New Testament Overview
February 19, 2023 Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible
I'm so used to saying open your Bible to a certain book. But today, we're going to go over the entire New Testament. So, if you thought the last few sermons just going over simply one book of the Old Testament was a lot. Today I'm going to cover the whole New Testament. It is amazing. What can we say about God's Holy Word?
Simply put, as the most life-transforming book ever written. There is nothing that compares to it. That you can have eternal life and Jesus Christ, or eternal fire. How would you describe the Bible? What would you say about it? Well, today, I want to give you an introduction, a bridge from the Old Testament that I just finished preaching through just one book at a time, and before we start, Matthew, I want to give you a bridge so that you can develop in your heart a hunger for all of what is coming in God's Word in the New Testament, and feasts on it all year long. The Bible is unique. It's authoritative. The Bible is final. The Bible is redemptive. There is no other collection of books anywhere in the world quite like it, and it is a collection of books. It is not a single book; we put them all together. The 66 books of the entire Bible, and we carry them around as one book. They are a collection of books.
In them, we have grand themes. No scope is bigger than what is found in the Word of God; no claims more imposing; no promises more impressive; no character is more diverse than the Holy Word of God. It is full of truth. In fact, its main character, if you can call the Son of God that, is said to be the truth. Not simply someone who proclaims the truth or describes the truth - that is what preachers and teachers do. We simply deliver what has already been delivered, but Jesus Christ is the truth. That separates him from all others who have ever lived. The main message of Scripture is divine. Its divine center is God. It showcases a God of love and a God of justice. A God of unlimited power and knowledge, a God with unlimited ability. Do you know this God? Is this the one that you serve? Does the God with unlimited ability and unlimited knowledge and not can be confined to one space is that, that God that empowers your daily lives; and I want to tell you that in the New Testament, you are going to come face to face with the full manifestation of God. The Bible presents the God who created the world; the God who made mankind in his image; the God who hung the stars in place and made everything out of nothing; the God who answers to no one but gives answers to all. The Bible is about redemption and forgiveness, and relationships. The Bible is about mercy. It's about purity and cleansing. The Bible is the only authoritative source for spiritual truth in all of the world. Ignoring the gospel, the message of the good news, clearly brought forward from the Old Testament in anticipation of the Messiah; ignoring this gospel, which reveals Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, the fulfillment of the Old Testament; ignoring this gospel brings eternal destruction, but embracing it brings eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Do you know this Jesus? Have you been saved by the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? You can expect a full dose of Jesus Christ and the New Testament. You can expect the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. So, as you can see, as I begin to preach on the New Testament, next week, we will start an overview of Matthew; there is much to discuss.
We shall today endeavor, though, to give you an overview to cover the highlights of the New Testament and to prepare your hearts and minds for the wonders that it reveals and covers, and we shall try and endeavor to cover them over the next year. So where should we start? Well, when we left off the Old Testament, we, we left with a promise of the Messiah. The Old Testament starts with the creation of the world. It assumes God and doesn't argue for the existence of God, but merely declares that God exists, and He is the Creator, the Sustainer of life, the giver of life, and the judge of the living and the dead, and He will one day restore his people fully and cleanse them and give them a new heart. He said, I will put my Spirit within them, and so they are left looking towards, looking forward towards the anticipation of a Messiah. In the New Testament, we find the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. We find the arrival of the Messiah. We find the church age and the return of the Messiah after His ascension, but there's a gap, isn't there? There's about 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
What happened during that time? Anytime I talk to people about preaching on the entire New Testament as an overview, they say, Yeah, but what about the years in between? So, I'm going to give you a little glimpse about what is called the silent years. This section of time is also called the Second Temple period. If you read scholarly works, or hear people talk about this time, what that means is, is that Zerubbabel made the second temple. They finish that, and that goes all the way until the next one would be destroyed in AD 70. So, during these 400 years, when the era of the Old Testament ended, before the New Testament begins, we are left off with the Persian Empire being in control of Jerusalem and Judea; and when the New Testament era starts, we have Rome in charge. But how'd we get there? There are no inspired writings from the end of Malachi until John the Baptist comes, who is the one prophesied in Isaiah, as the one who would prepare the way of the Lord also prophesied at the very end of Malachi. So, what happened in between?
