"So come lose your life for a carpenter's son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you'll have the faith His first followers had
And you'll feel the weight of the beam"--Michael Card

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hosea 4:1-19 - God’s Case Against Israel

From the introduction to this sermon:

[We begin this morning at the beginning of Part 2 of Hosea. Part 1 might be called “The Saga of Hosea, Gomer, and Their Children.” It takes place in chapters 1-3. Part 2 covers the rest of the book. Not only does it expand on Part 1, it fills us in with more detail—not detail about Hosea’s family, for they are not mentioned again, but the themes developed in those first three chapters are clearly built upon in what follows throughout the rest of the book. Hosea chapters 1-3 lay a foundation and the rest of the book builds upon it.

This second part of the book begins with something that sounds eerily like a lawyer making his case in a court of law. In fact, the language employed is exactly that. It is the language of covenant lawsuit.]

Throughout this chapter God lays out his case against Israel who is guilty of violating the covenant. Another excerpt:

[It’s a three-fold charge. No faithfulness to God. No steadfast love for God. No knowledge of God. The whole of the breaking of the covenant is focused upon God. The knowledge spoken of in the third accusation is more than just a knowing of facts. It is a knowledge that cannot be gained from a newspaper, or an encyclopedia, or an exposè done on your favorite news channel. It is an intimate knowledge that can only come from relationship. We are to know God in an intimate, personal sense. This is what the law demands. 

They don’t know me, God says—and that is the most damning indictment of them all. And so I ask you this morning to ask yourselves. Do you know God? How well? The God who made heavens and earth and revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ can only be known to us through special revelation, that is the Scripture of Old and New Testaments. How well do you know him? In two weeks we will come across these words from chapter six:

Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;—Hosea 6:3a

How willing are you right now to press on to know him? Is there a longing inside you to know all that you can? It is this for which we were made. It is from this that we are fallen.]

To listen to all of this sermon just click the link below. God bless.

Click here: Mark 4:1-19 - God’s Case Against Israel


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hosea 3:1-5 - The Latter Days

The late James Montgomery Boice called Hosea 3 the greatest chapter in the Bible. And while that may be a bit of an exaggeration, there’s a good reason why he said that. This little chapter is amazing.  Here’s an excerpt from the sermon I preached from this chapter:

Now what has transpired thus far in Hosea? Well, God commanded Hosea to go take a wife from among the temple prostitutes, and to do so as an object lesson. Hosea’s marriage is to mirror God’s covenant relationship with Israel. God had called Abraham out of idolatry and promised to make him a people and to bless the world through his progeny.

And God has done that. God has kept his promises to Abraham’s offspring. Through Moses he redeemed them out of Egypt, made a covenant with them that had both conditional and unconditional aspects. He gave them a law to keep, and worship ordinances, and brought them into the land of promise. But they have been unfaithful to God and to the covenant. Institutionally they have abandoned God for the gods of the Canaanites around them, specifically Baal. They have broken the covenant of Moses and God has declared that the land into which he brought them will now spew them out.

And Gomer, the wife of harlotry that Hosea took to be his own, has been unfaithful to Hosea just like Israel has been unfaithful to God. Though Hosea had taken her out of a sinful life and called her to himself in faithfulness, though he had been perfectly faithful to her, she could not stop herself from falling back into her former lifestyle.

Gomer mirrors Israel in every way. Called out of idolatry she still finds herself constantly straying from God and going after other gods instead. Since she has been unfaithful, and broken covenant, God puts her away. The northern kingdom will go into captivity. God is done with them. We read this in chapters one and two.

But . . . although God is finished with this generation there is still a future hope of glory, a day of grace, for Israel. And that is what we are seeing promised once again in this amazing chapter. And once again we are going to see that this future hope, this day of grace, is pointing to the coming of Christ and his kingdom—the Church. That coming of Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, to Moses, and to David. And it is the hope of both Israel and the world.”

Below I’ve linked the audio recording of this sermon and I hope you’ll take the time to listen to it, because it’s a wonderful gospel passage. If the message fails to live up to that the fault would be mine, not the passage I tried to expound. So click below and take a listen and marvel at the grace of God.

