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Upheld By Thy Righteous Right Hand

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2021 8:00 am

Upheld By Thy Righteous Right Hand

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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August 1, 2021 8:00 am

Listen as Jay Krestar preaches from Isaiah 41-a message about the sovereign and present hand of God.

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If you would open your Bibles to the book of Isaiah, we will be reading from chapter 41 verses 8-10. You are my servant. I have chosen you and not cast you off. Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you.

I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. I pray that the Holy Spirit teaches us what Isaiah was offering to the people of Israel and offering to us. That it is only upon you that we can find our rest, our repose. It is only you that can uphold us. Father, I pray this evening as your word is preached that it is your word, not mine. And Father, I just pray that it brings to our heart our desire to glorify your name more and more. It's in Christ Jesus that I pray. Amen.

You may be seated. If I were to ask at work as compared to the church, what is it that you rest in, what upholds you hour by hour, day by day, week by week, I think we would get a huge difference in answer from the culture around us. And sometimes I wonder if in the church the answer wouldn't come somewhat the same because of how often through a week we are attacked by the culture, driving us more to their thinking than focusing in on the word that is before us always. In the last few weeks in Sunday school I've had the opportunity to teach and I used the text from Philippians 4, 8, and 9 where Paul instructs them whatever is true, whatever is worthy of praise, whatever is excellent, those are the things we should think on.

And tonight what I want us to do is do the same thing with this text here. Our text tonight is penned by the prophet Isaiah and in its immediate context he is writing to the Israelites to provide them consolation because they are suffering the Babylonian exile. He is giving hope and encouragement because of judgment that has come upon them for their stiff neckness towards God. But verse 8 identifies his audience for us. If we look at verse 8 we see that it says, But you Israel my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham my friend. And so if we walk down through that audience we see the nation Israel, we see the chosen by the line of Jacob who God chose over Esau, and finally we see the offspring of Abraham. The question that would pop to my mind as Abraham penned these words 700 years before Christ, so now close to 2700 years ago, was did he realize he was writing to us also? Even in his identification of his audience, if we would look at Ephesians 3.6 and Galatians 3.29 we read this, This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Ephesians 3.29, and if you are Christ's then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. As Abraham wrote these words he's writing to a specific group, but that group by this text of scripture that I just read include us tonight. We are Abraham's offspring so as Isaiah wrote these things down we can learn and take from them. As we look at the text we are going to see that Isaiah, if you read the preceding and the following after these verses, Isaiah is contrasting the way in which the culture or pagans turn to useless idols in the face of difficulties and trials and how the Israelites and us should turn to God and God alone. In my Sunday school class the first week, a week ago, I talked about the idolatry that befalls even us. I used the example of a bank account. We live in a society that drives us and tells us that if we have a certain number in an account then we are safe and secure.

There's a foolishness that lies in that when we realize, and I shared the example, my business partner trades in what's called cryptocurrency and as I researched it, it's really nothing that even exists, but trades at a value of the dollar based on people's desire or not desiring it. We put our hope and our trust in things that have no meaning further on in Isaiah. Isaiah tells about the pagans who the silversmith and the goldsmith overlay and they even use nails to strengthen the idol so it will not fall over, but at last God laughs at it because it can do nothing. It cannot speak, it cannot act, it can do nothing and Isaiah is calling the Israelites and us to turn to the only God, the only being, the only power that truly can intercede or act on one's behalf. I hope as we look at this text that we do a few things. First of all, see where we are to find our rest, to see where we find our security, to truly believe that it is God alone who upholds us, but also I hope that it builds our faith.

I sit and listening to the prayers and when Dan prayed, he prayed specifically for that, for God to drive out fear and to increase our faith. So as we work through tonight, that is what from this short small piece of text, I hope that we can do from these truths. I'd like to look at two truths that I see from this text. First, that the righteous right hand of God upholds us through his use of election, his sovereign choice. And secondly, that God's righteous right hand upholds us by his real presence with us.

These two verses just offer an overwhelming amount of peace to us when we see how God is portrayed to us. The first point that I would like us to look at is that we are upheld through God's sovereign work of election. I grew up United Methodist.

I grew up hearing that I had to make a choice. I grew up understanding that Christ in his work at the cross built a bridge halfway across. And now as I hear the word, I have to not only build a bridge halfway to him, but then I have to come to him on the part that I built and find my salvation in Christ. I do not pick on the United Methodist Church. I do not pick on the free will or Arminian view, but I find it very lacking as to what Scripture teaches us about the work of God the Father, about the work of Jesus Christ, and about the work of the Holy Spirit.