Well, briefly, on the world scene came the Greeks, who conquered the Persians. There was a man who came on the scene for about 10 years or so named Alexander the Great, around 330's; and he took over and conquered city after city and region after region, and after him came what we would call the Maccabean, period around 167. And following through around the mid-60s BC, during this time, we had Jewish self-rule, where they govern their own lives, yet they were still under a foreign power. But the problem was, is that the Greek language was taking over, and the Jews spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. They were losing their native language, and they wanted to retain their understanding of the writings, the books of Moses, the Psalms, all the Minor Prophets that were giving; they wanted to retain the knowledge of that, so they translated the Old Testament into Greek. So we have a very early copy of the Old Testament fully written in Greek, and Jesus even quoted from it at times. That's called the Septuagint.
You're going to learn about that you can go to the Bible Museum in DC, is a fascinating understanding of how we got that. But it's called the Septuagint because 70 scholars came together to put this into, into place, and that was somewhere around 250 to 125 BC. It's the most significant Greek translation of the Old Testament ever written. Well, the Greeks were still in power, and then the Romans came along, and they started to dominate; and this second temple was still around - it was still there and...and it would not be destroyed until the New Testament era was well underway and AD 70; but during this, this lead up time to the New Testament era, the priests were still ruling the Jews. The priests were ruling, but they had foreign powers, who would put vassal kings in place, like Herod, who was in charge when Jesus was born, and they were supposed to keep the peace, let the Jews do their thing. Let the Jews worship however they want to worship. They've already been exiled and come back and just keep them in their place. You know, kind of like what the world does, you can be a Christian, just don't bother anybody. So, they just let the Jews alone. And even Alexander the Great didn't conquer the area, he kind of left them alone, even though he was in power, and then the Romans did the same thing. And so, we had regional authorities in place by foreign powers. We know Herod the Great died around 4 BC. We know Jesus Christ was born when he was in power. So that would put the birth of Christ somewhere around 4 or 5 BC. I'm not going to give you a specific timeline of all these details, but you can see how we, we left the Old Testament. The Word continues. God superintends that his people would understand it. So, a Greek version was made, and Koine Greek, by the way, not...not what we have is modern-day Greek. And that language allowed people to continue to understand the very words of God. It is unique. If you want to look up further things about who the Sadducees were and the Pharisees, they didn't exist when the Old Testament ended; but all of a sudden, they're prominent when the New Testament comes along. How do we get them? Well, there are books in our library that our elders can show you. And you can look up "The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown" if you'd like and learn all about where they came from. But they were the new religious leaders in power; they had very much superseded the authority of the Levites and the priests who were in control, and they were the ones who are telling everybody how things should go.
This leads us to the New Testament. I want to tell you a little bit about the New Testament. And I don't just want to spend the whole morning giving you some kind of biblical New Testament introduction talk, though that's very tempting; I love all this stuff. But I want you to also, in just a little bit, I want to kind of just saturate your minds with the theology of the gospel. And just bring it to the surface because they're in the New Testament is the greatest theology that we have about salvation, about mercy, about forgiveness, about how you and I can have a relationship with a holy God. How is that possible? Why do we not have continual sacrifices today? Those sorts of things. I just want to bring that to the surface in a little bit.
