“The Almighty God”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY 6TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST FEBRUARY 17, 2019

Title: “The Almighty God”

Text: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)

Scripture Reading: Psalms 19.

A college professor, an avowed Atheist, was teaching his class. He shocked
several of his students when he flatly stated he was going to prove there was no God.
Addressing the ceiling he shouted: “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me
off this platform. I’ll give you 15 minutes!” The lecture room fell silent. You could have
heard a pin fall. Ten minutes went by. Again he taunted God, saying, “Here I am, God.
I’m still waiting.” His countdown got down to the last couple of minutes when a Marine –
just released from active duty and newly registered in the class – walked up to the
professor, hit him full force, and sent him tumbling from his lofty platform. The professor
was out cold! At first, the students were shocked and babbled on in confusion. The
young Marine took a seat in the front row and sat silent. The class fell silent…waiting.
Eventually, the professor came to, shaken. He looked at the young Marine in the front
row. When the professor regained his senses and could speak he asked: “What’s the
matter with you? Why did you do that?” “God was busy…He sent me.”
God is constantly confronting humanity with his reality. Everywhere people turn,
they are faced with unmistakable evidence of a greater power. In spite of atheism,
materialism, rationalism, and agnosticism, prophets and apostle both in the Old and
New Testaments were certain that God “is, and that he is a rewarder of them the
diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Job said, “I know my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25).
Paul said, “I know whom I believed” (2 Timothy 1:2). John in the fourth gospel said,
“We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). The Bible is
filled with certainties in regard to God’s existence; rather, his reality is assumed. There
are areas in which we can trace the footsteps of God. God is in creation. ​Reading Psalm 19:1, the Scripture tells us that “the heavens declare the glory of God: the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” It obvious from this
scripture that the universe has an orderliness that cannot be ignored. The season come
and go on schedule. Night follow days. There is an intelligence behind all this. These
manifestations of nature comprise the effect of a “Cause.” That “Cause “ is an infinite
creator who made it all, set it all in motion, sustains it. Paul spoke of God as the “Cause”
behind everything when he described him as the One “in (whom) we live, and move,
and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Furthermore, there is a purpose and design in God’s creation. The atheistic
belief that life “just’ happened” is an affront to human intelligence. For example,
consider a house. Would an agnostic say, “We cannot determine who the builder of this
house is, so we know there was one because here is evidence of his handiwork, the
product of his genius.” Likewise, there was an intelligent purpose and design behind God’s creation. The hymnist Stuart K. Hine expressed it this way: ​O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds that hand have made, I see the
stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then
sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, How great thou art! How great thou art!
God can also be seen in humanity. Paul in Romans 2:14-15 writes, “Indeed
when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law,
they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that
the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness​, ​ and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”
From this text one can see that God is involved in his creation. As another
evidence of his involvement in his creation, God has placed within people a moral
consciousness that makes them capable of responding to their creation. People were
created with an innate knowledge that there is a higher power and with a capacity to
know that being. But at the same time, God gave people freedom of will, by which they
can choose to ignore and repress these inherent tendencies toward God and morality.
In so doing, they prove themselves to be fools, because they are asserting that which is
contradictory to the very nature of humanity (Psalm 14:1).
When people are born again, a miracle of restoration takes place in which God
brings alive these feelings and intuitions about the existence of a divine creator and
about people’s moral responsibility to abide by his laws. God is able, because of his
love and through the regenerative power of his Spirit, to resurrect those dead feelings.
This is the miracle of the new birth. In her hymn “Rescue the Perishing,” Fanny Crosby expressed this truth: ​Down in the human heart, Crush by the tempter, Feelings lie buried, that grace can restore.
The existence of God is also evident in the Bible. The law of the Lord is perfect,
converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The
statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgment of
the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea,
then much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them
is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (psalm 19:7-11).
The Bible speaks of God’s nature. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). “Spirit” is the
highest form of being, and God is essentially and eternally spirit. This means that he is
not confined to a human body, even though for thirty-three years he inhabited the
physical body of his Son, Jesus Christ. Still, however, God is a person. He has
personality; he is not merely an impersonal force that inhabits the universe. His
personality is expressed in his love, grace, mercy, pity, and compassion. Because of
this, the writer of Hebrews said, “We have not a high priest which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without
sin” (hebrew 4:15). In other words, God is God; he is infinite and perfect in his holiness
and power. Yet because of his inconceivable choice to identify with people and become
their Saviour, he understands our plight and is willing and eager to save us!
The Bible speaks of God’s attributes. God is immense. At the dedication of the
temple, Solomon prayed, “Will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens,
even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
(2 Chronicles 6:18 NIV).
A circle has a center and a circumference. The circumference is the limiting,
outer boundary of the circle. God has a center but no circumference! His “center” is
everywhere.
God is eternal. He has neither beginning nor ending. People divide time into
past, present, and future, but God knows no divisions like that. He told Moses to tell the
people of Israel that he was sent to be their deliverer by him who is the great “I AM.”
That means God is everlasting, the One who has neither commencement nor
consummation!
God is unchanging. He is the One “who does not change like shifting shadows”
(James 1:17 NIV). People change. They start and stop and are up and down. But not
so with God. His glory shines with an unwavering and permanent brightness. God is
immutable. But Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea
and forever.”
In conclusion, we can say that God is omnipotent. This means that he is
almighty and has all power. There is nothing within the realm of God’s righteous nature
that he cannot do. God is omniscient. He has all knowledge. Simultaneously, God
knows all things. He knows the past, the present, and the future. God is omnipresent.
Not only is God everywhere, but there is also an added dimension to his omnipresence
because he is love. He cares about everything everywhere.
In spite of his inconceivable majesty and power, God “condescends to men of
low estate.” “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

“Please God not Men”

“If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of God” (Galatians 1:10b).

