Friday, October 30, 2009



  1. Read Hebrews 11:24-26. How does the study of the example of Moses relate to our pursuit of holiness (p.1)? Why is his example especially relevant to our present situation (p. 1)?
  2. What three things did Moses give up for the sake of his soul (p.2-3)?
  3. What did Moses give up as far as rank and greatness is concerned (p.2)?
  4. What pleasures did Moses refuse (p. 2-3; cf. 1 John 2:16)? People say, "Whatever makes you happy" and "If it feels good, do it," how was Mose’s example contrary to the way that we are naturally prone to live our lives?
  5. What was the measure of wealth that Moses refused (p.3)? How deeply rooted is the pursuit of riches in our day? What should our response be (Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:8-10)?
  6. What three things did Moses choose for the sake of his soul (p.4-6)?
  7. What did Moses choose with regards to:1) enduring suffering and affliction (v.25; p.4), being identified with the people of God (v.25; p.4-5); and bearing reproach (v.26; p.5-6)? To what extent are we as believers in Christ compelled to make similar choices (Cf. Heb. 10:32-34; 2 Tim. 1:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:12-14)?
  8. What was the reason for Moses’ suprising decisions (Heb. 11:24-26)? What things did he believe regarding God’s character and promises (p.6)?
  9. How was faith like a telescope and interpreter to Moses (p.7)? What did faith teach Moses regarding rank, wealth, and worldly pleasures (p.7)? What did faith teach Moses regarding suffering, identification with God’s people, and bearing the reproach of Christ (p.7)?
  10. The author asked "Is there any cross in your Christianity." John Bunyan wrote, "the bitter must go before the sweet." What did they mean? How do these matters apply to us (Cf. Heb. 12:1-4)?
  11. Why is faith the only virtue that will enable a person to make such decisions (Cf. Phil. 1:21; 4:13; 2 Pet. 1:1)? How is our faith strengthened (Rom. 1:12; 10:17; Heb. Chapter 11; 12:1-4)?
  12. How is the absence of true faith related to one’s actions (p.11)? How does the possession of great faith lead to great results (p.12)?

Thursday, October 29, 2009


In preparing for this Sunday's sermon I happened upon the account of the writing of the hymn "Jesus Loves Me." Jesus Loves Me is, of course, one of the most endearing Christian hymns ever written. It is oftentimes the first Christian song taught by missionaries to new converts in foreign lands. It has been used by God, no doubt, to bring comfort and hope to millions of souls.

It was written by Anna B. Warner. Anna and Susan Warner were highly educated Christian young women who lived along the Hudson River in the time preceding the Civil War. Their mother died when they were children. Their father, a wealthy and influential New York lawyer, died not long after losing everything but his home in an economic depression. They were left to themselves with a need to find income to provide for their needs, which they did by writing books.

They lived near the US Military Academy and ministered to young cadets who would soon be headed off to war. In fact, Anna's body is buried on the grounds of the US Military Academy, having been honored for her faithful spiritual support of the Army cadets.

The text of the hymn "Jesus Loves Me" was a part of a fictional book she wrote entitled, "Say and Seal." In the book a young and dying child, Johnny Fax, is comforted by a Mr. Linden. Johnny looks to Mr. Linden for comfort and hope, and Mr. Linden responds by gently patting Johnny and reciting the words of the poem:

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak bu He is strong.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! Loves me still,
Though I'm very weak and ill
From His shining throne on high
Comes to watch me where I lie.

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Then His little child He'll take
Up to heaven for His dear sake.

The chorus was added and the music was written by William B. Bradbury some time later. The hymn speaks to the most basic, yet important, of Christian truths--the love of Jesus revealed in His death upon the cross. Isn't it amazing how God brought this hymn to us?

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, October 22, 2009


As a country, America has been unrivaled in its greatness.

  • Established by God fearing men with a constitution written to form "a more perfect union."
  • Founded in the shed blood of men who valiantly defended their right to govern themselves according to the dictates of their consciences.
  • Populated by men and women and families who sacrificed much to enjoy the harvest of blessings this great land affords.
  • Through our colorful history great wars have been fought to better define the principles on which this country was founded. Other wars have been fought to set captives free. The soil of foreign countries are stained with the blood of American heroes who sacrificed their lives to rescue others from tyranny and oppression.
  • America has led the world in expedition and invention, enterprise and prosperity, education and science, medical science and health care. We have been the envy of the world. Sadly, America’s influence for good in the world is on the decline.

