Follow the True Star of Christmas (Matthew 2:1-12)

  • this morning I want to take you on a journey with me, back two thousand years ago
  • I want to tell you a story of two kingdoms - two kingdoms that are still present and competing for our interests today
  • BUT FIRST I HAVE TO SET THE SCENE FOR YOU
  • [when]
  • it's a familiar story, but somewhat clouded by years of tradition
  • this story, contrary to what you might think, didn't take place in a manger, and it didn't take place when Jesus was a newborn baby
  • there were no accidental meetings between shepherds and the characters of this story, for this story took place when Jesus had grown perhaps to the stage of crawling, or perhaps even at the stage when Jesus had begun to walk
  • for it took place, not the night of Jesus' birth, but within the first two years of Jesus' birth

  • [where]
  • and it took place not in a manger, but according to Matthew 2:11 in a house
  • Mary and Joseph, and their child Jesus, lived in a house in a small, nondescript town called Bethlehem
  • it was nothing more than a small village
  • some significant things had happened there - it was in Bethlehem that Jacob buried Rachel; it was here that Ruth met and married Boaz
  • and it was here that David, the great king of Israel, grew up and tended sheep
  • but it was only a small village, five or six miles south of Jerusalem, cradled between two ridges

  • those of you with young children can imagine that life for Mary and Joseph had begun to return to normal
  • gone were the shepherds, although as they left they had broadcasted the news of Jesus' birth to everyone in the area
  • but in that small, insignificant town, life began to return to normal
  • they had found a house in Bethlehem in which to live
  • Jesus was growing, able to do new things all the time
  • as new parents, Mary and Joseph would sit there amazed at how their little baby was developing
  • for reasons unknown to us, they hadn't yet returned to their hometown of Nazareth
  • but life was beginning to return to normal for Mary, Joseph, and their growing infant Jesus

  • [characters]
  • but let me introduce you to three sets of characters that make up today's story
  • the first character, and probably the most colorful, is introduced in Matthew 2:1 as King Herod
  • this is the first of several Herods mentioned in the New Testament
  • to be honest, I had always pictured a male equivalent to Queen Elizabeth - sort of a regal, distinguished gentleman
  • to be sure, Herod the Great had his good points
  • he built theatres and race tracks
  • he rebuilt and embellished important cities
  • during the great famine of 25 BCE, he melted down various gold objects in the palace to buy food for the poor
  • he was a capable and clever warrior, orator, and diplomat
  • he even began the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
  • so Herod did have his good points

  • but Herod the Great was also a despot, a megalomaniac
  • he could be cruel and merciless
  • he was incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his own position and power
  • Herod did not take any competition lightly
  • he appointed a man named Aristobulus - his brother-in-law - to be high priest in Jerusalem
  • but when Aristobulus began to look too popular, Herod had his servants drown him in a pool to make it look like an accident
  • some accident, because later he had his wife killed, and then his mother-in-law killed
  • shortly before Jesus' birth, he had his two favorite sons killed, and then after Jesus was born, he had a third son executed

  • one of the greatest indications of his bloodthirstiness and insanity took place shortly after Jesus was born
  • Herod knew that he was going to die
  • and so he ordered all the notable Jews from all parts of the nation to come to him
  • when they arrived, he locked them in the hippodrome
  • realizing how people disliked him, he ordered his sister and her husband to slay all the leaders in the hippodrome at the moment of his death, to ensure national mourning rather than a festival
  • Herod was a despot, a megalomaniac, who wasted no time in killing his competition, even members of his own family as they threatened him
  • that's the first character introduced to us in verse 1

  • the second set of characters introduced to us is mentioned in verse 1 - the Magi
  • right away, banish all ideas you may have of three kings of Orient
  • we know little of these men - we don't even know how many there were
  • we don't know where they were from, except from the East - probably Persia, Arabia, or Babylon
  • they weren't kings; they were astrologers or magicians
  • they were uncircumcised, idol-worshiping, heathen, Babylonian, magician-astrologers
  • they were skilled in astrology and astronomy, and were likely involved in various occult practices, including sorcery, and were noted for their ability to interpret dreams
  • magi had grown to be important and powerful advisors in the Babylonian empire
  • and, because of the number of Jews living where they did, they were probably familiar with some of the Jewish writings we call the Old Testament

  • led by a star, these magi - idol-worshiping pagans - arrived in Jerusalem, and went around asking, "Where is he who is born King of the Jews?"
  • somehow, they had studied and determined that a King had been born in Israel
  • perhaps they had even read the prophecy of Balaam in Numbers 24:17: "A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel."

  • but picture these magi
  • because they were powerful men in the east, it is likely that they arrived with a large contingent of soldiers and servants
  • they had the look of prestige, wealth, and power
  • picture this foreign contingent, surrounded by soldiers and servants, traveling the streets of Jerusalem, asking, "Where is he who is born King of the Jews?"
  • imagine their surprise that nobody in Jerusalem seemed to know about this special baby's whereabouts
  • but they wander around Jerusalem making inquiries, "Where is he who is born King of the Jews?"

