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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Creation and Commission of Woman--Revisited (Gen. 2:18-25)

Creation and Commission of Woman--Revisited (Gen. 2:18-25)      

Summary: In the marriage covenant, a woman is to see herself as the glory of her husband and the man is to see his wife as a wonderful gift from God, a uniquely fit companion in the weighty and awesome work God has given them to do.  In the home, a man is given the primary responsibility to lead, protect, and provide for his wife and his wife is given an indispensable role of supporting her husband in their shared work of kingdom advancement. 

Main Point: God wants us to know that the work of filling the earth with his image is no small task
therefore he graciously provided a uniquely fit helper to assist the man.

Discussion Questions:
  • Why is it not good for man to be alone?
  • According to Gen. 2, what are the unique roles God has designed for men and women?
  • Is the term "helper" a degrading term? Why or why not?
  • What was the point of including the naming of animals in 2:19-20?
  • How should God's special creation of the woman in 2:20-23 shape the way that a wife views her relationship to her husband? 
  • What do we learn about God's original design for marriage in v.24?  How serious did Jesus take this truth in Matt. 19:3-9?  What can we learn from Jesus' view of marriage in our day?
  • How does a godly Christian marriage display the gospel? READ Ephesians 5:22-33
Application Questions:
  • What are the sweet gospel benefits of being the Bride of Christ?  How does Christ, our loving Husband, care for us as a church according to Ephesians 5:29-30? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for sending his Son to lay down his life for his Bride, the Church.
  • Praise God for the godly woman at FBC who are such a gift to the church and so instrumental to the mission God has given to us to make more and maturing disciples
  • Pray that God would help the husbands from FBC to love their wives as Christ loved the church and for the wives to respect their husbands out of honor for Christ.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Creation and Commission of Man--Revisited (Gen. 2:4-17)

Creation and Commission of Man--Revisited (Gen. 2:4-17)      
  1. The First Adam
  2. The Last Adam
Summary: Gen. 2:4 ("These are the generations of the heavens and the earth...") serves as a "hinge" verse, setting apart Gen. 1:1-2:3 as the worldview-shaping preface to the entire Bible and providing an introduction for what the story of the Bible is all about.  It is the story about the heavens and the earth.  But mainly it is a story about the Lord God, the Covenant God who creates a place where a covenant people get to know and enjoy his presence.  In vv.5-17 we see God's good design for his kingdom in seed form: the kingdom that will fill the heavens and the earth begins in a small garden, initially with one man who is given a wonder and weighty work to do.  This man, the first Adam, the man of dust, failed in his work.  But we praise God for sending the last Adam, the man of heaven, Jesus Christ, to do the work that the first Adam and all of us failed to do.  The first Adam lead us into sin and therefore death.  The last Adam leads us to forgiveness and therefore eternal life. 

Main Point: God wants us to understand how he created the first Adam and the wonderful and weighty work he called him to do.  And God wants us to know that since Adam is our representative and since he failed in his work we have fallen with in into sin and death and are therefore in need of a new and better representative, One who can lead us out of sin and death into forgiveness, obedience, and eternal life.  No man of dust will do.  We need a man of heaven.  That man is Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions:
  • In what way is Gen. 2:4 a "hinge" verse? 
  • What is the significance of the details about how God created Adam in v.7?
  • What does the description about the trees and the rivers tell us about God?
  • What does it mean to "work and to keep/guard"?
  • What statement is one making by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
  • How might the description of the tree of life in the Book of Revelation (see Rev. 2:7; 22: 2,14) inform how we understand the presence of the tree of life in the Book of Genesis (see Gen. 2:9, 16-17; 3:24)?
  • Read Rom. 5:12-21 & 1 Cor. 15:45-49.  What are the consequences of being in the first Adam?  What are the glories of being in the Last Adam?
Application Questions:
  • How should the reality that I am no longer represented by the first Adam but the Last Adam shape the way that I think, feel, and live?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for sending the man of heaven, the Last Adam to lead us out of sin and the grips of death into forgiveness and eternal life 
  • Ask God to use his word, Spirit and people to remind us of the glories that come with the fact that we are no longer in Adam but in Christ
  • Ask God to let the reality that many are still lost in Adam motivate our willingness to share the good news about the man of heaven with others

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Day 7: God "Rested" from His Finished Work (Gen. 2:1-3)

Day 7: God "Rested" from His Finished Work (Gen. 2:1-3)      
  1. The Pattern of Rest
  2. The Path of Rest
  3. The Promise of Rest
Summary: Everything in creation that we have consider thus far has been building up to Day 7, the day when God said that he "rested" from his finished work.  God set a pattern in Gen. 2:1-3 that would be returned to again and again as the story of the Bible unfolds.  The pattern of God finishing his work, resting from his work, making the seventh day a special day all on a day that seems to have no end sets us on a path for rest that we find out leads to a Person, Jesus Christ, who can provide real and lasting rest.  So a rest still remains for the people of God.  This rest is promised to the people of God.  It is a rest that we are to look forward to and strive to enter by persevering in faith. 

Main Point:  We must persevere in faith by looking back on what Jesus has done (his finished work on the cross) and looking forward to what he promises to do (provide full and final rest).

