Genesis recap ~ 20080824 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
8/24 Genesis Recap
Encouraged and Equipped for every good work by:
An Enlarged View of God
An Accurate View of Self
A Proper Understanding of Salvation
By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone in Jesus Christ Alone
We've spent more than a year studying the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis. This morning will be sermon # 57 from this amazing book. If we drop this conclusion and the introduction, that's 55 sermons on 50 chapters, or an average of 0.909 chapters per week. Now that we've taken the time to look carefully at each chapter, I want to take one final week to look back over the entire book and what we have learned together.
In verse 15 it says that the sacred writings 'are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ'
If it's true that 'all scripture is profitable...', and I believe it is, then we should be more '...competent, equipped for every good work' after studying such a book. We should be able to ask the question 'in what ways have we as a church been equipped for every good work through the teaching of the scripture?' and 'have we become more firmly convinced that faith in Jesus Christ is our only hope for salvation?
We should be able to ask 'how have we been encouraged to endure as Christians?' and 'has my hope in God increased and deepened as a result of the instruction of the scriptures?' I want to look at three of the foundational ways we should be equipped and encouraged.
The first way we are equipped for every good work is that our view of God is enlarged. When we began the book, I said that the main purpose of Genesis is to reveal God's nature and character to us. Genesis is primarily a book about God. God steps on to the pages of the bible with the affirmation that God IS. He is the uncreated creator of all that exists. He is the self-existent one who had no beginning.
And he is the omnipotent one. Nothing is beyond his capabilities. He spoke all things into existence by the word of his power
His very word carries its own authority. He speaks and it happens. (quote from The Magician's Nephew???) By his very word, stars, planets, the universe leapt into existence. Throughout the story, we see a God who is ultimately and absolutely in control of all things. He is a God who can be prayed to, believed, trusted in, because he can do things. He can change things. He can make things happen.
And we even get a hint of the answer to the 'why' question. All things were created through him, and all things were created for him. His pleasure is the ultimate end and goal of all things. At the very beginning we find a God who takes pleasure in his creation. 'God saw that it was good, good, good, good, good, good, very good'. God even took a day off to enjoy what He had made.
Throughout the narrative of Genesis, we see God involved in his creation, first as a potter forming the clay and breathing life, and throughout coming down to speak and act. When his people falter in their faith, God remains faithful and intervenes to keep his promises. Even in the evil purposes of evil men, God is in control and he has a good purpose to bring about good:
The second way we are equipped for every good work is that we are given a proper understanding of who we are. We are not uncreated self existent beings. We are created and dependent. We are not omnipotent or autonomous. We are part of God's creation, ruled by him for his pleasure. It is not all about us. The universe does not revolve around us and our needs and our desires. We are not on center stage.
We were formed from dirt and we were created to bear God's image, to put Him on display. From Genesis we learn our purpose. We were created to display the excellency of God's infinite perfections.
How does an understanding of this equip us for every good work? It protects us doing good works that aren't really good at all. If we do good works in order to demonstrate what wonderful specimens of humanity we are and to get glory and attention for ourselves, then our good works are not 'good' as God defines them. That is how he can call our righteous deeds 'filthy rags' that are offensive to him,
and 'dead works' that need to be repented of.
. If you understand who God is and who you are and why you are here, then you can:
And we are also protected from thinking that we can do it. All our power, all our strength, all our talent, all our ability is derivative and not original. Any strength, any ability we posses comes from God and it is not our own. We need to understand this, or we will think that we can do it. When we attempt to do things that please God by drawing on our own resources, those resources will fail us and we will feel burnt out. This is not a result of the fall. This is based on the created order. This is by design to remind us of who we are and to point us back to the one who is the ultimate source of everything. Then we can '
Jacob is a great picture of the one who is operating in his own strength and natural abilities trying to make things happen. Jacob had to be broken - broken so that he would learn to place his trust not in himself, but in God who is able to do what he promises.
Genesis also points us to the deepest need of humanity. We might think that feeding the hungry and healing the sick and providing for the destitute are the most important things. And they are very important things. But they are not the ultimate thing. You can heal a sick person, and without Jesus they will still die and go to hell. You can feed and care for widows and orphans and shelter the homeless, and without Jesus they will still die and go to hell. The ultimate need of humanity is that we are sinners and we need to be rescued. We are rebels against God and our rebellion needs to be broken by the Spirit of God. We have offended a holy God and our offense needs to be justly dealt with. We are enemies of God; lovers of self and haters of God, and our self-centered hearts need to be conquered by the love of the one who is willing to die for his enemies.