Click here: Hosea 3:1-5 - The Latter Days


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Hosea 2:2-23 - Judgment, Mercy, and Grace

The book of Hosea is shocking. We open it up and right off the bat we are confronted with all sorts of things that we don’t really like to talk about in polite company. But there it is, right in front of us, and it’s in the Bible. What do we do with it? Well, we look at it honestly as what it is—the mirror of God’s word, and we see if we see ourselves in it. But more importantly we see if we see Christ in it. And that’s exactly what I attempt to do in this series through Hosea. What follows is the introduction I gave to my sermon from Hosea chapter 2.

The question of whether or not we are presented with a true-to-life enacted parable in chapter one, or whether the whole thing is a metaphor is something that good people have and will disagree on. The humility that Christ commands us to have compels us to admit that what we have is a very ancient text and there are a lot of questions about it which may never be answered on this side of eternity. 

But what is certain is this. The northern kingdom of Israel has gone astray from its covenant with God. And God has sent his prophet Hosea to announce to them that he is a God of his word, that he will keep his covenant promises, that he will bring judgment upon the nation for its unfaithfulness and covenant breaking—just as he spoke through Moses.

So in the narrative of chapter one Hosea represents God and Gomer, his wife, represents the nation of Israel—specifically its political and religious institutions who are supposed to be completely and faithfully devoted to Yahweh God of Israel. The children represent the people of Israel, both individually and in community. 

Chapter one was a stunning chapter which began with a description of appalling sin, continued with promises of horrific judgment, but concluded with a vision of future grace. When we get to chapter two, specifically verse two, we are confronted with what looks eerily similar to a courtroom scene and God is using the language of divorce. The plaintiff, in this case God, begins his plea with the children—the individuals, the people or citizens of Israel.”

From this point I cover the entire chapter verse by verse and show how it points to Christ. To listen to it all just click the link below. God bless.

Click here: Hosea 2:2-23 - Judgment, Mercy, and Grace


Monday, October 8, 2018

Hosea 1:2-2:1 - The People of God

From the introduction to this sermon:

The last book in the old Hebrew Bible was known as the ‘Book of the Twelve.’ It contained within it the twelve minor prophets. It was probably separated and categorized this way because the writings of these twelve prophets (combined) fit onto one scroll. And that is the way they came down to us.

They are received and accepted as sacred writings, and of divine origin, because Jesus and the apostles accepted them as such. Jesus himself quoted from the book of Hosea, as did the gospel writers, as did the apostles in the epistles. And they quoted them authoritatively. In fact, both this week and next we will pay special attention to how the apostle Paul used the text in front of us.

Last week we introduced the genre of Old Testament prophecy. We looked at its place in redemptive history. We saw that its theme is Christ. And we briefly introduced Hosea. We said that his role was to speak the words of God, in calling God’s people back to covenant faithfulness—calling them back to God because they had gone astray. We introduced the political and cultural situation into which God spoke through Hosea, and now we open the book. We start this morning with chapter one and verse two.”

In this first chapter of Hosea, the prophet is commanded to do an odd thing, a surprising thing. He is told to go take to himself a “wife of whoredoms.” Why? What is the point? Will Hosea obey? And what does it all mean? And where do we find ourselves in this story. Listen to this sermon and find out. The answers might surprise you. To give it a listen, just click the link below.

Click here: Hosea 1:2-2:1 - The People of God


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Hosea 1:1–Introduction to Hosea

After finishing my 71 sermons verse by verse through the Gospel of Mark I took on a different project, this time from the Old Testament. Switching literary genres completely was a challenge, especially since I had never really preached from the prophets before. By the time I am finished I will have preached 19 sermons to cover 14 chapters in the book of Hosea. I called the series ‘Christ In Hosea’ and if you listen to this introductory sermon you will see why. Just click the link below this image.


