Andrew S

Esther 4-7: How do we respond to God's sovereignty? - Andrew S

This message is second in a series of 3 on the book of Esther, given in 2014. Here Andrew takes us through chapters 4 to 7 and asks the question of How do we respond to God's sovereignty? The same question applies to 2019. Message 1 is not available due to recording quality.

These chapters give us the account of Mordecai and his response to the decree by Haman to kill and annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children in one day, Esther 3:13, and how he appealed to Esther for her intervention before King Ahasuerus.

We notice 4 things:

1. Mordecai and Esther fasted for 3 days. Fasting is an act of doing without to engage with God. It is setting aside something in exchange for focusing and listening to God's direction. It is not an attempt to be more pious as if the more sacrificial you can be the more God will notice through your will power. It can equally be a fasting from listening to music or social media or TV or other pleasure that takes your focus off listening for God's leading. It is a replacement with something spiritual, focusing your heart on seeking the Lord.

2. As God is sovereign He is in complete control of all circumstances. When we have to act in faith regarding events that seem threatening or risk to our comfort levels there is no neutral ground. We either grow in faith by trusting the promises and nature of God or we retreat and shrivel up like seeds on hard ground. It is a question of belief. Do we believe in the power of God who is calling you. Eph 2:10 tells us that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Divine happenings require faith and courage.

3. We need spiritual discernment for the works that God has prepared for us, and discernment only comes by spending time in prayer and in God's word letting the Lord speak to you, Psalm 119:18. Exercising your faith grows your faith.

4. We must leave the consequences of responding in faith to God.

Andrew closes this message with an excerpt from Martin Luther King's sermon entitled "But if" (12 minute mark)

 
 

Overview of Eschatology - Andrew S

A future and a hope secured, 1 Cor 2:9

Eschatology can be controversial. It creates division as the study of end times is not perfectly knowable. The scriptures tell us a lot but there are still gaps that require thinking about the whole arc of God's redemptive plan in order to make sense of matters. In some churches and denominations there may never be a sermon on end times but at a church in the US you could hear sermons on end times all the time.

You may have heard too much or not enough. The risk is we can become too convinced that we see things clearly so that we can become judgemental and flippant about someone else’s enquiry on the subject that the answers should be obvious.

If we don’t talk about it then we miss large sections of God’s word that deals with it. A minimum of 50 chapters of the bible dealing with end times. Did God waste His time giving us this? If we ignore it we are not being faithful stewards of the Word. It is important that we take a healthy, informed middle ground. The aim is to hold these matters with an open hand and not be too dogmatic on topics that are not central and not as obvious as some people think they are.

Eschatology is not just a creating a timeline of history with people and scriptures plugged into the plan. These are a part of it but eschatology is actually the climax, the unification, the weaving together of EVERYTHING of devine revelation both in the old and the natural world. Everything that God has done, is doing and will do in His creation. Eschatology is every passage in scripture. The big picture of God’s entire plan.

Four major views that the Church has adopted and also dominated the history of the church.
Amillenialism
Pre-millenialism, (dispensational, historic)
Post-millenialism

Four views attempt to piece together things that will happen in the future and create a framework. Each view is, as-well, an interpretive approach to scripture.

Andrew takes us on a very quick tour through each of the positions and concludes with encouragement that our aim is not to stop at Rev 20 but to see the beauty and wonder of Rev 21 - Rev 22 where we will be forever in the beauty of God’s presence.

 

Matthew 28 The resurrection and its significance - Andrew S

We conclude the teaching series on Matthew's gospel on the mountain top of the resurrection of Jesus. Andrew draws out the centrality and basis of our faith as a result of this truth.

When you read the resurrection accounts in all 4 gospels they all highlight different things. Not contradictory but complementary where they differ. By reading all 4 gospels we get a more complete picture of the most important doctrine and truth in Scripture.

The authors of the gospels are not working from just their own knowledge but also testimony of other witnesses.

Andrew harmonises all 4 gospel accounts of the resurrection day, 8 days later with Thomas, and in Acts, 40 days later. Matthew condenses a lot of what we see in the other gospels and appearances. Even pieced together, the gospel accounts don’t give us a whole account of the resurrection.

After Christ’s resurrection for approximately 6 weeks there were many appearances to many people.

Our first emotion when we confront the realities of Christ can be one of fear. When the Lord does what we asked for or what He said He would do, the joy is mingled with fear. An over-awed kind of response seems to be natural when the living God has met us in a personal way.

Jesus appearance is no longer abstract, the disciples were able to hold Jesus’ feet, Mt 28:9-19

Significance and importance of the resurrection:
If there is no resurrection then there is no Christianity, no faith, 1 Cor 15:12. If Christ is not raised then we are of all people to be most pitied.
If Christ didn’t overcome death then what use is He to us. Other teachers had some good ideas but if He hasn’t overcome death then He cannot set us free from the one thing that binds us; our sins that condemn us to death. 2 Cor 5:17. We are new creations.

In Christ on the cross, God was accounting our sins to Jesus so that He could suffer the death due for all the sins. He only was able to carry all of that sin to the grave and to rise again and then reconcile us to God. Because of Christ we can be free of our sin. If Christ died and stayed dead then He was only paying for His own sin but because He rose from death it proves He was sinless and is able to pay the price for our eternal life. Death could not hold him.

Because of this the resurrection is the central pillar of our faith. It is able to impute righteousness to our account because God so loved the world. Righteousness is credited to us for eternity because of the resurrection. The central pillar of our faith.

