Heb 2:11                                 So Great Honor                                7/31/2011        ßą   

 

 

 

 

#1.       All of One (Heb 2:11, Rom 8:32)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       I Will Declare Thy Name (Heb 2:12, Psalm 22:1,15-18,21-23, Eph 2:5, John 20:17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Who Are My Brethren? (1Cor 2:2, Rom 3:10-12, Rev 13:7-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 2:7 (2X). The last time we were in this chapter I spoke about Christ being made a little lower than the angels, and Christ being made the Captain of our faith, and Him being crowned with glory and honor. Let us review these verses again. We read in Heb 2:7-13,

Heb 2:7-13  Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

In this sermon we begin at verse 11. Can you see in verses 11-13 what great honor the Lord has bestowed upon us? Therefore the title of this sermon is, So Great Honor (2X). It is a great honor which the Lord has bestowed upon us, but the majority of mankind does not see it. Verse 11 begins with the word “For”, which indicates that God is still speaking of the subject matter that was before us in the previous sermon. It was the reason “Why” the Lord of glory had been made Man. Let us see that here in Heb 2:11, “For both he that sanctifieth (Christ) and they who are sanctified (We) are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, called us His brethren, because He voluntarily, out of love for us, identified Himself with us, transgressors, and so became answerable for our crimes. How could the Father impute the guilt of our sins upon the Lord Jesus? This was possible because Christ became our Redeemer. When we search the Bible for the origin of a Redeemer, we find that this word is the same word as “Kinsman.” God said in Gen 9:5-6, “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” This tells us that if a murderer has killed someone, the brother or the next of kin of the victim should go after the murderer and kill him. This was a righteous killing that was ordered by the Lord, “for in the image of God made He man.” This next of kin was the Redeemer, or the Kinsman, which is the same word. And thus, for the Lord Jesus Christ to become our Redeemer He first had to be made our Kinsman. He had to come in the likeness of sinful flesh. God the Son had to come to earth and become incarnate as the Son of Mary. “The Incarnation” is an absolutely essential ingredient of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a correct understanding of the incarnation is essential for salvation, for we would not want to worship a man made idol. God the Son, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, also known as Christ, the Anointed One, came to take up residence in the egg in the womb of the Virgin Mary, but at the same time He never ceased to be God. And thus the Person that was born, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the union of a fully Divine nature of God the Son, and a fully human nature with a human soul, the man Christ Jesus. However, Adam was not His father, but God was, so that He could be the Kinsman of every one of His elect. And now we can understand why He could call us His brethren. This does not mean that we now can call the Son of God our “Brother”. Such a thing is most reprehensible. We have no example of any saint that ever did so. They usually gave titles of dignity to Him as Lord, or Master, or Savior. Inferiors do not give titles of equality to their superiors as superiors do to their inferiors. It is a token of love in superiors to speak of their inferiors as equals, but for inferiors to do the like would be an act of arrogance. The same principle applies to John 15:15 where Christ in His condescending grace calls us His friends, but this does not justify us in speaking of Him as our “friend”. Christ calls us “brethren” since He became our Kinsman, our Avenger against our archenemy Satan, and for this we must give Him thanks.

#1.       All of One (Heb 2:11, Rom 8:32)

Heb 2:11, “For both he that sanctifieth (Christ) and they who are sanctified (We) are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

When we see the words “all of one” in verse 11 we need to know that it speaks only of the sanctified ones, who are the elect of God. Christ and the sanctified ones are all of one company in the same position before God, all in the favor of God. But we are not of the same Father. If we had been of the same Father we would not read, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren”, because we would be brethren by nature. If we say that we are of the same lump, Adam, then the expression will be pushed too far, for then the Lord would have to call every man His brother, and that is not so. We were made of sinful flesh, whereas the Lord Jesus Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, but without Adam’s original sin. That Christ and His people are “all of one” refers to the oneness in condition between the Sanctifier and the sanctified in this world. Thus we are “all of one” in position, in trials, in sufferings, in dependency upon God, and in our humiliation. In other words, Paul is not speaking here of our being lifted up to Christ’s level, but of His coming down to our level in this world.