Discussion Questions:
  • Read Gen. 2:1-3 and identify these four features of the patter of rest: God finished his work, God "rested" from his work, God made the seventh day a special day, and God's rest is an unending rest.  
  • What refrain is absent on Day 7 that signaled the completion of Days 1-6? What is the significance of this omission?
  • Where does the path of rest lead us? (See Matt. 11:28-30)
  • Is there a future rest promised for Christians? Explain. (See Hebrews 3:7-4:13, esp. 4:8-9)
  • How should Christians who are no longer under the Law seek to honor the pre-fall pattern modeled by God in Gen. 2:1-3?  What is the significance of the New Testament pattern of Christians meeting on the Lord's Day (i.e. Sunday, or the first day of the week)? 
Application Questions:
  • Am I making good use of the gift of rest that God has modeled for me and has given to me for my refreshment?
  • From what I learned in this sermon, how can I best persevere in faith
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for the finished work of Christ and how it has secured ultimate rest for us
  • Praise God for the promise of future rest from our labors that we get to look forward to
  • Ask God to help us make good use of the weekly rhythm of rest that God has modeled for us and given to us for our refreshment 
  • Ask God to help us persevere in faith by looking back on the finished work of Christ and looking forward to to future rest

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Day 5: Fish & Sea Creatures (Gen. 1:20-23)

Day 5: Fish & Sea Creatures (Gen. 1:20-23)
God gives abundant evidence for his existence and what he is like in the things he has made:
  1. Abundant evidence on Day 5
  2. What do people do with the evidence?
  3. Seeing and helping others see with new eyes
Summary: Creation is not only a theater designed to showcase the drama of redemption but a vast laboratory filled with evidence for us to investigate.  God created with great variety (displaying his infinite wisdom) and quantity (displaying his infinite power).  The evidence is thick. The question is what will people do with the evidence? We have closed both books on God and are therefore liable to his wrath and judgment.  But God provided a wrath-absorbing gift of grace when he sent Jesus to be received by faith.  When we receive him by faith, God no longer counts the abundant evidence of our rebellion against us and we get to live the rest of our lives enjoying peace with God and seeing (and helping others see) the world through new eyes.

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he created birds and sea creatures with great variety and quantity in order show us more about himself.

Discussion Questions:
  • Thinking about God's work in Gen. 1 in general and Day 5 in particular, how has God provided abundant evidence not only for his existence but also what he is like?   
  • What is the operating assumption that Christians should come with as they investigate the world?  Why is it so important to start with that assumption?
  • According Romans 1-2, what have people done with the abundant evidence God has provided with the result that they are liable to God's wrath?
  • How has God made a way for us to be justified even though the evidence is stacked against us? (Cf. Rom. 1:16-13; 3:21-26; 5:1)
Application Questions:
  • What ways am I closing God's books and resisting God's efforts to speak to my heart and lead me in his ways? 
  • What truths in the sermon did God help me see afresh or for the first time and who can I can help to see and be refreshed by these truths?  
Prayer Points:
  • Confess ways you've been resisting God's efforts to speak to your heart and lead you in his ways
  • Praise God for giving Jesus to us as a wrath-absorbing gift of grace so that we can be justified in his sight despite the overwhelming evidence against us
  • Praise God for giving us new eyes so that we can see the evidence and then learn and experience more of what it means to glorify and enjoy God
  • Ask to help us see and help others see his world with new eyes

Day 4: Lights: Sun, Moon, Stars (Gen. 1:14-19)

Day 3: Lights: Sun, Moon, Stars (Gen. 1:14-19)
Three Reasons God created the lights:
  1. To give us powerful reminders of his holiness
  2. To give us natural rhythms to reflect his holiness
  3. To light up the stage for God to personally display his holiness
Summary: God created the sun, moon, and stars with great purposes in mind.  God set them in the sky and ordered them to rule over day and night and thus serve as very physical reminders and tangible signs that witness to the fact that God is holy.  God used these same lights to help organize time and seasons thus providing natural rhythms to our lives as we seek to reflect his holiness.  But of course our lives are out of rhythm and we have not reflected his holiness; therefore, God came to the very stage that he lit up with these lights in order to personally display his Light in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. 

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he purposely created the lights by His powerful Word.

Discussion Questions:
  • What do the sun and the moon serve as tangible reminders of? (cf. 1 John 1:5)
  • How did the sun and the moon provide natural rhythms for the life of worship among the people of Israel?  What are some of the patterns of worship in the life of a new covenant believer?  
  • How did God personally display his holiness on the world's stage? (cf. 1 John 1:5; John 8:12; 12:36; cf. Psalm 8 and how it is quoted in Hebrews 2:5-11).
  • Why is it so hope-giving that there is a Light that will outlast and outshine the lights? (Isa. 60:19-20; 30:26; Rev. 21:23; 22:5)
  • Read & Discuss how the following texts both instruct us and give us hope: Matt: 5:14; Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15; Prov. 4:18; Matt. 13:43.
Application Questions:
  • What rhythms of worship am I utilizing and which ones am I neglecting?  How is this effecting my relationship with God and what changes should be made?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for personally displaying his holiness by sending the Light into the world
  • Praise that we will shine like the sun in his kingdom soon and very soon
  • Ask God to help us consistently implement rhythms  that will help us reflect his holiness in our lives in a way that will cause us to shine the light of Christ brighter and brighter

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Day 3: Dry Land and Vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13)

Day 3: Dry Land and Vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13)
God's Work on Day 3:
  • The description of God causing the earth to appear and sprout on Day 3
  • The significance of God causing the earth to appear and sprout on Day 3  
Summary: On Day 2 God created the Sky by holding back the waters.  Now on Day 3 God is going to push aside the lower waters and raise the land from the deeps by the power of his Word.  But God doesn't there, he also causes the earth to sprout and flourish.  All of this took place on the 3rd Day.

