If you have your Bibles with you, I want to ask you to turn with me, if you would, to Romans chapter 12.
I'm going to be looking at verses 1 through 2. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Father, I pray for our General Assembly this week. Give our men safe travel there and back. Help our denomination to take a strong stand for truth.
Heavenly Father, we're here today to worship you primarily, but it's Father's Day. We also want to honor our fathers and challenge them in the training and nurturing of our children. We are sickened as we view the feminization of our nation. Godly, masculine men are being leveled by this culture.
Christian men have been intimidated and mocked so often that many have backed off and given up. Lord, give us a still backbone. Help us to realize that men can be merciful, compassionate, and caring without being spineless wimps. I pray that you'll give dads such a heart for their kids, that training them and living godly examples before them will be priority. Use the Word of God today to help us not to be conformed to this world, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We love you, Lord. We thank you for our dads. And it's in the holy and precious name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
You may be seated. Train up a child the way he should go. When he is old, he will not depart from it. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, but train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Today is Father's Day, and most Christian fathers are very familiar with those two verses. But how are we to train up our children? We are to do it through teaching, through instruction, through discipline, and through example. But what are we to teach? Primarily, we are to teach them Bible.
I think a good way to do this is catechizing your children. That's taking them through the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Just question after question. It gives question.
It gives answers. The most important thing is to get the scriptural proofs behind those questions and answers. It is so important, and I believe if you do that, you will help build a foundation for your child that will get them through this life and help them to stand. And today we're looking particularly at two verses that I want to use to help you in the teaching of your children. Romans chapter 12, verses 1 and 2. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove was that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Folks, we aren't living in the safe, church-affirming, Christ-honoring, Bible-believing society that was here back in the 1950s, back then when sin was called sin, when church attendance was just the norm, when our court system honored the law of God before the opinions of men, and when our public school system would back up the values and morals of their parents and the church. Seventy years later, things have changed. Who needs faith, hope, and love today when we've got sex, drugs, and gay pride parades? And what we're being told is that sex, love, and gay pride parades are a whole lot more fun. So there's been a shift, and it's no longer popular or even socially acceptable to be a conservative, evangelical, or Reformed Christian.
There's political, moral, spiritual, and ethical war that is going on in our country. And folks, the views of genuine Christians are not compatible with this new culture. In our society today, it's acceptable to be a homosexual, a pedophile, a transgenderist, an atheist, an adulterer, an abortionist. But in most cases, if you're a Christian, that's anathema, and that's not what you're supposed to be.
Folks, there's tolerance for everything but true Christianity, and that has many of us left in great frustration and even anger. We say, wait a minute, this is America. We live in a free country. We've got freedom of religion. We've got freedom of speech. We've got a constitution. That's true.
That's true. But if that's true, why is it that our freedoms are being stripped away from us almost on a daily basis? And why is it that Christians are shocked by this? I've been reading through the book of Jeremiah, and it's very relevant to our situation today.
Very, very relevant. Jeremiah has been telling the country of Judah that persecution is going to come. He's been telling them that trouble is on the way. He's been telling them that the judgment of God is coming, and the false prophets are mad at Jeremiah. And they say, Jeremiah, we want you to keep your mouth shut. You don't need to say anything about this.
Everything in this nation is just fine. Don't worry about it. Keep your mouth shut. Jeremiah says essentially to these false prophets, you have thumped your nose in God's holy face. You have broken God's commands. You have mocked God's law. You have said, peace, peace, when there is no peace. He said, you cannot mock God, and you cannot revel in your sin without consequences.
Jeremiah said judgment is coming. Brothers and sisters, America needs to hear that message. We need to understand that message.
Let me tell you what else we need to understand. Our answer is not in Washington. Our answer is not in any politician.
Our answer is in Jesus Christ. Folks, what we need is revival, and we need repentance in this nation. And I want you to know that judgment is not just coming.
