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When Nothing Seems to Last

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 20, 2024 12:00 am

When Nothing Seems to Last

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 20, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version of this message or the other messages in this series here: https://wfth.me/postcards.  In our culture of moral relativism, "truth" is often defined as "yours" or "mine"--but it's never absolute. However, as Believers, we can rest in the knowledge that there is a Divinely determined truth. In this lesson, Pastor Davey looks to the words of the Apostle John to remind us that Christ-followers are bound together by our love for truth. And, despite the waxing and waning cultural norms, truth endures forever, transforming us through its mercy, grace and peace.

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And even though God deposits in your bank account of life and mine mercy, even though he does it every single morning, he deposits from his account into your account every single morning, the mercy you need, he is at no time any less rich.

It is never depleted. It's not like I gave Stephen a little mercy and I worked some more back up. He is always and completely filled with mercy. How much mercy do you need?

That's really a trick question, isn't it? You need so much of God's mercy that it's impossible to quantify. That's why it's so encouraging to learn that God's mercy is available in bountiful supply.

There's no end. But mercy comes to us in a particular way. When you walk in truth, that truth has companions.

Mercy is one of those companions along with grace and peace. This is wisdom for the heart. Your Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, returns to his series from second and third John with this lesson called When Nothing Seems to Last. We have a manuscript of this lesson on our website if you want to follow along as Stephen teaches.

You'll find that at wisdomonline.org. Now, here's Stephen with today's message. The Roman God by the name of Vulcan was one of the oldest of the Roman gods, worshipped as the god of fire. People really didn't pay all that much attention to him until late August when the summer temperatures would soar and the granaries were full and fire would be especially devastating. So the Roman world recognized their god, Vulcan, with a festival on August 23rd every year. And during this annual festival, large bonfires would be built in honor of him, but also hoping to satisfy his love of fire so he wouldn't start a fire of his own.

In 79 AD on August 24th, the day after this empire-wide festival held in honor of the god of fire. Ironically, on that day, Mount Vesuvius erupted. Up until this time in history, the word volcano didn't exist.

But following this explosion, which people assumed was related to somehow, you know, Vulcan not being very satisfied with the party they had the day before in his honor, they created the word after his name in honor of him, in fear of him. Volcano. The name of that city was Pompeii.

It would be buried for centuries under pumice rock and volcanic ash and when it was finally excavated, the eruption had virtually frozen in time. It wasn't a pretty sight. Written on a wall in the marketplace of Pompeii are these lamenting words evidently from somebody who lived there and had grown weary of pursuing love, pursuing pleasure, pursuing wealth. It reads, the sun after the splendor of the day sinks into the ocean. The moon after showing us her full light wanes. In the same way, the anguish of love ends in but a breath of wind.

All things pass away. Two thoughts dominated the Roman mind after Pompeii, which still dominates our world today. Number one, the future is something to be feared. Not to be afraid of the future.

It captivates the American mind. There's a doomsday coming. Some bad's going to happen from somewhere. Fear the future. Number two, nothing lasts forever. So the best thing you can do is live for whatever you can get and enjoy it while you can because it's going to slip through your fingers and it's going to be gone.

It's like the breath of the wind. After this fiery surprise, which was 9-11 to first century Rome, and this from one of their gods, nothing was certain. Nothing was safe. Nothing was guaranteed to last.

And if there is a god, he's probably upset and impossible to please even when you throw him an annual party. Not long after the Roman world was changed by Vesuvius, a private letter was composed and sent to an unnamed lady. This first century note arrived to her residence around five years after Pompeii was buried under 20 feet of lava. The writer is the apostle John and he wants to encourage her and us that even when nothing seems to last, even when nothing seems to be safe, when the future is bleak and uncertain, there are some unshakable, unchangeable truths. Let me invite your attention back to our study in the second letter of John and let's go back to the opening words and sort of get a running start for today. This brief letter reads, the elder to the chosen lady and her children whom I love in truth and not only I but also all who know the truth for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever.

