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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Doomsday Sermon

Text - Matthew 24:3-44

Good evening, I’m so glad you could join us tonight. During this season you’d expect us to be talking about Christmas…but while Christmas is important we are only two years away from a massive event which will be one to remember. It’s not that the world is ending, but it is that people think the world is ending and because of that we should expect to see all sorts of cults form, mass suicides taking place, and all sorts of rioting and chaos and outright goofiness.

The day that more and more people are beginning to fear as the end of the world is December 21st, 2012, at 11:18AM GMT. First of all, let me, as objectively and factually as possible, give you the reasons why they think the world is ending on that day.

First of all, the thing that got it all kicked off is this big Mayan calendar stone called the “Sun Stone” which is a super-complex calendar that accurately measures astronomy, it can tell you where certain stars will be at certain times. This may not sound important, but really it is very high tech, especially for almost 1800 years ago when it was likely invented. This calendar measures vast time periods by the constellation that the sun is lined up with at the Vernal, or Spring, Equinox. This is a useful means of navigation, but the Mayan’s took it a bit farther to say that it actually influences how people live and act. Well, their calendar either ends, or resets, on the Winter Solstice, December 21st, 2012. This has caused all sorts of people to believe that something massive will happen to the sun, and hence the earth, on that day.

Besides the Mayan Calendar, this is also the highly contested day that the sun will move from being classified in one constellation, called the “Age of Capricorn” to the “Age of Aquarius.” It is debated when this change officially takes place, some people believe it happened 500 years ago, others believe it won’t happen for another 600 years, but many believe it is happening soon, and a fair number think it is happening on December 21st, 2012. Earth Ages are another way of saying “Horoscope” and they are pagan practices which the Bible utterly condemns, and so while we as Christians don’t put any stock in it, because God doesn’t put any stock in it, people who reject the truth believe they can foretell the future via means of watching the stars.

Since a dooms-day scare can’t happen on just a few crazy people’s predictions, they have also included all manner of other predictions, such as variances in the earth’s poles and claiming that the earth’s magnetic field is about to swap. This has never happened, and even if it could, we wouldn’t have the faintest idea of how to predict it. As long as the earth’s core in molten, which volcanoes and the like show us it is, then we will have an intact magnetic field. But doomsday predictors have to add terrifying events to make their conspiracy seem more realistic.

Something that is real, but we don’t expect it to wreck the solar system, is that 2012 is predicted to have greater than average sunspots. Jupiter and Saturn will line up somewhat close together in such a way as in the past has been observed to maybe mess with the sun’s gravitational field which caused more sun spots in the past; we’re not sure exactly what causes it, but it’s predictable. Sunspots may mess with your cell-phone and satellite reception, but they’re not going to wreck the world.

Nostradamus, in one of his notoriously ambiguous and usually wrong prophecies, claimed that the end of the world would come soon after the “new city” was fallen. Many claim that clearly he was talking about September 11th and so the end of the world must come soon.

There are many prophecies that start to really reach, some are utter fiction, like the asteroid Nibiru, which doesn’t exist but is supposed to hit the earth on December 21st, 2012. Beloved, the end of the world will not be happening in December 21st, 2012; all of these prophecies are so vague and ridiculous that all they serve to do is scare people and draw their affections off what they really should be on, that is the Living God. But don’t be deceived, many people have claimed that Christ will be returning on certain dates, or the end of the world was happening, and they have deceived many.

One such event was in 1844 when William Miller predicted that Christ was returning on March 21st, based on his calculations from the book of Daniel. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but the world did not end on that date! As that date passed without incident, Miller was quick to point out that his prophecy was not incorrect, but that he had made a minor error in converting Hebrew numbers to English, and announced that the world would be ending on April 18th.

People still followed him though, and along with the help of a friend he determined that the true date of Christ’s return was, using a different calendar, on October 22nd, 1844. On that day more people showed up than any other day. Many had sold or given away everything they owned. Some dug their own graves and stood in them so that their body would have a place to fall when their soul was taken to Heaven.

That day came and passed without incident. All people got out of it was a special robe that they had bought for the occasion from William Miller himself. At that point people rejected William Miller, and from this major event the cults of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Branch Davidians were born.

Throughout the last hundred and fifty years the Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently predicted the end of the world every few decades, and every time they have been wrong.

In 1993 the Branch Davidians predicted the end of the world as the FBI and ATF came to investigate child molestation and illegal weapons charges. At least 84 died in a murder/suicide.