We are privileged to be citizens of this great country, but even when America was at its best, it was never the best country. It is good to be a citizen of America, but infinitely better to be a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). The author Hebrews wrote of men and women who desired a "better country, that is a heavenly one" (Hebrews 11:16). These men and women of faith walked by faith in God. They saw themselves as "strangers and exiles on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). They lived their lives according to the dictates of God’s Word. They believed in God with a confident faith that stood firm on His promises. They fixed their hopes entirely on God’s reward and were not deterred by evil men or worldly temptations. They were willing to suffer persecution and even death in the pursuit of that "better country" (Hebrews 11:32-40).

As it is our country is burdened by great conflicts and unprecedented challenges. We are fighting wars with no end in sight. We have amassed an irreconcilable national debt. Corruption, terrorist threats, and health care debates burden our country. Our treasured freedoms are under attack. Any "right-thinking" American citizen should be concerned about where things are headed. But we citizens of heaven need to "fix our hope" on something better (1 Peter 1:13). Even when America was at its best, the "better country" to which we, as believers, are destined was infinitely better--it is infinitely better now. It has a perfect and loving ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ, "Righteous and true are (His) ways" (Revelation 15:3). America’s greatness will wane, this "better country" is "eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). In heaven we will experience the glory of His presence, the absence of sin, and the absence of sin’s curse--"there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" (Revelation 21:4).

All this begs the question--"Where does your hope lie?" "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:16). A country and a city prepared by God Himself--now that’s a desirable place! That’s why we, as citizens of heaven, "eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself" (Philippians 3:20-21).

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Bob and Diane West have now posted, "A Warrior Called Home," on their website. Follow this link to read this surprising and encouraging story:

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I came across these sermon notes as I was cleaning up my study. They are the notes for the sermon that I preached on the morning of the big storm. This message brought the house down, as the storm began in earnest during the morning service. I thought I'd post it on my blog--seeing as it is kind of historical...


The 15 year old teenager headed off to church, as he normally did on Sunday mornings. But there was a blizzard that day and the heavy snow kept him from going to his usual place of worship. Instead he found himself in a Primitive Methodist Church.

As a young man, from a long lineage of Pastors, he knew all about Christianity, but he didn’t know Christ. Later he would write of those days, "It was my sad lot to feel the greatness of my sin without a discovery of the greatness of God’s mercy."

The Primitive Methodist Church almost didn’t open that morning, but the caretaker, thinking that a few people might show up, opened the doors and lit the stove. By 11:00 some 12-15 people had come inside, but not the Pastor. He had apparently been unable to get there because of the snow.

Finally one of the laymen of the congregation reluctantly took the pulpit. As he looked down, he could see the small congregation, hundreds of empty seats, and the young 15 year old boy seated under the gallery. The text for his sermon was "Look unto me, and be ye saved" (Isa. 45:22), and after about ten minutes of repeating himself, the man was about to step down from the pulpit. But before he did, he addressed the teenager. "Young man," he said, "you look very miserable, and you will always be miserable if you don’t obey my text. But if you do obey now, this moment, you will be saved." He paused again, then shouted at the young man with more animation, "Young man, look to Jesus! Look! Look! Look!"

The substitute preacher and his boring sermon was what the Holy Spirit used to bring Charles Spurgeon to Christ. Later Spurgeon wrote of that experience, "There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness was rolled away." God used an ordinary man to proclaim His extraordinary message. Charles Spurgeon was saved, he went on to be arguably the most successful Pastor the church has ever seen. His preaching was used by God to bring thousands upon thousands to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Some of the believers in Corinth were enamored with gifted speakers and clever systems of human wisdom. They elevated speakers and depreciated the gospel message. And the Apostle Paul was responding to their error.

We live in a day when people are prone to the same error, but the opportunities to be deceived by charismatic speakers are even more pervasive. The biggest church in America is a church that preaches a false gospel that avoids the cross. Major movements in evangelicalism focus not on Christ and what he has done but human engineered mechanisms that are designed to produce results no matter what. It has gotten so bad in the modern church--I saw a video of a church that puts on a show every week to get people in the door. The two examples that I saw were incredible. In the one case they had set up a motocross jump track on the stage. Two motorcycle riders simultaneously rode their bikes up the ramps over the head of the Pastor in opposite directions. The entire display was done as an illustration, according to the Pastor, to display the power of the Gospel.