Get that, forever. What I want to do is break down into two or three principles what John wants this woman to grasp, to be reminded of onto which she should anchor her life and for you and me as well to hold onto, even when everything else seems to slip through our fingers. The first principle as we'll place it is this, the body of Christ is permanently bound together by love for the truth.

That doesn't change. John began this note by telling her and her children that he loves them in truth for the sake of the truth, that is you could render it because of the truth, our love is rooted together. In other words we love one another for the truth's sake because of the truth. The common bond that binds us together is the truth we share together in Christ and that exists to this day.

Even a local church, the universal church certainly bound by the truth of Christ and the gospel of Christ, the word of Christ and it's true for a local church as well. We're bound together in unity around truth, not opinion, not personality, not similar bank accounts or similar backgrounds or similar ethnicities but because of this truth. How do we ever make it together? How do we ever make it together? One of the greatest evidences that we are bound together by truth is that we do.

We can't even agree on where we'd go to lunch today. We have this common truth, this body of apostolic truth once delivered to which we hold and the redeeming power and truth of Christ binds together differing people into genuine and profound and remarkable unity. One is also I believe essentially encouraging this woman by reminding her that she's not alone.

She's not alone. She's part of a body of believers. This is equivalent to saying I want you to know dear lady we're in this together. Not because we're the same but because we hold the same savior and his truth. We're bound by truth and love. Secondly, the truth is alive and well and will last forever. He wants to reinforce this. In fact the word truth appears four times in this opening paragraph.

You could circle them. Truth, truth, truth, the truth as if to suggest even though cultures and countries lose sight of the truth, even though they suppress the truth, even though they ignore the truth, even though they redefine the truth, even though they persecute the truth. John says the truth is in us.

It's with us. In fact John kind of personifies it. He's probably thinking of the spirit of truth who indwells us. Perhaps he's thinking of this word of truth which is alive. It's living. It's dynamic. It isn't just intellectual. It's transformational. It isn't just information.

It's application. In fact John uses one of his favorite expressions here when he writes for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever. That verb abide, meno, to remain.

He uses more than 40 times in his writings more than any other apostle or New Testament writer. This is the same verb used by other apostles like Paul to the Romans where he says that God's counsel is translated there remains. It remains.

Romans 9-11. It's used by Peter, the apostle of God's word which is translated endures. It lasts.

Is it to say when nothing else of your world seems to last, his word does. It remains. One German scholar of the Greek language Gerhard Kittel writes that this Greek verb primarily means to stay in place. It's the opposite of what your young children do when they start crawling. They never stay in place. We say it this way.

They never stay put. I recently had our first meeting in my home study with our seminary leadership, the vice presidents, the dean and provost and the CFO. Just to kind of get everybody off this campus, they meet all the time, I said why don't we meet in my home study. I'll have some things ready for you.

Healthy things. So we had our first meeting and I knew that these five men would arrive at five different times and I didn't want us to have to keep getting up and going to the door, my study door which leads out to our driveway. So I just typed in big letters on a piece of paper and taped it to the window of that door and it simply said come on in. They didn't need to hesitate. They didn't need to stand there and wonder. They didn't even have to knock. They just could come on in.

That's the idea here. You say that every time you open the word of God. Hey, come on in.

I'm going to learn something new. I want you to just, you don't have to knock. You don't have to hesitate. You don't have to stand there. Just come on in.

Come on in. And guess what? Truth will do that. You welcome it, it arrives and it strikes me that when truth walks in and you make it welcome and it moves in, it always travels in a party.

In fact, it never travels alone. Truth happens to have some really good friends that trail along wherever he goes. And John introduces us to three of them here. Verse three, grace, mercy and peace will be with us.

Do you notice that repetition? Truth, verse two, will be with us. Now grace, mercy and peace will be with us.