Joseph Smith, seeking credibility in his earliest false-prophecies in the Mormon Church, claimed that the end would be in 1890.

In the year 1,000 many people believed the world was ending and sold or gave away all of their possessions. When the end did not come sects of dissenters arose against the church, and the Catholic Church executed many.

March 26th, 1997, a cult called “Heaven’s Gate” believed the world was about to be “recycled”, that a space-craft was flying with Hale-Bopp Comet, and that the only way to survive was to leave the world, and 39 left through suicide. The leader believed he was either Jesus or closely related to Jesus.

2 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

So all of this to say that an end of the world prediction is not new, if you search on Google, “Failed End of the World Prophecies”, you’ll find a few thousand; several websites are devoted to only classifying these failed prophecies. Most pass without real public notice, but the December 21st, 2012 prophecy is different, because it has such a mystical origin in an ancient calendar, and because of its astronomy links, which much of the non-Christian world thinks very highly of.

But when we look at Christianity, the Bible says in Isaiah 46 that God is in control of all of history, and that he knows both the end and the beginning,

Isaiah 46:9-11 I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

The bird of prey here spoken of was a Persian king named Cyrus who set the Jews free from Babylon, this prophecy predated him by over a hundred years, and in chapter 45 it names him by name. God is more than capable of telling you both how the world began, created a bit over 6,000 years ago out of nothing, and he is also able to tell us how it will end.

Turn to Matthew 24, here is the Jesus Christ explaining the end of the world to us.

Matthew 24:3-8 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

They ask him a straight question, how will we know that the world is ending? He begins by warning them, telling them not to be deceived nor alarmed, knowing that he has overcome the world and he has decreed both the end and the beginning, knowing exactly how it will come to pass. He foresees that many false prophecies and false messiahs will arise to lead many astray.

Matthew 24:9-14 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

More signs are here given, that the church will be greatly persecuted, and that many so-called Christians will cease to love and will actually hate people. Beloved, in 1 John 3:15 it says that if anyone hates his brother in the church, that he is a murderer, and eternal life does not abide in him. And here is our sign for the end of the times, that the gospel will be preached to all nations, and then the end will come. There are organizations that track which people groups have heard the gospel, and we are still an estimated 171 years from being able to, at the current rate, to get missionaries to every people group. Beloved, if you want to hasten the return of Christ, as Peter says we ought, then you need to be sharing your faith, for God is not willing that even a single one of his saints should perish and so will not send his Son back until every last believer comes to repentance.

Matthew 24:15 When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place…

This prophecy is explained more in Paul’s second letter to Thessalonica, it is when the Antichrist sits himself in the Temple and declares himself to be God. Beloved, currently we have no Temple in Jerusalem, and it’s very hard to sit in a Temple and declare yourself to be God if there is no Temple, so this is our number one sign that the world is not ending anytime soon. The Jews in Jerusalem have been trying to build a temple for decades now, but the Muslims are standing in their way. It may happen in your lifetimes, it may not, but we know that Christ is not returning before this abomination of desolation takes place.

Jump forward to verse 23,

Matthew 24:23-27 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Beloved, surely there will be very charismatic leaders who arise around this December 21st, 2012 prophecy, and even afterwards, and even if they claim to be God, you must not follow them, for the true Christ says his appearing will be unmistakable, the sky will split open, the Apostle John describes it this way:

Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

Now we get into the true end of the world:

Matthew 24:29-31 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The sky will be blackened, massive heavenly bodies will be moved, the earth will quake, and Christ will appear in the sky and call his elect to himself with the help of angels. I used to be freaked out about the rapture, since I’m in the Air Force, wondering what would happen if I was inside of a hardened aircraft shelter, thinking I’d never make it out, but beloved this verse says that an angel will come to gather you, I expect he’ll rip the roof off of whichever building you’re in. No secret rapture for Christ’s church, but an amazingly clear sign of Christ’s return.

For some of us this will be a great day, but for most of the world it will be terrifying.

Luke 21:25-28 And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear (their hearts failing them, dead where they stand) and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

We have this great promise that Christ will come to save his church, we know that he will be victorious, but when will it happen?

