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The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
November 27, 2022 6:00 pm


The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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November 27, 2022 6:00 pm

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If you have your Bibles with you today, turn with me if you would to Mark chapter 11, and we're going to be looking at verses 27 through 33.

And then I'll tell you what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me. They discussed it with one another, saying, If we say from heaven, he will say, Why then did you not believe him?

But shall we say from man? They were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, We do not know.

And Jesus said to them, Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we have many today that are sick, many grieving, many going through very difficult, difficult times. I pray for our friend Kitty Claves in the hospital right now and is suffering, having some heart fluctuations, and is just not able to eat correctly. I pray, Father, that You'd minister to her and help her to get well. I pray for Jim Belk, who's in extreme pain from bone disease and would ask, Father, that You help him. And Ellen Palmer, who is at home suffering with a broken vertebrae, I pray, Father, You'd help her to heal quickly.

For Lynn Chapman, who is at home recovering from a knee replacement, be with her. I pray for Pat Green and her family, the death of her mom. Pray for Cindy Elmore and their family and the death of her mom. Pray for Nicole Lowes and the death of her dad. Father, do also pray for Martha Welch, who she is very, very sick.

And pray for Tracy Peck, as she is right now going to the doctor to try to find out what's wrong with her leg. Father, all these we just ask that You have mercy on. Heavenly Father, if ever there was a time in America's history where the church needed to bow to Your authority, that time is now. In the passage that we are dealing with, a group of very religious people challenge the authority of our Lord Jesus. Jesus answered them swiftly and with righteous, holy indignation. My prayer this morning is that You would give Grace Church a brokenness and a humility so that we would bow before Your authority in every situation in life. May we learn from the Pharisees that God resists the proud that gives grace to the humble. May we learn how to use the authority that Christ has bestowed on us as His children in order that we might courageously fight the enemy. For it is in the precious and the holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. In 1784, William Wilberforce became a member of the English Parliament. A year later, he came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior. He became a courageous, bold, evangelical, conservative Christian. He soon became friends with a pastor and that pastor was named John Newton. He was 35 years older than Wilberforce and he became friends with him.

They grew to a very close, close relationship. Now, John Newton was not only a pastor, he's also a hymn writer and wrote the hymn that we love so much, Amazing Grace. But before he came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior, John Newton was a slave trader. And he came to know Christ and he hated slavery with every ounce of his being. And then he came to know Wilberforce, came to know that he was a member of the English Parliament and he wanted to be an influence in his life so that he could try to do away with slavery in England.

William Wilberforce spent the rest of his life in Parliament fighting slavery with all of his heart. When he would get discouraged, he would go back to the home of John Newton and sit down with him and Newton would encourage him. He would say, William, do you believe that it's right for a man to own another man, to treat him like a piece of property or to treat him like an animal? And he would say, no, sir, that's not right. He said, then you have the ability through the power of God to bring about a change. He said, I want you to learn about your authority in Christ. He said, I want you to learn how to stand on truth.

I want you to learn how to stand on the promises of God and be courageous in the Lord. And as he said that, William Wilberforce would get up and leave his house with a new energy, with his head held high. And he would go back knowing that he had the responsibility to stop a government that was more in love with money than they were with the freedom of their individuals. And he did that for 40 years. For 40 years, he stayed in the English Parliament fighting every day that he could the horrible institution of slavery.

In 1833, the Slavery of Abolition Act was passed in England. Three days later, William Wilberforce died. Here was a man who was sold out to Jesus, who stood on the truth of God's word, no matter what, and spoke with a Holy Spirit-led authority. The passage that we're looking at today, we are dealing with the authority of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The religious leaders of his day are questioning his authority and doing everything they can to destroy it. And the people of Israel had sensed that authority from the day that Jesus began his ministry. When Jesus preached the great Sermon on the Mount, after that the people said this, and when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority and not as the scribes. We looked briefly at the cleansing of the temple last week, but to understand what's going on in this particular passage today, I need to mention it again. I've got five points today that I want to share with you as we take a look at the authority of Christ.