Judgment is already here. And we are starting to get a taste of what the vast majority of Christians, all the way down through history, have experienced, and how many Christians around the world are experiencing right now, which is persecution and suffering and martyrdom. The church in America over the last six decades has compromised so horribly that the salt has lost its savor. Denominations, whole denominations, have capitulated to the culture, and they have changed creeds, and they have redefined words, and they have reinterpreted Scripture in order that it might accommodate the immoral climate of this time. In the last few months, I've sensed a deeper hostility and anger toward the Christian faith than I've ever sensed in my life. So I say to you today, welcome to Christianity 101.
What the church in America has experienced for the last 200 years has been a blessing, and it has been a great, great privilege. But I want you to know it is not the norm. It is an anomaly, a deviation from the norm. The norm for Christians is persecution, suffering, and even martyrdom. The norm is hostility, antagonism, and resentment toward us. James Dobson said the following in his June newsletter, and what I'm saying here is not political.
Don't take it political. What I'm talking about here is the value of your child's soul. That's what we need to be looking at. That's what we need to be concerned about.
He said this. For more than 50 years, it has been obvious that the first objective of the far left is to destroy the family. This campaign has been remarkably successful, especially in recent years. You may have heard me say that the family serves as the ground floor, the foundation on which everything else sits. If its enemies can undermine or weaken this basic unit of society, the entire superstructure can be brought down.
Well, it is rocking and reeling today as if a mighty earthquake were rumbling below. A key to bringing down this nation is to gain control of its children. Let me spell out the game plan here. Those who would reset the culture know that they must hold power over what kids are taught in the classroom. They want to control what kids believe, what constitutes right and wrong, good and evil, the choice of textbooks, and the screens boys and girls watch.
Indeed, if the government can dictate what kids experience at school, they can remake America in a single generation, and tragically, that is happening. Fathers, I have chosen Romans 12, 1 through 2 today to help you teach your children what to do, how to think, and how to shine in a society, in a culture that is brazenly and aggressively antagonistic to the Christian faith. Paul wrote these words in a society that was very hostile to the Christian faith. Paul had been beaten and whipped with rods and whips over and over again. He had been stoned and left for dead.
He had been imprisoned over and over again. And let me tell you something. When Paul preached, his gospel was not a gospel-like gospel. What do I mean by that? A gospel that says, oh, all you need to do to be saved is just ask Jesus into your heart. Just walk down the aisle, shake a preacher's hand, sign the card, and you're in. You don't have to worry about your life anymore.
That's the way it is. That was not Paul's message. Paul's message was this. You are a sinner. Our God is a holy, perfectly righteous God. And when you die, you will stand before this God, and you will be judged. And if you are guilty of one sin that has not been forgiven, if just one sin, if you are guilty of that, then you will spend forever separated from this holy God.
You will spend forever in an eternal hell with no hope of change. Now, folks, that was the bad news. But then Paul, praise God, gave us the good news.
And the good news was this. Jesus died for his people. Jesus went to the cross, and he shed his precious blood that our sins might be totally and completely washed away. Jesus went to the cross in order that he might take our sin upon himself and suffer for it and give us his perfect righteousness so that when we stand before God, God doesn't see our sin.
He sees the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Folks, you cannot be good enough or spiritual enough or well-meaning enough to save yourself. Your only hope is Christ's substitution for your sin. Will you turn from your sin in repentance and trust Christ and Christ alone for salvation? Will you die to self and live to God?
Why? Because salvation is eternal. I want you to know there is an eternity. That means forever and ever and ever. Heaven is eternal.
Hell is eternal. I love what the Apostle Paul said in the second chapter of 1 Corinthians when he said, I have not seen nor ear heard nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those that love him. Before we look at the text, I want to read you a statement by A.W.
Pink. And this statement will put steel in your backbone. He said, God is not troubled by anything that is now taking place in his world, either in the political, social, or religious sphere, nor should we be troubled. The helm is still in his hand, and Satan himself cannot so much as touch a hair of our heads, his elect, without his direct permission. Is that not a glorious statement?
Folks, this is to say, don't be afraid, don't be discouraged, don't quit. Jesus Christ is sovereign. Jesus Christ is Lord. Folks, Jesus Christ is going to win. Things may look bleak, and we may lose battles along the way, but this much we know, we are not going to lose the war.
Because Jesus said, on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The lies of atheists, the deceptions of evolutionists, the immorality of politicians does not negate the strength of the truth, the power of holiness, and the glory of the Lord. Folks, the outcome is not up for debate.
