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Name Above All Names #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
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April 15, 2024 12:00 am

Name Above All Names #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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April 15, 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, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in the Truth Pulpit. Well, we are in a series titled How to Know Jesus is Lord. And in some ways, that is the central question of the universe. That is the preeminent theme that needs to be defined for reality to be known in any beginning sense.

If creation came through the hands of Christ, and all things find their source in Him, and all things are upheld by the Word of His power as Scripture teaches, then the only way that you can begin to have a proper understanding of reality in any basic sense is to know with complete accuracy the identity of Jesus Christ. And that's a pretty far-reaching realization to come to. It has a long-term, broad effect on what you think about Christianity, what the purpose of Christianity is, and what the purpose of the church is, why we exist as believers, certainly in a corporate capacity. And let me just say, by way of clearing the field a little bit, pulling up some weeds with an introductory comment or two, Christianity is not about politics. It's not about American politics.

It's not about earthly politics. That's not the central focus of Christianity whatsoever. And it's a crying shame when people make that the focus in the name of Christ.

That obscures things terribly. Christianity is not about church programs or church membership, per se. You can be a member of a church and desperately lost in your sins. You can participate in all kinds of programs and not have the life of God in your soul. Christianity is not about good behavior. It's not about doing good works in the first instance as the primary message of Christianity, because the Bible tells us that salvation is by grace through faith and that not of yourselves, not as a result of works lest anyone should boast. And so it's not about politics.

It's not about programs. It's not about good behavior. It doesn't start with friendly relationships and being kind to everyone that you meet and just getting along. We see that in the life of Christ. He was opposed by the religious leaders.

They crucified him. We see it in the life of the Apostle Paul. Christianity is not just primarily about, first and foremost, about relationships.

Just think about it. Jesus said in Matthew 10, verses 34 and following, that Christ came to set a man against his son, a mother against her daughter, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. There's going to be a divisive impact that Christ has on some of our most intimate relationships.

And when you realize that, then you realize that you can't put these things in the central place. You can't put relationships at the centerpiece of Christianity. You can't put being a good girl or being a good boy at the center of Christianity as if that's what Christianity was first and foremost about. You can't make it about participation in programs. And I had a friend years ago who said that a lot of times programs are simply a cheap substitute for sanctification, you know, and as if being busy in the church meant that you were growing in Christ.

That's not necessarily true at all. And we've dealt with the matter of politics. Well, what is it then that Christianity is preeminently about? What is the purpose of Christ? Who is Christ and why did he come? That's the way to state the question.

That is the question. That is the theme that Christianity answers as given to us in the pages of Scripture. Well, first of all, we want to acknowledge that what Scripture says about the coming of Christ. And just for an example, 1 Timothy 1 verse 15, 1 Timothy 1 verse 15 says, the saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Paul goes on and adds, of whom I am the foremost. Jesus Christ came into the world because mankind is lost in sin. Not just mankind generally, but each and every boy and girl, man and woman in the world is lost in their sins apart from Jesus Christ. They are spiritually dead. They cannot understand the things of God. They cannot please God in the flesh, Romans 8 says.

And so men are spiritually dead. They are in bondage to Satan. They are under the bondage of sin. They love sin and they're on a path that leads to eternal destruction and a full eternal experience of the wrath of God appropriate for the measure of their sinfulness.

And that is the case for every single individual on the face of the earth. Now until we understand that, that the Gospel starts with a declaration of the wrath of God, as you see in Romans chapter 1 verse 18, until you factor in the wrath of God and the judgment of God upon the sinfulness of man, you haven't begun to understand Christianity at all. And so a lot of things that sound good at one level, that sound like they're good and wholesome things, can actually be a serious distraction from the purpose of the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ if you don't have these first principles in place.

Christ came into the world to save sinners. That's the starting point of it all. And everything else that we've talked about is secondary to that. It is subordinate to that if it even has a place at all. And so you have this statement of the purpose of Christ coming into the earth.