Point one is the cleansing. Look with me at verse 15 through 17. Jesus went into the temple and he saw things going on that made his blood boil. The merchants were charging unbelievably high prices for the animals, and there were money changers that were there. They were exchanging money into Israeli currency, and they were charging ridiculously high rates. I want you to remember that this was the Passover festival, and this was the time where Jews from all over the Middle East and Africa would come back into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It was too far for them to bring their own animals with them, so when they got there, they had to purchase their animals from the merchants, and when they did, they discovered that they were charging exorbitant prices.

They had to exchange currency so it could be done in Israeli currency, and the currency was so high that they couldn't afford it. The priests and the rabbis and the other religious leaders were getting filthy rich off of this because they were getting kickbacks. The merchants had to charge high prices, and they had to charge high prices in order that they could pay the kickbacks back to the religious leaders. Jesus saw this junk going on, and he was furious. The religious leaders were mocking worship.

They were using their religion to get filthy rich, and the poor were blocked out of the privilege of sacrifice and worship because they couldn't afford it. So what does Jesus do? Does he say, guys, I'm a little concerned about your ethics? No. Does he say, guys, I'm a little concerned that what you're doing is dishonoring God and hurting the people? No, he doesn't say that.

I tell you what, there's no more time for discussion here. So Jesus cleans house. He goes over to the animal cages, and he starts opening them up, and there are goats and lambs that are running down the street for their freedom, and the birds are flying through the air as he opens up those cages.

He goes over to the money changer's table, and he takes those tables, and he flips them over, and money is rolling down the street and flying through the air. And then when the religious leaders begin to question what Jesus is doing, he takes a whip that he made and begins to snap it up over his head, and the religious leaders are running out because they're absolutely scared to death that they're going to get beaten. So if you want to know what the real problem was in this situation, here it is. It's greed and selfishness. Jesus had just put a hurt on their pocketbook. When Jesus released these animals, flipped over the tables, and ran them out with a whip, let me tell you what he was doing. He was attacking their livelihood.

This had been easy money for them for many, many years, and people complained about what they were doing, but nobody did anything about it until Jesus came along, and Jesus put a stop to their wicked work. What Jesus did was radical. He didn't just rock the boat. He tipped the boat over.

You know, sometimes we must act with radical, radical, no-nonsense authority. I have an evangelist friend of mine who was preaching a series of revival services in a particular church, and a man, a member of the church, came up to him about the third day that he was there, and he said, I've got a friend that's in the hospital. He's very, very sick. They did an operation on him. They don't know whether he's going to live or die. He said, my friend's lost.

If he dies without Christ, he'll go to hell. He said, could you possibly come with me and maybe witness to my friend? And he agreed to do it. They got up to the hospital. They walked into the intensive care room.

The patient was laying there on the bed. He had tubes and wires all over him, and he was sound asleep, even snoring. And so they looked at him for a moment, and the evangelist said, you know, he's sleeping soundly. He probably needs his rest. We better leave him alone.

Maybe we come back later. And the man says, no, no. He said, he can rest when he's dead.

He needs to hear the gospel. And he reached over, and he grabbed that patient, and he started shaking him like that. And the man woke up, and he was startled. He said, what's the matter?

What's the matter? And he said, let me tell you what's the matter. He said, you are lost, and if you die like this, you're going to hell. And he said, I love you, and I don't want to be without you for all of eternity, and you mean a lot to me. And I brought this evangelist so he can share the gospel with you.

Would you listen to him? And he said, yeah, I'll listen. About that time the nurses came in with all this commotion. They said, you can't do this.

You've got to have to get out of here. The patient reached over, and he grabbed him and said, please, please let him stay. The evangelist opened his Bible, and he shared the gospel with him.

The man in the bed began to weep, tears of repentance. He turned from his sin right there in the bed, trusted Christ as his Lord and Savior. That man lived, and he went on to share his testimony with anybody who would listen.

And he would say to them, I never felt that urgent before, but when someone is shaking you like a rag doll, you're going to have a tendency to listen to what he's got to say, especially if he's sharing the gospel. Folks, that was radical, but it was very needed. And I want you to know that what Jesus did in cleansing the temple was a radical act. Jesus stirred up a hornet's nest, but that didn't cause the problem. All it did was reveal the problem.

