Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, 2019

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch’

© June 9, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 9, 2019

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on May 1, 2016

BLCF Bulletin May 1, 2016

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                           

Opening Hymn #237: What Can Wash Away My Sin?; Choruses                                

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Responsive Reading #612 (The Lamb of God – from Isaiah 53)

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                  Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch            

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church for June 9, 2017. Today’s lesson is primarily focused on the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, as described in Acts 8:26-40 (ESV):

Acts 8:26-40 (ESV): Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[a] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[b] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Footnotes: a. Acts 8:26 Or go at about noon b. Acts 8:36 Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The above account, of the encounter between Philip and a eunuch in the remote desert, describes how the Apostle is first directed by an angel of God, on a trek on the road running south Jerusalem towards Gaza.

It is on this road that the Spirit of God directs Philip to approach a chariot carrying an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet, Isaiah. Philip, directed by the Spirit, asks the eunuch whether he understands the Scripture which he is reading.

This affords the eunuch the opportunity to invite Philip to join him in order to understand the Scripture, particularly Isaiah 53:7-8:

 

Isaiah 53:7-8 (ESV)

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

It is in regard to this passage of Scripture that the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

Philip helps the eunuch is to understand that Isaiah 53:7-8 indicates that Christ’s sacrifice was made on behalf of all people, who are oppressed and judged for their transgressions or sins. No doubt, the eunuch was given limited access to the temple, as a eunuch would be considered “blemished’, under the criteria of holiness that the Lord gave Moses in Leviticus 21:16-24:

Leviticus 21:16-24 (ESV): Holiness and the Priests

16 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.

The Temple was partitioned into four courts, beginning with the Court of the Priests; then the Court of Israel; followed by the Court of the Women, and finally by the Court of the Gentiles. But a eunuch was viewed to have a physical blemish that would prohibit him from entering the temple or Assembly of God:

Deuteronomy 23:1 (ESV): Those Excluded from the Assembly

23 “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Because a eunuch was considered to bear a physical defect or blemish, he would be lucky if he were permitted to enter the Court of the Gentiles, a court most removed from the Holy altar containing the Ark of the Covenant, where the presence of God was considered to reside.

In addition to being a blemish, the eunuch was also considered a foreigner. But Isaiah indicates that the Lord offers a path to salvation to foreigners, as we see in Isaiah 56:1-5:

Isaiah 56:1-5 (ESV): Salvation for Foreigners

56 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

But the Lord did instruct his people to offer compassion to the afflicted, such as the deaf or blind:

Leviticus 19:13-14 (ESV)

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

But there is a huge difference between have compassion and pity for the disabled, whose afflictions were regarded as a punishment for sin, and being totally forgiven of their transgressions.

By the grace offered by the New Covenant, through the sacrifice of Jesus, the judgment for any blemish or sin is removed. The believer is made both whole and holy in the eyes of God to become an Ark of the Holy Spirit, by way of God’s New Covenant.

The eunuch is sanctified by faith in Christ and asks Philip to be baptized in a stream nearby. At one time, only a eunuch, who is impotent, would be allowed to approach a married woman without being judged guilty of the sin of adultery:

Matthew 19:8-12 (ESV)

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a]

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 19:9 Some manuscripts add and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery; other manuscripts except for sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery

As a final reflection, under the Old Law, a eunuch would be barred from entering the temple and drawing close to God because of the blemish of his physical condition. Any priest who suffered injury and thus became physically blemished could no longer perform the rites of a priest and was subject of charity in order to be fed. He could no longer approach the Ark of the Covenant and would be removed from the presence of God because of his affliction.

In the Acts 8 account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch is significant in so many ways. We see that Philip, an apostle/messenger of Christ’s Gospel, is sent out by an angel of God on a missionary journey and then directed by God’s Holy Spirit to minister to an Ethiopian eunuch, who is converted, Christian.

In contrast to other accounts of conversions of blind, paralytics and others who are considered by Jews as blemished, are first healed of their respective infirmity or blemish in order to enter the temple and worship as a member of the assembly. The eunuch is baptized and received as part of the body of Christ and his blemish is unchanged. Through Christ, he is unblemished in God’s eyes.