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he caused the earth to appear then sprout with great variety and fruitfulness by his powerful Word.

Discussion Questions:
  • What does it tell us about God that he didn't just raise up the earth but he also caused it to sprout and flourish? 
  • What do we learn about seeds from 1:11-12? How does Paul pick up on this seed language in 1 Cor. 15:35-58?
  • What must happen before we bear fruit in our lives (see John 12:23-24; 32-33; 3:14-16; 6:44; John 15:1-5; cf. Phil. 1:9-11)?
Application Questions:
  • God is glorified in our fruitfulness.  What are areas in your life that you need God to prune you in order that you might bear more fruit for his glory?
  • How effect should the following fact have on you as a Christ follower: when you die, you will be planted into the ground like a weak seed but sprout gloriously at Christ's return when you are raised with an imperishable, immortal, spiritual body like Jesus?  
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for sending his Son to die and be planted in the grave like a seed so that through his powerful resurrection we might be raised with him to live fruitful lives for his glory
  • Praise God for the hope of the resurrection
  • Ask God to prune us and help us bear maximal fruit as we await the return of Christ

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Day 2: Sky to Separate the Waters (Gen. 1:6-8)

Day 2: Sky to Separate the Waters (Gen. 1:6-8)
God's Work on Day 2:
  • The description of God creating the expanse on Day 2 (God speaks, God makes, God names)
  • The significance of God creating the expanse on Day 2 
Summary: God's initial creation was characterized by barrenness and darkness.  The darkness problem was solved when the Light shined on Day 1.  But what about the barrenness problem, that is, the lingering fact that the earth was still "without form and void"? God's work on Day 2 was a massive preliminary step in solving the problem, for it was on Day 2 that God created the Sky by holding back the waters.  The description of God's work on Day 2 is powerful and the significance of this work is breathtaking. 

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he made the sky by holding back the waters by his Word.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the most basic common denominator in God's work each day of the creation week? (see Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24-26).  How should the apostle John's description of the Word in John 1:1-5 shape who we think about God speaking throughout Genesis 1? (cf. Col. 1:16b and Heb. 1:1-3). 
  • Discuss this statement: "In the context of Genesis 1, God speaking is God making."  (cf. Ps. 33:6; 148:4-5; Heb. 11:3)   
  • What is the expanse? What are the waters below? What are the waters above?
  • Would there be any reason that God would stop holding back the waters? (6:5-8, 9-14a)
  • What would happen if God did release the waters? (see Gen. 6:17-22; 7:1, 4-5, 11-12, 20-24; 8:1-2; 20-22; 9:1, 8-17)
  • What should the release and holding back of these waters teach us in our day (see 2 Pet. 3:1-15)
Application Questions:
  • What would be a fitting, worshipful response to the fact that I was saved before God's coming judgment (fire) all because God is actively, mercifully and patiently holding back the waters?
  • How should God's patience in temporarily holding back his judgement on unbelievers shape the way that I live the Christian life and interact with unbelievers? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for his patience which accounts for how you and others were able to be saved
  • Praise God that you are not destined for wrath, but to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ
  • Ask God to help us, his people, live holy and godly lives as we await the return of Christ

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Day 1: Light Shines (Gen. 1:3-5)

OutlineDay 1: Light Shines (Gen. 1:3-5):
God's word is powerful: "and there was light"(v.3)
  • God's delight in the light (v.4a)
  • God's desire to distinguish light from Darkness (v.4b-5a)
  • God's will for light to overcome darkness (v.5b)
Summary: We have seen that the condition of God's initial creation was characterized by barrenness and darkness, an intentional foreshadowing of the condition of the human heart after the Fall.  But the reader's hope was already kindled when we heard that the Spirit of the eternal God was hovering over the problem.  With the stage set in vv.1-2, we see the remedy introduced in vv.3-5: Light shines in the darkness! 

Main Point:  God wants us to see how he delights in the light and desires that light to be clearly distinguished from the darkness.

Discussion Questions:
  • How does vv. 3-5 serve as the remedy to vv.1-2? 
  • How do John 1:1-5 and Hebrews 1:3 help us understand the light, God's delight in the light, and the relationship between light and darkness in Gen. 1:1-5? 
  • What does this mighty act of God in bringing light teach us about how God converts sinners? (see 2 Cor. 3:12-4-6, esp. 4:6)
  • Discuss this statement: "God desires light and darkness to be distinguished from one another."  What does this tell us about the character of God?
  • God called the light Day and the darkness Night.  The implication seems to be that God "labeled" light and darkness for us, that we might pay close attention to the labels.  What are some of the implications for us as we live as followers of Jesus (see. John 8:12; 1 John 1:5; Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 13:12; Eph. 5:11; 1 Pet. 2:9; Col. 1:13)
Application Questions:
  • How should a proper understanding of Gen. 1:3-5 shape the way I understand what in means to be converted? 
  • Are there areas in my life where I am compromising with darkness, failing to follow the labels God has made to distinguish between what pleases him and what does not?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for his holiness, the fact that he is light and in him there is no darkness at all
  • Praise God for working shining the light of his Son into the darkness of our hearts by the veil-removing work of the Holy Spirit
  • Confess ways in which you have failed to follow God's labels that are meant to set us apart from darkness and lead us in the way of light.  
  • Ask God to help us be holy as he is holy so that he might be glorified and unbelievers might come to see the glory of his Son and so be saved

Sunday, October 8, 2017

God's Creation Foreshadows God's Salvation (Gen. 1:1-2)

OutlineGod's Creation Foreshadows God's Salvation (Gen. 1:1-2): 
God created everything (1:1)
  • God set the stage: creation (1:2a)
  • God foreshadowed the story: salvation  (1:2b) 
Summary: With a big view of our eternal God fresh in our minds, we focus our attention on the fact that this eternal God created everything.  But we also note God's basic description of his initial creation: it was barren and dark.  This description seems to be very intentional on God's part. God must act again.  God must bring light and life.  And we shall see that the need of light and life was not just the physical need of the world God made but the spiritual need of the people God fashioned.

