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The Gift of God’s Law

The title of the book of Deuteronomy literally means second law. Moses is reiterating for the people of Israel the commands of God. The nation left Egypt nearly four decades ago, an entire generation lies buried in the desert. And now it will be time for the people of God to enter and take possession of the land.

Before the nation enters the land, God will use Moses as his spokesman one final time. God will have Moses remind the people of the laws of God that the nation received when they were still children, fresh out of Egypt. For the first 3 chapters of this book, Moses reminded the people of their basic history. In chapter 4, Moses begins to point to the law. And what Moses has to say is beautiful.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 – 1 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

As God prepares to send Israel into her land, he points them directly to his word and his promise. He has promised them the land. But he has also shown them, as a people, how to live so as to be under his favor. And it all centers on the word of God.

Moses tells the people not to add to or take from the word of God. They are not to make up new commands, laws, or styles of worship that God did not command. They were not to adopt the religious practices and pagan moralities of the people living in Canaan. Nor were they to bring to the table new, fresh, never-before-seen ideas about who God is and how he is to be considered. They were to stick with the revelation of God they had received.

Neither was the nation to take from the word of God. It was not for Israel to enter the land and then ignore what God had commanded them about sacrifice, about marriage, or about justice. They were to worship as God prescribed. They were to shape their society as God had prescribed. And they, if they were to continue to be in God’s favor, were to keep his law without cutting it down.

As Christians who live under the New Covenant, we are not necessarily required to obey the laws that God gave to Israel about camping in the desert or the laws of sacrifice that were a shadow of the perfect sacrifice of Christ. But we would be fools not to see that the law of God shows who God is and what are his standards. God’s law teaches us about justice, genuine justice. God’s law teaches us about marriage and family. God’s law teaches us about God’s requirements for human sexuality. God’s law teaches us about God’s holiness. God’s law shows us that no sin has ever been forgiven without a substitutionary sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice—the sacrifice of Jesus—making atonement.

When God had Moses tell the people to keep his law and neither to add to nor take from it, God was showing the people that he had blessed them greatly. God had given them the information they needed to live as his people. This is a kindness from God beyond what we can imagine. God is not required by any external standard to let us know who he is or what he desires. God has every right to cast us into hell for sin even if he never tells us what sin is. But God chose to graciously reveal himself in his word. God chose to graciously reveal his worship, his standards, and his ways in his word.

May we never be a people who do anything less than treasure God’s word. Yes, from time to time we will need to examine Old Testament law closely to learn what is the timeless principle for today’s application. But there is such a thing. God’s law is perfect. God’s word is good. And we as the people of God love the law of God because that law reveals to us the God we worship if indeed we worship the true God. Never let any part of the word of God go. Never stop loving the word of God. Never change or twist the word of God. Let the law of God reveal to you our God and lead you to worship Jesus, the Son of God, who perfectly fulfilled the law of God on our behalf.

A Quick Thought on Biblical Justice

The word justice is being thrown around so much in recent days that I fear many have no idea of its meaning. So many sources present to us so many various standards for what is just, what is right, what is required. But how do we have the wisdom to speak of real justice, not a political ploy, but genuine justice?

Psalm 37:30-31

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

In my daily reading, I ran across the above psalm which I believe tells us something that we absolutely must not forget. There seems to be a person who speaks wisdom and justice. There seems to be a way to have God-honoring, God-pleasing justice just roll off your tongue. And in a messed up world where all sorts are crying for very different ends and declaring them to be justice, we need to know how to have that wisdom.

Verse 32 shows us what we need to know to get justice right when it says, “The law of his God is in his heart.” How do we find justice? The law of God is where we find justice. The holy, perfect, law of God is full of all we need to grasp justice.

It is tragic when Christians do not love the word of God. That word of God, Old Testament and New Testament, with its commands and wisdom is our only solid source for actual justice. God has told us what pleases him. God has told us how to treat each other with rightness and fairness. God has even given us an example of one ancient nation’s system of justice in all sorts of civil cases. And that standard teaches us justice.