Matthew 24:36-44 But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

So beloved, the hour is veiled to us, if anyone says they know the date, then they are calling Christ a liar. William Varner puts it better than I can, he says that prophecy is not given to form a calendar, but to form a character; a character of prayerfulness, watchfulness, honesty, and holiness. I guarantee you without a doubt that the world is not ending on December 21st, 2012; but I also guarantee you that it will happen someday. It may happen before you leave this planet, or it may happen long after. Some say that Laodicea, or the luke warm democratic church, is the last church before Christ returns, that he stands at the door and knocks, but whenever it happens beloved, you must be ready, for either on the day you die, or the day Christ returns, you have an appointment to stand before his judgment seat. On that day will you face him as a friend, or as an enemy?

Turn with me to Revelation 20. There are no such things as Bible-codes, which is when you pretend that certain verses are more important or magical in telling you things. But, this is a neat memorization technique for you to remember, that Revelation 20:12 trumps the 2012 prophecies because this verse is way more important for your soul than whatever happens on December 21st, 2012. Let’s start at verse 11 for context,

Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

So check this out, your appointment with Christ, a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness. Books will be opened, the book of your conscience, the book of your deeds, recording everything you have ever done. Beloved, these books contain every sin you’ve ever committed, every thought you’ve ever had. Deeds done in darkness will be brought to the light. What sort of things will these books record?

Revelation 21:8 says that all liars will have their place in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. Beloved, how many lies do you need to tell to be counted a liar? Just as you only need to murder one person to be a murder, one rape to be a rapist, so is it that you just need to tell one lie to be a liar; and these books will record EVERY lie.

Have you ever murdered anyone? You know that no murderer has eternal life abiding him. Jesus said that if you hate someone without cause or call them an idiot or a curse work you are in danger of judgment as a murderer. Have you ever done that?

Have you ever stolen anything, regardless of value? A song on the internet, candy from a store, something from a brother or sister? The Bible is clear that no thief has any inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven.

Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? The Bible is clear when we do that we set our mouths against Heaven, we declare war on the God who made us. Jesus was clear also that we will give an account for every idle word we’ve spoken. Maybe we’ve only broken a few, but James says if we’ve broken one, we’re guilty of all.

Our judgment is assured beloved, for the soul that sins shall die, and after this comes the judgment. But there is hope, there is what is called the Lamb’s book of life. This book contains the names of every person who will repent and believe in Jesus Christ.

The reason that this matters is because God states that he will by no means clear the guilty, that we need to be declared righteous to enter into Heaven and be reconciled to our Creator. Beloved, 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, God the Son, stepped out of Heaven, born of the virgin Mary, he lived a perfect sinless life, tempted in every way we’ve been tempted, yet without sin, then he willingly gave up his life to pay for our sins by dying on a cross. We broke the law, and Jesus Christ paid our fine. He never told a lie, but he died as a liar, he never stole anything, yet he said, what I did not steal, I have come to repay. The Bible says he bore our sins on the cross and it please his Father to crush him, the full wrath of God, which would have required an eternity in Hell for us, was poured out on Jesus Christ and he endured it for our sake. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we may become the righteousness of God in him.

They laid him in a borrowed tomb, and on the third day he defeated and lives forever more. He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to him. He always lives to make intercession for his saints, those written in the Lamb’s book of life.

So beloved, in order to ensure your name is written in that book, he commands that you repent, turn from your sin, and place your full faith in him. Then on that final judgment we will be declared innocent, not on our own merits, but because Jesus Christ paid for our guilt, and has given us his innocence. And we will be welcomed into Heaven.

Then, which ever end we and the world meet, we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So I implore you first and foremost, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, be reconciled to God.

Then second, preach this gospel of reconciliation, that there is salvation in no other name than Jesus Christ, that he for our sake took on and defeated death, and that his perfect love drives out all fear. Don’t be alarmed by end-of-the-world prophecies, don’t follow false christs, but eagerly await the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ as he comes with ten-thousands of his holy ones. Let’s conclude with

1 John 2:28-3:3 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spiritual Purity - Rejecting False Jesuses

Spiritual Purity
Canyon Shearer
8 December 2010

Text - 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

Beloved, it is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to address you this evening. I pray that I have adequately prepared this lesson, that it will impact you and drive you towards the truth, and that if you are offended, it will be the truth doing the offending and not myself. I am very glad to have an opportunity to talk about this topic today, the topic of a spiritual purity, a doctrinal purity, a theological purity, because if we get this right, it will bring everything else into line and this youth group will continue in the truth and will be utterly consumed with Christ. Let's pause here to pray to the true Christ and ask that he sends his true Spirit to enlighten us.

