Supplemental Sermon Stuff: A Look at the Origin of Satan

On Sunday, September 20th, we will be studying through Genesis 3 (which will be found at www.refugesanger.com/teachings), the chapter where we get our first look at Satan, also called the Devil.  Because there is just not enough time with the focus of the sermon to go into detail on the origins of Satan, this blog will attempt to add those details.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive look or theological textbook describing him, but one to give you additional information the sermon won’t give to help you in your knowledge of the Word.

In Genesis 3, we get our introduction to Satan.  Though the text does not tell us that the serpent is Satan, the rest of the Bible does let us know this (Revelation 12:9 & Revelation 20:2 are two such verses).  The name “Satan” means “accuser” or “adversary” and we see that name used in Job 1:6 & Job 2:17.  The term “devil” means “slanderer”.  He is also called “the dragon”, “the old serpent”, “prince of this world” (John 12:31), “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “Lucifer” (Isaiah 14:12), and “Beelzebub” (Matthew 12:24).  Part of what he does now is stand before God as an accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10).  We know he is a real being (not just work of imagination as non-believers claim, which Satan is probably fine with being not believed) as even Jesus was tempted by him (read Luke 4)

Ezekiel 28:12-19 gives a prophecy regarding the king of Tyre but is referring to Satan (as we know the king of Tyre was never in the Garden of Eden).  In this passage we find out that he was created beautifully (might have even been the “worship leader” in Heaven due to his “timbrels and pipes”) but was cast out because iniquity was found within him.  Part of this iniquity was pride concerning his beauty.  But we also know, from Isaiah 14:12-14, that his pride caused him to think he could take God’s place and he sought to do just that.  Revelation 12:4 speaks of the dragon (Satan) drawing a third of the stars of heaven (representing angels) to the earth, and so many commentators believe a third of the angels followed Satan in his rebellion towards God.  So he went from Lucifer (“morning star”) to Satan (“accuser”) after he was cast out.  We know he is still allowed access to God’s throne to accuse Christians and he is a real being looking to destroy/devour Christians (1 Peter 5:8).  At the end of the age, however, he will be bound before the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:2) before being released after the 1000 years and ultimately thrown into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:10).

Now the question of when he fell and was cast out, we do not know.  It probably happened sometime between the time of Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 as angels were created beings made during the Creation Week and all was very good at the end of that week.  We do not know how long time passed between Genesis 2 & 3, but we do know Adam and Eve were used to God walking in the midst of the Garden so there had to be at least some time one can assume.

Satan is not God’s equal or even adversary, as he is just another created being and can only do that which God allows him to be able to do (see Job 1-2).  We as Christians are told not to fear him because He who is in us is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world (1 John 4:4).  We are told to resist him (1 Peter 5:9) and in doing so he will flee from us (James 4:7).  Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:11-20 to take on the full armor of God so we can stand against him as we are engaged in a spiritual war against the fallen angels.  Our place is not to argue with him or try and command him, but like Michael the archangel, say “the Lord rebuke you” and give it over to Jesus (Jude 1:9).

Conclusion: He tempted Eve in the Garden and continues to try to accomplish his will to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) in our lives.  We do not need to live in fear but rather need to understand we are in a battle and there is not neutral ground, so we must stay in the Lord, who desires us to have abundant life, and walk in the Spirit.  The devil cannot make us do anything, but he and our own flesh is too strong for us to try and battle against on our own and thus we need the power that is abundantly supplied in and through Jesus Christ.

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Laboring for the Lord

This past Sunday, as we studied Genesis 2:1-3, we looked at the need for us to have a day of rest (a Sabbath), the history of the Sabbath for Israel and how that correlates to our lives as Christians now, why church is on Sunday, and what the “ultimate rest” is for us (not working for salvation but resting in salvation by faith alone).  I mentioned that God designed 6 days for work and 1 day for rest, yet many of our workweeks are a 5 day workweek.  What do we do with that extra day off (normally Saturdays)?

We often use that day for yard work or taking kids to their sports games or doing shopping or many of the other activities we do or need to use Saturday to get caught up on.  None of those things are wrong.  But how can we also use that extra time to labor for the Lord?  Well some of the things are vitally important and you don’t need to leave your house to do it.

