“God Chose to Pay”
Step 4 in Simple Faith
February 15, 2009
Pastor Tom Shedd
Valentine’s Day was yesterday. Cards and candy.
Mary Lou and I went to dinner Friday night and attended a play. Last night I sang at the Valentine’s banquet at Bridge Bible Fellowship with a group of old friends from the Certain Sounds.
Today we’d like to share some Valentines with you as well. We’ll do that at brunch today.
Its fun to give and to receive gifts. Mary Lou and I are usually on the receiving end of gifts. As a pastor people understand that we have limited income, and every once in a while someone will do something for us to help us out.
Larry likes to surprise us with stuff every once in a while. He’ll take us for pizza to the Sinatra room, or he’ll send a little care package of chocolate to Mary Lou.
It’s a bit humbling to be on the receiving end, but we have learned that it is a part of the ministry, and we are genuinely thankful for the help. The Lord has provided for us in many unexpected ways over the last few years, and nearly always it has been through generous gifts of people who care about us.
Recently we had a chance to help someone else, and it was a wonderful experience. We were able to help with a medical expense for someone who had need. We chose to pay. That’s a wonderful place to be -- when you can choose to pay for something that you don’t need to pay for.
My prayer in regard to our finances, both for us personally and for the church, is that we will be faithful givers and that the Lord will supply what we need when we need it.
There are always more toys than there is money. We’d like to buy a house someday. We’d like a car for Anna to drive to school, we’d like to replace the TV in our room with an HD flat screen. You know how that goes - new computers, new TV’s, new cars, new clothes, trips, other property. I wonder sometimes if I had the income of Kobi Bryant, would it be enough. There is always something else to buy.
But I do pray that the Lord might allow me to have enough to really help others and make a difference. I’d like to have enough to help a mission succeed in their vision. I’d like to provide good water to a community that doesn’t have it. I’d like to purchase computers for a community so children can learn and become connected with the world. I’d like to travel -- I’d like to teach music someplace where the students would really like to learn. I’d like to share the gospel in places where sharing the gospel is difficult.
And so we work and we plan. How will God accomplish these things in us as citizens of the Kingdom of God?
First, through prayer. If we don’t ask we won’t receive.
Second, through careful planning. The man who turned ten talents into twenty was given even more responsibility and opportunity.
Third, through hard work. We are servants in the Kingdom as well as sons and daughters. Work that we like to do hardly seems like work, yet it needs to be done. We want to pray that God will allow us to do the work that we want to do.
God seems to have gifted me as a vision person and administrator. Sometimes I get too far out in front of the troops and I start to look like the enemy. Sometimes I get loaded down and I drag behind and people wonder who is leading the charge.
But for the most part in my life, I have not been afraid to say, “You know we could do?” And when people who are ready and willing to jump in surround me, we have had opportunity to make some wonderful things happen.
It is in this spirit that I am hoping to guide us into a campaign to present the Simple Faith of the gospel to our community in the weeks leading up to Easter.
I am working with Brett on the booklet, and I hope to get it to the printer at the end of this week so that we have it in our hands March 12, which is one month before Easter.
I am also trying to coach volleyball and do a fundraiser for American Cancer Society and Northridge Academy Volleyball Club.
But hopefully, we will have four weeks before our Easter Sunrise service.
Why do we want to do this? Because we have to? Because we feel guilty? Because we are commanded to?
No, not really. Because we want to. God is great -- He is our Heavenly Father, He is our friend, He is our King, He is our Provider, He is our Comforter. He gives us eternal life; He gives us spiritual gifts; He wants us to pray, and listens to our prayers.
Living with God is a wonderful thing! Its cool! It’s a privilege! It elevates our existence to a higher plane. It moves us beyond simply providing for ourselves and takes us to the realm of being Kingdom workers accomplishing the Kings’s desires. What is especially wonderful is that the King is not an idiot. He is not selfish. He is not trying to gain political power. He is loving, gracious, just, fair, and interested in our good.