Just last Sunday I taught briefly on the importance of sexual purity in Christ's church, and as important as this is, it is far more important than we are pure in our understanding of Christ. You're going to see in a bit that Paul draws a straight line between physical purity and doctrinal purity. So please turn to Second Corinthians 11, if you don't have a Bible, we have Bibles up here. If you don't own a Bible, please see us before you leave and we'll make sure you get a Bible. Our first lesson before we talk about anything is that this Book is how we know anything about God, it is how he speaks, it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error for its content.

Now, a little background before we read our passage. Second Corinthians is the follow-up letter to First Corinthians. It's a funny coincidence that the second follows the first...but both of these letters were written by the Apostle Paul after he planted this church in AD 51 with his friends Timothy and Silas. After they left, this church became the worst church ever, they broke up into little cliques, they worshipped knowledge more than God, they were falling into all sorts of sexual sin, forbidding marriage for some and requiring it for others, living according to all sorts of silly rules, like what could and couldn't be eaten, getting drunk during communion, making fun of people who didn't have their same giftings, rejecting love, and it all came together in their church services where everything was out of control. They'd have several people preaching at once, some in real languages, others in made up tongues, everybody was praying in "concerts of prayer" where everybody prayed outloud at the same time, and Paul said, "QUIT IT!" He called for the service to be a time of building up, prayer outloud for the sake of edification, and tongues to be outright heresy and totally worthless. A lot of this was led by crazy preacher ladies and Paul told them to sit down and shut up.

Now, why was this church so wrecked? In chapter 15 it tells us it was because they were worshipping a Christ who lived and died and saved them from Hell. They missed the fact that he defeated death and proved a resurrection and that when we die, our bodies will die, but our souls will live forever. They denied the resurrection, and First Corinthians is written to fix all of these problems.

Second Corinthians is written to follow up, and lo and behold, this church has repented. They've become a pretty decent church. In chapter 3 we see that the dude in First Corinthians who was sleeping with his step-mom has repented and has been welcomed back into fellowship. We see in chapter 7 that Paul is super happy that his first letter made them repent, saying it didn't just make them feel bad, but it showed them they had sinned against Heaven, they had blasphemed Christ's name. This church isn't yet perfect, they're still sort of being legalists, coming up with rules instead of principles. One thing they are doing in chapters 8 and 9 are still holding to a rule of a tithe, of a tenth of your money being mandatory to the church. Instead he says you ought to give out of your abundance, this may be 1% or 10% or 99.8%, and he's very clear that if you're not giving, you are robbing both God and yourself. And of course this isn't just to the church, I don't get paid by the church so I can say this, but I highly encourage you to take Paul's advice and give away money for the ministry of the kingdom.

In chapter 10 Paul changes gears to address some false teachers who are still in the church. Guys that are trying to say they're super amazing and better than Paul. Paul attacks the idea that he's not a true Apostle, that he's bold in letter, but weak in presence. I can imagine some of the angry false teachers in Corinth writing to Paul and saying, "Why don't you say that to my face?"

The false teachers are preaching about the name of Jesus, but they're not talking about the true Jesus. I want to show a video clip of some modern day versions of these guys and see if it doesn't make you mad, because it definitely makes God furious.

These are similar to the false prophets in Corinth, making up a Jesus they like more than the true Christ. Let's read our passage,

2 Corinthians 11:2-4 I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Our first point that we need to see is that there are indeed different Jesuses, who though they share a name, have nothing in common with the true and living Christ. Let me tell you a story to really drive this point home. About six months ago I was driving to work at 10pm on a Friday. I know it was a Friday because on Friday's I made it a point to stop at my favorite Mexican restaurant to grab lunch before I went to work. As I was walking in I passed three teenage skaters hanging out on the sidewalk. I thought momentarily, I should witness to those guys. I decided, if they're still there when I come out, I'll witness to them. Well I ordered and my conscience got the better of me and I told the waitress I'd be right back. I went outside and they were still there and so I struck up a conversation and took them through the good person test and they found out they were lying thieving blasphemous adulterers at heart. They were sure they were on their way to Hell when I asked if they knew what God did so they wouldn't have to go to Hell. They didn't know, so I told them, "2,000 years ago, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ..." One of them interrupted and said, "Hey, that's my name!" I said, "Your name is Jesus Christ?" He said, "No, it's Jesus." I said, "Good, then your name will help you guys to remember this." And I finished the gospel for them and hopefully they've repented and gotten saved by now.