But I want to give you an overview, a little bit of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and just kind of paint a little picture of...of what they give, and then we'll move into the theology of salvation, which is what the New Testament is all about. So first, the New Testament, if you're taking notes, can be broken up into certain sections. We have the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; Matthew, Mark, and Luke are considered Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic just means the same or a similar story. John contains such different stories that we don't put that as part of what we call the Synoptics. But you have four gospels. Then you have the history, what we would call Acts. The early church father called these the Acts of the Apostles. Next, you have the Pauline epistles and the General Epistles; the Pauline epistles are Romans through Philemon. And then you have the general epistles, Hebrews through Jude. And then we have prophecy, which is Revelation. Now, those are just broad categories. Obviously, all of the Scripture is talking about the future and what is coming...and the prophecies are all mixed in there. But these books...and this is important. These books alone are what we call the New Testament. We do not have anything except those books. We...in the New Testament, we have 39 books in the Old Testament, we have 27 in the New. That makes 66 total. And for those who have more books, they are not considered by any early church council as authoritative though they may be considered helpful at some points. So, we do not have the apocryphal books that the Catholics have...we did not consider those inspired. So, our basis of truth, as Protestants...you are a Protestant, that is, you are a protester; as a Protestant, you're protesting the Catholic faith. We have the 66 books of the Bible. We call that the canon. That is the conclusive collection of books on God from God. They are created by God and recognized via man. They are not, as the Catholic Church teaches, picked out and given authority from God. They are recognized by the Church as having already come from God, which is a big distinction. God says what is truth, and man recognizes it. Man doesn't say what is truth. God does. All of these books that we have in the New Testament, were recognized as authoritative by the second century. All New Testament books were quoted by early church fathers by the end of the second century, except one. Do you know what it was? It's not James, although that was disputed. It's not 1st and 2nd Peter, although that was disputed for a while. It wasn't even Revelation. That was disputed for a while. It is 3rd John. We know that Paul's letters, all 13 of those, probably circulated even together as they went around. And in 303, Diocletian ordered the...all the sacred books to be burned, which is one of the reasons why we have lost a lot of the original manuscripts.
Some of the early church fathers had certain New Testament criteria, though, for how we came up with these books. And I know because you asked me a lot how did we get these books. And if you want to know more about that, come to the Fundamentals of the Faith class and Grace Equip at 9:15 in the morning. It's going to be starting in a couple of weeks. And that's going to go over a history of how we got the canon. But some of their criteria, which is important, is that it was from an apostle. So, if an apostle wrote a book, it was considered authoritative. Not everything they wrote, though. So, the theological content, was it orthodox? Was it accepted among those who saw Jesus? Did they quote from it as being authoritative? Did they reference it? Remember, when Jesus was tempted, we know about the Old Testament; he says, "It is written." That's how we know what books are in the Old Testament are considered to be authoritative. Jesus quoted from many of them, and those books quoted from other books, and so you begin to develop a collection. Those are just a few of the criteria they used. They also had to be written during the apostolic era in order to be considered part of the New Testament canon. And I know you're super excited to learn more. So, I'm going to tell you a little more about how this came to be. In the fourth century, there were three major church councils. So let's get all the churches together, and let's determine exactly what the books are in the New Testament. Well, you should be pleased to know that these were not debates in the three hundreds...the fourth century. They were recognitions of what was already considered and quoted to be the New Testament. No falsely written book was ever accepted in the New Testament canon, and no test...no New Testament book has ever universally been rejected by the Church. Though there have been questions about James and Romans, how do you reconcile those two books? There have been questions about Revelation. But all of these have been unanimously decided as the books and the New Testament. And that's important. Why is that important? Because we need to know, where is the truth of God's Word? What books should we look to, to define the truth, and you and I are so far removed from this process that we don't even think about it. But men literally gave their lives to write down copies and translations of the Word of God. They spilled their blood to protect this because it's not just a collection of men's writings. 