January 28th, 2018
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
<Intro> God’s grace, God’s work
Teachers prepare some snacks and gifts for the students. It’s their way to help them become motivated to learn. As parents, they’re motivated to try to push the kids into the direction they desire. “If you do well on the exam, then I’ll buy you a computer,” is one example of how they would motivate their children. In the same way, within a company, the CEO will give many company benefits to a person who gives results. In the fields of our lives, this is how we are embedded with motivation, be it directly or indirectly.
Certain times, there are autobiographies where a person will go from rags to riches, and reading such a book will fill a person with motivation. Depending on the kind of people who surround you, you can get motivation differently. Depending on the kind of circumstances that you are faced with, you can be directly motivated as well. You’re trying to make something work. Then, what is the motivation that God is trying to give to you? In other words, there’s something that God wants from us. The first is that God wants to give us His grace. He is gifting you with the power to believe. In that moment, you will be strengthened to realize Christ and receive salvation. God also gives you the grace so that you are enabled to be thankful. Let’s say that you’re thankful for the blessings that you’ve received; that’s when you can volunteer to be committed to the Word. If you look in the book of Ephesians, it says to give the power of revelations. That’s when you have that type of assurance, and because you’re filled with this assurance, that’s when you are truly able to believe. If you look at the works of God, inside them is God’s blessing and God’s guidance. All of these is enabled by God’s grace; this is how valuable and precious the grace of God is.
Until now, you have struggled to make a life for yourself to become rich and achieve success. However, one day you will realize that you have been living in a way that should have been the opposite. One day, you will realize that instead of living your life by your own, you should have lived a life for God. Realizing this is realizing the life of the Gospel. The person who realizes this is a true Christian, a true child of God. However, people tend to think, “I, first, have to be this righteous person. I have to be a kind person and live an upright life.” And that’s the standard that they try to live in this world. However, God calls that a life of religion rather than a life of Gospel. He calls that being “legalistic.”
We’ve already learned that the law and legalism are two different things. The law that God has provided to us is His conscious and His sight; it’s what belongs to God. In comparison, legalism is taking this Word of God and using that for judgment of others. We commonly express this as “a world of difference.” Why, because the righteousness of God cannot be compared to the righteousness of man. “Because I lived a good life, you must also live a good, righteous life.” “Because you’re a deaconess, you need to do this as the minimum.” These standards are our standards, not those of God.
It says that the price of sin is vast and can only be paid through death. However, the fact that someone had died for you instead is the Gospel that God has given us through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. If this person does something wrong, then they go to their parents for forgiveness. As a parent, even if they don’t eat and clothe themselves well, they would go far as to have their own children be fed and clothed well. Parents go through so much to get their kids through college. Even if the kids are lacking, parents will sacrifice their wealth and happiness for their children. This is something that is only possible as a parent.
That’s similar to the Gospel; God is our Father, and for His children, He faced shame and embarrassment. He was slapped in the face, and He was spit upon. That is what He did for us; that is the Gospel. It is emphasizing the fact that God has made us righteous through the Gospel, through Christ. The Gospel is emphasizing the good deed that God did for our salvation. God, unsparingly gave His one and only begotten Son to us. If you look at the perfect time schedule of God, He gave us salvation and used us as His workers. He doesn’t ever let go of us; He is the one that continues to guide us. This is why we should live well. Realizing our incompleteness and the fact that we are unable to do anything with our own strength is realizing the Gospel. We realize that we are in no position to judge or request things from others. We are not worthy of judging others.
Why is it that, when God didn’t know us, He still saved us? It means that through Christ, He made us righteous. He said that all living sins have disappeared, so we must go to Him, for He has delivered us. In the Old Testament, people were forgiven by the blood of an animal. When it snows in the mountains, the snow covers over the greenery. Similarly, the snow covers up the city. That is what the blood of an animal did; it covered your sins. However, to wash out and cleanse the city and the mountainside, the rain is needed. This rain is the blood of Jesus Christ for our past, present, and future. It’s impossible for us to interpret this with rationale and our own worldly calculations. We have no choice but to come to the conclusion that this is all possible through God’s love. He said to us that He would not forsake us nor will He leave us.