First, prayer.  When was the last time you spent a good deal of time praying for your lost friends and family, praying for your local church body, your pastor, the lost in your community, missionaries abroad, opportunities for ministry, etc?  We can labor and fight in prayer as that is one of the most important things we can do and one of the most powerful.  As a pastor, I love to hear people are praying for me because it goes far, believe me.  So take some time, block off your calendar, grab your husband/wife/friend and just pray for those things that you may not normally pray for.  Battles are first won in prayer so labor there.

Second, set aside time to serve.  That can be taking your family to volunteer at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen, volunteering to help clean the church (if you have a building), inviting people to go out witnessing with you, or a host of other things.  Will it mess up a Saturday you just wanted to rest?  Probably, but you hopefully have one full day you’ve set aside for rest and communion with the Lord (many that is Sunday of going to church and resting afterwards).  It’s not that we don’t have time to serve the Lord, it’s often that we don’t make the time and consume ourselves with ourselves.  Am I saying every Saturday should be a service project and you can’t have vacation time or kid time or anything like that?  Certainly not, but overall, do we find time to serve the Lord or are our weekends only about us?

Another way to labor for the Lord – call a fellow Christian brother or sister, maybe even one you haven’t seen in a while, and talk with them on the phone or go meet them for coffee.  Use the gifts God has given you to edify them and build them up.  It doesn’t have to feel like a burden to serve the Lord nor does it have to be “hard”.

Husbands, you can serve the Lord by letting your wife simply rest while you do the laundry and the dishes or whatever other household chore your wife does (hopefully you are BOTH doing work around the house).  Not only will this benefit your marriage and romantic life, but it can be serving the Lord if you are doing it “unto the Lord” because you serving Him through serving her.

These are just a few ways to spend that extra time you have off from a “paying job” to do work for the Lord which in itself is paying, but in ways that manifest themselves here on this earth, but more so in the life to come as we store up treasures in Heaven!

This blog post comes from further thoughts of the sermon on Genesis 2:1-3  titled “Rest Assured Rest Given” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings.  We are also on iTunes – search “Refuge Sanger” or “Pastor Mike Massey” to find our messages.

Q & A from August 9, 2015 Study on Genesis 1:1-2

Q: If everything must have a beginning, where did God come from?

A: God has always existed – there was no beginning or cause for God.  To try and ask who created is illogical much like to ask “to whom is the bachelor married?” or “what does the color yellow smell like?”.  Those things that came into existence must have a cause but God has always existed.

Q: You named a few examples of scientific evidence for a young earth, one of which being human population growth – could you explain that a little further?

A: Certainly.  Scientists estimate that human population doubles every 150 years (which is a conservative estimate) and they say that human population started 10,000 years ago.  If this were true, if you do the simple math (and granted there are more complex things) the population would be: after 1500 years – 2,048, after 3000 years – 2,097,152; after 4500 years – 2,147,483,648; after 6000 years – 2,199,023,255,552 (already way more than we have now), and by today should be – 147,573,952,589,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 (even factoring in death, food supply, etc. it is hard to think we would still only have 7 billion today).  On the opposite end of that, it also shows that it isn’t hard to have the 7.28 billion people we have today from the 8 that survived in Noah’s ark after the Flood.  There are many other evidences for a young earth as well.

Of course as we talked about on Sunday, all of what you believe in how things came to exist comes from faith because no human was around when the universe began. So the atheist has faith in the Big Bang or whatever theory they hold to as the Christian has faith in God creating the universe.  The difference is that we have a risen Savior with plenty of evidences to show He rose from the dead and is God, as well as a Bible that is 100% accurate and 100% right in prophecy so we can trust it when God says “in the beginning God…”

Q: Please elaborate on the gap theory a little more.