So, today, when you hear a person call for justice, compare what they are asking for to the word of God. Are they asking for what God calls just? Are they treating others with God’s standard? Are they trusting God as the final and eternal judge? Are they seeking to please the Lord in obedience to his revealed will in all things? Is Their handling of the word of God in keeping with the clear commands and obvious principles of justice that flow from Genesis through Revelation and over every book in between?

Friends, simply put, if you want wisdom, if you want justice, if you want righteousness, you must find it in the word of God.

Shepherds’ Conference 2019 Final Session Notes

Session 14 (or 15 if you count the MacArthur interview)

John MacArthur

Faithful

1 Corinthians 9:16-ff

Verse 19

So that I may win more

As Calvinists, we underestimate the role that we play in God’s sovereign work.

Daniel 12:3; Malachi 2:6; Jeremiah 23:22; Proverbs 11:30; Luke 1:??,

Being used by God to win these requires two things:

  • An external, objective reality – the gospel
  • An internal, subjective reality

That internal reality concerns Paul in this passage.

The Corinthians were very interested in all sorts of freedom.

They wanted to be free to stay connected to their pagan culture.

The issue is not how free are you to connect to the world, but what freedoms must you give up to win some.

How eager are you to sacrifice any freedom to win some to the gospel for Christ?

Fleshly Christians are concerned with how much freedom they are entitled to.

Mature, godly, loving Christians are concerned with how many freedoms they may gladly set aside to make the gospel attractive.

Verse 19

I am free from all men.

Paul has no tradition he has to follow.

There are no non-moral expectations to which he must bow.

Paul says he has made himself a slave to all that he might win more.

1 Corinthians 10:25

Eat meat without asking questions.

But if they tell you it was sacrificed to idols, do not eat it.

Why?

For the sake of their conscience.

Imagine a pagan offering you food that had been sacrificed, but you have a young believer with you who just came out of that system and would be deeply offended If you eat.

If you must choose whom to offend, a pagan or a brother, offend the pagan.

I have made myself a slave to all.

I have enslaved myself.

I am a slave to God.

I am slave to everyone else.

Mark 10:44, slave to all.

Paul binds and enslaves himself.

He sets aside freedoms to win more, to save some.

Self-denial is key.

Three illustrations:

  • To the Jews I became like a Jew.

Paul did not offend Jews on purpose.

Acts 15:19

What do gentile believers need to abstain from?

Abstain from blood so as not to offend faithful Jews.

Acts 21:20

The Jews in Jerusalem thought Paul could cause a riot.

Paul willingly kept a vow at the temple.

Romans 9:1

Paul desperately wanted the Jews to be saved.

Romans 10:1

He wanted them to be saved.

Paul was not under ceremonial or traditional law.

He would be respectful of the law so as not to offend.

One God, one Lord

Some think idols are something.

Food does not impact our relationship with God.

But we do not want our liberty to become a stumbling block.

Verse 22, to the weak I became weak.

Romans 14 and 15, Paul speaks a lot about the weak.

Paul always seeks to save some.

Paul sets aside many freedoms to save some.

Paul tries not to use his freedom in any way that would offend a sinner.

Why is this important?

It works toward the salvation of people.

If you are asking for your freedoms, you are going down the path of uselessness.

Then Paul illustrates.

He uses athletics.

Isthmian games held in Corinth.

Had to show evidence of 10 months of training.

Then attend a full month of daily exercises.

Only after all conditions of training were met could you participate.

Many would be disqualified before the games.

Only one winner.

In the Christian race, there are many winners.

WE strive to be useful in saving souls.

]Vessels of honor and dishonor.

Flee lusts.

Two kinds of vessels.

Clay pots, chamber pots.

Fine china for serving the food.

Be a garbage can or be a plate.

Here Paul is talking about issues of freedom.

Run to win.

Meet the qualifications.

Those who hold tightly to their liberties will not win.

Verse 25

All who compete exercise self-control in all things.

How do you become a slave to all to win some?

Self-control

Selfish freedom lovers do not win.

Neither do grace abusers.

We do this to win an imperishable wreath.

Not a perishable one like in the games.

All things are lawful for me, but not all are profitable.

I will not be mastered by any.

Just because something is lawful does not mean you should do it.

Not all things edify.

Verse 26, I run to win.

Verse 27, I make my body my slave.

You win or you are disqualified.

Corinthians thought they could exercise their freedom with no consideration for others.

Paul sacrificed freedoms to win others and not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 10, Moreover

That keeps the subject of disqualification going.

A whole generation were disqualified in the wilderness.

Israel was a witness nation.

They were going into Canaan to represent the Lord.

All received deliverance from Egypt.

All were under the glory cloud.

All went through the sea.

All were delivered by blood.

They were all called out of bondage.

They were to tell and show the world that there is only one God.

They were baptized into Moses.

They were externally identified with Moses.

They were identified with God and his work.

We too are all united in Christ.

We are led by Christ to the promised heavenly land as New Covenant people.

God provided for them all.

Verse 4, they drank from the spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ.

Jesus made sure they were fed and watered.

OT deliverance was great.

Ours is so much greater.

With most of those in the OT, God was not well pleased.

Joshua and Caleb are the only two who made it into the land.

Numbers 14:16

HE slaughtered them in the wilderness.

They were disqualified.

603,550 were soldiers leaving Egypt.

If that is 1 of 4 or 5, that is 2.5 million bodies in the wilderness.

Verse 6, these things happened as examples for us.

We do not want to be disqualified.

Do not crave evil things as they also craved.

People run their freedoms to the edge because they are craving evil.

Verse 6, we should not be cravers after evil things.

Do not be greedy for the pleasures left behind in Egypt.

God judged men of Israel in the desert even as they ate the meat that God gave them when they had complained.

Liberty can be a cloak of maliciousness.

Four sins mentioned.

Verse 7, do not be idolaters.

Israel was barely out of Egypt, barely enjoying the freedom God gave, before they fell back into Egyptian idolatry.

Exodus 32:??

They made the calf.

They declared the calf to be the god who brought them up out of Egypt.

They were worshipping their God in a faulty and evil form.

Aaron said that they would have a feast to the Lord.

That was terribly blasphemous.

It is dangerous to make God in your own image.

They ate.

They rose up to play, perhaps sexual immorality in pagan rights.

The sons of Levi killed about 3,000 of the people that day.

The Corinthians were going back to idol behavior, getting caught up in idol worship.

Idol worship is libel on the character of God.

Deuteronomy 17:2-ff

Flee from idolatry.

Idolatry is sacrificing to demons and not to God.

You cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.

Idolatry is offensive and deadly.

Verse 8, acting immorally.

23,000 fell in a single day.

Numbers 25.

Verse 9, testing the Lord.

Numbers 21

How do you test the Lord?

Trying to get away with as much as you can.

How much can you get away with before he acts?

Verse , complaining

Grumbling

They were destroyed by the destroyer

14,700 people died for complaining.

That was a frightening death.

The death angel.

Killed the firstborn in Egypt.

Killed 70,000 at the census.

Killed 185,000 Assyrians.

Idolatry, immorality, testing God, complaining

These were an example to warn us.

We do not wish to be disqualified.

The lesson says that most in the Exodus were disqualified.

Freedom can be deceiving.

Live in a healthy fear of that.

Verse 12, Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Do not overestimate your spiritual strength.

You are not strong enough to take your freedom to the edge.

Pursue holiness.

Do not try to get as close to unholiness as you can.

Verse 13, no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man.

God is Faithful!

God can keep you.

God knows what you can take.

God always provides the way of escape.

