Suiting Up For Battle
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
As you all know, this is the story in the Bible titled “The whole Armor Of God”. Mentioned here are the, “belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith” and so on. This afternoon, I want us to look at these passages of the Bible that will give us 4 reasons that will encourage us to fight in God’s army in spite of our fear. “Suiting Up For Battle”.
1: We Have a commander-in-Chief that we can trust…because He is committed to us!
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
A sergeant and his lieutenant were doing some survival training in the hills of Tennessee. Suddenly, they came upon a hungry grizzly bear. The lieutenant asked the sergeant what they should do. Without answering, the sergeant quickly sat down, got his running shoes out of the backpack, and proceeded to put them on. The lieutenant couldn’t believe that his sergeant would be so stupid. “Sarge”, he said, “this is a grizzly! He can run faster than either of us can. There’s no way that you can outrun him!” To which the sergeant replied, “I don’t need to run faster than the bear. I just need to run faster than you.”
Whenever armed forces enter into a war situation, they need to have absolute confidence in the fact that they can depend on their superior officers, especially their commander-in-chief to support them with no reservations. They need someone who is going to make sure that they have all the resources that they need to get the job done. They need someone who will not sacrifice them simply for his own political well-being. And they need someone who will go all the way for them.
As Christians, you and I have a Commander that we can count on because He is committed to us. His name is Jesus. To His disciples, Jesus said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”, We can claim that same promise today. In Isaiah 43:2…
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
Jesus is the kind of Commander that will never dessert us no matter who the enemy is. His last words before he returned into heaven were…
“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”
Jesus is faithful. He is committed to you. Jesus was committed enough to you to sacrifice His life. Because He has already proven himself in battle. Our Commander has proven Himself in battle all the way to the very end. As Jesus began His earthly ministry, He and Satan faced off for battle in the desert. Satan used every weapon he has, even used the word of God to deceive Jesus, but Jesus effectively countered each time the enemy spoke.
When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood up to all the forces of evil that were against them, they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Their enemy thought that he had defeated them until he looked into the furnace and saw that reinforcements had been called in. They threw three men into the furnace, but the team was astonished to see four men walking around. He saw that they were not screaming in anguish as he had expected. They were not dying. They were walking around, untied, unburned, and talking with someone that Nebuchadnezzar described as looking “like the Son of God.” (Dan. 3:25)
25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
“When you pass through the fire, I will be with you…” (Is. 43:2) Jesus was there with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the middle of the flames. He saw them through the flames so that when Nebuchadnezzar called for them to come out… not a hair on their bodies was singed, and they didn’t even smell like smoke.
Do you know why God included this story and other stories of biblical characters in the Bible? Was it simply to teach us moral guidelines so we can learn from their failures and successes? Was it to give us principles to live by? The main reason that God included stories about Abraham, Ruth, Noah, Esther, David, Paul, Mary, Elizabeth, Peter and so many more in the Bible… so that we can examine what God has done in their lives, we can have confidence that God can do the same in our life. We can… with confidence say, “He has done it before, He can do it again.”
The sad thing about generals and armies, is that there is no guarantee of repeat performance. Their leaders can lose their edge and their competitiveness…loose the war! This is not true with Jesus, for He…
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
He also says in…
“For I am the Lord, I do not change”.
When Joshua was getting ready to invade the land of Canaan, God told him…
5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.
Our commander has proven Himself able to defeat the enemies of His people in the past, and since He does not change, He is should be worthy of our trust to enable us to defeat the enemies of today. When Paul says, “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might”, he is saying, “put your trust in Jesus to lead you to victory, He is totally committed to you, and He has proven Himself in battle countless times in the past.”
It is a good thing that we have a Commander like that… One who is totally committed to us and One who has proven Himself in battle. Our enemy is stronger and more destructive than any enemy in this world. On our own, we would not have a chance against this enemy. But we are not on our own. And we have a distinct advantage over our opponent. Our opponent has already been defeated.
2. We have an opponent who has already been defeated.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
In verse 12 of this passage, Paul describes our opponent. He says first… that our struggle is not with flesh and blood. [read 12a] We are not fighting against other human beings. After Paul clarifies that our enemy is not, other human beings, he then specifies who our enemy actually is.
When Paul speaks of our enemy being principalities and powers, he’s not talking about the principal at the local high school or the political powers that be, although at one time or another, you have probably considered one or both of these as your enemy.
“Principalities and powers are heavenly or spiritual. So, from these two verses, we can gather that principalities and powers are spiritual beings that are the opposite of angels. That would leave only one category – demons. Demons are the angels that chose to follow and serve Satan when he was kicked out of heaven. In the rest of verse 12 of Eph. 6, Paul continues to refer to demons when he speaks of “rulers of the darkness” and “spiritual hosts of wickedness”.