There are a ton of different Jesuses who aren't the true Jesus. For example, the Jesus of revisionist history was just a charismatic rabbi, the Jesus of Mormonism is the brother of Satan, the Jesus of Islam was just a prophet, the Jesus of Catholicism is unapproachable but has a soft spot for his mom, the Jesus of Philips Craig and Dean is schizophrenic and morphs from being the Father to the Son to the Spirit, but never at the same time, yet prays to himself. Cult leader David Koresh claimed to be the second coming of Jesus and many died because of it, Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda claims to be the second coming of Jesus right now in Miami, and I expect before it's over it will die in a mass murder-suicide. There are no lack of false Jesuses. Similarly the Holy Spirit is called everything from a force, or a personification of goodness, like Jack Frost is the personification of winter, to a girl, to an it. False Jesuses and false spirits abound.

I was open air preaching once at Kennesaw State University and a girl said, "My god would never send anyone to Hell." I was standing on my little box and replied, "You're right, your god wouldn't send anyone to Hell, because he can't, because he doesn't exist!" And when I said that I fell off my box.

Paul sees a tendency for this church, and indeed every church, to be led astray into false doctrine and away from Christ and ultimately into sin. We see these extreme versions and think, "I'd never be led into the idea that Jesus was anything less than God, and definitely not that he is the brother of Satan." And that's great, but we also have to look for smaller errors in our view of who Jesus is.

For example, it's popular in bumper-sticker theology to say, "Jesus loves you." Or in that crazy song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." That song would be much better sung, "Jesus has a long-suffering sacrificial lovingkindness towards me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

Turn to Hebrews 1:8-9, in Romans 12:9 it tells us that true love hates wickedness and holds to the truth, that a person that truly loves good also has to hate things that aren't good.

Hebrews 1:8-9 But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."

Right there it says he hates wickedness. And that leads us to our next different Jesus, the Jesus who hates sin but loves the sinner. Be turning to Psalm 69. Let me give you an analogy, say there is an assassin who kills someone you love very much, let's say your best friend. Are you going to hate the bullet, but still love the assassin? Beloved, the bullet, the sin, is nothing apart from the assassin, the sinner, to put it into action. As Pastor Aaron said, God doesn't send sin to Hell, he sends sinners. Let's see somewhere where Jesus very much hates a very specific audience. Psalm 69 is Jesus' prayer from the cross, he is near to death and has been beaten beyond human recognition, he has looked for friends but they have all abandoned him, he has looked for pity but found none. He is dying for a very specific purpose, to pay for the sins of all who will trust in him. But for those who will die in their sins, he has a much different response. Read with me from

Psalm 69:19-33 You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink. Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents. For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous. But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

This is what is called an imprecatory prayer, and it's coming straight from the heart of Jesus Christ. He asks his Father to add punishment upon punishment and to not forgive them. This then leads us to another false jesus, the one who we think loved us so much that he would rather die than live without us, or the jesus who concocted a world in which the largest number of people would be saved of their own choosing, the jesus who loved us "this much." I can't say it any worse that a song which by and large is a fantastic song, but concludes at the end with, "And thought of me, above all." Just as Pastor Aaron said a few weeks ago, this is a lie from the pit of Hell; on the cross Jesus Christ was thinking utmost to the glory of his Father. If you ever have an opportunity to play or sing that song, I highly encourage you to substitute for that last line, "For his glory, he gave all." Jump back a few verses in Psalm 69,

Psalm 69:6-7 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.

Check out Matthew 19:4-7 "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."

Jesus never condemned homosexuality. Hmm...right there he did, have you not read that God created them male and female? That a man should marry his wife? Yet there is a false jesus of Elton John who thinks homosexuality is the greatest thing ever.

So, we've talked about the person of Christ, what he loves and hates. Let's move on to the work of Christ, where likewise there are no lack of false Jesuses. In that Ricky Bobby movie we see that some people would rather have a baby Jesus; this Jesus they think is impotent and not able to judge or condemn and might grow up to be anything. Let's take a quick rabbit trail to make this is a Christmas sermon. After Jesus was born he was taken to the temple, a man named Simeon, my hero, took the baby and recognized that this was the Sovereign Lord of the Universe. Check this out, Simeon was holding the Baby, and the Baby was holding every molecule in Simeon, in the world, in the universe together.