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the inspiration of the Bible. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Why do we focus so much on teaching because God's Word says God's Word is what is profitable for training in righteousness. If you're called to live a righteous life, and you are never taught the Word of God, then I can guarantee you're not living it. But if you are taught the Word of God, and you apply the Word of God to your life, and you ask the Lord God to help you to live according to His Word, you will be pleasing to the Lord. Don't you want to know if you're pleasing to God? Verse 17 in 2 Timothy 3:17 says, "...that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." You see, the Christian faith is a legacy of teaching. It's a legacy of instruction. It's a legacy of delivering the truth of God's Word from one generation to the next that we all might be equipped for every good work. You might think that God has not gifted you to be a blessing to the Church. But that's not what His Word says. The Word says that each one of us have been given a manifestation of the Holy Spirit for the common good. So, you, as you are, are working and using your gifts to be a blessing to the Church; you're living the way God wants you to? Do you know what your gifts are? Do you know has...how God has equipped you specifically to be a blessing to the Church. Ephesians four talks about how the Church body is built up in love only when every part is working properly. How are you working to be a blessing in the Lord's Church? Friends, you find that out in the Word of God. John 5:46 says this, "For if you believe the Moses," says Jesus speaking, "you would believe me, for he wrote of me." Moses wrote about Jesus. The New Testament is going to expand our understanding of what was written. It is going to help us understand the Old Testament in clarifying ways, not beyond the original intention, but to help us understand the original intention. We call that the inspiration of the Bible. We also believe in the authority of the Bible. That what it says is binding on our lives. The New Testament is going to reveal these things to us. Romans chapter three, verse two even speaks of this, about the Old Testament that the Jews were given the very oracles of God. When Jesus says in John 14:6, "no one comes to the Father except through me." That's either the most arrogant statement ever mentioned, or it's the only way of salvation. Think about that. We have an exclusive gospel and exclusive Christianity. Those...those bumper stickers that say, "All roads lead to God." Well, in a sense, they do...for judgment, right?...or for blessing; but there is only one way to God. In other words, there's only one way of salvation. Jesus says there's only way. In fact, he said, "He is the way." That's exclusive. From Genesis 1:1, where it says God created the heavens in the earth, to Revelation 22, where it says, "Do not add or take away from the books of the words of this prophecy." That is what we call the authority of the Bible. Friends, the authority of the Bible has been so attacked and marginalized that you don't really need to listen to it; you don't really need to put it into practice. You just kind of, you know, me and God are good. I'm doing better than the next guy. That's not found in Scripture. And we must have this desire, this...this yearning to get into God's Word and to see what it says and to...to find the words of mercy and forgiveness. The Bible is also said to be inerrant. That is without error. It's the same way in the Old Testament and the New. Psalm 19:7 says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul, the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple." How can the law of the Lord be perfect if it's full of errors? Jesus affirmed this when he said, "Your word is truth." It cannot be true and in error at the same time. So we say that the Bible is inerrant. That, too, has been under attack for decades now; and there are people who...who just push aside certain sections of Scripture. And if you've come to the biblical manhood and womanhood class that Dustin is teaching, you will learn that God's Word is not being taught out there. You will learn that people are saying you should prefer one race over another just because of their color. You will learn that we should have preferences towards people if you're listening to the world. But...but God's Word says that everyone is made in the image of God. Everyone is valuable in his sight. God so loved the world that He sent His Son. These things are not being taught in the world. So you will find that the...the truth of the Word of God will come against what the world says is true, and you will have to make a decision.