The number one demon in the whole bunch is Satan himself. A few chapters earlier in Ephesians, Paul calls Satan “the Prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Then in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul calls Satan “the god of this world”, and he says that Satan’s job is to blind men so that they cannot see the truth. He creates darkness in men’s lives so that they cannot see the light of God’s truth.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”, and Satan’s goal is to keep men in the darkness. In this battle that we face, our enemy is not one another. Our enemy is not even unsaved men and women. We should treat unsaved men and women as innocent civilians who have been brainwashed by the enemy. Our job is not to condemn or destroy them. Our job is to help free them from their capture and help them to see what a tyrant he really is. Our enemy is Satan and his forces. Our enemy is spiritual not physical.
It is no accident that Paul described Satan and his demons as principalities and powers. They are very powerful. There are just as powerful as the angels who fight on our behalf. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is described as “a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” He wants to destroy you. Just before Jesus died, he told Peter, “Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31) And as much as Hollywood would have you believe that Satan and his demons are just characters on a movie screen, they are very real. Our enemy is unseen, and he is powerful.
Our enemy is a powerful and dangerous foe. We dare not treat him lightly. We dare not play around with him or anything that is associated with him. But when we are about the Lord’s business, do we need to fear what Satan and his forces can do to us? No!!! The reason is that Satan and his forces are a defeated. Look at….
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It goes on to say that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Nothing is more powerful than God’s love! We truly have victory in Jesus! When Satan incited Judas to betray Jesus and put it in the heart of the enemies of Jesus to crucify him, Satan thought he was getting the victory. In reality… Satan sealed his own defeat. When Jesus died on the cross, he brought victory for you and for me. He broke the chains that Satan had used to hold us captive. Satan no longer has the authority to command or control us. Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, He gained the victory for you and for me!
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
3. We have a defense that is impenetrable.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which, you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
God has given us some awesome armor that will protect us against every attack of the enemy. I’m sure that you have heard many sermons on this armor and many explanations of each piece. For a moment though, I want you to forget the image of being in a battle. Just concentrate on what this armor represents… hope, truth, righteousness, peace and faith. When you are armed with these things, Scripture records that you will be able to stop every dart that Satan throws at you. He didn’t just say some… He said all. Your defense is impenetrable.
In order for us to be able to take the attacks of Satan and still remain standing, we’ve got to have on armor. Very rarely does Satan come at us with a frontal attack. He is a terrorist. He waits until the darkness is all around us. He hits below the belt. He comes at us from behind and when we least expect it. Then look at vs 13 [read]. He says, “takes up the whole armor”.
This is not a buffet where you can pick and choose which pieces of the armor you want. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Each piece of armor is inter-connected with the rest. “to withstand in the evil day,” (V13) The evil day is the day of Satan’s attack. You and I do not know when the attack is to begin. We don’t know when exactly…when we will be tempted. We have to be prepared at all times. The evil day, the day of temptation is coming. That is not in doubt. The timing is the only thing we don’t know about.
As Christians, we have a defense that is impenetrable. The armor can only protect us though… if we remember to put it on. So… put it on, as an act of faith and preparation every day as you get out of bed. The armor…The Full Armor, is necessary for our protection.
As a part of God’s army, the greatest army in the universe, we are not just interested in holding our own…protecting the homeland. We want to attack evil wherever it is and destroy it. That’s where our offensive weapons comes in.
4: We have an offense that is unstoppable.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Our greatest weapons are the Words of God and prayer. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18) We have an offense that is unstoppable – not even Satan and all his forces can stop the advance of God and his army.
This afternoon, we have looked at 4 reasons that we can fight as a part of God’s army in spite of our fear.
1. We have a commander that we can trust – Jesus.
2. We have an opponent who has already been defeated – Satan.
3. We have a defense that is an impenetrable – truth, righteousness, salvation, peace, and faith.
4. We have an offense that is unstoppable – God’s Word and prayer.
“take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit”. Do you have this helmet? Are you…without a single doubt, know that you are saved, and that the Commander has a hold on you? If you are then that’s good!!! Which will also mean that, you have the “sword of the Spirit”, which is the word of God, that is living in you! With the word of God active and living inside you, no man, angels, demons…not even satan himself can destroy! Nothing can stop the most powerful weapon in this world and the next…that is the words of God!
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”. Prayer is one more offensive weapon that the believers carry. No one…not even satan himself can defeat the power of the one who is praying in the Spirit. Paul’s dependent on prayer is evident on all the books that he has written. It shows humility, surrender and trust in the One that He is praying to!
Praying for yourself, and also for the saints. Your brothers and sisters. When the whole body of believers prays, no enemy can win! No saint will ever be defeated. All will persevere to the end, because they follow their Commander who has gone before them in battle!
“for which I am an ambassador in chains” This need to be true for every believer. We represent Christ. The same way our soldiers represent this great country of ours. We are connected, chained to Christ if you will. Where we can never be separated! From birth, to death…to Eternity, we are in Christ!