When we open the text of Scripture, and one of the reasons I came to the Reformed faith is verses like Ephesians chapter 1 or Romans chapter 8, where we deal with this predestination in election, and God is not shy in his revelation about how he works salvation. And the other day, my daughter texted me. She was in a conversation with a friend from school. And as they conversed back and forth, Emily answered a question a certain way. And the friend typed back, well, isn't that Calvinism? And isn't that election? And Emily went on with her conversation, and she got me involved because she wanted to run an answer by me.

And her friend typed back, I struggle with this. I know it's in the Bible, but I'm not sure. Is that paraphrased right? There are many that struggle with the doctrine of election that is clearly taught in the Scripture. I've heard, as I've come out of the Arminian or free will thought of theology from family members, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with it, these types of protests. They say, if the type of election that you say is found in the Bible, wouldn't that make God unfair or even yet monstrous? You have to think about it. Some argue, a good friend of mine argued, if what you're saying about election is true, then doesn't that make me a robot?

And I have no way or choice of my own to do anything. How is that possibly what God has planned out? And finally, I've heard the argument even from some who come to the camp of God's sovereign election. They claim there's no need for evangelism because if God's going to save you, God's going to save you. So even within our own camp, there are hyper people that go to an extreme with this doctrine, but Isaiah uses it as a form of consolation or comfort.

How could something that is so difficult be a form of consolation or comfort? As we study the Scripture, as we study the doctrine of election, it becomes clear that it is our only hope. When we realize that there is nothing of me and it is all of Christ, that I have nothing that I can bring to God that can make me right, but Christ brings everything that I need and more, not only to be right, but to be His child.

If we take a look at a few answers to those questions that pop for people, Scripture teaches us not only that election is truth, but it is also necessary. If I want to take the tract and say, is there something in me that God can find good? Romans Chapter 3, verses 9 through 18, eradicates that rather quickly. In that passage, Paul says there is none that are good. No, not one. No one seeks God.

They all turn their own way. There's nothing left there to say, but sometimes you can. He makes it very clear there is nothing that you and I can do that will cause us to want God. Romans 1 teaches that left to ourselves, without Christ, we will suppress the truth that God has revealed, even in His creation. The creation that speaks of His divine attributes, of His eternal power and His glory. We will suppress that truth and even to the point where we will be given over to a debasement of our mind, that we will turn to idols, as it says in Romans, which is an amazing truth when you look at it, how Isaiah is giving consolation to Israel because the pagans all around them are turning to what?

Idols. They are suppressing the truth around themselves. They are driving themselves to idols that they believe in some form or fashion with enough merit given to them will give them some relief. And God scoffs at that. They will be lost. His wrath will fall upon them. God's election secures us in Him. Verse 9 says, You whom I took from the ends of the earth and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, You are my servant.

I have chosen you and not cast you off. Ephesians Chapter one, verses three through five, which caused me to start trying to understand the limited view of God and salvation as an Arminian, says this. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. Romans 8, 29 and 30, For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined, he also called. And those whom he called, he also justified.

And those whom he justified, he also glorified. Brothers and sisters, we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. We were set apart by God himself and Christ came and worked on our behalf. And that work isn't a halfway work.

There isn't half a bridge or a rope with a life vest or lifeline in the water and we have to swim to it. There is a completion in these verses saying that God not only chose us, but if he chose us, he called us. And if he called us, we will respond and he justified us. And if he justified us, we will be glorified and are glorified through Christ Jesus.

The work is complete, though we do not live in the completion of the work at this moment in full consummation with God. That's how Isaiah is using the election of God to the people of God as a comfort, as a rest, as a consolation. You know, when we talk about comfort and that is what Isaiah is doing, he's talking to a group who are exiled under pagan people who serve pagan gods and idols.

And they have been infected by that like we are infected by our culture constantly. And he is continually calling them back to know who their God is. Over and over in the Old Testament, the word says, I am God the Father, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is for them to know over and over who this God is.

The redeeming God, the one that brought them out of Egypt, the one that has saved them, as Exodus 20 says, I have delivered you out of bondage, the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me. This doctrine of election brings great security, assurance and peace because salvation is God's work, not mine. His ways are not thwarted. If you are saved, you are saved to the utmost completely.

There is no chance of you being lost. Paul tells the Romans there is nothing that can remove you from the hand of God. You are His and His fully and you can rest there when you are in Christ Jesus. Salvation is assured, He will not cast us out.