To be sure the modern church has lost its way when it comes to such displays. They are contrary to God’s design. God doesn’t need our help when it comes to saving souls. He has designed the process to work in a particular way--ordinary men preaching an extraordinary message regarding an extraordinary Savior!


A. We are prone to elevate men
1. The church in Corinth had a problem. There were divisions in the church (1:10). These divisions were caused in part by some in the church who were aligning themselves with one particular leader vs. another. Another complicating factor was the tendancy of some in the church to be enamored with charismatic leaders and clever philosophical arguments. Paul was confronting this issue.
2. We are prone to elevate men and look to them rather than to Christ. A good example of what I’m talking about is seen in the book of Acts (Acts 14:8:15). The Apostle Paul healed a man who had been lame from birth. When the multitudes saw what Paul had done they called Paul and Barnabas gods and then brought oxen and garlands wanting to make sacrifices to them. Paul, in response, tore his robes and cried out, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God." "WE ARE MEN OF THE SAME NATURE AS YOU."

B. Paul was an ordinary man
1. We tend to put even the Apostles on a higher plane.
2. To be sure they are the "foundation" of God’s holy temple--the church. We look at the example of the Apostle Paul--what a great man of God he was. No one since has been used by God for the salvation of so many souls. He is the churches greatest missionary. No one has more books in the Bible attributed to them than Paul. Christ Himself revealed to Paul the tremendous theology that we read of in the book of Romans and his other books. He had an experience in which he was caught up into the third heaven and "heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak" (2 Cor. 12:4).
3. And yet the Apostle Paul clearly understood his position before God. He was an ordinary man who was saved by the grace of God, called by the grace of God, sustained by the grace of God, and made faithful in ministry by the grace of God. He conducted himself and his ministry with genuine and complete humility. He called himself "the least of the Apostles" (1 Cor. 15:9) and the "foremost of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). He made it clear that all that he did was by the grace of God. "By the grace of God I am what I am" he said (1 Cor. 15:10).

C. His preaching was not characterized by great speaking ability or any degree of human ingenuity
1. 1 Cor. 2:1, "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come in superiority of speech or of wisdom." Those espousing human wisdom came that way, Paul did not. The Corinthians were saying of Paul, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible" (1 Cor. 10:10). A false teacher may have a great degree of charisma and ability to entertain an audience, but that doesn’t attract a crowd, but that doesn’t legitimize his message. I once had a Pastor who had a stuttering problem. The founder of a nationwide evangelism training program has a speech impediment, but that doesn’t prevent him from proclaiming the message of the gospel, in fact in his impediment the Gospel message is all the more powerful.
2. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a brilliant theologian whose sermons had an overwhelming impact on those who heard him. One in particular, his famous "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," moved hundreds to repentance and salvation. That single message helped to spark the revival known as "The Great Awakening" (1734-1744). From a human standpoint, it seems incredible that such far-reaching results could come from one message. Edwards did not have a commanding voice or impressive pulpit manner. He used very few gestures, and he read from a manuscript. Yet God's Spirit moved upon his hearers with conviction and power. Few know the spiritual preparation involved in that sermon. John Chapman gives us the story: "For 3 days Edwards had not eaten a mouthful of food; for 3 nights he had not closed his eyes in sleep. Over and over again he was heard to pray, "O Lord, give me New England! Give me New England!' When he arose from his knees and made his way into the pulpit that Sunday, he looked as if he had been gazing straight into the face of God. Even before he began to speak, tremendous conviction fell upon his audience."
3. The Apostle Paul was much different in his preaching in another respect. The false teachers spoke with a great degree of self-assurance. The Apostle Paul said, "I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling" (1 Cor. 2:3). What a startling verse when you consider who the Apostle Paul was. Why was he like that? Because he knew his limitations. He was an ordinary man called upon to preach an extraordinary message. He knew that that he himself could do nothing apart from the grace of God. He saw himself simply as a vessel through which God could make known His extraordinary message. 2 Cor. 4:7, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of he power may be of God and not from ourselves."
4. Charles Spurgeon once remarked: "My deacons know well enough how, when I first preached in Exeter Hall, there was scarcely ever an occasion, in which they left me alone for ten minutes before the service, but they would find me in a most fearful state of sickness, produced by that tremendous thought of my solemn responsibility."


A. Nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified
1. It was said that in Corinth there was a philosopher on every street corner. And they competed with each other for an audience. The successful ones used their superior speech and philosophical arguments to gain a hearing.
2. False teachers likewise were proclaiming a different Christ and a different gospel by a different spirit (2 Corinthians 11:4).
3. Likewise we live in a time when a myriad of different philosophies and ideas compete for your attention. Some who espouse their philosophies do so with great charisma. Some use very clever arguments. And even in the church, we are given in our day, to countless man-centered approaches to salvation and the essentials of the Christian life.
4. How did the Apostle Paul respond to all of that? Notice what he said, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). The Apostle Paul did not attempt to compete with the false teachers or dispensers of humanisitic philosophy, he simply proclaimed the message that God gave to him to proclaim.

B. An extraordinary person
1. Paul’s message was all about Christ and it was only about Christ. He did not preach anything that did not have Christ at the center of it.
2. Consider Christ:
He is the creator of all things--"All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3).
He is "the Word" that became flesh--"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14).
He is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
He is the one who was crucified, who died, and who rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-3).
He is the one who ascended to the right hand of the Father.
He is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22).
He is the one who is coming again and to whom every knee shall bow of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth (Phil. 2:10).
He is the one who alone who has the authority to save. I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Indeed salvation is by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ.
3. Dr. Russell Conwell, the Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia and founder of Temple University was renowed for the Christlikeness of his character and breadth of his phlanthropies. Inscribed upon the back of his pulpit were these words, "We would see Jesus." They were put there by his request. It was his desire to present Christ to his congregation.
4. A. W. Tozer, "I have suffered through many a dull and tedious sermon, but no sermon is poor or long when the preacher is showing me the beauty of Jesus."

C. An extraordinary work
1. We have already spoken of the extrorindary work that Christ has done. And how the message of the gospel is the preeminent message that God has given to the church to proclaim. It is the glorious gospel and the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.
2. David Brainerd’s ministry was characterized by the simple message of the gospel. He said, "I never got away from Jesus and Him crucified in my preaching. I found that once these people were gripped by the great evangelical meaning of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, I did not have to give them instructions about changing their behavior.
3. Vincent Ferrier, an eloquent preacher of the 15th century was called to preach before a high dignitary of state. He took care to prepare his sermon according to the rules of oratory, but it was a notable failure. Next day he preached in his usual style, without pretentiousness, and electrified his hearers. The dignitary, who had heard him on both occasions, asked him how he could account for so great a difference in his sermons. He answered, "Yesterday Vincent Ferrier preached; today Jesus Christ."

1. Why has God designed it this way--that He uses ordinary men to proclaim this extraordinary message?
2. Two reasons:
a. 2 Corinthians 4:7, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves." According to God’s design when ordinary men are used by Him to proclaim this extraordinary message that results in the salvation of souls, all of the honor and glory goes to God. The entire process is by God’s grace and is attributed to Him.
b. 1 Corinthians 2:5, "That your faith should not rest on this wisdom of men, but on the power of God." If your faith is in anything else besides Christ and His saving work on the cross, it is in the wrong thing. If it is dependent upon the eloquence of a gifted speaker--that is the wrong thing. It it is captivated by a entertaining and enlivened music ministry--that is the wrong thing. If it is on a particular Pastor or youth leader--that is the wrong thing. If it is built upon a activity oriented youth ministry--that is the wrong thing. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for Pastors, youth leaders, music, and activities--but all of these things are merely tools--and if they become the focus, and a person’s faith rests upon them, what happens when they cease to exist? What happens when the Pastor leaves, or the music stops, or the activities cease?
3. I conclude with an illustration that Charles Spurgeon used in the introduction to his book, "All of Grace." A certain man placed a fountain by the wayside, and he hung up a cup near to it by a little chain. He was told some time after that a great art-critic had found much fault with its design. "But," said he, "do many thirsty persons drink at it?" Then they told him that thousands of poor people, men, women, and children, slaked their thirst at this fountain; and he smiled and said, that he was little troubled by the critic’s observation, only he hoped that on some sultry summer’s day the critic himself might fill the cup, and be refreshed, and praise the name of the Lord. Here is my fountain, and here is my cup; find fault if you please; but do drink of the water of life. I only care for this. I had rather bless the soul of the poorest, crossing-sweeper, or rag-gatherer, than please a prince of the blood, and fail to convert him to God."


Charles Bridges, from "The Christian Ministry: With an Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency":

"In the hidden book of Scripture, and no where else, are opened the secrets of the more sacred wisdom. Whatever is not drawn from them--whatever is not built upon them--whatever does not most exactly accord with them--however it may recommend itself by the appearance of the most sublime wisdom, or rest upon ancient tradition, consent of learned men, or the weight of plausible argument--it is vain, futile, and, in short, a very lie."

