Cultivating by Dr. Abidan Shah

CULTIVATING by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  As some of you know, we moved to the church parsonage about 22+ years ago; then, 10 years ago, we bought our new home. We instantly fell in love with it, especially the beautiful garden around the front of the house. My favorite were the beautiful rose bushes because they reminded me of my dad’s garden. One thing I remember him doing was walking around with a pair of shears and trimming away dead branches, damaged stems, and any places that had disease spots. He would cut them diagonally for the water intake. I thought to myself that I needed to do the same. So, I found a pair of garden shears and trimmed the rose bushes. It was about springtime before the bloom began. It was beautiful! We had the flowers until fall. As winter was coming, I thought to myself, “Why not cut them early? This way, they will really bloom in the spring. No need to wait.” Guess what? Spring came and all my rose bushes were dead. I had killed them. Thank God he doesn’t do that with us! Main point: God the Father prunes and cultivates us in order that we may bear more fruit. He also removes the dead branches that appear to be connected to the vine but are not. To reject Christ is to be severed from him forever. On the contrary, to receive Christ is to be sealed unto him forever with abundant fruits.

John 15      1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

Context:  The passage we just read has been a topic of argument for quite some time. What does it mean in verse 2 when Jesus said, Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away…” Does that mean that if a believer is fruitless over time that God will remove him from Christ? Does that mean that a fruitless Christian can lose his/her salvation? What does this do to the doctrine of eternal security? Typically, these questions are answered by either saying “Yes, a person can lose his/her salvation for being fruitless” or “No, that is not the point of the parable.” To answer these very important questions, we need to keep in mind both the immediate context of John 15 and the overall context of the Farewell Discourse of Jesus from John 13-17. First, the immediate context is the Old Testament imagery of Israel being the vine of God. Remember, the passages we studied in the last message from Jeremiah 5, Ezekiel 18, Psalm 80, Hosea 10, and Jeremiah 2. Based on the vine imagery, the more fruit were souls. Israel was given the task of being a fruitful vine by bearing righteous branches and even graft branches of other peoples who would also become righteous and fruitful before God. Unfortunately, Israel failed, and Jesus came to be the “true vine.” I gave you some verses last time from Jesus’ own words that this was the intended purpose. Here’s one more. As Jesus stood before Pilate, and he asked in John 18:37 “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Through Jesus, we can win more souls into the kingdom of God. There are no limits between Jewish people and Gentiles.

But, don’t forget the overall context. This parable was given in Jesus’ Farewell Discourse from John 13-17. Remember, the south view of Jerusalem with Mount Zion on the west and Mount of Olives on the east. In the middle was the Kidron Valley. Jesus celebrated the Last Supper on Mount Zion and then made his way through the streets of Jerusalem, maybe past the Temple, and down the Kidron Valley. Somewhere here, he gave the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. But, let’s back up to that upper room. There are somethings Jesus said that helps us understand the vine and branches imagery. Let’s pick up when he began washing their feet and came to Peter. John 13      6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” 8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” 10   Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

Let’s pause here. What did Jesus mean by that? The Greek word for clean is “katharos.” Keep that in mind. When did Jesus clean them? This was obviously not at the foot washing or even their baptism. We have to go back to the synagogue in Capernaum inJohn 6      53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68   But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. The disciples were cleansed by receiving Jesus’ words except Judas.

In other words, Judas did not believe, but he hung around. Just like people do today. Maybe to see what comes next. Maybe to steal from their money box. In the New Testament church, there was Simon Magus, who was baptized, and Demas, who served with Paul.

Application: How about you? Are you a disciple or are you just hanging around? Have you truly believed, or are you just waiting to see how things turn out? Are you cleansed?

Back to John 13     11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Judas was really on Jesus’ heart because he keeps talking about Judas! 19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. 20 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” 21 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. 25 Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Matthew’s gospel adds another detail – Matthew 26      23 He (Jesus) answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” How many opportunities he was given to return to Christ! If there had been a whimper of a cry from Judas – “Lord, save me” – like Peter, God would’ve found another way. The information we have is through foreknowledge not some foreordination. 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”

Now, let’s return to John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The English doesn’t tell us, but there is a play on words in Greek here. The word for take away is “airei” and the word for prunes is “kathairei.” The words can be used in agriculture world, but not necessarily, especially the first one. The point is this: the words are connected. The passage is not about eternal security. It is about true connection to Jesus. Judas was never truly connected to Jesus, unlike the other disciples. His fate is found in 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” Judas went out and hung himself. How about the other disciples? John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Guess what the Greek word is for “clean”? “katharoi.” Peter also stumbled that night, followed when he was not supposed to and denied Christ three times. But he was close enough to catch Jesus’ eye, and he went out and wept bitterly. About 50 days later, on the day of Pentecost, he won 3000 souls on his first message!

So many layers of meaning. Their acceptance of Jesus had made them clean. Their decision to follow was the evidence they were clean. The Father keeps cleansing those who accept Jesus and follow him by grounding them even more in the truth about Jesus. As a result, they keep shining his light and bear more and more fruit, which are souls.

Invitation: How about you? Are you clean? What decision do you make? Are you like Judas, just hanging around? You will be taken away. If you know Jesus as Savior and King, you will become more and more connected to him, bearing abundant fruits. The Are you bearing fruits/souls?

Someone said, “The same sun that melts wax also hardens clay.”

All-Sufficient by Dr. Abidan Shah

ALL-SUFFICIENT by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Sometime back in our series titled “Contend,” we played a portion of the sound recording of the crew of Apollo 8 reading from Genesis 1 on Christmas Eve, 1968. The following year, July 20th, 1969, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong stepped out and said the famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant step for mankind,” before the preparations began to exit the Eagle, Buzz Aldrin actually celebrated the communion. Because the previous year, Madalyn Murray O’Hair had sued the US Government for the Genesis 1 reading, Aldrin simply announced on the radio that everyone should “give thanks in his or her own way,” but he silently read John 15:5 and then took the Communion. The passage we are focused on in this series is no ordinary one. It has meant a lot to a lot of people. Today, we will see why. Main point: Christ is all-sufficient for all our essential needs. He is not just one among many sources. He is not just next in line of the many sources. He is not just better than all the other sources. He is the only true, promised, and ultimate source of all-sufficiency.

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Context: When people come to this passage, they take one of two approaches. Some take the viticulture or horticulture approach: Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. To understand this passage, we need to understand gardening or farming. Nothing wrong with this approach, but I don’t believe that’s all God intended. Others take more of a theological approach. They hear echoes of Exodus 3    13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” So, when they read a passage like this, it immediately confirms to them the doctrine of Jesus being fully God. That is true in passages like “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM,” but that’s not the only way “I am” is used in the Gospel of John. Sometimes, it is simply a way of speaking. Again, nothing wrong with either of those approaches, and we will use them in our series, but this passage and 6 others in John have a much deeper meaning. They are God’s answers to all our deep, essential, and universal needs.

