The Hope-Bringer by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE HOPE-BRINGER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson 

The Hope Producer

Introduction: What does the word hope mean to you? If you talk to a little kid at Christmas, it is “I hope Santa brings me a new pair of shoes.” If you talk to someone looking for a relationship, it is “I hope I find someone one day.” Both express a desire for a positive outcome in the future but there’s also a negative use of this word. If you are really late, you say “I hope we make it on time.” If you talk to someone at the end of his or her rope, it is “I’ve lost all hope.” Both are expecting a negative outcome in the future. The biblical idea of hope is much different. It is much more than a desire for a positive or the possibility of a negative outcome. Hope is the solid assurance of something good in the future. Everywhere Jesus went he aroused this hope in people. He was and is the Great Hope-Bringer.

Mark 5   22 And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet 23 and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” 24 So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him. 25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” 31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing…34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” 35 While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” 40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.

Question: On the surface these 2 miracles seem unrelated but if you noticed carefully, there’s a connection. The first one is a 12-year-old girl dying and then dies and the other is a woman suffering for 12 years with the loss of blood. 12 years is a long time! The length of time is given to tell us that both were facing hopelessness in their lives until they met Jesus. He brought hope, the solid assurance of something good in their future. Are you facing hopelessness today? Does it feel like its not going to get any better? Have you met Jesus? Are you saved? Have you truly committed your problem to him?

Context: Listen again to verse 22 “And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name.” Jairus was an “archisynagogos” meaning head of the Jewish synagogue. Synagogues were the local assemblies of the Jewish people, which began during the Babylonian exile. They were no longer in their homeland and the temple was destroyed, so wherever they lived, they would build these synagogues for worship, prayer, education, and social activities. Not only that, the synagogues also served as the courthouse and in some cases as a city administration building. In other words, the synagogues became a symbol of Jewish identity. One more thing, unlike the temple were only the priests and the Levites could officiate, the leadership of the synagogue was open to all Jewish people provided they were upstanding and Torah abiding individuals. Jairus was the head of the synagogue in Capernaum. We’ve been there. His role was to keep the congregation faithful to the Torah. This was a high position! According to the Talmud (the Oral law of the Jewish people), “Let a man sell all he has and marry the daughter of a scholar. If he does not find the daughter of a scholar, let him marry the daughter of one of the great men of the generation. If he does not find…let him marry the daughter of a head of the synagogue.” You can imagine how people looked up to him and how he had to maintain his image.

But listen to what he did – 22 And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet…” What would cause a person of such high position to fall on his face in public before some travelling preacher from Galilee? 23 and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” Maybe his wife begged him to do that. Maybe his friends advised him to do that. I tend to think that he was a good family man who truly loved his little girl. There was no answer in his position. There was no answer in his knowledge. There was no answer in his religious and ethnic identity. He was desperate and Jesus was his only hope.

Important Principle: Desperation is the first step towards hope. As long as the present is comfortable, there’s no reason to look for hope. Sometimes God has to bring us to the point of desperation where it’s him and no one else who can meet our need. Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Application: Are you in the day of trouble? Have you come to that place of desperation? Are you willing to submit all to him?

So Jesus agreed to go with him but there’s an interruption. Let me make a quick point here – On the road to hope there are pit stops. Don’t let that discourage you. Don’t give up. God has a plan and a purpose. 25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. According to Leviticus 15, if a woman has such a condition, she is unclean. Anything she sits on or lies upon is unclean. Anyone who touches such an unclean woman is also unclean. Leviticus 15:27 “Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.” You can imagine that this woman hasn’t been to the synagogue in years. Maybe she was taken to court by someone for polluting them and had to stand before Jairus. Who knows! What does she do? 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” What a risk! If caught she would be in so much trouble but she didn’t care. The reason she did this is because just like Jairus she was also desperate. Religion or no religion, both were desperate and willing to pay the price!

Application: Have you come to that place of desperation? Are you willing to touch him no matter the cost?

What was the result? Not only was she healed but also Jesus made a point to stop and recognize her. Why? Because he wanted people to know that he cared for those in the synagogue and for those who were barred from the synagogue. Hope has no boundaries.

While he is talking to this woman, he overhears people telling Jairus that his daughter is gone. Listen to Jesus’ response – 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Now he does something very strange – 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. Why? Desperation may lead you to seek hope but only faith can make hope a reality. Unbelief or lack of faith destroys hope. Faith is the prerequisite to hope. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Do you need hope/rock solid assurance of something good? Are you desperate enough for it? What’s keeping you from placing your faith in Christ? Are you a hope giver or a hope taker?

Alive: What Jesus’ Resurrection Means for Us

ALIVE – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson 

aliveIntroduction: Have you ever had a bad day? I mean, a really really bad day! There are so many funny pictures on the web of people having a bad day. Sometimes you have to be careful because they can be raunchy and some are even photo shopped. But there’s only one man I know who had the worst day of anybody in the entire history of our world and it was definitely not funny…One morning, a gang of thieves raided his farm, killed all his workers, and stole all his farm equipment. On the same day, a fire burned up his dairy farm and killed all his employees. On the same day, a rival business stole all his vehicles and killed all his drivers. On the same day, his children and their spouses were having a party at the older brother’s house and a big tornado tore through the house, destroyed it, killing his entre family. If that wasn’t enough, a couple of days later, he was struck with horrible sores all over his body like poison ivy and poison oak on steroids. He was so miserable that he went outside, sat on the ground, and scratched himself with a piece of dried pottery just to get some relief. To make matters worse, his wife told him that the only way out of his misery was to commit suicide. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I am referring to Job in the Old Testament. In this message we will learn that in the midst of his trials Job found hope in the resurrection of his Redeemer Jesus Christ.