  • and how picture Herod
  • cruel Herod, ready to execute anyone who is a threat to his kingdom
  • at this point he is some seventy years old, but not willing at all to entertain competition for his job as king of the Jews
  • read verse 3:
  • (Matthew 2:3) When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
  • when the Bible says that King Herod was disturbed, I think you know what that could mean
  • people didn't want to see paranoid Herod disturbed
  • they knew that when Herod got disturbed it often meant bloodshed
  • and Herod didn't stop to think through carefully who his enemies might be
  • many innocent people could lose their lives
  • no wonder all Jerusalem was disturbed when Herod was disturbed
  • no doubt there was going to be some rebellion, bloodshed, and suffering

  • but there's a third set of characters introduced in verse 4: the chief priests and teachers of the law
  • the chief priests were a group of leading priests, including the current and previous chief priests
  • at that time, this group was nothing more than a bunch of corrupt, religiously oriented politicians
  • they had both political and religious power

  • Matthew also mentions scribes and teachers of the law
  • these were experts in the Old Testament and its oral tradition
  • this was a group of people that likely didn't get along very well with the chief priests
  • but Herod asks these two groups where the Messiah was to be born
  • and they respond, "In Bethlehem"

  • you know how the story develops
  • verse 7 tell s us that Herod met secretly with the magi, asked them when the star had appeared
  • you see, already Herod was planning to kill every male baby of the right age in the small village of Bethlehem and its vicinity, and Herod need to know what age child he should be concerned about
  • Herod would stop at nothing to eliminate potential threats to his rule
  • this was entirely in character for Herod

  • and he sent the magi on their way, asking only that they return and tell him where to find the child, so, he says, he can go and worship too
  • they leave, they find Jesus in the house in Bethlehem, and they worship Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews

  • so use your imagination this morning
  • go back two thousand years
  • picture Mary and Joseph opening their front door, to see these foreign, uncircumcised, idol-worshiping, heathen, Babylonian, magician-astrologers standing there, with a contingent of soldiers and servants
  • imagine the shock as these men came to Jesus - perhaps just a year old - and presented him with valuable gifts

  • imagine the paranoid, delusional Herod, just five or six miles away, waiting further information before he launches his plan of bloodshed
  • just waiting for an opportunity to kill anyone who threatens his reign - even a little child

  • because this story is completely factual
  • and I see myself reflected in it
  • I SEE YOU REFLECTED IN IT AS WELL
  • because in this passage we see examples of three basic responses that people made to Jesus when he was on earth, even when he was a baby
  • and these are the same responses that men and women have made throughout history - the same responses you are making today

  • SOME, LIKE HEROD, ARE HOSTILE TO HIM
  • just as Jesus was a threat to Herod, so Jesus and his kingship are a threat to many people
  • some responded in Jesus' day with intense hatred for him
  • they were threatened by his rule
  • they wanted nothing to do with him
  • and even from the time that he was a baby, people wanted to kill him
  • eventually they did

  • Jesus said as an adult, at a time when even his own brothers didn't believe in him:
  • (John 7:7) The world...hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
  • make no mistake about it: hatred is not too strong a word for what some people feel about Jesus
  • they wish he had never been born

  • Matthew 2:16 says that Herod was enraged when he heard that he had been tricked by the magi, who didn't return to report the location of Jesus to him
  • the word for enraged is a strong word
  • we read that Herod lost control of his passion and became completely controlled by it
  • he knew that the child he was wanting to destroy was the Messiah
  • he arrogantly tried to kill God's very anointed one

  • you might not have the same paranoid and insane hatred of Jesus that Herod did, but be honest
  • do you hate him?
  • are you threatened by his rule?
  • are you trying to do everything in your power to thwart his purposes in your life, to end his kingship?
  • do you hate Jesus like Herod did?

  • Herod the Great left his marble palaces and millions of tons of huge stones
  • Jesus, the King of the Jews, left "living stones," spread around the world
  • today, Herod's kingdom lies broken and scattered beneath sea and earth
  • Jesus' kingdom, on the other hand, will stand forever

  • SOME, LIKE THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND SCRIBES, DIDN'T HATE JESUS, BUT WERE INDIFFERENT TO HIM
  • the priests knew Scripture, and they pointed others to the Savior, but they wouldn't go themselves
  • they knew that God's Word spoke of a literal, personal Messiah - a historical figure, born in Bethlehem, come to rule Israel
  • they quoted Micah 5:2 but didn't obey it
  • they were five miles from the very Son of God, and yet they didn't go to see him!
  • they were indifferent to Jesus

  • throughout history, there have been people who are indifferent to God
  • some, like Herod, are immediately hateful, wanting only to destroy Jesus
  • others, like the chief priests and the scribes, pay little attention to God and his way
  • what they do know, they don't accept or obey
  • at most, he is given lip service
  • eventually, the indifferent group joins the first, because, as one person says, "Indifference to God is simply hatred that is concealed and rejection that is delayed"

  • it's easy to be indifferent to Christ, even at Christmas
  • it's possible to know all the Gospel accounts of Christmas and how he was born, and to live as though Christmas is about Santa, the Nutcracker, Jimmy Stewart, and presents
  • every year we're tempted to capitulate to the trivial pursuits of Christmas: gift-giving; entertaining; over-committing; overspending
  • and we end up becoming indifferent to the true star of Christmas, Jesus Christ

  • it's one thing to be able to know what Christmas is all about
  • it's something altogether different to follow him in our lives - our choices, our priorities, direction, and purpose

  • if you're indifferent to Christ, maybe you need to get down on your knees and confess that you've been keeping Jesus at arm's length
  • he's only a short distance away, and yet you haven't gone to worship him
  • you haven't let him unsettle your personal goals and routines
  • you haven't yet experienced his resurrection power
  • perhaps this Christmas you need to take some concrete steps to avoid following the chief priests and scribes, and remaining indifferent to him

  • but there's a third response
  • some, like Herod, are hostile to him; some, like the chief priests and scribes, are indifferent to him
  • AND SOME, LIKE THE MAGI, WORSHIP HIM
  • (Matthew 2:11) On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
  • the magi offered Jesus expensive and uncommon presents, and fell down and worshiped him
  • these uncircumcised, idol-worshiping, heathen, Babylonian, magician-astrologers who didn't know the Scriptures had the privilege of paying homage to the King of kings

  • our modern culture has turned the Christmas spotlight on holiday heroes like Santa, Martha Stewart, and the local Christmas shop
  • we've deified the pursuits of gift-giving, entertaining, and decorating
  • while there's nothing wrong with these in themselves, they're not what Christmas is about
  • to make this season meaningful, we must not be hostile to Christ, or indifferent to him
  • we must focus on and worship the true star of Christmas - Jesus Christ, God with us

  • let's pray
  • Max Lucado writes, "Those who missed His Majesty's arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren't looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?"
  • as we celebrate His Majesty's arrival at Christmas, our Lord, may we not miss it because we weren't looking
  • we pray that we wouldn't miss it out of hostility or even indifference
  • but may we, like the magi, celebrate the birth of a king, and worship him, bringing him precious gifts
  • in Jesus' name, Amen.
Posted on November 29, 1998 and filed under Uncategorized.