(V19) and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
The Apostle Paul, asked for prayer to continue. This is Paul here that we are reading. He was asking for prayers. That man that wrote many letters in the Bible. One who has faced many trials and difficulties in his life. He was asking for prayers. We can never be like Paul. Or even face the same trials that he faced. But one thing we all have in common, like Paul…we can all use a little prayer!!! A little prayer for faith, strength, trust, persevere, healing, guidance, you name it. We all need prayers!!!
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John links this gospel to the original creation, echoing the first book of Moses. (Genesis 1:1 In the beginning) Faith in the deity of Christ is necessary to being a Christian. It is an essential part of the New Testament Gospel of Christ. Throughout the years, the church has been forced to deal with people who claim to be Christians while denying or distorting the deity of Christ.
Today we will consider the first 5 verses of John's Gospel. This amazing Book of the Bible is like none other. John's Gospel is all about Jesus and His saving work. It focuses on the last three years of Jesus’ life. In this Gospel account, John the Apostle goes into great details concerning Christ's Death and Resurrection. He states the ultimate purpose of this book in….
30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
It is written to help people believe in Christ and have eternal life. John was an eye witness of the life of Jesus. He mentions this in the opening of his first Epistle…
1 John 1:1
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.
John knew Jesus personally, he was chosen, called and commissioned by Him. This man lived with Jesus, he laughed and cried with Jesus and he walked with Him daily for a period of three years. Along with James, Peter, John and the rest of the Apostles…they were part of Jesus' inner circle. John is the man who laid his head on Jesus' shoulder at the last supper, he is the only disciple seen at the Cross, he was one of the first to witness the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ. Throughout this Gospel, John refers to himself as "the Disciple whom Jesus loved".
As you read this amazing book you will see Who Jesus is. In order for us to be more like Jesus, we need to grow closer to Jesus. To grow closer to Jesus, we must seek to know Him better. I believe that you can learn more about Jesus from John's Gospel, than in any other book in the Bible. (That’s is why I always encourage new believers and even all you to start reading the Book of John)
We can learn much about the personality of our Savior in John's Gospel. We see the passion of Jesus as He gets angry and casts the money changers from the Temple. We see the boldness of Jesus when He tells the unbelieving Jews that Satan was their father. We see the humanity of Jesus in the fact that He got tired and hungry. We see the compassion of Jesus as He reached out to the outcasts of society. We see the emotional side of Jesus as He wept at the grave of Lazarus. We see the humbleness of Jesus as He bows and washes the feet of His disciple. We see the forgiveness of Jesus as He forgives and restores Peter for his denial.
The Gospel of John also records what Jesus had to say Himself about who He is…
- I am the bread of life. (John 6:48)
- I am the light of the world. (John 8:12)
- I am the door: (John 10:9)
- I am the good shepherd (John 10:11)
- I am the resurrection, and the life: (John 11:25)
- I am the way, the truth, and the life: (John 14:6)
- I am the true vine: (John 15:1)
( Please Keep In One Slide)
There are many names and titles of Jesus recorded in the Book of John, but in the very first verse of this Gospel, John refers to Jesus as "The Word". The reason for this is that Jesus existed before He was born. "God the Son" existed long before His incarnation there in Bethlehem. The name 'Jesus' was only given to Him when He was born as a human being.
Here, John uses the Greek word 'Logos' or "The Word" to describe Him. If you want to express yourself to someone how do you do it? You use "words". God used "The Word" (Jesus Christ) to express Himself to mankind. As "The Word" Jesus was God's message to mankind. When Jesus walked the earth as a man He expressed what was going on in the mind of God. Jesus revealed the thoughts of God to mankind. This is just one more of the evidences of God's love toward you and me.
Through "The Word" God sent us a message of love, hope, forgiveness, salvation and so much more. I would like to take some time and consider the importance of "The Word". So, let's walk through the first 5 verses of the Gospel of John and examine "Jesus: The Word Of God"
Let's start by:
1: IDENTIFYING THE WORD OF GOD
We have already stated that "The Word" is none other than Jesus Christ. But I want to dig a little deeper on that subject, in verse 1, John has something to say about, HIS EXISTENCE - "In the beginning was the Word"
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The words “in the beginning” sound familiar...right? There is an important reason for that. Without a doubt, the Bible is the most famous, longest lasting and most important Book in History. And the very first words in the Bible are "in the beginning (God created the Heavens and the Earth". The first thing that John tells us about Jesus is that He created the universe.
(v3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made)
The phrase "in the beginning" tells us that Jesus existed before there was a world. Paul also mentions this in…
17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
This means that before light, before darkness, before the Sun, moon, and stars, before the earth and the galaxies... Jesus existed. Before there was any time or any matter, there was the Word.... Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus was there when God moved to make man in His image. - Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness". Jesus was there in the beginning and He was there before the beginning!
