Resting with the Lord and a Spirit that Surpasses All Understanding

Come and Rest

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Resting with the Lord and a Spirit that Surpasses All Understanding’

© August 31, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin August 31, 2014

Announcements and Call to Worship:                                                                                                            

Responsive Reading # 670 (The Day of the Lord – 2 Peter 3); Prayer           

Opening Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine                                      

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings                

 Scripture Verses: Matthew 3:11-17, Matthew 11:1-30, Genesis 3:4-7, and Exodus 33:14

BLCF: Baptized

Matthew 3:11-17 (ESV) The Baptism of Jesus

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing  floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

BLCF: be-still-and-know_that_I_am_God

Matthew 11:1-30 (ESV) Messengers from John the Baptist

11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man[b] dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet?[c] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,     

who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,[d] and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear,[e] let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;     

we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”[f]

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[g] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 11:5 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Matthew 11:8 Or Why then did you go out? To see a man… c. Matthew 11:9 Some manuscripts Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? d. Matthew 11:12 Or has been coming violently e. Matthew 11:15 Some manuscripts omit to hear f. Matthew 11:19 Some manuscripts children (compare Luke 7:35) g. Matthew 11:26 Or for so it pleased you well

BLCF: tree-of-knowledge

Genesis 3:4-7(ESV)

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[a] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

BLCF: Gods_presence

Exodus 33:14 (ESV)

14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, ministering the Gospel in the heart of Toronto, on this, the last Sunday of August 2014. A day that falls in the middle of the Labour Day Weekend, where most Canadians traditionally mark the end of  their summer vacations and a return to work and school.

For additional background on our Labor Day, let us check our wikibits, from timeanddate.com:

BLCF: happy labour day

Labour Day Background

 

The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for worker’s rights. The aim of the demonstration was to release the 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day. At this time, trade unions were still illegal and striking was seen as a criminal conspiracy to disrupt trade. In spite of this, the Toronto Trades Assembly was already a significant organization and encouraged workers to form trade unions, mediated in disputes between employers and employees and signaled the mistreatment of workers.

There was enormous public support for the parade and the authorities could no longer deny the important role that the trade unions had to play in the emerging Canadian society. A few months later, a similar parade was organized in Ottawa and passed the house of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John Macdonald. Later in the day, he appeared before the gathering and promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This happened in the same year and eventually led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883.

Labour Day was originally celebrated in the spring but it was moved to the fall after 1894. A similar holiday, Labor Day is held on the same day in the United States of America. Canadian trade unions are proud that this holiday was inspired by their efforts to improve workers’ rights. Many countries have a holiday to celebrate workers’ rights on or around May 1.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/labour-day

BLCF: Labour-Day

For this morning’s message, I would like to talk about a different type of labour among the faithful, just prior to when Jesus gave the world his gift of salvation by way of his sacrifice for our sins on the cross. Before Calvary, sinners sought to be cleansed of their sins by sacrificial offerings at the temple and immersion in water, in an effort to be cleansed of their sins, as we read in following history from bible.ca:

BLCF:Understanding_Baptism

Baptism: A Pre-Christian History 

When John the Baptist came to the deserts of Judea “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” he was met with great success. Matthew 3:5 says, “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” Luke adds that crowds were coming out to be baptized by him. And, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.” (Luke 3:7, 21).

The Jewish people to whom John’s ministry was directed were familiar with the concepts of repentance and forgiveness of sins (1 Kings 8:33-34; Isaiah 55:6, 7) even though complete forgiveness was not possible apart from the shed blood of Christ (Hebbrews 9:15). But what about baptism? What familiarity did the Jews of the first century have with the practice of baptism? The New Testament clearly points out that the baptism of John was from God. It came from heaven (Matthew 21:25). It was administered for the spiritual purpose of proclaiming repentance and receiving forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4). But the act of baptism itself has a history beyond the Scriptures. The Greek World:

“The Greek word “baptizo” as used in Mark 1:4 ( “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region . . .” ) was very common among Greek-speaking people; it is used in every period of Greek literature and was applied to a great variety of matters, including the most familiar acts of everyday life. Greek speakers and hearers understood the word at the time John was preaching; it had no doubtful meaning. It meant what we express by the Latin word ‘immerse’ and kindred terms; no one could then have thought of attributing to it a different meaning, such as ‘sprinkle’ or ‘pour.'” (H. Leo Boles Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel Advocate Publication, Page 74). The Encyclopedia of Religion (McMillan, 1987, Page 59) continues by pointing out that the word baptism means to plunge, to immerse, or to wash; it also signifies, from the Homeric period onward, any rite of immersion in water. The baptismal rite is similar to many other ablution (the washing of one’s body or part of it as a religious rite) rituals found in a number of religions…”

Pre-Christian Religions:

The practice of baptism in pagan religions seems to have been based on a belief in the purifying properties of water. In ancient Babylon, according to the Tablets of Maklu, water was important as a spiritual cleansing agent in the cult of Enke, lord of Eridu. In Egypt, the Book of Going Forth by Day contains a treatise on the baptism of newborn children, which is performed to purify them of blemishes acquired in the womb. Water, especially the Nile’s cold water, which was believed to have regenerative powers, is used to baptize the dead in a ritual based on the Osiris myth. Egyptian cults also developed the idea of regeneration through water. The bath preceding initiation into the cult of Isis seems to have been more than a simple ritual purification; it was probably intended to represent symbolically the initiate’s death to the life of this world by recalling Osiris’ drowning in the Nile. In the cult of Cybele, a baptism of blood was practiced in the rite of the Taurobolium: where one was covered with the blood of a bull. At first this rite seems to have been to provide the initiate with greater physical vitality, but later it acquired more of a spiritual importance. A well-known inscription attests that he who has received baptism of blood has received a new birth in eternity. However, the fact that this baptism was repeated periodically shows that the idea of complete spiritual regeneration was not associated with it. The property of immortality was also associated with baptism in the ancient Greek world. A bath in the sanctuary of Trophonion procured for the initiate a blessed immortality even while in this world. The mystery religions of that period often included ablution rites of either immersion or a washing of the body for the purposes of purification or initiation. Other concepts said to have been associated with these forms of cultic baptisms included the transformation of one’s life, the removal of sins, symbolic representation, the attainment of greater physical vitality, a new beginning, spiritual regeneration. It is believed that all ancient religions recognized some form of spiritual cleansing, renewal or initiation that was accomplished through a washing or immersion in water.