Application: Have you ever thought about what it is that you and I really need? When we go shopping, I have to ask that question: “Do I really need that?” Sometimes the answer is “No, I just want it.” Then, Nicole will remind me about what we really need!

One of John’s purposes was to show that Jesus is the only true, promised, and ultimate source of all-sufficiency for all our deep, essential, and universal needs. These needs were experienced by God’s people Israel, and they demonstrated them for our benefit. In other words, Israel became God’s object lesson for all of us, along with being the vehicle through whom the answer came. Don’t penalize them for their failures. They had to answer to God for that, but we thank God for them and believe that they still have a future and a hope in God’s promises.

So, what are the needs and how were they ultimately met in Christ?

  1. Sustenance – “I am the Bread of life.”

John 6:35   And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst….48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

The point is that we are now to feed upon Christ every day.

  1. Direction – “I am the Light of the world.”

John 8:12   Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus said these words at the Feast of the Tabernacles when they were celebrating their wilderness journey of how God led them with a pillar of fire by day.

The point is that we are now to follow Christ our light in the wilderness.

  1. Protection – “I am the Door for the sheep.”

John 10      7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

  1. Provision – “I am the Good Shepherd.”

John 10      11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”

Both #3 and #4 are a reminder of the false shepherds (prophets, priests, and kings) who had misled the sheep (God’s people) – Ezekiel 34       1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered…9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! 10 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.” 11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out…23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.”

The point is that Jesus, the son of David, is our gate and Shepherd.

  1. Sorrow and Death– “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

If you read the Old Testament, sometimes it feels like a big, long obituary, starting in the Book of Genesis. Even Job yearned for that day in Job 19     25 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

This was certainly the hope of the people of Israel.

The point is that Jesus, is our hope from Sorrow and Death.

  1. Sin – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

We don’t have enough time to discuss the problem of sin among God’s people!

Again, Jesus was the fulfillment of the ages long wish of God’s people.

  1. Fruits“I am the True Vine.”

Here, the emphasis is on “alethine” or true vine. Israel was supposed to be the vine, but she failed.

  • Psalm 80 8 “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it…15 And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted, and the branch that You made strong for Yourself. 16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.”
  • Hosea 10. 1 Israel empties his vine; He brings forth fruit for himself. According to the multitude of his fruit He has increased the altars; According to the bounty of his land They have embellished his sacred pillars. 2 Their heart is divided; Now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars;He will ruin their sacred pillars.
  • Jeremiah 2:21 “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?”
  • Ezekiel 17 6 And it grew and became a spreading vine of low stature; its branches turned toward him, but its roots were under it. So it became a vine, brought forth branches, and put forth shoots. 7 “But there was another great eagle with large wings and many feathers; and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him, and stretched its branches toward him…9 “…Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots, cut off its fruit, And leave it to wither? All of its spring leaves will wither, and no great power or many people will be needed to pluck it up by its roots.”
  • Isaiah 5 1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved a song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. 2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. 3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?

In each of these places, the vine imagery was to highlight the failure of Israel to be God’s vine. Don’t misunderstand. God still has promises towards ethnic Israel. But, Jesus has become the true vine for us to bear fruits.

Invitation: Jesus is the only true, promised, and ultimate source of all-sufficiency for all our deep, essential, and universal needs. Are you looking to him? Are you connected to him? Are you looking to other sources for your needs? Do you know Christ? Are you saved?

Abundant by Dr. Abidan Shah

ABUNDANT – 1 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  How many of ya’ll were up at 12 midnight to welcome the new year? How many were up past 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? I was up in body but sleep in spirit. Someone said, “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up for New Year’s. Middle age is when you’re forced to!” At the close of each year, we pray that God will show us his direction in the upcoming year. As we were praying and seeking God’s direction in 2022, the word “Abundant” came to us – abundant in our church; abundant in our family; abundant in our marriage; abundant in our children and grandchildren’s lives; abundant in our work; abundant in our community; and abundant in our personal life. Don’t misunderstand. By abundant, we don’t mean more money, success, and happiness. Although all that is wonderful and we want that, but here we’re talking about being abundant in bearing fruits for God’s kingdom. Main point: As we embark upon this theme of “Abundant” in the new year, it is vital that we know that “Abiding is the key to Abundance.” It is only when we remain in Christ by loving and obeying him that we bear much fruit.

John 15       1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Context: The passage we just read comes in the middle of what’s known as the “Farewell Discourse” in the Gospel of John. Keep in mind: All four gospels talk about the final night of Jesus with his disciples before he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, taken to be tried before the chief priests, the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, and then unjustly crucified; but only two of them have a “Farewell Discourse” on the night before he was taken when he gave them his final instructions. They are Luke and John. Our focus is of course on John’s Farwell Discourse, which is 15% of the Gospel. By the way, Farewell Discourse is a special genre or literary form that is found in some ancient writings and even the Old Testament. They are the final words of a famous or important person. In secular works, examples are the final words of Socrates (Plato) and Pericles (Plutarch). In the Old Testament, examples are the final words of Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and David. They have a certain pattern to them: reference to their coming death; review of their life; encouragement to press on; predictions or prophecies about the future; final warnings; and final blessings or prayer. Amazingly, the same pattern is found in the Farewell Discourse of Jesus in Luke and John but with some very important differences. Unlike secular works where many of the deaths in the pagan literature were suicide, Jesus was not headed to commit suicide. He was headed to fulfill God’s plan of redemption by giving his life on the cross for the sins of every human being. Unlike the Old Testament works, the focus was not on God’s faithfulness in the past but on Jesus himself. Jesus was much more than just some beloved guru who was about to be killed. He was the Son of God about to change the destiny of countless with his sacrifice on the cross. His Farwell Discourse tops all the rest. There is a reason why I spent this time giving you an overview of Farewell Discourses – They are very important. They must be read with extra care and detail.

Although, our focus will be on John 15 for the next couple of weeks, I want to spend some time today showing how it fits in the Farewell Discourse in John and then lead into the communion. There are 5 key words to remember:

  1. Service

Unlike the other gospels, John did not give the words of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. Instead, he described something else.

John 13      3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

This is not something that the other famous people ever did. When asked why, he responded in John 13      12 “…Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Before we can talk about bearing abundant fruit, we must learn to serve like Jesus. It is in service that we find fruits.

Application: Do you understand what it means to serve others, especially in the family?

  1. Glory

At this point Jesus began to warn them that there was a betrayer among them. Immediately, Matthew wrote in his gospel that they began to question – “Is it I?” Then Jesus identified Judas as being the one and Satan entered him and John 13:30 “…he then went out immediately. And it was night.” Then technically begins the Farewell Discourse – 31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, “Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Instead of being obedient, Peter wanted to be part of the glory, but this was not his task. He got into trouble not for denying Jesus but for disobeying him. John 13      36Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” 38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.”

True glory is in obedience.

Application: Do you see the danger of envy and self-glory? Do you know when you are trying to run ahead of God?