A: The gap theory holds that between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, there was a fallen race (probably fallen angels) that made the world without form and void and so God started over in Genesis 1:3 so that is why the world could be billions of years old and yet the Bible still be right (that is the generalization of the gap theory).  It is one way Christians can make humanistic historical science fit with the Bible (and remember we talked about the difference between observational science and historical science).  However, the Hebrew grammar does not fit with it nor simple reading of the verses nor an average Hebrew reader looking at the Scriptures not to mention the Bible does not teach it.

Problem is that humanistic science will never fit with the Bible unless you want to say miracles did not and cannot occur (thus meaning Jesus never rose from the dead or be God to begin with).  You won’t “fit in” by holding to a billions of year old earth if you still hold to the resurrection of Jesus.

Q: Can a person believe in the gap theory or an ancient earth and still be a Christian?

A: What makes a Christian a Christian?  As Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  Not if you have perfect theology and understand all the mysteries of the universe, but if you confess and believe in Jesus.  Of course if one has doubts about the Bible and think they cannot trust the Genesis account, how can you trust your salvation as well since the Bible is what ultimately tells you the way to salvation.

Q: My kids all go to public school and they teach evolution as fact which goes against what the Bible teaches and what I believe – what can I do?

A: First, if you choose to keep them in public school then just be sure you are talking to them regularly about what is being taught and making sure they have answers for why the Bible is true and trustworthy.  In case of science type questions, one great resource is http://www.answersingenesis.org which has a great search tool of articles as well as a kids section designed for younger kids (in case the adult stuff is too complicated).  Also, check out “The Truth Project” if you can get your hands on the DVDs (though there may be some of the sessions on YouTube).  If financially possible, you could move them to a private Christian school (though you’d also still want to see what they are being taught and review with them) or even simply homeschool them as there is so much material out there now for homeschooling and widely accepted.  Either way, you the parent are responsible for raising your kid(s) in the fear and admonition of the Lord – it isn’t the governments job, the public schools job or the church’s job.  Believe me, it is far better to be active in your child’s life than to have both parent’s working to have luxuries in life.  They need us as parents and not our money or what we can give them.  Obviously, sometimes life calls for both parents to work to be able to support a family, but if both parents are working simply to have a nice house, nice cars, nice stuff and the children aren’t being raised in the fear of the Lord because the parents aren’t around as much, priorities need to shift.

No Need to Fear

“Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts…” – 1 Corinthians 14:1

Paul told the Corinthians church to desire spiritual gifts, that he wished they all spoke in tongues but even more so (within the gathering together) that they prophesied.  His words would be the same for us, that we would desire (have zeal to be given) spiritual gifts and would not be ignorant concerning them (1 Cor. 12:1).

Yet in the American church today, we often are ignorant of the need for all the gifts, do not even think of them, barely ask for them, or could not care less whether we have them or not.  This indifference is one of the reasons perhaps that we do not find the abundant life Jesus promised to give us.

But another reason we do not seek the gifts is because of fear.  We have seen them misused or abused or weird things associated with them (or read some blog post about the crazy things received when a person prayed to receive a gift that so-and-so heard from a reliable source who heard from a friend who read a story).

However, there is no reason to fear any of the gifts for three important reasons:

  1. Our Father is a good gift giver (Luke 11:11-13) – just as we won’t give crazy things to our kids when they ask for something, our Father won’t give us something that is harmful or unbeneficial when we ask for the Holy Spirit.
  2. Jesus was example for us of what the Spirit filled life looks like.  When the Spirit descended as a dove upon Him, He did not start to act bizarre or uncontrollable or anything of the sort.  In fact, we don’t see the early believers in Acts 2 do anything like that either.  In both examples, we see empowered lives changing the world.
  3. The gifts are for the profit of all (1 Corinthians 12:7).  God wants to give you a gift or gifts so that you can bless the Body of Christ.  He wants you to be an active participant in the “Christian life” not just one who sits in a pew (or chair) each Sunday and just receives.  He wants to use you!

If you have not asked for the Holy Spirit to empower your life today (or simply have never asked Him to empower your life period), make that your prayer now.  Ask Him to fill you so that you can have victory over the flesh, the world and the enemy.  Ask Him to empower you that you may be the light in a dark world.  Ask your Heavenly Father for any of the gifts He desires to give you that you can make an impact on the world for Christ.

