What Paul Thought About Easter

Romans 8:35-39

What is Easter all about?

Is it simply about bunnies, baskets, and boiled eggs? Is it about families, feast and fellowship?

Is it more about the new dress, the new duds or the new doo? 

Are you the religious type? Does Easter conjure up thoughts of the church service, cantatas, or plays? 

All the Gospels record the resurrection of our Lord, hence the gospel, the good news. If Jesus just died for our sins he would be another martyr, a name amongst many who have died for a cause. What separates Jesus the Son of God from all these false gods is He rose again and is at the right hand of God making intercession for us and waiting instruction to go gather His faithful.

But what does the death and resurrection mean for us? What does it mean for you personally? How has it, or has it affected the way you live?

Turn with me to Romans 8:35-39 and look what it meant to Paul.

Paul wrote this after he had met the living Savoir. You might think what’s the big deal about that? It’s not until the Holy-Spirit of God can convict and convince you of your spiritual deception that you can grasp what Paul is writing here. 

  • Paul the prodigy 
  • Paul was a passionate, persuasive, proponent of a false religion.
    • One that started out attempting to serve God in the effort of redeeming fallen man.
    • But became part of a self-serving, self-righteous ritualistic religion that filled the lust of fallen man of serving God apart from God.
  • Paul was doing this in what he thought was the name of God. He was sold out, he was serious.
    • He was seriously wrong.
  • The book of Acts detail his encounter with the living Christ on the road to Damascus. In this recall he was struck blind, in the spiritual aspect of this; he wasn’t stuck blind but simply the true condition of his heart was revealed.
    • We keep bringing to light how we see our condition but what have you really done about it. Why do we keep doing the same things expecting it to change us?
  • Paul the perplexed.
    • One can just imagine all the things that were going through his mind, those three days he was without sight.
      • How many he had delivered to torture even to be killed because they believed that Jesus was the Christ
      • How he tried to persuade all he could that Jesus was an imposter and those who believed in Him blasphemed the very name of God.
      • Suddenly finding out he was the blasphemer
      • How his heart must have broken to learn that he was the one doing damage to the name of the very God he said he served.
      • You might ask why God didn’t just kill him? He might have asked the very same thing. Why would God not punish him for all the evil he had committed in the pretense of serving God? How could God love him after what he had done?
    • Now your starting to get a picture of what Paul was writing to the Romans
      • Ro 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
      • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ
  • Paul the purposeful
    • What the resurrection means to you and me is the same it meant to Paul;
      • Unmerited favor with God. Grace 
    • Paul knew he didn’t deserve forgiveness, what he had done was unforgivable.
      • Paul knew all too well what he did deserve; eternal damnation where the fire is not quenched and the worm dies not.
    • Paul knew also he was experiencing unbelievable, overwhelming, abundant grace and it radically affected what he believed and how he lived
      • Paul knew what the resurrection meant to him
    • Grace is where God extends His love to us even when because of our own conceited pride won’t admit He exists.
      • Grace is where God extends His love to us even when we fight against him.
      • Grace is where God extends His love to us when we create our own way of serving Him and call it right
      • Grace is where God extends His love to us even when we refuse to extend it to others.
    • Because of grace I want to serve Him, yield to Him, follow Him
      • Tithing is not an intrusion on my lifestyle.
      • Being involved in the things of His church is not burdensome.
      • Trying to learn more about Him so I can please Him is not a chore.
      • Giving to His work is not an expenditure but an investment
    • You can choose to refuse God’s grace but you cannot prevent Him from loving you.
  • What the resurrection of Jesus means to the world is the re-righting of the relationship between God and man.
    • What Paul knew about the resurrection of the Son of God radically affected what he believed and how he lived.
      • Are you having a Paul-like Easter today?
    • You could be here today and think it’s too late, no way, God can’t forgive that. I am here to tell you on the authority of God’s Holy word, He will and He wants to.
    • You might be here today and know you have received His grace but have not been living in the realization of it. That can all change by simply committing your life to Him today.

