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January 5, 2022 3:00 am
How will the new year be different from last year's of her question.
Life keeps pushing us forward and with it comes a whole lot of change may be a better question would be what will be the same in the new year today on Truth for Life.
Alastair Begg brings a clear reminder that there are things that will never change invited to turn with me to Isaiah chapter 40 and we're going to read from verse one to verse 11 comfort comfort my people, says your God speaks tenderly to Jerusalem and cried to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned that she has received from the Lord's hands. Double for all her sins. A voice cries in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, the uneven ground shall become level and the rough places a plane, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together for the mouth of the Lord has spoken a voice as cry and I said what shall I cry all flesh is grass and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on.
Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades by the word of our God will stand forever. Go on up to a high mountain of Zion Harold of good news. Lift up your voice with strength of Jerusalem Harold of good news, lifted up, fear not, say to the cities of Judah, behold, your God, behold, the Lord God comes with might and design rules for him, behold his reward is with him and his recompense before him, he will tend his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lands in his arms he will carry them in his bosom and gently lead those that are with young. This is the word of the Lord, thanks be to God.
Father, thank you that your word is fixed in the heavens. Thank you that all that was written in the past was written so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Bible we might have hope. Grant to us, then an understanding of your word and a willingness to see it applied to our lives. This day, both individually and as a church family and we ask this in Christ's name. Amen. While I turned somewhat arbitrarily last Sunday to Isaiah 40 and having done that, and having begun to read it and read on through the chapter, which is a familiar chapter to many of us.
I said to myself I think actually versus six through 211. Our providers with a very helpful passage for this first Sunday of the new year insofar as it provides us with an opportunity to receive a clear reminder of the message that we are to proclaim and of the mission that we are to fulfill.
So our title would simply then be the message and the mission. We should remind ourselves that this prophecy of Isaiah are written a long long time ago.
First, for the people who are its initial readers and pointing ultimately to its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus and yet written. Also, for those of us who live now post-ascension of Jesus and in anticipation of the return of Jesus, so that as we've often said in reading the profits as well like hill walking in the lake district of England how you come to what would appear to be the summit only to reach in and find that there is another Vista that takes you on beyond and so it is in light of that, and I want to say more than that is in light of that, that we look at this passage if you like.
In the understanding of that more comprehensive element. Now I find myself in these days, and I assume that I am not unusual, at least in this respect, with time for reflection. Use it and you think you are driving in the car up, you will start on our New Year's resolutions and's and so on, and it would be unusual if we didn't ponder where we've been and where were going out as I was chewing on some of these things during the week I had a fairly vivid recollection of a friend of mine back in the year 2000 seemed to me one day Alastair what you want to be when you grow up. Now the fight that I was 40 years of age at the time I took me by just a little bit but what he then went on to say was know what I'm asking is this what do you see yourself doing. Let's say 10 years or 20 years from now, and I replied with words is largely to this effect.
Well I see myself doing what I'm presently doing but hopefully more effectively although he didn't see it. I could tell that he was unimpressed by that response.
After all, at that moment in May 2000. We were just on the threshold of a new millennium, and there I sat, and in response to his question.
All I was able to come up with was essentially the same message and the same mission. Even today it happens all the time and not just to me, but to any who fulfill a role similar to my own people, no say so what's new what's the what's the plan what you have performance.
After all, Apple is going to build a car. Elon musk is going to take you to Mars in 2026.
Are you really going to tell is Alastair that in light of all of this in the vast development of our world that you're really prepared to stand there and say yes same message same mission answer absolutely. And as I was thinking about this. I had another recollection you be amazed at how many vivid recollections I have but at night and is absolutely true, but I had to go find the exact quote, but I knew it and that is in Zeffirelli's and Franco Zeffirelli's version of Jane Eyre in that movie in the Jane Eyre movie. At one point Jane Eyre is including her charge her her pupil. If you like to bed and as they are getting ready for bed. The little girl Adele says to Jane Eyre was going to happen tomorrow generics as well and we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow and she says Mlle. will we be very happy generics as Adele. We will work hard and we will be content, doesn't sound like much, doesn't I think is pretty good. There's a difference between contentment and complacency. Contentment is not the absence of ambition and the mission still exist side-by-side with contentment. So with all that in mind, look then at Wyatt say it's a reminder of the message. First of all, a voice says cry and I said what shall I cry remember we said last time to the voice of God says to his messengers. I want you to declare comfort to my people. The people have received this tender message of comfort and now the voice comes again calling out the messenger. What is it that I'm supposed to say no. The message that is to be conveyed. Let me just give you two observations on the first of all, it is quite startling.