When the original and pure Gospel enters a place, the bad things have nothing else to do but come out of that place. That’s called the time schedule. When you look at the relationship between a parent and child, there is a phase where they will have hardship between them. This is because the child will take advantage of the parent’s love.
Their old habitual actions come out. They disrespect the church leaders. These side effects occur as a result of a temporary time schedule, so you must let it be.
Once you do this, you will be able to realize according to God’s grace. It’s the same with maturation; when you’re young, you can only think of yourself, but the older you get, the more your field of vision expands to other people. When you’re young, you spend money however you want because the money is your parents’. However, when they live alone, they will realize how hard their parents worked to fund and support them. Living however you want, you realize that whatever you do can be the works of God or a channel for Satan to control you.
Without God’s grace, there is no commission that is possible. Paul realized how tremendous the grace of God is, and that’s why he proclaimed towards the Ephesians that they would have to give grace. It means that he’s giving things for the grace of God which is unlimited in strength. That is why the grace of God is the start and end of all things. However, you will see that there is the age where God is forgotten. That was the age of Noah.
1. The age where people became separated from God and lost His grace has come.
(1) The age of arrogance where they only lift their own names up (Gen. 6:4)
(2) The age of sin where they only do according to their own will (Gen. 6:5)
(3) The age of idolatry where they only seek their own benefits (Gen. 6:3)
There was an age of arrogance that Noah lived in where people only thought of themselves. If you read about the age of the Nephilim, there were strong soldiers who were famous and popular. It was an age of such arrogance that they had no desire to do the works of God. It was an age of arrogance where they would worship idols that pertained to their interests. However, what does God say about this arrogance? If you look at Proverbs 16 and 17, it says that corruption and arrogance is the forefront of destruction. Arrogance is the first step of falling. In the book of James 4, it says that God will also deem away people who are arrogant. That’s what it means to physically live to your own selfish whims. It was this kind of sin that was rampant on the Earth.
Why did people commit idolatry? They said that it was for their own benefit. They did it so that they can please their ancestors for their own benefit. Idolatry is the result of trying to reap a benefit. It was an age of physical flesh rather than looking to God. It was an age where, instead of seeking the glory of God, they were only seeking their own satisfaction. That’s why people were not able to manage their emotions. When people feel that their pride is hurt, they cannot overlook what happened and must make a fuss out of it. All of this before God is considered to be arrogant. That’s why it was very frustrating for God, and He comes to the resolution that He will get rid of everyone and everything. He decided to finish it. Because this is the decision of God, no one could cancel it. No one survived it.
2. Noah, who received God’s grace, has won against the end of the age (Gen. 6:8)
(1) He was acknowledged as a just man, and a perfect man (Gen. 6:9a)
(2) He received the blessing of accompanying with God. (Gen 9:6b)
(3) He received the mission for God’s salvation. (Gen. 6:14)
However, in that age, there was one person who received the grace of God. That was Noah. Noah is the person who received the grace and salvation of God within an age of destruction. God has accepted that Noah was a man of righteousness, and amongst the people of the time, he was the one who was most complete. The fact that he abided and walked with God was pleasing. While everyone else departed from God and worshipped idols, Noah stayed and abided with God. This is why God tells Noah that the end was near. That’s why Noah was told to build an ark. He was even given specific directions on how to build an ark. Afterwards, Noah was instructed to enter the ark with his family as well as two of each animal. During a time when everyone would perish, he would receive salvation. He also received the blessing of being used by God because he was able to build the ark.
Why is it that God selected Noah? It is because he received grace. Noah received grace. It’s possible because he received God. So what must we do to receive this grace? This is the most important part of the message today. Noah received all these words from his grandfather, Methuselah. He was told that his great-great-grandfather was selected to go to heaven. He was also told that Adam was judged due to not keeping a hold of the Gospel. However, Noah didn’t respond, “Why is this told to me, grandfather?” He, instead, held onto these words as his covenant. Please realize this, remnants and lay leaders, for you will have to do this in the future. God is the Creator and the Master. He’s the One who solved everything before our eyes. “So what must I do? I will only seek after His Word and grace. I must abide in God just as Enoch did.” This is the resolution that Noah realized. He received the Word that the judgment was set. God said Himself that He would put an end to it all. Noah came to such a strong resolution that he was not shaken for over a hundred years in spite of the criticism he received from others. He was able to convince his entire family to board the ark. This is what we must know and follow after. You must make these teachings your own. Especially the Word of God and convent; you must treat this as your own.
The Bible literally says that if you’re going to get something, you must get the exact same for your instructor. Let’s say that you made a feast for yourself, and it was very delicious. When you’re feasting, you must have the same thing for your instructor. However, during the long period of my Christian life, I have never seen this happen—including myself. That’s why I cannot say this to be done because they will call me a hypocrite and leave the church. You might ask, “But Pastor, why do you have such little faith?” It is your own free will to find that kind of pastor.
There’s one more thing that you also need to know. The covenant that God gives is absolutely fulfilled all the time. God is not a person; He never speaks words that are false. The Words that He speaks are the Words given to us. You cannot please God without faith. You need to believe, and you will be rewarded. What this means is that the Word that is given to you as a spiritual authority must be held onto.
3. What is the blessing that Noah received after he made the resolution before God?
(1) His family was saved from the end of the age (Gen. 8:16)
(2) The generation of Adam, who was an ancestor of Mankind, ended, and Noah became the new ancestor (Gen 9:1)
(3) He received the answer of world conquest through God’s mission (Gen. 9:2-3)
The path and the direction that God has set forward is the way that you must follow. This is the only way for you to receive the blessings God has planned for you; it’s the way of success. For Noah, following this path led to lots of ridicule by others. However, when Noah and his family continued down the path that God set out for them, they were able to be saved from the end of the age. Everyone died off, but only his family and the selected animals survived. Everyone else faced failure, but Noah and his family were selected and achieved victory.
They also became the beginning of a new age, a new generation. The first age of Adam had concluded. The new age of Noah started. They became the forefather and ancestors of the new generation. It was at that time that God gave His authority. He gave Noah the power to own and control all things. Sometimes people complain that they are the only believer around, but instead of whining and complaining, you have to realize that you have been called as the start of the Gospel. There was a time when I had a lot of difficulty falling asleep; I would sleep walk and had insomnia. At that time, I didn’t know that this was the result of demons, and I couldn’t tell my parents about these problems. One day, however, I was given the Gospel; I was the first in my family, so I was criticized by my own family. My father would even go so far as to beat me to prevent me from going to church. Personally, I lived through a period of many struggles, after which I discovered the Gospel and went to Malaysia for a mission trip. I went on one of these trips with my wife, and I was able to see the authority of God in work. God gave me, who was demon-possessed, the authority to expel demons from others. Being the first means it’s an opportunity to receive the spiritual blessing of God. When you go on a mission of God, there’s also an answer that follows.
<Conc.> Let us conclude our lives with Christ, and let us make a life resolution to do world evangelization.
Noah came to the resolution that the ark was the way to salvation at that time and age. When he did this, he was able to realize the blessing of world conquest and evangelization. You must also come to the resolution of Christ, our Savior, just like Noah. Because of Christ alone, all the dissonances of our past were solved. Christ completed the Law. That’s why it’s stated that Christ is the start and end to all laws. I bless that you will be able to come to this resolution in your life. If so, then it will be God who will fulfill everything in your life. It’ll be God who answers you, and it’ll be God who gives you your conclusion. The promise of God and the covenant will be given to you.
God, we thank You for Your grace. Help us so that not a single person loses a hold of Your grace. Help us to hold onto only Christ. Just as Noah was committed solely to the work of the ark, help us to be solely committed to Your work. Help us so that we can be the family members of the Immanuel Church of Austin that will not shake. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.