Sunday, May 11, 2014

Today´s Sermon

2014.05.11                                     Acts 9: 20- 31
              Total Transformation in Christ
 As we have been going verse by verse through the Book of Acts…. we met Saul of Tarsus as he witnessed the stoning of Stephen…. The first martyr of the early church… ….. Paul was radically transformed when he met Jesus on the  Damascus Road…. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews….. He studied at the feet of the finest Jewish scholar possible at the time…. Gamaliel….  He was a devout Pharisee who was earnestly looking for coming of the Messiah….
After the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus….. He began a one man war against Jesus and his followers….  He fought against his own conscience and the LORD GOD….  But after meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road….he changed sides and continued to fight for the very Gospel that he had tried to destroy….. Instead of Killing Christians….. He proclaimed the Good News immediately and everywhere…….. He was totally transformed by the grace of God…  
In one moment the history of the world was changed when this man was transformed….. Saul the blasphemer became Paul the proclaimer of Christ's love…..  He was  a changed man……  
This angry and radical enemy of Jesus Christ became the author of the greater part of the New Testament….. He became a Godly and radical follower of Jesus….  What a transformation……
Paul serves as one of the greatest   examples of the power of God to transform a life…. He is oe of the greatest illustrations of the radical Christian life…... What we learn about Paul in the story of his transformation is applicable to every transformed life....
He is a great example for all believers in every generation…It all began   when he surrendered his will to Christ….. He humbled himself and repented of his sins….  calling Jesus LORD….   
Let´s pick up the text where we left off… After being blinded on the road to Damascus…. Paul received His sight…… Not only physically but spiritually as well…. And then his new life is reflected in the things that he does… Acts9…v20….
Acts 9: 20- 31                          NKJV
20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
Acts 9: 20- 31                          Sch 2000
20 Und sogleich verkündigte er in den Synagogen Christus, daß dieser der Sohn Gottes ist.
21 Aber alle, die ihn hörten, staunten und sprachen: Ist das nicht der, welcher in Jerusalem die verfolgte, die diesen Namen anrufen, und der dazu hierher gekommen war, um sie gebunden zu den obersten Priestern zu führen?
22 Saulus aber wurde noch mehr gestärkt und beunruhigte die Juden, die in Damaskus wohnten, indem er bewies, daß dieser der Christus ist.
23 Als aber viele Tage vergangen waren, beschlossen die Juden miteinander, ihn umzubringen.
24 Doch ihr Anschlag wurde dem Saulus bekannt. Und sie bewachten die Tore Tag und Nacht, um ihn umzubringen.
25 Da nahmen ihn die Jünger bei Nacht und ließen ihn in einem Korb über die Mauer hinab.
26 Als nun Saulus nach Jerusalem kam, versuchte er, sich den Jüngern anzuschließen; aber sie fürchteten ihn alle, weil sie nicht glaubten, daß er ein Jünger sei.
27 Barnabas aber nahm ihn auf, führte ihn zu den Aposteln und erzählte ihnen, wie er auf dem Weg den Herrn gesehen und daß dieser zu ihm geredet habe, und wie er in Damaskus freimütig in dem Namen Jesu verkündigt habe.
28 Und er ging in Jerusalem mit ihnen aus und ein und verkündigte freimütig im Namen des Herrn Jesus.
29 Er redete und stritt auch mit den Hellenisten; sie aber machten sich daran, ihn umzubringen.
30 Als das aber die Brüder erfuhren, brachten sie ihn nach Cäsarea und schickten ihn nach Tarsus.
31 So hatten nun die Gemeinden Frieden in ganz Judäa und Galiläa und Samaria und wurden auferbaut und wandelten in der Furcht des Herrn und wuchsen durch den Beistand des Heiligen Geistes.
What a transformation…… He is no longer calling Jesus and his followers……. blasphemers who must die…..
He is boldly proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savoir and Messiah…… He is so excited to see the truth….. He had earnestly sought to obey the law…. He waited for the Messiah to appear…. And now he is here..…
v20… Notice…. Immediately he preached Christ….
Jesus is the Messiah…. the redeemer…. the Savoir of the World…. It was all true….. Why had he been so stubborn…. Why did he fight the truth with such anger….. talk about a new creature….
His entire life had been radically transformed and he could not wait to tell everyone about Jesus….. Paul did not waist a minute….. Immediately he preached the Christ…. Paul knew the Old Testament very well….. All he needed was the key to unlock the big picture…. and Jesus was the key…... The Good news of the Gospel came pouring out of him as he connected all of the dots and saw Jesus in every page of scripture…. He preached Jesus with all of his heart….. everywhere…. He was thrilled to be forgiven…..
verse 21…."But all that heard him were amazed."