  1. Promises

John 14      2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

John 14     15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.

Application: Do you believe that you are never left an orphan? Do you recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Now Jesus told them that it was time to go from the upper room, possibly on Mount Zion towards the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives. John 14:31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. Here comes John 15. In other words, John 15 was spoken around 10-11pm as they were walking by moonlight. Three possibilities have been suggested by commentators:

  • They still talked for a while before they left because John 18:1 tells us again that they went out.
  • They walked past the Jerusalem temple. According to the Middot, “A golden vine stood over the entrance to the sanctuary, trained over posts; and whosoever gave a leaf, or a berry, or a cluster as a freewill-offering, he brought it and the priests hung it thereon.” Maybe they stopped by there and talked about John 15.
  • They walked down the hillside of Jerusalem and there were probably vineyards that they had to walk past before they crossed the Kidron, and Jesus must have stopped by there and spoken those words.

We will see this entire section in the weeks ahead.

Main thing to remember is that “Abiding is the key to Abundance.”

Application: Do you understand that in order to bear fruit, you have to remain in him? To remain means to love and obey him. Do you love and obey him?

  1. Persecution

John 16     1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Application: Do you know that the life of abundance will have tribulations?

  1. Intercession

John 17      1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

John 17        9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

John 17:20   “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

If you think about it, the disciples probably ran past some of these stops in the Kidron Valley and on the hill towards Jerusalem after Jesus was betrayed.

Application: Did you know that Jesus prayed for you on the night before he was betrayed in his Farwell Discourse? Do you know him? Are you saved?

Proclaim: Part Two by Dr. Abidan Shah

PROCLAIM 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

PROCLAIM 2

Introduction:  Have you ever felt isolated? I’m not talking about just lonely but stranded alone. I’m reminded of the movie “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks who plays a FedEx employee stranded on an uninhabited island when his plane crashed in the South Pacific. At first, he had a rough time finding food, water, shelter, and even building a fire; but, in time, he learned to survive. His only friend was a Wilson Volleyball that was in one of the packages. He drew a face on it and called him Mr. Wilson. It became his only companion. He would talk to it and even get angry with it. He took it along on the makeshift raft when we tried to sail back. The most intense scene in the movie was when he lost the ball, his only friend, in a storm. At that point, he lost all hope. As traumatic as that scene was, it cannot compare to how Adam and Eve must have felt after sin came in and God was no longer with them as before. Can you imagine the isolation and desolation? Main point: We were created to walk in fellowship with God. Unfortunately, sin has separated us from him, leaving us stranded alone. Jesus came to reconcile us to God through his sacrifice on the cross. He is Immanuel, God with us.

Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Matthew 1      22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Context: Last weekend, we learned that we need to go beyond the big gifts under the tree and look through the stockings. Here we find such wonderful truths like “Jesus came not only to rescue us from the penalty of sin, but also to save us from the repercussions of sin.” Today, I want us to see something else in the stockings – “Jesus came to reconcile us to God so that we are back in fellowship with him and no longer alone.” To understand this, we need to go back to the Garden of Eden. Prior to the fateful day when they ate the forbidden fruit, God would come and walk with them in the “leruach hayyom,” lit. “at the wind/breeze of the day.” It referred to some point after mid-afternoon when the sun’s heat had gone down and there was possibly a nice breeze blowing. This was not a one-time deal because the verb “mithallek” means a pattern or habit of walking. In other words, this was their custom everyday – God came down and Adam and Eve walked with him every evening. This all came to an abrupt halt when they disobeyed God and were kicked out of the Garden. Can you imagine the day after?

  • Can you imagine around mid-afternoon when the same familiar breeze was blowing, but they could no longer hear the footsteps?
  • Can you imagine Adam hoping against hope that maybe God will come down and walk with them again?
  • Can you imagine Eve thinking “maybe God is busy today, but surely he’ll come tomorrow,” but tomorrow comes and still no God?
  • Can you imagine the loneliness, the emptiness, and the hopelessness they must have felt?

Principle: Sin separates us from God. There is a God sized vacuum in our hearts. We can try to fill it with friends, family, hobby, goals, but it will never work. Without God, we will remain lonely, empty, and hopeless.

Application: Is that you? Are you lonely, empty, and hopeless?

But, in the midst of the judgment, God had promised them the cure in Genesis 3:15“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” In other words, God’s presence will return when the “the seed of the woman” crushes the head of the serpent. If you remember, in a previous message in this series, Eve thought that her son Cain was the one, but he was not. Again, she thought Seth would be the one, but he was not either. Little did she or Adam realize that this promise was still far away in the future. Days became months, months became years, years became centuries, and centuries became ages. Human beings long forgot what it was like to walk with God and have his presence in their lives. Time to time there was an Enoch – Genesis 5:24 “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”; a Noah – Genesis 6:9 “…Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God”; an Abraham who walked before God; and a Moses – Exodus 33:11“So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…” There were also times when God’s visible presence came before his people, as on Mount Sinai in the thunders, lightning, and thick cloud; then, through those forty years in the wilderness as the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Still in was not quite like the Garden of Eden.

Nonetheless, there were echoes of the promise in Genesis 3:15—

  • Genesis 16:11 And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael…”
  • Genesis 17:19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac…”
  • Judges 13:5 For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb…” His name was Samson.
  • 1 Samuel 1:20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel…”
  • 2 Samuel 12:24“…So she (Bathsheba) bore a son, and he called his name Solomon…”

Then, the echo became very clear in Isaiah. It was in a prophecy given by the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz, King of Judah, the Southern Kingdom during the Syro-Ephraimite War (735-732 BC). The southern kingdom was facing an attack from all sides: from the South from Edom; from the West from Philistia; from the North and the Northeast from Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom, also known as Israel) and Syria. They were all alone. Keep in mind, it was already determined and prophesied that the Messiah would come through the tribe of Judah, through the line of King David. God was going to protect his promise. So, God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to comfort him and give him a sign, but Ahaz had other ideas. He had already sent off his ambassadors to King Pul (Tiglath-Pileser) of Assyria, the kingdom north of Syria to get help. Instead of asking for a sign as God had instructed, Ahaz acted condescendingly towards Isaiah. Listen to Isaiah 7:13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also?” This is very important how Isaiah addresses Ahaz. He calls him “O house of David.” Meaning: God will still protect his promise, even though they will perish because of their lack of faith. How will God protect his promise? Isaiah 7:14“…Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Maybe King Ahaz’s wife or one of his harems was pregnant. This was a sign that the kings to the north will not be successful and that the line of David will continue through Ahaz’s son. I believe that it was probably his son who became King Hezekiah. Destruction did come. Listen to Isaiah 8       7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them the waters of the River, strong and mighty—The king of Assyria and all his glory; He will go up over all his channels and go over all his banks. 8 He will pass through Judah, He will overflow and pass over, He will reach up to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel. 9 “Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces! Give ear, all you from far countries. Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces; Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces. 10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand, For God is with us.” In other words, there was an immediate fulfillment, but a much greater fulfillment was still in the future. This was a virgin until conception, but one day in the future another young woman would bear a son who would be the Ultimate Son of David. The second would be a virgin even in conception. The echoes of the promise of Genesis 3:15 were still heard, but they were much much fewer now:

Hosea 1      8 “Now…she (Hosea’s wife) conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said: ‘Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.’”