Job 19   23 “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! 24 That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever! 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!”

Trials have a way of clarifying what we really believe about God, life, and the future. Difficult seasons of life have a way of giving us a deeper understanding of God’s plan, grace, and hope in our lives.

Question: How do you see the trials in your life? Do you lose heart? Do you get angry? Do you become cynical? Do you run out on your marriage and your family? Some people start playing the blame game when trials come into their lives. They blame themselves. They blame their past. They blame someone in their lives. They even blame God. Do you see the Resurrected Christ in your trials like Job did? Do you see hope in Christ at all? If not then you need to be saved?

2 things you need to do:

I. REJECT FALSE VIEWS 

Job 2:11 “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.”

Background: Word began to travel about what had happened to Job. His friends connected with each other and decided to visit Job in order to comfort him. Thank God for true friends who come to us when we are down. But in this situation each one of them came with their opinion about why Job was going through all these trials. Unfortunately, their opinions hurt Job more than help him. Let’s look at them briefly:

  1. Eliphaz the Temanite: He was the oldest one of the bunch and seemed to have more sense than the others. Even though he showed Job respect, he didn’t have much compassion on him. In his wise view, his friend Job was a good man who had lost his way and that’s why bad things were happening to him.
  2. Bildad the Shuhite: In his view, Job was committing blasphemy by questioning the justice of God against him. He told Job that his family got what they deserved and if he keeps running his mouth, then he will also get what he deserves from God, which is more pain and suffering.
  3. Zophar the Naamathite: Out of all three of Job’s friends, he was the most caustic, abrasive, and hateful in his tone. In his view, Job should either repent or die because that’s what happens to wicked people. In others words, Job was a wicked man who was getting his due from God and needed to repent immediately.

Question: Which kind of friends are you listening to in your life? Do they bring only pain, shame, fear, and guilt to you? Sometimes they are not friends but family members. It is time to cover your ears from such false counselors. By the way, such people don’t have to be currently present in your lives. Sometimes they can be people from your past who have since moved on or even died but you are still listening to them. Sometimes they can be people on a TV program or in a book who are giving you wrong advice. It is time to purge your board of advisors. They are not bad people just bad counselors.

II. REDIRECT YOUR FOCUS

How does Job respond to his false advisors? After trying to defend his integrity and innocence in vain, Job redirects his focus. Let’s carefully examine his words in Job 19   23 “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! 24 That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever!” Two things here: First, Job wants people to remember forever what he is about to say because it is very important. Second, Job knows that what he is about to say might not happen in his lifetime. He may be 6-feet under the ground before it finally happens. In other words, Job is saying – “Put this on my tombstone.”

Principle: Some of you want justice in this life. Like the woman who was abused told me, “I feel like he’s going to get away with it.” She felt that death would end all hope of vindication. Don’t forget: Death is only a temporary interruption of your physical existence but your story is not yet complete. The final chapter is still to be written for those who know God.

What is the final chapter? 25 “For I know that my Redeemer lives…” Now begins one of the most disputed sections in Job or even the whole Bible. Job is saying here that even though he will die before he gets justice, vindication, and defense of his character, someone will speak for him. Job tried but his friends told him that he was biased. Job argued but his friends out argued him. Now Job’s only hope is to look to someone who would be willing to stand for him, who would be capable of speaking for him. Someone who would declare with authority, “Job is innocent. I have rock solid proof.”

Who is this someone? Job calls him “my Redeemer.” The word in Hebrew is “goel.” It had 2 meanings in the Old Testament. First, it had a criminal meaning. If someone were to kill a person, the nearest family member was responsible for bringing justice (not revenge) to that person. Second, it had a civil meaning. If a person died and lost their inheritance, the nearest family member was responsible for buying back and retrieving the property. If you remember, how Boaz married Ruth to save the family of Naomi because Elimelech her husband and their two sons had died. This “goel” had taken on a very special meaning for the people of Israel throughout history. God had become their Redeemer, the nearest family member who would bring justice to them and retrieve what was lost for them, even if they were not there to see it. Listen to these verses: Exodus 6:6 Therefore say to the children of Israel: “I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Proverbs 23   10 “Do not remove the ancient landmark, Nor enter the fields of the fatherless; 11 For their Redeemer is mighty; He will plead their cause against you.” 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, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction…” Isaiah 43:1 But now, thus says the LORD…O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” Jeremiah 50:34 “Their Redeemer is strong; The LORD of hosts is His name. He will thoroughly plead their case…”

Listen again to that line – “For I know that my Redeemer lives…” “Lives” here is much more than being alive. It has the idea of permanent existence. In other words, death cannot stop this Redeemer. There’s only one Redeemer who has conquered death. His name is Jesus. Listen to Peter in Acts 2   22 “…Jesus of Nazareth…24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Listen to Paul in 2 Timothy 1   8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling…10…who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…”

But Job is not through yet – 25 “…And He shall stand at last on the earth…” Literally, it can be read as “in the end he will stand on the dust.” Which dust? The very dust that covers the grave of Job. What right does Jesus have to stand at my grave? Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock…to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” Ephesians 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” I Peter 1   18 “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…19 but with the precious blood of Christ…” Revelation 5:9 “And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…”

Now comes the climax 26 “And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God…” Meaning: Job will be present at his vindication! He will be there at his final trial and the first face he will see is that of his Redeemer God. How awesome to think that Jesus will be present at the resurrection of every one of his children! Isn’t it awesome that on the day of resurrection he is personally going to call each one out of the grave! When life comes back into our decayed decomposed body, the first face we will see is the face of his Redeemer God Jesus! Finally – 27 “Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job is eagerly anticipating this day!

Folks, we have moved past the need of vindication that Job had. Now we have a great commission given to us. 2 Corinthians 5   14 “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again…17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are no longer looking for vindication but reconciliation. We are no longer victims of our circumstances but ambassadors for Christ.