As we move a little further we will see that John also mentions… HIS INDIVIDUALITY - "and the Word was with God"
Jesus was present before the foundation of the World. The fact that He was "with God" shows us that He is… was and always will be a distinct person. He is co-equal in the Trinity along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not someone that God created when He realized the World needed a Savior. God knew that we would need a Savior, before the Word was ever created and He knew that Jesus would be that Sacrifice before the foundation of the World.
“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”.
The fact is, there NEVER…was a time when He... THE WORD, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST DID NOT EXIST!
Let's also take a moment and consider, HIS AUTHORITY- "and the Word was God"
(In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.) The Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus Christ, was and is God. Because of this, we worship Jesus Christ as God. Just as Thomas fell before Him in…
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
We fall before Him and confess "My Lord and my God". Jesus is, our Savior, our Lord, our God. Because He is God... He possesses all authority! When giving the Great Commission to His Disciples Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
Let me make this very clear church… Jesus did not receive His authority at His incarnation or His ascension. Jesus... the Son of God has always possessed total authority in heaven and on earth.
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Jesus is truly the Word of God! Now that we have identified the Word of God, let's take a moment and consider:
2. THE WORD AND HIS RELATIONSHIP TO THE FATHER:
He was in the beginning with God.
The Word... Jesus Christ was with God, and He was God. This means that Jesus is God and it means that He has a relationship with God. To clarify, He is God the Son and He has a relationship with God the Father. This passage of scripture points us to the Doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons: 1) God The Father 2) God The Son 3) God The Holy Spirit
There is no way to fully understand or explain the Doctrine of the Trinity...but there are 3 facts that we must make clear. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, each Person is fully God, and there is only one God.
1. The Bible speaks of the Father as God …
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The Bible speaks of Jesus as God…
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
3. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as God…
3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
There is Biblical evidence to support the fact that these are 3 distinct personalities. Since the Father sent the Son into the world, He cannot be the same person as the Son. After the Son returned to the Father, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must be distinct from the Father and the Son. On one occasion we see all three present at the same time. (When Jesus was Baptist)
10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Here, we see Jesus being baptized by John, we hear the Father speaking from heaven and we see the Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove as Jesus comes out of the water. Again, I declare to you... The Word (Jesus Christ) is 100% God! As we continue I would like to also consider:
3. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORD TO MANKIND:
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
"the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”, (John 1:14) Mankind needed a Savior. The Bible tells us that…
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Because of this, we could never be reconciled to God on our own. For this reason, we need a Savior. In His love, God sent His only Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. (John 3:16)
"The Word"... (Jesus Christ) willingly left the glories of Heaven and took on a robe of human flesh.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage, rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!
There in Bethlehem the precious Son of God was born into this World. Mary's Baby Boy grew up and became a man. For over 3 years He traveled this earth and taught with great authority. He healed the sick and gave sight to the blind. He made the deaf to hear, the mute to speak and the lame to walk. He cast out demons, cleansed lepers and He even raised the dead.
The precious Son of God loved us all. In fact, He loved us so much that He went to the Cross to save us from our sins. There on Calvary He died for us, they placed His body in a tomb and three days later He rose again… and He lives forever more. After His resurrection He was seen by many witnesses and in due time He ascended back to Heaven. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father.
I know we have covered some things today that are difficult to comprehend. But the most important truth in the history of the world is the easiest to understand. Jesus Christ, "The Word Of God", came to this earth to save you and me from our sins. He came to make a way for mankind to have eternal life.
Why would the Creator become part of His creation? Why did Jesus take on that robe of human flesh? Why was He willing to suffer and die? You must understand that what He did, He did for you and for me. Jesus came to die so that we may live eternally! Listen to what He said in…
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Jesus came in order for us to have life and to have it more abundantly! (John 10:10) Jesus came to bring life where there was death, and John also tells us that Jesus came to "bring light into darkness"….
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Jesus came to deliver lost mankind from the darkness and to bring them into His glorious light: He said in…
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Jesus came into this world to bring light into our spiritual darkness. But verse 5 says that "the darkness did not comprehend it." When the "Light" (Jesus) came into this dark world, the wicked people of this world despised and rejected Him.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
The same is still true today. The majority of mankind still continues to reject Jesus, the darkness refuses the light! Sin blinds the mind to the beauty and excellency of the character of the Lord Jesus. Jesus spoke of this in…
19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
If you die lost in your sins... this will be the reason for your demise! You do not have to die and go to Hell. That is the last thing that God wants for you! You mean so much to Him that He left the glories of Heaven and came to this earth for you! Truly, "the Word became flesh".
Jesus did what we could never do, and because of this, we have the opportunity to receive eternal life. I hope you understand that you can be saved today... you can be born again, and it is all possible because of "Jesus: The Word Of God". Only Jesus can save and forgive us of our sins. Without Christ…without receiving forgiveness, we are still in darkness and our only destination is hell and eternal punishment.
Why would anyone choose or want that? Believe in “The Word”. Because… “THE WORD BECAME FLESH”.
HE HAS SPOKEN!!!