What could be more different than our natural condition and the glory of God, which was Christ’s natural condition? We were dead in trespasses and sins, and the death that the Bible refers to is not a lifeless cessation of existence, but it is a continuous, active, self-developing state of misery and corruption. We were the walking dead. This is the Biblical death; this is the death in the lake of fire when we are in a continuous, active, self-developing state of misery and corruption which gets worse as time goes on, for there is where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. When we were dead in trespasses and sins we were dead to God but we were living in pleasing ourselves. And herein we can see the difference in nature between those who are saved and those who are condemned. Those who are saved are living in a state of mind whereby they want to please God all the time, for they love Him and they love Christ and they love the brethren who also love God in like manner. Those who are saved pray for the salvation of others all the time, and they rarely pray for themselves, for what would they pray for if God says that He has already given them all things? (Rom 8:32) Those who are not saved are living in a state of mind whereby they want to please themselves all the time, for they love themselves and they love those around them who also love the things that they love. Those who are not saved pray for themselves all the time, and they pray for their physical well being, but they rarely pray for the salvation of others, for how could they know what others would need for their salvation? This is the nature of the natural man. What can be more opposed to God’s glory than the state in which we are by nature? Therefore we must be delivered and be separated from guilt, pollution and death, and we must be brought into the presence of God in which is favor, light and life so that we become partakers of the Divine nature. Christ is our sanctification.

By one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb 10:14). Notice that Christ was offered only once. We need to keep this truth in mind. There are people who claim that Christ was crucified twice, once before the foundation of the world and the second time in AD 33. This is heresy. The Roman Catholics believe that Christ is crucified every time that the Lord’s Supper is served. This is an abominable idolatry. And so, we need to arm ourselves with the truth that Christ was crucified only once, and we must store this safely in our memory.

Heb 2:11, “For both he that sanctifieth (Christ) and they who are sanctified (We) are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

To sanctify means to separate unto God, and to be separated for a holy use. When we are separated unto God we are being used by Him as instruments to accomplish whatever purpose He had in mind. We know that our election is of God the Father, and the cleansing and purification of the heart is attributed to God the Holy Spirit, yet it is in Christ that we were chosen, and it is from Christ that we receive the Spirit, and it is by constant application of Christ’s work and the constant communication of His life that we live and grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord. Christ is our sanctification. By His offering of Himself He has brought us into the presence of God. By the Word of God in our hands and in our minds, and by God’s truth revealed to us continuously by His indwelling Holy Spirit, Christ continuously sanctifies His people. He gave Himself for the church “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Eph 5:26). And thus, who is doing the sanctifying? Christ Himself is the foundation, the source, the method, and the channel of our sanctification. We are exhorted to put off the old man and to put on the new man day by day, to mortify our members which are upon the earth. But in what way can we obey these exhortations? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:29 (2X). There are people who think that Christ does the saving, but once we are saved we are getting in on the action of sanctifying ourselves. Well, Heb 2:11 clearly tells us that this is not so. It is Christ who continuously sanctifies His people. Most of you remember Rom 8:28, but let us now focus on the truth of Rom 8:29. There we read,

Ro 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

“Whom He did foreknow”, that is all the elect, which refers to everyone who became saved. God says that He “did predestinate every one of us to be conformed to the image of His Son.” God determined our destiny that we shall be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. What span of time is God referring to? Is it in the life hereafter, or is it in this life? Look at the context. None of the verses before or after Rom 8:29 refer to the life hereafter. And thus, Rom 8:29 must refer to this life. God says here that every one of us who becomes saved shall in this process of sanctification become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ guaranteed. And by followers of Christ is meant that we will fully dedicate our life in the service of God as Christ has done. We will live our life in service of others, as Christ has done, and not in the service to please ourselves. And this should also be reflected in our prayer life. And does this not fully agree with what the Lord Jesus said in Matt 10:38, and there we read,

Mt 10:38  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

The cross has to do with death. But God is not looking for a dead saint here, but a live one. When we give our life as a living sacrifice to God, this is our reasonable service. This is taking our cross and to follow Christ. But can you see the most important aspect of Rom 8:29? There is no salvation without this kind of sanctification. We cannot believe that we are saved unless we also have undergone a spiritual transformation whereby we have received a change of heart. And the change of heart has to do with serving others, and praying for others, and loving others more than we love ourselves. This is not what we are asked to do, but this is what God’s Holy Spirit changes us into when we have become Born Again. I am sorry if this extent of commitment is repulsive to some of you, but this is what the Lord says in His Word. You see, commitment is a dirty word in the culture that we live in today. It has the flavor of the law and works, and not many people would want to hang on to the same wife for 57 years. But in God’s sight commitment is a beautiful thing. It is the type of material that apostles are made of. And thus when we are exhorted to put off the old man and to put on the new man day by day, to mortify our members which are upon the earth, we realize that we cannot do it unless Christ gives us the strength and the wisdom to do so. It is Christ who continuously sanctifies His people. To Him be all the honor and the glory.