Friday, October 9, 2009


This letter from the Puritan Minister, John Newton (1725-1807), was recently published in the Berean Call...

Dear friend,

Allow me to say, that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a Christian minister such as yourself, should think it worth his while to attempt political reforms. When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me, to be no less vain and foolish, than it would be to paint the cabin—while the ship is sinking! Or to decorate the parlor—while the house is on fire!

When our Lord Jesus was upon earth, He refused to get involved in disputes or politics, "Friend, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Luke 12:14. "My kingdom is not of this world! If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight!" John 18:36. God's children belong to a kingdom which is not of this world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and a part of their Scriptural character is, that they are the "quiet in the land." Psalm 35:19.

Satan has many contrivances to amuse people, and to divert their thoughts from their real danger!

My dear sir, my prayer to God for you is—that He may induce you to employ the talents He has given you, in pointing out sin as the great cause and source of every existing evil; and to engage those who love and fear Him, (instead of wasting time in political speculations, for which very few of them are competent,) to sigh and cry for our abounding abominations, and to stand in the breach, by prayer, that God's wrath may yet be averted, and our national mercies prolonged! This, I think, is true patriotism—the best way in which people in private life may serve their country.

I consider the ungodly as saws and hammers in the hand of the Lord. So far as they are His instruments, they will succeed—but not an inch further! Their wrath shall praise Him, and be subservient to His designs!

If our lot is so cast that we can exercise our ministry free from stripes, fines, imprisonments, and death—it is more than the gospel has promised to us! If Christians were quiet when under the cruel governments of Nero and other wicked persecutors, when they were hunted down like wild beasts—then we ought to be not only quiet but very thankful now! It was then accounted an honor to suffer for Christ and the 'offence of the cross'!

Those are to be greatly pitied, who boast of their 'liberty'—and yet they do not consider that they are in the most deplorable bondage as the slaves of sin and Satan, under the curse of God's law and His eternal wrath! Oh! for a voice to reach their hearts, that they may know their true and dreadful state—and seek deliverance from their horrific thraldom! May you and I labor to direct them to the one thing, which is absolutely needful, and abundantly sufficient.

If I had the wisdom or influence to soothe the angry passions of mankind—I would gladly employ them! But I am a stranger and a pilgrim here in this world. My charter, my rights and my treasures, are all in heaven—and there my heart ought to be. In a very short time, I may be removed (and perhaps suddenly) into the unseen and eternal world—where all that now causes so much bustle upon earth—will be of no more importance to me—than the events which took place among the antediluvians!

In the hour, when death shall open the door into eternity—many things which now assume an 'air of importance', will be found as light and unsubstantial as a child's dream!

How crucial then, is it for me—to be found watching, with my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set governments right—but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavor to win souls! "Let the dead bury their own dead—but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God!" Luke 9:60. Happy is that servant, whom his Master finds so doing, when He returns!

As you have forced me to respond—both duty and love have obliged me to be faithful and free in giving you my thoughts.

I recommend you to the care and blessing of the great Shepherd and Savior; and remain for His sake, your affectionate friend and brother,

John Newton


These are my sermon notes from last Sunday's sermon...


A. What is God able to do in you?
B. The life of the Apostle Paul is a marvelous testimony to the transforming power of the grace of God. I remember when I was first saved. And I was reading my Bible relentlessly. And I came to the account of the salvation of Saul in Acts chapter nine. It was an amazing thing to me! And as I read I was encouraged to know that God could save a Christian killer like Saul. But then consider what God was able to do in the life of Paul. He not only saved him, he transformed him. He made him to be the greatest missionary that the church has ever known. He imparted to him great spiritual wisdom. He made him to be like Christ. He used him to reach thousands of lost souls. His writings, inspired by God Himself, are still be used to reach lost sinners today.
C. What is God able to do in your life? We have been studying in this second great prayer of the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians. And we have noted that at the heart of this prayer is God’s desire that we be made to be like Christ in all respects. That He might dwell in our hearts by faith, that we might fully comprehend and realize His love, that we might be filled up to all the fulness of Christ. It is a grand prayer indeed, and it is a reflection of the heart of God in His design for us in our Christian lives.
D. Lest we think that the Apostle Paul is too far reaching in his prayer, Paul reminds us of the nature and character of the God to whom he prays. He is the omnipotent, glorious, eternal God of the heavens. Who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. And He will be glorified in His church and in His Son as He accomplishes His transforming work in our lives. His measureless power will lead to His endless praise.
E. Hudson Taylor, "How often do we attempt work for God to the limit of our incompetency rather than to the limit of God’s omnipotency."