9 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. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The message is outlined in Romans 10:9-10. It is a simple message. It is a universal message. It is the ultimate message. It is the only message that will truly solve the problems of men and women all over the world. It is also a proven message. It has been in place for thousands of years and there are countless souls who will testify that God's message is the Truth!
God has always had a way of delivering His message to mankind. In the past He has spoken directly to men. He has spoken through Angels, Prophets, and The Apostles. He speaks to us through His Holy Word...the Bible. He speaks through the conviction of His Holy Spirit. Today He uses His people...The Church to deliver this message to a lost and dying world. God's desire is that lost men and women would hear His message and be saved from their sins.
Romans 10:9-10 tells us exactly how salvation is possible.
The purpose of God's message of salvation is described in the phrase - "you will be saved", v9. God had a plan in sending His only Son to the earth. His plan was not to bring us prosperity. His plan was not intended to bring peace on earth. His plan was not to make us happy and get whatever we want. His plan was not to make the world a better place. Of course, that is until He makes all things new, as mentioned in Rev 21:5. For God to make anything new, He needs to destroy the old.
Gods great plan of salvation was mentioned in…
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
As you can see from the first two verses that we have read, it was a simple message, right? We
Really don’t need to over think it, there’s really no need to analyze Gods message! As you can see from John 3:16, “that whoever believes”, and also from Romans 10:10, “with the heart one believes”. Gods great plan…His message was to bring the sinner to believe! As you all know, that is only possible by the power of His Spirit, by drawing the sinner to His Son.
It was made to be just a simple message with a great Sacrifice. Sadly…mankind tried to change the message…one that can confuse, and YES!!!, even condemn the hearer. Gods message of salvation through His Son was meant to give people HOPE! Churches today, likes to add to Gods great message. For example: “you have to be good to be saved, do good that can out weigh the bad”. “you have to have one of the Spirits gifts… as proof that you are saved”. (Tongue, Interpretation, healing and so on) “You have to go through certain classes to be able to partake of the Lords Supper”. It is mankind that ruins Gods great salvation. Gods message was and is perfect!! Why change it or add to it!
When Jesus came He came with a plan. He didn't come to promote preachers. He didn't come to build big buildings. He didn't come to start a bunch of programs. He told us why He came in…
11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
We tend to look at a church's success by how large the crowd is on Sunday. But keep in mind, regardless of how big the church is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all saved. That’s why Jesus warned us through the Parable of the wheat and tares. Jesus wasn't concerned with buildings full of people... (He still isn't) Jesus is the One that would leave 99 sheep in order to go out and rescue the one that was lost!! (Matthew 18:12-13).
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
The purpose of the message was so specific and so intimate that Jesus came, and done it all!!!
The Purpose of God's message was to save lost sinners! And that is still His plan and desire today! Not only do we see the purpose of God's plan, as we move further we will see, the reason that we needed a Savior. It is because we were wretched sinners! There on Calvary, Jesus shed His precious blood. That blood is the only thing that can wash away our sins!!
The Bible says that "our righteousness is as a filthy rag". If you have never been saved, you are stained with sin... and you cannot clean yourself up! But God's plan of salvation can make the vilest sinner clean. No matter where you have been or what you have done, Jesus' blood can wash away your sin!! There is no sin to big...There is no sinner too lost.... Jesus can MAKE YOU CLEAN TODAY!! No matter your situation, Jesus can make you pure.
What about a murderer? ...HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE! What about a thief? ...HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE! What about a prostitute ...HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE! What about a drug user? HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE! What about a drug dealer? ...HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE! What about an alcoholic? ...HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE! What about a homosexual? ...HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE! What about an adulterer? ...HE CAN MAKE THEM PURE!
Only Jesus can make anyone a new creation. Like I had mentioned earlier, to make something new, God has to destroy the old.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Sure…You say, "but I have never done any of these things... I am a good person". You are just as lost and need a savior just as much as the man on death row!! The good news is through God's message of salvation, JESUS CAN MAKE YOU PURE TOO!!! JESUS CAN MAKE YOU NEW!!!
In Mark chapter 1, Jesus encountered a leper. This man was considered unclean. But Jesus was "moved with compassion". - If you are here today and you have never been saved... YOU ARE UNCLEAN! But Jesus was moved with compassion for you! You are the reason He came!
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
On that day, that leper experienced life changing compassion! Jesus touched him, and he was made clean! No one else would have touched him or show him compassion But Jesus did! There may not be anyone in this world who cares about you...but Jesus does!! And He will reach out and touch you today. When Jesus touched that leper... he was cleansed…made new. The same can happen for you!! He can change you, make you new today.
Jesus encountered a corrupt tax collector named Zacchaeus. (Luke 19) He was in a tree and Jesus told him to come down. Before his feet touched the ground, his life was changed! Zacchaeus may not have known that at that time, but after talking with Jesus his life was changed forever. Through the story of Zacchaeus, you can see a sinner receiving forgiveness, being made new, and repenting for what he has done. “Jesus said to him, “today salvation has come to this house”.