Thirty-Three years later Christ was crucified. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates this weekly with a crucifix in a masse when they RECRUCIFY Christ. The Jesus of Catholicism cannot save totally, he cannot make his saints perfect, he must continue to make payment which hopefully is added to your own goodness which along with Purgatory will see you into Heaven...hopefully. This is a false jesus, unable to save to the uttermost those who draw near to him.

Three days later, he rose, he defeated death, beloved, the tomb is empty. But if you're a Jehovah's Witness, it's not. They believe jesus was raised spiritually from the dead, that his body is still somewhere on earth, hidden though so that we can't find it. The church at Corinth made this same mistake, believing Christ died to save us from Hell, but could do nothing to save us from death. But beloved, death is swallowed up in victory, death has lost its victory, death has lost its sting, for the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The true Jesus was born as a baby, grew into a man, was tempted in every way we've been tempted, yet without sin. He willingly went to the cross, crucified on the charge of claiming to be God, he paid the whole price for the sins of his saints, he was buried in a borrowed tomb, and on the third day he defeated death and ascended bodily into Heaven. He lives this day to make intercession for his saints.

Paul sums this up in 1 Timothy 3:16, I love this verse because beloved, this is the verse that got me saved. I was standing in Hyde Park in London, which is a famous place for all sorts of people to yell at people, everything from religion to politics to hunting to whatever. There was an absolute loony preaching there that the reason the world is going to Hell is because women are allowed to speak in church. I don't believe this man's jesus was the true Jesus, but he was preaching, and I was listening for a laugh. But beloved, somewhere in his sermon and completely out of context of the rest of the message, he preached 1 Timothy 3:16, that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh. That one verse rocked my worldview, I'd never heard it before and it became a whole different issue that Jesus wasn't just some guy dying on a cross, but was the King of Heaven stepped into human existence to pay for the sins of his creation.

1 Timothy 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated (proved holy, innocent, and undefiled) by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

This true Jesus will set your doctrine straight; because he counted others as worth more than himself, so will you. Because he gave all glory to his Father, so will you. Because he entrusted himself totally to his Father who judges justly, so shall you. Because he loved righteousness and hated wickedness, so shall you. Because he sent his Spirit to be your helper and counselor, he will guide you into all truth.

False gospels will become abhorrent to you. You will hate it when people say there is salvation in any other name than Jesus Christ. You will hate it when baptism or circumcision or church membership is added to the completed work of Christ for salvation. You will hate it when sin is made beautiful and hides Christ from the people, that many who think they are ok because they believe in someone named jesus will be turned away from the gates of Heaven for rejecting the true King of Righteousness for an impotent and imaginative false savior.

It was to this effect that Jesus could scream at the Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single convert, and when he becomes a convert, you make him twice as much the child of Hell as yourselves."

Beloved, you have two options, you can reject these false jesus' and trust in the King of Heaven who lived and died and lived again, who gave all for the glory of his father, who in a single sacrifice perfected all who are being sanctified, or you can follow after a Jesus that comforts your conscience, who doesn't hate sinners, who only tries to save, who needs your consent to accomplish his will. Let's conclude with two verses, choose this day which Christ you will follow.

Hebrews 3:12-14 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

Or to those false jesuses, let's let Paul tell us their fate,

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Their end will correspond to their deeds. A false Christ, a false savior, is not savior at all, and they will die in their sins and be judged with great strictness. It is for them that the gloom of the worst parts of Hell are reserved.

A church that trusts totally in the true Christ will accomplish his mission and its members will be welcomed into Heaven on the phrase, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master." This church will have unity of mind, unity of purpose, and unity of love.

But the church that trusts in its own understandings, which makes up a Jesus to appease their consciences and allow them to boast in their works, who can say, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" will be turned away at the gate, and hear, "Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you."

Beloved, I pray that this will be none of you. Let's pray.