A. God’s measureless power

1. "Now to Him who is able to do" Able=dunameno=normally translated "power"=speaks to the power and ability of God to accomplish whatever it is that He endeavors to do. God is able to do because God is omnipotent, He has all power. He is able to do anything that is within His nature and will to do.
2. God’s power is measureless. But Paul the Apostle has attempted, in this epistle, to use three different yardsticks to give to us an indication of how great God’s power is.
a. Remember Paul’s prayer in Ephesians chapter one. His prayer was that our eyes would be opened to the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. And then he put a yardstick up against that great power so that we might have an indication of just how great a power it is. And the yardstick that is given to us is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The power and ability of God is so great that it was able to vanquish our greatest foe, death itself, and raise Jesus Christ from the dead. That same power is made evident in the life of the believer, as we, who were dead in our trespasses and sins, have been made alive together with Christ and raised up with Him in the heavenly places. Believer--the resurrection power of Christ is at work in you now, giving life to your mortal body, transforming you into His image, prparing you for heaven.
b. And then we look to Paul’s second prayer in Ephesians chapter three. His prayer is that we would be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. And then we are told that this power is according to the riches of His glory. And so we have a second yardstick by which we might measure the ability and power of God. It is according to the riches of His glory. What is His glory? It is said to be the culmination of His attributies. He is a glorious God. He is transcendent in His glory. It is beyond us. And it transcends our understanding. But we see the effects of His glory. His creation reveals His glory to us. In the words of Jeremiah 32:17, "Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee." God was able to make the heavens and the earth, He is able to give life to our sin-dead souls, He is able to conform us to the image of His Son, He is able to make us ready for Heaven. He is able because He is the sovereign and omnipotent God of the universe. Nothing is too difficult for Him. R. A. Torrey once said, "The whole secret of why D. L. Moody was such a mightily used man you will find in Psalm 62:11, "God hath spoken once, twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God." I am glad that it does. I am glad that power did not belong to D. L. Moody; I am glad that it did not belong to Charles Finney; I am glad that it did not belong to Martin Luther; I am glad that it did not belong to any other Christian man whom God has greatly used in this world’s history. Power belongs to God. If D. L. Moody had any power, and he had great power, he got if from God."
c. The third yardstick that is given to us by which we can attempt to measure the power and ability of God is given to us in verse 20. He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. Here it is measured against our prayers and our imagination. And what we are told is that His power far transcends them both. Let us consider this for a moment because it is an important point. We offer up certain prayers to God. And many times are prayers are not as they should be. We are told in Romans 8:26 that we don’t know how to pray as we should, "but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." And sometimes we ask amiss. But even when we do ask according to God’s will, our prayers are never in keeping with measureless ability of God’s ability to answer them.

We are too many times like the disciples in the boat, and the seas around them were raging, and they were fearful, but they had no reason to fear because the creator of the winds and the waves was in the boat with them. And as soon as they asked, he didn’t just save them from the seas, He calmed the seas. God is able to do beyond what you ask for Him to do in your Christian life. The Apostle Paul is a perfect example of this. Who would have ever imagined at the time of his conversion that he would become the greatest missionary the church has ever known. And yet God brought it to pass. And ever saved sinner is a testimony to the measureless power of God.
His ability not only transcends what we can ask, but it also transcends what we can think. We cannot imagine what God is able to do in our lives. The prodigal son had taken his inheritance and squandered his estate with loose living (Luke 15:13). He was destitute to the extent that he longed even to eat with the pigs (Luke (15:16). He came to his senses and decided to return to his father, thinking that perhaps his father might be willing to make him as one of his hired men (Luke 15:19). But instead the father welcomed him back, embraced him, put a robe on him, and a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, he killed the fatted calf, and arranged a huge feast in celebration of his son’s return. The prodigal son had a thought of what his father might do, but what the father did was exceeding abundantly beyond what he thought.

1 Corinthians 2:9, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him." You have a thought about what heaven is going to be like, is will be far greater. God is able to do in your life beyond what you could ever imagine. Think back to when you were first saved. Remember the sorrow and the guilt and the hopelessness that you felt. Look where God has brought you, and that just a taste of all that God has prepared for you.