Baptism

  • well, it's getting to that time of year again
  • no, I don't mean Christmas - I mean it's getting to a time in my family where we commemorate two very important events
  • on November 25th, we celebrate the fourth birthday of our daughter, Christina
  • and on December 22nd, we celebrate the eight anniversary of our marriage, and all the years of happiness at least I have had since that time

  • I've found that I tend to be very forgetful about what really matters in my life
  • I know that my marriage and my responsibility as a parent are two of the most important things in my life
  • and yet it's amazing how often I forget this in my daily life
  • it's so easy to forget about what really matters when it comes to making decisions on a minute to minute basis
  • and that's why I've found birthday and anniversary celebrations are wonderful occasions to reflect and to realign priorities
  • and you can guarantee, as an indicator of my love and as a testimony of importance, both events are going to be big deals in my household pretty soon

  • think for a minute what would happen if I neglected these two celebrations
  • probably nothing dramatic would happen - well, actually, if I forgot my anniversary, something dramatic might happen after all!
  • but what would probably happen is that I would communicate neglect and indifference
  • my wife and my daughter would be discouraged
  • and my heart would continue to slide in an unhealthy direction
  • and I would also end up sleeping on the couch
  • that's why these two celebrations are going be important in my life pretty soon

  • I want to talk to you this morning one of the primary celebrations of the Christian faith
  • there's a second practice I'll cover the first Sunday in January, but I want to cover the other one today
  • these two practices are sometimes called ordinances, or in some churches, sacraments - baptism and communion
  • they're important, because if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but are not following him in these two practices, something is missing from your experience
  • you haven't obeyed Christ completely
  • you haven't yet experienced all the blessings that God has planned for your life
  • what's more, you're probably giving indicators of spiritual neglect and apathy within your life

  • if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and haven't obeyed him in the practice of these ordinances, there should be a warning light flashing this morning
  • in light of what we've just witnessed, it might be good to spend a few minutes reflecting on what the Bible teaches about these ordinances or celebrations
  • but this morning I want to talk with you about the practice of baptism
  • it is the initiation rite of the Christian faith
  • baptism is when you go public as a follower of Jesus Christ, the Son of God

  • it's one thing to be committed to God in the privacy of your own home and heart
  • it's another thing to stand before hundreds of people and say, "I am now on record. I publicly proclaim myself to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and this is the primary commitment of my life"
  • baptism is what separates those who are spectators from those who have decided to get into the game

  • I want to tell you, I love baptisms
  • I used to tell my church that the weeks I baptized people, they didn't have to pay me, until they began to take me seriously
  • but really, baptism is a public act of confessing Jesus as Savior
  • and it's an act that brings joy and blessing to a believer

  • I want to ask five important, basic questions about baptism
  • FIRST, WHY SHOULD YOU BE BAPTIZED?
  • one of the most obvious questions is why should I be baptized?
  • this is an especially important question given that the idea of being immersed in a tankful of water in front of hundreds of people doesn't make much human sense
  • it's potentially embarrassing
  • why in the world should anyone be baptized?

  • the first reason you should be baptized, I believe, is to follow the example of Jesus
  • (Mark 1:9) At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
  • we read in Matthew 3 that John the Baptist originally objected to baptizing Christ, but Jesus said:
  • (Matthew 3:15) Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

  • Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, didn't need baptism for sin, but he was still baptized in obedience to God the Father, and as a result God showed his approval
  • when you are baptized, you are following the example of Jesus Christ when he was baptized in the Jordan River centuries ago
  • his baptism served as an example to his followers - to us today
  • that's why we should be baptized

  • the second reason to be baptized is to demonstrate that you really are a believer
  • early on in the Christian faith, the Roman government demanded that people pledge their ultimate allegiance to Caesar
  • baptism is when someone would get up and say, "No! My ultimate allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ. He is my Savior; he's the Lord and Sovereign of my life"
  • at the time, baptism was a subversive act; an act of civil disobedience in that society

  • in many countries around the world today, people still face consequences when they are baptized and declare their allegiance to God
  • they face possible loss of jobs, livelihood, status - even torture and death
  • they become ostracized from their families
  • why? because baptism is a public act of confessing Jesus as Savior
  • it's a demonstration of your commitment to follow him
  • that's why you, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, need to be baptized

  • the third and perhaps most important reason to be baptized is because Christ commanded it
  • (Matthew 28:18) Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
  • (Matthew 28:19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
  • (Matthew 28:20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
  • his last commandment recorded in the Gospel of Matthew is that we baptize followers of Jesus Christ
  • this is what we have been commissioned to do
  • and everywhere the Gospel was preached in the book of Acts, those who responded were immediately baptized in obedience to Christ's command
  • we're going to come back to this in a minute, because baptism really isn't an option for the believer in Jesus Christ
  • it's not something that you do when you reach a certain level of spiritual maturity
  • it's an act in obedience to Christ's command
  • it's a baby step, to be taken soon after you begin following Jesus Christ

