Ephesians 4:4-6, One hope of your calling: Eternal Reward, 1Co 3:1-17, part 10.
Sunday Feruary 7,2021
Communion February 2021
He began his public ministry in the thirtieth year of his age, after the Messianic inauguration by the baptism of John, and after the Messianic probation in the wilderness—the counterpart of the temptation of the first Adam in Paradise.
That ministry lasted only three years—and yet in these three years is condensed the deepest meaning of the history of religion. No great life ever passed so swiftly, so quietly, so humbly, so far removed from the noise and commotion of the world; and no great life after its close excited such universal and lasting interest. He was aware of this contrast: he predicted his deepest humiliation even to the death on the cross, and the subsequent irresistible attraction of this cross, which may be witnessed from day to day wherever his name is known. He who could say, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto myself," knew more of the course of history and of the human heart than all the sages and legislators before and after him.
He chose twelve disciples for the Jews and seventy disciples for the Gentiles, not from among the scholars and leaders, but from among the illiterate fishermen of Galilee. He had no home, no earthly possessions, no friends among the mighty and the rich. A few pious women from time to time filled his purse; and this purse was in the hands of a thief and a traitor.
He associated with publicans and sinners, to raise them up to a higher and nobler life, and began His reformation among the lower classes, which were despised and neglected by the proud hierarchy of the day. He never courted the favor of the great, but incurred their hatred and persecution. He never flattered the prejudices of the age, but rebuked sin and vice among the high and the low, aiming his severest words at the blind leaders of the blind, the self-righteous hypocrites who sat on Moses’ seat. He never encouraged the carnal Messianic hopes of the people, but withdrew when they wished to make him a king, and declared before the representative of the Roman empire that his kingdom was not of this world. He announced to his disciples his own martyrdom, and promised to them in this life only the same baptism of blood. He went about in Palestine, often weary of travel, but never weary of his work of love, doing good to the souls and bodies of men, speaking words of spirit and life, and working miracles of power and mercy.
He taught the purest doctrine, as a direct revelation of his heavenly Father, from his own intuition and experience, and with a power and authority which commanded unconditional trust and obedience. He rose above the prejudices of party and sect, above the superstitions of his age and nation. He addressed the naked heart of man and touched the quick of the conscience. He announced the founding of a spiritual kingdom which should grow from the smallest seed to a mighty tree, and, working like leaven from within, should gradually pervade all nations and countries. Only He knew the incredible change that His church would enact. This colossal idea, had never entered the imagination of men, the like of which he held fast even in the darkest hour of humiliation, before the tribunal of the Jewish high-priest and the Roman governor, and when suspended as a malefactor on the cross; and the truth of this idea is illustrated by every page of church history and in every true church and mission station on earth.
The miracles or signs which accompanied his teaching are supernatural, but not unnatural, exhibitions of his power over man and nature; no violations of law, but manifestations of a higher law, the superiority of His mind over matter, the superiority of His spirit, the superiority of divine grace over human nature. They are all of the highest moral and of a profoundly symbolical significance, prompted by pure benevolence, and intended for the good of men; in striking contrast with deceptive juggler works and the useless and absurd miracles of apocryphal fiction. They were performed without any ostentation, with such simplicity and ease as to be called simply his "works." They were the practical proof of his doctrine and the natural reflex of his wonderful person. The absence of wonderful works in such a wonderful man would be the greatest wonder.
His doctrine and miracles were sealed by the purest and holiest life in private and public. He could challenge his bitterest opponents with the question: "Which of you convinces me of sin?" well knowing that they could not point to a single spot.
At last he completed his active obedience by the passive obedience of suffering in willful resignation to the holy will of God.
It is fascinating to attempt to see the vast extent and solemnity of the occasion of the Passover in Jerusalem when Jesus would fulfill it. How dazzling must this cosmopolitan spectacle have been when the priests (whose number Josephus estimates at 20,000) with the broidered tunic, the fine linen girdle, the showy turban, the high priests with the ephod of blue and purple and scarlet, the breastplate and the mitre, the Levites with their pointed caps, the Pharisees with their broad phylacteries and fringes, Roman soldiers with proud bearing, Herodian courtiers in oriental pomposity, contrasted with beggars and cripples in rags, when pilgrims innumerable, Jews and proselytes from all parts of the empire, "Parthians and Medes and Elamites and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and parts of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans, and Arabians," all wearing their national costume and speaking a Babel of their native tongues, surged through the streets, and pressed up to Mount Moriah where "the glorious temple rear’d her pile, far off appearing like a mount of alabaster, topp’d with golden spires" and where on the fourteenth day of the first month columns of sacrificial smoke arose from tens of thousands of paschal lambs, in historical commemoration of the great deliverance from the land of bondage, and in typical prefiguration of the still greater redemption from the slavery of sin and death that Jesus Himself, walking through the midst of all of this, would perform on a hill outside the walls of the city, just as the Levitical sin offering given in the Law centuries before, on a cross, numbered with hardened criminals.
