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Better Off Than We Thought

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 30, 2021 12:00 am

Better Off Than We Thought

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 30, 2021 12:00 am

The Prophets received visions, performed miracles, and heard God speak directly. They were much better off than we are today, right? In this wonderful look at the miracle of scripture, Stephen brings us a surprising answer.

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I often repeat as I walk forward the words of Charles Spurgeon, the pastor of the 1800s. He preached to 6,000 people at a time and he'd mount the stairs to his little platform. And with each step, he would repeat under his breath, I believe in the Holy Spirit. When you take the truth of God's Word and you evangelize or maybe you teach a Bible study, it doesn't come back to how clever you were, how gifted you were, how eloquent you were, how together your outline was. It is the Holy Spirit.

Without him, we can do nothing. To have any eternal impact, we need the Holy Spirit to empower what we do. When we're committed to serving God, the things that we do are not for us. They're for the benefit of others and even the future generations. Of course, the reverse is also true because we sometimes reap the benefits secured by those who went before us. One example of this is the prophets who recorded God's Word for all of us who came after them. We're going to learn about this and more today on Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey.

Stay with us for this message called Better Off Than We Thought. Identity theft, as you know, is often in the news today. More than 12 million people are impacted by this fraudulent use of their private information every year.

Credit card information, accounts, it's a little disturbing to read of one major banking institution is in the news now as its CEO has stepped down that bank employees were actually creating fraudulent accounts and charging interest to the customers of their banking system. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your name and personal information and then uses your identity for their own benefit. It's your identity.

You don't want anybody else to have it and you want to protect it and you certainly don't want anybody using it for their purposes. When you think about it, however, the Christian is by definition someone who has taken someone else's identity. They've taken the name of someone else and they call themselves by that name, Christian.

They call themselves by that name because they have taken the identity of Jesus Christ. Not only do you have an identity that you were not born with, you didn't earn the right to use it, did you? As a Christian, you've actually used his identity to get into his checking account, so to speak, as it were, to use all the benefits in his name. In fact, you have tapped into his own inheritance as your own. In reality, though, it wasn't identity theft. It was an identity gift. By grace, you've been saved through faith, not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. It's yours.

Enjoy it. After the believers scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, they've lost their identity in the community. They've lost their status. They have lost their fortunes.

They have lost their properties, their sense of significance along with it. If anybody would have been considered the most unfortunate and underprivileged person on the planet during these days, it would have been these believers. But Peter feels differently. He talks to them about this exceeding joy. He talks to them with a different perspective entirely in mind as he refers to their privileges that they have as believers. And so, if you go back to his letter in Chapter 1, what he does and where we find ourselves at this point in our study is we find Peter effectively pausing as if to say, I mentioned your salvation and I just want to pause and talk about the privileges that you have that you might be overlooking.

And he does that by bringing several key issues to our thoughts that are easily overlooked. And I'll give you three of them. Let me give you the first one and then we'll look at the text.

It's this. First, our privileges have been the fixation of prophets. The fixation of prophets. Look at verse 10. As to this salvation, he just mentioned that. Now, as to this salvation, let's just pause and talk about it. The prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. Now, that's a long way of saying that the New Testament Christians, even though they were dispersed and rejected, they were better off than the Old Testament prophets.

Better off. Now, what Peter on this point is reviewing for these scattered believers is how much greater are their advantages than the Old Testament prophet. So let me kind of unpack that statement I just read and break it down into three observations. The first observation is this. The prophets examined scriptures which were not completed.

Notice verse 10. All they can do is make careful searches and inquiries. To make careful searches is from a verb that means to mount an intensive investigation, to study diligently and with painstaking effort, try to put the clues together and come up with some answers to some riddles.

The second word to make inquiries is used in classical Greek for a lion on the scent of its prey. So to relate that back, the prophets with all diligence are spending their lives hunting down the implications of what they've received. What an advantage. We have this incredible privilege of having been given all the pieces to the puzzle. We have got sufficient and complete revelation.

You can go all the way to the end of the book and find out what happens. Peter tells us first the prophets examined the scriptures which weren't completed. Secondly, the prophets pointed to a savior whose name they didn't know.

