On Not Avoiding the Dark Haunts

“A man who wore no clothes, lived in the tombs among the dead, and had a long rap sheet hardly seems like a good candidate to be the first to preach the news in this territory awash in paganism. He was a multiple offender whom the authorities had at long last given up trying even to restrain. But like Mary Magdalene, who had been delivered from seven demons (8:2), he was redeemed from his condition by Jesus’ powerful word and restored to wholeness.

It has happened to many whose condition is not quite so obvious or public. C. S. Lewis describes his condition before his conversion as ‘a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.’ Using the imagery of the parable of the soils in the previous unit would seem to suggest that persons such as these are hardened, unproductive soil to hear the Word of God and not worth wasting seed by sowing it among them. But the power of God’s Word can transform even this kind of soil. It can bring salvation, deliverance from the legion of personal demons that assail individuals, and transform the person into a productive proclaimer of the gospel.

The problem is that Christians might tend to avoid the dark haunts where these lost and desperate people may gather. Their scary behavior, as a result of years of maltreatment at the hands of others and their own self-abuse, may make them seem irredeemable, and so they never hear the message of salvation. Jesus is prepared not only to use anyone committed to him to proclaim the gospel, but he is also ready to go anywhere to proclaim it. The whole world, not a small portion of it, needs to be restored to wholeness.

Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Birth Announcement

From our current sermon series on Luke.

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5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Luke 1:5-25

New Sermons Uploaded

It takes quite a bit of time, internet-wise, to upload a sermon. I noticed that we are very far behind in this task, and hope to upload the rest of the Ephesians series, and the sermons for the rest of 2015.

This might be a good place to put in a plug for a volunteer: If you live in the Hamilton, Ontario area, we could use a sound engineer to help with the recording and uploading of sermons. By “helping,” I mean, “doing basically the whole thing.” As it stand right now, I record my sermons on my smartphone, then transfer them to the computer, and rename them for uploading. Then upload them.

So, the first two sermons in the “Hard Sayings of Jesus” series are now up. Just click here.

And if you’ve been clamouring for the sermons, I apologise, and thank you for your patience. If you haven’t exactly been clamouring, but just wondering, now you know: the uploads have been put on the back burner.

Blessings,

Scott Jacobsen, Minister, Mountain View Christian Church.

The Hard Sayings of Jesus

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Jesus offers up some “hard sayings” in the Gospels. Indeed, the Bible is full of things that are either 1) difficult to understand or 2) hard to accept. Jesus taught His disciples that He was “the bread of life” and “whoever eats of this bread will live forever” (John 6:58). Upon hearing this, many of his disciples said,

“This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60).

When Jesus explained that some of them did not believe in Him, and that they were not called,

“many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” John 6:66

They seemed to think that the “hard saying” was a deal-breaker. If Jesus stayed on this path, they weren’t going to follow. He asked the remaining disciples,

“Do you want to go away as well?”

The disciples’ answer did not indicate that they understood, nor even accepted everything Jesus said. In fact, further Gospel accounts indicate that they neither understood nor accepted all of Jesus’ teachings. But their answer did indicate a trusting faith, a commitment, a willingness to follow in order to gain understanding later (which, they did):

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.'” (John 6:68-69)

They would come to understand Jesus and His Gospel. At this time, however, they trusted Jesus, and that was enough for them.

In the next few weeks at Mountain View, we are going to look into some “hard sayings” of Jesus. Some are matters that need clarification, others require a commitment to accept and obey, while others may be teachings that have been hidden behind tradition and custom.

If there are “hard sayings” that trouble you, please feel free to contact me here. I might even include them in my next sermon (don’t worry, though, I won’t mention your name)!

We meet for worship and preaching every Sunday at 11 AM, at 118 Limeridge Road East, Hamilton, Ontario.

 

God’s Presence

Owens on Omnipresence

The omnipresence of God is grounded on the infiniteness of his essence. If God be infinite, he is omnipresent. Suppose him infinite, and then suppose there is any thing besides himself, and his presence with that thing, wherever it be, doth necessarily follow; for if he be so bounded as to be in his essence distant from any thing, he is not infinite.

John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 12 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 96.

Psalm 139:7–10 (ESV):

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Jeremiah 23:23–25 (ESV):

23 “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. 25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’

This Sunday at Mountain View, May 3rd.