Isaac Watts in the book Voices from the Past wrote it this way. Before God made the world, He chose some persons of His own free grace to become His children to be made holy and happy. From the beginning, His Son Jesus Christ was appointed to be the medium of exercising all this grace. This work of God in the heart of man is attributed in Scripture not to any foreseen merit in man, but to the free grace of God toward His people.

Works and merit are inconsistent with an election of grace. The choice to salvation is before the foundation of the world or from eternity. We are blessed in Christ Jesus who is chosen by the Father to be the glorious head of this holy and happy number of mankind.

This sacred transaction between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world is called the Covenant of Redemption, a glorious covenant with sacred and divine engagements which are fulfilled on both sides with perfect honor and faithfulness. What an effectual security is derived in this for the salvation of all that believe in Christ. What an assurance is hereby given that none of His chosen ones should perish. Let us take comfort in it, rejoice in it, live upon it, and walk worthy of so divine a privilege.

The doctrine of election used in Isaiah chapter 41 verse 8 and 9 is a place that we can find rest as the world and the culture try to rip us apart away from God by their proclamations of we believe in science, we believe in this, we can stand fully and say we believe in God. We believe in Christ, the only redeemer, the only Lord in God. And we can make that statement not because it's a statement of our own, but it's because the Holy Spirit witnesses that to our spirit and we truly commune with Him. The second point I'd like us to look at tonight is God's righteous right hand upholds us with His real presence. I think too many times, even in my own worship and meditation, God is far off or Jesus is far off.

I'm reading an objective text about something that occurred in the past and I'm not placing myself in the story that is being unfolded around me. If we look at verse 10 in chapter 41, God reveals, Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you.

I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. The very first phrase in verse 10, fear not. Does it ever run through your mind?

How are we not to fear? And I'll take you back clear to my childhood. We can look at things like, I jotted a few down here, political turmoil and war.

I'm 52 years old. I remember one time in the second grade, we had what was called a nuclear bomb drill. What happened? I went to a small school in a small town called Dunlow, Pennsylvania, and at a certain time, the fire hall's siren would go off. And we were instructed when that siren goes off, you were to close everything, place it, we had those desks that you could shove your books in, and you were then supposed to climb underneath your desk and curl in a ball or the fetal position. Probably when I was 12 or 13 years old, the media put out a movie, and I think the name of it was The Day After.

And it was a mini series about when a cataclysmic nuclear event occurred between the United States and Russia. We turn on the TV, and even if you're trying to avoid news, the politics, the wars, the issues like that, natural disasters. I turn on the Weather Channel just to see the weather, and it's a continual, let's go to the hurricane desk. And what's been great this year is when they go to the hurricane desk, they show a picture over by Africa, and there's been no storms. I love every minute of it, but this is one of the few times, because they're always circling these little disturbances, and they're given like, this one has a 20% chance, or this one has a 40% chance, and they already have plots dotted out. And I don't know about you guys, but because of my job, then I have to go in and look at every one of those plots, and if it comes and it hits where I have patients on equipment at home, I have to figure out if it does make it here in the next 10 days, what do I have to do to make sure those patients are taken care of?

It's just constant stress pushed at you by even the simple things, the Weather Channel. Finally, the illness, we can't hide from it, we don't want to dodge talking about it, but COVID-19 isn't the first one in my lifetime. In the mid-70s, there was news reports of this disease that was ripping through at a Legion convention, and it was called Legionnaires pneumonia. And the fear that was brought forth by this mold being in the air conditioning system, and if it's anywhere else, the chances of people getting it and dying.

We move on. I entered the hospital in 1988. In 82, AIDS really just started to be diagnosed, and even in 1988, there was no treatment or cure. When you walked in and you were working with a known AIDS patient, one of the first things that occurred to me, I was doing compressions on a patient, they put a tube in his throat, bloody, frothy secretion shot out, went into my mouth, my eyes, and my nose. I had been married for three months. I was pulled out of the room. I was sent for immediate testing. I was told I could not know my wife for the next six months. I was told that I would have to be tested every week. I was told that if it would occur, there was some medications they could try, but they do not start them until they would have a positive test. So COVID is not the first disease that's come along that has a scare to it.

Even in the early 2000s, the SARS virus, which is a form of the COVID virus, that caused a very terrible respiratory pneumonia, was really put out there, thank God. God contained it very quickly, but we see, we read these words, do not fear, but the culture, the world continually just throws at us things to cause us to stress and to fear. Isaiah has a solution for that. God does when he writes, fear not, for I am with you. Have you ever thought of those words, for I am with you? It's not a statement that I'll be there when you need me.