As we follow Paul´s life and ministry in the Word of God… we see him rejoicing in every tribulation and hard time….. and trusting in Christ alone for deliverance and Salvation…. Not ever again trusting in good works of righteousness… We already see in our text today…. Paul laying down his life for the sake of the Gospel…. Just like Stephen … He is willing to proclaim the Good news no matter what the cost….
Paul now understood that true circumcision was in the heart….. True circumcision is a work of the Spirit of God in the heart´s of men and women….. The Lord Himself reaches into our lives and says Live….. He takes out our hearts of stone and gives of hearts of flesh for His great names sake and for His Glory….. We rejoice in all that he has done for us in Christ alone… We become true worshippers… We worship like Paul worshipped….. serving and preaching the good news no matter what the cost…  and praising our great God and Savoir…. The Lord Jesus Christ with our very lives…. turn with me to Phil 3…
Philippians 3:1-3                       NLT
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters,  rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
2 Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,

Philippians 3:1-3                       Neues Leben
1 Was immer auch geschehen wird, liebe Freunde, freut euch im Herrn. Ich werde nicht müde, euch dies zu schreiben, denn es wird euch nur noch mehr stärken.
2 Nehmt euch in Acht vor den Menschen, die sich verhalten wie bösartige Hunde, wie solche, die andere verstümmeln, denn sie behaupten, ihr müsstet euch beschneiden lassen, um gerettet zu werden.
3 Denn wir, die wir Gott durch den Geist anbeten, sind die einzigen, die wirklich beschnitten sind. Wir setzen unser Vertrauen nicht auf menschliche Anstrengung, sondern sind stolz auf das, was Christus Jesus für uns getan hat.
What a  great definition of a Christian….. A genuine Christian  worships by the Spirit of God….. They glory in Christ Jesus alone….. and put  no confidence in the flesh…….
In this text we can see…… (discern) the distinctive qualities of the true Christian…….. These are the things that identify a true Christian….. Genuine Christianity has nothing to do with being religious….
Paul says we are the true circumcision…… Meaning that we as genuine believers…. have a circumcision that is internal…... We have a cleansing that is in our hearts….  
 God have given us a new heart made of flesh….. He has taken out our heart of stone…. He has sprinkled us with clean water… Ezek36…. This is the opposite of the external obedience that is represented in the Law and circumcision…
The Jews thought that their physical circumcision gave them special privilege with God….. Paul says that is a false circumcision…… That which is outward is meaningless…..
We who have repented and believed are the true circumcision….. We are not cleansed on the outside….. We have not cleaned up our act… We have not outweighed our sins by our good deeds….. That´s the lie of all Pagan religions….. That what the Egyptians believed…. We have been cleansed on the inside by the power of the Holy Spirit…..
Paul is warning the believers to stay away from people who claim to love the Lord but are fighting and arguing….  These false teachers who are criticizing the Godly teaching of Paul….. They are hypocrites and legalists…. Some are trying to make the Philippians to pull back from the grace and mercy of God…. and return to external things like circumcision to make themselves righteous…. All lies…. Paul says you stay away from them… They are false teachers to say these things…. They are false believers and evil workers…. The scriptures often compare the false believer with the true believer….
Throughout the history of the church…… It has been necessary to make a difference between genuine saving faith….. and just being religious….. Churches are full of religious people who are just fans of Jesus…… Being a fan of Jesus will send you to hell…..
We need to be clear about who is a true Christian and who is not…… It is very important to know the difference….. Paul is warning believers to not go back to the law….. The law didn´t save us and it cannot keep us saved….. He says it´s a trap…. It´s poison…… You have been saved by grace through faith…. Eph 2: 8,9…. Perfect text for your own Quiet times…
Jesus himself warned us about deceivers and false teachers…. John 10:10      
The enemy, the devil….. is behind what is going on……. He is desperate to deceive as many as possible in these last days… As we approach the glorious day of the return of our Lord and Savior….. Satan is out to lead as many away as possible….. to steal, kill and destroy……
Matthew 24:23-26    NKJV
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
Matthew 24:23-26                   Sch 2000
23 Wenn dann jemand zu euch sagen wird: Siehe, hier ist der Christus, oder dort, so glaubt es nicht!
24 Denn es werden falsche Christusse und falsche Propheten auftreten und werden große Zeichen und Wunder tun, um, wenn möglich, auch die Auserwählten zu verführen.
25 Siehe, ich habe es euch vorhergesagt.
26 Wenn sie nun zu euch sagen werden: »Siehe, er ist in der Wüste!«, so geht nicht hinaus; »Siehe, er ist in den Kammern!«, so glaubt es nicht!