We see that being a eunuch with physical deficiencies is no more an impediment to being saved and joining the body of Christ, than are the scars or stripes Jesus bore for our sins an impediment for the Lord to be the head of his church. Through Christ, there is no physical impediment to salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Ethiopian eunuch is the first foreigner to become a convert of Christ and the first black person to convert to the Way of the Lord. In spite of being a student of the Scriptures, who had just returned from worshiping at the Temple, the eunuch’s physical blemish would likely have been allowed by the Temple Priests to worship in the Court of Gentiles, and this conversion is significant as it is the first recorded Christian conversion of a Gentile.

Christ suffered physical affliction on the cross to remove the restrictions and judgments under the Old Covenant and to permit access to God’s Presence, in the form of the Holy Spirit, under a New Covenant through Christ.

Come to think of it, under the Old Covenant rules, the Resurrected Christ would not be permitted access to the Temple because the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet and sides would be considered unacceptable defects or blemishes. Under the Old Covenant, the blemishes borne by the Son of God would create the paradox that Christ would neither be allowed to pass through the veil at the Priest’s Temple Court to access Holy of Holies nor allowed to ascend to sit at the side of the Father in Heaven.

But it is because Christ took upon himself to bear the marks or stripes of our sins under the New Covenant, any blemish or defect can no longer be a barrier to the sanctification of the believer. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice guarantees our access to the presence of God, which is the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #484: It Only Takes a Spark

Benediction – (Philippians 4:23): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. – Amen

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Sanctified by His Word and Prayer, 2019

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Sanctified by His Word and Prayer, 2019’

© June 2, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 2, 2019

Based on Messages Shared with BLCF on Sunday, January 2, 2011, and on March 12, 2017

BLCF_Bullrtin_Jan_2_2011

BLCF Bulletin March 12, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship: Prayer                                                                             

Opening Hymn #276: In the Stars His Handiwork I See; Choruses                                

Prayer and Tithing – Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests

Responsive Reading: #634 (Prayer of Christian Unity – John 10, John 17, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Sanctified by His Word and Prayer’

Let us pray…

    Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.[a]

10 Your kingdom come, your will be done,[b]     

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]

12 and forgive us our debts,    

 as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,     

but deliver us from evil.[d

Footnotes: a. Matthew 6:9 Or Let your name be kept holy, or Let your name be treated with reverence b. Matthew 6:10 Or Let your kingdom come, let your will be done c. Matthew 6:11 Or our bread for tomorrow d. Matthew 6:13 Or the evil one; some manuscripts add For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen

The Scriptures in today’s BLCF Bulletin begin with Matthew 6:9–13, (described also in Luke 11:2–4), gives Christ gives his answer to the Disciples’ request as to how they should pray. The next Scripture passage, the subject of today’s message is taken from John 17, contains the prayer Jesus gave to God at the conclusion of his earthly ministry, just before his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven.

To understand the significance of the Prayer to the Gospel of Jesus, we must briefly look at how John’s Gospel differs from the writings of the other disciples. John’s writings happen to be a subject of study for several months at Wednesday’s Morning Bible Study at BLCF. John’s Gospel is particularly interesting, as it differs from what is commonly referred to as the Synoptic Gospels in several distinct ways.

First, we must note that John’s Scriptures were authored some 30 years after the Day of Pentecost, where the Synoptic Gospels, (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), were authored primarily before the Holy Spirit was given to the Disciples in the Upper Room on the evening of Christ’s Resurrection. To better understand the differences, let us look at the following from biblia.com:

Each Gospel account has its own theme, and each account was written to a specific group as noted below:  

  • Matthew was written to the Jews, and it shows Jesus’ Messianic work as a king over His everlasting spiritual kingdom, which is His church.
  • Mark was written to the Romans, and it shows that Jesus is the one with power and strength through His miraculous works.
  • Luke was written mainly to the Greeks, and it shows the human side of Jesus and portrays Him as being a perfect man.
  • John was written to all Christians, and its primary focus is Jesus being Deity, and that He is the Son of God. (John 20:30-31) Consider the following chart: 

 

The Gospels Matthew Mark Luke John
Unique 42% 7% 59% 92%
In common 58% 93% 41% 8%

 http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Jn20.30-31

We see a contrast between the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6 and the personal prayer Jesus gave at the conclusion of his earthly ministry.