There is an enemy that does not want us to succeed. The enemy is the personification of evil. Not only is our sin nature a threat to our success in the Kingdom, so is the devil and his legions. But greater is he who is in us that he who is in the world. Praise God! So we don’t have to contend with the devil and his forces -- that is God’s job. Our job is to pray and to work.
This is living with a Kingdom perspective. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have opportunity to communicate Simple Faith to the world.
1 The Kingdom of God is huge and is for you.
2 God chose choice.
3 Choice has consequences.
4 God chose to pay.
5 We can choose.
Last week we talked about the consequences of choice. When we make good choices we are blessed. When we make bad choices we face consequences.
We talked about the importance of Law. Law is necessary in every society to protect people from the bad choices of others and to bring fair judgment against those who break the Law.
When we break the law, we have to pay penalties.
It can be as simple as having to pay a traffic ticket when we speed.
It can be more complicated and costly if we cheat on our taxes.
We can have to serve time in prison for serious offenses.
But what happens if we break the Law of God? Are there judgments? Are there penalties?
1) The judgments and penalties for breaking God’s Law.
Yes, there are judgments. Yes, there are penalties. If there were not, God would not be just. But God is just; therefore there must be teeth to the Law of God. Judgments and penalties are necessary for law, and that is certainly true in the spiritual realm as well as the temporal realm.
A) The Law of God has consequences for disobedience.
The 10 Commandments -- representative of the Law.
20:1 ¶ Then God instructed the people as follows:
2 “I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt.
3 “Do not worship any other gods besides me.
4 “Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish.
5 You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god! I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations.
6 But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.
7 “Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work,
10 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any kind of work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.
11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
12 ¶ “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God will give you.
13 “Do not murder.
14 “Do not commit adultery.
15 “Do not steal.
16 “Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17 “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns.”
The Golden Rule - a summation of the Law.
Matt. 22 - 34 ¶ But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they thought up a fresh question of their own to ask him.
35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question:
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
B) Temporal consequences.
The law in the desert during the Exodus had rigid penalties because there were no jails or prisons.
The establishment of Law in Israel at first was through judges and then through Kings. The system of administering the Law changed as the circumstances of the people changed.
Every culture establishes laws. Some law systems predate the Law of Moses. There are systems of law in every country on earth. In the US there is national law, state law, county law, city law, even community standards. There are other laws for how your business runs. There are laws for what is appropriate at school and what is not. In every situation there are consequences if you do not abide by those laws.
The players covenant for volleyball players at NAHS. If they break the team rules they may get benched.
The Law of God is different that our national laws even though our national laws might be built on the Law of God. There are things that God is concerned about that might not be a part of local law.
Moral and ethical issues concern God.
Look at the 10 commandments. Not all of those things are punishable by civil law -- in fact, very few are. Of the ten, only murder and stealing are covered. The other 8 are not covered by civil law.
Does God judge his own law independently of civil law?
Yes, He does.
God disciplines us as a Father disciplines his children. Proverbs 3;
11 My child, don’t ignore it when the LORD disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you.
12 For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
5 And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you.
6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.”
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined?
8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all.
9 Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever?
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness.
11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So God does judge during our lives. He disciplines us when we break His law.
C) The consequences of our choices follow us after we die.
After you die, does God look at your life?
Revelation - the judgments: Sheep & Goats; Wheat & Tares;
11 ¶ And I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide.
12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done.
D) The judgments of God are perfect.
Perfect knowledge. God knows everything. There is nothing that He doesn’t see. There is nothing that you can hide from Him.
Perfect justice. Every injustice has a penalty.
E) What are the penalties of God?
The penalty of sin is death.
What do we have to do to pay the penalties for our sin? What could we possibly offer?
2) Possible payments of penalty.
A) Even before Moses offerings and sacrifices were appropriate worship.
When the angel of the Lord visited Abraham with offer of covenant, Abraham offered sacrifice.
Abraham offered tithes to Melchizedek.
B) Offerings and sacrifices were codified in the Law of Moses: the sacrificial system.