To the outside observer the Jews at that time were the most religious people on earth, and in some sense this is true. Never was a nation so ruled by the written law of God; never did a nation so carefully and scrupulously study its sacred books, and pay greater reverence to its priests and teachers. The leaders of the nation looked with horror and contempt upon the unclean, uncircumcised Gentiles, and confirmed the people in their spiritual pride and conceit. Yet, after all, this intense religiosity was but a shadow of true religion. It was a praying corpse rather than a living body.
Hated and persecuted by the Jewish hierarchy, betrayed into their hands by Judas, accused by false witnesses, condemned by the Sanhedrin, rejected by the people denied by Peter, but declared innocent by the representative of the Roman law and justice, surrounded by his weeping mother and faithful disciple, revealing in those dark hours by word and silence the gentleness of a lamb and the dignity of a God, praying for his murderers, dispensing to the penitent thief a place in paradise, committing His soul to his heavenly Father he died, with the exclamation: "It is finished!" He died before he had reached the prime of manhood. The Savior of the world a youth! He died the shameful death of the cross, the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, a free self, sacrifice of infinite love, to reconcile the world unto God. He conquered sin and death on their own ground, and thus redeemed and sanctified all who are willing to accept his benefits and to follow his example. He instituted the Lord’s Supper, to perpetuate the memory of his death and the cleansing and atoning power of his blood till the end of time.
The third day He rose from the grave, the conqueror of death and hell, the prince of life and resurrection. He repeatedly appeared to his disciples; He commissioned them to preach the gospel of the resurrection to every creature; He took possession of His heavenly throne, and by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit He established the church, which He has ever since protected, nourished, and comforted, and with which He has promised to abide, till He shall come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead.
To Him, God and Savior of the world, and now Ruler at the right hand of God, we now remember as He instructed us to.
1 Cor 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.
He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
What should a Christian church be? What should be its characteristics?
It should have spiritual men and women capable of exploring and learning the entire realm of doctrine in the scripture.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
There should be love and encouragement, not jealousy and strife. There should be no divisions amongst the members for any reason. The members should be of one mind, one love, one purpose, and one spirit.
For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
The church should look like a fruitful field, well attended to by workers who labor in joy and harmony.
[Image of the field] I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
The church should be a firm an immovable structure built on the foundation of the doctrines of Christ’s cross; its own people and the body of truth that it learns and believes and adores being made of the same material as the foundation – the mind and way of Christ.
[Image of the building] 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.
We will see this morning that the church is to look like heaven itself, or at least the first bright glimpses of heaven upon earth. The members, not yet fully redeemed in resurrection bodies, not yet in the environment of righteous, holy heaven, opposed by the flesh and the world and the devil, but skilled in building the church with the material God has graciously provided, redemption, the word of God, and the Spirit of God within every member.
In the Exodus we find a wise master builder, his associate, and their charge – the skillful laborers. Together they build the Tabernacle.
We find a wise master builder amongst the Exodus, charged with building the Tabernacle, complex and intricate, but he doesn’t build it or even craft it himself, he is also commissioned to lead and teach the other skillful workers in making and connecting the many parts of the Tabernacle and the many items in it.
And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, "This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying, 5 'Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart [not under compulsion], let him bring it as the Lord's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, 6 and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats' hair, 7 and rams' skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, 8 and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense, 9 and onyx stones and setting stones, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.
10 'And let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the Lord has commanded: 11 the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; 12 the ark and its poles, the mercy seat, and the curtain of the screen; 13 the table and its poles, and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 14 the lampstand also for the light and its utensils and its lamps and the oil for the light; 15 and the altar of incense and its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the doorway at the entrance of the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; 17 the hangings of the court, its pillars and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18 the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court and their cords; 19 the woven garments, for ministering in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.'"
Imagine you have a favorite ring and you hear this call that whoever is of a willing heart, contribute to the material needed for the construction of the Tabernacle. You’d rather hold on to the ring, but instead you willingly give it. Later you find out that your ring is a small portion of the gold that composes the lampstand or the table of incense. Say you have a favorite broach and you give it, and you find out that one of the stones in your broach now adorns the breastplate of the high priest.
In this case, the Israelites, after having learned from the golden calf incident, came through graciously. They had to be told to stop giving because the builder received more than they could use.
Imagine you give you time and effort and skill and money to the church and you find later, and only completely at the judgment seat of Christ, that that church affected hundreds and thousands of lives, and your work is a portion of that. The Tabernacle is gone. It represented heaven itself, but it was only a type, a shadow of the real one. We are of the real tabernacle and our good work adorns it forever. These are our rewards that will remain. Fighting the good fight, and saying NO! to the flesh and the world, and persevering under the suffering and persecution that that diligent attitude will bring, lays up treasure in heaven where moth nor rust destroys, and that treasure is great.
The wise master builder – Bezalel filled with the Spirit.
His associate – Oholiab
The workers – all the skillful laborers.
They strike us as like Paul and Apollos, or Paul and Timothy, or Paul and Barnabas, or Paul and Silas; and the skillful laborers like the members of the church using their spiritual skills.
Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, "See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 31 And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; 32 to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, 33 and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. 34 He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.
36:1 "Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded."
2 Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it. 3 And they received from Moses all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning.
The church on earth is to be like the true Tabernacle in heaven.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.