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December 28, 2020 3:00 am
What we talking about when were talking about strength well with talking about courage when talking about things like the courage of conviction were talking about being in on compromising individual someone who is not weak who is not vacillating someone who will take risks for the sake of truth and principal night earlier than you use to discovered an unavoidable truth, the more years that pass the less physical strength. You have yet no matter how much physical stamina you might lose, you can grow spiritually stronger every day and be part of the special work God has for all strong Christians to do. John MacArthur helps you become that mature believer in the study begins today on grace to you titled the courageous Christian so as you turn from the busyness of the holidays and prepare for the new year hears John to show you how you can approach 20, 21 as a God honoring courageous Christian.
Certainly in any consideration of the human body strength is of grave importance. It's important if the body is going to be able to function at its maximum potential that it have a measure of strength and not be weak, there are myriad of things that we can the human body and we do everything we can from the medical standpoint in an exercise standpoint in a dietary standpoint to minimize those things which can assault the strength of the body. We want to do everything we can to maintain strength for the same thing is true in the life of the church there needs to be in eternal strength. If the church is to function in the way the God wants at the function of what we talking about when were talking about strength. Well were talking about courage were talking about things like the courage of conviction were talking about standing firm were talking about being in on compromising individual someone who is not weak who is not vacillating defeated who is not fearful, frightened someone who has courage and boldness who can confront and who can be persecuted and intimidated and yet be true in every sense to what is right. Talking about somebody who doesn't give way to fear for somebody who doesn't seek the easy path, somebody was looking for the safe place. Somebody who lives on principal were talking about having the courage of what you know is true so you don't vary those convictions from situation to situation someone who stand strong against opposition someone brave enough to face challenges of someone who lives by principal, and not by whim and not by opinion. Someone who has firm and strong in fixed purposes and moves toward those purposes.
Meeting the enemy bearing the pain upholding the right pressing to the goal. That's the kind of virtue that makes someone strong decisive someone who will take risks serious risks for the sake of truth and principal Bethel were talking about and that is a virtue greatly in need in the church today in a time of great vacillation in a time of tremendous compromise in a time of weakness. The church needs to be strong and were not talking just about strength of personality. Although we like that is a virtue we like people have strong personalities. In fact we even like people if they're not Christians who have strong convictions or something manly about that.
There's something something good about a resolute person who lives according to what he believes is right. We like strength of character will like nobility in people's character. We give honor to that received virtue is important to see consistency is important.
Even the word integrity is a wonderful word. It means somebody whose life is consistent all the parts are perfectly integrated that's integrity. We honor that will certainly in the spiritual realm. It goes beyond a preference and becomes a mandate we need in the church strength we live in a time when a premium is frankly being placed on weakness on weakness as one prominent pastor told me your problem. MacArthur is you just take things too seriously.
You need to lighten up. Take out all the punch. I guess this is a time of weakness is the time of the went fishing us. This is a time of vacillation. This is a time of compromise is the time of let's let's not make ourselves offensive by holding strong doctrinal convictions you understand all that never was there perhaps more desperate need for strength, and there is right now as I have told numerous pastors groups are the years. Recently this is not a time for weak men in weak pulpits preaching weak messages to weak people. This is a time for strength turn to first Corinthians chapter 16 in verse 13 now the Bible says a lot about strength.
It says in Romans 420 that Abraham was strong in faith. It says in Hebrews 1134 that there were great heroes of the faith, who in weakness became strong, great verse, verse 34. They, in weakness became strong. Paul said God strength was perfected in his weakness. Ephesians 610, Paul says be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Bible talks a lot about being strong, it gives us models read Hebrews 11 and see all the models of strong faith, but there is a statement here in the 16th chapter of first Corinthians 13 verse that really sums it up and it's just a very simple exhortation.
It isn't even very much dependent upon the immediate context, it just sort of stuck there.
Most translations of Scripture will identify verses 13 and 14 is a very brief paragraph because they really do exist almost apart from what comes before and what comes after.
This is what it says in verse 13 and 14 be on the alert stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, but all that you do be done in love.
You don't forfeit love, but you act like men and you are strong my this is an important important essential exhortation. Now, what does it mean verse 13 is somewhat an unfortunate translation. I think the translation is act like men but that's really not what the Greek verb says what the Greek verb says is conduct yourself in a courageous way on this is what the Greek students call hypoxia garment which means it's the only place in the New Testament where this verb is used so we don't have comparative New Testament passages to give us a little help in understanding it, but its basic meaning is to conduct oneself in a courageous way and then I suggest to you that the reason the translators translated it act like men was because in ancient times, being a man was synonymous with being courageous like that a lot more risks in Paul's time. It had a lot more risks, even in the Old Testament time if you ask yourself how do men act if we as Christians are told to act like men. How do men act in our society, or that might be hard to answer.