Luke 1:13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Just when it seemed that all hope was gone, the echo got louder and louder. It was almost lost several times: Matthew 1      18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Jesus’ life and preaching was to do once again what he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden before they sinned. Have you wondered why he ministered for the three and a half years?

  • He walked with them and taught them.
  • He showed them how to live by faith.
  • He taught them how to obey
  • He was with them in their needs.
  • He was with them when they were hungry.
  • He was with them in the storms.
  • He even prepared them for the life with him when he would be physically gone – John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
  • He even promised them of the Holy Spirit whom he would send – John 16 5 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
  • As he was ascending, he said to them in Matthew 28 18 “…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

I can go on and on, but Romans 8      35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In my own life, God has proven this time and again. He has never left me.

Invitation: Is God with you? Are you with him? Have you received Immanuel as your Savior and King?

Proclaim by Dr. Abidan Shah

PROCLAIM by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Growing up, we did not have all the Christmas shopping and gift giving as we do in America. At the most, we would get a new set of clothes, a new shirt and a new pair of pants. That’s it. Imagine my shock when I was invited to a friend’s house for Christmas. They had boxes and boxes of gifts all around the tree and a couple of them had my name on it. Just when I thought that it was all done, the mom said, “Ok, now y’all can open your stockings!” Wait! There’s more?” They took down the socks from the fireplace, and they had more gifts in them! So also, when it comes to the gospel, just when you think this is it, there’s more. For the next 2 weekends, in light of Christmas, I want to PROCLAIM the “more” that came to us through Jesus Christ. Main point: The good news of salvation is that Jesus not only came to take the penalty of our sins, but he also came to free us from the repercussions of sin. Shame and blame, anger and fear, stubbornness and bitterness, little white lies and big fat lies, selfishness and self-worship are all coming from the Garden. The gospel also helps us overcome them.

Luke 4      17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Context: It was not coincidental that Jesus stood up to read the Old Testament in the synagogue in Nazareth and this passage from Isaiah was handed to him. It was quite intentional. This was an ancient prophecy regarding the mission of the Messiah. There is so much packed in there that we don’t have the time to get into this morning. For our message, I want to focus only on the statement – “to proclaim liberty to the captives.” The word for liberty in Hebrew is “derur.” It hints back to the book of Leviticus where slaves and debtors were to be set free every six years, the Year of Jubilee. The use of the same word here was about more than just physical slavery or financial debt. The idea was also about social, emotional, mental, and spiritual enslavement. In other words, the Messiah was coming to set people free from the bondage of sin. Listen to Paul in Titus 2     11 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” The Greek word for “redeem” is “lutrow,” which refers to the payment for the release of slaves. Same idea here as in Isaiah. But, what were we slaves to? Titus 3       3 “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Jesus came to take us from the life of a “doulos” (slave) to the life of a “kleronomos” (heir).

Principle: There are 2 kinds of lives. The life of slavery to sin and the heir life. The first is marked by foolishness, disobedience, deception, lust, self-serving, malice, envy, hateful and hating one another. The heir life comes from the cross, and it is lived face-to-face with Christ so that one becomes more like him emotionally, mentally, attitudinally, behaviorally, and relationally. It is possible to be saved and still live the life of slavery.

Application: Which life are you living? Are you still a slave to sin? Are you an heir/beneficiary according to the hope of eternal life?

To make the shift, you cannot do it the world’s way. Typically, the world’s answer to the sins is in 3 popular approaches (Ernie Baker):

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (Change your thinking, change your behavior)
  • Biomedical (Pharmacological treatment)
  • Maslow’s Need Theory (Basic needs are not being met – Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, Self-Actualization)

Ultimately, they blame either our Nature or Nurture for our bad behavior. Nature (Physiology) is our Body, our Brain Chemistry, our Neurotransmitters, and our Chemical Levels. Nurture (Environment) is our Family Upbringing, our Social Situation, and our Past Experiences. There is a lot of truth here, but there is still so much that they fail to answer. The true answer is found in the Garden of Eden. It all began there. Prior to the coming of sin, everything was “very good.” The relationship of human beings with each other, the relationship of human beings with nature, and the relationship of human beings with God was beautiful, pleasant, orderly, efficient, and morally good. By choosing to listen to the serpent/Satan, they chose to disobey God. They thought that God was holding out on them. They thought that he was keeping them from becoming all they could be. Suddenly, a false god had come in that promised more than the Living True God had promised. Ultimately, it was a problem with their worship. Ernie Baker, professor of biblical counselling, said, “Humans do not just have personality disorders, they have worship disorders.” Because of that all the other problems followed: Desire problems; Food Problem; Social Pressure Problem; Pain and suffering Problem; Relationship Problem; Sexual Temptation Problem; Blame Problem; Anger Problem; Unforgiveness Problem; Materialism problem; Selfishness Problem; etc.

How can we overcome these repercussions of sins? We must return to a life of true worship. This is why Jesus came. As we return our worship to where it belongs, then we will see a reversal of the repercussions of sin. Here are the 3 steps:

  1. Reorient your life towards the gospel.
  2. Seek to magnify God and obey his Word in everything.
  3. Surround yourself with those who seek the same.

Here are some passages that give the assurance of the new worship that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings:

Titus 3       4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

1 John 3:8 “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Colossians 1      13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Colossians 3         8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Romans 15       4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Invitation: Are you still struggling with the repercussions of the sins in the Garden? How is your worship? Do you know the Gospel? Have you received the Gospel? Are you surrounding yourself with those who seek to worship God?

First Gospel: The Cure by Dr. Abidan Shah

FIRST GOSPEL – THE CURE by Dr. Abidan Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, Duke and UNC, Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon, Steffi Graf and Gabriella Sabatini, Lebron James and Kevin Durant. What do all of these have in common? They are old rivals in their sport. They hate losing to each other. They talk junk about each other. Sometimes, many of these bitter rivals are actually best friends in private life. It is a publicity stunt. In today’s final message in our series called “First Gospel,” we are going to meet the oldest rivals in the history of the world. There is no publicity stunt here. This is as real as it gets. I am referring to Jesus and Satan. Main point: The ultimate rivalry is between Jesus and Satan. Unlike earthly rivalries, Satan is no match for Jesus. While Satan is just a fallen created being, Jesus is God’s Son, the King of kings, and he has already won the victory.

Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Context: In the past two messages, we learned that Adam and Eve had a choice. Either they could trust and obey God, or they could fall for the Enemy’s lies. Obviously, they chose what was wrong. Consequently, there were damages. There was a damage in the relationship between Adam and Eve. Then, there was a damage in the animal world, but it didn’t stop there. There was also a damage in the woman’s life, especially with regards to childbearing, and in the man’s life, especially with regards to work and harvest. In the midst of all these damages, God also had the cure to Adam and Eve’s predicament. Listen again to Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” There are 3 important things that that were part of the cure:

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Woman
  2. Enmity between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of the Woman
  3. Enmity between the Serpent and the Messiah

Let’s look at each of them carefully:

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Woman

Although, we looked at the actual dislike of snakes by women in the last sermon, as I mentioned last week, there is more involved here. Since Satan tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, there is now a natural dislike of Satan for women, and the women for Satan. Ladies – be careful. Satan still wants to deceive you. He will constantly try to get you to doubt your self-worth. Are you pretty enough? Are you smart enough? Are you successful enough? On the flip side, God has also given women the sense of discernment. Nicole can warn me about people even when I am gullible.

But there’s more: Revelation 12      1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. 7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” 13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Who is this woman? This is Israel in the Tribulation being harassed by Satan. All throughout history, Satan has gone after God’s people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hence, it is vital for us to stand with Israel. Right from the beginning God has warned us about this enmity.

  1. Enmity between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of the Woman

According to the curse on the Serpent, there will two groups of people in humanity: descendants of the Serpent and descendants of the Woman. The descendants of Satan are those who despise God and want to deceive others into disobeying God. These descendants are not biological but ideological. On the other hand, there are the descendants of the Woman. They are not perfect, but they seek to be like God. There will be hostility between these two groups. In the very next chapter, we meet the first brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain is warned – Genesis 4:7 “…And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Unfortunately, he chose to kill his brother. Then, we meet Esau and Jacob. Genesis 25      31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. After Jacob rightfully got Isaac to bless him, listen to Genesis 27:41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Then, Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him, but ended up selling him into slavery. Finally, the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt. Have you ever noticed what’s on Pharaoh’s miter/crown? Snake known as Uraeus. It was a symbol of power, authority, and even deity. Down through the ages, the hatred has continued, even at the time of Christ. John 8      39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

When you reject Christ as your Savior and King, you opt out of the family of the woman and opt into the family of Satan. How about you? Right from the beginning God has warned us about this enmity.

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Messiah

Not only does the seed (zera) have a collective meaning, but it also has a singular meaning. The noun can be both collective and individual. After the collective meaning earlier, this is now a singular meaning. In other words, this is about one coming to bring judgment over the Enemy for what he did. Something very important to understand: Satan does not know which woman. Neither does Eve know which son. Therefore, he has been going after the young ever since. So also, Eve thought that Cain was the one. Genesis 4:1 “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’” She was mistaken again in Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” Every woman had to raise every child as if he could be the one to break the curse. That’s why Paul said in 1 Timothy 2      14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

However, God was making it more and more specific – Genesis 12:7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants (seed) I will give this land.” Genesis 13      15 “for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”

How will the seed of the woman break the curse? “…He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” The Hebrew word “suph” means crush, bruise, or strike. One will be a lethal blow and the other just an injury. This is exactly what happened at the cross. Satan tried to strike his heel, thinking that he had killed Jesus. What he didn’t realize is that this was all part of God’s predetermined plan. As he was striking one heel, the other heel was being lifted and positioned bull’s eye over his skull. When Jesus rose from the grave, he crushed Satan’s head. He still has some life in him to harass believers and mislead the lost but not for long. His time is coming. In the meantime, Jesus has destroyed death and grave, powers and principalities, Even before the coming of Jesus, the Jewish Talmud talked about the “heels of the Messiah.”

Which seed do you belong to? Are you saved? Are you helping reaching others with the gospel? Are you taking the cure to others?

First Gospel: The Damage

FIRST GOSPEL – THE DAMAGE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  For the past few years, we have been blessed to take a trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Some of you have been there. It’s such a beautiful laidback place. We really enjoy going there. Last year, we went by a shopping center that had a boot store. I went in and asked for a size 11. The man brought it, and I put on the right leg. No trouble. Then, I tried to put on the left one and trouble began. It was impossible! I struggled and struggled. I finally got my foot in, and it loosened a little but not much. I even called a young man from church who had bought the same shoe sometime back, and I asked him if it was tight when he first got it. He said that it was actually loose, and he had to drop down a size. Now, I was really confused. The salesman tried to give me some pointers on how to break the boot in, but I didn’t think that was the problem. So, I asked him for a size 11 ½, and I began the process of removing the boot. The right was no problem, but the left was not going to come off. I thought it would be easier to chop my foot off! Finally, I got it off with the help of my boys. As I was putting it back in the box, I noticed on the bottom – size 9. Sure enough, right boot was 11, but left boot was 9. No wonder! Apparently, it was shipped that way by mistake. No amount of pushing and shoving would have solved that problem. So also, life in this world has been shipped this way since the Garden of Eden. It’s not that all of life is horrible, but there is a problem. All around us we can see and feel the impact of the Fall. We are in a series from Genesis 3 titled “First Gospel,” and today we come to the second message titled: THE DAMAGE. Main point: Life is wonderful, but it has been damaged by the fall. We try to enjoy life with the right foot, but repeatedly we are reminded by the left foot that not all of life is wonderful. Therefore, Jesus came – to fix what was damaged in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursedis the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”

Last weekend, we learned how the choice of Adam and Eve to take the forbidden fruit brought original sin into the world. In this message, we will survey the damage that came into this world because of that choice. Of course, we know the fundamental damages: break in the relationship between God and man; and break in the relationship between man and woman; physical and spiritual death; but there’s much more. Before we start listing all the damages because of the Fall, let me clear up a common misunderstanding from Genesis 1:31 “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” It is often assumed that “good” means “perfect,” but that’s not true. The Hebrew word for good is “tov.” The word has the idea of being beautiful, pleasant, orderly, efficient, and morally good. It was not some static and rigid state. Some people assume that there was no entropy before the Fall. Entropy has to do with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Sometimes it is called the “Law of Disorder” or the “Law of Decay.” Keep in mind that God made matter and energy in the first week of creation. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, “The total amount of mass-energy in the universe is constant.” In other words, “Energy is merely transformed from one form to another. It is neither created nor destroyed.” According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, “While energy is conserved, it becomes less useful over time.” In other words, “The amount of energy available for work is running out.”

Example: When you make your coffee in the morning, you add cold creamer to your hot coffee. Does your coffee get hotter or a little colder? It gets a little colder. The hot coffee loses some energy, but the creamer gains some energy. Energy is conserved. That’s the First Law of Thermodynamics. Here’s a question: When you pour the hot coffee into the cold mug, do you ever feel that the mug gets colder, or the coffee gets hotter? Heat is only transferred from hot to cold, and not vice versa. Energy is lost. That’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Important point: These laws did not begin after the Fall. They were there from the first day of creation, even the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Without the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the heat from the sun would not be transferred to the earth; Adam and Eve would be slipping as they walked in the Garden of Eden (friction helps us to remain stable); also breathing (movement of gas from high to a low pressure) and digestion (breaking down of complex food molecules) are all the results of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (Lee Anderson, Danny Faulkner). It is often claimed that Bible believers don’t understand scientific principles or that science contradicts the biblical account of creation. This is just not true. We believe that both the First and the Second Law of Thermodynamics line up with the biblical account of creation. Even in the sky, as good as things were before the fall, there were still craters on the moon, and supernovas and shooting stars occasionally. Someone may ask: If we believe that things were already running downhill or decaying before the Fall, doesn’t that mean that there was a “fall” before the Fall? It could be that God balanced out the energy until the Fall to keep diseases, suffering, and death away.