Leviticus defines the system whereby the sacrifice of animals was given significance, as the blood of the animals would cover the repentant sinner. Don’t get grossed out -- remember we sacrifice animals every day for food, but don’t give significance to their death as we should. An animal had to die so I could have tacos.
C) The offering and sacrifice of Jesus was the ultimate offering and sacrifice in the Brilliant Plan of God.
The words of Jesus describing his mission
17:1 ¶ When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.
2 For you have given him authority over everyone in all the earth. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.
3 And this is the way to have eternal life--to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
4 I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do.
5 And now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
The book of Hebrews describes Jesus as both the offering for sin and also the High priest who alone can bring that offering.
Three theological terms:
The atonement is a doctrine found within both Christianity and Judaism. It describes how God can forgive sin. In Judaism, Atonement is said to be the process of forgiving or pardoning a transgression. This was originally accomplished through rituals performed by a high priest (Kohen) on the holiest day of the Jewish year: Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). In Christian theology the atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of sin through the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion which made possible the reconciliation between God and creation. Within Christianity there are three main theories for how such atonement might work: the ransom theory, the satisfaction theory and the moral influence theory.
In Christianity, Propitiation is a theological term denoting that by which God is rendered propitious, i.e., that 'satisfaction' or 'appeasement' by which it becomes consistent with His character and government to pardon and bless sinners. The propitiation does not procure His love or make Him loving; rather, it renders it consistent for Him to exercise His love towards sinners.
Substitutionary atonement is a doctrine in Christian theology which states that Jesus of Nazareth died – intentionally and willingly – on the cross as a propitiation, or substitute, for sinners. This doctrine presents Jesus' death as a supreme act of love for mankind, in order to bring people into a relationship with God. It stresses the vicarious nature of the crucifixion as being "instead of us". This vicarious and substitutionary nature of the atonement is expressed in Scripture verses such as "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness," (1 Pet. 2:24) and "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God," (1 Peter 3:18).
D) The offering and sacrifice of Jesus brought a paradigm shift in the new church.
The difficulty for Jews - what about the Law?
The difficulty for non-Jews? what about the Law?
Funny - same question, but from very different angle.
For Jews: had the law before, now what.
For non-Jews: didn’t have the law before, now what?
Still an issue today for believers in Israel. What should be the relationship to the Law for one who comes to faith in Yeshua ha meshiah?
E) The unforgivable sin.
Only one sin which cannot be forgiven -- the sin of not choosing the offer of God.
Why? Because there is no mechanism for dealing with that sin. There is no way to atone for that sin. There is no way the payment can be applied to the account without violating choice, and choice is one of the foundational principles of the Kingdom.
You can’t have choice and also not choice at the same time over the same issue. At least it doesn’t seem possible. If it were possible for God to simply choose to apply the atonement to everyone, then God would do it because He is good or He wouldn’t do it because He is not good, but He would not be arbitrary about it. That wouldn’t be fair. He would be unjust.
But if God allows choice, then He doesn’t force atonement on anyone. But he offers it for us to choose. It is the way He created the universe consonant with His character and attributes. It is the way it is because He is the way He is.
Thus atonement is offered to all, but is efficacious only to those who choose to accept it.
3) The short-term and long-term benefit of God’s payment.
A) Short -term advantages - life before death.
No guilt. As we continually ask the Lord for help, he offers us cleansing from our sin.
B) Long-term advantages - life after death.
Living in God in the Kingdom doesn’t end with our death. Death is a simply a transition to the eternal nature of the Kingdom.
C) Avoiding long-term disadvantages like living without God in whatever Hell is about.
God chose choice.
Choice has consequences.
God chose to pay the penalty for bad choices.
We choose to accept it.
We can’t pay for sin ourselves. We have no currency with which to make the payment. We have no leverage with which to negotiate.
So God did. He has the will, He has the capability, He has the perfect plan, so He did it.
Next week we’ll talk about choosing God.
Today we’re going to remember the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin through the elements of communion.