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Christ and God's Existence #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
February 22, 2024 12:00 am

Christ and God's Existence #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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February 22, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word. Today Don is continuing with the second part of a message we started last time. So let's get right to it. Open your Bible as we join Don now in the Truth Pulpit.

So five applications here that are of long term consequence. Number one, the existence of God means that you decisively reject self as your motivating principle in life. You decisively reject self as your motivating principle in life. Now, with that said, turn to the Gospel of Mark chapter 8. The revelation of God in these different areas, the revelation of God in Christ is not a matter of take it or leave it.

It's not a matter that you consider and say, oh, I've got other things to do. No, Jesus Christ calls men to deny self as their motivating principle in life. And to follow him, he is Lord. In Mark chapter eight, let's begin in verse thirty one. He began to teach them that the son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed.

And after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, Get behind me, Satan, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. Obviously, you're to be setting your mind on the things of God, not on the things of man.

Peter was doing the exact opposite. Christ is going to expand on the significance of what that means and just the following verses here beginning in verse thirty four. You are setting your mind not on the things of God, but on the things of man, Jesus says, as he rebukes Peter. Now he gives the positive instruction of what setting your mind on the things of God has to do. We see the revelation of God in all of these areas.

Now we make an inward application that whereby we set the principle by which we live. Verse thirty four, calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the son of man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels. God has made himself known conclusively in these areas, particularly in the person of Christ. God has made himself known. One of the aspects of the being of God is that he has absolute complete authority over all things. That's what it means to be God.

It's one of the consequences of the existence of God. He has authority over all of his creation, which means he has authority over you and me, beloved. And in that position of authority from which Christ speaks as Lord over all, he says, If you want to be my disciple, you have to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.

There is none of this moralistic therapeutic deism stuff found in the words of Christ. He calls men out. He comes not to help you with your little daily problems so that you can move on and live a happy life in disregard to him. He comes and claims absolute authority over your soul and says, You must deny yourself and follow me. Jesus comes to a lost person. Jesus comes to an unsaved person and demands an unconditional transfer of heart loyalty from self to Christ. That means you turn from sin and self to him. You love Christ more than life itself. You place no prior limits on your obedience to him. This is a natural consequence of the revelation of God in the person of Christ. God who has all authority, God who is the creator, God who is the sustainer, the redeemer, and the judge comes and lays out the terms by which you may come to Christ. He says, Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow him. One of the applications of the existence of God is you decisively reject self as the principle by which you live. I have a couple of different things bouncing around in my mind and I'm just going to let them bounce there and like a basketball just kind of dribbles out and dies on its own accord.

That's what I'm going to leave with those thoughts there. Second principle, you decisively reject the world. You decisively reject the world. Look at the book of Acts chapter 2. The book of Acts chapter 2 beginning in verse 38.

Acts chapter 2 verse 38. The reality of a self-revealing God against whom the world has rebelled means that you face a choice to make. You have a choice to make. Either you go with the world or you reject that to follow Christ as he is the revelation of God.

There is no third alternative. This goes to the very principle of loyalty and affections that govern your heart. Peter had preached the gospel to the Jews on the day of Pentecost and in verse 37, now when they had heard this, actually let's just go back to verse 36 because it ties in with what we've been saying here. Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain.

Let them know for certain. We are to know that God exists for certain without doubt, without equivocation, without compromise. We are to know this as established truth from the throne of God itself. Know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified. God has made himself known and you crucified the Lord of glory.

That's a pretty weighty thing to realize that you've done. We had the Messiah in our hands and we killed him. What's going to happen to us now?

What are we to do? Verse 37, now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, brothers, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. Now look at verse 40, remember we're saying one of the applications is that you decisively reject the world. And with many other words he bore witness, this is verse 40, with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them saying save yourselves from this crooked generation. In other words, in light of what God has revealed in Christ, in light of the gospel that Peter preached in Acts chapter two, come out from the world, come out from that system that is condemned and under the judgment of God, repent of your sins, come out from that and come to Christ and be saved.

It's a direct implication of the reality of the things that we've been saying. If God has created the world and the world has rebelled and rejected him as it has so obviously, so evidently, and now you're living in the realm of the world, you have a choice to make. You have a responsibility to fulfill, to recognize that the truth of the revelation of God has a claim on your heart, has a claim on your loyalties and your priorities and your purpose for existence. And to say I cannot stay in this realm of a God rejecting, God defying world, I have to come out to Christ. I have to repent of my sins and come to him.

Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee, naked come to thee for dress, helpless look to thee for grace, foul I to the fountain fly, wash me savior or I die. This is a matter of life and death. And I think I'm probably going to have a couple of messages to help us think through what it means to reject the world, to come out from the world. But for now just simply to recognize that this revelation from God presents you with the call of eternity. The eternal consequences are attached to how one responds to these things. The world will be condemned and all those who love it. In light of that it is a gracious, merciful call from God, an invitation from God for you to come out from that, to come to Christ and to find shelter, deliverance, salvation in him alone and to belong to him and not to this wicked world. So you decisively reject the world.

We won't take the time to look at 1 John chapter 2 verses 15 to 17, but you can jot that down in your notes. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not within him. You cannot have it both ways.

You cannot have it both ways. So you turn from the ways of the world for the sake of this God who has made himself known. Now thirdly, you decisively reject false religion. You decisively reject false religion. The true God has made himself known.

That means that any false religion is an abomination, an unthinkable assault on what you know to be true and so you decisively reject it. It's the first commandment, you shall have no other gods before me, Exodus chapter 20. But for now we can just turn to Matthew chapter 5 verse 17 and see in the words of Christ this need to come out from the world, to come out from false religion and to embrace the truth of the God who has made himself known.

The God who is there and the God who is not silent. Matthew chapter 5 verse 17, Jesus says, Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

But whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was saying this to a first century Jewish audience, a Jewish society that was conditioned to take the word of the Pharisees as the word of God.

So full and complete was their trust in them. But it was a false religion that they were receiving from the Pharisees. Jesus says you have to come out from that. You have to reject that and receive my words if you are to be saved. If you stay in that system, you'll never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Well, beloved, the names of the actors have changed. The names of the religions have changed over the past 2,000 years. But there is still this fundamental distinction between true and false religion, and you need to know what the true is and decisively reject the false. And I praise God for those of you that were in a system of works-based religion and have come out from it and have even made public testimony to the effect.

Those of you that say in private and have said publicly, I now know that what I was taught was false. That's a decisive rejection of false religion. That's what Jesus calls for. And notice there in verse 18 when we talk about the world, we're talking about world systems of thought and philosophies and approaches to life. But Jesus here in a physical sense alludes to the fact that even the physical creation that we know is one day going to pass away. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not a stroke of the word of God. Not a letter, not a cross T, not a dot on the I will fail from His word until everything has been fulfilled. And so along with that, look at Matthew chapter 7 with me for just a moment.

We are not making these things up. We are not adding things, putting imposing interpretations on the text that do not belong there. This is the clear, simple, direct teaching of Christ in the word of God. You must decisively reject false religion. He says in Matthew 7 verse 13, enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many.

So there are many that are going there. In other words, to say it differently, Jesus tells us so explicitly, there's no safety in numbers. You can't just go along with the crowd and what the crowd believes. As they're on a conveyor belt to perdition that they refuse to get off of, it will not plead with God at the day of judgment that I believed what everybody else believed. You were warned in advance by Christ, don't do that.

Go through the narrow gate where few people are going. Verse 14, the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few. You say, well, could the majority be wrong? Could one and a quarter billion Catholics be wrong? Could a system that's been in place for 1500 years and always adapting and adding more lies to its system, could it be wrong? Could it really be that it's a false religion, a front for Satan?

Yeah, not only could it be, it is. My point for tonight is that you have a responsibility in response to the revelation of God to process these things, to deal earnestly with his word for yourself and to come to your own conclusions. And Christ warns you and Christ pleads with you, even as I plead with you in the flesh here tonight, heed these things for the benefit of your eternal soul.

Heed while there is time. True Christians are people, are not people, let's put it this way, true people are not those who are lovingly tolerant of all kinds of religion. That's the straight jacket that the world would like to put on us in order to silence the distinct exclusive testimony of Christ who said no one comes to the Father except through me. True Christians love the truth more than the approval of the world. True Christians are content to stand alone even if the world rejects them.

True Christians testify to the world that you must come out, that there is truth, you must believe in Christ to be saved. Having applied that truth first to their own heart, it's not unloving, beloved. It is not unloving to warn people about false religion and to call them out of it and to call them to the truth. It is not unloving for them to feel uncomfortable in response to such things. Far better to feel uncomfortable now and to be for the Lord to use that to lead someone to repentance and eternal life than to be comfortable all the way up to the day of their death and then wake up and say, Father Abraham, send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool the flame on my tongue. What kind of love is it that is content to let people go in self-deception all the way to the destruction of their eternal soul?