Main Point:  God created everything.  And God's initial work of creation is an intentional foreshadowing of God's eventual work of salvation.

Discussion Questions:
  • Why would God initially create the earth barren and dark?
  • What is the imagery of the Spirit hovering over the dark and barren earth meant to awaken in us as we read?  
  • What can we learn from the progression in the text from a dark and barren earth to the Spirit hovering to light leading to life and flourishing in the rest of Genesis 1? 
  • How does God's initial work of creation in Gen. 1:1-2 foreshadow God's eventual work of salvation? [Hint: Read Jeremiah's description of Israel's idolatry Jer. 4:23-26 that echoes the earth's initial condition in Gen. 1:2 along with his description of the heart change that is promised in the new covenant Jer. 21:31-34].  
  • What role does the Holy Spirit play in salvation? (see. Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:1-8; 16:7-11; Titus 3:5)
Application Questions:
  • What encouragement and hope might you draw from Gen. 1:1-2 when you think about areas of unmet potential in your life?
  • What encouragement and hope might you draw from Gen. 1:1-2 when you think about the state of unbelievers in your spheres of influence? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for his wisdom in initially creating the earth in a way that would remind us of the condition of the human heart and the utter need for the Holy Spirit's transforming power
  • Praise God for the work of the Holy Spirit that has washed and renewed our hearts   
  • Acknowledge ways in which you've either minimized or been ignorant of the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, especially when it comes to the Spirit's work in salvation
  • Ask God to open our hears to see more clearly his mighty acts in creation and in salvation

Thursday, September 28, 2017

In the Beginning, God (Gen. 1:1a)

OutlineIn the Beginning, God (Gen. 1:1a): 
God is eternal:

  • Implication #1: God never had a beginning
  • Implication #2: God is not bound by time
  • Implication #3:God is not dependent on his creation
  • Conclusion question:  What was God doing before he created?
Summary: Before launching into the details of the creation account in Genesis 1, we linger to consider the massive assumption contained in the first four words of the Bible--God is eternal! This implies that God never had a beginning and that he is not bound by time.  It also implies that God is not at all dependent on his creation.  In the conclusion of this message we ask a very focused question: what was God doing before he created? Scripture gives us beautiful glimpses into this sublime reality and these glimpses help us to see that God created in order to fold us into the glory and love and delight that he, as the triune God, has been enjoying from all eternity. 

Main Point:  The eternal God created in order to fold a people into his eternal joy.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is it important to consider the eternality of God?
  • Why is it significant that God never had a beginning and that he is not bound by time?
  • What windows does the Bible give us into what God was doing before he created? (Hint: read John 17:5, 24 and Eph. 1:3-10)
  • Read and discuss the salvation promise of John 3:16 in light of the eternality of God
Application Questions:
  • What comfort can I find from the fact that God is eternal and that, through faith in Christ, God's eternal arms are under me at every moment? 
  • How might a more regular focus on God's eternal greatness and his plans to fold me into his eternal love help to shape the way I respond to the trials and difficulties of this life?  
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God as the Everlasting God, our eternal Creator
  • Praise God for his glorious plan to fold us into his eternal joy by saving us through the sacrifice of his own dear Son.  
  • Confess ways in which you've "put God in a box," forgetting his greatness and how utterly dependent we are on him for life and breath and everything. 
  • Ask God to help us to keep his eternality in mind as we consider his work of creation and salvation from Genesis 1-3.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

How to Discover Jesus in the Old Testament: A Framework and Tools to Find the Christ

How to Discover Jesus in the Old Testament:
A Framework and Tools to Find the Christ

Luke 24 is about Jesus’ resurrection and how he meets two men on the road to Emmaus. The men speak about Jesus’ death but they don’t know it’s Jesus that they’re talking to. Jesus then says something very profound that gives us the framework for seeing him in the Old Testament. He says to the men in Luke 24:25-27: 25 “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Amazing, is it? I would have given anything to be there! Jesus teaches us that we are to believe what the whole Old Testament spoke about him. Moses spoke of Christ and all the prophets spoke of Christ.
Then in Luke 24:44-47 Jesus reveals himself to his disciples a saying, “44 These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” This is an amazing passage. The whole Old Testament was written about Christ, specifically that he should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. So where do we see that? Where does the Old Testament say specifically that the Christ would rise after 3 days? Jesus also says that the Old Testament predicted that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations. Where do we read that? Jesus opened the minds of his disciples to understand the Scriptures to see him there, so we should pray and ask God to do just that for us.
            In Acts 3:18 and 19, the Apostle Peter spoke to a group of Jews, saying, “18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, [do you see that? All the prophets!] that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” All the prophets of the Old Testament spoke about Christ. It might be hard to see Christ in the Old Testament at times, but we have been promised that he is there.
            Peter speaks again about this in 1 Peter 1:10-11. He says, “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you,” Peter says the same thing here too as he did in Acts and he tells us even more. He says not only that the prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ and his resurrection but also that they were prophesying to us about grace. Grace we’d receive through Christ.
So when we read the Old Testament we can be on the lookout constantly for Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One who would suffer and die, and for a message of grace and forgiveness of sins for all nations.
So that’s our framework for reading the Old Testament. We’ve been promised that Christ and grace is there for us to see, so how do we practically see Christ and hear Christ in the Old Testament? It’s like we’ve been brought to this large field and we’ve been told that there are treasures buried all around and all we need is the right tools to find them and dig them up.