It is quite startling that last time I I hope we realized that speed with which God's word of comfort fallen upon the pronouncement of doom that was represented back in chapter 39. If your Bible is open I get is pointed out to you. Isaiah 39 and Isaiah is speaking to Hezekiah and he tells them listen. The days are coming, verse six of Isaiah 39 when all that is in your house and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And then he goes on to describe the significance I was going to happen in the exile.
That's chapter 39 when you read 39th St. into 40 without a break because after all, there were no breaks in the original text. You realize while how startling it is the word of the prophet in relationship to the exile of the people, the word that has declared their great difficulty and the darkness that will befall them is immediately followed up by the story of God's comfort. Note if you like the story of the Old Testament could be encapsulated in relationship to the people of God by a consideration of just two elements, one would be the Exodus from Egypt where God comes and redeems his people and brings them out and then the restoration from the exile, in which they find themselves. Salvation and restoration. The intentions of God for his people triumphed over their rebellions. Notice that the intentions of God for his people triumphed over their rebellions and the intentions of God for us his people triumphed over our frailties other than the people who have known struggles in their life's who have strayed from God's ways and perhaps a singular fashion.
Those individuals within the arena of salvation within the context of God's comforting love are the ones who are able to speak most directly and fondly of the wonder of God's embrace of this amazing transition from the wilderness wanderings in the darkness of the heart and the rebellion that is marked tests and to be caught up in his amazing love.
So that's the first observation, it is it is quite startling. This message and it is also a serious message and that is as you will see back in verse five, on account of the find of the mouth of the Lord has spoken the mouth of the Lord has spoken Calvin in his institutes has a wonderful sentence when he says God deigns to constant create to himself the mouth and tongues of men in order that his voice may resound in them.
God deigns to consecrate to himself the mouth and the tongues of mere man in order that his voice may resound in then that is the significance of it.
That is why it is so unbelievably is significant and why it is so serious were not simply dealing here with just any old piece of material, the infallibility of Scripture. We don't believe in that Scripture is infallible because we can prove it to be infallible. We can prove it to be infallible on what basis then do we declare the infallibility of the Bible. The answer is that the only ground of witness to the infallibility of Scripture is Scripture itself. Scripture testifies to its own origin to its own power to its own character and to his own authority, for there is nothing higher or stronger than Scripture itself. You can thing that out on your own.
But we must proceed, sticking with that notice, then the source of the message is here before us all flesh is grass all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades by the word of our God will stand forever, so the Bible is no ordinary book, the Bible is breathed out by God that he in Hebrews we read that it is living and active. It discerns the thoughts of people's hearts and minds in the intentions of people's life's we don't actually come as I say to you, to understand the Bible. We don't come to submit to the authority of the Bible by simply human logic or by compelling arguments you will never ever come to believe the Bible's evenly you will never ever come to trust the Bible unreservedly as a result of someone giving you compelling logical arguments that come from outside the Scriptures themselves. I guarantee you it will never happen.
The only way that a man or woman will ever come to a convince view of the word of God is by the persuasive influence of God himself that God the Holy Spirit brings God's word to bear upon one of God's creatures in such a way that they say I believe it now. The Bible makes this clear the natural person does not receive the things of the spirit because their foolishness to your back to work tomorrow until people while we had a bit of a talk yesterday concerning the message was posted proclaim to the world also is a friend and what was that all is the message about God coming in Jesus and Jesus providing a sacrifice was another person is pleased with it. We were done with that in this age don't you know that Apple is going to have an electric arc don't you know that you can go to Mars.
Don't you realize the world has moved on and we are just left and what what in the world happened to me what happened to me while the Scriptures made you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. You started reading the Bible and the Bible pointed you to Jesus and is appointed you to Jesus you discovered that that life is found in Jesus and having discovered that life is found in Jesus. You came to invite Christ to be your life that his life might be lived in and through you know that it just to say word concerning the source of this message at the source of the message is Scripture itself.
What is the substance of the message while I'm not going to reread it, but it is there in these verses before you.
What is the messenger to cry coming back to where I was a little earlier in this is a question I get all the time people say to me, and I'm sure this is my calling to see and think how do you come up with something every Sunday there so many Sundays in the year when you do you go away you have to stay all by yourself and then you come back.