Lord Christ, maker of Heaven and Earth, we with boldness approach your throne of grace seeking help in our time of need. Many deceivers attack us on every side, trying to tell us you are not who you say you are. Set our hope on you, set our affections on you, you are all we have in Heaven and on Earth, you are the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. Sanctify us in the truth, your word is truth. If there are any here who have not repented and trusted in you, I pray that this day you grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, that you would transform them into new creatures able and willing to do your will. And Lord Jesus, I pray that we forever remember that you came as a humble baby, gave your life in substitution for ours, and defeated death, and that we would see that there is an empty cross and an empty grave, that death is beaten and you have won the day, that we would all shout it out that you are alive. And King Jesus, I pray that one that final day I would not hear it just once, but that for each of these students I would have the extreme privilege of hearing you tell them, "well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master." Let us do all things for your sake, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen.

a Child is Born

The night gets a little brighter as a shooting star races across the sky. In the first century sky it is the only thing moving; no satellites, no airplanes, just a plethora of stars twinkling in the brisk December night. Only a few feet away the bleating of sheep is the only noise. Imagine with me for a moment that you are one of the shepherds of these sheep, that your whole life and livelihood is keeping you outside of town this night as masses of pilgrims flood into the city of David to subjugate themselves to the will of the occupying Roman presence.

Imagine that you are from this tiny town of Bethlehem, that you are camped out on this hill overlooking that town, a hill that is a mix of stone and grass. Your nationality and your identity is Jewish, you bear with pride the title, “Chosen People of God”, and your hope is firmly set on a Messiah who is to come. You’ve grown up with one main prophecy for this Messiah, found half-way through Micah’s book,
__Siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
__on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
__who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
__one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
__from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
__when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
__to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength
____of the LORD,
__in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
__to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.
You have wondered if this ruler could be you, and all of your friends have wondered likewise about themselves, because of course you are from Bethlehem in Ephrathah, and not only so, but you are a shepherd and equipped to watch a flock. After all, wasn’t David a shepherd just like you, called to lead the nation of Israel as her second and greatest king? But generations have come and gone wondering this exact thing, 700 years have passed watching for a ruler from Bethlehem but seeing none. On this night your thoughts wander to the beginning of that prophecy, reflecting that siege is laid against Israel, that violence is done against her people, and you see this prophecy fulfilled in the Roman invasion.

Your thoughts fly to your hatred of these oppressors. You pray David’s prayer from the 139th Psalm,
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
__O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
__your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
__And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
__I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
__Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
__and lead me in the way everlasting!
As you conclude the prayer the sky explodes in light, like the sun has risen in a moment, only it is far brighter, seven times brighter would be your guess. Standing immediately before you and your fellow shepherds is one like an angel, clothed in a magnificent white robe, radiating light in every direction. Though none utters a word, you instinctively know who this is, it is the Angel of the Lord, God on earth; he dwells in unapproachable light and he is a consuming fire. In his endless burnings none can dwell!

Your first inclination is fear, terror that your sins have come up before him and your judgment is immanent. You think back through the day, the week, the month, your conscience accuses you at every remembrance; you’ve lied this week, you spoke an uncharitable word to a Roman soldier, you coveted the possessions of the pilgrims in Bethlehem, you caught a glimpse of one of the girls and didn’t instantly take that thought captive; a thousand other sins convince you that your judgment has come, you are sure this Angel is come to end your life and cast you into the pit of endless torment. Your mouth is stopped in terror.

But he speaks with the voice of God, “Fear not.” You look up from the ground, wondering what is not to fear, and he continues his proclamation, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy that shall be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Messiah the Lord.

Your mind is darting from thought to thought, but in a clarity you’ve never known, it’s like God himself is enlightening your mind to understand these words. The Messiah is born this day in Bethlehem! This day! A Saviour! Yes, that is what you need, someone to deliver you from your unclean lips and from this people of unclean lips, you need a kinsman redeemer to pay your debt, a shepherd to seek and save you in your wanderings, a reconciler to heal the separation which sin has caused between you and God, and an intercessor to bring peace between your God and you. He is born this day! Another prophecy flares to the forefront of your mind, from the prophet Isaiah,
For to us a child is born,
__to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
__and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
__Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
__there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
__to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
__from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Your heart races, your soul rejoices, your King has come, your Redeemer lives, your Saviour is wearing human flesh! You must see him! The Angel continues, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” You rise in haste to go see this sign, your fellow shepherds are quick to do likewise; you wonder silently why a King should have such humble beginnings as to be laid in a feeding trough. But your thoughts are interrupted as you see the sky, not full of stars any longer, but full of angels, innumerable angels, more than you could count even if you did not have a miracle to rush to, and with perfect unity and unity in harmony, they sing in a heavenly Hebrew, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

And as quickly as this herald began, it is over; and you are alone in the star soaked darkness of the night, looking intently at the lights of Bethlehem as you bound and leap your way to see this Christ child, this Messiah, who has come to save his people from their sins.