Now let me just take this another step further with you. If you would, turn to the book of Galatians chapter 1 with me. Galatians chapter 1. And in our postmodern age, which is the reason we're doing this whole mega series, Building a Christian Mind, in our postmodern age, there are two things that you are never supposed to do. And Christianity contradicts both of them. One, you're never to insist on your point of view as being true. We're not supposed to argue about the truth because you have your truth, I have my truth, and we just need to get along with each other.

That's not reality. That's not what Scripture says at all. And so Christians cannot think that way. And also just the sense that we're always to be kind to everyone indiscriminately. And that there should never be any conflict. Conflict is not good, especially conflict over truth is not good. There's just this spirit of tolerance that should pervade everything so that truth is subordinate to tolerance and truth is subordinate to friendly relationships, let's say.

Put it like that. You see both of those things immediately contradicted in Paul's letter to the Galatians in chapter 1. Let's begin in verse 3 where you will see the earlier things that I said reinforced as well. Galatians chapter 1 verse 3, Paul writes to the churches of Galatians, says this, Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever.

Amen. Why did Christ come? He came not to establish a certain political brand, not to establish Christian nationalism. He didn't come for those reasons.

He didn't come to give birth to a lot of church programs. He came in order to save sinners, to deliver us from the bondage and the deception and the destruction of the present evil age. It starts there, beloved. And so we have to have the purpose clear from the very start. How important is truth in that?

And how important is it that everybody always get along is that? Well, let's see what Paul says about it as he rebukes the Galatians for their position and the way that they have drifted from what he first delivered to them. Galatians chapter 1 verse 6, I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel. Not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, Paul is exercised here.

He is upset and he is repeating himself for the sake of emphasis because these points are so critical. Verse 9 again, as we've said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man or of God?

Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. And so in the matter of truth and absolute truth and the existence of truth and some things are biblical truth is real and the things that contradict it are false, we see it laid out there completely. There is one gospel and only one. And if someone contradicts the gospel as delivered through the apostles, Paul says let them be accursed, anathema. Let damnation be upon them because that's what their false gospel is leading men to. It's leading them into damnation.

And so the issues are critical. And truth matters, beloved. Truth matters in the church. Truth matters to Scripture. Truth matters to God. Truth matters to Christ. He is the truth. And until we grasp that central fundamental principle, we haven't begun to develop as Christians at all.

Truth matters. And you see it clearly here in what Paul says. As Paul also says as he's, you know, and as we deal with the fact that, you know, we're supposed to tolerate one another, Paul is completely intolerant in this passage. He says if anyone preaches something contrary to the truth that you've heard, the gospel you've heard, let him be accursed. Paul's arms weren't open wide to a broad diversity of religious viewpoints. He was narrowly intolerant when it came to the gospel and someone contradicting it. And so, beloved, the point for us here in the 21st century to apply this in a proper way is that we have to realize that Scripture does not permit us to go along with the spirit of our age, where every viewpoint is valid.

Every viewpoint is not valid. Any viewpoint that contradicts the gospel is to be accursed. And alongside that, Paul pronounces damnation on those that would contradict the gospel in a settled way and would teach others a false gospel.

There is only one gospel, there is only one way, and it is in Christ. And so the spirit of Scripture leads us away from the spirit of our age. And, you know, and it leads us into, you know, you see what Paul says there in verse 10.

Let me remind you of that. You and I, beloved, I say this sympathetically to a, you know, a broadly sympathetic audience, but you and I have to come to a settled approach to the way that we're going to live. Paul says, I'm not seeking the approval of man. And in our 21st century age, where the approval of man is everything, tolerate everything, tolerate every belief, you know, you know, go along with your friends and do what they're doing, the Christian has to settle it in his mind that the approval of God is more important to me than the approval of man. Elders have to settle that long before they ever enter into the office, that the approval of God is more important than the approval of man. And until we have that settled and clear in our minds as a proper response to the lordship of Jesus Christ, we cannot make any progress individually or corporately in spiritual growth, in sanctification, in actually being an effective witness for Christ, an effective witness for the gospel, until that point is settled. Now, look, I am not at all a model of a personal evangelist. Evangelism is one of my weakest areas and it long has been. And it's something that causes me ongoing pain in my heart and grief in my soul that that is true.