In order to not be deceived we need discernment…. We need to know the Word of God to be able to discern the truth….  We need to be Bereans…. No matter who is teaching us we need to search the scriptures to see if it is so….. we need to say….. Is that true? Is that what the Bible says…? Discernment or being discerning is checking what one reads, hears or sees with the Word of God to see if it is biblical and of God…….
Back to Phil 3….
Philippians 3:1-3                       NLT
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters,  rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
2 Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,
Philippians 3:1-3                       Neues Leben
1 Was immer auch geschehen wird, liebe Freunde1, freut euch im Herrn. Ich werde nicht müde, euch dies zu schreiben, denn es wird euch nur noch mehr stärken.
2 Nehmt euch in Acht vor den Menschen, die sich verhalten wie bösartige Hunde, wie solche, die andere verstümmeln, denn sie behaupten, ihr müsstet euch beschneiden lassen, um gerettet zu werden.
3 Denn wir, die wir Gott durch den Geist anbeten, sind die einzigen, die wirklich beschnitten sind. Wir setzen unser Vertrauen nicht auf menschliche Anstrengung, sondern sind stolz auf das, was Christus Jesus für uns getan hat.
V1…. Rejoice in the LORD…. Paul says rejoice…. Paul practiced what he preached….. Even when beaten and thrown into prison….. He rejoiced and worshipped the LORD…. Acts 16…v25.. In the 4th chapter of this letter to the Philippians he says rejoice always… Phil 4:4… Our rejoicing in the LORD has nothing to do with our circumstances…
V2…True believers worship Him…
As we look at these verses….. The first quality that marks a true Christian is worship….. There is deep within the true believer a longing to glorify God….. a longing to worship God….. A total commitment to serve God from our hearts…… To worship the LORD our GOD with our lives…. That is exactly what Jesus said… Turn to John 4…
John 4:23,24                             NKJV
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4:23,24                             Sch 2000
23 Aber die Stunde kommt und ist schon da, wo die wahren Anbeter den Vater im Geist und in der Wahrheit anbeten werden; denn der Vater sucht solche Anbeter.
24 Gott ist Geist, und die ihn anbeten, müssen ihn im Geist und in der Wahrheit anbeten.
God seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth!..... Do you worship in spirit and in truth….. loving God….. delighting in Him….. enjoying the peace and confidence and assurance that comes because all your trust is in Him….? The first quality that marks a true believer is genuine worship……
That's exactly what Philippians 3:3 is saying…… What is the true circumcision? Those who worship God in   Spirit and in truth……. We were saved to be true worshipers…… So how can you tell a true worshiper? How can you tell a true Christian? They worship God from the heart……
Now let's take a look at the word "worship" for just a moment…  Philippians 3... the word "worship" here is the word latreuo…….   It means to minister, to serve, to worship……. It's a great big word…...   Worship is saying and singing things that glorify God…..  That is worship but that's not all it is……. Worship finally comes down to how you live……   In Hebrews it says, "Do good and share." Why? "For with such spiritual sacrifice, such worship God is well pleased."
Every part of our lives should be part of our worship….  λατρεύω latreuō…  means worship….. but it also means service…..  Worship also means that you serve Him……. In the  Old Testament the priests  led in worship as they worked in the temple   and performed the sacrifices and offerings before the LORD…..
How do we know we're true Christians?
Genuine believers Worship from the heart….. because we love God…… Jesus Christ is our source of joy and rejoicing!
That's a worshiping heart….. Only the Holy Spirit can produce that...
The Holy Spirit transforms our lives life so that we worship God in Spirit and in truth!    Do you…. Do we worship God from our hearts…. Do we worship in Spirit and in truth? We need a heart check….
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, "Examine yourselves." I can't examine you…… You can fool me because you can do all the outward stuff….. You can be an almost Christian and I can't tell the difference…… God knows there truth! Listen….. Don't you be deceived…… examine your heart in the light of the Word of God! Do you want to know God´s will? I´m not sure you do…. But if you do…. This book will give you Godly wisdom and discernment for your lives….
Turn with me to Romans 12…v1…
Romans 12: 1,2                                NKJV
 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12: 1,2                                Sch 2000
1 Ich ermahne euch nun, ihr Brüder, angesichts der Barmherzigkeit Gottes, daß ihr eure Leiber darbringt als ein lebendiges, heiliges, Gott wohlgefälliges Opfer: das sei euer vernünftiger1 Gottesdienst!
2 Und paßt euch nicht diesem Weltlauf an, sondern laßt euch [in eurem Wesen] verwandeln durch die Erneuerung eures Sinnes, damit ihr prüfen könnt, was der gute und wohlgefällige und vollkommene Wille Gottes ist.