What an advantage we have. We can study his life, his words and his works. Look at verse 11 again. They're seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them predicted about his sufferings and his glories. In other words, they knew the Messiah was coming. They looked forward by faith to the coming of the Messiah who would die, pay that full and final payment for their sin. And this belief gave them salvation just like it gives us, although we're looking back in faith at that coming or that Messiah who did in fact come. They're trying to put together the clues to find out when he would come and who he was and what the times were. They foresaw the Christ, Christos, that is the anointed Messiah, but they couldn't foresee Jesus, his name. No one did until the angel announced to Joseph, name him Jesus, Yeshua in the Old Testament, Joshua. Name him that because he is the deliverer.

That's what the name means. He will save his people from their sins, Matthew chapter 1 and verse 21. And the final pieces begin to fall into place. You notice how Peter ties these two issues together. The prophets wanted to know the times. They wanted to know the distinctives. They wanted to know who this person would be who would come as Savior, Judge, Prophet, Priest, and King.

And they searched the scriptures to find out all they could. They couldn't unravel the differences, by the way, between Christ's two comings. His coming to suffer and his coming to reign. In fact, Jewish commentators often talk of two Messiahs.

They figure one is going to suffer. It's clear Isaiah is talking about that, but another one is going to come and reign. They're two. They didn't understand the two comings, the one that's happened and the one that will come.

In fact, that coming is twofold. One for the church and one with the church to earth. So, oftentimes in the Old Testament, the prophets will speak about him together, both comings together.

They meld them together. We now know they've been separated some 1900 years. And we know what's going to happen when he comes for the church. His suffering occurred and his glory is now and you see how he puts them together in verse 11. He connects the same Christ, the same Messiah, with both suffering and the glories. Not two Messiahs, one.

And the glories refer to the resurrection, Matthew 28, his ascension, Acts chapter 1, his resumption to the throne of his Father's glory, John 17, of his return, still yet future for the church, 1 Thessalonians 4, of his recreation of the heavens and the earth, 2 Peter 4, of his final and eternal glorious reign as judge and king over all. Which is another way of saying, even though we live in this dispensation, and we've seen a lot, we haven't seen anything yet. I mean, it's just going to get better. And that's what Peter wants them to think about.

You can look around, oh man, it could be worse. Peter's saying, you won't believe how good it's going to get. What a privilege we have to have received the information, the pieces of the puzzle. So the prophets examined the scriptures which were not completed and didn't have the advantage you do. The prophets pointed to a savior, his name they didn't know.

What an advantage we have. Thirdly, the prophets understood their service was for someone else. Look at verse 12, it was revealed to them, the Old Testament prophets, that they were not serving themselves but you. In other words, the fulfillment of their prophecies were not for them to witness. That verb, serving, refers, it sort of paints a picture of someone who spreads the table but doesn't get to eat.

They put out the tablecloth and they put out the plates and the bowls and the glasses and the forks and the knives and the spoons and all that. They get it all ready, but they don't sit down to eat when the meal comes. And the amazing thing here is, don't miss this, these prophets knew it. Notice verse 12, it was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. It was revealed to them that they wouldn't eat at the banquet personally. They wouldn't live long enough to see the table filled with the food, the rich banquet of the words and works of Jesus Christ. They wouldn't see the bread of heaven come down.

That meal would come later. So Peter's reminding these believers, listen, what an advantage you have living in these days. No matter how difficult, no matter how troubled, you get to pull up a chair to a table that was spread by the prophets but you're able to feast on the revelation of who he is. And you can clearly see what he has done. Prophets dedicated their lives to setting the table. And by the way, before we race from this, I want to tip my hat to these prophets.

They did it. They were willing to do that for you and for me. I mean imagine, as I thought about an analogy, imagine you've never tasted fruit. You've heard about it. You've been given some descriptions of it. You've been told what it tastes like.

It's crisp, it's flavorful, it's luscious, it's delicious, it's just bursting with flavor and juice. But you don't get to taste it. All you are asked to do is take these seeds and go plant orchards. Plant orchards. For a generation to come, they get to eat it, not you.