We need to understand that death and sickness and depression and hunger and pain are all symptoms - symptoms of a deeper problem.
and Genesis points us back to the root of our problems and to Jesus as the solution to our deepest need. Jesus, who by his triumphant death on the cross crushed the head of the serpent and conquered sin and death.
We need to think carefully and think clearly and creatively about these things. It would be wrong to conclude that we should neglect any humanitarian work and simply focus all our efforts on evangelism. The New Testament is clear that we are to fight for justice and protect the helpless and feed the hungry and care for the needy. We need to have a kind of faith that works itself out in love toward our fellow human beings. But we need to be sure that love is not superficial, only easing the symptoms while allowing the disease to rage on. We need to keep in front of us in all our ministry of love toward others that the deepest problem of mankind is our rebellion against God, and the only cure is what God did through Jesus on the cross. When a paralyzed man was lowered in front of Jesus looking for physical healing, Jesus passed by his physical condition and focused on the deeper problem and said to him 'your sins are forgiven'
It was only afterward, and in order to demonstrate who he was that he healed the man of his physical condition. Leaving a gospel tract on someone's windshield may seem to be more focused on the root of the sin problem, but may prove less effective in reaching someone for Christ than a meal provided for a person in need. We must be sensitive to the Spirit of God in our evangelist and humanitarian efforts for the progress of the gospel and the glory of God.
The third way we are encouraged and equipped is with a proper understanding of salvation. It is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that we are set free from sin and death. Genesis tells us this.
It is by grace alone. When man sinned, we tried to cover it up. God took the initiative in salvation. God himself came down and stripped the man and the woman of their inadequate covering that they had made, and provided a blood sacrifice to cover their shame.
On the mount Moriah God provided for himself a substitute to die in place of another.
In sheer sovereign grace, God reached down and chose to save Noah and Abraham and Jacob and Judah out of the mass of sinful humanity and rescue them from their own wicked hearts and to make them trophies of his great grace.
It is through faith alone. The author of Hebrews (11) points us back to the narratives in Genesis and says 'by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith...' The triumph of the patriarchs was the triumph of faith. Faith is believing that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do.
Faith is a response to revelation. God revealed something of his nature and character, and made promises. The men of faith responded by believing what God said about himself and trusting that he would do what he said he would do. The encouraging thing as we look at the narrative in Genesis is that the faith of these great men of faith was imperfect. Adam and Eve took the serpent's word over God's word. They were created good and innocent and they walked with God in the garden, and they still disbelieved God's words and blew it. Noah, the great man of faith who believed God's warning about a global flood, we saw drunk, naked and passed out in his tent. Abraham the man of faith, in fear of famine left the promised land for Egypt and in fear of the Egyptians passed his wife off as his sister. When God delayed in keeping his promise, Abraham slept with his servant girl and fathered the Ishmaelites. And Sarah, the great woman of faith, laughed in the face of divine revelation. Jacob, Jacob ripped off his brother and was on the run for 20 years. He bartered for the birthright and deceived his own blind dad into blessing him. He did a miserable job of raising a family, and he spent years mourning the loss of his favorite son, who wasn't dead after all. And his twelve sons who became the nation of Israel, they were a bunch of trouble making rednecks who lied, cheated, stole, killed, fornicated, and chased sheep around the hillsides. And these are our heroes of faith. That's encouraging to me. Their faith faltered. It was not a perfect faith. But praise God salvation does not rest on the flawlessness of our faith! Faith is only as useful as the object in which it is placed. You can have perfect faith that the parachute in your backpack will keep you safe as you jump out of the airplane, but if you mistakenly put on your kid's book bag full of library books before you jump out of the plane, the intensity of your trust in that backpack will have no effect on the speed at which you impact the earth. Misplaced faith can be even more dangerous than no faith at all, because it gives a false sense of security as you plummet toward your death. But even an imperfect faith in our perfect God is sufficient to save us. It says:
Because of Abraham's trust in God, God counted Abraham, an unrighteous sinner, as if he were righteous. Jesus took our sin in his body on the tree, and he gives us his righteousness
Amazingly, even Lot, Abraham's nephew who got himself into so much trouble is viewed in the New Testament as a righteous man, righteous not because he lived a sinless life, but because he had placed his flawed faith in a big sin-forgiving faith-sustaining God. 'even if we are faithless he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself
Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. We've looked at the promise of God that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. We've seen on Mount Moriah that God would provide himself a lamb for the burnt offering. We've seen the promise of the Lion of the tribe of Judah who would rule and reign.
I pray that as a result of our time in God's word together that our view of God has been enlarged, that our view of ourselves is more accurate, and our grasp of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is strengthened. And I pray that as a result of our experience of these great foundational doctrines, we would be strengthened in hope and abound in every good work to the glory of God.