In Mark chapter 5, Jesus encountered a man who had been banished to the tombs. Everyone was terrified of this man. They would bind him with chains and he would break loose. It seemed that there was no hope for him. He spent his days naked and running around the graveyard. Initially, when Jesus came on the scene this man wanted nothing to do with Jesus.
In most cases...sinners don't want to be saved! That may be the case for you today! You may not want to be here. You do not feel that you need Jesus because you are a good person. You have been hurt and are skeptical of other Christians. You are sick of preachers telling you what to do. You are tired of sermons. You ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls you and you refuse. He calls again, and you reject Him. After a while many will refuse and rebel.
This man was controlled by demons. Jesus said to the demons…"come out of him". And the man was transformed. Jesus had the power to change his situation!!! Jesus sent the demons into a herd of pigs/swine and they ran off a cliff and drowned in the sea.
There was a great transformation on that day. The crazy naked man is now clothed. He was no longer running in the graveyard. He was no longer crazy. He was found in right mind sitting and talking with Jesus. If Jesus could do that for this man... HE CAN DO THE SAME FOR YOU!! HE CAN MAKE YOU PURE TODAY!!
This purity is possible because of the power of Jesus. Let's look for a moment at the power in God’s plan. We could never make it to Heaven on our own. But God has the power to accomplish His plan!
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus has the power to deliver you from your sins today! To the man controlled by demons, He said "come out"...and he came out. To Zacchaeus He said "come down"... and he came down. To Jairus' daughter He said "wake up"...and she woke up. To Lazarus He said "come forth"...and he came forth. To the woman with the issue of blood He said "be whole"... and she was whole. One day He is going to say to the church "Come up here… and they went up to heaven in a cloud”.
The One who spoke the world into existence has the power to save you from your sins! You are dead in those trespasses and sins. But He can speak to you and make you alive today!! JESUS HAS THE POWER TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PLAN!
Moving on…I would like for us to examine Gods pleasure in His plan…
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
Think about what we see in this verse. “It pleased the Lord/Father to bruise Him". That is how important you are to the Father! He loved you so much that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son for you! The Father still gets pleasure from His plan of Salvation. Jesus said in…
10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Every time a sinner comes, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels. Every time someone is saved, the Lord is pleased! The entire Trinity rejoices at the plan. In this plan the Father sent the Son to be our Savior! In this plan the Son came to redeem us! In this plan the Holy Spirit communicates the need for salvation! Convicts us of our sin! Connects us with the Savior!
Have you ever purchased something that required assembly? You take the instructions and look at the plan. Step by step you follow those instructions. Then you flip the switch and it works! Great joy comes from your success!! God designed the plan of salvation, and every time it works He is pleased. Whenever lost souls turns to Jesus for salvation the Father is pleased. It is my prayer that the Father is pleased today!!!
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I believe that the day when one is saved, Jesus said IT WAS WORTH IT ALL! It was worth the pain, agony and suffering of the cross! If you are lost and you surrender to Jesus today, HE WILL FIND PLEASURE IN THE PLAN OF SALVATION!!!
You see… “Gods Message Of Salvation” Comes with great promises…
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
A promise of protection…. One of His greatest promises is found in…
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
In this verse we are promised Rest, resurrection, redemption, a return, a reunion and a residence/our future home.
There on Calvary next to Jesus was a man being crucified because of his sins. He suffered the earthly consequences of his actions. But he realized that Jesus was THE Savior. He cried out to Jesus. He simply said, "Lord remember me'. Jesus promised him that he would be with Him in paradise! This man had never heard Romans 10:9-10. (It hadn't been written yet) But he was saved in the same manner described in these verses. He was saved the way I was. If you are going to be born again, you must come the same way. You must go by “God's Message Of Salvation!”
I do hope and pray that the message today has given you and I a clear understanding of where our salvation lies. It is planned by God, the message was given by God. And God accomplished His plan of salvation through His Son…Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
When we look at what is waiting for us there is a great desire to go to be with the Lord. I am not referring to suicidal tendencies... I am talking about being homesick for our Heavenly Home. We long to be reunited with loved ones who have already gone to that place. There are troubles, trials and tribulations that we long to escape. But greater than that those things that are in Heaven and greater than what will not be in Heaven is the fact that when we leave this walk of life we will forever be in the presence of God our Father and Jesus our Savior.
The Apostle Paul wants to be with Christ but also to remain on earth for the sake of the church. This was his dilemma. However, the outcome is in Gods hands, and Paul is confident that God has further work for him to do among the church.
Though Heaven is enticing we must not forget that we are on Earth for a reason. We were chosen for a purpose, given an assignment. In fact, the reason that we are still on this earth is because God is not finished with us yet! There are people all around you who could (and should) benefit from your life for Christ. There are lost people who need to hear about salvation through Christ and there are saved people who need to be mentored, encouraged and discipled.