Are you saved? If you are the victim, have hope. If you are the perpetrator, seek forgiveness. Instead of anger, bitterness, and defeat, have hope, confidence, and ministry.

LIFE IS A VAPOR (ARTICLE) by Abidan Paul Shah

LIFE IS A VAPOR – Article by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on April 2, 2016)

You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)

Sylvia Edwards 4Monday afternoon two weeks ago I got a phone call that I have received before as a pastor but I never imagined whom it would be about. “Sylvia Edwards died.” I thought I had misheard the name and so I asked – “Who did you say again?” I heard it right the first time. It was Sylvia. I couldn’t believe it…I saw her the night before at church! We talked about her singing at the coming Fourth of July program. She wasn’t feeling well but she was still excited about picking out the songs and getting started with the practices. If you knew Sylvia, you would know that she loved to sing and she wasn’t one to sit still very long! Now, two days later we were standing by her graveside – “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”

Life is indeed a vapor, a mist. It’s like breathing on a glass window on a cool day. You see the condensation for a couple of seconds and then it’s gone. Such is life. The Bible repeatedly warns us about the brevity and unpredictability of life – 1 Chronicles 29:15 “…Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope.” Job 7:7,9 “…my life is a breath!…As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, So he who goes down to the grave does not come up.” Psalms 102:11 “My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass.” In spite of all such warnings, many still live as if they have all the time in the world.

Sylvia Edwards singing at Clearview with her sister Linda Twisdale

Sylvia Edwards singing at Clearview with her sister Linda Twisdale

Listen to what the Bible says – “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” (James 4:15) This does not mean that God is against planning. He wants us to plan but He also wants us to acknowledge Him in all our planning. He wants us to remember that our life is a gift from God. It means much more than saying – “Lord willing I’ll be at church Sunday.” It means living life knowing that our every breath, heartbeat, and brainwave is on loan from God and can be taken away from us any moment. Sylvia knew that and so lived her life. How about us?

Many of us waste time on the trivial and miss the important. “One of these days I am going to spend time with my children.” “One of these days I am going to take my wife on a special date.” “One of these days I am going to bake that pie for my husband.” (Ladies – I know that seems trivial but not for us!) “One of these days I am going to stop by and see my parents.” “One of these days I am going to make things right with my brother.” “One of these days I am going to call my sister.” God wants us to stop procrastinating and start doing what is good – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) Did you know that procrastination is a sin?! It is especially when we delay with God. “One of these days I am going to turn my life around.” “One of these days I am going to church.” “One of these days I am going to read my Bible.” “One of these days I am going to give my life to Christ.” Unfortunately, that day never comes and we keep sliding away from God. We’re like the fool who said – “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:19-20)

Make it right with God today…not because you might die tonight…but because you have to live tomorrow.

Heaven Here and Now Part Three

HEAVEN HERE AND NOW – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

heavenhereandnow3Introduction: This morning we are in part 3 of our series titled “Heaven Here and Now.” The goal of these messages is to understand that heaven is not someday in the future in some distant land beyond the blue but it begins the moment we are saved. By the way, this is the final message and maybe next year during Easter we can go further.

1 Corinthians 15   22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power…58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Overall Background: So far in this series we learned that when we receive Jesus as our Savior, we receive a spiritual resurrection. Our soul comes alive and we are made to sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In other words, when we get saved, spiritually, we’re already in heaven. But that’s just the beginning because one day Jesus is coming again and He’s bringing the rest of heaven with Him. He will not only transform this creation into the New Heavens and the New Earth but He will also transform our physical body into a glorious body like His. What all this means is that we’re not waiting to go to heaven when we die but heaven is coming here to us. What if you die before Christ comes? Then you will also come alive at His appearing with a glorious transformed body. This morning we will go one step further – if you want to know what our future and the future of this world looks like, look to Jesus. He is not only our sample but He is also our source of heaven. He is not only our model but He is also our means to heaven. He is not only our pattern but He is also our pathway to heaven. Jesus is everything.

Question: How important is Jesus to you? Do you look to Him with hope and anticipation? Is He just your fire insurance or is He also your future hope? Are you pressing towards Him? Here is another question: Are you saved? Is Jesus your Savior?

There’s a lot packed into 1 Corinthians 15. We don’t have time to look at every detail. We’re only going to see 2 things about Heaven Here and Now:

I. JESUS IS OUR FUTURE SAMPLE.

1Corinthians 15   20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Background: What are “Firstfruits?” = That word comes from the Old Testament. God had commanded His people Israel that each year before they harvested the crops, they were to bring a sample of their crop or their flock to the priest as an offering to the Lord. In fact, the full harvest could not be made until the firstfruits had been offered. It was a promise that more just like it was coming.

For e.g. For our culture, a better term would be “sample.” When you go by the food court at the mall, they offer samples. It means there’s a lot more of what you just tasted. If you liked it, there’s much more behind the counter.

So also Jesus is our firstfruit, our sample. 22 For as in Adam all die…” So far, Adam was our sample. He fell under the curse of sin and all of us have fallen with him. “…even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. There’s something more here regarding “firstfruits” than just being a sample. There’s also a divine order of things. When I go to the food court, I don’t have to eat the sample in order to buy the meal. In fact, many times I just get in line because I know exactly what I am getting. That’s not allowed here. You have to get the sample before you can get the meal.

Let me say it as clearly as possible – Unless you have received Christ as your Savior, there’s nothing waiting for you on the other side but judgment and hell. There’s a divine sovereign order to things – first Christ and then you.