They're welcome too. They're part of your life as well. Now to change the analogy a little bit, because you've accepted the truth of Christ. You're open to the truth of God's word. You believe the gospel of truth about Christ.

The truth delivers when it arrives and takes up residency in your life. It offers to you three gifts. And I want you to notice that John isn't delivering to this woman this hypothetical wish that, you know, I really hope you get the gift of grace. It would really be wonderful if you'd get the gift of mercy and you're really sweet if you got a little peace along the way. No, he's not writing this as a hypothetical statement.

He's writing this as a statement of fact. And I don't want to bore you with grammar, but John uses a future indicative tense which can be understood to mean you shall have it. You shall have grace, mercy and peace. And it has that nuance and you shall have it forever.

Again, back to this. You have the truth and it will remain with you forever. You have grace, mercy and peace and that's going to stick with you forever as well. You have it. You have it right now, beloved.

Cheers. You don't have to, you know, keep your devotions five days in a row to get a little grace. Maybe if you've been good and you've kept your nose clean, you'll get a little mercy. No, you've got it all because you've accepted the truth of Christ in his gospel. These three gifts are opened in your life and you discover fresh facets about them when you obey and apply the truth of God's word. How could John be so confident writing this anonymous woman that she has this? How can he be so sure that they're not going to slip through her fingers? How can you be certain of their permanency? He's certain of their permanency because notice their source happens to be deity.

Look again. Grace, mercy and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. Interesting phrase. He's hinting at what he's going to deal with a little later on in this letter as he warns her of false teachers who deny Jesus' deity.

We'll get there. For now, both Father and Son are involved in bestowing upon the redeemed these gifts of grace, mercy and peace. He repeats that little preposition from God, from Jesus Christ, which stresses, by the way, the fact, and this is a doctrinal treatise here, it stresses the fact that they are separate persons. They are separate personalities and yet they are both co-equal. They are both co-eternal. They are both the source of grace, the source of mercy, the source of peace. In fact, he's going to say a little later on in the letter that you don't get one without the other.

When you get both, you get them at the same time and, of course, the spirit of truth resides within us. Imagine how these gifts would have impacted a woman living in the first century, just living as a widow with the uncertainties of the future and a culture going from bad to worse, upside down, love redefined, lost its grip on right and wrong, sounds a lot like your world and mine. Let me state it another way and in the form of a third principle, lasting gifts from the God of truth are grace, mercy and peace.

Let's spend the balance of our time unwrapping these gifts very, very quickly. You have first the gift of grace. That word, caris, refers to unearned favor. In the day of this widow, caris was something someone did that was good for someone who could not pay them back.

We get that. But what we don't know is in the first century, outside of scripture, caris was used for someone who did something good for someone who could not pay them back, who happened to be their friend. Now you bring it into the New Testament and caris radically changes. It's something God did that was good for someone who could not pay him back, who happened to be his enemy. At enmity with God, the unbeliever is at war with God until he surrenders. If you think that's an exaggeration, go out there and describe the true and living God to people and they'll become angry or upset.

They'll put you off. That's not the God I want. The sinners with nothing to offer Jesus Christ come by faith to him and are saved by grace, nothing of ourselves. There's nothing attractive, nothing appealing, nothing can be offered. We can't pay for it. We can't earn it. We don't deserve it.

Here is my gift to you. Grace. We simply receive him and he takes our sin and he casts our sins into the depths of the sea. Corrie Ten Boom used to say it this way, and when they are cast into the depths of the sea, they are forgiven and they are forgotten and God posts a sign nearby that says no fishing allowed.

And by the way, that's true for us too. Don't go fishing back there. Don't go fishing.

Nothing good will come out of that expedition. The second gift is the gift of mercy. Mercy. That carries the nuance of compassion and help for the needy. Do you think this woman was needy?

Do you think this woman suffered? This is the idea of mercy. Mercy robes itself in compassion. The Apostle Paul informs us in Ephesians chapter 2 verse 4 that God is rich in mercy.