So, just like Paul... many of us find ourselves in a dilemma. We are living for Christ here on earth and longing for heaven. That is the subject that I would like for us to consider today. Let's walk through Philippians 1:21-26 and consider some desires of those who are "Living For Christ, Longing For Heaven".
As Paul struggled with this great dilemma, he had several different desires. And I am sure that we can all agree that we too… face the same dilemma.
1) He Had A Desire To Leave.
2) He Had A Desire To Live.
3) He Had A Desire To Labor
For many of us who are born again we have those same desires simultaneously. Look with me to verses 21 & 23 as we see that:
1: THERE IS A DEIRE TO LEAVE:
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
It is clear that… Paul greatly desired to leave this walk of life and enter into eternity with his Savior. This is understandable considering the struggles that he had endured. He described some of these difficulties in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. He states that he had been in and out of prison, whipped time and again, five separate times he had received 39 lashes, many times he had faced death. On 3 occasions he was beaten with rods, he had been stoned, shipwrecked and lost at sea. He had traveled many weary miles, been robbed and beaten, he was persecuted by Jews & Gentiles. He encountered danger in cities, deserts and on the sea. He did without food when he was hungry and sufficient clothes when he was cold. Along with all of this he carried a heavy burden for all of the churches. It is no wonder that Paul was homesick.
The Apostle had faced even more hardships since he had penned those words in
2 Corinthians. In fact, the words we read in Philippians were written while Paul was bound in a Roman prison. Not only was he imprisoned, he was getting older and his health was failing. Though his body was deteriorating, his soul was getting stronger and every day he longed for Heaven more and more. The same is true for many of us... we look at the troubles of this life and we get homesick for Heaven!
There are several reasons that we are longing to leave. One reason is that:
A: We Are Going To A Place With No More Sorrow: Through God's Word we are told of a place where…
4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
WOW!!! Sign me up! I want to go to this place. Who wouldn’t? This life is filled with sorrow. But in Heaven we will never sit in a hospital room and watch our loved ones suffer. Never again will we see our children hurt and struggle. We will not have to stand beside a casket and shed a tear at the loss of a loved one.
There will be no more bad news from the doctor. In fact, there will not be any doctors there. We will not have to deal with Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Arthritis, Strokes, Alzheimer's, or any other ailment. (And of course, the number one enemy of the Fil-Am church…GOUT!!!)
NO MORE ILLNESS!!!
In Heaven, there will be no more hospitals, nursing homes or funeral homes. We will not have to deal with these old broken down, decaying bodies, because there… we will have a new, eternal glorified body! That alone is enough to make us long for Heaven, Right!!! The reason for all of the problems and sorrow that we face in this life can be traced back to sin. But praise God...
B. We Are Going To A Place With No More Sin: Notice what the scripture says in…
27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
How great to know that sin cannot follow us to that wonderful place. I for one, (and Im sure many of you can agree) am sick and tired of sin. I am tired of struggling with sin. I am tired of seeing sin. I am tired of the consequences of sin. I am tired of living in a world of sin. I am glad that we have already been delivered from the penalty and power of sin, and when we get to heaven we will be delivered from the very presence of sin!
Heaven is a place with no more murder, adultery, homosexuality, covetousness, jealousy, greed, pride, anger, hate, war or any other transgression. That is reason enough for us to long to leave. But it gets even better…
C. We Are Going To A Place With No More Satan - Satan desires to defeat and destroy the children of God. He is very powerful and will do all that he can to see you and I, suffer and fail. Peter reminds us in…
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
When we seek to live a life that is Holy and pleasing to God our Adversary will do all that he can to get us to fall. This is his reason for living. This is a daily event for the devil. To make you and I stumble and fall. But when we get to Heaven, never again will we have to deal with Satan. We have confidence in this fact because of what the Bible says in…
10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
That is just one more reason that we and Paul, “Desire To Leave.” But with all of the benefits of leaving this walk of life and gaining our promised reward, there is also a desire to remain here on earth. Let's look to verses 21 & 22 and examine the fact that…
2: THERE IS A DESIRE TO LIVE:
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
Here Paul states that for him, living means living for Christ. Though he faced extreme difficulty and suffered great hardships and even though he knew that a better place was waiting for him in Heaven, he had an intense desire to live.
There is a natural desire in every human being to continue to live. Many would like to live as long as possible. This is why many exercise, eat right and take care of ourselves. If you are diagnosed with a serious disease you are willing to do whatever it takes to try to beat that diagnosis… There is a natural desire to live.
But I want you to consider for a moment your motivation for living. What inspires you to keep pressing on?
Some want to get through college and begin a career. Those who have a career want to climb the corporate ladder. Others are hoping to reach retirement age so that they can "enjoy life". There are others who are hoping to fall in love and get married. Some who are married look forward to having children.
Some want to live long enough to see their children grow up and have a family of their own. Then when this happens they want to stick around long enough to see their grandchildren grow up and graduate high school and then college. Then they want to see them have a family of their own.