So, if we were to find the loftiest prayer ever uttered by man. The greatest prayer of faith that could be found in the history of godly men. A prayer that expressed the highest of spiritual aspirations. That stretched to the heights of heaven itself the faith that uttered it. Were we to find such a prayer, God’s power and God’s ability to work would far exceed what was requested in that prayer. And were we to find and discover the loftiest thought that has been thought. The greatest spiritual aspiration that has ever been thought in the hearts of men. God’s power and ability to work would far exceed what was considered in that thought.

B. Is at work within us
1. This power is not just a force that is out there having no relevance to us. It is a power that works within us. Philippians 2:13, "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
2. It is tied in with God’s ultimate goal for us. We have seen in this prayer that God’s goal is to transform us into the image of His Son. God’s ability to work in us is tied in to His purpose in our lives. In other words, the thought here is not that I would ask or think that God will give to me a million dollars, and instead God is going to give me a billion dollars. It is not about our whims--not about our selfish requests and vain imaginations. The prayers and thoughts have to do with God’s saving purpose in our lives. We have an idea of what salvation is all about, God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond that.
3. He is able to:

  • Romans 14:4, "The Lord is able to make (us) stand."
    Philippians 3:21, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself."
  • 2 Timothy 1:12, "I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."
  • Hebrews 2:18, "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."
  • Hebrews 7:25, "Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him."

It has been said, that He will only do for us, what we allow Him to do in us. So the great need that we have is for faith. We need to trust God and His Word and determine to rely not upon ourselves, but on Him. We need to realize all that He has done for us already. What has been outlined for us in this epistle. He has chosen us, He has redeemed us, He has sealed us by the Spirit. We were dead in our trespasses and sin, He made us alive together with Christ. We were without God and without hope in the world. He made us to be fellow citizens, fellow members of His household, and fellow living stones in His temple. He has indwelt us. He is helping us to realize the full measure of His love. He is filling us up to all the fulness of God. So what is needful is for us, not to look to ourselves and our inability, but to look to God and His ability, to save us, to change us, to prepare us for heaven.

5. We should also note that it is the characteristic of the last days that men will have a form of godliness, but deny His power. (2 Timothy 3:5). The modern church is characterized by religious exercise, but lacking in faith and empowerment by God. We need to be different in this respect. God has not called us to be religious people, we are called to be His children. Living in a vital life-transforming union with Him. Nothing short of this is acceptable to God, and neither shall it be acceptable to us.
6. William Carey, "Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God."

A. God will be glorified
1. John Stott, "The power comes from Him; the glory must go to Him."
2. To attribute glory to God is not to add anything to Him, for He is already perfect, it is to acknowledge Him as He is. To glorify God is to readily acknowledge His divine worth.
3. This section of the letter to the Ephesians began with this theme and it concludes with this theme. Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." And as we come to the end of the doctrinal portion of the book, it is concluded with the same theme. We should realize this about doctrine--the goal of our study of the Word of God is the glory of God. Indeed, the goal of life is the glory of God. Your life might not have started that way. Maybe you were ignorant of God’s glory, you did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Make sure it ends that way. You were created by God for this purpose, that you may glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Indeed, all of creation is moving in that very direction.
4. Though this world seems to lack direction, there is a direction and purpose to it. God has a purpose in it. In the end we shall all give glory to God. This is emphatically presented to us in the book of Revelation. The God who is able to save, will receive endless praise. Revelation 4:8-5:14.

B. In the church and in Christ Jesus
1. God will be glorified in the church. He has saved us "to the praise of His glory." Remember the threefold repetition in Ephesians 1:6, 12, and 14. And again in Ephesians 2:10 we saw that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works," that God might be glorified in them. God has carried out His saving purposes in us, "In order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10)."
The church exists to bring glory to God, and to the extent that the church pursues this preeminent goal God will bless her efforts. If we fail to maintain this as our goal, if we minister for other motives, we should not expect God’s assistance. And we should not this as well. God will be glorified in the church. The world thinks little about the church. She is scoffed at and ignored. Many Christians think little of the church today, and many forsake it for other pursuits. But God thinks much of His church. It is the object of His love and devotion. And we need to respect it as the God-ordained and beloved institution that it is.
2. God will be glorified in His Son. Our Lord Jesus prayed this way in John 17:4-5, "I glorified Thee on earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now, glorify Thou me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." God the Father is glorified in God the Son and especially in His saving work on the cross. A day is coming when every knee shoud bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Thank God that many of you have already confessed Him to be your Savior and Lord. Don’t wait until it is to late to do so voluntarily. The day is coming when there will be many who will be forced to confess this truth, but apart from His salvation. Now is the time, today is the day to acknowledge Him to be your Savior and Lord.