Just go plant it. And they did it. What a testimony to us. We have, according to this text, a privilege to walk in the completed light of revelation, privileges that have been the fixation of prophets their entire lives. Another thing that Peter adds here is that our privileges are the focal point of preachers. Look at verse 12 again, the middle part of these things which have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Now what Peter does is he sort of brings our benefits into this dispensation of grace or what we call the church age. He writes here that the Holy Spirit has come from heaven. We know from Acts 2 that his descent occurred on the day of Pentecost.

It's happened. We're not praying for the Spirit to come, the Spirit to fall. He's here.

He's here. We know that his coming was a fulfillment of Christ's promise. He said, when I'm ascending, after I've ascended, I'm going to send the Spirit who will descend and become your companion, will become part of the creation of this mystery called the church, this living organism that's growing and breathing and serving.

He's the dynamic behind it. Now let me just stop to mention that just as the prophet's message didn't originate from him, he makes it very clear that the preacher's message comes from and through the Holy Spirit's revelation who came from heaven. It's not the preacher's message either. Prophets nor preachers are original. If you hear a preacher say, I've got something really new for you, run.

Okay? Turn the channel. The preacher has to be like the prophet in that he studies the scriptures. He ransacks the revelation for clues, truths.

He's like a miner. He's mining the gems from the deep caverns of biblical truth which takes time to study and to learn. Now as we have hosted and have been involved in the seminary, I'm teaching men who are preparing to pastor and I tell every semester's students in that class of mine that if God is calling you to be a pastor, teacher, he is calling you to a life of obscurity. You're going to spend many more hours alone than you'll ever spend in public. Are you willing to do that?

If you don't, you won't be much of worth to the body in public. And I think the clue here for the preacher is to put together the pieces that studying and learning isn't really enough either. It depends upon the Holy Spirit who enables and empowers the message so that it really goes forth with transforming power so there is fruit in lives. That's entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. When you take the truth of God's word and you evangelize or maybe you teach a Bible study, it doesn't come back to how clever you were, how gifted you were, how eloquent you were, how together your outline was. It is the Holy Spirit. Without him, we can do nothing. I often repeat the same words as I sit back there on my favorite chair where you can't see me but I'm surrounded by violins.

It's just the best place on the planet. I often repeat as I walk forward the words of Charles Spurgeon, that pastor of the 1800s, he preached to 6,000 people at a time and he'd mount the stairs to his little platform and a little desk and a railing. And with each step, he would repeat under his breath, I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Holy Spirit. Even though he was eloquent and capable and reasonable and skillful, he and every preacher, every teacher without the Holy Spirit is doing nothing more than blowing hot air on dusty ground.

There's no life. Your privileges were the fixation of the prophets. Your privileges are the focal point of preaching. Finally, your privileges are the fascination of angels. And that's just the first point.

I'm going to get to the second one in a minute. But notice the end of verse 12. Things into which angels long to look.

The things go back to salvation, to the privileged position of the believer. They, the angels, long to look into that. They love it. It is their fascination. See, an angel never experienced salvation.

Christ did not die for the angels. But it is their fascination, Peter writes. By the way, the expression he uses for them longing to look is this inner yearning to comprehend. Now, by the way, don't misunderstand. That doesn't mean they can't understand the plan of redemption.

That doesn't mean they can't comprehend it. It only refers to their holy curiosity. Now, again, if I bring it back to these original readers and then apply it to our own lives, it's possible as a scattered, marginalized, suffering believer to be tempted to think, man, I wish I had it as good as those godly Old Testament prophets. I mean, a vision from God. To hear the voice of God, that'd just settle it. Oh, no, you have an advantage because they had pieces missing in their puzzle.

You've got it. Well, to be a preacher like Paul or Timothy or Titus or Silas, they have an advantage. They have it better than us. No, they don't.

They're just clay pots. They have to depend on the Holy Spirit just as much as you do. Well, then I know. Hey, look, if I were an angel, you know, man, I'd have it so much better than my life now. You are the recipient of grace that the angels never cease to want to learn more about. And they watch you with holy curiosity. I think the hymn writer put it pretty well when he wrote that gospel song in the late 1800s. Maybe you've heard it. The refrain goes like this, holy, holy is what the angels sing and I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring, but when I sing redemption's story, they will fold their wings for angels never felt the joy that our salvation brings.