We know Christ more through the Old Testament when:
1) We see Christ
  • His presence (visions and theophanies/Christophanies)
  • His hand (his works in creation and redemption)
  • His character and work in people and things (Types and shadows)

2) We hear Christ
  •  His voice directly (Psalms, prophets)
  • Others’ voices about him (Promises, covenants, prophecies)
  • His gospel story in OT narratives (narratives)

Certain tools find certain things. A metal detector finds rare coins, a stud finder finds wooden beams, a compass finds north, and a GPS finds the nearest caffeine supplier. So certain tools find certain things. The same is true for the Bible study tools we use to find Christ in the Old Testament. There are certain tools for finding certain aspects of Christ. So what aspects of Christ can we find? There are two main categories: you can see Christ and you can hear Christ. You can see Christ in 4 ways and you can hear Christ in 3 ways.
            Let’s break down both of those. First, in what ways can you see Christ in the Old Testament? As I said there are 4 ways I can think of, there may be more, but here are 4 along with the tools you can use to find them.
            The first aspect of Christ you can see is His presence. We can see his presence with two tools: visions and theophanies. Visions, and I’d also include dreams with visions, are times in the Old Testament when we see a picture of Christ revealed by God. A theophany is a revelation of God, a visual picture of his presence. When we see a vision of God and we believe it is Christ himself, theologians will sometimes call it a Christophany.
One one of the greatest visions and theophanies, or Christophanies, of Christ in Old Testament is Isaiah 6. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees a glorious vision of the LORD on his throne:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
       “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
       the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
            Isaiah saw the King! He saw the king that everyone had been waiting for. The king that Moses prophesied about, the King that Israel didn’t have during the time of the Judges, the King that was greater than Saul and David and Solomon and Uzziah and all the other kings that failed Israel again and again and again. Who was this king? The Apostle John in John 12:41 tells us plainly, saying “41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory [that is Christ’s glory] and spoke of him.” Jesus Christ is the Lord, he is Yahweh, the King of kings seated on the throne, holy and mighty and worthy of the worship of the great seraphim and of all living creatures in heaven and on earth! This is an example of a vision and a theophany where we can see Christ’s presence.
            The second aspect of Christ you can see is His hand, that is we can see Jesus actively working in the Old Testament. The tools you can use to find his hand are by looking at God’s work in creation and redemption in the Old Testament. John 1 says that all things were created by Jesus, so we can see him in creation. We also see him working to redeem his people. For example, The Angel of the LORD that we see throughout the Old Testament is considered by many solid theologians to be a Christophany, an appearance of Christ himself, and it is often that when the Angel of the LORD appears he works to help save his people, like in 2 Kings 19 when the Angel of the LORD kills 185,000 Assyrians who are laying siege on Israel.
            The third and fourth aspects of Christ I’ve combined together because you use the same tools to find them: the third is you can see His character and the fourth is His gospel mission, the work he will do in his incarnation. You can see his character and his future gospel mission in Old Testament people and things who are types and shadows of Christ. A type is someone or something who isn’t Christ but represents Christ. The word “type” is a biblical word, a tool that Paul used in Romans 5:14 to see Christ in Adam. He says, “14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” Adam was a type of Christ in that he was the firstborn, the head of the human race, just as Christ is the firstborn from the dead, the first of all who would be born again and resurrect to the new life, and thus he is the head of all the Church.
So there are types, but also with types there are antitypes. An antitype is someone who is the opposite of Christ. It is interesting that every person who is a type of Christ in the Old Testament is also imperfect and sinful and thus at times an antitype. So we see Christ even in antitypes or types that only partially look like Him in that we’re able to look at them and say, “This guy is good, but he’s not the one we’re looking for. He’s not the king we want. He’s not the prophet. We need to keep looking and waiting for the promised Messiah.” With these antitypes we often use a lesser than / greater than comparison with Jesus, like Jesus is greater than Adam. Jesus is the better Moses. Jesus is the perfect Israel. Jesus is the better David. So types make us look to Christ and so do antitypes, they keep us longing for a better prophet, priest, and king. So there are types and there are shadows. A shadow is similar to a type in that it represents Christ but it also is something that finds its fulfillment or its full revelation in Christ. Hebrews 10:1 says, “the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities,” The law and many aspects of it like the temple and its pieces, are shadows that find their fulfillment and full revelation in Jesus Christ.
Now not only can we see Christ, but we can hear his voice in the Old Testament. There are three ways I have, and there may be more or other ways of categorizing them.
First, we can hear Christ’s voice directly, that is the very voice of Christ himself speaking to us. Now first of all every word of the Old Testament is Word of God, and it was revealed to the authors of scripture by the Spirit of Christ, so every word of the Old Testament is Christ speaking to us, it is just through other people. But what I mean by hearing Christ’s voice directly is that when we use tools such as reading the Psalms or prophecies or poems, there are passages that sound like it is Christ’s own voice, as clear as when he’s speaking in the New Testament. Dozens of the psalms are like this, just read Psalm 16 or 22.
Second, we can hear Christ in other’s voices about him. We hear about him in promises, covenants, and prophecies. Last week we heard about Jesus through the promise of the offspring that will crush the head of Satan the serpent. Jesus is promised also in the covenants made to Abraham, Moses, and David. He’s the offspring, the righteous branch, the king that will forever be on David’s throne! There are dozens of promises, covenants, and prophecies throughout the Old Testament about Christ, and these are some of the easiest ways to find Christ.
And last, we can hear Christ when we hear his gospel story in Old Testament stories. The gospel story has a flow to it, a pattern: Christ lived, suffered, died, rose again, and is reigning in glory. The more you hear his gospel story the more you start to hear that same story with the same plot twists and changes in the stories of the Old Testament. Take Job for instance. Listen to the story of Job, does it sound like Jesus’ story? Job was a righteous and very wealthy man who worshiped God. The book of Job presents him in the beginning as practically perfect, there was nothing wrong with him in God’s sight. God chose to take all his riches away and afflicted his body and even the closest people to him did not understand his suffering. In the end, after Job had suffered miserably, God not only restored everything back to him, but gave him even more wealth and honor!  That’s the story of Job, but it also has the same plot twists and details as the gospel of Jesus, like his perfection, his intense suffering even though he was sinless, and his exaltation for his humble obedience. We see similar patterns in the stories of Joseph, Moses, Daniel, David, and others! So hear Christ’s gospel story in the stories of the Old Testament.
            So that sums up all 7 ways to see and hear Christ in the Old Testament. I hope these tools will help you to find Christ and worship him!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Make Sure You Pass On the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:1-7)