The gospels - just a few more things about those books, in particular. I want to give you the pattern that they follow. Matthew, Mark, and Luke follow a pattern, and you can go back and listen to the audio because I'm going to go through this kind of quickly, but they basically follow the same pattern so that you can get the story of Jesus Christ from different angles. It starts with the Lord's preparation for His ministry. Second, it moves to his baptism and the preparation of the way by John the Baptist. Then his temptation. His returned to Galilee. Then he preaches in the villages and cities, primarily in Galilee. Then his journey to Jerusalem, his entrance into the holy city, his preaching there, his Passion, and Resurrection. And that is a summary of the progress of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, those being the Synoptics. John is the last gospel written and focuses on the deity of Jesus. And much of the information that is in John is not in the other gospels. Jesus is declared to be the Son of God in Luke. He is pictured as the servant in Mark, and he is pictured as the long-awaited Messiah in Matthew. Matthew is good if you're witnessing to Jewish people. It quotes the Old Testament extensively and proves from Scripture that Jesus is the Messiah. Mark is written to a Roman primarily audience or Gentiles in general, and so it presents Jesus in a way that non-believers could understand. It's also much shorter than the other ones, and so that one is a good book to go over with people who are searching and understanding, "Well, who is this Jesus that you're talking about?" Luke wrote an orderly account. He said, "I desired to write an orderly account for you, oh, Theophilus." He's trying to present exactly who Jesus was in his life in ministry. Matthew and Luke are the only books that contain the birth story of Jesus Christ. But John is fascinating. It's one of my favorite New Testament books. There are no parables recorded in John. And I know this afternoon you're gonna go look for one, but it's not there. There are only two major events that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all described together. Much of what he says is unique. And he clearly states the purpose for his book. And John, let me read it to you, John 20:31, "But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name." See, there's a lot to know about the New Testament, but the ultimate goal is so that you may have life in his name, that you may be able to see the gospel clearly, that you may be able to look at the life of Jesus Christ and see, he is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. He is the one who brings salvation. He is the one to whom gives us new life, and it says he even has authority to forgive sins while he was on earth. He claimed to be God. This is the good news. That is central to the New Testament; that you and I can be saved from our sins. Let me ask you a question. If you're a believer, why would you beat yourself down over sin that Jesus paid for? Why would you carry it around like God is still going to hold that over your head when you see him? It has been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ - by his perfect life and his atoning work on the cross. Why would you think that God sees you for the sin that you commit now, and he says, "You must be holy as I am holy," and he provided a way for you to be seen as perfectly righteous? Why would you think in those terms? Even as believers, we struggle to see the beauty of the gospel. We see each other with all of our faults - with all of our shortcomings. We see each other with the wishes that we have for each other, the expectations that we have for each other. We see our friends with the expectations that we wish they may call us more or...or spend more time with us or...or be nicer to us. We see the world with the idea of hatred sometimes...like why do they make life so difficult, unbelievers? Why do they persecute us? Why do they smear the name of God? And we have this disdain. But what is the objective of the New Testament? What is the worldview that the New Testament gives? What worldview should you and I have as believers if you are saved by Jesus Christ? What should be your view of the world, of your family, of your friends, of your spouse? It is this. That they know that they can know God and be forgiven. That anybody on the planet can be a worshipper of God. That you have the very words of life, if you give them the Scripture, that it can create a new nature inside of someone that they didn't have before. That it can change them and make them new. So when you watch the news, do you get excited that, wow, there's more people out there that need Jesus, and I can give it to him? Or do you just get discouraged day after day? Like Lord, I just take me home. I just can't take it anymore. I mean, we only see a smidgen of the sin that is out there in the world. I mean, we'd probably be overwhelmed if we knew the full sin of just anyone in this room, let alone the seven-plus billion people in the world. But is not God's grace deeper, more magnificent, more capable, more cleansing. To wash us in and make us white as snow, to be able to present us before a holy God who can't even look on sin. That is amazing. This new life is what the gospel is all about.