Click here: Hosea 1:1-Introduction to Hosea


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Mark 16:9-20 - The Rest of Mark

This is how I introduced the sermon I preached from this disputed portion of Scripture:

[One of the neat things about the Bible that you might have noticed is its repetitiveness. Something told in one place will likely be repeated elsewhere. Important words and phrases, concepts and themes manage to travel from one book to the next, between historical eras, even showing up in different genres. Something from the historical books will show up in the prophets sometimes. Or something from the gospels will be alluded to in the epistles. New Testament writers quote the Old Testament or make reference to events from redemptive history—things we’ve read about if we’ve read the Old Testament. We get two tellings of the history of the kings of Israel—one in the books of the Kings, the other in the Chronicles.

And we get four gospels. How blessed are we to have four different witnesses to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ? Of the four, the first three are called the synoptic gospels, because they follow roughly the same outline. They cover a lot of the same events and they do so in more or less the same order. But there always has to be a maverick, doesn’t there? And in the case of the gospels that maverick is John. He has a slightly different theme and fills in a lot of holes left by the first three. But when we’re done, what do we have? Four witnesses who in different ways tell the same story. The witness agrees. 

Oh, there may be slight differences in detail. If you’ll remember, Mark says the robe they put on Jesus to mock him was purple. John agrees with that. Luke simply says it was splendid or gorgeous or elegant. But Matthew says it was scarlet. These minor discrepancies serve not to undermine the biblical witness, but rather to lend it authenticity. 

Was there one blind man healed at Jericho or two? To get caught up in such questions about details is, first of all, very western and modern. But more importantly than that, it is to miss the point. The point is that Jesus heals! The point is that Messiah came and his ministry was attested to by signs and wonders recorded by many independent witnesses. If they all said exactly the same thing in every detail, skeptics would simply change tactics and claim there must have been corroboration. Skeptics are going to doubt. No matter what. It’s what they do. But if you’re looking for reasons to believe, the Bible gives you plenty. Faith is not a blind leap. Faith is a healthy and responsible reaction to reasonable evidence.

So when we come to a passage like ours in the Bible this morning, we have good reason to wonder about its authenticity, but no reason whatsoever to get worked up about that if we’re Bible believers. The biblical witness is not at stake. Let me explain.]

To listen to the entire sermon just click the link below.

Click here: Mark 16:9-20 - The Rest of Mark


Monday, September 24, 2018

Mark 16:1-8 - The Resurrection of Christ

We come to the most essential claim of the Christian faith—the resurrection of Christ. Mark’s record of it is concise and to the point. This was my introduction to this sermon:

[None of the gospel writers actually describes the resurrection. They don’t take us to the scene and give us detail. They can’t, for no one was there to witness it—not the actual event. What the writers do is record for us what others witnessed after the fact—the empty tomb, angels, post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. They don’t offer proof, they offer a witness. But it is a very powerful witness.

One could make the case that if Jesus had not risen from the dead we would not have any gospels at all. At Jesus’s death his disciples have been scattered, his family is in a state of unbelief, one of his closest confidants has betrayed him, another has denied him. He has no one left except for a few women who have neither the means nor the social status to carry on his teachings.

Had Jesus not risen from the dead there would be no Christianity. This is true not only from a theological standpoint (the resurrection vindicated Jesus’s teaching) but also from a historical standpoint. If Jesus had remained in the tomb his ministry would have been over, his disciples forever disillusioned, and his legacy would have been one line penned by Josephus—barely a footnote in history.

“But in fact Jesus has been raised from the dead.” Those are the words of Paul writing some ten to fifteen years before Mark. That is the adamant belief of the apostles and the early church. And that they believed this is the only adequate explanation for the bursting forth of Christianity on the world in the first century. The best evidence for the truth of the resurrection is the existence of the New Testament and the existence of Christianity itself, for without a resurrection we would have neither.

But we are here this morning somehow, aren’t we? And we’re holding in our hands a record, a witness, of something astounding which must have taken place two thousand years ago or what we’re holding in our hands probably wouldn’t even exist. If Jesus was laid in that tomb never to rise again then he is just another in a long line of would-be Messiahs and prophets and teachers. But if he indeed rose again from the dead then the world is forever changed.”]

To listen to the sermon in its entirety just click the link below. The audio is found at SoundCloud along with the rest of the sermons from the gospel of Mark. God bless you.

Click here: Mark 16:1-8 - The Resurrection of Christ