It's not a statement you can turn to me if you have an issue. It is God saying, I am with you. That should be mind-boggling to us. When we realize our position, our rebellion, our blatant sin against the Creator, and he loves us so much that not only does he say, I will make things okay in your standing with me, but I will make you my child and I will be with you. We are not to be dismayed. Yahweh is our God.

And how does this comfort? Well, let's put into comparison the pagans around the Israelites, the pagans around us are looking to idols for their security. Whether it be a bank account, whether it be a position, whether it be the size of my portfolio or my home and my homestead, we can make idols out of most anything that is around us that is temporal. Jeremiah chapter 10 verse 10 says these words, But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. When we look and realize that this is the God that reveals to us that he will be with us, then those following, be not dismayed for I am God. I will strengthen you, I will help you. He promises in his word that he will be with us in all circumstances. Psalm 23 verse 4, and I'm going to read it just so I don't mess it up. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Even in the worst of situations, the worst of times, it doesn't say that God is there that we can turn to and hopefully he'll do something for it. It says, even though I walk through this now, you are with me. I was trying to think of a great illustration for that, and the only one that came to my mind was the scriptural illustration out of the book of Daniel. Book of Daniel chapter 3 verses 24 and 25 says this, Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, did we not cast three men bound into the fire? They answered and said to the king, true, O king. He answered and said, but I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods. The scripture itself gives us the best illustration. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. That text taken from Daniel is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They have defied the king, the earthly king, who has the power to cast them into a burning furnace. We would all agree that a burning furnace wins all the time against human flesh and clothes. That is the choice put before Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Bow your knee to my idol or I am going to throw you into that fire and you will burn most assuredly. They said, O king, we cannot. And the king in his fury fired the furnace seven times hotter than normal, that when the door was opened, the men who were guarding the door were consumed by it. They bound Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

They carried them up to that door and they dropped them in and they were, the king I'm sure, was fully convinced that at the moment they were dropped in, they were dead. And what we read in verses 24 and 25 is astounding to us. It's probably astounding to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because even in their answer, they said, Our God can save us, but if not, we will not serve you.

So they were not 100% convinced that God would spare them the consequence of being obedient, but when God does spare the consequence, he doesn't spare it by magically saving them, but he walks with them in the midst of the fire and protects them that when they exited the furnace, they were not even singed or smelled like the fire that they were in. Do we realize God with us? Do we realize as we are attacked, as we are persecuted, as things come, God will deliver us? Not because he's off in the distance and will come running, but because in Christ, he is with us at this very moment. John 14, 15 through 20. If you love me, you will keep my commandments and I will ask the father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him or knows him. You know him for he dwells with you and will be in you. 1 Corinthians 3, 16. Do you not know that you are God's temple? That God's spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him for God's temple is holy and you are that temple.

These words that are put out to us in this text is quite amazing when God declares, when Isaiah tells the people, Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you.

I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. As we sit and look at what God drives us to understand that we only have our being through him. Your very breath this second is determined by him.

Your very next heartbeat is determined by him. Are you resting in that sovereign God who chose you? Are you resting in that sovereign God who is with you at this very moment? We can step out Monday through Friday or Monday through Saturday boldly only if we find ourselves in this word feeding on God by faith, feeding on Christ and Christ alone. You can figure out by now that this text was written to those who were chosen by God.

And so if you were looking for an application for tonight's text, I would make it a simple one. We being called by God are to rest in him. We are to rest in his sovereign grace, his mercy, his way of salvation, and we are to strive to honor Christ by our obedience to him.

If you love me, you will obey my commandments. If you are here tonight and you do not know Christ, my heart hurts for you. If you are outside of Jesus Christ, we studied in Sunday school this morning a little bit the sermon of Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. God's wrath is stored up for you and it will be poured out in one violent, fast judgment and separation for eternity where all that there will be is weeping and gnashing of teeth. I pray tonight that no one here or no one who hears this is outside of Christ.

But if you are, the application is run to him. He will in no wise cast you away if you are called and come to him. If you are coming to him to be the Lord and Savior of your life. That is our prayer for those who are the pagans looking to idols and not to the one true and living God.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we praise you for who and what you are. We praise you for your salvation. We praise you for your work. But Lord, most of all, we praise you that you're a God who communes with us, who dwells in us. Father, give us an understanding of tonight's text that we may find rest, that we may find assurance, but moreover, Father, give us an understanding of tonight's text that drives us to desiring to obey you more and more to be more like Christ so that we honor and glorify your name. And it's in Christ Jesus that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-18 12:28:49 / 2023-09-18 12:40:22 / 12

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