All right, point two is steadfast authority. Look at verse 18 through 19. The chief priests and the scribes heard it. They were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

And when evening came, they went out of the city. Now, Jesus could have taken the easy road here. He could have cleansed the temple, turned around and walked out of the city, and then gone far away, maybe to another country. He knew what was coming that week. He knew that on Friday of that week, he was going to be nailed to a cross. He knew that that was coming.

He knew how tough it was going to be. So he begins to teach these people every day in the temple. And he begins to share with them the gospel to the lost, and he begins to teach the people of God about the kingdom of God. He encourages them to be merciful people. He encourages them to be givers of their money.

He encourages them to be people of prayer. As always, much of what he had to say fell on deaf ears. The religious leaders were listening to him, but they weren't listening to him trying to find out some information that would help them in their walk with the Lord. They were listening to him in order that they might be able to use something he said to destroy him.

Philip Ryken said this, Of course they were seeking to destroy him. They were against everything that Jesus stood for. They were for making money, but he was for helping the poor. They were for the saved, but he was for the lost. They were for going to the house of God, but he was for worship and prayer. Even worse, from their perspective, Jesus was preaching his passions in the very temple which they had worked so hard to control.

He was a threat to their entire livelihood, so they were determined to destroy him. It takes us to the third point, and that's the venomous question. Look at verses 27 through 28. They came again to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes, the elders came to him. And they said to him, By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them? Jesus often referred to the Pharisees and the religious leaders as snakes and vipers. What we see going on here helps me to understand why he called them snakes and vipers. Jesus is teaching.

There's a huge crowd that is listening. And a lot of the things that he's teaching are things that are getting to the hearts of these people. But right in the middle of his teaching, right in the middle of his preaching, they jump in and they break up his preaching and they ask a question. Not because they really want information. Not because they want to learn something. They ask a question because they believe that this question will hamstring Jesus.

And then they can use the answer that Jesus gives, whether it's yes or no, to try to destroy him. So what's the question? They say, Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who gave you this authority. What things are they talking about here? They're talking about his cleansing of the temple. They're saying, What right do you have to free our birds and to free our lambs and our goats that we brought here to sell?

What right do you have to throw over the tables and lose our money? What right do you have to drive us out of the temple with a whip? Now, who's responsible for the temple? Who does have authority to cleanse it? Who has the responsibility to be sure things are running the way they're supposed to in the temple?

It's the priest. They and they alone have authority to cleanse the temple. Now, the interesting thing is that these religious leaders know who Jesus is, and they know what tribe Jesus comes from. Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah. Judah is the kingly tribe. Judah is the tribe in which the Messiah will come. Judah is the tribe that Jesus lived in and was born in, and he was born in the bloodline of King David. So Jesus met the requirements, or at least those requirements, for being the Messiah, for being the king.

But there was a problem. He was claiming to be priest also, and Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi, and the tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe. So the Jewish religious leaders are saying, Jesus, you are not a priest.

Jesus, you have no authority to cleanse the temple, and you are disobeying God by taking that on yourself. Listen, they thought they had Jesus trapped. They thought that there was no way that Jesus could be both king and priest.

That takes us to point four, and that is the question answered. Look at verses 29 through 30. Jesus said to them, I will ask you one question, answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?

Answer me. And what was Jesus doing? Was he admitting that he could not answer the questions because he was not a priest? Is that what he's saying? He had no real authority to cleanse the temple like he did. Did he bring up the question of John the Baptist just to kind of get their minds off of what they were accusing him of? Is that what they were doing? The answer to that is no. Now listen to this carefully. The question that Jesus is asking them about John the Baptist's baptism does answer their question.