Let me give some of it to you. John 1:4 says, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." Speaking of Jesus, John 3:15, you might ask, how do we get that life? Scripture explicitly says, whoever believes in him may have eternal life? Well, I believe in him to have eternal life. Well, let me read on...John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." In fact, John describes life 47 times. The Bible is comprehensive, and what new life looks like. If we would just feast on the Word of God, we could easily see if we have this new life. With so much talk of new life, you wonder, "Is that all we have to do?" I mean, it just says whoever believes in him may have eternal life? Well, the Scripture doesn't give you every single fact in every single verse. It's comprehensive; it builds. And so if you just go a few more verses, and John chapter three, the comparison is given, the obedience is declared. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. So, notice, the context of John 3:36 is exactly that, believing and having eternal life, but the verse goes on. And it says this, "whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." So, you either have eternal life through belief and obey, or if you don't obey, the wrath of God abides on you. Jesus loved to talk about his relationship with his followers. And it is just over and over again in the New Testament. If you want to understand the dynamic of your relationship with Jesus Christ, if you're a believer, dive into the New Testament and enjoy what Jesus brings. John's favorite word to describe a changed life was not “obey," though. Do you know what John's favorite word to describe the changed life was? "Follow"...was one of Jesus's favorite words to he went about saying "follow" me. John talks about following Jesus Christ. It is part and parcel of believing. John used this Word because he had a huge focus on discipleship. I know a guy who preached 11 sermons on discipleship from just a couple of chapters in John a few years ago. It's extensive, and it had such an impact on the apostle John that he talked about following Jesus in discipleship all the time, even though the Word discipleship is not even in the Bible. Being a disciple is in the Bible, but you can go and check me again. Do your logos or search or your word search on your favorite app. You won't find discipleship in there. You're going to only find disciples. Go and make disciples. Disciples are learners. Remember what I said? We're a teaching church. Disciples are learners. What are they learning? About Jesus. Where? From the Word of God. Jesus spoke of following all the time. John 8:12. Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world." Notice the exclusivity here. "Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
John 3:16, they will have eternal life. Whoever follows me will have the light of life. John 10:4, the sheep follow him, and they know His voice, that there's no, like, how do I know God's voice? How do I know if God's speaking to me? Read your Bible. It's got a lot to say. Right? We just asked over and over again. Is this God speaking to me? Or was it like last night's dinner? Read your Bible. You will know the difference. My sheep, listen to this, know my voice. They're not confused. My sheep follow me. They're not thinking about it. They are doing it. My sheep follow me and know my voice. Why do they know my voice? Well, because they're following Jesus. They spend time with Him. They spend time understanding his Word. We step...we spend time praying to our Lord God. We see his work in our lives in accordance with Scripture. And I'm telling you, there is so much in the New Testament that will be such a joy to you if you will only look at it.
You say I just kind of, I don't know about this whole following thing. John 12:26, "If anyone serves me, he must follow me." That's it. If you're not following Jesus, you're not a believer. So, we serve him. We love him. We spend time with him. We understand who he is from...from Scripture. In Him dwells the fullness of deity and bodily form. Jesus is the fullest manifestation of God we have ever seen. He is fully man and fully God. He has eternally existed. He didn't just pop into existence. He's eternally existed. And he took on flesh so he could interact with humanity and become the once for all sacrifice of sin, thus fulfilling the law, being the Messiah, and dying for our sin...once for all. That's the best news ever.
Did Jesus do this following stuff? John 15:10 Jesus ties his obedience to His love for the Father. Obedience is not out of duty. If you don't have warm love for the Father and you digress to obedience to you, you run the risk of moralism. You run the risk of thinking your Christianity is based on how well you follow Him, not if you follow Him. But in John 15:10 says, "If you keep my commandments, you want you will abide in my love. Just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." You wonder how do I grow in my love for Jesus Christ? The world is talking about it. There's a frantic revival going on in Kentucky. If you want to learn about it and see what the Bible has to say about it. Come back tonight at seven. I'm going to go over that with our youth and with our college students. It's called the Asbury revival in Kentucky. How does that compare with Scripture? How is what they're doing? Does it compare or not with Scripture? Where does our love our deep-abiding love for Scripture come from? On the crescendo of our favorite Hillsong song...of our favorite Bethel music? Where does it come from? If you keep my commandments, think about this. Think about a marriage. Right? The two shall become one flesh. They are not what they were before. I love you, honey. But I never want to spend time with you. I don't like talking to you, and in fact, you kind of irritate