But I still need to say what I'm about to say. What is it that makes Christians? What is it that makes a man, a woman, maybe you? What is it that makes us reluctant to be bold in our declaration of Christ before someone that's in front of us?

It's a fear of being mocked, being rejected, being laughed at, maybe not having the answers to the questions that might come up, not sure what to say. But there is this man-centered fear that is at the heart of a reluctance in evangelism so very often, because we want the approval of man, we want the approval of man so much that we're content to stay silent and let them take two more steps toward perdition rather than maybe have an uncomfortable conversation with them where they mock us or something like that for our faith. We have to have settled in our mind that the approval of God is more important than the approval of man. And it's not simply a matter of standing before God in our own judgment and receiving blessing and reward from him.

It's more than that. It's what's necessary and best for the lost souls in front of us. If we're seeking the approval of lost men, if we want the approval of heretics on our ministry, if we never want controversy over doctrine so that people will all get along with us, then we are living in the exact opposite spirit of what Paul expresses here. It's all about seeking the approval of man. What's wrong with a heart that wants the approval of man more than the approval of God?

And so these things have very far-reaching ramifications. These things set us against the spirit of our age. And beloved, you and I have to embrace that. We cannot try to compromise with it.

We can't try to soften the edges of it. We must embrace it because it is central to the person of Christ and the proclamation of the gospel. The person of Christ and the proclamation of the gospel are bound up in our refusal to love the approval of man more than we love the approval of God.

Those are the kinds of things that steal conviction when opposition comes. It's the kind of thing that sustains you when people resist you in ministry or perhaps you're seeing relationships sacrificed for the sake of your fidelity to Christ. You must know what the first priority is, and young people have to establish this and have the opportunity to establish this in their hearts early on in life and to set their feet and say, no matter what happens, that's the kind of life I want to live.

I want to be a godly young man. I'm not going to be like others and try to sort these things out when I'm an adult. I'm going to know now.

I'm going to make this decision now. I'm going to establish these convictions now. So Scripture is pretty clear on these things. So the person and work of Christ, then, are very important for us to know and to understand. That's why we're doing this series, How to Know Jesus as Lord.

And I want to review with you just briefly some things that I said on Sunday in order to recapitulate and to bring us back into the spirit of everything that's being said here. We see the importance of it. Now we need to know why we believe what we believe. We say that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Why do we believe that? What can we point to in Scripture that would lead others to that same conclusion so it's not just a matter of my subjective internal opinion, but we point to an external authority in the Word of God and say, here is why we proclaim Jesus as Lord, and we never allow compromise on that point. The Gospel of John helps us greatly on that. You'll remember that I said, if you'll turn to the Gospel of John, if you haven't already, you'll remember that I said that the Gospel of John opens and closes on the theme of the deity of Christ. John chapter 1 verse 1 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Verse 14, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. The Word was God, and the Word became flesh.

Jesus Christ is eternal God in human flesh. And that's the opening salvo of the Gospel of John. Now John goes through and lays out many signs that Jesus performed, records his teaching and many of his miracles and the upper room discourse, all of those things. And then we come to chapter 20, if you'll turn back to the end of the Gospel for a moment. You come to the climax of the main thrust of the Gospel, and you'll remember that Jesus showed himself to Thomas after his resurrection. And in verse 28, Thomas responded to the visible proof of the resurrection of Christ, and he answered him and said, My Lord and my God. My Lord and my God.

Beloved, that is the point. That is the result that the Gospel of John is seeking to produce in everyone who reads it. And we know that from what John himself says in verses 30 and 31 that follow.

Chapter 20, verse 30. Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe. There is a doctrinal content to true faith. It is not enough to just have faith in anything. Faith in itself is meaningless unless the object of faith is Christ himself. And for the object to be Christ himself, it has to be the true Christ. And true Christ is defined by the biblical doctrine revealed about him. What we believe and what we teach about Christ has eternal consequences. Centuries of unfolding church history as you read about the Arian controversy in the fourth century.