  • I promised I would answer five questions about baptism this morning
  • don't worry too much when I tell you I've only answered the first one - why you should be baptized
  • QUESTION NUMBER TWO: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF BAPTISM?
  • you've got to admit that at first glance, the act of being immersed in front of dozens or even hundreds of people doesn't make a lot of sense
  • in essence, baptism is a wonderful object lesson
  • in itself, it doesn't save you
  • there is no magical power in the water
  • but Romans 6:2-5 and Colossians 2:12 teach that baptism is a wonderful object lesson of what's happened internally
  • when you go all the way under the water, it symbolizes the fact that you have been cleansed fully from head to foot and have been totally forgiven
  • it symbolizes that you've taken a kind of spiritual bath
  • as you go under, you identify with Jesus in his death and burial
  • and as you come up, you identify with him in the Resurrection
  • it symbolizes your death and resurrection in Christ
  • (2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

  • baptism shows what Jesus Christ has done for us
  • it shows that we had gone wrong - we had gone far from what God had intended
  • we were separated and had accumulated a debt of sin that could never be repaid ourselves
  • we were spiritually dead - spiritually bankrupt
  • and yet Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came and paid that debt for us, free of charge
  • he died to pay off our debt of sin; he was buried; he rose again to give us new life
  • and baptism is a wonderful object lesson illustrating this amazing truth

  • you see, Jesus suffered for you
  • he was whipped, beaten, and died an agonizing death
  • and he's given you new life
  • that's what baptism represents
  • it's a public act of confessing Jesus as Savior; a sing of your death and resurrection with Christ; and an outward symbol of the inward spiritual baptism into the Holy Spirit

  • ANOTHER QUESTION IS, WHY BE BAPTIZED BY IMMERSION?
  • in other words, how much water does it take to be baptized?
  • this is a question that refers to the method or the mode of baptism

  • there are tremendous differences in this question
  • some churches practice sprinkling; some actually pour water on the one being baptized; others immerse
  • in some traditions, they actually have the people be immersed three times - one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit

  • here at Richview, we believe in being baptized by immersion - being placed completely under the water and being brought back up again
  • we do it for three reasons:
  • we do it because the Greek word baptizo means "to plunge, dip, or immerse" something in water
  • the clear meaning of the word used in the New Testament for baptism meant being placed completely under the water

  • we do it because that's the way Jesus and the early Christians were baptized
  • Mark 1:5 tells us that people were baptized by John "in the river Jordan" - not beside, by or near, but in
  • Mark 1:10 tells us that when Jesus was baptized, "he came up out of the water"
  • (Acts 8:38) And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
  • (Acts 8:39) When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
  • it appears that every baptism in the New Testament was done that way
  • and we do it that way because it best symbolizes our union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection

  • QUESTION NUMBER FOUR: WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
  • is baptism for adult believers or for newborn babies?
  • thoughtful Christians throughout the ages have disagreed on this question
  • our understanding and conviction as a church is that the Scripture teaches that baptism is an expression of the commitment made by the person being baptized
  • and therefore it should be restricted to someone who is mature enough to make that decision and commitment
  • there is not one clear reference to the baptism of an infant in all of the New Testament, although there are many references to the baptism of adults
  • (Acts 2:41) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
  • (Acts 8:12) But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
  • and I could go on and on through the book of Acts

  • this is evident from the very meaning of baptism
  • Paul writes in Galatians 3:27:
  • (Galatians 3:27) for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
  • he assumes that baptism is the outward sign of inward regeneration - something that could not be true of infants

  • here at Richview, we have a celebration called dedication
  • when parents have a child, they stand with all of us together and promise to raise these children to know and love God
  • we believe that baptism is reserved for those who are old enough to make a commitment to God
  • if you are here and made a faith commitment to Christ as a mature person, we believe you need to be baptized now as an adult, even if you were baptized as an infant
  • this is an expression of your choice to follow Christ
  • whether or not you were baptized as an infant, you need to be baptized at the point that you make a mature faith decision

  • THE LAST QUESTION I WANT TO ASK IS, WHEN SHOULD YOU BE BAPTIZED?
  • once you are a believer, should you be baptized immediately, or should you wait until you're more mature in the faith?
  • the answer is simple: be baptized as soon as you have believed!
  • (Acts 2:41) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
  • (Acts 8:35) Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
  • (Acts 8:36) As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"
  • (Acts 8:38) And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
  • there is no reason to delay
  • as soon as you have received Christ into your life, you can and should be baptized
  • if you wait until you're perfect, you'll never feel good enough!
  • if you have not been baptized, and have trusted in Christ for salvation, it would be my honor to baptize you

  • I love baptisms
  • baptisms strengthen and encourage my faith - as it should for everyone who is baptized, and for every believer who witnesses a baptism
  • Wayne Grudem writes, "The amazing truths of passing through the waters of judgment safely, of dying and rising with Christ, and of having our sins washed way, are truths of momentous and eternal proportion and ought to be an occasion for giving great glory and praise to God. If churches would teach these truths more clearly, baptisms would be the occasion of much more blessing in the church."

  • I want to close this service by addressing those of you are Christians but have never been baptized
  • you understand about Jesus and the cross, and you understand about baptism
  • but even though you understand, you're blowing it off
  • you have no plans to obey Christ's command to be baptized

  • I don't understand it
  • because baptism isn't an option, it's a command
  • Jesus died for you; he clearly commands his followers to be baptized as a way of declaring their devotion to him
  • I don't understand how you could know this and say, "I'll become a Christian; but when it comes to this very first step of the Christian life and declaring it before the church and the world, I think I'll pass. When it comes to the first thing Jesus asks me to do - to obey him in baptism - I think I'll ignore him"
  • be honest this morning
  • baptism is not a casual thing
  • don't play games with this
  • stop putting it off
  • don't let embarrassment keep you from being obedience to Jesus on this
  • this is a step you must take, and now is the time to take it
  • and we'll schedule another baptism very soon, I can promise you that

  • friends, we need celebrations to remember what's really important
  • I won 't forget the birthdays and anniversaries in my life
  • but I also won't forget the date that I followed Christ in obedience to his command, and was baptized
  • and every time I witness or participate in another baptism, it still gives me a lump in my throat
  • if you haven't yet believed, or if you haven't yet been baptized as an adult believer, it's time now to act
  • and I pray that scores of us will pass through the waters of baptism in the months to come
  • and we'll tell God, when it comes to baptism and the Lord's Supper, "Whatever we do, we'll do these two"
Posted on November 22, 1998 and filed under Uncategorized.