They act all kinds of ways. I mean, they act bizarre. Some some of them act like women. Some of them go to the other extreme, and act in other bizarre and harmful and disastrous ways and everything in the middle. But there was a time in the world and there are still places in the world where men is synonymous with courage and strength was a time as you might well know when being a man meant carving out life in a difficult environment. It meant the building with your hands. It meant clearing admit plowing it meant protecting your family from raiding tribes from other families from those wars that occurred in the in the little dominions all over the world. Not like big world wars that burst on the scene and that this century, not post industrial revolution when we begin to develop weaponry in arms.
There was a time in the world when you defended your property and you defended your life and you defend your family with your hands and you are in Mortal Kombat you carved out your existence with bodily strength and resoluteness and you work hard and you you you sweat and you poured out your energy when you just read the Old Testament and just put yourself in that environment of the very difficult times that are chronicled for us as diseases and plagues and wars and attacks and assaults, and the difficulty of labor carried the life along and men were men and times like that they had to be men and women knew their roles and they were to support the men they would undergird them with a care in the raising of the children and instruction to those children in the care of the home and the provision of meals and all those things that gave women their unique marvelous balance, but men were men and men had to do what men had to do and that meant being strong and bending there back in moving their muscles, not at the local gym so they could take their shirt off and have people stare at their abs, but for other reasons like protecting their wife and children from invaders far more serious issues were at hand. We live in a time when the closest men get the conflict is maintaining their emotional equilibrium on I five at rush hour closest we get the conflict is throwing our Pepsi at the TV when our hero in the football game is losing were not used to that kind of effort and many of us obviously in this society are involved in service industries where we we don't do the kind of work that men did in past times and as result of that we have to do other things just to maintain normal health because we don't exercise the way men, and other times that week. We have sort of redefined the role of a man in our society greatly from what it used to be.
Being a man was synonymous with being courageous in those times and that's why translators would feel at liberty to take a verb that basically means to exist to express courage which exists in the heart and translated act like men. The New Testament gives us no illustrations of this verb, but fortunately the Old Testament gives us a lot of them in the Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Old Testament, which is good to study because you can see how Greek words were used in the Old Testament, and that tells us something about the Hebrew intent of the word as well as the translators chose the right Greek word to match up as you go to the Old Testament you find this same verb used repeatedly and I'll show you some of its uses because they are so interesting.
Go back to Deuteronomy chapter 31 Deuteronomy chapter 31 you'll see that this kind of exhortation, though it is unique in the New Testament is anything but unique in the Old Testament is used very often in the Old Testament. This idea of being courageous and being strong for example in Deuteronomy chapter 31 Moses obviously is at this particular point in his life going to pass away pass off the scene and the mantle of leadership is going to be taken up by Joshua. Joshua will lead the people into the promised land and in the 31st chapter of Deuteronomy instruction comes from the Lord comes to the people, and most particularly to Joshua says you shouldn't be concerned about the enemies. The Lord tells them in verse three it is the Lord your God, who will cross ahead of you. You don't need to worry. Moses says God's going to go with you. He's going to be there so verse six be strong and courageous. There are those same two verbs. The same two Greek words from first Corinthian 1613 and the Septuagint translation here indicating the same sense. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. This is the negative side, do not be afraid or tremble at them. Here's why.
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. That was a word from Moses to the people to be strong and courageous in their word for Moses to Joshua verse seven Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel be strong and courageous same two words for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them and you shall give it to them as an inheritance in the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Here then is God telling the people be strong and courageous. Here is Moses telling Joshua be strong and courageous look at second Samuel for a moment or least listen in chapter 10 Joab comes before the Israelites.
They are on the brink of battle and a in verse nine it says of second Samuel 10 when Joab saw that the battle was set against him in front and in the rear mother words he was being attacked from both the front and the back.
He selected from all the choice men of Israel, and arrayed them against the Aramaeans now this is the this is the halftime pep talk by the coach telling him what the battle strategy needs to be.
They are surrounded by the enemy. He pulls the leaders in any fires them up with this confident assertion pulling these people together, gathering them comes down to verse 12 and says this be strong and let us show ourselves courageous. For the sake of our people and for the cities of our God and may the Lord do what is good in his sight. Be strong and courageous. What was told of the children of Israel.
What Moses told Joshua Joab now tells to the battling leaders of the Army of Israel. Be strong and courageous in first Kings chapter 2 we find David coming near to the time of death. He describes it is going the way of all the earth.
In other words, dying like everybody does. And he calls Solomon his son in and this is what he says to him in first Kings to to be strong therefore, and show your self a man literally be strong and courageous, and by the way, you have similar words from David to Solomon in first Chronicles 2211 to 13. They are repeated.
There is also a repetition of Moses words to Joshua later on in that same chapter in Deuteronomy. So this a very common expression.
How do you do that. Verse three first Kings 23.
Keep the charge of the Lord your God and what is it, walk in his ways, keep his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances and his testimonies.
In other words obey Scripture. Be a man of conviction, the amount of the word walk in his ways, keep his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, his testimonies, that is, according to what is written in the law of Moses. You do everything that God has revealed and you will be strong and courageous.
That is, uncompromising, unwavering, un-intimidated so David speaks to Solomon and then if you look at the toward the end of second Chronicles 32nd chapter, you have another occasion where very same thing is said this time Hezekiah the king is under severe threat from synaptic rib king of the Assyrians's coming against the people of God. Hezekiah calls the military officers together in verse six. This is in second Chronicles 32 six.