OutlineMake Sure You Pass On the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:1-7): 
Four Commands:
  1. Draw strength from the gospel (v.1)
  2. Pass on the gospel to others (v.2)
  3. Share in suffering for the gospel (vv.3-6)
  4. Think hard about the gospel (v.7)
Summary: We've learned that God has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit (1:1-7) in order to help us guard the gospel (1:8-18).  Now we are told that the gospel is to not only be guarded but also to be passed on to others (2:1-7).  And this work of multiplying the gospel calls for fresh supplies of gospel grace, a grace that not only saves us but sustains us in the work of passing on the gospel to others.  Three analogies (the solder, the athlete, and the farmer) help us to grasp the loyalty, self-discipline, and work ethic that is to mark the character of the Lord's people.  We must think often and clearly about gospel grace and the character it creates if we are going to effectively pass on the gospel.

Main Point:  We must work hard to pass on the gospel to those who will pass on the gospel.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is it about God's grace in the gospel that strengthens us? 
  • How did Paul endure to the end?  How was Timothy to endure?  How will we endure?
  • How can 2 Tim. 2:2 be carried out practically in a pastor's life? A believer's life?  In the life of a local church?
  • What is the relationship between 2 Tim. 2:2 and the Matt. 28:18-20?
  • Why do so many people and churches not practice 2 Tim. 2:2 (or Matt. 28:18-20)?
  • What do vv.3-6 tell us about the extent to which Jesus lays claim on our lives? (cf. Heb. 12:1-2)
  • What qualities is Paul emphasizing with each analogy (soldier, athlete, farmer) and why is each quality so important in a pastor's life?  In every Christian's life?
  • How might the promise in v.7 help motivate us to give ourselves to meditating on Scripture?
Application Questions:
  • What or who do I tend to look to for strength instead of fresh supplies of grace from Jesus?
  • How might it look for me to practically entrust the gospel to another person?
  • How can I adjust my priorities, disciplines, and work ethic to help me become a more effective disciple maker?
  • How clearly do I understand the mission of the church and my role in it?  Who can I talk with in order to gain more clarity?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for His saving grace and for His sustaining grace
  • Confess ways we've allowed ourselves to get distracted, undisciplined, and lazy in the work of passing on the gospel to others
  • Ask God to help us learn to run on fresh supplies of gospel fuel and not turn to "alternate fuels"
  • Ask God to help us to think hard about and stay focused on the task of making more and maturing disciples of Jesus 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Guard the Gospel-Deposit (2 Tim. 1:8-18)

OutlineGuard the Gospel-Deposit (2 Tim. 1:8-18): 
Four ways we guard the gospel-deposit:

  1. By recognizing the worth of the gospel
  2. By sharing in suffering to spread the gospel
  3. By following the examples of those who have faithfully shared in suffering for the gospel
  4. By relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to guard the gospel
Summary: In 1:6-7 we were reminded that God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit and has called us to treat the Spirit like a sacred flame that must be kindled by courage not quenched by fear.  So we have Holy Spirit, the very power of God inside of us.  But what is this power to be used for?  The next passage (1:8-18) answers this question:  The Holy Spirit, the power of God, is to be used to protect the gospel that has been entrusted to us (v.14).  As we depend on the Holy Spirit, we recognize the worth of the gospel and are motivated to follow the example of faithful brothers and sisters who have suffered to advance the gospel.

Main Point:  We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to share in suffering in order to spread of the gospel.