This is why people try to destroy this truth. Mt 28:11  Attempts to create untruth and lies. The guards were most likely to be temple guards, not Roman soldiers because if soldiers on watch fell asleep then that would have meant death to them.

Jesus ends His ministry in Galilee where it started in Mt 4:12. The message has now been opened up to the Gentiles. Go therefore to all nations. Jesus has all authority to tell is to GO. This is not a Jewish message anymore. Galilee is at the outer edge when compared to Jerusalem. The message has spilled over to become a global message. Even in Mt Ch1, the genealogy of Jesus begins with Abraham, not Adam. It was the promise to all peoples. 

Matthew begins with a promise to the whole world and ends with a commission to the whole world.

We are in a sense now in Matthew 29, the discourse after the narrative of Jesus resurrection. We are the living message, teaching the world around us and leading people into a living relationship with Jesus. Jesus is continuing to speak through His word and through His people.

Implications:
1. It is predicated on Jesus authority. I am telling you, “Go”. Sometimes when we share the gospel and make decisions about life choices we fear offending people or disrupting the status quo. Rocking the boat. Family and friends might not be happy but in fact the authority of the Lord is behind the instruction or opportunity. He says do this, go this way, talk to that person. We can rest on the authority of doing what Jesus wants. If the person is offended then that is up to Jesus to look after. Perhaps the person needs to be disrupted. Remember that Jesus can handle the consequences of us obeying the command to make disciples.
We have the liberty to obey. We can wash our hands of the consequences.

2. Go. There needs to be a sense of going in our life. There are go-ers and stayers. Our lives need to always be going forward in Christ. We should not put up barriers on our Christian life and protect what we have. We should always be ready to move forward on the authority of Christ. Be ready to let the word and prayer to overturn our life. We don’t have to move anywhere but always moving forward with the lord in your life. Always trying to live more holy lives or witness to more people. Phil 3:7:15 Pressing forward in the fullest experience with the resurrected living Lord.

3. The promise. Jesus is with us until the end of the age.
Jesus is with you. If we have faith in Jesus, He is with us. Heb 13:6. Now post resurrection the bond with Jesus is unbreakable. Rom 8:31-38. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Post resurrection we get the abiding continuous presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will come and make His home with us.

Therefore, what stops us obeying Christ. What stops us making him our first priority? Let all the consequences fall to Jesus. 
What should we be concerned about when our focus is on Jesus because He lives with us, and in us, because Jesus rose from the grave. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonah 1: God without borders - Andrew S

We commence a short series on the Book of Jonah. Andrew brings us a rich overview of the power of the Assyrian nation at the time of Jonah and the severity of the Ninevites and suggests reasons to understand why Jonah acted in disobedience to God at the thought that Israel's oppressors might be forgiven and redeemed.

The text instructs us that the Lord God is the the God of the Jews and the Gentiles. Jonah is unique in that it is the only account of a prophet speaking to a Gentile nation for the benefit of the nation, and not for any benefit or instruction to Israel. It is a book of mission.

Andrew explains that the use of a great fish to deliver wisdom of salvation was completely in keeping with the mythology of the Assyrians who believed that all wisdom for civilisation came from seven sages who appeared from the sea. Assyrian iconography and sculpture depicts men in the form of fish giving teaching and instruction.

Andrew also parallels the account of Jesus in the boat in the storm in Mark 4 and Jonah asleep in a boat in a storm. Jesus is sleeps perfectly connected to the will of the Father while Jonah is detached and immune to his circumstances and his role for the salvation of the sailors. The parallel is drawn with out own lives as to whether we are connected or detached from God's will.

The Resurrection - 1 Cor 15 : Andrew S

As we contemplate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His victory over death comes into focus.  Here in Ch 15, Paul lays out the logical argument for the resurrection and Andrew skillfully takes us through Paul's reasoning.

Rom 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. Through a life of sin a wage is owed, and that debt is death.  If Christ died and did not rise again then we would conclude that Christ must have owed a debt. His death would have had to pay his own debt to sin so he couldn’t have paid debt of others. There would be no payment made so we are still our sin, and if we are still in our sin then there is no good news.

But it was not possible for death to hold Christ because he lead a sinless life and owed nothing to sin and therefore Christ can pay our debt. The resurrection of Christ demonstrates that the offering of Christ is effective in carrying away our sin.

Andrew finishes with two reflections on the impact of the resurrection on our life:
1. It changes our identity and heritage in that we no longer are connected to our forebears through the common inheritance that all men die. In the resurrection we become dead to sin and alive to God. Through our kinship in Christ we can daily seek grace from the Father to live a resurrected life.

2. It alters our future and destiny. Imperishable, glorious and powerful. Our destiny.  Death is swallowed up in victory. In a moment corruption becomes incorruptible. In a moment the struggle ends. We can endure. We can hold fast. it is the end of suffering but the beginning of all expansive joy and and thrill in heaven.

Jealousy & Foundations 1 Cor 3:1-23 : Andrew S

Andrew picks up on what we have learnt from Chapters 1 and 2 that the Corinthian christians had every spiritual blessing but no grounds for boasting and divisions wrought by delusions  of spiritual superiority. The Corinthians thought of themselves as being spiritually superior, in contradiction to the mind of Christ. But Paul describes them as behaving as 'merely human'. 

The only work that matters is work laid upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus.

True spiritual understanding goes hand in hand with character growth. Wisdom does not start with a statement of learning but a statement of relationship.  Prov 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
The Corinthians problem was not that they were not smart enough; they were just not applying it. Discernment comes from constant practice to discern between good and evil. Heb 5:12-14. If we want the Christian life then we need to live the Christian life.