But how? Well, what were the requirements for priesthood? What were the requirements? I'm going to give you a lot of scripture here, so please stick with me, but there are three requirements of one to become a priest or to be a priest. Number one, the priests could not start their ministry until they reached their 30th birthday. And then they could serve as a priest for 20 years, and then after age 50, they had to move aside, let somebody else come and take that ministry. All right, so what does the scripture say about this? In Numbers chapter 4, verse 46 through 47, the scripture says this. All those who are listed of the Levites, who Moses and Aaron and the chiefs of Israel listed by their clans and their fathers' houses, from 30 years old up to 50 years old, everyone who could come to do the service of ministry and the service of bearing burdens in the tent of meeting. Now keep that in mind. A man could not be ordained into the priesthood until he reached the age 30.

All right, requirement number two. The priests must be called of God. Hebrews 5, 1 through 6 says this. For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

He can deal gently with the ignorant and the wayward since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this, he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins, just as he does for those of the people. No one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, you are my son today, I have begotten you. As he also says in another place, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. So the writer of Hebrews explains how Jesus could be born in the tribe of Judah and yet still be called by God to be a priest.

Psalm 110 tells us that there is a higher priesthood than the Levitical priesthood, and that higher priesthood is the priesthood of Melchizedek. Now, who is Melchizedek? Well, the first time we hear about him is in Genesis chapter 14. Abraham had gone off, was fighting against the king of Sodom, had been victorious over the king.

He was coming back home victorious, and there on the way back home, Melchizedek met him, and he blessed Abraham, and then Abraham paid tithes unto him. Now, there are many scholars who believe that Melchizedek was a Christophany. That's a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.

You remember the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? When they were thrown into the fiery furnace, and later Nebuchadnezzar looks in to see if they'd been finished off, and he sees them walking around untouched by the fire, but he also sees a fourth person with them, and he says, that looks like a son of God. That was a Christophany pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus.

We see that several times in the Old Testament. Now, others believe that Melchizedek was not actually a Christophany, that he was a person, that he was a type or a picture or a symbol of Jesus. But whatever, Melchizedek, Melchizedek was the priest of the Most High God, and his priesthood came before the Levitical priesthood and was greater than the Levitical priesthood. So Jesus came in the order of Melchizedek, may have been Melchizedek himself, and his priesthood is higher than the Levitical priesthood. All right, Hebrews 7, this 15 through 17 says this, For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.

For it is witnessed of him you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. So the second requirement of the priest is that they be called of God. The third requirement is that they go through a ceremonial washing. That was part of the ceremonial ordination into the priesthood, and it was called sometimes a baptism, a washing.

It was done by sprinkling. Numbers chapter 8 verse 6 through 7 says this, Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them, sprinkle the water of purification upon them. That baptism was the last part of the ceremonial ordination into the priesthood. Now the question is, did Jesus meet those requirements?

Answer, yes. And it's all tied up in the baptism of John. That's what Jesus pointed the religious leaders to. He said, what about John's baptism? Talking about John's baptism of him. He said, what about that?

What do you got to say about that? All right, so was Jesus 30 years old? In Luke chapter 3, right after the baptism of Jesus, the next verse says in Jesus was 30 years of age. There are only two other places in the scripture that mention the age of Jesus. One when he was eight days old when he was circumcised.

Another when he was 12 years old when he began that stage in life where you start fulfilling and growing out to become a man. Why was it so important to put his age at the baptism of John? Because he met the first requirement for being a priest. The second requirement, he had to be called by God.

We just went through the call in Hebrews 5 and Hebrews chapter 7. He was called to be a priest of a higher order of priesthood, the order of Melchizedek. That superseded the Levitical priesthood. He was not just a priest, he was the priest. The third requirement was a baptism, it was a ceremonial washing. That was part of the ordination process.

Did that happen? Why don't you turn back with me if you would to Matthew chapter 3 and we'll look at the baptism of Jesus by John. Matthew chapter 3 starting at verse 13 through 17. Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him saying, I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me? But Jesus answered, let it be so now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented and when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water. Behold, the heavens were open to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. Behold, a voice from heaven saying, this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. Jesus walks down the hill where John, it's got thousands of people around and he's baptizing. What kind of baptism was this? This was the baptism of repentance. John is preaching the Word of God.

People are deeply, deeply under conviction. They have repented and then they come to John and say, now we've repented. We've turned from our sin.

What should we do? And John says, let me baptize you. And this is a baptism of repentance.