C. Throughout eternity.
1. Paul concludes his great doctrinal treatise with this preeminent conclusion. To Him be the all generations forever and ever. Amen. This matter transcends all generations and all time. The glory of God is the chief purpose of this universe. No person is exempted. Every one of us, every generation of man, every nationality, every tribe, every tongue exists for this supreme purpose: to glorify the creator. And that has been the purpose of God’s creation from history past and will be the purpose of His creation forever and ever. "To Him who sits on the Throne, and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever (Revelation 5:13)."
Like a mighty river flowing towards the sea, so is the history of man flowing relentlessly towards this final destiny. When we, as believers in Christ, arrive in heaven, the eternal praise and worship of God will be all that will remain. There will be no room for selfish endeavor or pride, there will be no tears, there will be no illnesses, no death. There will be no room for petty problems and concerns. No room for disagreements. No room for temper tantrums. No room for grumbling against God. There will be room only for fellowship with our creator and the praise and worship of Him. As we live our lives here on earth, we need to be preparing ourselves for such a place. We need to live our lives now to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." As we prepare ourselves for heaven, our goal here on earth should be to bring glory to God. We are going to be a part of a great heavenly choir that will sing the praises of Him. Now we are in choir practice. The lives that we live, the things that we say, the things that we do, are to be to this end. And God is able to make it so in our lives.

What is God able to do in you? Exceeding abundantly beyond what you ask or think! When you apply yourself to His will--to love Him, to serve Him, to grow in Him--you can be confident that God will work in a powerful way to assist you in those efforts.
And as He works to save us and to change us, He is glorified because the power comes from Him. It is all by His grace.

Pastor Jerry


I posted this back in January, but in view of recent events in the news, I felt compelled to include it in our monthly church newletter and repost it on my blog.

We are prone to worship men. We set before us some athlete, politician, or religious leader and suppose him to be something special. We pledge our allegiance to him or her and suppose that he or she has the power to do great things. It is true that there have been great men and women through the ages. There have been individuals who have stood out above the crowd of humanity for some particular reason. Their intellect, their skills, their inventions, or good deeds have garnered humanity’s admiration. That’s not a bad thing. But when that admiration turns to worship, that’s an entirely different matter.

In the book of Acts we have two accounts of men who were worshipped, both cases are instructive. The first involved King Herod. According to Acts 12:21-22, "He put on his royal apparel, took his seat at the rostrum and began delivering an address" to the people. Apparently his dress and his speech greatly impressed the crowd, for they cried out, "The voice of a god and not a man!" (Acts 12:22). The end result in that case was pretty gruesome. "Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and HE WAS EATEN BY WORMS AND DIED" (Acts 12:23).

The second account involved Paul and Barnabas. Paul healed a man who had been "lame from his mother’s womb" (Acts 14:8). When the multitudes saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying..."the gods have become like men and have come down to us" (Acts 14:11). "And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds" (Acts 14:13)." The response of Barnabas and Paul could not have been stronger. "But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out in the crowd, crying out and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? WE ARE ALSO MEN OF THE SAME NATURE AS YOU" (Acts 14:15).

No matter how great the man, the truth is he is of the same nature as every other man. We are all sinners by birth. No matter how great our intellect, charisma, or deeds--we are all sinners by nature and practice. None of us is deserving of worship. History has proven that it is never a good thing when men worship a man. We should never set any man on a pedestal. We are commanded to respect men--civil and religious leaders and even each other (1 Peter 2:17), but we are never commanded to worship them, indeed we are commanded not to worship anybody or anything except God Himself (Exod. 20:4-5).

THERE IS BUT ONE DESERVING OF WORSHIP--Jesus Christ. Though we "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23), "he knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21)." Though we are prone to selfishness and pride, he lived a humble and selfless life, putting the needs of others first. He consistently and relentlessly gave of Himself for the betterment of those around Him. The extent of His love was proven in His willingness to die for our sins (1 John 3:16). God raised Him from the dead and He has been exalted "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come" (Eph. 1:21). There will come a day when "every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).Respect our leaders and express thanks to those who do good, by all means. Worship them, never. There is but one who is worthy of our worship--Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Jerry