By the way, he has done that time to time for his people. Deuteronomy 8:4 “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.” Deuteronomy 29:5 “And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.” Joel 2:25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust…” Psalm 103      2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases…5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Application: Has the Lord done that for you? Can you see how the Lord has turned back time in your life?

So, what were the real damages due to the Fall? In the last couple of messages, we have seen what the Fall did to the relationship between the husband and the wife.

  1. Animal World

Genesis 3      14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Next week, we will focus on the real culprit behind the Serpent and the enmity between his seed and her seed. Here, I want us to see that God first cursed the serpent and then also all the animals. Why? Animals were supposed to be under the dominion of the man and the woman. They were created for the benefit of Adam and Eve. When they chose to harm them, led by the serpent, they were harmed in return. First, the serpent – more than likely, he walked upright initially, but God changed his DNA. Now he would slither on the ground, sign of an unclean animal. He was “arum” (subtle), but now he was “arur” (banned). I know some people have pet snakes, and that’s fine; but typically, people all over the world are terrified of snakes and want to kill them. Also, they do literally eat dust with their forked tongue. At the roof of the snake’s mouth is an organ called the “vomeronasal organ,” that detects chemicals, and the tongue carries samples from the dirt to the organ (Sarfati).

Also, the animal world turned against each other in the form of predator and prey. Many went from being herbivores to carnivores. In the end, this will be reversed. Isaiah 11      6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Isn’t that a beautiful world!

  1. Woman

Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

We’ve seen the second half of the verse, but how about the first? It refers to the entire process from pregnancy to childbirth. It is painful. This pain is not coming through some form of fear, but it is physically discomforting. The potential of pain may have been there before the Fall, but God balanced it out as we mentioned earlier. Now, things had changed, but it was not evil. Even Jesus talked about this: John 16     21 “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” Paul adds: 1 Timothy 2     14 “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” We’ll see that next week.

  1. Man

Genesis 3       17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.

A thorn is simply a leaf that is “tightly curled upon itself.” This was a product of the Fall.

 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

Now, the fruit trees would not be enough, he will have to become a farmer and sweat. Then, he will go into the same ground!

Romans 8      19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

There’s so much here! So much was damaged! This is why Jesus came, to undo the damage. Do you know him? Have you been saved from the damage? More damage is coming when you reject him.

Operation Restore: Part 2 by Dr. Abidan and Nicole Shah

OPERATION RESTORE – 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Every time I wear a white shirt, I get something on it. Anybody else has the same problem? I try to be as careful as possible, but it doesn’t fail. Then, I will send it to the dry cleaners, and it is as brand new as ever. This is not possible if I get bleach on it! Last weekend, we began this two-part series on marriage called “OPERATION RESTORE.” In our series on apologetics, we came to the section in Genesis 2 where God made the first man Adam from the dust of the ground, and then he fashioned Eve from Adam’s rib. At first, it was paradise, but in less than 7 verses, sin came in and their relationship fell apart. In today’s message, we will see what it will take for us to restore the joy, beauty, and purpose of marriage. Here’s the main point: Biblical Marriage is a two-person team where the husband leads by sacrificial love and the wife submits with godly respect. This is only possible where both have put on Christ, and the Spirit of Christ fills and empowers them.

Genesis 3       8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

Context: What a strange feeling this must have been for Adam and Eve! They were like children who had broken a precious vase, and now they were hiding from their parents. Apparently, God would come and walk with them in the “leruach hayyom,” lit. “at the wind/breeze of the day.” It means that it was at some point after mid-afternoon when the sun’s heat had gone down and there was possibly a nice breeze blowing. This was not a one-time deal because the verb “mithallek” means a pattern or habit of walking. In other words, this was their custom everyday – God came down and Adam and Eve walked with him every evening, except this one day, God came but Adam and Eve were nowhere to be found. In fact, a break had also come in their relationship with each other. The source of this was sin and Satan – Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”

I know this raises a lot of questions, but, in this message, our focus will be on marriage restoration. In the next few weeks, we will talk about other details. At this point, I’m going to invite Nicole to come and join me on the stage and talk from a woman’s perspective as to what happened.

Why did Eve eat the fruit?

NICOLE: Deceived

Genesis 3      1 “…And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Why did Satan go to Eve first? We don’t know for sure, but here are some suggestions:

  • Maybe, she was the innocent one. For starters, she was not suspicious of a talking snake! Everything was new and wonder-filled in Eden. She had no reason to be afraid or cautious.
  • Maybe, she was intrigued with the ability to choose like God. It symbolized freedom without submission to God. It represented equality with God. It gave the illusion of being in control of one’s own life and destiny.
  • Maybe, she was more spiritually minded than Adam: maybe she was designed by God to nurture the children in his fear and admonition; maybe to attain the glory of God (1 Corinthians 11:7 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”)
  • Maybe, she was designed to accommodate (women led false religion are “all ways are equal;” men led false religion are “outright denial of God”). Instead of Satan being a liar, she deemed God to be the liar.

Nonetheless, she was deceived. 2 verses in the New Testament clearly say that: 2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 1 Timothy 2:14 “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

Why did she eat the fruit? The Bible tells us! Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” If you compare this to 1 John 2:16, you can see a pattern – “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Very similar to how Satan later tempted Jesus also in Luke 4:1-12.

Application: If you don’t fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word, you are susceptible to the Enemy. Only with a mind full of God’s Word, there is no room for accommodation. Eve failed to defer to Adam’s headship. How about you ladies? Do you recognize your weaknesses? Are you filling your mind daily with the Word of God?

Why did Adam eat the fruit?

ABIDAN: Disobedience

Genesis 3:6 “…She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Did Eve deceive Adam? 2 reasons why Adam was not deceived:

  1. First, Adam was not present when Satan approached Eve. It seems as if Satan knew not to try that with Adam. Some people think that Adam was standing there the whole time. Grammatically, “the prepositional phrase ‘with her’ (immah), which we rendered as a clause, is first found at this point, strongly suggests that at the outset, when the temptation began, Adam was not with Eve but had only joined her at this time” (Leupold).
  2. Secondly, there’s nothing in the text that says that he was deceived. The Old Testament does not talk about this much, but the oldest book declares it clearly in Job 31:33“If I have covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding my iniquity in my bosom, 34Because I feared the great multitude, and dreaded the contempt of families, so that I kept silence and did not go out of the door.” In other words, Eve was not ultimately held responsible for opening the door to sin, but Adam was! She fell into sin, but Adam transgressed. The New Testament has couple of references to this: Romans 5 12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many…17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Also, 1 Corinthians 15      21 “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Application: Men, do you realize the sense of rebelliousness in us? Do you understand the responsibility that God has given to you? Do you see the consequences that follow when we do whatever we want? The reason Eve failed was because Adam did not stop the sin. So also, in your homes today.