Picture credit: https://libcov.org/christ-is-risen-he-is-risen-indeed/

The Fruit of Sin

(Genesis 4:1-7)

As we examined the creation of man last week we noticed we were God’s crowning achievement. From clay in His hands, to thorns in His side, right to the apple of His eye.

  • Grace inacted
    • The ending of the story was the best part. 
      • God moved in to rescue the wretched hopeless creatures who had fallen so low. He did so in grace.
      •  Salvation is always by grace.
    • Adam like the rest of us tried to cover up his shame. 
      • He and his wife made a covering of fig leaves but soon discovered that his own self-effort would not do in the presence of God.
    • God who had been providing everything they needed, provided them with a covering.
      •  Right there in the garden; a place that had known nothing but tranquility and security blood was shed for the first time.
    • They must have stood there horrified as they saw the animal slaughtered. 
      • Here is this thing called death.
      • Its life removed its covering taken and made theirs. It was the first dramatic illustration of the ultimate cost of Calvary. Sin is a radical disease and calls for a radical cure.
  • To save this fallen pair God acted in grace but He also acted by governing. 
    • In the garden there still remained the tree of life. 
      • To the rebellious nature it sounds as if God was worried for His own protection.
      •  In truth, the reason God forced the couple out and placed the Cherubim there to protect the gate was once again, our protection. 
    • If they had of eaten of that tree they would have lived forever in their sins. 
      • They would have become like the fallen angels, incapable of death forever locked in their guilt, their shame and the penalty of sin. 
      • It would have been impossible to re-right the broken relationship. 
      • Impossible to find repentance, but God in his infinite mercy and abundant grace protected us from ourselves.
    • One of the effects sin has had on creation is the distortion of the mind.
      •  Without the power of the Holy-Spirit we see up as down, left as right, Holy as hellish, righteous as rebellious. 
      • The first offspring of Adam and Eve reveal that caricature. 

In chapter (4:1-7) We see the root of sin producing the fruit of sin.

  • A man
    • Eve thinks she has delivered the Christ. God had already promised a seed that would bruise the serpents head. It shows that they had not yet learned the depth of sins pit.
      •  It takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer then you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.
    • It is apparent these two boys were brought up knowing of God and sin and the whole garden scene.
      •  The bible says in (Heb 11:4) By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
      • (Ro 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    • In verse 3 “ Cain brought” is the idea of an appointed place. It would indicate they had been instructed.
      • As we look at this account lets us remember they are without excuse. Though it is not wrote down for us to see it is apparent that over time they had been introduced to what God expected.
  • A man-centered scheme. The bible says: (Pr 16:2) All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
    • God made the first sacrifice to cover man’s shame. 
      • We can figure since God spoke to Noah (Chp.9) and then told Moses to write (Le 17:11) For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
      •  It was the standard.
    • Cain ignored all that. 
      • He brought what he wanted to bring. To worship how he thought was best.
      • So began the philosophy that salvation had to be earned, that it had to be merited, purchased at the cost of one’s own effort.
      • Cain brought to God fruit which he labored over, toiled.
    • The notion that good works merit salvation is at the heart of every false religion on earth and in the heart of every cult of Christendom.
    • Though Cain’s offering was impressive and beautiful in its outward form,
      • It was founded on error and on willful disobedience to God’s truth.  
      • It is bluntly called by God “the way of Cain: and marked down as apostasy.(Jude11)
  • A man-centered sacrifice:
    • Don’t miss this. 
      • Cain’s offering was undoubtedly costly. It may have been more costly than Able’s.
      •  It was the result of toil, effort, hard work, persistence, and careful thought.
    • You could imagine, the most beautiful flowers, the sweetest aroma filled the air.
      •  The biggest, brightest, ripest fruit the earth had to offer. 
      • It was the best of the best. It was for God.
    • Cain did not come by faith, trusting and taking God at His word. 
      • He came on his own.
    • He was willing to worship.
      • But on his own terms. 
    • His plan made since to him. 
      • Couldn’t see why it would not be good enough.
    • The bible does not record any thought on Cain’s part that what he was doing was an offence to God.
      •  Not that he didn’t know but he justified it in his mind.
    • Just as the animal in the garden was a foreshadowing of the atonement of Christ that would cover our transgression.
      •  Every sacrifice was pointing to the sacrificial Lamb of God.
    •  Cain’s offering was the beginning of the world’s attempt to please God.
      • Doing it our way. Our time. 
      •  The giving of everything except self.
  • A man-centered satisfaction:
    • Cain could stand back and survey his offering with pride.
      • You can almost hear him. ‘There! That should please Him. That cost me a great deal, it’s beautiful. I have done my best, even God couldn’t expect more than that.
    • It was all wrapped up in what he thought God should want. 
      • Sound familiar? A lot like today
    • It was purely man-centered not God centered.( Pr 16:25 )There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
      • The difference between Cain and Able, between the religious and the real. Is not in the person themselves but in the object they trust.
    •  The one follows their heart. Their feelings. 
      • Derived from a mind stained by sin.
    • The other follows God’s word.
      • Accepts what and how God provides for them.
  • A mercy-centered plea.
    • Even after Cain chose to come his way God continued to pursue a relationship with him.
      • The bible says: (2Pe 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance 
    • God invited Cain to come the right way.(V7)
      • (Ge 4:7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
    • How many perish.
      • Not because God is not seeking reconciliation and offering The Way, but they refuse and instead hold to their way 
    • How many are paralyzed by sins strike and infect all those around them, not because God is not calling them back. 
      • But they refuse to repent God’s way. Instead, like Cain bring what they think God should want.