me all the time. That one's not going to last long. Probably subsequent marriages won't either, right? But we do this sometimes. God, I love you with all of my...with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I have no idea what your Word says. But I really, really, really love you. I love you so much, and I am never going to share you with anyone because I'm petrified. But I really, really, really love you. The desire to love God is good, friend. Everybody is scared about...about sharing Jesus. Some aren't, the very few. I get scared about sharing Jesus with people from time to time. Like, oh, I don't want to get into this. What if they have a question I don't know how to answer. Or what if they reject me? Right? We think through these things, but do we love Christ. Does our obedience to go and make disciples ever manifests itself in our lives. So that we develop our love for God, in our obedience to God, and we abide. Abide means to remain. You want to stay in the love of God, then we follow Him. We follow him, and he shepherds us. And he lovingly leads us by still waters, even though we're scared. Sheep are a little scared. fuzzballs, right? They don't know where to go. They don't know what to do. They just follow whatever's in front of them. Even if it's off a cliff. I saw a hilarious video; there's tons of them. But I saw a hilarious video of a guy who got this enormous sheep out of a ditch full of water, and he pulled it up, and it jumps over the fence, and then what's it do? Right back in the ditch face first. Like that's what sheep do. And he's like, you know, I mean, like, shear the thing and have a dinner. I don't know, what do you do with it? But that's what we do as sheep. We're just right back to our old ways. God already knows that. Don't beat yourself up with that but make progress towards the loving arms of Jesus Christ. He says share me with others. John 14:31, "I do as the Father has commanded me." That's what Jesus says, "So that the world will know that I love the father, rise, let us go from here." Jesus just says let's go tell the world. So how do we do that? I mean, it sounds like such a huge task. Well, if we try and live for Jesus on our own, you're going to burn out, you're going to get discouraged, and you're going to fall away, you're going to stop coming to Church, you're going to go on your own, own thing, you're going to just have like TV church or something. And maybe not even do that after a while, and you're gonna burn out, and Satan's gonna devour you for lunch. But Jesus didn't just leave when he ascended to heaven, did he? When he...did he just abandon us? The New Testament talks about the Helper, the Helper, John 16:7, "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth..." This is, this is always gets me when I read this, "it's to your advantage that I go away." He says, Jesus, looking in the eyes of his disciple, the night he's going to be betrayed; the night he's going to go to...is going to be taken, and the next day he's going to be crucified. He looks at them, and he says, "It's to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." The Holy Spirit proceeded forth from Jesus Christ to come and be our helper. You do not have to go through this Christian life on your own. It's not just the fellowship of the Church, though you will be stronger if you're in deep and abiding fellowship and the Church. It's not just the...the preaching and teaching and consuming sermons and that sort of thing. It is that, but it's not just that. Jesus loved us so much that He sent the Holy Spirit to be inside of us to empower us for his work.
That's love. So the New Testament reveals the Messiah reveals the fulfillment of Old Testament scriptures and covenants; reveals the birth of the Church; the gathering of the Church, what we're doing now; the future role of the Church; how the world will end and what the future will be. And we have that on our phones with us all day long. So, what is our part? How do we respond to something like this? I mean, are you just gonna this afternoon, take the next, you know, 36 hours and read through the New Testament? How do we respond? Well, let me give you some ways that we can respond today. Okay, because Jesus is love in action, right? While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. That's an action he died for us. He didn't wait on us. He died for us. He is love in action. The first thing you need to do is take a good hard look at your life and make sure you're saved. There's no redos. Sorry, reincarnation is not real. You're not going to come back as a frog and then work your way back up to a human someday is not going to happen. Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Is Jesus your Lord? Have you believed on him fully for the forgiveness of your sins? It doesn't matter if you've been in the Church for a long time. And you've heard all of this. Satan knows all of this way better than we do. As the Wesley brothers, John Wesley, they were preaching as ordained ministers while unsaved by their own admission. Whitfield, the same way. The greatest itinerant preacher ever. We must take an account of ourselves. Second, do you have this forgiveness? You may think, “Well, God can reach a lot of people, but Pastor Dave, you do not know what I've done.” I'm thankful I don't know what you've done. I'm thankful you don't know what I've done. But let me tell you what the Bible talks about. "Or do you not know that the righteous unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" Listen to this. Where do you find yourself in this category? "Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God, and such were some of you." But you were washed, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of God, have you been cleansed and washed by His blood? No matter what you've done? We must call sin, sin because Jesus Christ did not come for the righteous but for sinners. Know that if you have forgiveness and Jesus Christ, and you are on this list, and then you are washed, you are sanctified, and you are justified in his sight. Be encouraged. Are you continually sanctified? 