#2.       I Will Declare Thy Name (Heb 2:12, Psalm 22:1,15-18,21-23, Eph 2:5, John 20:17)

Heb 2:12  Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

This is a quotation from Psalm 22:22. Please turn in your Bible to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 22:21, (2X). As you may know, this is the great Cross-Psalm. These are the words of the Lord Jesus when He hung on the cross. We can see and hear Him beginning in verse 1, Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” He gave His life and His soul as a sacrifice for the guilt of our sins. He purchased us and gave all that He had, and should we not give Him what rightfully belongs to Him? Once we truly believed that He has washed all our sins away, we belong to Him body and soul. And when we commit our lives to Him, would He not deal with us very gently, because He knows that we are but dust? Let us now look at verses 15-18 where we read of the Lord’s suffering silently in prayer.

Ps 22:15-18  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm. It means these are the words of Messiah. He expresses the degree of His sufferings, and He let us in on a few more details relating to the atonement that we were not aware of. V.21-23,

Ps 22:21-23  Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

The Lord prays to the Father that He will save Christ from the lion, who represents Satan. And then follows the assurance of His faith, for when He said, “Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns” we see that this is the turning point in His suffering. And when He says, “I will declare Thy name to my brethren in the midst of the congregation” it means that He knew that He would be resurrected to declare the Father’s Name to the midst of the congregation, we see that Christ is here on resurrection ground, victorious over every foe. The other reason why this is Christ on resurrection ground is because by nature we were dead in trespasses and sins. But when we were quickened together with Christ (Eph 2:5) we were made sons of God, and therefore we became the brethren of the risen Son of God. The Lord Jesus never called us brethren on the other side of the cross. He spoke of us as “sheep”  or “disciples” or “friends”, but never as brethren. But as soon as He was risen from the dead He said to Mary Magdalene, “Go to My brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and to your Father (John 20:17).

Heb 2:12, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”

To declare God’s Name means: To proclaim and publish, to exhibit and to reveal what God is, and to make known His excellencies and counsels. This is what Christ came here to do. We read for example in John 17:6,26

Joh 17:6  I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word.

Joh 17:26  And I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

But only to His brethren did Christ declare the Name of the Father. They were the babes unto whom heavenly things were revealed (Matt 11:25). They are the ones unto whom Christ made known the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 13:11). But to all those outside they were only parables. Can we see what great honor the Savior has bestowed upon us? Not only do we read about Christ becoming man and sanctifying us at the time of the cross, but also we read of Christ being victorious over Satan, avenging us and delivering us from the clutches of Satan and taking us into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is taking us from the Bottomless Pit, washed us clean, took the suffering that we deserved, and placed us in the courts of heaven as sons of God and the bride of Christ. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends (John 15:13), and while laying down His life He also bestowed great honor upon us. So Great Honor! Only after we have arrived in the New Heaven and the New Earth will we fully know how great honor this is, for while we are in this earthly body we are not capable of understanding the full impact of having God as our shield and our exceeding great reward (Gen 15:1), or being with Christ in His throne ruling over the entire new universe. But this is His great gift to us when He said, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” But let me bring up the question again: Who are My brethren?

#3.       Who Are My Brethren? (1Cor 2:2, Rom 3:10-12, Rev 13:7-8)