Centuries of study and defense and conflict were waged over this, not because those guys got caught up in something that wasn't that important, but because there was conflict over the identity of Christ and everything hinged on the outworking of that dispute. So in verse 31 again, these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. It opens on the deity of Christ. Thomas says, my Lord and my God, and John builds on that confession and says, that's what I'm trying to teach you. That's what you are to confess from the depths of your heart. My Lord and my God. Christ, you are my master, you are full deity, you are equal with God the Father. I submit to you, I trust in your redemptive work on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.

And on it goes. What does that teach us, beloved? It teaches us something really, so many important things. But one of the things that you and I need to always remind ourselves is this, and this is particularly important at a church that is given to teaching. It would be true at Grace Community Church in California, it would be true at Lakeside Community Chapel in Clearwater, Florida, it's true here, any place where the Bible is taught.

It's very important for us to remember what I'm about to say. Scripture is not given to us to puff us up with knowledge. It is not simply giving us information that we can catalog like it's some kind of college lecture that just fills us with intellectual concepts and abstract systems of truth that we can know and so that we can be smarter than someone else. Scripture says that knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. It's not simply knowledge that we're after. We need to know things, we need to know truth, but that's not the end in itself. Scripture is not teaching us a system of works by which we can save ourselves.

That's not the idea. Scripture does not commend you for your righteousness. Scripture condemns you for your lack of righteousness. And so Scripture isn't teaching us how we can proudly become a good person that God has to let into heaven. It's not like that at all.

Quite to the contrary. In the hands of the blessed Holy Spirit, as the Spirit ministers the Word of God to our hearts and illumines our minds, Scripture humbles us. The Bible says, Jesus said, that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict men of sin, judgment, and righteousness. That's the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

That is his goal. He exalts Christ, he lifts up Christ, and he convicts men of sin, judgment, and righteousness. And you know what you see with that ministry of the Holy Spirit laid out so clearly in the Gospel of John? Once again, you see that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is in direct opposition to the spirit of our tolerant age. Let every man do what he wants. We're about to embark on another ridiculous Pride Month, and it's going to be a celebration of all kinds of wickedness, all celebrating that people can do whatever they want, and we're not to condemn. In fact, we're not to condemn.

We are to commend them for the diversity that they bring to the world. Scripture doesn't speak in those terms at all. Scripture speaks in terms that men hate, sin, judgment, righteousness, everything that a postmodern society rejects. And so we can't have it both ways. We can't have one foot in the world and one foot in Scripture.

We have to make a choice. We have to come to our own convictions and discern the truth of these things and live accordingly. And so what we find is that until the new birth happens, until a man is born again in his heart, he remains outside of the kingdom of God. Not all men, you know, God is not the father of all men in the sense that he's the father of those who believe in Christ, and there's not this general fatherhood of God that means everybody is going to go to heaven.

You must be born again, Jesus said, and until repentance and faith are formed in you, you are still in your sins. And so a study on the person of Christ is of the highest urgency. That's why we're embarking on this, in the middle of it, I should say. So we've seen, first of all, the Bible calls Jesus God.

That's what we looked at some last time. The Bible calls Jesus God. We've already looked at that here this evening. We don't need to go over it any further. The second thing that we said last time is that Jesus does the works of God. Who is Jesus Christ? He is eternal God in human flesh.

How do we know that? The Gospel of John is designed to lead us to that conviction, and it does so with many different themes. And secondly, we see that Jesus does the works of God. Turn to John chapter 5, again by way of quick review. In John chapter 5, verses 16 and 17, we see that what God does, Jesus does.

No one else can say that. And we read in chapter 5, verse 16 of John chapter 5, this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, My Father is working until now, and I am working. The Jews had confronted Jesus because he healed a man on the Sabbath. They said, you shouldn't be working on the Sabbath. And what Jesus does in response to that charge, that allegation, is he appeals to God the Father to justify his actions.

He says, My Father is working until now, and I am working. He puts himself on the same level as God the Father and says, I have the same prerogatives as God the Father does. Now the Jews understood the significance of that claim. Look at verse 18. This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. If you are equal with God, you are God. And as you read on in verse 19, you see that Jesus does not correct them for misunderstanding his teaching.