So what does this sample taste like:

  1. It will be an ever-improving body.

42 “…The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.” All translations fail to capture the true meaning of these words. It’s not just that we won’t die. The idea here is decay. Daily our bodies are going down hill and one day we die and immediately we begin to decay. The new body will anti decay, go backwards. It will get better and better – “ethically, aesthetically, and psychosocially.”

  1. It will be a sin free, shame free, Christ like body.

43 “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory…” Again, “dishonor” should be translated “humiliation,” which has the idea of weakness, grief, sinful struggles, and old burdensome habits. “Glory” here means without the burden of sin, guilt and Christ like.

For e.g. Spring is here and soon we will see caterpillars. Ever seen one crawling – puts down his front end, lifts up his back end to his front end, makes a big arch in his back and then he straightens out by pushing his front end forward. Starts all over again. Looks quite painful and tiresome. There he is – a tiny little creature, crawling in the dust and we run over them with our vehicles or walk over them. I imagine he often looks to the sky and says to himself “Oh I wish I could fly. If only I had wings, I would catch the wind and go from garden to garden, plant to plant, and flower to flower. But that is not for me. I am just a caterpillar – crawling around.” One day he realizes that his days on earth are done – his instincts take over and he realizes that his days on earth as a caterpillar are coming to a close. He begins to build himself a coffin. He crawls inside and pulls down the lid. Now it dies to the only life it had known. There it hangs to a branch. Then all of a sudden something begins to happen – he hears a voice and feels a strange movement in his body. Again, impulse (after years of evolution! Not really.) tells him it is time. He went in a caterpillar but he comes out a butterfly.

  1. It will be an ever-energizing body.

43 “…It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” “Weakness” represents the lack of ability to do things the way you want to or the way you were used to. It represents the growing frustration throughout life. Recently we met someone who was struggling with a sickness. In his younger days he was very strong and virile. Even though his mind now was just as sharp as back then his body was no longer cooperating and it was very frustrating for him. The new body will be powerful, which actually has the idea of every increasing in power and capacity and competency. We will have more and more energy.

  1. It will be a Holy Spirit indwelt body.

44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. This is probably the most misunderstood of all the descriptions. Typically, people translate this as physical versus non-physical. That’s where people are misguided into thinking that we will be like spirits in long robes, sitting on puffy clouds, and playing the harps. The correct translation implies that in the coming body we won’t have to pray – “Holy Spirit – please fill me today and control my life.” It will be completely filled by the Holy Spirit and always in His control.

Application: Is Jesus your sample? Have you ever received Him as your Savior? Are you looking to Him? Are you looking for His return? Are you looking forward to the new you to come?

II. JESUS IS OUR VICTORIOUS KING.

24 Then comes the end…

Background: There’s so much we still don’t understand about the end of the world. I preached a series for about a 1 ½ year through Daniel and Revelation but there’s so much I still don’t understand and I am still learning. Here it is enough to say that our world is under the control of a structured system of sin and evil, both demonic and human. Just like us, the world is also under decay, shame, weakness, and ordinary existence. Jesus will fight and defeat this organized anti-god system. He will do for the world what His Father did for Him and what He will do for our lowly bodies. The result will be a new creation. This world is beautiful but you can only imagine what it will be like once Jesus sets it free and remakes it! Then 2 things will happen 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. In other words, He will free this world, remake it, and turn it over to the rightful owner, His Father.

What else? 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. Martin Luther explained this the best for me (I’m paraphrasing) – We are living in the kingdom of faith where Jesus is ruling through His Word. He is invisible. It’s like seeing the sun through the clouds. The light rays tell us that the sun is there but you really can’t see the sun. But, there’s a day coming when the clouds will part and both light and sun will shine together. In this phase 2 Old Testament prophecies will be fulfilled – Psalm 110:1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” And Psalm 8:6 “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” Now here comes verse 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. The actual translation should be “The last enemy is being annihilated, which is death.” Every time we drive past a funeral home or cemetery it reminds us that death is still claiming its victims. This verse promises us that Jesus already began the process of killing death 2000 years ago but there’s coming a day when he will finally destroy death forever. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. Meaning: Here’s the doctrine of the eternal functional subordination of the Son. Now, God will be the source and goal of everything and everyone.

When will this final end be? Jump over to verse 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… Nicole’s dad had this verse framed and put by the nursery door!52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know Jesus? If not, you are still under the grip of death.

Knowing that Jesus is our future sample and Jesus is our victorious King, how should we live here and now? Paul tells us 3 things:

  1. Stand firm and do not shift – 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable…” It’s the same thing that he told the Colossians and Philippians. Don’t let your circumstances shake you.
  2. Keep working more and more for God. “…always abounding in the work of the Lord…” Ask yourself – “Is what you are doing counting for God?” Then do more.
  3. Remember, you are building the kingdom to come – “…knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” In other words, there is continuity between this life and the life to come. What you do matters. Everything is ministry. Minister where you are.

Are you saved? Are you living here and now with your eyes on the future? Are you doing all things for the glory of God? Do you know people who are lost? Are you reaching them?

How To Beat Death

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here.

HOW TO BEAT DEATH? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

howtobeatdeath-page-001Today we are celebrating Easter Sunday. It commemorates the day Jesus rose from the grave. With that in mind, I am preaching a message titled “HOW TO BEAT DEATH.” Unless Jesus comes for us first, death is coming to all of us.

Luke 24 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

Overall Background: If you ever want to kill a conversation, mention death. If you ever want people to avoid you, bring up the subject of death. Most people are afraid of death. One evidence of that is the number of euphemisms we have come up with for death – Bite the dust, kicked the bucket, passed away, is in a better place, R.I.P., etc. Bottom line: people don’t want to face the great unknown, the great beyond. The Bible has the most balanced view of death. On the one hand, it deals with the reality, finality, and brutality of death but, on the other hand, it also reminds us that death doesn’t have to be an enemy, it’s not final, and it is in fact the beginning of another life that never ends and its wonderful! It does that not by giving us cute euphemisms but hope in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that through Jesus we can beat death.