V1…. A living sacrifice……. Reasonable service…. Out of our right relationship with the Lord Jesus…. comes praise, and adoration, and service….. And you live your life as an act of worship…… you live your life as a living sacrifice….. holy and acceptable unto God which is our reasonable service….
 Here the greek word is the same word often translated worship… latreia…. It could be translated (our reasonable act of worship)…..
 And that's the way we are to live our lives….  it is a living sacrifice... it is an act of worship….. Are you ok with that?.... That means that this life is not about us….. It´s about our great God….. He has forgiven and redeemed us…. We belong to him…. We don´t live for ourselves any more…… The words…. I want I need I deserve should never come out of our mouths….. We have been bought with a price…. Back to Phil 3…
The Second quality in Philippians 3  is that a Christian   glories in Christ Jesus….. What does this mean? Well, the word "glory" is a marvelous word.. καυχάομαι kauchaomai…
The verb means to glory or to boast with great joy!
Paul uses it in the sense that this is what we are  most proud of…… Paul uses it more than 30 times….. and all the other New Testament writers put together only use it twice..... Paul loved this word….. He gloried in all the LORD has done for us…  He means my joyful boast as a believer is all in Christ Jesus……. That is the character of a true believer…..
He is our life…. Oder….? He's our Lord and Savior, He's our life….   We glory in nothing but the cross of Christ…… Like Paul we are determined to know nothing but the cross of Christ…... All the credit is His, all the glory is His……We Glorify our great Redeemer…… we are nothing….. He is everything to us…  That's the true Christian….
That´s why a true Christian has no confidence in the flesh…. Since all the glory goes to God….. And the only thing we  boast about is the Lord Jesus Christ….. Then we certainly can't put any confidence in our flesh….. We are not righteous in ourselves….. We can never be good enough…… We need help…. We need the righteousness of Christ…..  The Jews placed all their confidence in the flesh…… They were descended from Abraham physically…… They had a physical surgery called circumcision….. When they performed the ceremonies and obeyed the Law…… it was all the flesh…….
The only thing our flesh  can do is sin…… The only thing the law can do is show us our sin…. It proves to us that we need help….. We are driven to the Foot of the LORD Jesus…. Just like Paul on the road to Damascus….   
What marks a true Christian? Genuine repentance which turns completely away from the wretchedness of our sin filled hopeless condition……. We cry out to God for mercy and the  salvation that only comes through God's grace….. Worship in Spirit and in truth….. giving all the Glory to Jesus Christ…..  That's the true circumcision……. This is what burst into Paul’s Life in an instant that day on the road to Damascus…… And He was totally transformed by facing the truth about himself…… He threw himself at the foot of the cross……. There is where he found mercy and help……
How about you and me….. When we look at the cross do we really see ourselves…… When we look at the cross do we remember what Jesus suffered….. Do we remind ourselves that our sin was the reason that he suffered and died….. Do we Christians look at the cross and say we need help……. We are pretending to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul and strength…. This is not a game…. We would never do in front of each other what we do in the dark…….. Nobody knows nobody sees…… Stop deceiving yourselves……… God knows……. The Word of God speaks to us loud and clear…… God is not mocked……. But He is Patient…… He commands us to examine ourselves…… too confess our sins and be forgiven……. Will we……… Or will we continue to pretend….. Acting like super Christians…… super spiritual….. Acting Like Paul before he was converted….. The deepest desire that Paul had was to love and serve and worship his savoir…. Turn back to Philippians 3… v10… Here´s Paul heart….
Philippians 3: 8-10               NKJV  
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
Philippians 3: 8-10                  Sch 2000
8 ja, wahrlich, ich achte alles für Schaden gegenüber der alles übertreffenden Erkenntnis Christi Jesu, meines Herrn, um dessentwillen ich alles eingebüßt habe; und ich achte es für Dreck, damit ich Christus gewinne
9 und in ihm erfunden werde, indem ich nicht meine eigene Gerechtigkeit habe, die aus dem Gesetz kommt, sondern die durch den Glauben an Christus, die Gerechtigkeit aus Gott aufgrund des Glaubens,
10 um Ihn zu erkennen und die Kraft seiner Auferstehung und die Gemeinschaft seiner Leiden, indem ich seinem Tod gleichförmig werde,
This text is worth a separate sermon….. another time…. Look at v10…. This is my life….. to know Him no matter what the cost…..
You cannot be a fan of Jesus…. Stop pretending!. That´s being a hypocrite like Paul was before he was converted….
The Word of God rings loud and clear down through the centuries…… Repent the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand…… today is the day of salvation….. let´s pray….

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