The Pain of the Cross

  • if you like pain, there's something wrong with you
  • yet the truth is, nobody will ever experience the sort of pain Jesus did on that Good Friday so long ago
  • as Jesus came closer to the cross, his suffering intensified
  • he told his disciples:
  • (Matthew 26:38) Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death."
  • Jesus was in anguish over his approaching death - not only the physical pain, but the separation from God, and the pain of bearing the sins of the world
  • I think it's safe to say that nobody will ever experience the sort of pain that Jesus did

  • I'd invite you to consider with me four types of pain that Jesus experienced at the cross
  • these come from Wayne Grudem's study of the Atonement in his Systematic Theology
  • THE FIRST TYPE OF PAIN JESUS EXPERIENCED WAS PHYSICAL PAIN AND DEATH
  • some people have died pretty awful deaths
  • the Bible never claims that the physical death that Jesus experienced is more painful than what anyone has ever experienced
  • but make no mistake: death by crucifixion was one of the most horrible forms of execution ever devised by man

  • Mark says curtly:
  • (Mark 15:24) And they crucified him.
  • if you lived at that time, you would have a pretty vivid picture of what crucifixion involved
  • now we have some idea, but the ugliness of that death is somewhat lost on us
  • death by crucifixion essentially involved slow death by suffocation
  • the criminal being crucified would have his arms outstretched, and a nail would be driven through the wrist, through median nerve, the largest nerve going from the hand
  • the pain would be worse than that terrible pain felt when you bang your funny bone - you know how painful that is
  • the two feet would be placed together, one on top of the other, and a nail would be driven through them
  • the cross would be raised, and the criminal would have a choice
  • either he could support most of the weight of his body with his arms, in which case his chest cavity would be pulled upward and outward, making it difficult to breath
  • or, when the criminal finally had to breath, he could push himself up with his feet, which would be excruciatingly painful, because it put all his weight on the nails holding the feet, and pulled upwards on the nails that went through the wrists
  • don't forget that the criminal's back had been torn open repeatedly by a previous flogging, and it would scrape against the cross with every breath
  • eventually, amid great pain, the one being crucified would die of asphyxiation
  • you wouldn't want to die that way!

  • in some cases, crucified men would survive for several days, nearly suffocating but not quite
  • the English word "excruciating" comes from "the cross"
  • this is the physical pain that Jesus experienced for you and for me

  • but this wasn't the only type of pain that Jesus experienced
  • HE ALSO EXPERIENCED THE PAIN OF BEARING SIN
  • how do you feel when you have sinned?
  • many of us know the anguish of letting God down
  • we feel terrible, even tortured when we carry the weight of a terrible sin
  • even more so when the sin is a significant one
  • and this only intensifies as we grow closer to God

  • remember that Jesus was perfectly holy
  • Jesus hated sin with his entire being
  • yet, out of obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took upon himself all the sins of those who would one day be saved
  • he took upon himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled
  • every sin of every person who would one day believe was born on that cross by Jesus
  • (Isaiah 53:6) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
  • (2 Corinthians 5:21) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • (1 Peter 2:24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
  • as the hymn says:
  • He took my sins and my sorrows; He made them his very own.
  • He bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone.

  • I have a friend who is allergic to animal hair
  • we were walking through the Canadian National Exhibition's farm exhibit when she started to gasp
  • we had to get out of that building pretty fast, or she literally would have died
  • her system reacted so strongly to animal hair that she couldn't stand to be around animals for even a few minutes
  • the reaction that God has to sin is much stronger than that
  • God can't abide being in the presence of sin
  • he hates it!
  • and yet Jesus willingly took upon himself our sins - all of our sins - just so that we could be forgiven by God

  • not only did Jesus experience physical pain and the pain of bearing our sins,
  • JESUS ALSO EXPERIENCED THE PAIN OF ABANDONMENT
  • you know when I really need my friends?
  • in times of trouble
  • when we are going through difficult times, that is when we really need our friends
  • Jesus was going through his darkest hour, and he cried out to his closest friends for their support:
  • (Mark 14:34) "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
  • and they let him down
  • his friends deserted him

  • when he was arrested, do you remember what happened?
  • (Matthew 26:56) Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
  • these are the disciples of whom it is written:
  • (John 13:1) It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
  • these disciples, to whom Jesus had revealed his love, now turned their backs on him and left him

  • even worse is the abandonment of the Father
  • from eternity Jesus had joined uninterrupted fellowship with the Father
  • even on earth, his deepest joy was his fellowship with the Father
  • it was the one unfailing source of inward strength in and joy in a life filled with sorrow
  • when Jesus bore our sins on the cross, he was abandoned by the Father, who is "of purer eyes than to behold evil" (Habakkuk 1:13)
  • he cried out:
  • (Matthew 27:46) About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
  • he was abandoned, temporarily, by his own heavenly Father, for the first time in eternity
  • one preacher put it this way: "His body was being destroyed in the worst possible way, but that was a flea bite compared to what was happening to his soul."