Jesus wins. All right, let's look at the text. I want to break it down into three parts. These are three things that you need to be teaching your kids. Number one, die to self and live to God. Verse one, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Now, Paul is talking to Christians here.
That's very, very important. And he is talking to Christians, and he says, present your bodies. That word means surrender. Now, I want you to see that when you do this, you are getting up on the so-called altar of God.
And then when you do this willingly before God, it glorifies Jesus Christ. I think back to the sacrifice that Abraham made back in the Old Testament. Abraham took his son, Isaac.
They went up Mount Moriah. Isaac's 13 years old. Abraham's 113. They go up to the mountain, and they get up to the top of Mount Moriah, and Isaac begins to ask questions. He says, Father, there's the fire, and there's the wood, but where's the lamb for the sacrifice? And Abraham says, God will provide himself a lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham takes his son, Isaac. He places him up on the altar. He ties him there. He gets his knife. He brings it up over his heart. He gets ready to plunge it into his heart.
You know what happened. God says, no, Abraham, don't do that. And God provided the ram, and he sacrificed the ram instead. What I want you to notice is Isaac's willingness to be sacrificed. He's 13 years old, just a strong young man. Abraham's 113. What if Isaac had just said, Dad, I think you may be in dementia.
I'm not sure what in the world's going on with your thinking, but I don't really want to die today. You can't do your stuff, and he could have taken off out of there, and he could have outrun Abraham, I'm sure. He didn't do that. He willingly got on the altar.
Well, why? Because Isaac is a picture of Jesus. I want you to know, Jesus was not murdered. Jesus gave his life. He gave his life. Jesus said, I lay down my life for the sheep. No one takes my life from me. I lay it down.
And that's what Paul is calling us to do. What does he say? He says, surrender. Surrender.
Give up. Lay down your life, he is saying. Present your bodies a living sacrifice. Jesus said it another way over in Luke chapter 9. He said, if anyone come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me, for whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake shall save it.
Neither Jesus nor Paul are calling for physical death here, although physical death may come, but they're calling for dying to self. Folks, essentially this means being obedient to God, even in times when the flesh, the old carnal nature, the old man, is screaming out to be satisfied. Jim Johnston says this, the essence of sin is looking for good outside of God in his will. When I dig beneath the surface of any sin in my life, I find that I am trying to get something good apart from God in his ways. The good thing might be pleasure, security, significance, satisfaction, justice, belonging, comfort, some physical need, but I try to get it without God.
In the end, it is idolatry. I'm looking to something other than God to meet my needs and satisfy my desires. These gods promise joy, but they deliver misery. That is why a half-hearted Christian cannot have ongoing joy in Christ. David says, the sorrow of those who run after another God shall multiply. A young woman knows that she shouldn't marry a non-Christian, but she thinks she will find love and security in that relationship, even though God's not in it. She wants something good, but she is looking to another God to provide it, and her sorrows will multiply. A man thinks he will find fulfillment in pornography or hooking up after work. Sexual pleasure is a good thing in God's way.
This man is looking to another God to give it to him, and these brief seconds of pleasure return to gravel and ashes in his mouth. A woman looks for significance through gossip. She feels important when she talks about what other people are doing. She's not finding her worth in Christ.
She is running after another God for the sense of value. When Paul says this is our reasonable service of worship, what does he mean? He means we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, day after day, hour after hour, moment after moment. What does that mean? That means that worship is not relegated to 1030 on Sunday morning when we sit on soft seats and we've got air conditioning.
It means that worship takes place all through your life. It takes place on Monday morning when you've got a boss that jumps on your head and criticizes you for something you didn't do, and you respond to that boss in kindness. It takes place on Saturday night when the hormones are raging, temptations are high, and you say no. It takes place when you've got a widow there in your community and she doesn't have any money, and you go to her and you cut her grass and you don't charge her a penny. Or you've got a young lady that's just had a newborn baby and she's worn out and tired.