Application: Are you afraid of death? If you don’t know Jesus, you should be. Saying – “What will be will be” is not enough because God has provided a way to decide how you will spend your life on the other side. To ignore what God has to say about life after death is to insult Him, reject His work, and bring His judgment upon us. Are you saved?

Three questions we will answer in this passage that will teach us how to beat death.

I. DID JESUS ACTUALLY BEAT DEATH?

Background: When you start talking about the resurrection of Jesus to people who don’t believe the Bible, you get the following responses:

  • It’s an ancient myth found in various religions (Gnostic redeemer, Mithras, or fertility cult) and Christianity is no different. The problem with that is that there is zero parallel in ancient history of a human being to have died and come back to life and reappeared to people who knew him.
  • Some since the nineteenth century have claimed some rationalistic explanations for Jesus’ resurrection – Jesus never truly died. He just swooned. When someone says that, I like to say “How about if we were to flog you 39 times and then drive nails through your hands and feet, hang you on the cross which would dislocate your shoulders and you go into a hypovolemic shock. Then after you die pierce your side with a spear and break your legs. Then take you down and wrap you in a burial cloth, place you inside a tomb, and roll a big stone over it. What are your chances of getting out?!!”
  • Yet others claim that it’s a bunch of stories the disciples made up to cope with Jesus’ death or the church is behind it? The disciples themselves stole His body or they went to the wrong tomb or it was just a case of mass hallucination or it was just a spiritual experience. How do we answer that? Let’s just read the text and see if there are any clues that prove that the Bible is telling the truth and the disciples didn’t make this up and that Jesus actually did beat death. There are many.

Let’s look at a couple:

  • Luke 23   50 “Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member…”
Garden Tomb 3

Garden Tomb Outside (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

This is referring to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem – the supreme court of the Jewish people made up of 70 members and one High Priest.

“…a good and just man. 51 He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, (Maybe Northwest of Jerusalem) who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.”

What a great risk? Not just for Joseph of Arimathea but for the gospel writers to mention this man’s name, position, and the town he came from! All I have to do is prove that he is not a member or from the town of Arimathea.

  • Luke 24 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them…

If I were making up the story of the resurrection, I would have chosen the high priest who happened to be in the area or Pilate who was out for an early morning ride or even one of the male disciples who were the first to witness the empty tomb. Instead, verse 10 “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.” Women were not considered a legitimate and credible testimony.

  • Luke 24 1 “…came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.”

The disciples were not even expecting the resurrection. They came early to probably avoid any confrontation with those who had killed Jesus. They brought spices to embalm Him because as far as they were concerned, it was over.

  • Luke 24 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. And Matthew adds in Matthew 28  2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.

Earthquake? It means everybody in the vicinity felt it. You are setting your self up big time if it didn’t happen.

We can go on and on from other passages but the point is clear – something extraordinary happened to the dead body of Jesus. It came back to life. The proofs are too many! The evidence is leaning heavily towards the fact that Jesus beat death. The disciples died believing that Jesus had risen. Nobody does that for a hoax, not a group.

Application: Do you find it hard to accept that Jesus beat death? Is it because you have examined the evidence or are you just repeating what you heard on TV or in a class or read in some magazine article? It’s too important to dismiss casually.

II. COULD JESUS ACTUALLY BEAT DEATH? 

Background: This is a deeper question. Although the written evidence shows that Jesus beat death and came back to life, the greater question is – “Is this even possible?” “Can human beings come back to life?” The overwhelming evidence says “No.” People die and that’s final. That’s why we have cemeteries and graveyards. Muslims have their “kabaristans,” Hindus have their “shamshan ghats,” Parsis have their “Tower of Silence,” and Native Americans have their “Burial Mounds.”

Death is universal unless you’re not human. Then, you’re not bound by death.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre Empty Tomb

Church of the Holy Sepulchre Empty Tomb (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Who was Jesus? We know that He was a human being because He died. But He was more – Listen to verse 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. (Matthew tells us that they were angels.) 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

The key phrase here is “Son of Man.” Some people think that Son of God refers to Jesus being God’s Son, fully God, and Son of Man refers to Jesus being Mary’s Son, fully Man. Although, that sounds pretty good, there’s more in that title than that. You have to go to the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament to understand the true meaning of that title. Daniel 7  13  “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. 14  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

Repeatedly in the Gospels Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man. What He was claiming was deity. He was claiming that He was God. Just a few chapters earlier in Luke 21:27 Jesus said, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” When Judas came to betray Him, He said in Luke 22:48 “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Then in Luke 22 66 As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, 67 “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. 68 And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. 69 Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” 70   Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” 71   And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”

Here’s the point – If Jesus was the Son of Man, then He was God and as God who created life and gives life and sustains life, death has no power over Him.

On the Day of Pentecost when Peter preached, He said in Acts 2 that even though they had crucified Him, God raised Him – 24 “…having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Then in Acts 3:15 he called Him the Prince of life.”

Application: Do you believe that Jesus was the Son of Man? If so, then the Resurrection is not a problem, the Virgin birth is not a problem, and walking on water is not a problem. Miracles are not a problem. By the way, the greatest miracle is none of them. It is the resurrection of a dead soul to life everlasting. Have you been resurrected?

III. WILL I BE ABLE TO BEAT DEATH? 

Let’s go back to verse 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

Garden Tomb 2

Garden Tomb Inside (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

When did Jesus say that? Luke 9:22 “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Was this just casual information? Luke 9:44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” Meaning: He really wanted them to get the reality of the resurrection. Why? It had a tremendous implication for their life! When we receive Jesus as our Savior, His life begins to flow through us. It’s the life of God. It’s the life that death cannot conquer. When I die, because of the life of Jesus in me, I am coming back to life just like Him. In other words, I am going to beat death like He did.