How did sin impact them?

Genesis 3:7 “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”

Prior to fall, they were one flesh. When they saw each other, they saw “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. After the Fall, they saw the person who betrayed me and the person who I let down. Nakedness represents shame which is a by-product of guilt. Guilt towards God (unbelief – walking with God in the cool of the day previously), towards others (consequences – crime, immorality, suffering, pain, division, disease, and death), and towards each other (two flesh division, betrayal, blame). Genesis 3       9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

Two-fleshedness brought Selfishness, anger, and blame.

Is restoration possible for Marriage?

NICOLE:

Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Then God pronounced a curse on the serpent. Abidan will go over this in the week’s ahead.

Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” We understand sorrow and pain in conception and childbirth, but what does that mean “your desire shall be for your husband?” The Hebrew word for “desire” is “teshuka,” which is found 3 times in the Old Testament. Here is the first, then regarding Cain when God tells him that “sins desire is for you,” and Song of Songs 7:10 where it is about romantic desire between husband and wife. Based on the context, most scholars believe that the word “desire” here has a negative meaning of “contention for leadership.” In other words, she will seek to overpower and undermine his leadership.

  1. Recognize your desire to control.

Genesis 3:21 “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”

Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

  1. Receive God’s clothing in Christ.

We cannot change on our own. We need the power of Christ in our lives. In our weakness, he proves to be strong.

Obedience to God’s Word is the key to not falling for the enemy’s lies and returning to the original design for marriage

A recommendation for couples – Six pillars of intimacy by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo

ABIDAN:

Adam was to lead with sacrificial love. He was to be grateful for the helper God had made for him.

  1. Reject the desire to domineer.

Genesis 3      17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

  1. Receive God’s clothing in Christ.

Ephesians 5       25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Restoration is possible by God’s grace.

Invitation: Are you clothed in Christ? Are you saved? Are you being the husband and wife God has called you to be?

Operation Restore by Dr. Abidan Shah

OPERATION RESTORE – 1 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Many years ago, Nicole and I took a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, to see 3 Presidential homes in one day: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland, and James Madison’s Montpelier. The last one was very interesting because there was a restoration project going on at the time. After the house was sold by Dolley Madison in 1844, various owners had made various changes to the house. In order to restore the house to what it was like when James Madison and his wife Dolley lived there, an 18-month long investigation was launched in 2001 and the project lasted from 2004-2009. We were there in 2008 on the day when a massive portion was going to be taken down. This was a big deal to me because this was the place where in his upstairs library Madison had drafted the Constitution of the United States. Today, we are doing a two-part series from Genesis titled OPERATION RESTORE. This is still part of the Contend Series on Apologetics. As we are answering various questions about creation and sexuality, we cannot ignore the passages regarding Adam and Eve. We are also launching an investigation into what happened to the first man and first woman. Main point: Marriage was God’s answer to man’s loneliness. It was meant to reflect the unity in the Godhead. Unfortunately, sin has corrupted it beyond recognition. Only the grace of God through Christ can restore the original picture.

Genesis 2      24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

How did we go from Genesis 2:25 to Genesis 3:7? How did innocence turn into shame? If you compare it to marriages today, how did something so good get so bad? To understand the answer, we have to begin OPERATION RESTORE:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man…” This is the first time in the work of creation that God used the plural form – “Let us make” (na aseh). So far, it was the impersonal “Let there be…” The Trinity had a divine counsel within itself before the creation of the man and the woman. Quick point here: Those who think that the Trinity was a later creation by the church councils, don’t take this seriously. If Moses, the Hebrew prophets, or the Jewish people after the exile had a problem with the plurality within the godhead, this would be the first verses they would take out! But they didn’t.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” What does it mean to be made in the image of God? In a previous message, I explained the benefits of being “image bearers”: 1. God’s representatives in the world, called to rule over his creation; 2. special dignity above all other living creatures; and 3. special relationship with him, unlike anything the living creatures can ever experience. All that is true. They are all amazing benefits, but what exactly is the “image of God?”27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Just like there is unity and role differences in the Godhead, there is unity and role differences between the man and the woman. Later, we will learn that God the Father and God the Son are equal in essence, but the Son is subordinate to the Father. We will return to what this looks like in the marriage a little later. However, a negative instance of this same principle also showed up in Genesis 11      6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Unlike the first relationship between the man and the woman which reflected the good unity and distinction within the Godhead, this was a demonstration of the evil unity of human beings, which did not reflect the unity within the Godhead.

Overall, we need to remember that to be made in the image of God is equality and yet role distinctions, just like between the Father and the Son in the Trinity. This was emphasized again in Genesis 5    1 “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.” Paul affirms this unity in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What about the role distinctions? For that, we must go deeper in the text:

  1. Order and Source of Creation

Genesis 2      7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

The word for dust is “aphar,” which is not really clay but just a lump of dirt. So, we could call each other a “dirt bag” and be right! This dirt is coming from the ground or “Adamah.” This is lost in our English because that’s where Adam comes from! Paul acknowledged this in 1 Corinthians 15:47 “The first man was of the earth, made of dust…” Then God breathed into him “nishmath chayyim” = breath of life.

God places him in the Garden of Eden to tend it, but he is lonely. Genesis 2     18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman…” The Hebrew word is “tsela,” can mean rib or side. What is very important is that the woman was made from the man. Even though they are equal in the sight of God and are equally responsible to take care of the creation, there is a clear order and source here. Paul brought this up in 1 Timothy 2:13 “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Also, 1 Corinthians 11:7 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man.” This was not just some cultural point from Corinth since Paul appealed to Genesis.

By the way, even scientifically speaking, this is so important. Male has both X chromosomes (for females) and Y chromosomes (for males). Imagine if Eve was created first, it would only be XX and only females could be reproduced.

Application: Prior to the fall, this order and source was understood and not fought against. If we are going to have a succesful Operation Restore, this is the first thing we have to understand, accept, and appreciate.

  1. Need and Reaction of Adam

Genesis 2     22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman and He brought her to the man. The Hebrew word for woman is “banah,” which means “to build,” “to construct,” or “to fashion.” There is a distinction between how Adam was made and how Eve was made. Eve was not made out of the dust but a rib of Adam was taken to make Eve. This is not just to remind the woman of her order in creation, but also to remind the man of his need of the woman. Listen to Adam’s response. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman,because she was taken out of Man.” Adam is exclaiming! In other words, God did an amazing job in creating Eve. This is not just about physical beauty, but also about partnership. The first recorded words in history are regarding the woman! He even names her “ishah” because she came from “ish” man. The name Eve does not come until after the Fall in Genesis 3:20 “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Paul addressing a situation in Corinth said in 1 Corinthians 11      9 “Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.” 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Both Adam and Eve knew their role distinctions being made in the image of God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

Application: Prior to the fall, there was jubilation at the sight of the woman. How is it now in your relationship? Do you understand the role distinctions?