Though it is true that other passages of scripture record how Jesus taught believers how to pray, it is interesting that John 17 is that is the only passage in the gospels where we are privy to Jesus’ feelings with respect to His glorification by His sacrifice; the fate of His disciples after His ascension and for the unity of all believers.

The Prayer in John 17 can be broken into three distinct concerns voiced by our Lord:

The first concern is found in verses 1-6 of John 17 Jesus acknowledges his relationship with God, the Father, as well as the unity that we know as the Holy Trinity, which includes God – the Father, Jesus – the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is part of the Trinity, being distinct from the other, though each is an expression of the same God, a subject that we studied in another sermon at BLCF.

John 17:1-6 (ESV): The High Priestly Prayer: Jesus Prays for Himself

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The second concern is found in verses 6-19, where Jesus prays to God for his Disciples, whom he acknowledges will no longer have his earthly guardianship; also asking for His sanctification, His joy, His protection from Satan, (except Judas Iscariot, described as the son of destruction), and praying for unity among the Disciples not unlike the found between Jesus and God, while Christ was in the world.

John 17:6-19 (ESV): The High Priestly Prayer: Jesus Prays for His Disciples

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a] 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,[c] that they also may be sanctified[d] in truth.

Footnotes:  a, John 17:15 Or from evil b. John 17:17 Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God) c. John 17:19 Or I sanctify myself; or I set myself apart (for holy service to God) e.John 17:19 Greek may be set apart (for holy service to God)

And the third concern in his prayer, Jesus prays for all other believers, asking for the same unity with God and the Son, as the Lord asked for his disciples and for His Love, as well.

John 17:1-6 (ESV): The High Priestly Prayer: Jesus Prays For All Believers

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

And how wonderful must the love and unity with God be, that on the eve of his death, that he gives a prayer for his disciples and the other believers, which includes you and me!

In this prayer, Jesus asks the Father for sanctification, which comes from the Word of God, which is the truth from God, John 17:17.

Sanctified by the Word of God

17 Sanctify them[a] in the truth; your word is truth.

Footnotes:a. John 17:17 Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God

And what precisely is the definition of sanctification?

Merriam-Webster further defines this process of sanctification as:

sanc·ti·fi·ca·tion  noun \ˌsaŋ(k)-tə-fə-ˈkā-shən\

1 :  an act of sanctifying

a :  the state of being sanctified                                                                                                     

b :  the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanctification

Sanctification is growing in grace after being baptized by the Spirit, following a Christian’s conversion. It is important to note that this sanctification or growth in grace, requires a commitment on the part of the believer.

Kate Plourde, writing in the BLOG: “Maranatha! The Lord is Coming!” has the following take on sanctification:

I am totally convinced that the born again Christian who keeps claiming “grace” for his continued sin struggles with this verse. How can one who continues to act like the world say he is sanctified?  Is that Christian cleansed from corruption?  Is he purified from his sins?  Is he making himself holy by detaching himself from?  I’m not talking about Christ’s blood covering our sins and salvation.  I am talking about the on-going process of our spiritual walk after salvation.  God is the Potter, we are the clay.  He molds us into Christ’s image through sanctification – through our continued growing process as we read His Word.

Sanctification is a process. When we read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit wants to prick our hearts with conviction. When we respond to that conviction, we begin the process of sanctification.

It is no wonder that today’s “church” is struggling! They are no longer in the act of making their lives holy.  Instead, they are busy with distractions and not digging into God’s Word.  This produces a church that does not separate themselves from the world – they act like the world – they talk like the world – they dress like the world!  All because they look at God’s grace as though He looks the other way when they act like the unsaved!  Christ took His salvation to the people, yes.  He ate with them, He told them truth and He led them to truth.  He always had a purpose and that was to lead them to truth.  He didn’t compromise that truth by “acting” like them.  The world sees Christians like this and they do not desire what they have for there is no difference between the two in their eyes. The Christian’s salt has lost its flavor!