God’s inviting you today.

Sunday School 4/19/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

April 19th

Luke 15: 11-32

  • And he said, A certain man had two sons:
  • And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
  • And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
  • And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
  • And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
  • And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
  • And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
  • I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
  • And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
  • And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
  • And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
  • But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
  • And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
  • For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
  • Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.
  • And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
  • And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
  • And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
  • And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
  • But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
  • And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
  • It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Last week we talked about the parable of the “one little lost lamb” and the “lost coin” and how we should be rejoicing in the fact that we were once lost but now found and for “anyone” who is saved.  If you remember, the Pharisees were murmuring against Jesus for being with sinners, even eating with them.  Jesus continued to teach them using the parables, letting them know that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.  Even if it was someone the Scribes and Pharisees wouldn’t be seen with!  I don’t know about y’all, but I am very thankful that God doesn’t play that game. 

Jesus continues with his parable of “The Prodigal Son”.   Now, I’m sitting here thinking of how many different sermons and Sunday school lessons I have heard or read about this portion of scripture.  You can look at it from a lot of different angles.  But first, please read what Chuck Smith, David Guzik and John MacArthur have to say about it. 

So we so often hear marvelous sermons preached from the parable of the prodigal son, but rarely do we ever hear a message that really gives the true meaning of the parable, or the real reason for the parable. The reason wasn’t just to show the father receiving with joy a son that was lost, but the parable was used to show the Pharisees how wrong was their condemnation of Him when they said, “He receives sinners and eats with them.” They should have been rejoicing over it, rather than griping over it. – Chuck Smith

i. In each of the parables, the message to the tax collectors and sinners was clear: repent, come home to the father. The message to the religious leaders was also clear: be happy when the lost are found, when they repent and come home to the father. (Guzik)

Like the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, this parable depicts God’s joy over the salvation of the lost.  But while the first two parables emphasize God’s part in seeking sinners this third one, while touching on God as the seeker, focuses more on the human aspect of salvation – man’s sin, rejection, repentance, and return to God.  It is a dramatic, moving story of the sinner’s desperate penitence and of God’s love and eager forgiveness for such sorrow. (MacArthur)

Pretty much hits the nail on the head!  Not sure what else I can say.  Nevertheless, I will do my best to pull out a few nuggets to discuss with you.

Wasn’t Jesus the ultimate story teller?

Three Characters of the story

  • Younger son
  • Father
  • Older son

FYI: According to what I can understand, under the law, when someone had 2 sons, the older son got 2/3rds of the inheritance and the younger son got 1/3rd.

Well, the younger son (spoiled probably – I am the youngest in my family so I can say this) was not happy at home evidently, so he asked his Father to please go ahead and give him his inheritance.  He wanted to see how the rest of the world lived!  His Father, probably reluctantly, gave him what he asked for.  