He reinforces the claim that he had just made. Read in verse 19 with me. So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. That's an astonishing claim.

So easy to read through something like that quickly and miss the significance of what's being said. Here was a man in human flesh saying that whatever God does, that's what I do also. It is a startling claim to being equal with God, to being God himself. Verse 20. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.

In greater works than these will he show him so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father to give equal glory to Christ that is given to God the Father. That is what Christ is saying.

And whoever does not honor the Son in that way does not honor the Father who sent him. Jews who do not honor Christ as God are lost. We should not view them as the people of God in the sense that they are in the kingdom of God. If they deny the deity of Christ, they are under the wrath of God, which is Paul's entire point in Romans 1 and in Romans 2.

That the Jews are under the wrath of God on an equal basis with the Gentiles because of their rejection of Christ and because of their sinfulness. And so Jesus does not correct the Jews here in John chapter 5 when they said, You're making yourself out to be equal with God. Jesus doesn't correct a misunderstanding. Jesus reinforces and states again his equality with God. He does the works of God. Only God does the works of God. Christ does the works of God. Christ is eternal God in human flesh. The Bible calls him God. He does the works of God.

Now that brings us to new material for this evening. And thirdly, we want to see this, is that Jesus has the name of God. Jesus has the name of God. And to establish this point, I want you to turn back in the Old Testament to Exodus chapter 3, when God made himself known to Moses. Exodus chapter 3 verses 13 and 14. As you're turning there, let me remind you that God was calling Moses into a leadership role for his people whereby he would be the one who would lead them out of the slavery that they had been in in Egypt for over 400 years. And God appeared to Moses in a burning bush in the early part of chapter 3. And in verse 6, chapter 3 verse 6, as Moses approached this burning bush, God said to him in verse 5, do not come near. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.

It is set apart. It is sanctified. Don't come as in a common way wearing your common sandals.

Remove the sandals from your feet in recognition that this is something unique that you are approaching. And God said to him in verse 6, he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. God explained some things to him, says that there in verse 12, actually, let's go to verse 10, God says to Moses, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. Pharaoh was the head of the greatest nation at the time, the most powerful man on the face of the earth. And so Moses is a little bit intimidated by that call.

He says in verse 11, he said, who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? God said to him, I will be with you. Look at that, beloved, I will be with you.

God with him was enough. In your trials, in your conflicts, in your sorrows, God with you, that's enough. I fear no evil, for you are with me, Psalm 23 verse 4.

Fear not, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will help you, surely I will strengthen you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41 verse 10. The presence of God is sufficient for his people. No matter the adversaries, no matter the circumstances, the presence of God is enough. And that's what God is teaching Moses from the very beginning. Yes, you will go to Pharaoh.

Yes, he's the most powerful man on earth. But there's something transcendent and more important than that, and that is the simple fact that I will be with you. That is where we draw our confidence. That is where we draw our strength, our comfort. It's the presence of God. Whether we stand alone or stand with others, it's enough that the Lord is with us. When you're standing alone at a gravesite, turning over with a cold half of the bed because you've lost a mate, or whatever the case may be, we always come back to the presence of God. That is the answer for every earthly dilemma. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit.

And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, there is no substitute for reading the Word of God for yourself and spending the time day by day going through the Bible in a systematic way so that you have a full exposure to everything that the Word of God says. It's remarkable the way the Spirit of God works through the Word to minister to our hearts in that way. And to help you do that, we have a couple of different Bible reading plans available on our website, thetruthpulpit.com. If you would go to thetruthpulpit.com, click on the link that says About, you'll find a sublink there that takes you to two different Bible reading plans that you can choose from.

It's free. It's there available to help you in your reading of God's Word. And I know that the Spirit of God will use that in your life if you're not used to reading God's Word on a regular, systematic basis.

Make this the day that you start something new and move in that direction. And join us again next time here on The Truth Pulpit as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-15 04:48:08 / 2024-04-15 05:01:05 / 13

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