There's no love in that. We love them enough to tell them the truth even if they hate us for it. Now, we said that you decisively reject self, you decisively reject the world, you decisively reject false religion in response to the revelation of God. Fourthly, you follow Christ even over your own family.

You follow Christ even over your own family. And again, this is what Jesus said. Look at Matthew chapter 10 verse 34. Matthew 10 verse 34.

Jesus said, Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. Dear Dad. Dear Dad.

Dear Dad. For I've come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it.

And whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Now in the grace of God to us, maybe these matters of family relationships don't conflict even if our loved ones are not believers. Maybe they're content to have a relationship even though they reject what you believe. For many of us in the grace of God we share life with Christian spouse, Christian children, Christian grandchildren, and we delight in that and we thank God for it. But beloved, this revelation of God leads us to recognize that the surpassing priority and loyalty of our heart belongs to Him, not to earth, not to earthly relationships, not even the closest of earthly relationships. And if, probably better stated, when a family relationship comes into conflict over the person of Christ, we cling to Christ, we obey Christ, we're loyal to Christ even if the family member walks away, mocks us, rejects us, cuts us off, if that's the price of following Christ, if that's the price of the truth of the revelation and self-disclosure of God in all of these areas, the true Christian as he wipes the tears from his eyes at the loss of the human relationship, as he grieves over being rejected by someone he loves or that she loves, deep in that Christian's heart is the recognition, I can't reject Christ even for him, even for her. Deep in that Christian's heart is an abiding sense of loyalty and joy and commitment to Christ that cannot be displaced by anyone on earth, even our closest, our dearest, our best. They may say we have religious mania, they may hate us for our testimony to Christ, they may go decades without talking to us, that's okay because Christ is supreme, he is superior, he is more important. Christ alone is the one who shed his blood for your soul.

No one could possibly be more important than him. We don't go out looking for the conflict, we don't go out looking for the disrupted relationships, but when it comes, we accept it. And we look to the Christ who promised us, blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This comes with the territory, beloved. Lost relationships come with the Christian territory. Especially for those who grew up in unsaved environments and you come to Christ and you have to reject the friendships and the behaviors and the activities that you used to engage in blind sin with them.

They say, I don't want to be around you if you're like that, I'm sorry to hear that, I love you but I'm not leaving Christ. No mom, no dad, Jesus Christ has saved my soul, I'll never stop following him. That's the implication, that's how far this goes, these things of which we speak. Well one final point, I gave some thought to the order of these, you could probably rearrange them, but they're all important. Fifthly, finally for this evening and by way of application, you follow Christ over government. You follow Christ over government. And we're all, you know, we were all well reminded of Romans 13 during the COVID era, I should say, and there were plenty of voices saying, you know, you've got to do whatever the government tells you to do in these matters, regardless of how it affects worship and gathering together which God has commanded.

Well beloved, I'm only going to touch on this for now, down the road we'll come back to this, I trust. But there are limits to our Romans 13 response to government. John Knox spoke of it brilliantly in the days of the Catholic queen over England. In Acts chapter five, verse 29, Peter and the apostles were confronted by the Sanhedrin, the high priest. And in verse 28, they said to them, we strictly charge you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.

We told you to stop speaking and here you are doing it. Peter and the apostles answered, you almost see him shrugging, we must obey God rather than men. When government seeks to intrude on Christian testimony, when government seeks to regulate Christian worship as so many governments did during the COVID area, the church has the right and the responsibility to disobey because we must obey God rather than men. And when God has ordained certain patterns of worship, it's not for government to tell us not to do it.

And in the wisdom of local church elders, each church can decide what its best response is. But the mere fact that Caesar, the mere fact that a magistrate says you must not do this does not settle the matter. God's word and obedience to him settles the matter.

And that is a critical point that we'll leave for further discussion at another time. But what does all of this self-disclosure of God mean? Well, it means that it's undeniable. We recognize it, we say this is inescapable truth. God has spoken in so many complimentary areas, such a multifaceted way that I am surrounded by his truth in the heavens, in the atmosphere, in the word I hold in my hands, in the testimony of my own heart. Everything is speaking to this truth. Well, that truth, beloved, has a claim on your life. And the way that you respond to self, respond to the world, respond to false religion, respond to family, respond to government. In all of those areas, a principle of surpassing loyalty is established in the believing heart.