He makes a way for you to stand.

You can never fall and blame him.

God is never unfaithful.

God wants to use you to win souls, to save some.

Psalm 124

Had it not been the Lord who was on our side, they would have swallowed us alive.

Morality Requires Belief in God

If you have studied apologetics or philosophy much at all, you likely have run across the simple argument that without God, there is no basis for morality. This is a simple argument, to be sure. But simple does not take anything away from its accuracy.

In order for us to see an action as right or wrong, good or evil, acceptable or unacceptable, there must be a standard by which this is determined. If the basis for this determination is subjective, totally based on the point of view of the one assessing the situation, then in truth, there is no such thing as right or wrong. Only if there is an ultimate judge, an ultimate law-giver or morality-maker, can we actually understand that what is right is really right because it is right.

In contrast, if we live in a materialistic and naturalistic universe, morality cannot exist in any meaningful way. If all you and I are at our cores are collections of chemicals that have randomly come together to produce the illusion of meaning, then there is no actual point to discussions of right and wrong. After all, there is simply no way to suggest that one random collection of chemicals dismantling another random collection of chemicals has any sort of moral value. We do not judge a rock as morally wrong if it falls and breaks another rock. WE do not judge the ocean as in sin for eroding the coastline. And thus, if human beings are mere matter, we have no moral basis for judging any action of humans, regardless of its level of destructiveness.

While this argument appears philosophically sound, a more important question arises: Is it biblical? Does God’s word reveal to us the truth that we feel we arrive at through simple reasoning? I thought of that in my daily reading, this time in the Psalms.

Psalm 36:1-4

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.

The wicked does not reject evil. Why? What is it that prevents the wicked from rejecting evil? What is he missing? What is at least part of the problem? Notice what the psalmist gives us.

At the end of verse 1, we see that a key to being evil is that there is no fear of God before your eyes. In verse 2, we see that the wicked deceives himself into the belief that no one can find out his wickedness. And I would suggest that these two thoughts fall perfectly in line with our discussion of a need for God in order for morality to have meaning.

In verses 1-2 of the psalm, a wicked person acts based on a pair of false beliefs. This person assumes that there is no God, no judge above him to assess his actions. Thus, the wicked person feels free to act according to his desires, uncircumscribed by an external moral standard. He believes that his iniquity cannot be either found out or hated by anyone who matters. At the end of the day, it appears that the wicked person walks easily into wickedness because of his assessment of the world that he will answer to no one for his actions.

No, this psalm is not engaging in the deep philosophical discussion of whether or not true morality is possible apart from a belief in God. But it does point us in the direction of an answer. The lack of acceptance of the existence and authority of God leads people to act in wicked ways because they fear no retribution for their actions from a judge who sees.

Now, it is also true that some men, claiming a religious faith, have acted wickedly. And it is true that some who claim no religious faith have behaved in ways that are consistent with good. But the key to our understanding is that it is only logically consistent for a person to find his or her morality based on the presence, existence, judgment, and standards of God as we find revealed in the word of God.

Shepherds’ Conference 2019 Session 13 Notes

Session 13

Steven Lawson

Faithful in the Pulpit

1 Timothy 4:13-16

Timothy is in a very challenging situation.

The church around him has all sorts of problems.

He seems discouraged.

He may be trying to pull back from controversy.

Paul will say to Timothy, strap yourself in the pulpit and preach the word of God; I’m on the way. Do not hold back on your preaching, that will make it worse. Preach the word of God and let the chips fall where they may. Better to be divided in the truth than united in error.

1 Timothy 4

  1. The Priority of the Pulpit

Preaching is job #1.

We do not know how to worship, pray, pursue holiness, do ministry, or anything else without the word of God.

Luther: The Lord rules the church through an open Bible in the pulpit.

Paul tells Timothy, until I can get there, give attention to the reading and teaching of the word.

Give your undivided attention to the word.

Get face-to-face with your preaching ministry.

