Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” As a Dad, I’m thinking about the seasons of life, because this is a season. My wife and I are very happy about the marriage of Julia and Derek, the whole process leading up to the wedding at noon on Thursday at the Brazilian Room in Tilden Park in Berkeley. What scripture teaches, they’ve done. It’s been wonderful. It’s better than the wrong thing. They’ve done everything that we’ve wanted them to do, and I have to report that I’ve been watching them. Everybody would know that I would be watching them, even if I’m trying to act like I’m not. Sometimes we call it, keeping your eye out. I appreciate the Wilhite family and Derek in particular for this. I’m thankful for Julia, because she’s wanted to do right. This has been a blessing to my wife and I. I haven’t seen anything that I’ve disapproved of. They’ve honored God in this. They have a few days to go, but it will be worth it. I’ve waited to say anything, but this is close enough that I think they’re going to make it a few more days. More than anyone, I want to thank the Lord, because it wouldn’t have been possible without Him.
[Julia and Derek were married on January 11, 2018. This was written before the wedding.]
I usually preach a goal sermon on this Sunday night, and I’m not going to do that this year, so I’ll write a brief message about it here. The word “goal” isn’t in the King James Version, but the concept is in many places, and normally I point to Philippians 3, because the concepts are there. The idea is within the content of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, when in Matthew 6:33, He proclaims the goal to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. How do we seek first the kingdom of righteousness? “First” communicates priorities. If someone is seeking the kingdom of God first, then He is putting the kingdom of God above other things, which means His goals revolve around the kingdom of God. In Ephesians 5:16 says, “Redeeming the time, for the days are evil.” We are trading in our time for something, redeeming it. The goal would be to trade in something temporal for something eternal, which gets a higher value out of life. In Philippians 3:14, Paul instructs to press toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The mark is the goal. The high calling of God is when believers are called up to the platform, like at the end of the race, to receive their reward, which is in Christ Jesus. Our goals should revolve around Jesus Christ.
Deadbeat dad. You’ve heard the term. Would anyone want to be known as that, a deadbeat dad? I don’t think so. Dads are supposed to take care of things, a lot of things if they are doing what they are supposed to do. Can men still be known as deadbeat dads if you take away their authority? I say, take away, but if men have authority, then they are abdicating their own authority. What is a man, who is not a deadbeat dad? What is he doing? Is a breadwinner? Is he providing? Is he taking care of things? I mean, really, we can’t have it both ways, can we? If he is not deadbeat, then he is providing. That means a man is the provider, and if he is, he should have authority as well. He can rule in a home. I don’t want to be a deadbeat dad, but I also want to get the credit for not being one, which will include authority. I have authority in my home. Our home is going to do it my way. That does assume a biblical way, but I can get that accomplished. God requires a man to provide. He should. He should be expected to. Along with that, He gets authority. What I see today is that men are deadbeats if they don’t provide, but they also don’t get authority. Let it not be.
How sure is the assurance of salvation? You say, sure. Others say, no one can know, which isn’t true. If you know, really know, why do you then need assurance? You know. You don’t need assurance when you know. If you know what the Bible teaches, which is all you can know about the assurance of salvation, then you know why assurance of salvation isn’t exactly like knowing that you’ve got shoes on, or something like that – the assurance that you are wearing shoes. How do you know you have shoes on? It’s not the same, but we know why from scripture, so that we can call it assurance of salvation. It is assurance as far as the Bible treats assurance, and the Bible is God’s Word, so it is the truth. God knows that if you had assurance while living in sin, you would live in sin. You aren’t promised assurance of salvation while you are living in sin. Someone living in sin might not be saved, probably isn’t. You don’t want an unsaved person having assurance. Assurance goes only to people who are really saved. They can have it. It is something that you have to embrace, assurance. You don’t have to be diligent to be saved, but you have to be diligent to be assured that you are. This is how God has designed it, and it makes total sense.
Thanksgiving was Thursday, so this probably seems like a bad time to talk about it, but maybe it’s the perfect time, since it was three days ago. Scripture says a lot about food and eating. Some form of the word “eat” is found over 750 times in the Bible. “Food” itself is seen 55 times. The more common words for the equivalent of “food” is “bread,” which is 361 times, and “meat,” 290 times. Israel was given dietary restrictions as part of God’s law for His people. With the knowledge of that, we should think that there is something helpful and practical about what we put into our mouths. It’s something we usually do every single day, and it gets a regular part of our attention. We can be wrong about eating, either what we eat or how we eat, which is why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” It says that the most mundane, common occurrences in our life should also be guided by the Word of God.