It's pretty good. Angels saw the fall of mighty Lucifer. They had that signature moment of deciding God had given them the ability to make that choice and they chose forever settling their destiny and how both have played into redemptive history of God's perfect purposes is a marvel. Isaiah 14.

Some of them were assigned to guard the gates of Eden so Adam and Eve couldn't get back in there after they'd sinned and lived forever in their sin by eating from that tree of life. Angels visited Abraham and announced the coming of a baby boy to he and Sarah and they were well beyond child birthing years. An angel was sent to bind the lion's mouths and protect Daniel in the lion's den, Daniel 6. Zechariah saw the angels involved in end time events.

Zechariah 1. An angel, you go into the New Testament, began to announce both the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus, Luke chapter 1. An angel was assigned by the Lord to tell Joseph to go ahead with his wedding plans.

Don't set him aside. Go ahead and marry her, Matthew chapter 1. Angels ministered to Jesus after his temptation. I'd love to know a little bit about what that was like, Matthew 4. They ministered to him after he prayed in the garden, Luke chapter 22. Jesus announced in that garden that 12 legions of angels are standing ready and all I have to do is say, sick them.

I can just see if we can just pull back the veil. They're ready. Twelve legions, that's about 75,000 angels surrounding that company.

They can't see them and they're ready. Angels are active at Christ's resurrection, Luke 24. An angel rescues Peter miraculously from prison without a word, without moving his hand.

As he leads Peter out, all the doors open, like you're going into the department store and the doors just slide open. Acts chapter 12. If you fast forward the tape, nearly every chapter in the book of Revelation has an angel involved. Revelation is a convention of angels.

They're just all over the place. They hold back the wind, chapter 7. They seal the Jewish evangelists against death, chapter 7. They blow the trumpets of judgment, chapter 8. They preach the gospel around the globe, chapter 14. They announce the fall of Babylon, chapter 14. They warn the human race not to follow Antichrist, chapter 14. They pour out the vials of God's wrath, chapter 15.

One of them gets, and I'm sure they were vying for this one, but one of them gets to imprison Satan in the abyss. Just took one angel, by the way, just one angel and the power of God's assignment to bind Satan for a thousand years, chapter 20. One angel shows John the apostle the celestial city, gives him a tour, chapters 21 and 22.

In fact, he adamantly refuses John's misplaced worship because when John sees him, he is so glorious. The angel is so splendid, so awesome in his glorious appearance that John falls down thinking he's got to be God. And the angel says, get up, just an angel. Angels are amazing creatures and they have seen so much, but Peter informs us, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that the angel's greatest captivation and their deepest joyful fascination and curiosity about what God is doing has to do with what God is doing with you and with me. Peter is saying to them, the world considers you unworthy, the world considers you insignificant, the world considers you worthy of pity, but you are the honored participants in the greatest drama unfolding in the history of the universe. You have been given the identity of Christ. No creature will ever experience that privilege, but the redeemed. No matter what you're facing today, the reminder from God's word is that we are greatly privileged.

I hope that truth is an encouragement to you today. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. With this lesson, we close our current series called Profiling Christians. If you missed any of the lessons in this series, you can go online and listen to them there. That address is wisdomonline.org. These messages, along with the complete archive of Stephen's teaching, are posted there for you to listen to, download, or read free of charge.

We also have this series bound into a set of CDs, and we can give you information about that if you call us. Our phone number is 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. In addition to being our daily Bible teacher, Stephen Davey pastors the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina, and he's the president of Shepherd's Theological Seminary that trains pastors and church leaders for a lifetime of servant leadership. If you or someone you know is interested in seminary training, I encourage you to consider coming here and studying with us. There's a link to both the school and the church on our website, which is wisdomonline.org. Next time we're with you, Stephen will be jumping over to Titus 2 in a series called Family Talk. Join us for that, here on Wisdom for the Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-24 00:52:35 / 2023-11-24 01:01:58 / 9

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