  • if a mild acquaintance denounces and rejects you - so be it
  • if a good friend does the same, the hurt is much worse
  • but if your spouse walks out on you, that's even more devastating
  • the longer, deeper, and more intimate the relationship, the more tortuous the separation
  • the Son's relationship with the Father was eternal and infinitely greater than the most intimate and passionate human relationship
  • when Jesus was cut off from God, it caused pain in him that none of us can imagine

  • so Jesus experienced physical pain and death, the pain of bearing sin, the terrible pain of being abandoned by his friends and God
  • AND JESUS ALSO EXPERIENCED THE PAIN OF THE WRATH OF GOD
  • God is angry with sin
  • and when Jesus bore the guilt of our sins upon the cross alone, "God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin which God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world" (Wayne Grudem)
  • Romans 3:25 says:
  • (Romans 3:25 NLT) For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was entirely fair when he did not punish those who sinned in former times.
  • it's a myth that God simply forgot about sin and the punishment for sin in generations before Jesus
  • he had forgiven sins, but stored up his righteous anger, generation after generation
  • at the cross all the fury of this stored-up wrath was unleashed against Jesus
  • the pain would have been immense

  • the Bible says:
  • (Hebrews 10:31) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
  • Jesus fell into the hands of the living God, in all his anger
  • he became the propitiation for our sins
  • propitiation is a word that means "a sacrifice that turns way the wrath of God, thereby making him favorable toward us"
  • God demanded that sin be paid for
  • and Jesus paid for the sin

  • Wayne Grudem writes:
  • To bear the guilt of millions of sins for even a moment would cause the greatest anguish of soul. To face the deep and furious wrath of an infinite God for even an instant would cause the most profound fear. But Jesus' suffering was not over in a minute - or two - or ten. When would it end? Could there be yet more weight of sin? Yet more wrath of God? Hour after hour it went on - the dark weight of sin and the deep wrath of God poured over Jesus wave after wave. Jesus at last cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Why must this suffering go on so long? Oh God, my God will you ever bring it to an end?
  • this is the payment that Jesus made on our behalf on the cross

  • Jesus bore the punishment for us when he died
  • you can see that his death involved much more than physical agony
  • he also suffered from the weight of our sins, abandonment, and the fury of God

  • now think
  • Christ bore all the guilt of our sins
  • the bore the full wrath of God against sin, and the penalty that we deserved
  • if you are a believer, your account has been marked "paid in full"
  • as the song says, "Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow"

  • think about what made him bear all this suffering
  • it was your sins and my sins
  • the Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that we are all sinners
  • (Romans 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • heaven saw this sin-problem and its tragic consequences:
  • (Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • this is a gift offered to us all
  • I read an article by Mart DeHaan that tells us about this free gift:
  • it's a gift offered to all
  • God offers this gift to everyone
  • he is no respecter of persons
  • he does not defer to wealth or poverty
  • he doesn't favor good looks or plainness
  • he doesn't care if you're intelligent or average
  • he offers this gift to every person of every nation and social status

  • this gift is needed by all
  • all of us need this gift, because no one can merit eternal life
  • all of us from birth have been guilty of rebellion against God
  • nobody could come up with a substitute for this gift

  • this gift cannot be deserved
  • there is nothing we can do to earn the mercy, love, or forgiveness of God
  • Paul wrote:
  • (Ephesians 2:8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
  • (Ephesians 2:9) not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • no one can earn the gift of salvation
  • (Romans 4:5 NLT) But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work.

  • this gift has been paid for
  • the gift which we can't earn has been fully paid for and is available in our name
  • all legal debts can be cancelled as soon as we accept the offer
  • here's the deal:
  • "Christ's life for our life; his righteousness for our wrongs; his purchase for our willingness to be bought, released and adopted into the family of heaven"

  • this gift must be accepted by faith
  • there is only one condition for receiving this gift: belief
  • we must believe that we are sinners; that Jesus Christ died for our sins; that God wants to give life and forgiveness to all who will believe that Christ died for their sins
  • without faith, we cannot receive this gift
  • only those who trust God can know that he is their only hope for eternity

  • Jesus suffered the pain of the cross to give us this gift
  • thank God that he loved us enough to do this for us!
  • the question for you is clear:
  • will you accept this gift?
Posted on November 1, 1998 and filed under Uncategorized.

Work Hard at Unity (Ephesians 4:1-3)

  • let me begin by asking you a question, and I want you to answer inwardly: why did you come this morning?
  • of all the things you could have done on the first Sunday in November, 1998, why did you come to this place?
  • I'll give you a moment to think, because I want you to really answer this question inwardly
  • and we'll come back to the answer in a minute

  • can I give you one answer?
  • it's found in the passage of Scripture that was read for us earlier
  • (Ephesians 4:1) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
  • Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus, and in Ephesians 4 he makes a transition in this letter from doctrine to practical application
  • and all good application is built on good doctrine
  • for three chapters, Paul has been teaching on the church - the nature and appearance of the church
  • he has challenged the Ephesian believers to function as the living body of Christ on earth - to be the means by which Christ is glorified in a particular geographical location
  • and he says in Ephesians 4:1, "Live a life worthy of the calling you have received"

  • I'll tell you how Paul would answer the question, "Why did you come this morning"
  • Paul would have answered, "You came to be the church"
  • our calling is to be the church
  • according to Paul, the church is not somewhere we go; it's something we are
  • and Paul would have said, the reason to come together at a given time in a given place is to be the particular, local representation of a universal reality: the body of Christ
  • we are here to be the body of Christ, the community of God - a people who are called out from different backgrounds and different nationalities to be one people fulfilling the biblical commands given to the church