Judaism:

The liturgical use of water was common in the Jewish world. The Law of Moses required ablutions (washings) on the part of priests following certain sacrifices and on certain individuals who were unclean because of an infectious disease (Numbers 19:1-22; Leviticus 14,15, 16:24-28). The natural method of cleansing the body by washing and bathing in water was always customary in Israel. The washing of their clothes was an important means of sanctification imposed on the Israelites even before the law was given a Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:10). The use of water for cleansing was used symbolically as well in such passages as Ezekiel 36:25 where God says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities . . .”

We do not believe that the practice of baptism for the remission of sins as taught in the New Testament was based in any way on the Old Testament, however the Old Testament washings with or in water that were for the purpose of physical cleansing can be seen as a type or shadow of New Testament baptism, which is for the purpose of spiritual cleansing (1 Peter 3:21). Toward the beginning of the Christian era, the Jews adopted (as a custom unrelated to Divine guidance) the custom of baptizing proselytes seven days after their circumcision. A series of specific interrogations made it possible to judge the real intentions of the candidate who wished to adopt the Jewish religion. After submitting to these interrogations, he was circumcised and later baptized before witnesses. In the baptism, he was immersed naked in a pool of flowing water; when he rose from the pool, he was a true son of Israel. After their baptism, new converts were allowed access to the sacrifices in the Temple.

http://www.bible.ca/ef/topical-baptism-a-prechristian-history.htm

Prior to the baptism of believers in the Resurrected Christ by the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, Jews practiced the rituals of  circumcision, sacrifice and baptism in an effort to cleanse themselves of unrighteousness. Early Christians continued these practices. Remember in Galatians 2:11-21, the Apostle Paul, with the help of the Spirit, convinced Cephas (Peter) that circumcision of the Gentile believer was an unnecessary requisite for conversion to the Way of Christ or the Christian Faith.

Galatians 2:11-21(ESV) Paul Opposes Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Justified by Faith

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, 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. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Footnotes: a. Galatians 2:12 Or fearing those of the circumcision b. Galatians 2:16 Or counted righteous (three times in verse 16); also verse 17 c. Galatians 2:21 Or justification

And John the Baptist expressed the futility of these rituals in Matthew 3:11:

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

BLCF: Baptism-Online-Brochure

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we know that our salvation comes as a gift from God, not from ritual works, so that we may not become prideful and boast. This brings us to our second set of Scripture verses found in Matthew 11.

You may recall the Baptism of Jesus account that we read from Matthew 3, verses 16-17, where God acknowledges his son, Jesus, saying:

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Even though God acknowledges Jesus as His son, John the Baptist, who is now in prison, sends messengers to the Lord asking if he is the Christ, Matthew 11:1-6 (ESV):

11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

The next verses, Jesus speaks of how several cities have not responded to or accepted the good news and miracles of Jesus, as a Gospel from God, (Matthew 11:11-24):

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

    we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Salvation comes not by way of mighty works of the Lord, but by  way of repentance or a change in attitude and a desire to stop a life of sin, as expressed in the last part of this Scripture passage, (Matthew 11:25-30):

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

What did the Lord mean by his comments, which were are couched in a prayer to the Father in Heaven, where he thanked the Father for revealing Himself and His Son, Jesus to children, but not to the wise? For the answer, let us look at Matthew 11:25-26 (ESV):

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

BLCF: garden-of-eden

The answer to this question as to who is wise mentioned in Matthew 11:25, let us look to our next Scripture, Genesis 3:4-7(ESV):

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

The problem was the eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, which was desired by Eve (and Adam who was with her), to make oneself wise described in Genesis 3:6, a sin that resulted in a separation from God.

BLCF: garden_eden

Through the sacrifice of Jesus, the judgment of sin has been removed from all those who repent and approach God with the faith of a child. Thus believers are granted a reconciliation with God and are given rest from our futile toils made to remove sin’s stain. Hopefully, we have a better understanding of the rest from futile rituals of religion or wasted labours, as described in the Scripture verse written as banner along the wall behind me, Matthew 11:28 (ESV):

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

And by trusting Jesus, by repenting our sin and seeking God by faith, we receive the gift of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, to comfort, console and guide us on the righteous way of the Lord. And by receiving the rest and peace of the Spirit, we may walk in a manner like that which God promised to Moses in Exodus 33:14 (ESV):

14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

BLCF: rest-in-Him

 

With our surrender to the Lord, we are gifted with a salvation from judgment, sanctification from the stain of sin, and a rest in God’s Holy Spirit. For Jesus has taken upon himself the burden of our sins so that we may rest, unfettered by the burden of labouring in vain for our own salvation. Living for God begins with resting in Him in faith.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Finding rest in the Lord

Closing Hymn # 373: All to Jesus I Surrender

Benediction: ( Philippians 4:7):

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

BLCF: resting_in_Him

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