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. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

John 14:19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

1 Corinthians 15 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is an old folk tale titled as the “Appointment in Samarra” (retold by W. Somerset Maugham [1933]) – “There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

Invitation: Are you ready to beat death? Through Jesus you can!

HOW TO HAVE NEWNESS OF LIFE

HOW TO HAVE NEWNESS OF LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Newness of LifeThe Book of Romans is a corrective to a lot of wrong beliefs among Christians today. Warren Wiersbe begins his commentary on Romans in the following words: “If you are tired of all the wrong things in your life, in the lives of others, then Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the book for you.” In the passage we are about to read Paul wants the readers to understand that salvation is not just about forgiveness for sins, it is also about deliverance from sin. It is not enough to have forgiveness for what we have done, we also need deliverance from who we are.

Romans 6:1-4  1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

In the passage we just read Paul is going to teach us 4 important steps TO HAVE NEWNESS OF LIFE.

Application: Do you find yourself living in defeat? Do you find yourself frustrated with your constant battles against old habits and hang-ups? Do you wish you had the newness of life that is promised in the Bible? If yes, then this message is for you.

1. ALLOW GOD TO TEACH YOU ABOUT GRACE.

Background: In chapter 5 of Romans, Paul explained to us that all of us come into this world under the “share everything Adams family plan.” Under this family plan, our father Adam signed us up for the physical and spiritual death; judgment and condemnation; and sinners by nature. We were locked into this plan, never to get out. That’s why lost people do the things they do. Sometimes, even saved people live under the old family plan. They try to stop doing bad things and they do them even more.6:1  1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

–                They try to be gentle and loving and they end up getting angry and bitter.

–                They try to please God the old way and they fail every time.

–                They try to live free but they are still bound by old habits and addictions.

Jesus came into this world to bring us a second share everything family plan. Under this family plan, our Savior Jesus Christ has signed us up for abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness; justification of life (when God sees me, He sees Christ); and righteous by nature.

Previously we were under the condemned plan but now we are under the grace plan.

Grace = getting what we don’t deserve. More we sin, more grace we get.

For e.g. How would you like that kind of phone plan? More you talk/text, more minutes you get!

Anytime people hear about this “It is all by grace” plan, it does not fail that someone will raise their hands and say as in verse 1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?—“People are going to misuse it/abuse it/take advantage of it. You have to have some rules to keep people in line with their Christian lives.”

Application: Fight the urge this morning to live by rules.

2. MEET THE NEW YOU.

Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

What is Paul’s answer? 2Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Sorry, you are already dead to sin.

For e.g. The safest place in the world is in a cemetery. No one can hurt you. You may hurt yourself but no one else will!

Verse 3Or do you not know Paul is asking us “do you not know” the facts of your salvation? What are the facts?

3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? What is Paul talking about? Now here is the heart of our salvation. We’re all born in the family of Adam– the family of sin. We have two problems—sins (things we have done wrong and do wrong) and sin (our sinful nature). Jesus took care of Problem #1 by becoming our Substitute – taking my sins upon Him on the cross. He gave me His righteousness. What about Problem #2—my sin nature? The Blood cleanses us from the debt of sins but we still carry the family germ of sin that was in Adam and was passed down to us. What we need is to get out of the family of sin. The Blood cannot get us out of the family. The only way to get out of the family is by death. Jesus not only died as our Substitute, but He also died as our Representative – representing our death in the family of Adam.

This was no half hearted/pretend/playact death. Listen to verse 4 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, In other words, God included my death in the death of Christ. In the foreknowledge of God we were crucified and buried with Christ.

Application: Most of us try to deal with sin by trying to suppress it and fight it. I am not going to get angry; I am not going to be envious; I am not going to lust. Before you know it, you are back in it. God deals with our sin nature by removing the sinner.

It’s not enough to just die from the old family. You also have to be born again into the new family. Verse 4 again: that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Meaning: Not only did we die in Christ but, on the third day, we were also raised with Him. We died in Him as the last Adam and we live in Him as the second man. Now let’s live as if you are in newness of life.

It’s not hard to take to heart that we died with Him. It is hard to understand that we are alive with Him. Listen to verse 5 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” Your death is past tense and your resurrection is also accomplished.

What is interesting is the imagery that Paul uses to describe this death to sin and resurrection to newness. It is baptism. The baptismal pool is really a coffin. Some people look at baptism as a non-essential. They say, “You do not have to be baptized to be saved.” That’s true but Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. It symbolizes our death, burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ. It tells the world that we have been united with Him in death, burial, and resurrection. It is a sign that I am now cut off to the old world and have entered into the new.

By the way since the earliest church history, the church always baptized the way we do it – Ephesus, Emmaus, Milan, Tunisia and on and on.

3. YOU ARE NO LONGER A SLAVE TO SIN.

So where are we now with our sin nature?  6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Someone says—why do I still sin if my Old Nature has been crucified? When a person dies, it does not mean that they are eradicated. The body is gone but the Spirit lives on—either before God in heaven or in Hell waiting for judgment. Our Old Nature is no longer alive in the flesh. It is only alive in the Spirit. We have been set free. Listen to verse 7—For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Application: Most of us try to deal with sin by trying to strengthen the Old Man—suppress it, fight it, deny it, train it. I am not going to get angry; I am not going to be envious; I am not going to lust. Before you know it, you are back in it.

God deals with our sin nature by making us weaker and weaker; by removing the sinner; by putting us to death. But He doesn’t leave us dead. He gives us new life. Listen to verse 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

So what should you do with all this knowledge – Verse 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. God is not asking you to go crucify yourself or to go do penance for your sin. He simply wants you to reckon it.