He appointed military officers over the people gather them to him in the square at the city gate spoke encouragingly to them and this is what he said be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Syria, nor because of all the multitude, which is where them for the one with us is greater than the one with him, with him.
Verse eight says is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles and the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah, and they by the way, won a victory. So whether here's having God speaking to the Israelites, Moses to Joshua Joab, the Israelites, David the Solomon Hezekiah to his officers the messages be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous, good sound basic spiritual instruction that all believers ought to respond to be willing to face the difficulty be willing to face the challenge meet the enemy bear the pain uphold the right press to the goal strong and with great courage, all those passages really don't come close to one other text but I think is the richest of all, that use this phrase and that's in Joshua one and I want you to go to Joshua, one for a moment.
This will sort of wrap up this introductory feature of setting in place in your mind the importance of this strength in Joshua chapter 1. Obviously the mantle of leadership is fallen on Joshua he is going to take them into the land which God's promise to give them. God promises him that is going to be with him.
The Lord tells in my servant Moses is now dad but I'm going to be with you and your gonna lead this people.
Verse five of Joshua one no man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you.
Verse six. This is the word of the Lord, to Joshua, be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them only be strong and very courageous. We carefully do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left so that you may have success wherever you go. In other words, that the idea of being strong and courageous means to live the courage of your convictions which are founded upon the revealed word of God. Verse eight this book of the law, God's law shall not depart from your mouth. You meditate on it day and night.
You are careful to do according to all that is written in it than you make your way prosperous than you have success have not I commanded you. Be strong and courageous.
On the negative do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Tremendous exhortation for courage and spiritual strength in the face of the worst possible scenario because of the presence of the eternal and Almighty and living God. Tremendous verse five. God is with you.
Verse six. The cause is righteous, you just be faithful to be strong and courageous. The church needs this boy do we need a dose of this in this contemporary time of spiritual strength and even though it is a command and even though it is mandated to us. And even though we hear all of these passages and we are ennobled because of the model and the example of these were told to be strong and went forth and strength to conquer. There is another component that we want to understand and for that I want you to turn to Ephesians chapter 3 Ephesians chapter 3. This continuing in some introductory comments, but a very important thing to keep in mind at this point I'm not here to give you some kind of a pep talk. I'm not here to jack you up emotionally.
I'm not here to just a shout at you. These exhortations, and hoping that the echo will last a few hours in your mind something much more profound involved in the fulfillment of these exhortations, and it's indicated to us in Ephesians chapter 3 in verse 14, where Paul engages himself in a prayer on behalf of the church. This is what he says. For this reason, the reason about to be disclosed. For this reason I bow my knees before the father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I'm praying and I'm praying to the God. It was the source of life for everyone, and here's what I'm praying for here is the reason I am bowing my knees in order that God would grant to you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, I just want to add this while the call to be strong in the call to be courageous is a command.
It is a mandate is an exhortation, it can only be fulfilled in the wondrous mysterious power of the indwelling spirit were not talking about just giving pep talks here were not talking about just jacking you up emotionally. Were talking about calling you to a spirit controlled life to walking in the energy in the power of the spirit and being committed to consistent living in line with the convictions that have arisen from an understanding of Scripture.
This is being strong and it calls for these things that we have outlined number one because for knowledge of the word of God to a commitment to live according to those truths. Three. To do so in the energy of the Holy Spirit and not in your own human strength. That's John MacArthur he's the pastor of Grace Community Church and Chancellor of the Masters University and seminary in the Los Angeles area today. John showed you the first steps on the path to becoming what he calls her courageous Christian.
That's his current study here on Grace to you.
The courageous Christian will John Christmas is now behind us and thankfully a new year begins in less than a week as we prepare to close the book on 2020. Talk about how the Lord has sustained and even grown the ministry of grace to you over this past year will tell you one thing, there's no remorse in seeing 20/20 disappear. No, what an incredibly crazy year with riots and protests and co-visited in all the chaos in this country connected to the election. It's been a very difficult year, but at the same time, the ministry has just flourished in incredible ways as people have run in the direction of the truth of the word of God. That's what we're here to do so. We are very thankful to close this year, but also very aware that even in these last few days we we need people to step up and support us, we would get a huge amount of our annual support comes in in the last few weeks of the year and there are still a few more days for those of you who have been blessed by this ministry and that perhaps in the past of sustained us.
Or maybe some new folks who have been a part of our ministry and on the hearing in, but haven't stepped up to support us.
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Make sure your gift is postmarked by December 31 or make a donation at our website before midnight on December 31, and our address again. Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 their website. GT Y.org while you're at GT Y.org take advantage of all of the free resources to help you better understand God's word that includes John's entire sermon archive more than 3500 sermons from nearly 52 years Bible teaching every message is free to download an audio or transcript format. Again, that's GT Y.org now for John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today and be back tomorrow as John continues to show what a strong, courageous, uncompromising believer looks like it's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time wasting