There is nothing wrong with having these desires. (Personally) There are many things that I would like to see before my time comes. I want to see my boys grow old and have a family of their own. I want to have grandchildren and hear being called grandpa! I want to help them be successful. Guide them and give them some advice on being husband and a father.
I love the idea of growing old with my wife. (Remind each other that we are forgetting stuff.)
I want to see what God is going to do here in this church. I would love to see our Sunday school kids start on ministries…see what God has prepared for them. Though these desires may be honorable, they should not be our supreme motivation for living.
Paul did not just desire to live out of a fear of dying. He did not desire to remain just to see how things turned out. His desire was to live… but ultimately, he desired to live for Christ. And this should be our hearts desire as well. After all, we owe Him our life.
There Is A Desire To Leave, There Is A Desire To Live and we also see in this passage that:
3: THERE IS A DESIRE TO LABOR:
24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Though Paul possessed a desire to go and be with Christ, he realized that it was more important that he remain and finish the work that had been assigned to him. He didn't know it, but at this point in his life he had some years left before Christ took him home to glory. What he did know was that there was still work to be done and he was ready and willing to serve his Master. The Apostle wanted to reach people with the gospel. He wanted those converts to be discipled. He wanted the churches to be strengthened.
What is our supreme motivation for living? Is it to fulfill our dreams? It is to mark items off of our bucket list? Is it to make as much money and buy as much stuff as possible? Are we living each day building our kingdom or His? In the kindest way possible let me say... if we are not living every day for Christ, we are wasting our life!
Are the things that we are focused on things that will last throughout eternity? Remember what Jesus said in…
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
The ultimate goal of our life should not be to leave your family a great monetary inheritance when you die.
- Maureen Ebel, 60, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a widow who was left millions by her husband. But she lost over 7 million dollars in Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. Listen to this quote from her in the Philadelphia Enquirer - "This is my fate, I was married, had a fabulous marriage to a man I loved and worshipped, a physician. We travelled. We had a very fine life. And he's dead. He died, and every penny I had in the world has gone." Ebel now spends her days cleaning other people's houses to make ends meet. Her husband thought he would be able to care for his beloved wife even after his death and look at what happened.
- Country singer Conway Twitty left a great fortune to his children in his will. But for years his children and their stepmother fought a lengthy court battle over his estate and the lawyers ended up getting most of what he left behind.
Many other individuals have spent a lifetime earning untold millions and buying everything that their hearts desired and when they died they could not take one thing with them! Some men have neglected their families…building a great business. Their intention was to leave that company as a legacy for their family. Many times, before they are even cold, and in the ground, that business is sold to the highest bidder.
We can spend this life seeking to attain material wealth, but in the end the things of this world will pass away. But it is possible to leave a legacy that will last throughout eternity! When we live our life for Christ we can indeed store up treasures in Heaven.
My family do not have much in this life. God has indeed blessed us, but we are far from what this world considers wealthy. Our newest vehicle is 13 years old, the other is over 18 years old. We live in a house that we are still trying to pay off. For the most part we live paycheck to paycheck. There always seems to be more month at the end of the money. But we are happy, blessed, thankful and yes…rich!!!
Through God's Word I know that there are treasures waiting for us in Heaven. We have been promised Crowns from our Savior. I have a mansion waiting for me in Glory. One day I will literally walk on streets of gold. Because of this, I have A Desire To Leave. But even with this great promise, I have A Desire To Live.
Though Heaven is waiting, there is still work to do here on earth! But my Desire To Live is joined with A Desire To Labor. More than anything this world has to offer, I want to live this life having an eternal impact. When I take my last breath and step into eternity I want to know that my precious wife is going to spend eternity in Heaven. I want to know that my boys know Jesus as their personal Savior. I want my extended family to have assurance that Heaven can be their home.
I want my friends to experience God's saving grace. I want to tell strangers about salvation through Christ. And I want to do all that I can to help those that are saved to grow in their walk with Jesus.
I can honestly say, I have A Desire To Labor! God has…by His Spirit has placed that desire in my heart. As Gods children, we should also have that same desire that Paul had? Do you want to live your life laboring for the King? Ask yourself... "what am I doing with the life I have been given? When God said that, He calls everyone for a purpose, “am I fulfilling that purpose?”
Do you realize that you will one day stand and give and account to your Savior?
2 Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Paul faced a dilemma… he desired to be with Christ in Heaven and to serve Him here on earth. Somewhere around 57 AD Paul mentioned his desire to leave and be with Christ. This is seen in…
2 Corinthians 5:8-9
8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
Paul’s final words were written in…
2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
When time came for him to leave, Paul could do so with confidence. In my heart…Lord willing, by His grace, I would also love to say these words when my time comes. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And I am sure…without a doubt, many… if not all of you feel the same way. We can do this church…but only if we put our faith and trust in our Lord Jesus to see us through to the end! And on to ETERNITY!!!
Pastor Richard Santos
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