There is no need to fear – unless you don’t want to be used for His glory, in which case you should fear what you will say to Him when you see Him face to face and you have to give account for your service for Him!

This devotional thought comes from the sermon series “Power On” found on our teachings page (www.refugesanger.com/teachings).  This series goes through the various gifts of the Spirit as defined and described in Scripture.

Questions & Answers from Power On Series

Time crunches, travel and other things have kept me delayed so let me answer some questions from the previous few studies from our Power On Series

Q: Are there lesser and greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31)?

A: Paul writes in that verse “But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”  The more excellent way he is going to talk about in chapter 13 is love and how if we aren’t exercising the gifts or living life in love, then there is an emptiness to them.  What does he mean to desire the “best” gifts though?  The Greek word that is translated “best” in most translations (higher or greater in some others) is the word “kreitton” which means “more advantageous”, “more useful”, “more serviceable”.  So Paul is not saying there are some gifts that are better than others but that there are gifts that are more useful or more advantageous at times than others.

Some examples: we will see this week in our study on Power to Speak gifts that Paul wishes all spoke in tongues but in the context of a church setting, that all would prophesy.  Why?  Well because without interpretation (which can be the case at times with the gift of tongues) a tongue is not going to minister to the assembled congregation as a prophecy would (by the way, come out to our service this Sunday or simply catch the podcast or listen online as we study what prophecy is).  Paul doesn’t say tongues are lesser but they are just not as useful in a church service setting as prophecy.  Or another example, you just had a horrific day and everything that went wrong could have gone wrong.  Those days you want someone with the gift of exhortation or gift of mercy to minister to you at that time rather than just someone with the gift of teaching or giving.  Helps is desired more than prophecy when work needs to get done.  In your own prayer time, tongues will be more useful than prophecy.

So desire those gifts that are most advantageous at times when needed, yet at the same time, desire spiritual gifts as we are told  Don’t put a qualifier or a limit to God in asking for Him to give you spiritual gifts.

Q: How would someone know whether something is natural or supernatural (like knowledge for example)?

A: Receiving a word of knowledge is something that you can only know by the Lord revealing it to you.  It does not come through deduction and is not common knowledge.  The examples we studied in Scripture show this.  Wisdom can be trickier in the sense that there are wise people who have collected wisdom through life and life experiences (and the book of Proverbs tells us we should all seek to gain wisdom) and the word of wisdom that comes supernaturally at a time when it is needed.  In either case, God is still the one who should be glorified, but the word of wisdom seems to carry with it something that goes above mere human wisdom (see Solomon in 1 Kings 3 or examples of Jesus wisdom we looked at in our study).

Q: Someone said if I had more faith, I would be healed or be able to do more – is there truth to this?

A: Often those teaching such things have a wrong view of faith in thinking that our faith is what commands God and many times these people put faith in faith.  But faith is to be placed in God and His kingdom and whether He heals or comes through in the way we want Him to or not does not change our trust in Him.  Everyone dies, even these who claim to have amazing faith.  If it just took faith to heal, we would not see death.

However, faith does play a role in our Christian walks and works.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God” the writer of Hebrews tells us (Hebrews 11:6).  Jesus spoke of not doing works in towns because of lack of faith.  But the false teaching that says you don’t have ______ because you don’t have faith is often wrong and very damaging.  If it is followed by a plea for money to “show your faith”, then fully discredit the teaching.

Q: What gifts are appropriate to be exercised in a typical Sunday service?

A: We will cover that this upcoming Sunday – at least in how we see the “typical” Sunday service.  But I will say this, God is unified and He does not interupt Himself.  If gifts are being displayed that are interupting other functions or there is not decency and order in ways gifts are used, then something inappropriate is going on.

To listen to the teachings these questions were posed from, visit www.refugesanger.com/teachings or find us as a podcast on iTunes. This teaching series is called “Power On” and we have covered many of the spiritual gifts found in Scripture as well as God’s Blueprint for the Church.

Questions & Answers from 6/14/15

Anyone can now text questions in during & following the service based on the sermon.  Those questions not answered after the conclusion of the service will be answered here in a Q&A blog post.  This is what this is.

Q: Would another translation for “ekklesia” be assembly, gathering or congregation?

A: The Greek word εκκλησια (“ekklesia”) is translated “church” in most places in the New Testament (ex. Matthew 16:18, Acts 2:47, Acts 5:11, Romans 16:5, etc.) though other places you can find it as “congregation” (eg. Acts 7:38) or “assembly” (Acts 19:39).  Its origin is from two Greek word “ek” (out of) and “klesis” (a calling) combined to mean “called out ones”.  So yes, it can be translated as assembly, gathering or congregation depending on the context of which the word is in.  Church is used in English translations to understand what it is referring to in those passages.  The church (universal church – Christians) are called out ones – called out from the world, called to serve Christ.

Q: How did the word “church” come about?

A: The Middle English word is “chirche” which came from the Old English word “cirice” which some say derives from the Old Greek word “kuriake” which means “Lord’s house”.  Thus our modern word “church” is formed (in fact Scottish churches you can find by the name “The Kirk” as kirk means church).  Now there are many websites out there that will argue how the word “church” is an evil term and how it was used by the Roman Catholic church to deceive people into thinking that the church was a building and not the people, thus so they could rule over them.  Perhaps so, but we know the early ekklesia of believers met together, had pastors/overseers teaching them, and an organization of some kind.  In fact Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that there are evangelists, apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints.  Like any language, words can change meanings over the course of time in a culture.  For example, the old English word for “donkey” is seen as a mild curse word now.  Our English word “love” can have many different meanings depending on the context in which it is used.  Regardless of how it started, the word church today continues to mean the people (believers) and not the building.  In Scripture it can also be used to mean a local gathering together (Romans 16:5).  So if one would rather use “assembly, congregation or called out ones” rather than the word “church” that is fine.  We can still call a building “a church” as there is not anything wrong with that, but “the church” is much more than any one building.

To listen to the teaching this question was posed from, visit www.refugesanger.com/teachings or find us as a podcast on iTunes. This teaching series is called “Power On” and is a sermon series on the Church, the Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts. These questions were related to the “Power On – God’s Blueprint for the Church” teaching.

Questions & Answers from 4/19/15

Anyone can now text questions in during & following the service based on the sermon.  Those questions not answered after the conclusion of the service will be answered here in a Q&A blog post.  This is what this is.

Q: In reference to John 17:23, how can the world know Jesus and God’s love through Christian unity if the world is opposed to God (see Jn 17:14)?

A: The world does hate Jesus, but the world cannot deny a unity that is different than what the rest of the world has to offer.  In the early days of the church, spies sent into the church reporting back to the government would talk about their “strange beliefs” but would go on to say they had a love for one another they couldn’t quite explain.  Jesus prays that the unification of the church would help the world to know that Jesus had been sent by God.  When people see true Christian unity and love at work, the Holy Spirit uses that to convict them and to interest them, because this pure unity and love is not found in the world.  It draws people to Christ and there are plenty of testimonies out there where people ultimately came to know Jesus because of the love they felt or saw between Christians.  There are plenty of things the world can deny, but they cannot deny seeing love and unity in action.

Q: If unity is such a game changer, should there be such a rift between Protestant and Catholic or between denominations?

A: The plain answer is “no” there should not be a rift if the different fellowships hold to the orthodox view of Christianity – that Jesus is God, born of a virgin, born of a woman, lived in the flesh, lived a sinless life, died on a cross for the sins of the world, rose three days later, and is coming back.  A rift has happened when other doctrines have crept in (we should pray to Mary, salvation comes by works, etc.).  If we are teaching salvation is by Christ alone and hold to othrodox views, we should be able to agree to disagree on other non-essentials of theology and seek to win souls to Christ.  The rift happens because we believe we are better than a certain fellowship/denomination based on practices we hold to or our non-essential views (eschatology, sovereignty of God vs free will of man, spiritual gifts, etc.).  We do not need to have one denomination or one fellowship (uniformity) in order to have unity.  I have unity with others of other denominations because Christ has given us that unity.  I can worship and serve with someone who holds to different theological viewpoints because salvation is in Christ, not on whether or not I believe the same way on non-essentials that others do.

Q: I try hard to be unified with another person but they continue to be mean/argumentative to me or treat me bad – what should I do?

A: Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  You can only do so much, it doesn’t promise the other person will treat you the same.  If the person is a Christian, even if they want to divide with you based on some theologial argument or because they just need to grow in grace, you are already united because of the work of the cross.  You continue to love them and live peaceably with them as much as you can.  Pray for them and let God change their heart.

Q: You mentioned the importance of reading the Word of God (because it sanctifies us) and stated that the average Christian reads less than 5 minutes a day and how we need to do more than that.  Is that not legalistic to state such things?

A: No, as legalism in definition means to rely on moral law to earn salvation rather than faith.  Reading your Bible 5 minutes a day or 5 hours a day will not earn you salvation nor lose you salvation.  It is not legalism to also state that as Christians we need to pray more and love more or to serve the Lord.  Your standing with God is not based on how much you read.  However, our walks and growth and daily sanctification is increased when we spend time in the Word, when we spend time in prayer, and these other activities.  Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by the truth for His Word is truth (Jn 17:17).  If you want to see that sanctification take place, 5 minutes a day in Scripture is not going to be beneficial for that.  It is better than zero time in the Word, but we should desire more.  5 minutes a day of exercise is helpful, but if you want to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle, you need more.  So the same is true of the Christian’s diet in the Word.

Q: Is it wrong to post selfies on social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.)?

A: It depends on your heart’s motivation.  If you are seeking to have your ego stroked or your pride lifted up, then yeah, because you are doing those things based off pride.  If you are simply having fun with social media, sharing a joyous occasion, or wanting others to see a new dress/outfit/etc., then have fun with selfies.  It all goes back to, whatever you do, do to the glory of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17,23).

Also in regards to social media, be careful of not causing another person to stumble.  Pictures revealing too much skin or pictures of you engaging in activities you have liberty to do so but others may not (i.e. drinking, watching a certain movie, etc.) or things of that nature should be carefully thought out as we should do things out of love for another.  We don’t have to worry about personal preferences of another but about stumbling someone into sin.

To listen to the teaching this question was posed from, visit www.refugesanger.com/teachings or find us as a podcast on iTunes

Questions & Answers from 4/12/15

Anyone can now text questions in during & following the service based on the sermon.  Those questions not answered after the conclusion of the service will be answered here in a Q&A blog post.  This is what this is.

Q: In John 17:3, it mentions eternal life.  Does this begin at belief or at death?

A: Eternal begins at belief.  Eternal life isn’t just a continuation of days but of an experiential relationship with Jesus Christ.  All souls are eternal and though our bodies pass away, our souls will either go to Heaven or to Hell for eternity.  Those who know and follow Jesus will not face the second death (Revelation 20:14, 21:8) which is the tossing into the lake of fire, where souls will be tormented (not burn up).  Jesus paid the price for all who will trust and follow (Romans 10:9-10) so that no one needs to suffer there.  Sadly, people reject this great news.  Eternal life is more than just going to Heaven when we pass on – it is a vibrant relationship that can (and should) be had now.  Jesus said He came to give life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).  We know in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and that in Him we can find rest (Matthew 11:28).  Our walk with Jesus is not meant to be a drudgery.  Will it be hard?  Certainly.  Could we be killed for it?  Absolutely, but it is more than just the rat-race that awaits the rest of the world.  It is a walk of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7) and one we can find true joy and peace as we walk in His will.  It may not always be “exciting” but it will be full of purpose and the other blessings that come with it.  Ephesians 1-3 gives us a great look at who we are in Christ and the many blessings that are found in Christ for us.

To listen to the teaching this question was posed from, visit www.refugesanger.com/teachings or find us as a podcast on iTunes

Do We Really Make Sacrifices for Jesus?

It is an easy trap to get into when we talk about how much we have sacrificied to follow Jesus and how hard life is after we gave up so much to follow Jesus.  Understand, we do give up things/offer things up to God in following Him.  In fact, we are told to “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15) and to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God because it is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

But sometimes, we esteem what we give up as something very high or very costly, almost valued evenly (or even above) with that which we are laying it down for.  In other words, we can make it seem like following Jesus is some terrible thing or that Jesus really got a deal when we chose to follow Him because of what we have “sacrificed”.

This past Sunday we talked about the crucifixion and how incredible the pain was:

  • How Jesus was scourged and how the metal balls on the end of the flagrum would cause deep contusions and the sharp bones also at the end would have torn into the skeltal muscles and produced quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.
  • How the nails into His hands (wrists) and feet near the nerves would have caused severe pain up and down His body resulting in severe cramping.
  • How He would have had to pull up on the nails in His wrists and push down on the ones in His feet to be able to breathe and how painful that was
  • How in breathing His back with all its lacerations would reopen as it scrapped against the rough wood

In fact, the word “excruciating” was created to describe the horrible pain of the cross as it means “out of the cross” in the Latin.  All this pain (plus the act of the world’s sins being placed on Him) He volunteered for so He could be our propitiation (substitute sacrifice).  He went through all this so that we could have life.

And yet we talk about all we go through for Him to which I say isn’t really sacrifice in comparison.  It is however, “our reasonable act of service”.

Getting up “early” to go to a church service is not a sacrifice.  Not hanging around friends who are a poor influence to follow Christ is not a sacrifice.  Giving of money to God’s work is not a sacrifice.  Not living in sin is not a sacrifice.

Suffering horribly voluntarily for the sins of the world and continually loving them in spite of all we do – that is a sacrifice.  Let us be careful how we use that word and how we relate what we give up for Him, because in comparison it is nothing.

You gave up sins that lead to death so you can find life.  You gave up friends who lead to corruption so you can be holy.  You give up a little money in response to all the riches He gives you now and in the life to come.  You give up a little sleep to hear the life changing truths of God’s word and be in fellowship with God’s people (as told we should do).  You gain far more than you could ever exchange.

So again, let us be careful of what we say are “sacrifices” for Jesus!

This blog post comes from further thoughts of the topical sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:2 and the crucifixion titled “The Crux of the Matter” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings.  We are also on iTunes – search “Refuge Sanger” or “Pastor Mike Massey” to find our messages.

Be reminded how much He loves you and why you can find life through His crucifixion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms1qU3TXDwI 

Light Cannot Fit In With Darkness

Ever been aboard a flight during the night?  If there isn’t any cloud cover, you can easily tell when you are flying over a city or open land.  Why?  Because of the lights.

Ever been in a movie theater and someone starts messing with their cellphone?  How do you know they are doing that?  Because the light from their phone in the darkened room quickly alerts you to the fact.

Light has a way of easily calling attention to itself.  Jesus has told us that we are the light of the world, a city that is set on the hill and cannot be hidden and therefore we are to let our lights shine (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ever notice how light doesn’t really fit in well with darkness?  If it did, it really wouldn’t be light anymore or at least not a very good light.  You wouldn’t want to use a flashlight that hardly produced light would you?  Or watch a movie where you couldn’t make out what was happening on the screen because of the lack of light?  Yet, we as Christians, who are called lights of the world (and the world is a darkened place), somehow feel the need to try and “fit in” and be like the world so the world will come to Christ.  However, we cannot “fit in” if we are shining lights because our light exposes darkness and the world does not like that (John 3:19).

So do not worry about being mocked for your faith or ridiculed or judged.  Jesus already promised it would happen (John 15:18-25 (and many other places).  Live out your faith and let the light shine and don’t spend your time worrying how you can fit it so the “cool kids” will like you and want to hang around you.  Love people like Jesus did, serve them like He did, but also know the world will hate you even in doing that because they hated him.

I will leave you with this 90 second clip that speaks perfectly to this thought: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZZqUonNIFs

This blog post comes from further thoughts of the sermon on John 15:12-27 titled “The Great Juxtaposition Paradox” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings.  We are also on iTunes – search “Refuge Sanger” or “Pastor Mike Massey” to find our messages.