You go and keep that baby so she can get a little bit of rest. I don't need to present my body a living sacrifice just for church. I need to present my body a living sacrifice when I'm sitting before a computer and I'm struggling with whether or not to look at the images that I know on that computer might do harm to my heart. Everyday stuff, wow, death to self means little things do matter. So how do you teach that kind of radical thinking to your kid when he is being told in the classroom that he's just an idiot for buying into the thinking of his parents and believing the Bible is absolute truth? The first point is to teach him the necessity of dying to self and living to God. The sacrifice that Paul uses for illustrations here is the whole burnt sacrifice. He's not talking about just taking a part of that lamb's body and burning it. He's not talking about taking part of the fat of the bull and burning it.
He's talking about the whole animal is to be sacrificed. One of my favorite characters in the Old Testament is Caleb. Caleb's name means bulldog.
That name means tenacity, perseverance, a bulldog stick-to-it-ness. And this is the way Caleb is described in the Scripture. He wholly followed the Lord.
Folks, that's what Paul is teaching here in Romans 12. God wants all of you. He doesn't just want your singing on Sunday morning. He wants you in the workplace being an example to those you work with, working harder than anybody else, that they might see Jesus makes a difference.
He wants to see you in the classroom standing for truth, even when your professor is mocking you and making fun of you. I had a young man in my former church got saved. He was about 25 years old. He worked in an electric supply company. And his boss, after about four months after his conversion, came to our church. And his boss stopped and talked to me as he was leaving the church that day. He said, I want you to know I'm here today because of Rick.
I said, wow, that's great. Did Rick invite you to church? He said, yeah, but that's not why I'm here. He said, I'm here because of the change that I've seen in Rick's life. He said Rick was lazy before his conversion and said he would be late to work almost every day. He said his language was horrible. And he said he was always goofing off.
I couldn't depend on him. And he said after he came to Christ, everything changed. He says he's never late anymore.
His language has cleaned up. He said he's got the greatest work ethic of all my men. He said I have to tell him to take a break or he won't even take a break.
He just outworks everybody. He said I went and I talked to him about it and said, Rick, what happened to you? And he said it was Jesus. He said I came to Jesus and Jesus made out of me a new creation. And he said that's why I'm here today. He said because if Jesus can do that to a man, he said I want to know about this Jesus.
But Rick did what? He presented his body a living sacrifice unto God. Notice that Paul is also calling you to be a living sacrifice. The bulls and the lambs were placed on the altar. They were dead sacrifices. It's not so with you. You're a living sacrifice.
What does that mean? That means when you're on the altar, you might feel the heat and you might feel the flames and you might be tempted to jump down. Folks, that temptation to hop off the altar is scary. And America becomes more hostile to Christianity. As that happens, the temptation to jump down and look for less dangerous ground is going to be right there before us. We see a plethora of churches today who have bowed to the gay agenda, who have said we don't believe that abortion is murder.
We believe that abortion is just a woman's right to choose. Now, why have they bowed to the culture? Because the culture said you will either bow or you'll pay the consequences. What are the consequences? Well, one of them might mean that the church loses its tax-exempt status. Somebody came to me a couple of years ago and said, Doug, the sermons from this church go out over the radio and said, you've been preaching against gay marriage and you've been preaching against abortion. He said, what if they find out about that on the outside and we lose our church tax-exempt status?
I said, what in the world do you think will happen to our budget? And I said, I don't think anything will happen to our budget because the people in this church don't give to get a tax break. They give because God commanded us to tithe and because God says He loves a cheerful giver.
That's why they give. If I wasn't standing for truth in this church, I'd get run out on a rail. That's why I love this church. All right, point two. Don't conform.
Look at verse two. And be not conformed to this world. First, what is meant by this world? He's not talking about planet earth, all the ground and the land and the seas. He's talking about the world system. Martin Lloyd-Jones said this about the world system.
It is the outlook, the way of living, which is not only apart from God, but is positively controlled by the devil. 1 John 2, 15-16, Jesus said, John said, Love not the world, neither the things in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but it's of the world. In James 4, verse 4, James said that friendship with the world is enmity against God. So Paul tells us what?