Background: The word “reckon” can be a little confusing. For e.g. “Are you coming to the birthday party?” “I reckon.” It means “I guess” or “I think” or “maybe.” That is not the meaning here. The Greek word means “count” or “calculate.” It is a mathematical term. It is an accounting term. You cannot judge if the artist or singer or writer has been perfectly accurate but you can tell if an accountant has been accurate.

For e.g.  $5 plus $5 = $10

Meaning:  God is not saying “pretend that you are dead” or “do the best you can to play dead” or “act like you are alive.” He tells us to reckon because it is a fact that we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.” It is a command. The idea behind reckoning is “believe.” By faith, accept that “You are one with Christ.”

Let me warn you – the moment you start reckoning, be ready for a fight. The Devil will fight you tooth and nail. He will lie to you. He will point out all your faults. You will have to reckon every moment who you are in Christ. As long as we keep our eyes on Christ, we are able to walk this life. Every time, like Peter, we take our eyes off Christ, we begin to sink. When we abide in Him and obey Him, that’s when we walk in victory.

4. SAY HELLO TO YOUR NEW MASTER.

12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Background: What the Bible is saying is, “Now that you know that you have died in Christ and are alive in Him; now that you have reckoned this to be a fact; what’s next? Your mortal body belongs to God. Your eyes/ears/mouth/hands/feet/every inch of you is His.

I Corinthians 6:19-20  19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

13And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Often people say, “If you want to be saved, you have to become a slave of Jesus Christ.” It sounds good. It’s just not biblical. God does not want my old self that was a slave of sin. He wants that which has passed through death to resurrection. He wants me to present to Him that which already belongs to Him.

For e.g. When we were travelling overseas, I gave a certain amount of money to the oldest two of our children. Just in case I happen to lose my wallet, we will still have some money. When we finally arrived on the other side, I asked them to hand it back. Whose money was it? Mine or theirs? Mine.

When I hear someone who claims to be a Christian say, “My money, My time, My house, My job.” You have a problem. Either you are still lost or you don’t get it. Everything is now His. I am no longer to sin because these eyes, mouth, hands, feet, everything belongs to Him. We are His slaves.

Application: You say you are a Christian. Are you a slave of Jesus Christ to holiness?

MOTIVATED BY ABUNDANT GRACE

MOTIVATED BY ABUNDANT GRACE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

MOTIVATED_BY_ABUNDANT_GRACERomans 5-8 are the heart of this book. In fact, they are the heart of Christianity. Ray Stedman (Chuck Swindoll’s mentor) said that, “Romans 5 is a graduation exercise. It takes us from the elementary grades of Christian life into high school….”

Most Christians have massive gaps in their Christian lives because they have never truly understood Romans 5-8. Their Christian life is sporadic, defeated, and confusing. For the sake of all those who have joined in the past year, we will begin in Romans 5. For those who’ve heard these messages, I promise you that they will be richer and more developed.

Romans 5:18-21  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.

Overall Background: If you ask the average Christian—what does it mean to be saved? Salvation means my sins are forgiven; salvation means I am going to heaven. Not I just have to do the best I can to be a good Christian until I get to heaven. I just have to read my Bible, pray, go to church, give, and witness. Nothing more. But when you come to Romans 5, you realize that there’s much more. 5 times we hear that phrase:

–                Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Meaning: No more condemnation)

–                10 much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Meaning: We are reconciled; never to be separated.)

–                15 much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. (We receive the Abounding Grace of God.)

–                17 much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (We live triumphantly.)

–                20 where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, (Sin is replaced by grace.)

In essence, the much more is that—Salvation is not just about Christ dying for my sins, it is also about Christ delivering me from the power of sin and giving me grace abounding.

This morning – if you want this much more, if you’re frustrated with your Christian life, if you’re tired of your constant battles with old habits, old hang-ups and old sins, if you’re ready for the much more that God has promised, then this message is for you.

There are 3 things that Paul wants us to understand about this much more of the Christian life.

I. IT COMES WITH THE FAMILY PLAN.

Nowadays, we hear a lot from phone companies about the share everything family plans.

All of us were born into the human family, sharing the Adams family plan. Adam, our father, sinned in the Garden of Eden, when he disobey God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When he sinned, a fundamental change came into his character and he became a sinner. Because of his disobedience, all his descendants became sinners by nature. Listen to the Adam’s family plan:

ADAM’S FAMILY PLAN

Adam and Jesus

 

1. Verse 17a “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one,”Because of Adam, physical and spiritual death has come to every member of the family.

2. Verse 18a “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation”

Being born in Adam’s family brought judgment and condemnation to all of us.

3. Verse 19a“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,”

Being born in Adam’s family, we were made sinners. We did not have any choice.

 

That’s why lost people do the things they do. They are simply living by their father’s family plan. Sadly, even Christians, even though they are in God’s family, sometimes operate by the old family plan.

–                They try to stop doing bad things and they do them even more.

–                They try to be gentle and loving and they end up getting angry and bitter.

–                They try to please God the old way and they fail every time.

–                They try to live free but they are still bound by old habits and addictions.

What is the solution? You have to realize that you are no longer under the old family plan. You are no longer in the family of sin and disobedience but in God’s family. What does God’s family plan look like?

GOD’S FAMILY PLAN

1. Verse 17b “much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)”Being born in God’s family, we receive abundance of grace (not spotty, sporadic, limited) and the gift of righteousness, which brings life to all of us.

2. Verse 18b“even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”

Being born in God’s family, we are declared righteous by God. When I receive Christ as my Savior, God makes a transaction at that instant—it’s called Imputation. He takes my sins and puts them on Christ’s account and He takes Christ’s righteousness and puts it on my account. Meaning: Now when God sees me, He sees Christ.