Be always giving attention to the preaching of the word of God.

Take action.

This is a command.

No church will rise any higher than its pulpit is strong.

One out of every 4 verses in Acts is a sermon or the equivalent of a sermon.

In Acts 2, they gave themselves to the apostles’ teaching.

  1. The Pattern of Preaching

It matters to God, not only what you say, but how you say it.

None of us is free to reinvent preaching.

Lawson suggests that this passage has a regulative principle for preaching.

Public reading of Scripture, exhortation, and teaching

You cannot leave any of those three out.

Public reading: Read the text.

Give yourself to the reading.

This was a designated part of the preaching of the word of God.

Start by reading the passage of Scripture.

Start with that, and it makes a strong statement that this is the best thing you’ve got.

What is coming will come from the word of God and not from the culture.

The reading of the word of God is the only place we can claim infallibility.

The last sermon Martin Luther ever preached, he said that people are looking for power in all the wrong places. The power is not in relics or indulgences. God put the power in the Bible.

Exhortation and teaching

Spurgeon would read a chapter and then explain the text.

Then he would take just one verse and open it up and teach its theology.

Others say that the teaching is the explanation of the text and the exhortation is the application.

Either way, these are the component parts.

After you read the text, you explain the text.

Get to the authorial intent of this passage of Scripture in its context.

Get the theology, doctrine, instruction, principles.

Every passage of Scripture has theology in it.

Learn your systematic theology.

You will find that every passage of Scripture has theology in it from one of the major categories of systematic theology.

Teaching is emphasized.

Lloyd Jones says that preaching is theology that is set on fire.

Preaching is theology coming through a man that is on fire.

There should be no kind of preaching that is non-theological.

You cannot properly deal with repentance without the doctrine of man, the fall, sin, etc.

Read the text, teach the text, feed them from the meat of the word of God by pulling the theology from the text.

Exhortation: bringing it home to the hearts of the listener.

Connect the doctrine with their daily life.

Where do they live?

What kind of response do they need to make?

Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Bring the word with passion, urgency, fervency.

There needs to be a fire in the pulpit.

Fire gives off light and heat.

The light of teaching comes with the heat of exhortation.

If there is no passion, there is no preaching.

Sproul: Dispassionate preaching is a lie.

What is the difference between teaching and preaching?

Lloyd Jones: If you have to ask me the difference between preaching and teaching, it is obvious you’ve never heard preaching.

Read the text, explain the text, and exhort from the text with passion.

Edwards said that it is his duty to raise the affections of the listeners in proportion to the importance of the doctrine being preached.

Teaching instructs the mind.

Exhortation raises the affections, summons the will, and calls for a verdict.

Read the text, teach the text, and exhort with the text.

Then you move on to the next text.

It is very hard to try it any other way.

Study includes observation, application, and interpretation

We need to be persuasive.

Do not stop trying to persuade because you are afraid of being like Finney.

Plead and persuade.

If all you do is instruct the mind, you are not a preacher, you are a lecturer.

If all you do is heart and emotion, all you are is a devotional speaker.

And if all it is is your will reaching another will, you are legalistic. You are telling people what to do with no basis for why to do it.

The preacher addresses the mind, heart, and will

Verse 14

  1. The Perseverance of the Pulpit

Do not neglect the spirit gift within you.

Why say that?

Timothy was toning down and backing off.

Perhaps he was preaching less.

Paul speaks to Timothy like a father speaking to his son.

Do not neglect the gift within you.

What gift?

In this context, it is obviously a preaching gift.

We are in danger of this.

There has never been a time in the modern church when there is less preaching.

No wonder we are so weak.

We are neglecting, like Timothy, the gift of the preaching of the word of God.

The result is that preaching gets weaker.

Preachers get weaker.

Many preachers will not come close to their potential as preachers simply because they preach so little.

We need to practice preaching by actually preaching.

Whitfield said that the more we preach, the better we preach.