Now, you know, look, we all stumble in many ways. We don't always live out our convictions the way we should. But the principle is there. Let me say these final words by way of encouragement, exhortation, and enclosing. And I'm repeating what I said at the beginning of my message. Beloved, it is essential for us to develop these convictions now, to understand these things, to think on them in a deep, profound way, to have in our minds the scriptures that support them. We need to know not only what we believe, but why we believe it, and to be able to go effectively to the word of God to establish it when it comes up in any conversation at any time.

Why am I emphasizing these things right now? Beloved, in times past, those of us that are old enough to remember days gone by, there was a time when biblical faith was accepted, it was respected, if not even popular. You know, you can go back and read in the times leading up to the Civil War days in Congress, there was open debate on both sides from the North and South. They both argued from the providence of God to support their position.

It's really remarkable to see it would never happen in the halls of Congress today. But there was a common shared philosophy, and even if these people weren't Christians, there was an underlying biblical worldview and a respect for biblical Christianity. Those days are long gone, and times have changed, and I think we still have a little bit of the afterglow of that that's going on, but it's changing rapidly. People would gladly attach themselves to a Christian church, would gladly claim the name of Christian when it advanced their career, when it was politically expedient and helped accumulate power for personal gain and for a particular imposition of cultural morality. People were happy to claim Christianity if they perceived that it advanced their prosperity, made good business contacts and all the like. And even in our day, people are happy to have a version of Christianity that does not impact their personal life, that provides no personal accountability for the way that they live, content to have a form of religion that gives them a dollop of self-righteousness as they pursue their own goals in disregard to Christ.

And beloved, those days are over, and it's going to have a purifying effect on the church, which while it will be difficult, I give thanks for it, as God purifies his church from all of those false motives for being attached to some outward form of Christianity. Beloved, the prospect increasingly for us, and I say this not with a martyr's tone, not in a sense of, with no victim mentality whatsoever, we're not victims. If we're in Christ, the last thing we are are victims.

We are blessed to be in him. But beloved, going forward, the prospect increasingly for true believers will be isolation, marginalization in society, suffering, mocking, and to the extent that it's not already here, it's not very far away. We live in a culture, we live amongst people that are frightened by the LGBTQ movement.

They're frightened by being called a homophobe, a transphobe, or any other kind of phobe. When Christians are the only ones, are left as the only ones who uphold the biblical standard, we're going to be marginalized even further as that worldview comes to define the realm in which we live. As that is happening and as it comes more in the future, the convictions of which we speak now are the things that will sustain the true Christian. They are the convictions that will cause him to live courageously, to be strong and courageous, to fear not, for I am with you.

As God said to Joshua before they entered in to take possession of the promised land. And so we have to meditate on these things, we have to make them their own. So much so that there is this inner resolution, this confidence, this conviction that says, I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to keep what I have entrusted to him until that day. Soon enough, beloved, soon enough we're going to face the question either in our personal life or in the social manner in which we live as people, as we're choosing between our jobs and our faith, choosing between our children and their sexual perversion.

And in those times, that's when the meaningful question will come to our mind. Do you believe enough to suffer for it? And those who form their convictions in these things in God's self-disclosure, perhaps with fear and trembling, say yes, I do, I will. And beloved, you can, but we must know what we believe and why we believe it.

That's why we're doing this. And my prayer is that God would bring great fruit from our humble efforts to honor his word. Let's pray together. Dear Father, thank you for the way that you've made yourself known. We'll see the most intimate and personal aspect of it on Sunday, but for now, Father, we acknowledge that you have more than sufficiently revealed yourself in creation, in the canon, in conscience, and certainly in the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you for that and pray that you would help us, each one, appropriate what we should learn from these things and develop in us the convictions that will sustain us as affliction comes, develop in us the convictions that we will be able to pass on to another generation yet to come, a generation even yet to be born, Father. Take the humble seed that we plant here. Take the humble acorns that are planted in the ground in nights like these. And Father, over time, in that imperceptible but powerful way in which you do such things, raise up oaks under which others will be able to sit in the safety of the shade. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much, friend, for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us again next time as Don begins a new message as we continue teaching God's people God's Word on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-22 04:15:41 / 2024-02-22 04:27:53 / 12

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