  • I get so excited when I read passages like Acts 2:42-47
  • when I read about the sort of community that God has called us to be
  • and I say, "Yes, that's what it is all about. That is what Richview Baptist Church is to be - people of all different ages and backgrounds, joined together to be one people under the authority of God"
  • in fact, Paul says something in Ephesians 3:10 that is shocking:
  • (Ephesians 3:10) His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
  • what he says is that the church ought to be the sort of place that the very angels look to in order to understand the wisdom of God
  • as one person put it, "The Church becomes a mirror through which the bright ones of heaven see the glory of God."
  • let me put it simply
  • Richview Baptist Church, and other churches on earth, are observed by spiritual powers
  • it's amazing that rulers and authorities in heavenly realms look at Richview Baptist Church to see what God's wisdom looks like
  • and to the degree that the church is spiritually united, it portrays to the spiritual powers the wisdom of God
  • God designed the church, and the local church in particular, to be the local body of Christ revealing to spiritual powers the manifold wisdom of God

  • that's why I came to church this morning
  • I came to be the church
  • and Ephesians 4:1 tells us:
  • (Ephesians 4:1) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
  • it's entirely possible to make a loud profession and have nothing to back it up
  • we need to take seriously our call to be the church!
  • we need to take seriously what God has in mind when he brought the church into being
  • Paul says, "Live the sort of life that matches what God has called you to be"
  • at Richview Baptist Church in November 1998, actually live what you are
  • be the body of Christ in this part of Etobicoke at this particular time

  • what's it going to take to be the church?
  • I'm glad you asked!
  • Paul tells us exactly what it's going to take to be the church in Ephesians 4:2 and on
  • (Ephesians 4:2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • (Ephesians 4:3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

  • what's it going to take to be the church - to walk worthy of the calling we've received?
  • THE CHURCH IS A COMMUNITY
  • Paul says, in order to be the church, we need to be just a certain sort of community
  • I don't know if you've ever thought of the church as a community
  • but we are designed to be a community of people that live our lives in such a way that when the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms look down at us, they see something different
  • we are to live our lives in community in such away that we reflect back to heaven the God's wisdom in all its rich variety
  • that's the sort of community we're supposed to be
  • and if you read verse 3 again with me, you'll see how serious Paul is about it:
  • (Ephesians 4:3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
  • Paul says, "Make every effort"
  • the verb suggests the idea of great difficulty, and the resolute determination it will take to rise above it
  • it suggests a great zealousness - to value unity, to be attentive to it, and to invest great amounts of energy to it so that our unity is not threatened
  • you could almost paraphrase, "Work hard at it. Make it your top priority"
  • "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace," Paul writes
  • as a result of the peacemaking work of Christ at the cross, we are linked together, and as Paul mentioned earlier in Ephesians, any hostilities between us have been broken down
  • he's made one new body out of two, making peace, and reconciling those of us who were different before into one body
  • that's what Christ has called us to be
  • whether you're young or old, whether you're a true blue Jew or a Gentile, no matter who you are, you've now found commonality in Christ, and we're all one together
  • that's Paul's message to the church
  • that's the sort of community we're to be

  • you might ask, why is community so important?
  • if you go back as far as you can go, God created everything we see around us, and said "Good, good, good"
  • and then he created man and said, "It is not good" - specifically, it is not good for man to be alone
  • when God created man, he created an individual
  • and when God created woman, he created society

  • we all know that the fall had a terrible effect upon individuals and society
  • individuals became alienated from God
  • and society became fragmented
  • now, ask yourself: what is God's answer to a fallen individual? Christ
  • any Christian would be able to answer this
  • now, a harder question
  • what is God's answer to a fragmented society? the church
  • the church is an alternate society, placed right within society, to show fragmenting society what community is all about
  • the church is to be a community of people that will not fragment and fracture as readily as society, so that we can show society what community is all about
  • and that's why Paul says:
  • (Ephesians 4:3) Make every effort [work hard, strain] to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
  • that's why I came this morning - to be that sort of church in this part of Etobicoke at this time in the world
  • to work relentlessly at this type of unity, so that when the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms see Richview Baptist Church, they see God's wisdom in its various forms reflected back to them

  • what's it going to take?
  • ACCORDING TO VERSE 2, IT'S GOING TO TAKE FOUR THINGS TO LIVE THAT SORT OF WAY
  • there are, y ou could say, four steps to community
  • it's going to take humility
  • it really means that we're to be prepared to show lowliness of mind
  • I don't know if you've ever noticed, but the church has a lot of people with strong opinions
  • and many times these strong opinions could never be confused with lowliness of mind
  • in Paul's day, thinking low was the attitude of slaves and was considered a negative trait among the ancient Greeks, but he says something different
  • instead of clashing with opinions and saying, "This is my opinion, and I don't want it mixed up with the facts," Paul says, "Enough of that! Show lowliness of mind. Sit together and say, ‘I'd like to share my opinion, but more importantly, I'd like you to carefully articulate your position.'"
  • that's how we're to be

  • Paul says in verse 2 it's also going to take gentleness
  • (Ephesians 4:2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • gentleness means strength under control
  • I don't know if you've ever noticed, but the church has a lot of people with strong personalities who happen to have strong opinions
  • and when you have strong opinions rammed home by strong personalities, you sometimes run into problems
  • somebody wins, and somebody loses
  • and those who lose end up splitting, and those who win end up running the show
  • it's going to take gentleness to change this

  • it's also going to take a lot of patience
  • the word Paul uses for patience in verse 2 literally means, "slow to anger"
  • it has the idea of suffering long, or longsuffering
  • it has the idea of not blowing your top when you don't get your way
  • I've seen people lose their temper in church
  • in order to avoid this, Paul says, we need lots of patience

  • and according to verse two, it's also going to take forbearance
  • (Ephesians 4:2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • the idea is to put up with the tastes, idiosyncrasies, and even faults of others, because after all, we have our own
  • it's talking about a mutuality of attitude - that we look at the interests of others instead of just our own interests
  • that we're not totally wrapped up with our own position and our own desires
  • that we're prepared to listen to and respond to a legitimate point of view from another person
  • that we make allowance for one another because of our love

  • so why did I come to church this morning?
  • I came to join with you to be the church
  • I came to work hard, to make every effort to be the sort of community that shows the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms all the wisdom of God in its varied forms
  • I came to be the church, didn't you?