Create venues in which you preach.

Churches and congregations are getting weaker because they sit under so little preaching.

The plurality of elders recognized the gifting of God in Timothy.

Paul is calling Timothy to remember those who laid hands on him.

Who helped get you to the point where you are?

Remember them and do not give up.

You can’t back off now.

  1. The Preoccupation with the Pulpit

Verse 15

Take pains with these things.

Practice these things.

Hard verb to translate.

Attend to something carefully.

Resolve in your mind and be constantly thinking about something.

Pour your mind into this matter.

Preaching requires a total commitment of all that you have.

It does not take much of a man to be a preacher, but it takes all of him.

Paul does not lighten up on Timothy.

He gets more intense.

Be absorbed in them.

Be wrapped up in this task.

Preaching is not a side issue in your life.

Preaching should consume you.

Be totally given to this.

Be always absorbed in this, actively.

This is a command to take action always to be absorbed in these things.

This should dominate your thoughts.

You should be reading, anticipating what you will preach, praying for more light from heaven.

This is a demanding marathon to which God is calling you.

You have to throw yourself into this.

  1. The Progress of the Pulpit

Verse 15

So that…

Why should you be absorbed in this?

So that your progress, obviously in your preaching and all that entails, will be evident to all.

People need to think you are getting better.

They will be listening better and they will see you grow up as a preacher.

There should be no mediocrity in the pulpit.

Take pains in your preaching.

Get to whatever the next level is.

Be more precise, more persuasive, more penetrating, more succinct, etc.

You cannot be content with where you are.

Be grateful for where you are, but desire to get to the next level.

  1. The Purifying of the Pulpit

Verse 16

Pay close attention to yourself.

Preach the word of God to yourself.

Practice what you preach before you preach.

Apply the word of God to your life, thoughts, to all you are.

Your godliness is more important than your giftedness.

Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching.

Do not let up.

In all these things, persevere.

As you do this you ensure salvation for yourself and your hearers.

This is not about Timothy’s saved-ness or lost-ness.

IT is about sanctification, which is included in salvation.

Nothing can take the place of preaching.

Where are the preachers?

Where are the men of God who are lost in their message with no gimmicks?

Let us be those men.

We need exposition, not entertainment.

We need the unfolding drama of redemption, not a drama.

God has always promised to honor the preaching of the word of God.

God had one Son, and he made him a preacher.

Brothers, let us preach the word of God.

An Age-Old Ploy

When the king of Moab was unable to entice Balaam to curse the people of Israel, it seemed that the nation might be safe. After all, how great is it for Israel to be totally protected by God from outside attack? Thus, at the end of Numbers 24, it looks like the people of Israel are set up for a great success as they face down their enemies from Moab.

But Balaam was a bit more clever than all that. Balaam had to obey the sovereign command of God. He could not pronounce a binding curse over Israel. God was protecting the nation. But Balaam had another strategy. Balaam knew what to do to make Israel fail. Balaam advised King Balak of Moab, and they hatched a plan that still works against men today. Moses points it out a few chapters later.

Numbers 31:15–16 – 15 Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? 16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord.

Jesus also mentioned this in his letter to the church of Pergamum in the Book of Revelation, which indicates to me that it is a serious point that should not be forgotten.

Revelation 2:14 – But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

What was the trick? Balaam knew that God would not let him curse Israel. So, this evil man devised a simple plan. He would send Moabite women to seduce Israelite men. These women would lead the Israelite men into idolatry as the worship of Baal was tied together with immoral sexual activity.

Numbers 25:1-3 – 1 While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.

Note, this is not some sort of nasty, anti-woman indictment. There is nothing here to say that women are the temptresses and men are innocent pawns. It simply was the structure of that culture, these women, including priestesses of pagan idols, were able to entice the men who were leaders of Israelite clans. The men who fell into the sin were just as guilty as the women who tempted them.

