight of our sins on cruel Golgotha’s hill, but He also fulfilled all righteousness by: going into the wilderness, in a state of physical starvation, to be tempted by the master tempter himself; healing multitudes of sick, blind, deaf, crippled, and otherwise afflicted folks; teaching the greatest truths ever taught; and other examples too numerous to be contained in all the books in all the world. Christ fulfilled all righteousness by ever-increasing acts of righteousness and obedience, even though He could never turn from His Own sin (because He didn’t have any) as an act of righteousness.

If you will believe the truth about Christ, and what He has accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection, you may receive not only the forgiveness of sins, but

[e]ven the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Romans 3:22

This imputed righteousness comes from a built-up account of righteousness earned and bought by the only One Who could have earned it. Such righteousness is as glorious to a fallen sinner as any treasure to be found in His riches in glory (Ephesians 1:18).

Discipleship Lesson 3: Baptism

November 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 17 Comments
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I. Why does God want me to be baptized after I am saved?

It is the first act of service in obedience to the Lord. Anyone can be baptized – it takes no special talents or effort.

Jesus set the example by submitting to baptism before He began His public ministry.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:13-17, emphasis added

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Mark 1:9-11, emphasis added

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:21-22, emphasis added

Jesus was baptized in obedience to God’s plan. The single most important thing about baptism sounds like two things, but it is really two-things-in-one: submission and obedience.

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:18

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:36-39

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Acts 16:25-33

These are all examples in the Book of Acts of people who were baptized after being saved.

II. What is my being baptized supposed to show to others?

Physical baptism is a picture of spiritual truth.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:1-7

Baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is also a public testimony of identification with Christ.

III. What is the requirement for being baptized?

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Acts 8:36-37

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:9-10

Baptism does not save anyone. The requirement for being baptized is the requirement of first being saved. The requirement for being baptized is believing in your heart that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, and confession that He is Lord and Savior. In the Bible Christians are baptized after being saved.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8:12

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 18:8

IV. What is Biblical baptism?

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:38-39

Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. So did Jesus.

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew 3:16

Baptism is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. No one is buried by having dirt sprinkled on them.

Baptism does not save (Ephesians 2:8-9), but it is essential for service and spiritual growth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

Baptism is right up there with teaching, maybe before, in importance.

V. Questions

A. Why should babies not be baptized?

They are not saved.

B. Why is sprinkling with water not Biblical baptism?

It’s not a picture of death, burial, and resurrection.

C. Where should the baptism take place?

In public (in front of witnesses), as part of a Christian church service.

VI. Memory Verses

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:3-4

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew 3:16

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Acts 8:36

Next time: Discipleship Lesson Four – The Bible

Turning Up the Heat – Part 2

March 26, 2010 at 11:39 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 4 Comments
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And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3

The Refiner in this verse is Jesus Christ. Previously we examined:

1. The position of the Refiner

This time we will look at:

2. The purpose of the refining

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3, emphasis added

The sons of Levi were the priests of Israel. They were dedicated especially to serving the Lord. From them the Book of Leviticus gets its name. Out of their ranks, the one high priest went into the place behind the veil, into the Holy of Holies. Those who serve the Lord in the most important ways, and who are closest to Him, must be especially pure. As a husband and a father, I am called in a special way to be especially obedient to God. I can’t be the husband God wants me to be or the father God wants me to be if I am not especially separated unto Him, and pure before Him.

Here are three pointers that I, as a royal priest, a servant of God – as someone who wants to be closer to God and to really get something out of the refining experience – will want to do. They have to do with obedience:

A. Obey immediately.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

If I see one of my children standing in the road, in danger of being struck by a speeding truck, and I say, “Move now!” – I don’t want a debate about the reasons for moving now. I want immediate obedience. There are many good reasons for attending church services, but the best reason is that God has commanded it. When God commands it, I do not need an explanation. Delayed obedience is the same as disobedience.

B. Obey completely.

And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 11:13

When I tell my child to sweep the floor, I do not mean simply sweep everything into a corner and leave it there. I mean sweep it into a dust pan, pick it up, and get rid of it. It is good to give out Gospel tracts, but it is not a substitute for verbally telling someone (preaching) the Gospel when God gives us that opportunity. Partial obedience is the same as disobedience.

C. Obey sweetly.

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

Isaiah 1:19

When I tell my children to pick up their toys, they often sulk while doing it grudgingly. Sometimes I am guilty of praying like it’s just a chore, or reading my Bible like it’s just a chore. Giving is a command – cheerful giving is truly pleasing to God. Grudging obedience is not really obedience. Obey immediately, obey completely, and obey sweetly.

One purpose of the refining is to make us more obedient, but the main purpose of the refining is the purifying. When the silver is heated, the impurities rise to the top. The refiner, who is sitting, who is patiently and attentively – even lovingly – watching, immediately scrapes off the impurities. This is called the dross. The dross is discarded – thrown away. This is similar to the symbol of the branches that bear no fruit.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matthew 3:10-12

John the Baptist pointed to the ministry of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I baptize with water, but He will baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”

We look at that and we get all excited. We tell people, “When you get saved, He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and you will be ‘on fire,’” meaning “fired up” or excited. Then the person who has been saved can’t understand why he’s suffering. He thinks, “God must be mad at me.” Or he thinks, “The devil tricked God, and took away my joy… If I could just find somebody to give me an emotional experience to make me feel better – somebody to laugh or cry with me… I need to feel something positive.”

Friends, that “feeling” is going to last about as long as it takes you to get to your car in the parking lot after a church service. As I’ve heard attributed to Martin Luther:

Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving
Our warrant should be the Word of God
Nothing else is worth believing

When we see where Matthew 3:10-12 is placed – in the middle of three examples of useless, nonproductive things – we can better understand its context.

The axe cuts down the trees which don’t bear fruit, and they are good for what? Burning. The winnowing fork picks up the wheat, and separates the chaff, and the chaff is good for what? Burning.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 1:3-7

Many of us are scared to death to have our faith tried. “Oh Refiner,” we say, “I think you made a mistake! The fire’s too hot! Get me out of here now – I’m purged, purified, and refined! I’m proclaiming my faith!” But the truth is our faith is on trial every day. What kind of faith do you have at home? What kind of faith do you have when you don’t feel like serving the Lord? What kind of faith do you have when the Holy Ghost says, “Your body is My temple, and you are taking My temple places – and putting things in My temple – that make Me uncomfortable?” Does your faith go into action in the form of obedience?

I have never seen the bank where I send my monthly mortgage payments, but I write a check to them (almost) every month. Because I have a fear of being foreclosed on and evicted. I have faith in that bank. I believe it exists and that it can do what it says it can do. Do I fear God? Do I have faith in God? My mouth talks, and my actions talk – but when it comes to faith, my actions talk louder than my talk talks. The purpose of the refining is a stronger faith and a true obedience – purified, refined, purged of impurities.

1. The position of the Refiner: sitting
2. The purpose of the refining: purified faith and obedience

Next time, let’s look at:

3. The product of the refining


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