  1. Ordinance of Marriage

Our culture doesn’t take it seriously, but God did and still does. Genesis 2     24Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Jesus was the officiant at the first wedding. He is still the officiant at every wedding, saved or lost.

Mark 10     2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” 5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God “made them male and female.’ 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Application: How much do you value the ordinance of marriage, even the ceremony?

Are you saved? Is Christ in your life?

Re-Created: Part 2 by Dr. Abidan Shah

RE-CREATED 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Robin Williams was one of the most talented actors in Hollywood, until his untimely death by suicide in 2014. One of his greatest hits was Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993. As you know, in order to be near his 3 kids, the father Daniel, played by Robin Williams, creates the character of a British nanny named Mrs. Doubtfire. His acting skills along with his prosthetic mask are so convincing that even his own wife, played by Sally Fields, cannot recognize him. Eventually, she does find out and the act falls apart. Robin Williams won several awards for his acting in the movie. Unfortunately, this happens in real life where men pretend to be women and women pretend to be men, and it is called Transgenderism. Here are some questions: How is transgenderism different from the homosexual movement? What about Epigenetics and the transgender gene? How should we address the high suicide rate among transgender teenagers? Main point: Our society and culture are increasingly trying to neutralize gender identities. Both scripturally and scientifically, transgenderism is unnatural, inappropriate, and sinful. We are to be compassionate towards those struggling with gender dysphoria, but we are also to stand firm in our conviction of biblical gender distinctions. Compassion without the gospel of Jesus Christ is collaboration.

Genesis 1      27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…”

Background: The scripture that we just read declares that men and women are equal and yet different. We are different on a deep level (Andrew T. Walker): chromosomes, brains, voices, body shapes, body strengths, and reproductive systems. God has designed men to lead and protect, and he has designed women to nurture and mother. Both are essential and assigned by God. These roles are very specific to our sex and gender and cannot be interchanged. Again, this is tied to the Trinity. 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” To negate or neutralize these differences is to attempt to negate or neutralize the Trinity! There is so much there that we will see later.

I want to preach this message the same way I did the last one and that is by answering the questions that were raised.

Question #1. How is transgenderism different from the homosexual movement? I’m sure some of you are probably wondering why I am preaching on this topic again since I just preached on homosexuality last weekend. Although, some people lump homosexuality and transgenderism in the same category, there is a difference. While homosexuality is same-sex attraction, transgenderism is more complicated than that, involving many conflicting definitions (from Alan J. Branch). Here’s the main issue: sex and gender are separate things. Sex has to do with biological and anatomical parts. Gender has to do with psychological, sexual, and cultural traits. Sex has to do with physical organs, bone structure, DNA, hormones, and reproduction. Gender has to do with how one feels. So, sex is male and female, and gender is masculine and feminine. Add to this, “gender identity” and “gender role.” Gender identity is how one thinks about oneself as “masculine” or “feminine.” Gender role is how the person identifies as he is playing a role in the presence of others. There is more. Under the broad category of transgenderism come many subcategories of transsexual, transvestite, gender variant, gender fluid, genderqueer, and cross dresser (from Branch). Also, new titles like “Cisgender” and “gender binary” have been created to refer to those who hold to the biblical view of male and female as the only sex and gender.

What are the actual numbers?  According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, in 2016, 0.6% or 1.4 million people self-identify as transgender. The population of the United States is about 330 million. Also, it claimed that in 2017, 0.7 % or around 150,000 of youth ages 13-17 years in the United States identified as transgender. Although the numbers are small, the problem is real. We need to be aware of the agenda since the 1960s and even earlier to obliterate any gender distinctions.

Question #2. What about Epigenetics and the transgender gene?

Just like homosexuality, there is no transgender gene. There is nothing conclusive with the CYP17 gene or the SRD5A2 gene or family studies or twin studies. Also, epigenetics is “the chemical modifications of the human genome that alter genetic activity without changing the DNA sequence” (Branch). Again, there is nothing there.

The sad case of David Reimer: Born in 1965, accidentally mutilated circumcision. His parents were put in touch with John Money, a Harvard trained and Johns Hopkins psychologist and sexual expert. He gave them the advice to have him castrated and raised as a girl named Brenda. As he grew up, he did not want that. Money was using pornography and other treatments that were nothing but sexual abuse to treat David. You can imagine the trauma. Ultimately, he had reconstructive surgery and got married, but ended up committing suicide in 2004. Transgender movement tries to claim this as support, but it’s actually to the contrary.

Question #3. How should we address the high suicide rate among transgender teenagers? The example of Joshua Alcorn: Grew up in a conservative home but wanted to be called “Leelah.” Ended up taking his life in 2014 by walking in front of a tractor trailer. He blamed his parents and upbringing.

To start with, we need to be clear as to what the Bible has to say about transgenderism? Of course, we have already seen passages from the Old and New Testament that emphasize that God has made us in his image as male and female, and both Jesus and Paul affirmed Genesis 1:27. There are some more that apply directly to our topic:

Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.” In the English, some of the nuance is lost. In the first clause about a woman not wearing “anything that pertains to a man,” the word is “keli” and it is not just clothing but any object that makes them manly. So also, in the second clause, the word for garment is “simlah,” which refers to a garment or a shawl/mantle. The whole point of those 2 clauses is that one should not pretend to be of a different sex. Why? Because it is an “abomination” to the Lord. The Hebrew word is “toebah,” which means detestable, loathsome, and abhorring. This is on the same level as pagan worship practices and the superficial worship of God. 2 things: 1. Yes, in our culture, women wear pants and shirts, but this is not to fool others that they are really men. It’s more about current style and comfort. 2. If God found transgenderism an abomination, so should we. Deuteronomy 23:1 “He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the LORD.” This was often related to pagan worship practices like the worship of Ishtar and Cybele. There is often the mention of “eunuchs” in the Old and New Testament. Isaiah 53         4 For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.” The Hebrew word is “saris” and the Greek (LXX) is “eunichos.” Matthew 19        8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” 10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 12 “For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” What is the meaning of “eunuch” here? There are 3 categories here: 1. Eunuchs from birth are those who couldn’t have sexual intercourse and hence couldn’t marry. 2. Eunuchs who were forcibly emasculated to make them in charge of treasuries and harems. 3. Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven are those who have chosen to remain single in order to serve God. Three different reasons with three different applications.

Is there hope for people in this lifestyle? Yes.

Acts 8     26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

1 Corinthians 6        9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Invitation: There is hope, but the gospel is the hope. Our compassion can never replace the gospel.