Sanctifying ourselves means that we must daily strive towards being more Christ like. Would Christ use the Lord’s name in vain? Would Christ have a cursing mouth? Would Christ gossip? Would Christ get drunk? Would Christ have a temper tantrum?  Would Christ steal?  Our lives as Christians should be an on-going process of spiritual growth.  Granted, we’re not going to be sinless – but we should sin less!!  The more we hang out with the world and act like them, our standards will lower.  How can one grow unless one sets himself apart from sin? How can one grow if one doesn’t make himself holy?  Just because we are saved does not grant us the privilege of sinning!  If this is what you are thinking, then something is not right with your spiritual walk.

Some Churches today are big on God’s “grace” but they miss out on the other half of it. These Christians want His understanding and forgiveness but they do not want to purify themselves and alienate themselves from sin and the world. Sin brings pleasure and they are not so willing to part with it.  This is the basis of our struggling church today. Man’s heart is desperately wicked and deceitful as we see in Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV):

The heart is deceitful above all things,

and desperately sick;

who can understand it?

Why would we trust our own heart to make decisions when we are not sanctifying ourselves?

Wil Pounds, writing in Message Page makes the following comments on the importance of sanctification to Christians, as vessels of God’s Holy Spirit: 

How do you possess your vessel? Do you protect yourself from the temptations of this world? What are your weak areas? Do you have a pet weakness? Honor God with your actions. Honor God with your mouth. Honor God by sanctifying your life – set it apart from what the world does. Grace has nothing to do with us continuing to sin and act like the world. Grace has everything to do with salvation! Once we have received salvation, we must train ourselves to turn to God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to convict us and sanctify us! Wake up Church!

True daily sanctification in this life comes through the ministry of the Word of God. Jesus told His disciples, “Now are you clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). God set us apart to Himself when He saved us. As we grow in Christ we experience more and more sanctification. We are progressively set apart to God as we grow in our faith, and love for God more than the desire of the world. This being set apart daily comes as the Holy Spirit applies God’s word to our everyday experiences. The Holy Spirit enables us to obey God’s Word. He is the author of the Word and He uses it to enlighten our minds, enable our will and encourage our hearts.

We were made clean through the Word at the new birth. As we obey the Word of God daily the defilement is washed out of our lives. When we sin we do not need to be saved all over again. We will never be regenerated a second or third time. After you bathe, you do not need to bathe again when you get your hands dirty. You wash them off and you are clean once more. God has given us a bar of soap. It is found in 1 John 1:9. Use it daily. Read 1 John 1:9 (ESV):

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It is our responsibility to apply the word of God daily in the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not come automatically.  

http://www.abideinchrist.com/selah/feb3.html

Jesus’ Prayer in John 17 follows the example that Christ gave to his disciples. The prayer begins by Jesus acknowledging the sanctity and authority of the Heavenly Father on earth and heaven. Jesus prays that both his disciples and all believers continually (daily) receive Divine truth or bread and for the Father’s deliverance and guidance from evil and temptation.

It is interesting to note, that though Jesus was facing his own crucifixion and death on the cross for our sins, his prayer focuses upon the spiritual welfare of both his disciple and all believers, which is you and me. Jesus prayed for us. We should remember that all of the disciples, except John, would suffer horrific deaths for their faith. John was exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he authored his Scriptures.

In conclusion, as believers at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, we are sanctified by our faith in the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on our behalf. And as we have read in His prayer in John 17, that it is the desire of our Savior that we continue to maintain our walk as believers, Sanctified by God word and through the Holy Spirit which convicts us of the truth found in that word. We are expected to grow in the truth or understanding of the Word and be sanctified.  This is how we may best glorify our Lord for His gift by demonstrating a unity of purpose, a unity of faith, sanctified as a single body of believers in the precepts taught us by Jesus in His prayer in John 17.

Let us pray…

Communion:  Responsive Reading #626: (The Last Supper – Mark 14)

Closing Hymn #581: There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit  

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):                                                                              

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

The Miracles and Parables of Jesus, 2019

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Miracles and Parables of Jesus 2019’      

© May 19, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 19, 2019

Based on a Message Shared with BLCF on October 15, 2017

BLCF Bulletin October 15, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                   

Opening Hymn #182: Marvelous Message We Bring; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #624: The Great Commission (Matthew 28, Luke 24, Acts 1, Mark 16)               

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Miracles and Parables of Jesus

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF and our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service, and our lesson today is entitled: ‘The Miracles and Parables of Jesus’.