Discussion Questions:
  • Who's responsibility is it to guard the good deposit? (compare v.12 to v.14)
  • What are the four ways we are called to guard the gospel-deposit? Which one stands out to you the most? Explain.
  • What people come to mind as examples of those who have faithfully shared in suffering by the power of the Spirit in order to spread the gospel? What stands out about them?
  • What are some of the root causes for why people be ashamed of the gospel?
Application Questions:
  • What hinders me most from recognizing the worth of the gospel?
  • Am I actively sharing the gospel with unbelievers in my life?  If not, what is holding me back?
  • Am I willing to "drink" my share of the cup of suffering in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God saving us by His sovereign grace through the good news of the gospel
  • Confess ways we've fearfully shrunk back from sharing the gospel with others
  • Ask God to help us see afresh the worth of the gospel 
  • Ask God to awaken a willingness in us to "drink" our share in the cup of suffering
  • Ask God to help us rely on the power of the Holy Spirit as we seek to guard the gospel-deposit

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Believer's Power for Gospel Work (2 Tim. 1:1-7)

OutlineThe Believer's Power for Gospel Work (2 Tim. 1:1-7): 
  1. Paul encourages Timothy:  (vv.3-5)
  2. Paul exhortes Timothy (vv.6-7)
Summary: 2 Timothy is the last New Testament letter Paul wrote and is unique in light of the timing and context in which he wrote it.  Paul, a faithful and fearless gospel preacher, wrote from prison as he awaited his execution. Paul had fought the good fight and had finished his race well (4:6-8).  2 Timothy was written to help Timothy (and every follower of Jesus) do as Paul did: run well and finish well. 2 Timothy is a call to faithful endurance in the face of the suffering and opposition that inevitably come to those who love Jesus and love lost sinners enough to go on boldly living and speaking the gospel.  In many ways 2 Tim. 1-7 is meant to provide a strong dose of personal encouragement that will motivate Timothy to live out everything Paul will say in the rest of the letter. And with this personal encouragement also came the challenging reminder that we have received a gift and that we have a responsibility to make full use of that gift. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit and has called us to treat the Spirit like a sacred flame that must be kindled by courage not quenched by fear.

Main Point:  We are to treat the gift of the Holy Spirit like a Sacred Flame that must be kindled by courage not quenched by fear.

Discussion Questions:
  • What do you think Paul is intending to accomplish by writing 2 Tim. 1:1-7? How might these verses flavor the rest of this letter?
  • What is it that Paul sees in Timothy that makes him grateful to God in prayer (vv.3-5)?
  • What is the gift of God and how should Timothy treat that gift (v.6)?
  • What might it look like for one to quench the Spirit by acting out of fear?
  • What might it look like for one to kindle the Spirit by walking in the power, love and self-control that characterize the Spirit?  
Application Questions:
  • In what ways do I tend to quench the Spirit out of fear?
  • What would it look like for me to courageously kindle the Sacred Flame, the Holy Spirit, in my spheres of influence (relationships at home, church, work, etc)? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God saving us and giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us for gospel work  
  • Confess any ways you are currently walking in fear and thus quenching the Spirit in your life
  • Ask God to help you overcome fear in your life and step out of your comfort zone
  • Ask God help us treat the gift of the Holy Spirit like a Sacred Flame that must be kindled by courageously walking in the power, love, and self-control supplied by the Spirit

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Conclusion: Guard the Gospel-Deposit! (1 Tim. 6:20-21)

OutlineGuard the Gospel-deposit (1 Tim. 6:20-21): 
  1. What is the deposit? (v.20a; cf. 2 Tim. 1:8-14)
  2. Who is commanded to guard the deposit? (v.20a; cf. v.21b; 4:12)
  3. How can we faithfully guard the deposit? (v.20b-21b)
Summary:  In many ways the whole Book of 1 Timothy has been about guarding the gospel by lifting it up (1 Tim. 3:14-16). Thus it is no surprise that we find in the final two verses Paul's solemn and climactic command to guard the deposit, that is, to guard the gospel as a most precious and sacred trust. At very least, the gospel is guarded by not giving an inch to the false "knowledge" that is peddled by false teachers in opposition to God's word and ways.  Some have embraced such "knowledge" and have swerved from the true faith.  To keep the faith one must continually protect the good news.  And to protect the good news one must continually look to Christ for fresh grace and reassurance.  It is only by God's grace that we can guard the gospel of grace.

Main Point: Christians must guard the gospel by drawing strength from the grace of the gospel

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the deposit? (v.20a; cf. 2 Tim. 1:8-14)
  • How do we know that the command to guard the gospel applies to us and not just to Timothy? (cf. v.21b "you" plural; 4:12)
  • When we repent and believe in Jesus, how does the gospel protect us?  What do we need to be protected from?
  • What does it look like for the church and individual Christians to protect the gospel? Answer this question first from 6:20-21and then from the whole book of 1 Timothy. 
  • How are the words "Grace be with y'all" both encouraging and instructive?  
Application Questions:
  • How has the gospel protected eternally me? How should I respond to such protection?
  • How can I more faithfully protect the gospel in my spheres of influence this week?
  • How can I be rightly sobered yet not crushed by the weight of the sacred responsibility to guard the gospel?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for protecting us from Himself through the grace He extends to us in the gospel 
  • Praise Jesus for being the good man who brought good news so that we can live the good life
  • Confess any ways you have failed to protect the gospel and live in light of its worth
  • Ask God to strengthen you by His grace so that you can guard the gospel of grace
  • Ask God to strengthen us by His grace so that, as a church family, we can protect the gospel
  • Ask God to help us faithfully entrust the gospel to others who will go and do likewise

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Charge to the Rich (1 Tim. 6:17-19)

OutlineA Charge to the Rich (1 Tim. 6:17-19): 
  1. The dangers that come with being rich (v.17a)
  2. The responsibilities that come with being rich (vv.17b-18)
  3. The eternal perspective that defines what it means to be truly rich (v.19)
Summary:  We have learned about how contentment is cultivated when we humbly agree with God about what our real needs actually are, about the temporary and fleeting nature of money and possessions, and about the genuine gain that comes from living a godly life protected and purified by contentment (6:6-8).  But one thing is painfully obvious (especially in on our intensely materialistic culture): contentment will not be attained without a fight.  Therefore, Christians must engage in a life-long fight for contentment, a fight which calls for both offensive and defensive strategies (6:11-12).  And where shall we find such strategies? We find them in the very next passage, that is, in the charge to the rich in 6:17-19.  Here we are given an eternal perspective defining what it means to be truly rich.  This perspective warns us of the dangers and inspires us with the responsibilities that come with being rich. When the dangers are heeded and the responsibilities embraced, we are those who find real gain and a firm grip on what is truly life.