Now, our Heavenly Father, does this to us sometimes, He gives us what we ask for knowing that we will be learning a hard lesson.   (reminds me of that song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”!)

Never paid attention to the fact that verse 12 says: and he divided unto THEM his living.  So I’m guessing that the father in this story kinda now had what we now call a “Life Estate” (continue to possess and use the property as a “life tenant” for as long as you live). Keep this in mind until we get to the part of the older brother!

Now can you imagine what the neighbors said? I’m sure news traveled fast about what was going on at the farm!

            Murmuring, Shame, Scorn, Disgraceful, Foolish, Dishonorable…..

It didn’t take the younger son long to get packed and get out of dodge.  He didn’t hang around home to spend his inheritance, he went to a far country.  

As MacArthur says “he wanted to sin beyond the range of all accountability, far away from his father and the villagers, who scorned him for his disgraceful behavior. His action symbolizes the foolishness of the sinner trying to flee from God, to whom he does not want to be answerable.”

And wasted his inheritance with riotous living.  He probably had a lot of “new found friends” to help him waste his inheritance.  But after he had spent it all, there happened along a mighty famine in that far country.  And he began to get hungry!  I’m sure all his new friends had all went their separate ways after the money run out.  Here he was, alone, and hungry. 

He was so hungry and desperate that he actually took a job feeding swine.  Now you know he was pretty desperate to do that.  Jews were not allowed to do anything that involved pigs! 

Now as he was feeding the pigs, he was so hungry that he was even considering joining the pigs for supper!

This being on your own stuff wasn’t as great as he had imagined.  He found himself bankrupt, empty, destitute, hungry, alone with no one to help him.  Can you imagine what was going through his mind. What am I going to do? I’ve really messed up this time. Oh if I could just go back to my Father’s house!  

In verse 17, scripture says, “He came to himself”.  He had an “aha” moment.

  • MacArthur says “the younger son’s actions picture the kind of repentance that can lead to salvation.  He came to his senses and realized that his situation was desperate.  He remembered his father’s goodness, compassion, generosity, and mercy and trusted in them.  In the same way, the repentant sinner takes stock of his situation and acknowledges his need to turn from his sin.  He realizes that there is no one to turn to except the Father whom he has shamed and dishonored and by faith, with nothing to offer, turns to Him for forgiveness and reconciliation on the basis of His grace.

Now, the younger son is thinking….if I was to go back home, my Father will hopefully at least let me be one of his hired servants. 

Verse 18-19 is his rehearsal speech to his Father. 

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.

I don’t know how long it took him to get back home, there is no telling how many times he rehearsed this in his mind on the way. 

Haven’t we all done this.  Rehearsed in our mind what we will say to someone.  It rarely turns out the way we had rehearsed it! This was no exception.

Verse 20 says… when he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

I love this verse.  This is a picture of what God does when we finally come to our senses and repent and come back to Him! 

In Verse 21 he tells his father what he has been rehearsing in this heart and mind.  But the Father was just so glad to have him back home where he belonged (verse 22-24) says that he told his servants: Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feetAnd bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merryFor this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  

  • Shoes on the feet were significant, because the slaves were never given shoes, only the family members, the son. Slaves were never given shoes by their masters. That is why in that old Negro spiritual that came out of the slave days, “You gotta shoes, I gotta shoes, all God’s children got shoes. When we get to heaven gonna put on our shoes.” I am not going to be a slave any more. I am a son. I am a child of God. And that hymn looked forward to that day when they would have shoes. They would be acclaimed the sons of God in that heavenly kingdom. That was just one thing about slavery, you never gave your slave a pair of shoes. – Chuck Smith
  • I thought this was interesting.  Most of the sermons or lessons you hear on this parable highlight the robe, ring and fatted calf.

Can you imagine what the Pharisees and Scribes were thinking at this moment?

  • How could he have just welcomed him back like that? 
  • He should have maintained his honor by refusing to see him. 
  • Make him wait for a few days in shame.
  • He should make him work to repay the inheritance he has squandered.