 The disciples recorded that throughout his ministry the Lord frequently performed miracles and made use of the parable. In our lesson today we will examine why Jesus used the miracle and the parable. While a miracle is doing something that is beyond the laws of nature, a parable is a metaphor used to teach a spiritual lesson.

An example of a metaphor would be: suppose I ask sisters Jillian and Olivia to come forward and stand by the pillar to my right. If I refer to my two sisters in Christ as being “pillars of the Church” – we know that I do not mean that they are the same as the alabaster pillar beside them which is holding up the roof, which the literal meaning of the description. The expression is a metaphorical statement that these ladies are key members of our congregation, which is part of the greater bodies of believers who are Christ’s Church.

But for today’s lesson, let us begin by looking first at the miracles that Jesus performed. The Bible records over forty miracles attributed to Jesus, during his ministry:

The Miracles of Jesus

  1. Miracles of Jesus: Born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38)
  2. Miracles of Jesus: Changing water into wine (John 2:1-11)
  3. Healing of the royal official’s son (John 4:46-54)
  4. Healing of a man possessed by a demon in Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:33-37)
  5. Healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39)
  6. Healing the sick during the evening (Matt 8:16, Mark 1:32, Luke 4:40)
  7. Catching a large number of fish (Luke 5:3-10)
  8. Healing a leper (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15)
  9. Healing a centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10)
  10. Healing a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:18-26)
  11. Healing a withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-10)
  12. Raising a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17)
  13. Calming the stormy sea (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25)
  14. Healing the Gerasene demon-possessed man (Matthew 8:28-32, Mark 5:1-13, Luke 8:26-33)
  15. Healing a woman with internal bleeding (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48)
  16. Raising Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18-19, 23-25; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56)
  17. Healing two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31)
  18. Healing a mute man possessed by a demon (Matthew 9:32-33)
  19. Healing a man who was crippled for 38 years (John 5:1-17)
  20. Feeding 5000 men and their families (Matthew 14:16-21, Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:5-14)
  21. Jesus walks on water (Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21)
  22. Healing of many in Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 6:53-56)
  23. Healing a demon-possessed girl (Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30)
  24. Healing a deaf man with a speech impediment (Mark 7:31-37)
  25. Feeding the 4000 men and their families (Matthew 15:29-39, Mark 8:1-10)
  26. Healing a blind man in Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)
  27. Healing a man born blind (John 9:1-41)
  28. Healing a boy possessed by a demon (Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:17-29, Luke 9:37-43)
  29. Catching a fish with a coin in its mouth (Matthew 17:24-27)
  30. Healing a blind and mute man who was possessed by a demon (Matthew 12:22-23, Luke 11:14)
  31. Healing a woman with an 18 year infirmity (Luke 13:10-13)
  32. Healing a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6)
  33. Healing 10 men suffering from leprosy (Luke 17:11-19)
  34. Bringing Lazarus back to life (John 11:1-44)
  35. Healing Bartimaeus of blindness (Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43)
  36. The withering fig tree that produced no fruit (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25)
  37. Restoring a severed ear (Luke 22:45-54)
  38. The resurrection of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15, Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 )
  39. Catching of the 153 fish (John 21:4-11)
  40. The ascension of Jesus Christ ( Acts 1:1-11 )

https://www.quora.com/How-many-miracles-did-Jesus-perform-in-his-lifetime-What-are-the-Bible-verses-in-the-Gospel-of-John

Scholars have attributed a wide assortment of often conflicting reasons for these miracles. These reasons range from the miracle being just an illustrative talking point in the teachings of Jesus to the miracle itself being dismissed as a parable of something more mundane.

It seems that many of these authors seem to have neglected one of the most compelling and authoritative sources in researching their writings on the miracles of Christ, the Bible.

Let us see what the Scriptures say about the subject. I would like to direct you to the account of the disciple Thomas, who was absent from the Upper Room when, Jesus first appeared to the other disciples as the Resurrected Christ, John 20:24-31 (ESV):

Jesus and Thomas

 

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Footnotes: a. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

We see that when the Lord returns to the Upper Room, eight days after his first appearance so that Thomas would believe in the miracle of the resurrection.