3. Verse 19b“so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”

Being born in God’s family, we are made righteous. There is a change in our nature.

All these benefits of being in God’s family have come because of the One Man – Jesus.

 

  • Where the first Adam failed miserably, the last Adam succeeded triumphantly.
  • The first Adam stood in the Garden of Eden and said—“My will be done,” the last Adam knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and said—“Your will be done.”
  • The first Adam was cursed and kicked out of the Garden; the last Adam—Jesus—humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

 

All you can do is by faith share in your new family plan under Jesus Christ. Many Christians are trying to be righteous before God. You will never attain to the standard of righteousness that God requires. Jesus did it all for us. All you and I can do is receive by grace the adoption papers and start living by your new family plan. That’s the meaning of being born again—born into the family of Jesus and now you are all that He is. If we can only get that in our brains and our hearts, it will revolutionize the way we look at the Christian life.

II. IT CANNOT BE EARNED.

Now someone might say, “I am going to buy my own family plan.” Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.

20Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.

Background: The moment you say with Paul “All you need is to look to the righteousness of Christ and not your own,” a hand goes up—“Why was the Law given if God did not expect us to keep it?” Paul says, “You misunderstood the reason for the Law.”

God gave the Law for two reasons:

#1           Initially, he gave the Law to Israel in order to protect them from the Canaanites who were living in the Promised Land. In Genesis 15, it talks about the “iniquity of the Amorites.” He gave His Law to His people so that they would not become like their neighbors (Galatians 3:19).

#2           The second reason the Law was given was for what it says here—that the “offense/sin might abound.” Sin/offense was already there in the world. People were already guilty before God but by giving a checklist people realized how much they had sinned.

For e.g. Imagine a glass filled with dirty water. If that water has been sitting still for some time, it appears clean until you stir it. Now what happens? It shows all the dirt.

What happens when sin is stirred? Listen to the second half of verse 20 “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,” Literally in Greek it means—“where sin increased, grace super-increased.” God is not waiting for us to keep the Law neither is He waiting to strike us when we fail to keep the Law. To the contrary, He is eagerly waiting to pour His super-abounding grace on us. What’s the result? 21so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign (rule) through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Meaning: Where sin once controlled us, grace controls us. We no longer live in fear but in gratefulness.

Application: Many people are trying to earn God’s righteousness by keeping the Law. It is a free gift to be received by grace.

III. IT HAS TO BE ENTERED IN BY DEATH

Romans 6:1-4  1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

The moment you say – “It is all by grace,” it does not fail that someone will raise their hands and say—“People are going to misuse it/abuse it/take advantage of it. You have to have some rules to keep people in line with their Christian lives.”

What is Paul’s response to the question “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Meaning: Sorry, you are already dead. 3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

What is Paul talking about? Here is the heart of our salvation. 2000 years ago Jesus died for us. We know that He died as our Substitute – He died for our sins. But, did you also know that He died as our Representative – He died in our place.

What does that mean? We’re all born in the family of Adam– the family of sin. We have two problems—sins (things we have done wrong) and sin (our sinful nature). Jesus took care of Problem #1 by becoming our substitute – taking my sins upon Him on the cross. He gave me His righteousness. What about Problem #2—my sin nature? The Blood cleanses us from the debt of sins but we still carry the family germ of sin that was in Adam and was passed down to us. What we need is to get out of the family. The Blood cannot get us out of the family. The only way to get out of the family is by death.

Remember: God never leaves a job half done. So 2000 years ago when Christ died, He died to represent our death in the family of Adam. In the foreknowledge of God we were also crucified with Christ. Not only that but listen to verse 4 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, When Jesus went to the grave, you went into the grave with Him. What’s next? that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Meaning: When He rose from the grave, you rose from the grave.

Listen to verse 5 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” It is all past tense. Your death, burial, and resurrection are applied to you the moment you are saved.

Did you notice the imagery that Paul through the Holy Spirit has used throughout? Baptism! The baptismal pool is really a coffin. It symbolizes our death, burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ. It tells the world that we have been united with Him in death, burial, and resurrection. It is a sign that I am now cut off to the old world and have entered into the new family.

So where are we now with our sin nature?  6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Someone says—why do I still sin if my Old Nature has been crucified? When a person dies, it does not mean that they are eradicated. The body is gone but the Spirit lives on—either before God in heaven or in Hell waiting for judgment. Our Old Nature is no longer alive in the flesh. It is only alive in the Spirit. We have been set free. Listen to verse 7For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Application: Most of us try to deal with sin by trying to strengthen the Old Man—suppress it, fight it, deny it, train it. I am not going to get angry; I am not going to be envious; I am not going to lust. Before you know it, you are back in it.

God deals with our sin nature by making us weaker and weaker; by removing the sinner; by putting us to death. But He doesn’t leave us dead. He gives us new life. Listen to verse 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

Application: God is not asking you to go crucify yourself or to go do penance for your sin. It’s all past tense. The place to begin is KNOW—this has been done for you. You have been set free. Open the eyes of your heart and see who you are in Christ. You may not feel it; you may not understand it but you have it. Just accept it.

For e.g. Nicole’s grandfather grew up with parents who were lost. When George (that was his name) got saved, he tried to tell his parents about Jesus and they laughed at him. But, there was a big change in his life. He just could not get enough of the Word of God. He went to a small country church and he just did not get what he was hungry for. After his daughter, Nicole’s mom, married Nicole’s dad, he would come and visit them in seminary. He would go to classes with him. Pastor Jerry, Nicole’s father and my mentor, would often share of how when he would look over at George in those classes, he had tears streaming down in face and he would say—“I knew there was more.”

 

%d bloggers like this: