expository Preaching

Doctrine of Demons - Demonology

A Bible Exposition Of Various Passages

Well this week is the last one in our mini-series on “the Doctrine of Demons” before heading back to Mark. I have found this study to bolster my own confidence in the sufficiency of the provision we have in Christ. Before we began this series we were in 2 Peter 1 reflecting upon how we have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness.

This study is really a manifestation of those precious truths. That in the spiritual realm we have been given a rich spiritual provision and we lack nothing in the promises of God for knowing Him and living for Him.

The impetus for the focus on demons for a few weeks is because we were making our way through Mark’s Gospel when we encountered chapter five, where Mark takes an extended passage to deal with a man who was possessed by a demon. 

A passage like Mark 5 raises more questions for us than it answers. In this account, we read about profound suffering taking place by an evil spirit. It is horrifying.

And because there are so many questions surround demon possession we wanted to take a little extra time to make sure that we establish a thorough understanding of this doctrine. 

There is confusion regarding what it means to be demon-possessed. 

  • How to identify if someone is being tormented by demons.
  • What the symptoms of demon-possession are.
  • How demons can influence the lives of Christians.

As believers, we need to be equipped to bring clarity to the confusion.

And the case I will argue for in this study is that the confusion isn’t originating from the lack of data in the Scriptures. It isn’t because we can’t make definitive conclusions where we need to from the text itself. But rather, the confusion comes from an elevation of human experience and a lack of careful study of the Scriptures. 

In fact, in preparation for this message as I read, I found time and time again, authors who, on the one hand, affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture with their words, but then, on the other hand, undermine those words in practice.

Their language sounds very intelligent. They don’t come out and say at the end of the day I let me life experiences shape my theology. But you begin to find that counseling meetings, stories told by a missionary or something they concocted in their imaginations.

Consider how one theologian states his view of this relationship between experience and God’s revelation:

Of course, doctrine must always have precedence over experience. Nor can experience ever furnish a basis for biblical interpretation. Yet, if consistent experiences clash with an interpretation, the only inference possible is that there is something wrong with either the experience itself or the interpretation of the Scripture which runs counter to it. Certainly the inspired Word of God never contradicts valid experience. The sincere truth-seeker must be prepared to revamp his interpretation to bring it into conformity with facts as they are.”

Of course, the Scripture has precedence over experience… but if you are a sincere truth-seeker then you must revamp your interpretation to bring it into conformity with facts as they are. So subtle, so problematic. Who determines what a “valid experience” is, or who determines the, “facts as they are.”

You can’t claim with integrity that you believe in the authority of the Scripture if you can work backwards and re-interpret the Bible based upon something other than the text of Scripture itself.

Whether it is your tradition, or your experiences, or your personal viewpoints, or what feels right to you—you must let all of that be interpreted by the plain language of Scripture. In fact, Scripture is littered with examples of men and women who dishonored the Lord due to walking by what seemed right to them instead of the plain Word of God.

And it’s easy to wonder about demonic influences. We don’t have much information. 

Please hear me on this. I’m not minimizing spiritual warfare. I’m not a naturalist. I believe in the spirit-world and spiritual forces of darkness, but just like our in study of Satan, the Bible is clear that our focus spiritually isn’t on demons. 

And furthermore, if you want the main take-a-way from this message it is this: the existence of demons is already presupposed by God in every promise He has given us. 

What do I mean by that?

You don’t need some special battle plan, or prayer practice, or special discernment, or special anything for dealing with demons. The normal means that God has given you are sufficient. 

As I will demonstrate the instructions to the church regarding demons is simple and clear. I’m sure that you won’t have every question answered this morning. But I want to give a basic framework for you today. I would encourage you, if you have additional questions to consult Alex Konya’s Demons—A Biblically Based Perspective.

Understanding the Doctrine of Demons (it is a play on words from 1 Timothy 4:1-3)

  1. Demons (understanding demons generally)
  2. Demonization (understanding demonization specifically)
  3. Deliverance (understanding deliverance properly)

Matthew 12:43–45 (NASB95)

Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.

 

 

A Unique Authority Among Us (Part 1)

A Bible Exposition Of Mark 1:21-28

What we will find today is that we are picking up on a theme that was implicit last week, and it will become central this week. Last week Jesus had just called four of his disciples to Himself.

These were men had already been following Him as disciples. We said is that these were disciples with a little “d”. They were students and followers in a general sense. But that day at the lakeside everything changed.

They didn’t realize exactly how, but what just happened would change their entire lives and their eternities. These would be the men who were the pillars that built the foundation of the church that exists today.

Jesus called them away from their skilled trades or businesses really, their livelihoods… He called them away from their hometown, from their families, and from their inheritance. And they left it all immediately without hesitation.

And Mark wanted to get these guys into the record book because they will continue to show up elsewhere. But this calling demonstrated something of the authority of Jesus. His authority was unrivaled. He commanded and they obeyed.

And Jesus had every right to command them in that way. Well if His authority was implied in this previous section, then it is explicit in the portion we will study today. In fact, the authority of Jesus is going to be a central theme in this week and next week as well.

Chapter 1:21-39 covers one day in one city. Well, it depends on how you tell time. From a Jewish perspective, it is two days, but it is a 24-hour period or so.

Mark 1:21–28—21 They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

Jesus’ Authority Stirs up a Synagogue

  1. The Setup (21-22)
  2. The Showdown (23-26)
  3. The Shock (27-28)

This exposition was preached at Cornerstone Bible Church in Albany, Oregon on November 27, 2016.

The First to Pass The Test

A Bible Exposition Of Mark 1:12-13

In the world of food and wine, one of the highest designations one can have is that of a sommelier. A sommelier is a wine steward. Beginning in 1969 there were official exams and classifications for sommeliers. The highest designation is that of a certified master sommelier. The exam is governed by the Court of Master Sommeliers, which has only inducted about 200 Master Sommeliers since the 70’s. So that’s a handful of folks each year. Of those who pass, most have at least 10 years experience as a Sommelier. The previous tests to get to that level have a 25% pass rate. They range from Introductory to Certified to Advanced to Master.

So there is a winnowing to even get to the top to be able to take the Master examination. It is considered one of the hardest tests in the world. Master Sommeliers have extensive knowledge of not just grapes and the process of making wine. But the various distinctions from regions to sub-regions, to even specific vineyards. A Master Sommelier has to blind taste wine and be able to pick up on the nuances and specifics of where and when the wine was produced.

Added to this is extensive knowledge of food pairings, cigars, other alcohol beverages. Not only is it the characteristics and parings, but also the science behind all of it. To top it off, Sommeliers are evaluated on salesmanship, charm, personality, and presentation. They have to look the part and be able to make for an enjoyable dining experience. Some years more students pass than others.

In 2013 out of 70 people who took the exam only one passed. It is difficult. It is strenuous. Preparation is rigorous. Many people who aspire to become Master Sommeliers never make the cut.  Passing the test isn’t what qualifies you. In one sense, the test just tells what’s there. What actually qualifies you is your ability to pass the test. By that I mean the test is the validation that you are qualified, that you have the stuff to get the job done.

And as rare as it is to pass a Master Sommlier test, the test for obedience to God’s standards has a much lower success rate. Statistically impossible. Worse than that we know that it is theologically impossible. Right now up to the point of Jesus ministry, the human race, starting with Adam is O for billions.

And yet that is all about to change. The test taker is now going to pass the test with flying colors. He will ace the impossible exam. Jesus is not the first to take this test, but surely He is the first to pass the test.

Today brings us to the end of Mark’s Prologue. The background for the rest of the book is established. We know what we need to so that Mark can dive into the ministry of Jesus next week as He begins His preaching ministry.

The Prologue to the Ministry of Jesus Christ (1:1-13)

  • Identification of His Ministry (1)
  • Preparation for His Ministry (2-8)
  • Inauguration of His Ministry (9-11)

But before Mark turns the corner there is one more situation that needs accounting for:

  • Validation of His Ministry (12-13)

This is the final step in Jesus preparation for ministry. Before He goes public, He must be tested. He has just identified Himself with His people. He has just been identified as being the Son of God.

And so now Jesus is tested by Satan in the wilderness according to the Spirit’s intention. This is a test designed by God to vindicate the ministry of His Christ. Jesus, as a man needs to pass the test in order for Him to be qualified to bear the sins of men. Our outline is very simple this morning. Just two verses here today. It breaks down very naturally:

2 Features of Jesus’ Validating Test

  1. The test is chosen by the Spirit (12)
  2. The test is carried out by Satan (13)

Mark 1:12–13 12 Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

World, Meet My Beloved Son

A Bible Exposition Of Mark 1:9-11

Well here we are back in Mark today. Grab your Bibles or your Bible apps and turn or scroll with me to Mark 1.

Let me just tell you, I love studying God’s Word and teaching it. That’s a good thing for a pastor to love doing.

But this study so far in Mark has been exceptional. We are just going to keep coming to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you can study Christ and be unaffected that’s a problem.

To understand Him rightly should cause brokenness over who you are. A compelling sense of unworthiness. An immense gratitude to Him for His undeserving grace. To see Christ and rightly respond is to swell with worship as you consider that the God-man would die for someone like you.

If you can study Christ and walk away in indifference then there is a concern that you don’t really know this person whom we are speaking of.

These truths are so lofty. So my prayer today is that your heart would be impressed with the Lord Jesus Christ. That you would see Him as the eternal Son, humbled to come and stand in your place.

And that you would leave here today re-invigorated by the truth that if you have come to Him in faith and repentance then you have Him. Expect to have your heart and mind gripped by the reality of Christ himself today.

This brings us to our third week in this study. Here’s where we are big picture:

  1. The Prologue to the Ministry of Jesus the Christ (1:1-12)
    1. Identification of Jesus’ Ministry (1)
    2. Preparation for Jesus’ Ministry (2-8)
    3. Inauguration of Jesus’ Ministry (9-11)
    4. Vindication of Jesus’ Ministry (12-13)

Mark is aware of all the details we find in Matthew in Luke. The birth narrative. The magi coming from the East. The last minute trip to Egypt. The scene in the temple as a boy

None of that is important to his purpose.

So today we come to his baptism. Oftentimes we kind of read over his baptism it seems at best kind of odd and unusual… why he would get baptized? At worst it seems useless or even inappropriate. Why was He baptized? What is the significance of His baptism? What do we learn about our God and Savior from this text?

Well, all of that from our text today.

4 Parts to the Inauguration of Jesus’ Ministry (9-11)

  1. His Appearance in Public (9a)
  2. His Affiliation with Sinners (9b)
  3. His Anointing by the Spirit (10)
  4. His Affirmation by the Father (11)

 

Get Ready, the King is Coming

A Bible Exposition Of Mark 1:2-8

Get Ready, the King is Coming!

John the Baptist was the greatest man who has lived up until this point according to Matthew 11:11.

Born of women. Naturally. None has risen. Prophets rise up. John has this unique ability that set him apart. When he burst on the scene it was remarkable.

A good bible student asks the question… why is this passage in the Bible? Of all the details that could have been written about and aren’t, why does Mark include this here? If you and I are going to get the most out of this passage we have to be able to identify the answer to this question.

He is making the case that this Jesus is in fact the long expected one of Israel. All of these first three sections in the prologue are establishing even before we see Jesus begin his earthly ministry that He is the Christ.

The Prologue to the Ministry of Jesus Christ (1:1-12)

  1. Identification of His Ministry (1:1)
  2. Preparation for His Ministry (1:2-8)
  3. Inauguration of His Ministry (1:9-11)
  4. Vindication of His Ministry (1:12-13)

You are about to be introduced to the greatest person who has ever walked the earth. Because as much as he is a real man, he is also fully God. He was appointed for the rise and fall of many in Israel. You must pay homage to the Son.

The message is to come and be saved. John’s ministry was to sober and soften the Jews for receiving her king. Sober from spiritual complacency. Where you have all the time in the world, and temporal things become the most important things to you. Soft where you are longing for the Lord. You want to see Him, and know Him, and walk in a way that pleases Him.

Key Implications: if you are not in the kingdom, then today come and bow before your King that you might receive his blessing. And if you are in the kingdom, then rejoice that your King has come and is coming again.

This is the good news, the euangelion as we discussed last week.

It was used when there was a significant geo-political change that was impacting the empire. A new emperor is born. Or a great military success has taken place.

And so here, God is announcing through his servants the good news that a king is coming.

“It is announcing the good news of the arrival of God. That is its usage. It refers to the ascent of God to rule, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. When you're talking about good news, you're talking about, this is the best news possible. Remember now, these are people who are captive. They are being told there is coming a restoration. The punishment and chastisement is over. You're going back and the Lord is going to ascend again into His throne and He is going to rule over you. In the forty-second chapter...or the fifty-second chapter of Isaiah, we find a similar usage of this in the same context. Verse 7, Isaiah 52, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news. Again this is the same good news who announces peace, who brings news of happiness, who announces salvation. And what is going to bring happiness and peace and salvation? Say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.'”

Summary of The Passage

Mark kicks off with his prologue to the Gospel. After issuing the title statement, which summarizes the entire work, he moves on to the preparation of the ministry of Jesus Christ.

He quotes Isaiah and Micah (only referencing Isaiah). Micah concerning the sending of a messenger who will prepare the way, and Isaiah concerning (v. 3) that the voice in the wilderness will proclaim that people need to get ready.

In this passage we see how Mark views the revelation of Jesus Christ as being an announcement of good news. Furthermore, that He is Messiah, and He is the promised Son of God.

John’s ministry then is included only because it is such an essential context for establishing the ministry of Jesus. Jesus arrived as promised, and in part known by the man (also promised) who came right before Him. Many, but not all of the Jews were expecting (and desiring) something different than Jesus of Nazareth.

The Jews had been waiting for a very long time to hear from God… how many generations? Comparison to how old the United States is? How did that compare to what they were used to for their generations of not hearing anything from the Lord.

3 Attributes of John’s Ministry of Preparation (1:2-8)

  

  1. John prepares as promised (1:2-3)
  2. John preaches with Impact (1:4-6)
  3. John points to another (1:7-8)

 

 

Introducing the Promised Christ

A Bible Exposition Of Mark 1:1

We are going to spend some time camping out on Mark 1:1 because in these few words there is so much significance packed in.

This first section is Mark’s prologue to the Gospel. A prologue comes early on in a piece of literature. It functions to set the stage for the story. It is pre-information that comes before Chapter 1.

Mark is writing, as he says here, about the things concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And true to this form, Jesus will appear in nearly every single paragraph throughout the work. But here, Mark is going to include some necessary details for his hearers.

Mark is writing about one thing—the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact he says as much right here:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I’m starting at the beginning, but the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Mark says I want to introduce Jesus to you, but I’m not going to give you his birth (Luke) or his genealogy (Matthew) or his eternal preexistence with the Father (John), I’m just going to jump right in to the events leading up in the months before his public ministry kicked off.

You need just enough prologue to get the main gist of the story.

The beginning of the gospel sound very familiar to us. The English word Gospel translates εὐαγγέλιον, which if you were transliterate εὐαγγέλιον (transliteration is just where you line up the Greek letters and put English sounds to the word as it stands you get evangel).

Our words evangelism, evangelist, evangelical are transliterating this root word for Gospel.

Mark says, I’m writing to you the Gospel. So Mark isn’t saying, I’m writing a Gospel as in a genre of literature, but rather this body of work I have written is the Good news proclaimed. Specifically, that news which concerns Jesus the Messiah.

If you want to know why we call the Gospels the Gospels, it is because of how Mark refers to it here.

The other writers speak of the Gospel of the kingdom, or preaching the Gospel, or believing the Gospel. But they don’t refer to what they wrote as the Gospel. Only Mark does that. He’s a trendsetter in the church.

Mark quotes Jesus as referring to the Gospel repeatedly:

  • Mark 1:15—and [Jesus] saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
  • Mark 8:35—[Jesus] For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
  • Mark 10:29—Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,
  • Mark 13:10—[Jesus] The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
  • Mark 14:9—Truly I [Jesus] say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

It is content. It is a cause.

If you grew up in the church, or you have been in Christ for a long time, then your understanding of Gospel is radically different than a first century Jew or Roman hearing the word.

Gospel isn’t a Christian concept. But like so many other words, it took on new meaning when it was used the Church.

When Mark wrote this, Gospel wasn’t yet an established literary genre yet (as in the historical account that we call the Gospels).

They didn’t say things like, “she takes it for gospel truth” they didn’t have gospel outreaches, gospel presentations, gospel tracks, they didn’t have gospel coalitions, or gospel conferences, or gospel-centered sanctification, they didn’t even have the old time gospel hymns.

No, gospel meant good tidings, good news. It involved the proclamation of something that wasn’t just newsworthy or noteworthy, but it was praiseworthy.

The romans were familiar with good news, εὐαγγέλιον. It was part of their propaganda as they lauded the emperors. It even had a spiritual usage at times.

When a baby was born to the emperor’s family (a future heir) it was hailed as gospel. When there was a major military victory and the news was spread throughout the empire celebrating the recent success, it was gospel.[1]

Sometimes the secular gospel was almost too much stomach. There is a well-known account, which pours the praise on Augustus. He is given credit for righting the wrongs of society, providing universal blessings to the empire, and restoring military success.

One inscription even refers to Augustus as the savior who made wars cease and created order everywhere. His accomplishments were so noteworthy that the political calendar was changed so that people would assume public office on his birthday (September 23rd by the way—so that was then and this is now).[2]

When festivals celebrating Caesar (who was considered a god) the reports of the festivals were called evangels. But there is something particular here that is useful for us in understand how and why Mark uses this phrase here and now.

It had to do with the significance of εὐαγγέλιον, William Lane explains that gospel signifies…

an historical event which introduces a new situation for the world. In this perspective the Roman would understand Mark’s proclamation of Jesus the Messiah. Beginning with the inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry, Mark announces Jesus’ coming as an event that brings about a radically new state of affairs for mankind.[3]

So it wasn’t just a military victory or the birth of the future emperor as new in themselves. Rather that they signified a new regime, a new direction, a reality that was going to change the world.

And yet this gospel is distinct from the roman variety. First of all, Jesus is unassuming compared to the pompous depiction of Caesars. Second, Jesus victory came by way of a gruesome and despised death, not military conquest. Third, the nature of his accomplishments.

Jesus is highlighted because of his unique personhood, preaching, and passion, said another way his character, his content (what he taught), and his cross. When the readers heard his expression, this would have been a new twist. An official report of great tidings that are going to change the world.

For the new to be effectually good though, you have to embrace it. It’s like finding out who the next president is—it’s good news, to some people, and it’s terrible new to others.

The Gospel is good news. It is the news that God has come to earth to save sinners. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. And yet for those who do not believe it brings judgment and condemnation.

Their sin is so much greater because they are sinning against such clarity and such love.

A couple of implications here:

That announcement carries the weight of a royal edict. Note: this is why we don’t tamper with the methodology. The truth of the Gospel is a message and a method. It is content announced and proclaimed. 

You have all kinds of approaches to trying to package the content of the Gospel in a package that the unbelieving world wants to receive it. But this is the way God designed it to be offered up—it’s a message and a method—they are inseparably linked. It is news heralded.

We don’t warm people up to Christianity. We don’t earn their respect and then give them the truth.

Remember what the angel of the Lord said in Luke 2:10-11:

10 Behold, I bring you good news [εὐαγγελίζομαι]… good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

Why great joy? What is this good news angel?

11 For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Same language Mark uses here… he is the Christ. Messiah, the Lord. The Lord’s Anointed One, and the Lord Himself.

The angel there said, He is Savior for you. He is a Savior for you. He is a deliverer. That’s what his name means. It’s the same thing the angel said when He came to Joseph:

Matthew 1:21—call him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.

The Gospel is the best news. Jesus said it. Paul said it. Matthew, Mark, and Luke said it. Peter highlights it. John announced it. The prophets foretold it.

What’s the appropriate response? Joy.

We like getting good news. But this news is to transcend any other news you have received.

We have children and we love to hear the news that it’s a boy or a girl. We love to hear that mom and baby are doing well. It’s good news when you get a new job, or you get to you’re your job. It’s good news when you get a clean bill of health, and there’s no more cancer.

It’s good news when you pass that difficult class, or you get accepted into the school you wanted to enroll, or you made the team you wanted to be a part of. But this news is transcends all of that other news. Said this way, if you had everything but bliss in this life, but you don’t learn about the Gospel and believe in it, then it doesn’t even matter.

The Gospel brings us to God. The Gospel makes us acceptable to Him. The Gospel brings pardon, and mercy, and forgiveness of sin. The Gospel brings us a new relationship to God whereby we are adopted, and made heirs with Christ.

[1] R.C. Sproul, The Reformation Study Bible—English Standard Version. 2005 Ligonier Ministries, 1414.

[2] David E. Garland. Mark—The NIV Application Commentary

[3] William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark, NICNT; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 42-43.