Let us now meditate on how the Gospel is received by mankind. You can already sense that this is no good news, for mankind is stubborn in their allegiance to Satan. The first thing that we must state up front is the cross of Christ. This is the central theme. The apostle Paul says in 1Cor 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” This was the central theme already before the foundation of the world. God the Son was going to be incarnate, meaning in the flesh, and be crucified for the guilt of the sins of the many whom God elected to be the Bride for His Son. Before the foundation of the world the Father chose a Bride for His Son, and now it was necessary that His Son become His only begotten Son in the flesh, and be crucified, and died, and be resurrected to exceeding great power and glory. And thus, when God made Adam and Eve, and God made them very good, not perfect, it was a foregone conclusion that they would sin and so sin would spread to all mankind, and then Christ would come to atone for those sins. And the Son would give His work of cleansing freely to everyone of His elect. Why freely? It is free for at least two reasons. #1 the sins of any man will be so numerous and so grievous that they are an infinite abomination to God. #2 to atone for those sins requires an infinite amount of suffering, a payment so great that no one other than the Son of God would be able to bear it and not be consumed in the process. And therefore, if some work from man would be given to implement the cleansing of his soul, it would be an insult to God, for no effort from man could even be compared to the infinite work of Christ on the cross. And thus God has to give the work of the cleansing of man’s soul freely to whosoever He will. No one really deserves it, for “There is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God; They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom 3:10-12). It means that every one of mankind is equally corrupt. Every one of mankind is on the way to Hell. Everyone is in the clutches of Satan, and he will do all he can to keep his prisoners where they are, for they are legally his by conquest. And thus, when God gives the gift of cleansing a man’s soul He must also give the gift of believing in the saving work of Christ, or else no one would believe it. Then Christ came, and died on a cross, and His disciples spread the good news of salvation for all the elect of mankind, not just for the Jews but for all the remnant from every nation under heaven. And for almost the past 2000 years the cross of Christ has been known, and written about, and talked about, and many books have been written about this event. It is a historical fact that never has been denied, until really about 100 years ago when atheists came upon the scene who denied everything that was well established. They even denied the holocaust, and their voice was well received by many of mankind, for now they had a reason to free themselves from the concept of God and Christ. No doubt Satan had a hand in this. But Christ said that He would come again the second time to judge the living and the dead, for God is a righteous Judge who will not let any sin pass by. This is a fervent hope of all those who are oppressed, but it has led to a contempt and ridicule of those who are on the side of the atheists and other false gospels. Now this is an important issue, for every one of us should consider where we stand, whether we are on the side of Christ, or whether we are on the side of the atheists and false gospels. When we believe the Bible we read that near the end of time the false gospels are winning the war (Rev 13:7).

That is called the Final Tribulation Period when the false gospels are winning the war. It will be a period in time when no one shall expect Jesus is coming soon. It will be business as usual.  There will be no great bloodletting on the earth, like in a worldwide persecution.  There will be no nuclear war, or another great world war, or great calamity by terrorists.  There will be no great famine or starvation of Christians because they do not have the mark of the beast on their forehead.  None of these things shall be in place.  But what there will be in place is a great apostasy; so great that we fear none of our children will be saved if this apostasy continues for seventy years.  This, in fact, is the character of the great tribulation that we will have to endure.  The character of the Final Tribulation Period is typified by the statement of the Lord Jesus in Matt 24:24, where He says, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”.   This is the nature of the Final Tribulation Period, and this is the attitude of all the nations of the world against Christ.  And this is how they are fighting against Christ:  not with physical armor, or bullets, or bombs, but with contempt for Christ, and with contempt for the Bible, and with scorn and ridicule of those who are still holding on to the old time religion, and with false gospels that are designed to deceive, if possible, even the elect, and with ways to put extreme pressure on those who do not want to convert to the Charismatic gospel, and with ways to put extreme pressure on those who are married to an unsaved spouse, or have unsaved children in their household, and with ways to put extreme pressure on people who try to cope with life in this world so that they will be turning to drugs, or turning to other means of addiction, or turning to suicide.

We are in that time now when all those gospels that are popular should be considered suspect, for God says in

Rev 13:7-8, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Except for a remnant chosen by grace, “All that dwell upon the earth” shall worship antichrist. Do we catch the importance of these two verses? It means that in our church also all who are not truly Born Again shall worship antichrist. It means they are still in the clutches of Satan and his hold on them will be stronger every day. It means that they do not hear the true Gospel preached, even though they attend church every week. And why is that so? Do people not fear the last day any more? For the saints, it will be a glorious day, full of excitement and glory. 

However, for the unsaved, it will be a horrifying day.  Just think of it.  The most terrifying horror movie would be insufficient to describe the horror of standing before the Judgment throne of Christ.  All people wait in line, and all will have a plain view of the Lake of Fire.  No one will have an excuse or a defense before Christ.  Everyone standing at the Judgment throne before have been picked up by the angels and dropped into the Lake of Fire.  And who is waiting there?  Satan and all the demons with him are tormented in the Lake of Fire, and they are blaming the entire human race for getting them into this nasty situation.  Symbolically speaking, “All the fowls of the air are ready to attack our precious body.  All the beautiful faces that have been well kept for so many years shall be torn by those birds and shall be scorched by eternal flames.  And there is no one to help, for the day of salvation has passed”.  Such is the warning of Almighty God; listen to His words of the Bible. 