What a great text. What is God rich in? He's rich in mercy. And even though God deposits in your bank account of life and mine mercy, even though he does it every single morning, Lamentations chapter 3 tells us. We sang about it earlier.

We rehearsed those lyrics. He deposits from his account into your account every single morning the mercy you need. He is at no time any less rich.

It is never depleted. It's not like I gave Stephen a little mercy and I worked some more back up. He is always and completely filled with mercy. That's who he is. Finally John informs this woman and us that the companion of truth is peace.

Really? If this widow knew anything, she knew that peace wasn't part of a Roman world. It isn't part of the world. It's a word that's sort of tossed around. It's a pursuit. It's a hope.

It's not a reality. I couldn't help but think that this year is the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I and the establishment of the League of Nations which would ensure world peace. It lasted about 10 years. And then another 10 years a madman had engulfed the world with another world war. See, people want peace today without the prince of peace. I have read that in the last 400 years alone there have been an estimated 8,000 peace treaties among nations and countries and the average life expectancy or durability of any one of those peace treaties on average is less than 24 months.

That's it. It led one author to write peace is when everybody stops fighting to reload. It's quiet for a moment. You see peace is not something mankind can create. Peace is something God can give.

It's a gift. In fact, the word for peace here, Irenae, means literally to bind together. Only God can do that. Only God can do that. What John is writing about is the fact that the Lord Jesus made a peace treaty with God the Father and thus could offer it to the world. It's possible by virtue of his death on the cross it was written at the empty grave it was ratified and you can sign your name to it by faith in that one who died for you and rose for you. It's written in his blood and thus your signatures are read. Therefore, being justified by his blood, we have peace with God.

Romans 5.1. Peace treaties signed. By the way, that peace treaty between you and God isn't going to last 24 months. It will last how long? Forever. You sure it's not going to slip through our fingers?

No. It's eternal. The word is also used, of course, for a practical peace, a daily peace. When things are chaotic, externally there is inward peace as we focus our minds, as we battle our thoughts and our doubts and we return over and over and over again to who God is and what his word says and what he has promised and he cannot tell a lie.

Titus 1. Isaiah the prophet said it this way that thou will keep him in perfect peace, this practical peace. His mind is fixed, anchored, stayed on thee. Even when things don't seem to last, in the end, what we learn here from John the apostle are the things that matter most will be proven to last forever. Now he ends this paragraph.

Let me drop in and make this one comment. He ends it again within truth and love. Because of truth and the love we share, we can hang our hats here. Alexander McLaren, a pastor from 100 years ago, wrote a sermon which I read on this text and he put it this way. He said that grace, mercy and peace are perpetually flowing like a river from the throne of God flowing between the banks of truth and love.

It's good isn't it? These are unchanging, encouraging, forgiving, right now supporting, uplifting, traveling companions of yours. Grace, mercy and peace. And so friends, let's rest in the knowledge that there's a divinely determined path and because of that truth, we experience the blessings Stephen's been exploring today. Stephen Davey is your Bible teacher on this daily broadcast. He's the president of Wisdom International. There's a website where you can learn more about Stephen and our ministry. It's wisdomonline.org.

You'll be able to access all of our other resources from that website as well. In fact, because of your support of this ministry, people all around the world are able to benefit from this Bible teaching ministry in nine languages. Paul and Mary, a couple from Kenya, sent a note saying, we're glad to have come across your ministry online and we're so grateful for the ways that we've grown through listening. We pray for what the Lord has yet to do through wisdom.

Well, we're thankful for your prayers and for your support. If you'd like to send us a gift, you can do that online or call us at 866-48-BIBLE. If you prefer using the postal service, our address is wisdom international P.O.

Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. I hope we hear from you. When you call or visit our website, ask about obtaining a free membership in the group called Friends of Wisdom. We'll be back in 2nd John next time. Join us here on Wisdom for the Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-20 01:18:55 / 2024-02-20 01:27:46 / 9

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