Sermons from 2018 (Page 7)
Who’d be an apostle? In today’s passage Paul passionately appeals to the Corinthians not to fall for the deception of his opponents in the Corinthian church. They were teaching a false gospel using methods to discredit Paul that were clearly malicious. He ends by exposing them as “deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ”, calls them servants of Satan, and pronounces their final judgement by God. This is some of the strongest language used in any of Paul’s writings. He doesn’t do this to protect his own reputation. He is motivated entirely out of love for them, that they won’t be led astray from Christ. O that church leaders today would be as concerned for their people!
Without question Jesus was an enigma to most people of His day, and especially so to the religious types. He annoyed them, confused them, frustrated them, and angered them. He simply didn’t fit their boxes. And when He and His disciples seemed to have time to party and enjoy themselves, it was time for them to confront Him. In today’s passage Pastor Murray unpacks this encounter, showing that Jesus’ mission was not to revamp or patch up the laws of Moses, but to replace them with something totally new and better – salvation by grace – and all the freedom and joy that this would bring! This would be a whole new way of relating to God, and Jesus Himself is the key. Have you found this life in Jesus?
Paul responds to those who seek to undermine his apostleship by arguing that his authority comes from Jesus, that the weapons of his authority have divine power and that he is prepared to powerfully wield his authority in order to build up the church.
So often as Christians we can forget where we came from. We can start to think of ourselves as superior to those around us in the church and in the world. The author of the first gospel invites us in to his own story – where he came from – and here, as Christians today we are given a reminder of where we came from too. We are sinners who have been miraculously called by Jesus. The more we ponder this wonderful and God glorifying truth, the more our own foolish pride is stripped away and we are readied as a church to go to the same uncomfortable places that Jesus went in his mission to save humanity.
After 40 years the Israelites were nearly home. The long-awaited land of Canaan, promised 500 years earlier to Abraham, was just across the Jordan River. But first, there was a not-insignificant matter to be resolved concerning the land rights of women who had no brothers. Would they be able to share in the family inheritance? And if they did, what would happen to their land if they married a man from a different tribe? Clearly, sharing in God’s promised land was the ultimate priority for every Israelite. For Christians today our inheritance awaits, promised to us by God, not an earthly inheritance but one that is kept in heaven for us “that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). Are we just as eager to lay hold of this inheritance as we look to the end of our life’s journey?
Jesus is presented with a paralysed man. He sees his faith, but instead of healing him, as we expect, his first move is to forgive his sins. To claim to have the authority to forgive sin is a massive claim – a claim to divine authority. Jesus finally and emphatically proves he has this authority by conquering sin on the cross. And this has massive implications for us. Each of us, and all of our sin, is forgivable through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. But do we live as though our greatest need is the forgiveness that Jesus offers? And do we witness as though other people’s greatest need is to be forgiven?
These episodes remind us of Jesus’ true identity. They challenge us to think about what, and (more importantly), who, we are afraid of.
Israel is near the end of their journey from Sinai to the promised land. The have already conquered some of the lands to the east of the Jordan River and they are poised to cross over the Jordan and begin the conquest to take the promised land of Canaan on the western side of the river. Then some of the tribes make a suggestion which at first seems innocuous, but it has the potential to discourage the rest of God’s people away from pursuing God’s plan to enter the promised land. In our walk of faith, and we move towards the promised land of eternal life, there are similar temptations to compromise. We forget what we’re aiming at, what our destination is, and we fall short. Even when we don’t realise it, often our compromises discourage others. In order to reach our heavenly destination, we must beware of being too pragmatic (“If it works, it must be right!”) and instead test ‘good ideas’ against the clear instructions of Scripture. We must keep our eyes fixed on our eternal destination. And we must do everything to encourage others to get there too.
Many claim to want to follow Jesus but are unwilling to count the cost of doing so. Listen as we think about what must be left behind by those who want to follow Jesus.
Jesus told us to love our enemies, so how do we reconcile this with God specifically ordering the Israelites to annihilate other nations, as we have in today’s passage? There is no neat answer to this difficult question. But in this message Pastor Murray meets it head on. One thing we can be sure of is that God has not changed. And his abhorrence of sin means that his coming judgement of our generation is just as certain as it was for people 3500 years ago. The Christian life is an ongoing battle against sin and compromise. Holiness matters to God. Does it matter to you?