Main Point: Rich Christians must set their hope on God by imitating God's generosity.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the relationship between contentment (6:6-8), the fight of faith (6:11-12) and the charge to the rich (6:17-19)?
  • What dangers come with being rich (v.17)? Why must we be on guard against such dangers?
  • God is described as one "who richly provides us everything to enjoy."  What does this say about God?  How should this fact about God shape how we use our wealth?  
  • Practically speaking, what might it look like to be ready to share?
  • If rich Christians are not imitating God's generosity, what does that say about their hope?
  • How does v.19 give us an eternal perspective on what it means to be truly rich? How should that perspective shape how we heed the dangers and embrace the responsibilities that come with being wealthy Christians?
Application Questions:
  • How am I practically imitating God's generosity in the use of my wealth?
  • What practical steps can I take to be more ready to share generously with others?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for the greatest display of His generosity--the gift of His own dear Son
  • Praise Jesus for making an eternal investment by shedding His blood for us
  • Ask God to help us flee the dangers of pride and false security that come with being rich 
  • Ask God to help us imitate His generosity by being rich in good works and ready to share our wealth for the good of others

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Fight the Good Fight of Faith (1 Tim. 6:11-16)

OutlineFight the Good Fight of Faith (1 Tim. 6:11-16): 
  1. The command to fight (vv.11-12)
  2. The motivation to fight (vv.13-16)
Summary:  God has called us into a fight, a life-long fight of faith.  By God's grace we have been called through the gospel and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, we must take hold of the eternal life that first took hold of us.  We made a public confession of our faith and now we are called to continue in our confession by fighting the fight of faith.  Like a boxing match, the fight of faith will include strategies of both defense ("flee") and offense ("pursue").  We are commanded to engage in such a fight.  And our motivation for heeding the command comes from the fact that the fight takes place in the presence of God the Father and God the Son.  Both God's intimate presence with us and Jesus' example of making and continuing in His confession are meant to motivate us to fight hard until the bell rings at Jesus' return.   

Main Point: We must persevere in the faith by engaging in a disciplined fight to trust God and keep His word until Jesus returns.

Discussion Questions:
  • How should Jesus' good confession made before Pontius Pilate (v.13; cf. John 18:28-19:16) motivate us to continue and persevere in our good confession (v.12)?
  • The fight of faith is like a boxing match that includes the need for both defense ("flee") and offense ("pursue").  From v.12 and your own experience, how might a christian "fly like a butterfly" and "sting like a bee" in his fight of faith?
  • How should the majestic description of God in this passage (esp. vv.15-16) motivate us to engage in a disciplined fight to trust God and keep his word?
  • How long must we engage in the fight of faith? 
Application Questions:
  • Do I live like I understand that the normal Christian life is a fight to trust God and keep His word until Jesus' returns?  In other words, do I expect my life to be a fight?
  • How am I currently fighting the good fight? What situations in my life are calling for greater defense and what situations are calling for greater offense?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for calling us though the gospel and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit
  • Praise Jesus for making and persevering in His good confession even in the face of the cross
  • Praise God for His intimate presence with us as we fight to persevere in the faith
  • Ask God to help us discipline ourselves to "fly like a butterfly" as we flee sin and temptation
  • Ask God to help us discipline ourselves to "sting like a bee" as we pursue righteousness 
  • Ask God to encourage and empower someone you know who is struggling in the fight of faith 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Heart Check on Christian Contentment:

Diagnostic questions designed to help detect a love of money in my heart*
  • Do I think more about how much money I make or the quality of my service?
  • Am I ungrateful for the basic necessities of life and feel entitled to more than the basics?
  • Am I generally dissatisfied with what I do have and find myself craving what don’t have?  
  • Do I desire to get more money so that I can buy things in order to flaunt them? 
  • Do I let an eternal perspective shape the way I view my money?
  • Do I resent giving money?
  • Am I willing to sin to get money? 
  • In what current circumstances am I most temped to be discontent?
  • What do I do when I sense discontentment in my heart?
  • Have I redefined what is entailed in God's goodness?
  • Am I believing that God is not being generous to me?
  • How aware am I that God's provisions are meant to fuel God's mission (His glory, His kingdom, His will)?
  • What are things that I seem to be trying to find security in above and beyond basic necessities mentioned in 1 Tim. 6:8?

Truths about God to help me fight for contentment: 
  • Remember that God promised to give you all you need to honor His name, advance His kingdom, and do His will (Matt. 6:9-11)
  • Remember that God knows best and is keenly aware of your real needs (Matt. 6:8; 32)
  • Remember that God is an attentive and generous Father (Matt. 7:7-11)
  • Remember that God will supply all your needs as you live on mission (Phil. 4:19)
  • Remember that God did not spare his own Son (Rom. 8:32)
  • Remember that God will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5)
  • Remember that you have the Spirit of the content one inside you  (2 Tim. 1:7)

*Note: A few of the these questions were adapted from John McArthur's questions mentioned in his sermon on this text.