  • [APPLICATION]
  • one of the things that attracted me to Richview is our diversity
  • I love the fact that we have different ages and different interests, and yet we come together as one body to worship Christ
  • I look forward to even greater diversity as we expand and enjoy greater difference and become more multicultural
  • God loves diversity, and so do I
  • if we had more time, I would study with you the next few verses in Ephesians 4, which talk of our unity in the faith reflected in the diversity of gifts offered to the church
  • diversity expressed in unity is what the church is all about

  • but diversity presents its challenges, doesn't it?
  • if we were all the same, there would be no arguments about worship styles, about certain practices, about so-and-so doing this, and so-and-so doing that
  • but yet diversity is part of God's plan for the church

  • one of the toughest areas to apply this is worship
  • Paul says, work hard at maintaining a spirit of unity in the bond of peace
  • have you noticed how hard this is when it comes to worship?
  • people are now choosing their churches based on the music - not the preaching, not the doctrine, but more the style of music
  • music, in many ways, has become the battleground of the church

  • I don't know if you've noticed, but there isn't a lot of lowliness of mind and mutuality of attitude when it comes to the type of music played within the church
  • a famous preacher was asked, "What is your church's philosophy of worship?"
  • and he replied, "Simple. Our church's philosophy of worship is to make sure in every service that there's something to offend everybody."
  • some people seem to have the idea that God stopped being creative when Charles Wesley died
  • and many others think that God only started being creative when Keith Green was born
  • I'm pretty sure God isn't pleased with either attitude, because both imply that God at some time has stopped being creative

  • and in a day when people fragment and fracture based on likes and dislikes, wouldn't it be great if Richview Baptist Church modeled for the world and the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms what it's like to be a community?
  • wouldn't it be great to model the spirit of unity in the bond of peace, showing humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance in our worship?

  • wouldn't it be great if one day a week, we demonstrated some unity, a unity that is going to be reflected in diversity?
  • my heart breaks every time somebody gets up and leaves because they don't like the music that's being played
  • it's unacceptable in a younger person, and it's unacceptable in an older person
  • because what it shows is the very opposite of community
  • when fragmenting society and the rulers and the authorities in heavenly realms look at that sort of behavior, what do they see?

  • a lady in her 70's sat down to write her pastor one Sunday after a worship service
  • she felt the music was dreadful; the songs loud and discordant; the words inane
  • so she began to write a letter of complaint to her pastor
  • a little voice within her head asked her, "What are you doing?"
  • she said, "I'm writing a letter of complaint to my pastor. The music was dreadful; the songs were loud and discordant; the words were inane"
  • the little voice asked her, "Why did you go to church?" and she responded, "Corporate worship"
  • and right away she knew, "No, I was there for personal worship, because I was elevating my likes and dislikes. I was really there for personal worship and not for corporate worship"
  • amazingly, the next time in church she didn't like the music, she looked around, and to her amazement saw how corporate worship was taking place, and to her amazement others appeared to be really into the music

  • and so she phoned her pastor
  • she told him that she found the music dreadful, loud, and discordant; the words inane
  • but she said, "I'm not complaining. In the future, when there's something I don't like, I'll remind myself I'm not there for personal worship. I'm there for corporate worship"
  • "And when I hear something I don't like, I'll just look around and rejoice in what's happening in the hearts and minds of my brothers and sisters"
  • be careful before you make a preference or a prejudice into a principle
  • before you make your likes and dislikes a cause to break the unity of the spirit in the bond of the peace

  • did you ever notice how some people use their bodies in worship?
  • I used to sit there criticizing people because they appeared to be getting emotional in their worship
  • some clapped during a song; others raised their hand
  • and I had a bad attitude against anyone who dared to express themselves physically in worship
  • until I learned that the charismatics never invented this; the Bible did
  • in Psalm 28:2, Psalm 134:1-2, 1 T imothy 2:8, Nehemiah 8:6, and in other passages, the Bible talks of God's people raising their hands to him in worship
  • and I've learned that raising the hands and clapping in worship are not Pentecostal things; they're Christian things
  • and I've stopped criticizing, and I've begun doing these things myself
  • I wonder if part of keeping the spirit of unity in the bond of peace means that we give permission to others to be expressive in worship, even if we're not
  • to praise God that when somebody lifts their hands in worship, even if we don't, that we praise God that they're worshiping
  • and when I raise my hands, I give praise for my brother and my sister who stands there with their hands at their side, because they're worshiping God as well
  • I wonder if we can allow others to worship God biblically

  • so let me ask you again, why did you come to church this morning?
  • did you come to be the church?
  • did you come to work hard at keeping the spirit of unity in the bond of peace, showing fragmenting society what it's like to be community
  • showing the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms the wisdom of God in its various forms?

  • what's it going to take?
  • if we're going to be that sort of church, it's going to take lowliness of mind, gentleness (strength under control), patience or longsuffering, and mutuality of attitude
  • it's going to take love - a concern for the well-being of others, rather than an exclusive concern for self
  • you put it all together:
  • (Ephesians 4:1) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
  • (Ephesians 4:2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • (Ephesians 4:3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
  • is that why you came to church?

  • now, let's try something different as we close
  • I'd like you to hum one note with me (hum)
  • hum this one note, hum loud - that's unity
  • it's also boring

  • let's try something different
  • I'd like you to hum the notes that Peter plays for us, broken into four groups
  • that's disunity - it sounds awful

  • now let's try one last thing
  • let's hum some different notes that Peter plays
  • that's what you call harmony - unity showing itself in diversity
  • which is better? unison, discord, or harmony?
  • let's pray
Adapted from a message by Stu Briscoe
Posted on November 1, 1998 and filed under Uncategorized.