1 Thessalonians 5:23 talks about this, that it is not just to be justified to be made right and declared right that you got your...your entrance into heaven. That's not the ultimate goal for us. It's to be sanctified along the way. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 talks about this. "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely." It's not just your coming to Church and reading and your prayer, and we got another read your Bible more pray more sermon. It's not about that God Himself will sanctify you completely. And may your whole Spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a sanctified life. Jesus in John 17:17, as he's praying, is the final prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It's the longest prayer we have recorded of Jesus in the scriptures, John 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth." You can be sanctified; you think that sin that you carry around with you is going to be stuck with you for your whole life. But that's not what the Scripture says. You can be free from that sin. I didn't say you would be sinless. You will be sinless one day and glorify when you see him. But you do not have to bow to sin anymore. Jesus Christ has defeated that sin. And we can go on to live our lives to...to use the gifts that we have been given. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says everyone has been given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. We are told to go out with power and evangelize Acts 1:8. We are told that Jesus Christ is the one who sustains the Church that we're in. We think we sustain it, but it's Jesus Christ who says, "I will build my church." You don't need to worry about the Church. Jesus is doing just fine. When I first started here, almost well, about nine and a half years ago, I was worried about the Church all the time, as if it's going to live and die based on what I did. But that's not the case. And I tell you, Matthew 16:18, "You are Peter, and, on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." You're in the most secure institution on the planet, the Church. So, we live to be humble like Jesus, humble when corrected. He was obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. And we live this rejoicing, joyful life in Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:16, We rejoice always. We pray without ceasing, and we give thanks in all circumstances. Do we need to grow, or what? I mean, rejoice always? I mean, praying constantly? We're getting there, right? You can't turn one side of the left without some problem being on your mind, but...but give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I think the truths that are in the New Testament are what makes us earnest, diligent believers. If you want to be on fire for Jesus Christ, it's not because you got saved a long time ago. It's...it's because we are saturated with God's Word that we have these deep, abiding convictions that God's Word is true and that Jesus is who he said he is. And we're going to get a full dose of this in the New Testament. As I wrap up here, the New Testament ends with heaven, with rejoicing. Revelation 19, "And from the throne, came a voice saying, Praise our God, all you servants, you who fear him, small and great." We are going to one day be praising God perfectly. We're going to be singing perfectly. We're going to be rejoicing with God in heaven, and we are going to enjoy these things forever. The New Testament ends with God setting everything right. With, with evil being conquered and hell being filled. Jesus wins. His followers win, and heaven is filled. Revelation 22:4 says, "...and they will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light or have lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." There is going to be no end to our reigning with Jesus Christ. So what is our prayer now? I think it is what the end of Revelation 22, the last book in the Bible, says, "Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." I pray these truths have been an encouragement to you today.
Let's pray. Lord God, we have such a long way to go. To rejoice in all these truths, and yet we know that you can fill us up with your Spirit. That you can bring glory out of ashes, that you can mold the clay the way you want, and that you can use us to share the gospel with the world. Father, we pray that you would use us to do Your will. We pray that you would prove to us that we would live holy and sanctified lives. We pray that you would encourage us to follow you. We pray, Lord God, when we fail, that you would teach us that your yoke is easy and your burden is light. We pray that You would help us to have the direction and wisdom we need. We pray that You would help us to be gracious Lord Jesus to others to be kind so that they may see the light of Jesus Christ in us. Or, God, we thank You for this bounty of truth that you have given to us. And we pray, Lord God, that you would help us to saturate our heart, mind, and soul with it. That we may love you and love others the way you have called us to. Friends, let's just take a moment right now and ask God to give us the courage to live each and every day for him. Lord, we thank you for this day. I thank you for everyone that you brought here today. Help us to love each other, Lord, in fellowship and in truth for your glory and your precious Holy Name. Amen.
More in Journey Through the Bible
March 5, 2023Mark: Jesus is the Servant and Savior
February 26, 2023Matthew: Jesus, a King's Response
February 12, 2023Malachi: Are You Ready?