But here is the key for us to consider. Sexual sin is deeply dangerous. This has always been the case in Scripture. And, strangely, though Christians talk about sex a lot in our modern culture, we so often seek the approval of the culture around us that we seldom speak the truth about the deadliness of rebellion against God in our sexuality. So, let me say it very clearly. Sexual immorality is deadly. To rebel against God in your sexuality is deeply sinful, self-destructive, and dangerous.

Is this true because God is a prude, all dull and anti-sex? No, that is not at all the case. God invented humanity, and thus he invented our sexuality. Song of Solomon, among other places in Scripture, speaks very clearly of the beauty of a sexual relationship between a husband and his wife.

What is true is that there is seldom a more tempting, more clinging, more personal form of fighting against God and his design than when we fight against his will in our sexuality. The drive is great. The emotion is deep. And once we have decided to compromise here, we will compromise in a variety of other areas to continue to have what we desire.

Christians, I will now say something that many are refusing to say. Sexual immorality is not just the same as every other sin. Many are teaching from pulpits that all sins, especially sexual sins, are equal, because they want to be seen as loving and not condemning. And there is a grain of truth in the notion. All sin is damnable. All sin separates us from the Lord God. All sin merits hell for being an infinite offense against an infinitely holy God.

But the Bible does not present every sin as just the same. Look to the beautiful law of God. A thief must pay back what he steals with interest. A murderer must be put to death. Those are clearly not equal sins. Paul talks about sexual immorality as being a sin that is uniquely personal in 1 Corinthians 6:13-20.

I’m surely not writing this from a position of superiority or perfection. But, I do need to tell the truth regarding this topic. God is clear that sexual immorality is uniquely a big deal. And Balaam shows us that sexual temptation is one of the most common ways that the enemy of our souls will use to draw us away from the Lord and into destruction. And so we must see this sin as uniquely a big deal, and we must guard ourselves with everything we’ve got even as we run to Christ for grace and mercy.

Shepherds’ Conference 2019 Session 12 Notes

Session 12

Michael Riccardi

Faithful in Evangelism

The faithful shepherd should be a faithful evangelist.

IT is the church’s commission. Matthew 28:19

Every member of the church is commanded by God to preach repentance for forgiveness of sin.

It is the command of Christ.

The genuine disciple of Christ follows Christ by spreading the net of the gospel.

It is the example of the apostles.

The apostles’ example is one of verbal proclamation of the gospel.

Acts is full of this proclamation.

The apostles were not at all confused about the mission of the church.

They preached.

It is the Scripture’s charge.

Paul told Timothy, preach the word.

Paul told Timothy to do the work of an evangelist.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

The love of Jesus fuel’s Paul’s evangelism.

Verse 14, the love of Christ compels us.

The beauty of the love of Christ sacrificed on the cross drives us toward evangelism.

Paul lists key theological realities of the gospel as the passage unfolds.

5 facets of gospel truth that magnify the brilliance of Christ’s love…

  1. The gospel is fundamentally a matter of penal substitution.

One died for all.

One died on behalf of all, in place of all.

This is penal, substitutionary atonement.

This is woven through the fabric of God’s word from the beginning to the end.

John 10:11, the shepherd lays down is life for the sheep.

Galatians 3:13, he became a curse for us.

1 Corinthians 5:7, he is our Passover lamb.

Leviticus 16, Jesus is the scapegoat, bearing sin and banished from the presence of God,

Isaiah 53, he is the suffering servant who is wounded on our behalf.

While we were helpless, unable to get out of our spiritual death, Jesus died for us.

Christ’s death is an effectual substitution.

He effects, brings about, exactly what his death was intended to accomplish.

In a real sense, the saved people of God died with or in Jesus on the cross.

The wrath of God can never again break over those who already died in Christ.

The elect of God will be saved.

They are those whom the Father has given to the Son.

The atonement was not a generalized sacrifice.

No, the death of Christ was a personal sacrifice.