However, it is the next two verses of John’s Gospel that signify the intent of purpose to the inclusion of the signs of miracles of Jesus in his gospel, as well as the other inspired Scriptures of the New Testament:

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John acknowledges that there were many other signs or miracles not included in his gospel, but those that he did include, we do so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing this, we too may have life in his name.

In the times of Jesus and the disciples, the Scriptures give us many accounts of false prophets of God, who used so-called magic sleight of hand to either challenge His authority or as a demonstration that they have been called as a disciple of God. Both are false.

God performed miracles to change the heart of Pharaoh so that the ruler would release His people from their captivity, as we read in Exodus 7:8-12 (ESV):

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

We also have in Acts 8:9-24, the account of Simon the Magician, who failed when he sought to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from the disciples as we read specifically in verses 18-22:

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 

Simon the Magician did not have an understanding receiving the power of God’s Holy Spirit is the reward to faith in Him, that the God’s Holy Spirit cannot be purchased nor subject commands of any person, and most importantly the Spirit is intended to facilitate God’s plan for humanity, not vice-versa.

Today, we see many false prophets who desire to elevate themselves not to praise God. Like Simon the Magician, they may have been baptized, they know all the right phrases used by believers, they seek only to elevate themselves above God and above others. It is the sin of the Garden of Eden all over again.

God used miracles to change the heart of Pharaoh and Simon the Magician could not receive the power of the Holy Spirit because his heart was not right with the Lord when he sought to buy the Spirit from the disciples.

But like Pharaoh and Simon the Magician, people whose hearts are not right with God still seek a miracle, not out of their own faith, but from twisted desire to prove their own authority over the one true God, as we see in Matthew 16:1-12 (ESV):

The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

16 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them,[a] “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”So he left them and departed.

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Footnotes: a, Matthew 16:2 Some manuscripts omit the following words to the end of verse 3

The other key part of the ministry of Jesus was the use of the parable, to help bring an understanding of God’s purpose to both his disciples and others]

An explanation of this method of teaching is found in Matthew 13:10-16 (ESV):

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Sadly, there are those who will never believe the truth found in the miracles and parables of the Lord, as their lack of faith is a stumbling block to understanding the wisdom and power of God in Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) :

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Many Christians struggle with the symbolism Jesus used in his teachings, and we find on the back of today’s bulletin a good method of how to differentiate passages of Scriptures intended to be taken literally from those intended to teach us symbolically, as we see in this answer from the Web Page, gotquestions.com:                                                                                                       

Question: “How can I recognize and understand biblical symbolism?”

Answer: The language of the Bible is rich with metaphor. The biblical writers used familiar, everyday objects to symbolize spiritual truth. Symbols are quite common in the poetic and prophetic portions of the Bible. By its very nature, poetry relies heavily on figurative language; when Solomon calls his bride “a lily among thorns” (Song of Solomon 2:2), he is using symbols to declare the desirability and uniqueness of the Shulamite. Prophecy, too, contains much figurative imagery. Isaiah often used trees and forests as symbols of strength (e.g., Isaiah 10:18-1932:19). Daniel saw “a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes” who “came from the west . . . without touching the ground” (Daniel 8:5), and we interpret this as a kingdom (Greece) and its king (Alexander the Great) who speedily conquered the world.

Jesus’ teaching was full of symbolism. He presented Himself as a Shepherd, a Sower, a Bridegroom, a Door, a Cornerstone, a Vine, Light, Bread, and Water. He likened the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast, a seed, a tree, a field, a net, a pearl, and yeast. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other symbols in the Bible.

Note that a literal interpretation of the Bible allows for figurative language. Here’s a simple rule: if the literal meaning of a passage of Scripture leads to obvious absurdity, but a figurative meaning yields clarity, then the passage is probably using symbols. For example, in Exodus 19:4, God tells Israel, “I carried you on eagles’ wings.” A literal reading of this statement would lead to absurdity—God did not use real eagles to airlift His people out of Egypt. The statement is obviously symbolic; God is emphasizing the speed and strength with which He delivered Israel. This leads to another rule of biblical interpretation: a symbol will have a non-symbolic meaning. In other words, there is something real (a real person, a real historical event, a real trait) behind every figure of speech.

https://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-symbolism.html

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #158: I Serve a Risen Savior

Benediction – (Philippians 4:7):

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