But what do we see as a response from mankind to this great warning from God?  What do we see with our own eyes right now?  We see that no threat from God, however great, will whip people into shape.  For example, way back in Exodus chapter 20 God declared His law with much thunderings, and lightnings, and the noise of a trumpet, and the mountain where God appeared to Moses was smoking, so that the people removed and stood afar off.  But then, what did they do?  Before 40 days were over they made a golden calf and worshipped it.  And what do we read in Rom 8:2-3? We read there:

Ro 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Ro 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

We see here two laws: “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”, and “The law of sin and death”.  It is the law of sin and death that is again mentioned in Rom 8:3.  What is the law of sin and death?  It is the law of God, like the Ten Commandments or any other law that God gave, and the declaration that sin is a transgression of the law, and the declaration of the penalty that the wages of sin is death, and the death that God has in view is the Second Death, which is an eternity in the lake of fire.  However, no law of sin and death no matter how terrible can whip people into shape. The desire to sin is greater than the law of sin and death. That is the depravity of man.  You cannot succeed in making people behave as saints by threatening them with the law of sin and death. To this objective the law is a failure. Rom 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh”, and so on, Christ could do, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” In other words, the flesh is stronger than the law of sin and death, but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is stronger than the flesh. And how can we receive the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? Let me say it in another way:

In other words, the grace and power of God through the sufferings of Christ, through the atonement of Christ for our sins, has delivered us from the stranglehold of the desire to sin. Satan has been defeated. Satan has been bound. Christ’s atonement on the cross has delivered us from the clutches of Satan. The only way to deliver us from our slippery slide into Hell is to be Born Again, for that is the sign that Christ has atoned for our sins. And when we are Born Again we have “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” within us. And how do we become Born Again?  God says in Rom 10:17, “So then, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But when people hear the true Gospel preached, or they read it in the Bible, even though it is the true Gospel, they can hear or understand it in two different ways. It is as if I would be preaching two different messages:

#1. They can hear it like another version of the law of sin and death. They hear the promises of the New Heaven and the New Earth, and they hear the penalty statement of the Lake of Fire, but their desire to sin is not broken, and they have not become Born Again.  They continue in sin.  Why is that?  Even if they are under the hearing of the true Gospel, they might still only hear the portion that is speaking of the law and the penalty of sin in Hell, but the love of God does not register in their mind.  For example, they hear that God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for our sins, and they hear that we must love Christ in return, and that our love for Christ is manifested by obeying His commandments.  And if we do not obey His commandments we are not Born Again and we are still subject to the lake of fire.  Have you not heard this many times?  And so, what have they heard?  They heard again the law of sin and death: Obey His commandments, or else suffer in the Lake of Fire. That is just another version of the law of sin and death.

#2.  They can hear and see the love of Christ shining through everything they hear, and they can see the love of Christ on the cross, and they can read about the love of Christ being shed in our hearts in Romans chapter 5, and they believe His words because God gave them that faith, and they are overwhelmed by the love of Christ for us, and they are moved to love Christ for who He is and for what He has done for us.  That is the moment when they are Born Again.  And the love of Christ is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, which means that they will not only love Christ but they will also love their brethren in the faith, leading to a desire to love them as their own family.  It makes them change their life from the inside. And the rest is history. 

Most people hear only message #1. But there is a small fraction who by the grace of God also hear message #2, and that is the blessing of preaching the Gospel. You see, this is why God says in 1Cor 16:22, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha, let him be accursed till the Lord comes.  It is our love for Christ which is the first and foremost evidence of our salvation.  Nothing else matters but our first love for Christ, and that is the reason why we read in the Greek text that the Lord Jesus said to the church at Ephesus in Rev 2:4, “But I have against you that you left your first love.” (I have left out the italics.) This was a church which labored hard to keep all their doctrines pure. But all their works to keep the doctrines of the church pure are of no value if they have left their first love. If they have left their love for Christ then the remainder that they are hanging on to is “the law of sin and death”, and we know that this law cannot bring salvation.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:8 (2X). And so, when we listen to the Gospel that is preached, let us listen carefully and take notes, and ask the Pastor later what he meant by this and by that. Let us be careful to harmonize everything that we hear, and if we cannot harmonize it, let us ask what the truth is, for there is much at stake. God wants us to understand the Gospel. We are not little children who gather in only facts without explanation. The Gospel that God wants us to hear is always the Gospel of grace alone which is so beautifully summarized in Eph 2:8-9, and there we read,

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

What is not of yourselves? Not grace, for we know that grace is from God, but faith. Our faith is not of ourselves for it also is a gift from God. Therefore when we state that we are saved by faith we have made an incomplete statement, for we should say “We are saved by grace through faith” for we want to make sure that people do not misunderstand us. Our faith is nothing if it came out of ourselves. Only when it is a gift from God does our faith amount to anything. And herein lies a beautiful thing, that God designed into the Gospel of salvation, for it is through faith that we get to know the truth, and it is through faith that we learn to practice discernment, for God is teaching us.        AMEN.        Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.