First of all, thanks to all who helped get the landscaping improved today. It looks great, and we had great weather for it. Two trips to the dump (trailer full + stuff in the van) means that things look pretty cleaned up, and the old kitchen cupboards are gone.

20 years ago, Jerry M. and I installed that kitchen–it was an Ikea floor model that they sold off in auction. We wanted simple white, and while the really fancy kitchens had higher bids, we got the whole thing for $1100. Problem was, it was all metric, and Ikea was getting out of the metric kitchen sizes. So we installed the metric on one side of the kitchen, and when we needed more cabinets, non-metric was installed on the other side. At any rate, it’s all gone now. They weren’t made for the extreme use in a daycare and church setting, and were getting pretty rough.

I saw Aunt Dorothy this evening, and she may get to return to her home tomorrow! She is very happy about that–please pray for her.

Tomorrow I will be preaching Ephesians 4:1-3, a decidedly more “practical” text, but remember, God’s Word is always “practical,” because truth is practical:

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1–3 (ESV)

 Scriptures tomorrow:

Psalm 22:25-31

Acts 8:26-40

1 John 4:7-21

John 15:1-8

 

 

What is Your Greatest Need?

“What do we really need, what is our greatest need? Our greatest need is life. Most people today are but existing; they have no life. When their pleasures are shut off, when because of war the cinemas and theatres and public houses and dance halls have to be closed they have nothing. They have not got life; they are but existing, and dependent upon things outside themselves; they need life. But where can life be found? It is Christ again who has said, ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10). Life means spiritual life; life means a relationship to God and an enjoyment of His fellowship; and Christ our Lord has it in all its fulness. He says, ‘He that cometh unto me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35). ‘The water that I shall give you’, He says to the woman of Samaria, ‘shall be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life’. Though the world may take everything from you, though you may be naked and bereft of all things, this life from Christ will still go on springing up eternally within you.”

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 3 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 62.

This Sunday at Mountain View — April 19, 2015

Wow, the weather is fantastic! Nothing feels better than heading out to church in warm Spring weather. Our Worship starts at 11, our Bible school at 10.

We are excited to have Dan lead the worship music this Sunday, along with members of the youth. We have a good group of talented kids who play or sing almost weekly.

If you come at 10 AM, adults are watching the video series, “From Dust to Glory” by R. C. Sproul. This series is an overview of the entire Bible.

There is also a Bible class for younger children, and one for Jr/Sr high.

Scriptures for this Sunday:

Psalm 4

Acts 3:12-19

1 John 3:1-7

Luke 24:36b-48

Sermon text: Ephesians 3:8-13

Jerry M. will bring the Communion Meditation.

See you tomorrow!

On Mystery

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, commenting on Ephesians 3:2-7

“Let us look at it again. A Babe is born in Bethlehem and put in a manger. That must have happened frequently. A babe born! Thousands of babies are born daily. But the Babe of Bethlehem is the greatest mystery the world has ever known because that child, that babe is the eternal Son of God. The mystery is that of ‘two natures in one person!’ He is God, He is man. He is truly God, without any limitation. He is also truly man. Those two natures are in Him, and yet He is not two persons, He is one Person. ‘I do not understand that’, says someone. Of course you don’t, you are not meant to do so! If you think that your mind is big enough to grasp and to span such a concept you had better think again. This is ‘the mystery of godliness’. This man, the Apostle Paul, who probably had a deeper insight into it than anyone who has ever lived, simply stands back and says, ‘Great is the mystery of godliness’. It has been revealed to him, so he knows that there are the two natures in the one person. He knows now who that is; not by any mental process of his own, but, as he tells us, by the revelation which came through the Holy Spirit. Indeed the Son Himself had said to him, when on the road to Damascus he asked, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’, ‘I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’. That is the mystery of Christ! This is God’s way of salvation. God is the Almighty, the eternal and everlasting God, to whom ‘the nations are but as the small dust of the balance’, vanity, less than and lighter than vanity. It is He who made everything out of nothing and said ‘Let there be light, and there was light’. So we would have thought that, when He desired to save man and to save the world, He would again have uttered some great word which would cause the whole universe to shake and quake. We would have expected some dramatic exhibition of power by which God would save men and would destroy evil. But God did not act in that manner. His way of salvation is found in this mystery of Christ, in a helpless babe. Nothing can be weaker or more helpless; nothing smaller, nothing more defenceless. That is God’s way!”

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 3 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 42–43.