A Graciously Good Father

A Graciously Good Father

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  1. God is good to the wayward child (vv. 12-24)

    1. God is good to the wayward by His generosity. (v.12)
    2. God is good to the wayward by His patience with them. (v. 12, 20).
    3. God is good to the repenting wayward child because of His compassion for them (v. 20-21)
    4. God demonstrates his goodness by graciously restoring the wayward son. (v. 22-24)
  2. God is good even to the self-righteous child. (v. 25-31)

    1. God is good to the self-righteous child by his generosity too. (vv. 12, 31)
    2. God is good to the self-righteous child because He offers compassion too. (v. 28)
    3. God is good to the self-righteous child by having patience too. (v. 31)
  3. Whether we admit it or not we are all wayward children.

This sermon originated from the pulpit of West Green Baptist Church in West Green, Georgia where Kevin Bounds serves as Senior Pastor. Did you enjoy the message? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, please feel free to like and share with friends and family.

Table Manners: Coming ‘Together’ for the Lord’s Supper

Table Manners: Coming ‘Together’ for the Lord’s Supper

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Summary of the Text:  In this passage, the Apostle Paul rebukes the Corinthian congregation for having divisions and factions, which were becoming obvious during the Lord’s Supper; a meal which should reflect the selfless attitude of Christ and the unity of the believers.

The thesis of the Sermon:  How should the church behave during the Lord’s Supper? The church should ‘come together’ in a time of self-examination during communion while celebrating the unity found in Christ.

Introduction: 

No East or West 

In Christ there is no East or West,

In Him no South ot North,

But one great fellowship of Love

Throughout the whole wide earth.

In Him shall true hearts everywhere

Their high communion find

His service is the golden cord

Close-binding all mankind.

Join hands then, Brothers of the Faith,

Whate’er your race may be! –

Who serves my Father as a son

Is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,

In Him meet South and North,

All Christly souls are one in Him,

Throughout the whole wide earth. 1

What a lovely poem about Christian unity! The audience of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians would, more than likely, given lip-service to this verse. However, their actions around the table of the Lord painted a scene of disunity and selfishness.

In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul scolds the Corinthians for having divisions [schismas or schisms] and factions [hairesis or heresy], which were evident during the Lord’s Supper; a meal which should reflect the selfless attitude of Christ and the unity of the believers. This sermon will explore the factors surrounding this passage and endeavor to reveal the proper approach the church should use while celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

To do this, the sermon will consist of three sections. First, we will examine the problem of disunity at Corinth. Second, the pattern of communion delivered by Paul to the church. Third, we will consider the purpose of the Holy Meal in the life of the believer today.

The Problem at Corinth vv. 17-22

In this section, Paul shifts to another issue with the Corinthian public worship services. A point Paul is obviously annoyed by. He writes, “…I do not praise you” (17) … “Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you” (22).  Paul is profoundly disturbed by the Corinthians.

What is the issue Paul being unhappy with? He writes, “…because you come together not for the better but for the worse” (17).  Instead of being an edifying assembly the Corinthians worship services are driving a wedge between them! Paul elaborates

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; an in part I believe it. For there must be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be evident among you (18-19).

These divisions (or schismas) and factions (or Hairesis) were dividing the believers at Corinth into competing parties rather than complementary members.

First, the statement “when you come to together as a church…” needs some explanation. Although we have sanctified the term “church” (or ekklesia), in Paul’s world the term could be used for any type of gathering of people. However, the Evangelist Matthew use the word ekklesia in a new way in Matthew 18:20. He writes, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (NASB Matt 18:20). The presence of Christ within the gathering made it a sacred assembling.

During this sacred gathering, the Early Church practiced having a love-feast or agape meal (think of a spiritual potluck) and the Lord’s Supper was the pinnacle of the meal. The first half of the gettogether would consist of a shared meal (see Acts 2:42), which lead up to sharing of the Communion meal. However, the Corinthians were divided at a meal, which was meant to reveal the unity in Christ. Ben Witherington III writes,

These divisions seem to have created been created by some of the well-to-do members of the congregation treating the agape meal like a private dinner party, perhaps a banquet followed by a drinking party (convivium). The result of this was that the social stratification of the congregation was overemphasized and exacerbated. A serious division between the haves and the have-nots was thus threatening the fragile unity of the Corinthian community. 2

Witherington further explains customary etiquette at such dinner. He states,

It was the normal practice to rank one’s guest in terms of social status , with those of higher status eating with the host in the dining room and others eating elsewhere an getting poorer food. 3

It is easy to see if this were the case at Corinth that these practices were an affront to the Gospel’s message of unity among the classes!

Furthermore, in verses 20-21, Paul paints a picture of the situation at Corinth. He writes, “…for in your own eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk” (21). There is a debate to which is the proper interpretation of these verses. Some argue that the well-to-do member were not waiting for the poorer members to arrive before they began the feast (see verse 33). On the other hand, some say it was merely that the wealthy members were consuming what they brought instead of sharing with the less fortunate congregants. (In my opinion, it could have been a bit of both!) Whether the individuals are eating before others have a chance or eating what they brought, it is equally disgracing to the purpose of the gathering. This meal was an opportunity for all to share a common meal without distinctions of a class being drawn. We can witness Paul’s disgust in the Corinthian division by looking at the rhetorical questions he leveled at them in v. 22.

For clarity, let’s put it in the modern vernacular. The Corinthian congregation was full of social cliques. The haves was not sharing with the less fortunate. They were even having a big potluck (or church social) to rub it in! Should this be? God forbid! Paul states earlier in the letter, “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (NASB 1 Cor 10:17).

On a side note, Paul has a positive point about the divisions and factions. In verse 20, he writes, “…so that those who are approved may become evident among you.” These schisms and heresies allow for the true believers to rise the surface.

The Pattern of Communion vv.23-26

In verse 23-25, Paul recounts the Last Supper shared between Jesus and his Disciples. Paul states he has, “…received from the Lord…” this pattern of communion. He also has shared this with this congregation in the past at some point in time. They know better than to partake in this sacred meal like they are doing.

Although selfishness was witnessed in the Corinthians meal, Paul directs them to the most unselfish act of Christ, which is commemorated in the Lord’s Supper. As Baptists were practice two ordinances, believers’ baptism and communion. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His Second Coming. 4

Of course, the matter of how Christ is present in the communion meal has been a subject of heated debate. Catholics adhere to the doctrine of transubstantiation where it is believed the element physically change into the body and blood of Christ. Luther suggested consubstantiation where the elements, although not changed, are the literal body and blood by faith. David Guzik offers some great commentary on the intense argument over how Christ is present in the Eucharist.  He writes,

John Calvin taught that Jesus’ presence in the bread and wine was real, but only spiritual, not physical. Zwingli taught that the bread and wine are mere symbols that represent the body and blood of Jesus. When the Swiss Reformers debated the issue with Martin Luther at Marburg, there was a huge contention. Luther insisted on some kind of physical presence because Jesus said this is My body. He insisted over and over again, writing it on the velvet of the table, Hoc est corpus meum – “this is My body” in Latin. Zwingli replied, “Jesus also said I am the vine,” and “I am the door,” but we understand what He was saying. Luther replied, “I don’t know, but if Christ told me to eat dung I would do it knowing that it was good for me.” Luther was so strong on this because he saw it as an issue of believing Christ’s words, and because he thought Zwingli was compromising, he said he was of another spirit (andere geist). Ironically, Luther later read Calvin’s writings on the Lord’s Supper (which were essentially the same as Zwingli’s) and seemed to agree with Calvin’s views. 5

As Southern Baptists, we align more with Reformers like Zwingli. Zwingli states,

We believe that Christ is truly present in the Lord’s Supper; yea, we believe that there is no communion without the presence of Christ. This is the proof: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20). How much more is he present where the whole congregation is assembled in his honor! But that his body is literally eaten is far from the truth and nature of faith. It is contrary to the truth, because he himself says: ‘I am no more in the world (Jn. 17:11), and ‘the flesh profiteth nothing’ (Jn. 6:63), that is to eat, as the Jews then believed and the Papists still believe. It is contrary to the nature of faith (I mean the holy and true faith), because faith embraces love, fear of God, and reverence, which abhor such carnal and gross eating, as much as anyone would shrink from eating his beloved son…We believe that the true body of Christ is eaten in the communion in a sacramental and spiritual manner by the religions, believing, and pious heart (as also St. Chrysostom taught). And this is in brief the substance of what we maintain in this controversy, and what not we, but the truth itself teaches. 6

The Purpose of Communion vv. 26-34

The Apostle Paul has already acknowledged the unity expressed through the meal in 1 Cor 10:17. However, there are individual responsibilities for every communicant. The first responsibility is capture in v. 26.  Paul writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (26). While partaking in this meal, the believer is look back to Christ’s death (“…which is for you…v.24) acknowledging the sacrificial atonement Christ has provided them for there sins. Not only is the believer to look back with grateful hearts but also look forward with hope for the Second Coming. Both looking back, and forward are done in faith. The purpose of the ordinance is for reflection of both realities. The believer’s eschatological state of “already/but not yet” is captured beautifully in the communion meal.

The second responsibility of the communicant, it to not only observe the past sacrifice and future hope but to look internally at oneself. Paul states, “But the man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat the bread and drink of the cup” (28). Communion should never be taken in a state of rebellion to God’s word. It is a time to reflect inwardly in repentance. Once this inward examination is complete, the believer is to look outwardly. Not in judgment but in a spirit of unity and brotherhood. Brothers lovely correct each other, if and when it is needed. This time of eschatological reflection and examination is the purpose of communion.

What if you neglect these responsibilities? Paul writes, “Therefore whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthily manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (27). Paul is clear that God chastises irreverent believers who take lightly the Lord’s Supper (see vv. 27, 29-30). What does Paul mean “in and unworthily manner”? Does this mean you have to be perfect or sinless? No. D.A. Carson explains,

In this particular context, the unworthy eating of the bread and drinking of the cup has to do with their attitudes and actions towards each other, especially the needy who have suffered acute embarrassment. Attention is being drawn to their status and circumstances in the meal, in a community where these social divisions were meant to be abolished in Christ (cf. 1:30). They were guilty of sinning against, or possibly the grounds of, the body and blood of the Lord. All must test of examine themselves before they participate. In this context, the examination has to do with attitudes of a party spirit and lack of compassion towards the ‘have-nots.’ 7

If you are guilty of this nonchalant attitude while partaking of the Lord’s Supper the penalty can be severe (see 30-33).

Conclusion

In this passage, the Apostle Paul rebukes the Corinthian congregation for having divisions and factions, which were becoming obvious during the Lord’s Supper; a meal which should reflect the selfless attitude of Christ and the unity of the believers. The Corinthians possibly acknowledging the brotherhood of Christians with their words but not their deeds. Let us not follow their example, but Christ’s model.

We, as believers, should reflect backward to Christ’s death on the cross and forward to His triumphant return. As well as, look inward for self-examination, while embracing the unity in Christ as we partake in communion. Let us have Table Manners: Coming Together in Unity for the Lord’s Supper.

 

 

 

  1.  Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes (Nashville , TN: Thomas Nelson , 1998), 598.
  2. Ben Witherington, Conflict and community in Corinth: a socio-rhethorical commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 241.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Baptist Faith & Message 2000, www.sbc.net
  5. David Guzik, “Enduring Word Bible Commentary 1 Corinthians Chapter 11,” Enduring Word, , accessed January 27, 2018, https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/1-corinthians-11/.
  6. Zwingli’s Distinctive Doctrines, accessed January 27, 2018, http://biblehub.com/library/various/creeds_of_christendom_with_a_history_and_critical_notes/_52_zwinglis_distinctive_doctrines.htm#1.
  7. D. A. Carson et al., New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998), 1179.

Chained by Expectations

A SERMON FROM LUKE 7:18-35



By Kevin W. Bounds

Introduction

            Expectations can be misleading. I recall when in the parts business as a counter salesman, I would speak with customers all over the southeastern United States. While conversing on the telephone, I would form a mental image of how I thought the person on the other end of the line might look. Later on, in my career, I became an outside salesman, which allowed me to see the people I once only could visualize. They never looked the way I expected them to look. I learned a valuable lesson. Expectations can be misleading.

In Luke 7:18-35, the characters in this narrative deal with their expectations. This sermon will look at: 1) John’s expectations of Jesus (18-23) 2) The people’s expectation of a prophet (24-30) and finally; 3) What Jesus says about misleading expectations. By examining each aspect of the passage, we will see that if we are not careful, we too can be chained by expectations.

 

John’s Expectations of Jesus (18-23)

  1. First, it is important to look at John’s question concerning Jesus. He asks, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (19) [Emphasis added].
  2. The Hebrew people had long anticipated the Messiah (or Anointed One). Messiah is the Hebrew title for this person, and Christ is derived from the Greek title of Christus.
  3. Of course, many different opinions were formed on how this coming Deliverer would look and behave.
  4. Per the Prophet Daniel, the timing was ripe for the Expected One to arrive on the scene. Four hundred and eighty-three years had passed since Artaxerxes issued the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. (See Daniel 9).
  5. Earlier, John the Baptist dealt with the people’s expectations (see 3:15) by point to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. However, Herod would have John arrested and John at the time of this passage was in prison.
  6. Why would John the Baptist now be questioning Jesus whether He is the One? It is possible, the answer can lie in John’s expectations.
  7. Turn to Luke 3:15-17.
  8. In verse 17, the imagery that John the Baptist uses is one of judgment. It was a common perception in the day of Roman occupation that the Expected One would thrust out all enemy forces from Israel. However, John was imprisoned and this probably made him start to question.
  9. Having a larger view of God’s purpose of Christ’s first Advent, we know that His Second Coming will fulfill John’s expectations. Remember, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (NASB Jn 3:16-17).
  10. Look back a Luke 7:23 for this is a key verse to understanding this passage. John was borderline offended because he was chained by his expectations.

 

The People’s Expectations of a Prophet (24-30)

  1. In this section, there are two groups of people; the common people and tax collectors and the Pharisees and lawyers.
  2. Jesus addresses misguided expectation by asking a series of questions.
    1. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (24).
    2. “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!” (25)
    3. “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.” (26)
  3. John the Baptist didn’t fit many of the people’s expectations.
  4. The Apostle Paul explains the principle further. He writes,

(26)  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; (27)  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, (28)  and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, (29)  so that no man may boast before God. (NASB 1 Cor 1:26-29).

  1. The next two verses are pivotal!
  2. In verse 29, the “unacceptable of the day” acknowledged God’s justice. This Greek word is It means to show to be righteous, declare righteous.[1] The same word is translated “vindicated” in verse 35.
  3. In verse 30, the religious folks did not acknowledge God’s justice, but “rather rejected God’s purpose for themselves, having not been baptized of John.” The Greek word (boule) translated “purpose” means counsel.[2]
  4. The religious people were chained by their expectations!

 

What Jesus Say About Misleading Expectations (31-35)

  1. Since the religious people’s expectations misled them to reject John the Baptist as a prophet, they ultimately rejected Christ.
  2. John came in one fashion and your rejected him. The Son of Man came in another fashion, but you rejected Him too.
  3. The Apostle Paul captures many of the Jews’ perception of Christ. He writes, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,” (NASB 1 Cor 1:22-23).
  4. Remember, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”(NASB Luk 7:23) and  “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” (NASB Luk 7:35).

 

Conclusion

  1. Often, we allow our expectations to chain our perception of God. If Jesus was really the Son of God, He ____________ (fill in the blank).
    1. I once was acquainted with a man that said he decided to be an atheist because God didn’t answer his prayers as he expected.
  2. Often, we allow our expectations to color our awareness of God’s love for us. If God really loved me, He would ___________ (fill in the blank).
  3. In John 11, Martha’s expectations of Jesus were that he should have come and healed her brother, Lazarus.
  4. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (NASB Isa 55:9-11).
  5. Trust God not your understanding!
  6. Don’t be chained by your expectations! To mix metaphors, don’t think you can place God in a box.

 

[1]New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1344”.

[2]New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1012”.

 

The Lord of the Sabbath – Luke 6:1-16

THE LORD OF THE SABBATH:

A CASE FOR COMPASSIONATE CONFRONTATION FROM LUKE 6:1-16

By Kevin W. Bounds



 

Introduction

  1. In a world immersed in social media and a twenty-four-hour news cycle, everyone has an opinion. Now people can rant online without the consequence. Now people take to the street with picket signs protesting anything. Don’t believe me? Then you have not had social media, watched television, or read the newspapers lately.
  2. In this volatile mix of opinions, how are Christians to behave? Many think disciples of Jesus are to remain dormant and docile. We are assumed to follow a plastic Jesus. A false representation of the Founder of Christianity as a pussyfooting politically correct prophet (if there is such a thing). HOWEVER, this is not the Jesus of the Gospels. Yes, He was compassionate, but He was also confrontational.
  3. Often, the idioms like “judge not” or “cast the first stone” are quoted out of context and passages of making a whip of cords to remove people from the Temple are never mentioned.
  4. Yes, we are to be non-violent. However, Christians are called to like Christ. Who was compassionately confrontational.
  5. In Luke 6:1-16, we witness Jesus displaying a compassionate, yet challenging approach in His ministry. This sermon will look at the actions of Jesus and attempt to convey how we should apply the principles drawn from those actions in our daily lives. In the sermon, we will look at three different scenes: 1) the confrontation in the fields (vv. 1-5) 2) the dispute in the synagogue (vv. 6-11) 3) the ordination of the Twelve (vv. 12-16).
  1. Concerning this passage, Warren Wiersbe writes, “For over a year, Jesus ministered as a popular itinerant Teacher and Healer, and multitudes followed Him. But now the time had come for Him to “organize” His followers and declare just what His kingdom was all about.”[1]
  1. It is noteworthy at the end of the previous chapter, Jesus gives a parable concerning new wine in new wineskins (Matt 5:36-39).

Confrontation in the Fields (vv. 1-5)

  1. Jesus was unafraid to share a controversial truth with those whom He disagreed (v. 5). However, it was loving compassion which drove Him to confront the misinformed.
  2. In these five verses, we witness the disciples of Jesus walking through the “cornfields” – other translations render it grain fields – harvesting by hand and eating the corn/wheat.
  3. The Pharisees were not accusing of stealing because in the Law there was provision made for people gleaning from others’ fields. Moses writes,

 When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn (KJV Deut 23:24-25).

  1. The scribes and Pharisees were disturbed by doing this practice on the Sabbath. The interpretation of the Sabbath was the source of contention here. Jesus is not negating the Sabbath because the Sabbath is good. However, Jesus was confronting the neglect of human need by the scribes and Pharisees.
  2. For Jesus, the key to the Sabbath was that God made it for man and not the other way around (see Mark 2:27).
  3. In verses 3-4, Jesus explains interpretation to the Law was to be done with loving compassion, especially when a human need was involved. (See 1 Sam 21:1-6). The scribes and Pharisees had missed it by a mile!
  4. In verse 5, Jesus makes a remarkable statement about being “Lord of the Sabbath.” Rest assured his audience did not miss the claim to deity. Who can say such a thing but God?
  5. Jesus moved by loving compassion boldly spoke the truth!
  6. You will inevitably encounter people who will not accept the truth of Gospel. You should not shy away from conflicting views but lovingly stand for righteousness.

 Dispute in the Synagogue (vv. 6-11)

  1. It is important to notice that Jesus picked this fight in the synagogue. He was moved by loving compassion to help those that could not help themselves.
  2. The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned with the working hands that were meeting human needs in verses 1-5 than they were of the human need to have working hands! This man was handicapped by his infirmity.
  3. A “religious spirit” is more concerned about what others are doing wrong instead of helping others.
  4. Jesus called them out by pointing to the heart of the issue in verse 9.
  5. Jesus backed up his claim and interpretation with action. He miraculously healed the man’s withered hand.
  6. Does anyone like being called out? The scribes and Pharisees were not different. However, they were driven to the kind of madness that desires to kill!
  7. YOU WILL, in a world that is counter-gospel, will experience hatred. However, you must be willing to stand for truth. Jesus did!

 Ordination of the Twelve (vv. 12-16)

  1. It is no coincidence that Jesus ordained the Twelve, after this rejection by the scribes and Pharisees. Yes, I do believe this ordination was symbolic of a “new nation,” since there were Twelve Apostles; one for each tribe.
  2. However, I believe it was also for practical purposes. Jesus knew that eventually He would lay His life down and His message needed to continue. To perpetuate the message, He made disciples.
  3. Confrontation can lead to casualties, but we must reproduce through discipleship. Spurgeon/Whitefield comments about John Wesley’s ministry.
  4. I know it may be a horrible illustration but to control lice, you must stop the reproduction. The same goes for weeds too!

 Conclusion

           In a world filled with opinions, you will face conflicting views (i.e. Bible, social issues, politics). However, we must not resist violently with rage, but loving confront the falsehoods with truth. Much like the men down through the ages: Martin Luther stood against a corrupt church, William Wilberforce strove to end the English slave trade, and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life for the sake of civil rights. But more importantly, Jesus bleed so we could know the truth and be set free. We must be unafraid to share controversial truth because HE is with us (Mt 28:18-20; Heb. 13:5) We speak for the ones without a voice or the ability to rectify the injustice done to them, even if it cost our lives! In case we pay the ultimate price, the message of truth must be passed to the next generation of Jesus followers!

[1] Warren Wiersbe The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, 2nd Ed., (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2007), 153.