How did you come up with something and I was, as you should be very glad that I can come up with something that I don't come up with something a God actually warns his people about prophets, who come up with something you can you can read this and in Jeremiah 23 thus says the Lord of hosts. Verse 60. Don't listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes going to be a great year believing believing believing that there was a 1C talking about either.
I was, and is getting coffee three weeks ago and there was a sign in the window doesn't believe I want to smash the window because the shop was close. I want to go in and put next to it. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, but believe doesn't work. That's what God says don't listen to the words of the prophecy tell you believe fill you with vain hopes the speed visions of their own minds that are not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord. It will be well with you and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart. They say to them, no disaster shall come upon you.
What is it that I'm gone very far beyond Genesis 3 Genesis they have.
The devil says now is not a problem is not a problem, go ahead in the day that you either.
You will surely die and evil comes as if you live or die.
Don't worry about that course not who you want to listen to was the basis of the message later on in the same chapter he says let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream that's what he wants to do but let him who has my Word speak my word faithfully what has straw in common with wheat, declares the Lord know what you have here is not simply the contrast between the frailty and brevity of life.
You do have that contrast is there isn't that the flesh is like grass. The beauty is like the flower of the field are very few flowers are there at the moment but want you to notice that you can get this truth somewhere other than the Bible.
I mean, get this truth just by existing.
You know, as you progress, you begin to fade your mental powers fade, your abilities, your physical frame and everything else was along with anybody that just exists can understand everybody in the world knows that one out of one dies. But you see there's a phrase here that is that is easily passed over and is the key phrase I suggest to you the grass withers, the flower fate. Why does the grass weather and the fluffy wall. When the breath of the Lord blows on is the metaphor here is if England wins in California and in the morning you get up in your yard looks very very nice and they blow start a bloke flow through the whole day in the night and into the next day and before you know where you are all the beauty us as we naturally devastate. Now let me just pause with you on this for a moment as I think I must return.
If you have a Bible there to Psalm 90 for a moment. This is the expression of the frailty and brevity of life is in the context of God's judgment. Now some 90s usually regarded as a funeral sound.
That's what people say while they read. The sound of funerals and you will bring a few models where they do read but as I pointed out to you before, almost inevitably, this get verses 7 to 12. Which of course explains the human predicament. Look at verse seven. You won't get this it must funerals for we are brought to an end by your anger know you have to do something with that than a was a Lord, you have been our dwelling place to all generations been a wonderful time. Old Bill was a fine follow. I remember we golfed frequently, and so on and in the run of events. Eventually it all comes to an end.
Here we are today to celebrate his life. Not a word given to fly in the world it was.
He died in the first place.
Why anybody dies we are brought to an end by your anger by your Roth we are dismayed. Death is not the intended law of God's creation death is God's judgment upon sin in the day that you shall eat of this you will surely die and so verses nine and 10.
If your Bible is open all our days pass away under your Roth. We bring our years to an end like a sigh, the years of our life are 70 or even by reason of strength 80 yet they're Spanish but toil and trouble there soon gone and we all fly away but who considers the part of your anger and your Roth according to their fear if you receive verses nine and 10.
That experience of the demise of our life's. We will never come to without the revealing power of God the Holy Spirit listing to Alister bearing on Truth for Life talking about the message and the mission of God will continue this message tomorrow.
Alister reminded us today that the Bible is no ordinary book, his word remains the same year in and year out.
That's why our mission doesn't change in here Truth for Life. Our mission is to teach the Bible in a way that is clear and relevant to life today.
We also select books each month to help you continue to grow in your understanding of Scripture and today were recommending a book written by the well-known 20th-century preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones is called the all sufficient God. All nine of the book chapters contain sermons preached by Lloyd Jones the draw truth from Isaiah chapter 40, so this book is the perfect supplement to Alister's current series, you probably heard Alister reference Lloyd Jones. But if you never listen to his messages were read them you will benefit greatly from his clear and logical teaching in this book he answers tough questions like what is iniquity. How is that different from sin was the Bible mean by repentance and what makes it so difficult for people to accept the gospel message. Be sure to request a copy of the book, the all sufficient God.
When you give a gift of any amount. Visit our website Truth for Life.org/donate or call 888-588-7884. If you'd rather mail your donation and request the book the all sufficient God could write to Truth for Life PO Box 39, 8000, Cleveland, OH 44139 Bob Lapine, our world has a problem with God has provided a perfect solution.
The gospel, like all good news.
Some message to be shared tomorrow. Alistair Begg challenges us to accept our part in God's mission. I hope you'll join us. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life with the Learning is for Living