He says, Do not be conformed. The word conformed means poured into the mold. Now, I want you to think about something. Take yourself way back into your childhood, and think about a time when your mother had a whole big pitcher of hot liquid jello. She's got it in a pitcher. She takes it over to a mold, and it's in the mold of a duck. And she takes it and she pours it into the mold. She packs that mold. She puts it in the refrigerator. She waits all day long. At the end of the day, she takes that mold out. She flips it over, and boom!
What does she have? A jello duck. I am shocked at the number of jello ducks in our college campuses today. Professors tell students, We're going to teach you how to think. We are going to help you to be open-minded. We are going to liberate you from your antiquated Christian upbringing. We are not going to stifle you.
We are going to set you free. Then those professors move on to make robots and jello ducks out of those students who are mesmerized by the academic acumen of those so-called brilliant professors. Those brilliant professors proclaim tolerance, and yet they push for total, total repression of religion and Christian thought. So what are you to teach, dads? Number one, teach your children to live unto God, to die unto sin. And second, teach them not to be conformed to this world, not to be a jello duck. All right, number three, what are you to teach them? Teach them the need to have a transformed mind. Verse 2b says this, But be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Folks, here's our hope. It's the Word of God. The God-breathed, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12 says this, For the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints of the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Second Timothy chapter 3 verse 16 and 17 says, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God might be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. You build a Christian worldview into your kids by teaching them the principles of God's Word.
When they get into their heart that the Bible is inerrant, absolute truth, then the lies of culture cannot shake this world. This is Father's Day. And, fathers, the responsibility of training the children is primarily on your shoulders. And that's important, for one day you're going to give an account to God for how you trained your children.
Don't be discouraged, and don't quit. The light shines brightest when the days are darkest. A few weeks ago, Ethan Oldham had the opportunity, was asked by his school, if he could make a speech to the students and the faculty at his graduation. Ethan took that opportunity. And on that day, he stood before his faculty and all the students, the graduates there, and he spoke a wonderful message. It was a call to humility. He essentially shared with them the importance of obeying the principles that we've talked about today. And the last thing he shared with them was this. He looked out over those students, and he says, Guys, remember this, it's not about you, it's about Jesus.
It's about Jesus. I listened to his speech on YouTube, and I thought, as he's giving that speech, there are graduates all over the United States, thousands upon thousands of them, and they are hearing messages also. And I'll guarantee you, most of the messages that were heard all over the United States was this. Students, it's all about you. It's all about you. That's what really matters. And the only way you're going to be happy if you take care of you. And I thought, would to God that our nation could hear the message, it's not about you, it's all about Jesus. One of my favorite books outside the Bible is The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges, and I want to close by this statement that he made.
He said, In C.S. Lewis' book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, one of the children asked Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan the lion. Is he quite safe?
I shall feel rather nervous about meeting the lion. That you will, dearie, and make no mistake, said Mrs. Beaver, if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or just plain silly. Then he isn't safe, said Lucy. Safe? said Mrs. Beaver.
Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he's not safe, but he's good.
He's the king, I tell you. Is God safe? Scripture teaches us that in his grace and mercy, God allows himself to be our place of refuge. However, there's a larger sense in which God definitely is not safe.
Yet in our thinking about him, we've tried to make him exclusively safe. It's no longer in good taste in most quarters to speak of the judgment of God or impending wrath. When we talk about God's unconditional love, we often mean he simply overlooks or ignores our sinful behavior and would never judge anyone. But God isn't that way at all. Scripture tells us that our God is a consuming fire and cautions us, therefore, to worship him with reverence and in awe. No, God isn't safe, but he's good. And we must keep both these truths in mind if we are to understand and practice the fear of God.
And as we'll discover, even his goodness leads us to a proper fear of God when we truly understand it. Folks, let's bow in prayer. Heavenly Father, we praise you today for our dads. My earthly father has been with you in heaven for 16 years. I've missed his counsel. I've missed his smile.
I've missed his love. I thank you for his example. I also ask for personal forgiveness in the areas where I failed my own kids. I could have lived more holy before my kids.
I could have done a better job in pointing them to you. Help me and every other dad and granddad in this congregation to be a more powerful witness and testimony to our kids. Fill us with your spirit. May our kids and grandkids see Jesus in us. For it is in the precious name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
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