Stopping the Slide Into Self Atonement

A Bible Exposition Of Galatians 2:11-21

Paul Shares 2 Reflections on His Confrontation with Peter

  1. Paul shares the circumstance of his confrontation with Peter (11-14a)
    • Establishes the setting (11a)
    • Encapsulates the situation (11b)
    • Explains the scenario (12-14a)
  1. Paul shares the content of his confrontation with Peter (14b-21)
    • Highlights the inconsistency (14b)
    • Reviews the facts (15-16)
    • Defends his position (17-21)

Galatians 2:11–21—11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? 15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

Establishing the Context

Paul has just been on the topic of defending his apostolic authority. False teachers had come into Galatia and spread lies about him. They claimed that he wasn’t really an apostle, his Gospel of grace was false, and the Galatians needed to add human achievement to their profession of faith in Christ.

And so Paul is makes it abundantly clear that he isn’t the origin of the Gospel that he preached to the Galatians. Rather, he received it directly from the Lord.

In Chapter 2 Paul begins comparing himself to Peter. Peter was called to Jews (i.e. staying home in Jerusalem with James) meanwhile I was called to Gentiles (i.e. the foreign mission field), look at v. 7.

7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised

Why does he bring this up now? To show that him and Peter are on an equal playing field.

8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles),

Peter is an apostle and I am an apostle. We are both commissioned by the Holy Spirit. And then he goes on to explain that this perspective was actually affirmed by others church leaders. Paul isn’t only a self-proclaimed apostle:

9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

Paul wasn’t called to ministry by men. He was commissioned by Christ, but he is affirmed here by James (the leading elder in Jerusalem), Cephas (Peter) and John.

He says I was affirmed by all these guys. And so Paul sets out for Jerusalem, urged to remember the poor believers there (which he does and will take up multiple offerings from the other churches in their behalf).

10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.

And now Paul transitions in v. 11 to an interesting topic. He recalls an uncomfortable situation. This is something he probably didn’t enjoy reliving. Peter certainly would have winced to hear it again.

But under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul brings up this rough patch for two reasons:

  • It demonstrates his apostolic authority (he was willing to rebuke the leading apostle.
  • It parallels the doctrinal concerns he has for the Galatians right now.

Mercy Wilts Pride & Prejudice

A Bible Exposition of Jonah 4:1-11

So far in the book we have watched a showdown unfold. And it has presented a contrast between the mercy of God and the pride of man.

The Lord calls his prophet to carry out a task that is unpalatable. Namely, to go proclaim a message that could bring salvation to an enemy.

The prophet goes rogue, and leaves his post in an attempt to run from the Lord. The majority of the narrative so far has really encompassed this time period from Jonah’s rebellion, and God humbling him and bringing him back to Himself.

It has been a marvelous display of God’s sovereignty over even the smallest details.

And in the progression of the narrative this is all heading toward a crescendo that we will encounter next week in Chapter 4. The climax of the book is Jonah’s heart getting exposed before God and a showdown that takes place outside of Nineveh.

But in the meantime along the journey, we are going to witness today God’s salvation reaching the most unlikely places. In fact, there is no partiality with God. No favoritism. No prejudice.

This is a lesson that Israel has not yet learned. Who does the Lord regard?

Isaiah 66:2—“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

What we will see today is a people who would have seemed too far gone. In high school when everyone votes on the most or least likely, they would have been voted least likely to ever get saved.

They were a hardened people in Assyria. They loved iniquity and false gods. They were famous for their wickedness.

And yet when the Word of God came to them, they responded in humble fear.

Nineveh stands even today as a timeless testimony to God’s mercy to save even the most unlikely and least deserving sinners. And it also stands as a testimony of what it looks like to respond to God in a way that He desires.

Nineveh had an Isaiah 66:2 response. And as a result, God granted this wicked people, salvation.

It is possible for you to be a part of a church that stands for expository preaching, and not tremble at God’s Word.

You might have a rich family pedigree of those who fear God and tremble at His Word, but your family heritage doesn’t accomplish anything before God.

Perhaps you have a distant memory of a time when you trembled at God’s Word. It’s your go-to example of something that happened a long time ago, but there isn’t anything coming to mind freshly.

Nineveh stands a testimony for all time of the people to whom God looks.

4 Developments in God Reconciling Nineveh to Himself

  1. A repeated assignment (1-2)
  2. A reluctant preacher (3-4)
  3. A shocking response (5-9)
  4. A profound pardon (10)

 

With that said, here is our text for today:

Jonah 4:1–11—1 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” 4 The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” 5 Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. 6 So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. 7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.” 9 Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”