I was giving thought to my sincerity of thanks. I really do think I’m thankful to God and others, but I know I can deceive myself as to my motives. It’s ironic here, I know. Am I thankful or just saying I’m thankful? I want people to hear thanks, and it really should be meaningful, not just something that’s required after someone has done something, as a kind of leadership quality or request to keep doing more of the same. On the other hand, there is effort put into expressions of thanks, because we are really thankful and we want someone to know it, so we go out of our way to thank someone. The Apostle Paul says many times that he is thankful to those in his churches, the ones he evangelized and were saved. I know what it’s like out there, and I am really, really thankful for you. You’re amazing. I want more from you, but I also am very grateful. Of course, God has given us so much and we need to show Him our thanks in as many ways as possible. You have shown thanks to me and my family too. I’m thankful for your thanksgiving.
The Treasury of David records: “I think the death of the saints is precious in the Lord’s sight, because they are taken from the evil to come; they are delivered from the burden of the flesh; ransomed by the blood of the Redeemer, they are his purchased possession, and now he receives them to himself. Sin and sorrow for ever cease; there is no more death, the death of Christ is their redemption; by death he overcame him that had the power of death; therefore, they in him are enabled to say, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ . . . [I]n it he often sees the very finest evidences of the work of his own Spirit upon the soul; he sees faith in opposition to sense, leaning upon the promises of God. Reposing upon him who is mighty to save, he sees hope even against hope, anchoring the soul secure and steadfast on him who is passed within the veil; he sees patience acquiescing in a Father’s will – humility bending beneath his sovereign hand – love issuing from a grateful heart. . . . [I]t draws out the tenderness of surviving Christian friends, and is abundant in the thanksgivings of many an anxious heart; it elicits the sympathies of Christian charity, and realises that communion of saints.”
God created man to fellowship with Him. God had already fellowshipped within the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—but it was His will for more. Sin separates man from God. For fellowship, the sin must be eliminated. God provided for that through His Son. He made the condition faith. We must believe His Word, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ. I could say, “or Jesus Christ,” because you don’t believe in Jesus and not believe in His Word or the Gospel message. God must be believed, like Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto Him as righteousness. God will save those who believe though. Fellowship is regained through justification by faith. We have peace with God. The plan then is to go to be with Him in glory where we fellowship with Him forever. Again, this is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Fellowship, which will include bringing glory to God, is the purpose and plan, enabled by God, the condition, faith. Today we have that through the Word of God and in prayer.
The emphasis on the building for a church originated in Roman Catholicism. We know from the New Testament that congregations met in houses. We don’t read, if you meet in a house, that will be very bad and the church will never grow if you do that. However, today people don’t think you are a church or have a church without a building. If you meet in a home, to many that would mean that it isn’t even a church. There is pressure especially on young congregations to spend money on a building, so that it will look established, look solid – look like a church. Roman Catholicism takes a position on the Old Testament and the kingdom that treats the church like Old Testament Israel, which had a physical temple and priests. Roman Catholicism put more and more emphasis on the building. There is a different emphasis now more in line with the spirit of the age. It’s nice for a church to own property and have its own building. If it has one, it should take care of it in representation of the Lord and in honor to Him.
Paul wants to establish his apostleship at the beginning of Galatians, because his authority has been attacked by false teachers. They are preaching a false gospel and part of their strategy was to undermine the true gospel by assailing its messenger. In the very first verse of Galatians Paul wants to establish the divine quality of the epistle, and he writes: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” They were saying his apostleship was only human, nothing from God. Paul says it was “not of men,” in an emphatic repetition, “neither by man,” and then the contrasting, “but by Jesus Christ.” Paul makes a strong statement of the deity of Christ by contrasting Jesus from men as divine – not of men, but by Jesus Christ. If Paul was an apostle not of men, but of Jesus Christ, He is with great emphasis saying that Jesus is God. It doesn’t make any sense otherwise.