Probably thinking of all the rabbis’ teachings of that day that would have required such things.

But the Father!  Oh how he loved him.  He was watching and waiting for him to come home.  Can you just imagine him sitting out on the porch each day just hoping that today would be the day that his son would come back home.  He had probably rehearsed in his mind what his actions would be too.  And they were nothing like what the prodigal son had imagined. 

Finally, he sees his son coming!  He takes off running. Now that in itself was unheard of. Especially for a man of his status.  In order to run you had to gather up the long robe and in doing so, your legs were exposed, which was considered shameful. But he didn’t care about that.  He only knew that this, his son, was back home.

Did you notice that the son didn’t say the part about “make me one of your hired servants”?  He didn’t have to. Why?

MacArthur tells us why? “Because there was no need to work to earn restoration and reconciliation.  His father had received him back as a son.  He did not have to crawl back one day at a time into his father’s good graces, but was instantly forgiven, given mercy, and already reconciled.  The son’s reception is a true illustration of believers, who come in by repentance and faith directed toward God, pleading for His grace and forgiveness apart from works – and receiving full sonship.

Now the older brother (who had by the way, been home with the Father all this time, working the family farm, being obedient!) came home and asked what was going on.  When he found out, he was very mad and stayed outside and pouted.  His true feelings came to the surface. 

He should have been thrilled to see that his younger brother was back home, safe and sound. But he wasn’t.  He, of course, represents the scribes and Pharisees in this story and does a good job at it.  Jesus was good at casting the right person to portray them!  You ever watch a movie and say “gosh, they really play that part well”. Well, the older brother really played the part well of the scribes and Pharisees.  I’m sure they were really into this part of the story. 

The Father came out to see why he wouldn’t come in and celebrate, but I guess this was the breaking point of the older son.  He had probably been rehearsing in his mind for a while too what he would say if given the opportunity.  Bitterness can get to you after a while.

 There was a sense in which the older son was obedient, yet far from his father’s heart. In this sense he was a perfect illustration of the religious leaders who were angry that Jesus received tax collectors and sinners. “His story reveals the possibility of living in the father’s house and failing to understand the father’s heart.” (Morgan)

Wow! 

The problem with the older son was that he was lost.  He too needed to come back to his Father.

Verse 31-32 is the father’s response.

  • And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
  • It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Remember earlier we talked about the “life estate” that the Father had in the family farm.  He had dispersed it to his two sons but still had the right to live there.  “All that I have is thine”.  Remember, the younger son had taken his part, now the whole farm technically belonged to the older brother.  The older brother had been “working” the farm all this time.  He felt he had earned the right for his Father to throw him a party.

Isn’t that a picture of working for your salvation.  The younger son realized that he couldn’t handle this world by himself, he still needed his Father.  He came to his senses (realized that he was a sinner) and came back to his Father.  The older brother, of course, felt like he had earned his place with his Father. 

So, what can we learn from this parable?

Repentance?

Compassion?

Forgiveness?

Envy, Jealousy, Bitterness, Anger, Pouting?

Faith saves, not works

Remember that the whole 15th chapter of Luke is Jesus’s response to the Scribes and Pharisees after they were “murmuring” about his receiving sinners and tax collectors.  We should be thrilled every time a soul is saved.  No matter who they are or what the world perceives them to be.

May God help us that we will not have a Pharisaical attitude towards the work of God in receiving sinners, because maybe He is receiving them at some other church in the county rather than here. It doesn’t matter where He receives them. Let us rejoice that He is receiving them. Let us pray that God will send a great spiritual wakening throughout the county in every church. Let us not be so shortsighted and narrow-minded that we are only praying for God’s blessing upon Calvary Chapel, NEW HOPE. But let us begin to really pray that God will revive His church throughout this entire county and that sinners would be brought to Christ, that the Lord might receive sinners anywhere and everywhere, that there might be revival. – Chuck Smith

(I took the liberty to insert NEW HOPE!)

Ok, so, what did the older brother do? I’ll leave you with that question.  Jesus’ story doesn’t tell us.  So let me hear what you think happened?