This is an inward working that's already taken place. This is the outward sign of baptism. So Jesus says to John when he comes down the hill, he says, John, baptize me.

And John recalls that. He says, no, no, I can't do that. He said, you're Jesus. You're the lamb of God. You don't have sin. You don't have anything to repent of. If anything happens, you ought to baptize me, John says, for I'm the one with the dirty heart. You're the lamb of God, perfectly without sin, perfectly righteous. So when Jesus says, baptize me, John recalls that, and he doesn't want to do it.

He thinks that's wrong for him to do it. When Jesus sees his hesitation, he explains the situation to John. He said, John, I must be baptized by you at this time in order to fulfill all righteousness. Now, John's attitude completely changes when Jesus says that.

Let's look at that. Jesus' baptism was not a baptism of repentance. It's not a Christian baptism like we do today. It was a ceremonial washing that was done in order to ordain the priest into the priesthood. Jesus says to John, I must be baptized by you. Why did it matter if John baptized him or not? Because it had to be done by a priest. Was John a priest?

Absolutely. What tribe was he from? He was from the tribe of Levi.

Remember his dad? His dad was Zacharias. Zacharias, remember in Luke chapter 1, was in the temple carrying out the duties of the priest. Angel Gabriel came to him and said, you and your wife Sarah are going to have a baby in your old age. That baby is going to be named John, and he is going to be the forerunner of the Messiah. So John has the right to baptize Jesus and ordain him because John is from the tribe of Levi himself, and he is a priest. Then Jesus spoke of the time. He said, I must be baptized by you at this particular time.

Why now? Jesus had just reached his 30th birthday. Now John was Jesus' cousin, and he's six months older than Jesus. So six months before this, John had gone through this very same situation. John had been ceremonially washed himself. He had gone through this baptism.

He had done this himself. So now he knows exactly what Jesus is talking about. He knows that Jesus is talking about what he had gone through just six months before. And then Jesus says a third thing. He says this needs to be done to fulfill all righteousness.

Now Deuteronomy chapter 6 and verse 25 tells us that fulfilling of righteousness is keeping the moral and ceremonial law of God. Part of keeping the ceremonial law of God for the priest was going through this third step of ordination, which was the baptism. When Jesus said that, John's mind changed completely.

He was perfectly comfortable with it. He said, oh, if that's the case, I will be more than glad to baptize you. Jesus stepped down into the River Jordan, Jesus took the water in his hands, poured it over, or John took it, and poured it over Jesus' head, and that was his last stage of being ordained as a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

All right, point five is true authority. Look at verse 31 through 33. And they discussed it with one another, saying, if we say from heaven, he will say, why then did you not believe him?

But shall we say from man they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, we do not know. And Jesus said to them, neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. Jesus said to the Pharisees, you want to know if I have authority to cleanse the temple? You want to know if I'm truly a priest? Then go back to my baptism. Go back to John the Baptist baptizing me. And that is absolute proof.

Guess what? Religious leaders didn't want to argue with him there because the people knew that John was a prophet. If they had stood there and said, John was wrong in doing this, then they knew they would have gotten stoned. So what's Jesus saying? He said, my baptism is proof that I had absolute right to cleanse the temple and to show what you wicked rascals are doing. He said, yes, I am a priest, but I'm not just a priest. I am the Melchizedek priest. I am the high priest.

I am prophet, priest, and king. And you need to understand that no one can truly reject my authority. As we close this message on authority, I want to ask you about what about God's authority over America? What about God's authority over the people of this nation that are thumping their nose in God's face right now? Paul had a word for America in Romans chapter 2, verses 5 through 11, just like God had a word for William Wilberforce in England.

And I'll close with this. But because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works, to those who by patience and well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality.

He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek. But glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also for the Greek, for God shows no partiality.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, 2,000 years ago, our Lord Jesus took an authoritative stand against false accusations. His enemies were afraid to answer, so they became even more desperate to crucify our Lord. They meant it for evil, but you meant that crucifixion for good. Lord, we thank you for your authority and we praise you for the cross. For it's in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-27 12:16:38 / 2022-11-27 12:29:43 / 13

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