Jesus took names to the cross.

He did not die for nobody in particular.

That gospel will drive you.

The love of Christ is not a general, potential love, but a personal, actual love.

  1. Transformation (sanctification)

Jesus does not only change our status before God.

He transforms our minds and our affections and our wills so that we willingly lay down our lives to live for him.

HE turns God-haters into delightfully willing slaves of God.

Jesus justifies us so that he can also sanctify us.

Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 5:25-27

Jesus is no half-savior.

HE will not fail to sanctify his bride.

He will not fail to cleanse us, not only from the guilt of lawlessness, but of the practice of lawlessness.

We must never preach a gospel apart from repentance and lordship.

There is no laying hold of justifying righteousness without also having sanctifying righteousness.

We preach no half gospel.

  1. Regeneration

WE are a new creation in Christ.

We must be born again to have any hope.

2 Corinthians 4:4; Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 36

Sin has pervaded our entire nature.

Our souls must be made alive in order to be saved.

In Christ, the grace of God is precisely what we need.

Verse 16, we know Christ no longer by the flesh.

WE no longer evaluate him by the standards of the flesh.

The essence of spiritual death is spiritual blindness to the glory of Christ.

Sinful man is repulsed by what is actually most glorious and delightful.

Sinful man loves darkness and hates light.

But God shines the light of life into the darkened heart.

This is just as when God set “let there be…” in creation.

He let there be light and life in our dead heart.

Then we can see sin as what it is.

WE can see Christ for who he is.

Then, with God-opened eyes, we turn from sin and cling to Christ in faith.

The first breath of the newborn soul is what we call saving faith in Christ.

Do not preach behavior modification.

Preach regeneration.

  1. Reconciliation

Verse 18-ff

God reconciled us to himself through Christ.

Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21; Romans 8:7

Those in the flesh cannot please God.

WE can do nothing to make up for how we have alienated ourselves from God.

While we were fully in rebellion against God, the Lord, the offended party, moved to reconcile us to himself.

Romans 5:10, we were reconciled while we were enemies.

Christ died, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that he might bring us to God.

It is special for a judge to enter into a personal friendship and relationship with the criminal that he forgave.

God does not just drop the charges against us.

He gives us access to himself as Father.

The cross of Christ overcomes the alienation between us and God.

The cross reconciles us to the God who makes heaven heaven.

Restored fellowship with God is the ultimate prize.

Reconciliation gets us him.

  1. Justification

Verses 19 and 21

The doctrine of imputation is here.

God does not count our sins to our account.

How can a perfect God not count our sins to our account?

He cannot ignore sins and pretend that his own holiness ought not be honored.

He must be consistent with his own holiness and justice.

He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

God can righteously not impute our sins to our account because he imputed them to Christ’s account.

God punished our sin in him.

Psalm 103:10, he has not dealt with us according to our sins.

Not only are our sins forgiven and our debt paid, we are also credited with the perfect righteousness that God requires for our fellowship with him.

God legally and justly treats us as if we had lived Christ’s life of perfection.

Romans 5:19, One man’s obedience constitutes us as righteous.

Jesus did not only die for our sins.

HE lived to provide our righteousness.

When you trust in Jesus, you lay hold of both benefits.

His death and his life are ours.

This is a blessed gospel

This is a great exchange.

My filthy garment is laid on him as his clean garment is wrapped around me.

God made himself the sin of men, and men are made the righteousness of God.

What is the consequence of this theology?

The consequence is not merely to get the doctrine right.

If we fail to proclaim this, we are hypocrites.

Woe be unto us if we do not preach the gospel.

Verses 18-20

God reconciled us and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

We are ambassadors for God.

God sends us out to speak the words of his reconciliation.

We are charged with the verbal proclamation of the gospel.

If you are reconciled, you will speak the word of reconciliation.

IF you believe, you will speak.

Do you plead with sinners to be reconciled to God?

This is not a cold, impersonal thing.