When we read Jeremiah, one will find an outward difference between the prophet of Baal and the prophet of Yahweh. The two prophets speaks saying,’This is what the Lord say!’ The difference is that the prophet of Baal speaks what is heart is full of. The prophet of God speaks what the Living God puts in his mouth.

In first King 1:7, Micaiah the prophet of Yahweh had incurred the hatred of king Ahab because he spoke the words of the Lord not pleasing the king. Anyone who wants to be religious for the benefit of it should associate with the prophet of Baal. Only a true servant of God can speak the truth. In Micaiah 1:3, the prophet stood his ground to speak only what the Lord laid on his heart. It important for us to always listen to God through his Spirit and speak out when there is a moral decay. Let us not fashion ourselves after issues because it suits us.

Memory verse: 2 Chronicles 8:12

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have” Oprah Winfrey

“Pursue Holiness”

“Pursue Holiness”

Thursday, February 14.

“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18

Everyone remembers the excitement of getting saved. It is through grace. But being saved isn’t all that matters. It is about growing and becoming more like Jesus. It is about pursuing holiness. How can we achieve this?

We rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. It transforms us more and more to be like Jesus. this is called sanctification. When we cooperate with the Spirit, then we are pursuing holiness. In order to do this, we have to be vigorous. We have to apply sustained effort. We need to strive.

Let us not loose out on the fact that we have to let our pursuit of holiness be anchored in the grace of God. It is only by the grace of God that we can succeed. Let us strive to be holy because our God is a holy God.

Memory verse: Hebrews 12:14

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous act have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4

“The Incomparable Jesus”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

5TH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

FEBRUARY 10, 2019

Title: “The Incomparable Christ

Text: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Scripture Reading: John 1:1-5, 10-14

One day a six-year-old lad came to his mother with this question: “Mother, who made God?” Instantly the mother’s face expressed astonishment and chagrin. Presently she said curtly, “What an awful question to ask. You had better run along and play.” In that same country community another lad approached his mother, and asked, “Did God make Himself?” His mother presently left her work and breathed a silent prayer. Taking off her wedding ring, she gave it to her son and asked, “Where does this ring begin and where does it end?” Before long the boy answered, “There is no starting place and stopping place to a ring.” The mother remarked, “Just so is God. There is no beginning and no end to God. He always has been and always will be.” This story is similar to the many encounters I have with many children children and adults.  At Family and Friends recently, the high school kids were asking similar questions about God and Jesus Christ.

Where do you begin when you start to talk about Jesus Christ?  If your subject were some outstanding historic figure, you would begin with his beginning: his birth, parentage, and heritage.  But with Jesus, there was truly no beginning, for he said of himself, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Therefore one can begin anywhere and start talking about Jesus and never get it all said! But we will attempt to choose some of the most basic facts concerning Jesus Christ that are found in God’s Holy Word the Bible.

This is a staggering concept for the human mind.  For us, everything has a beginning. But the Bible teaches conclusively that Christ had no beginning; he existed eternally with the Father.  John prefaces his gospel with the declaration, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). In other words, he is saying that Jesus goes back beyond the beginning of the creation of humanity.  In John 17 Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (v.5 NIV).

Not only does Christ exist eternally, but John records in Revelation that Jesus came as “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (13:8).  Because God is omniscient, he knew that people would sin even before he created them. Therefore, because God’s nature is love, he provided a way for people to be reconciled to their Creator before they were made! In that dateless past, “love drew salvation plan,” and “In the fullness of time” Jesus came as the foreordained sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Paul said it like this: “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5)

From the Bible itself, we have abundant evidence concerning the preexistence of Jesus before he was born of Mary.  In fact, both John and Paul ascribe the very works of creation to Christ. John said, “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that we made, speaking of the “Word,” that became flesh (John 1:3).  Paul wrote, “By him all things were created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16).  Thus we must conclude by faith that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit has always existed as one God in purpose and equality.

Another truth about Christ from the Word of God is his earthly manifestation.  When we consider the incarnation, God becoming man, there are two important truths we must hold with all the tenacity faith provides for us.  First, Jesus became at the same time and in an absolute sense both God and man. He did not “become God” at the baptism and “cease to be God” at his death.  When he was born in Bethlehem, he was God; when he ascended from Mount Olivet, he was God! Second, in becoming flesh, Jesus, though he laid aside his heavenly glory, in no sense laid aside his deity.  This has to be true, for his full deity and complete humanity were necessary if his death on the cross was to have redeeming value for humanity.

Our text declares that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Dwelt here means “tabernacled.” Jesus “pitched his tent” as a person among people.  In the miracle at Bethlehem, God became what he had never been before. God became Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, John said that he was “full of grace and truth.” Some say that Jesus was no more than “a good man” or perhaps “the best man who ever lived,” but they stop short of admitting that he was God.  John declared that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” The Greek word for “truth” is formed from the word concealed, or hidden, with the Greek word alpha added to it, giving it the opposite meaning. So “truth” literally means “the unconcealed.”  Until Jesus came, God Almighty was at least partially hidden from humanity in an aura of majesty and transcendency.  He was, for the most part, unapproachable by humankind. Thus people had a poor, limited concept of God as a personal God.  Jesus came and “unconcealed” God: he became the complete revelation of God.

The book of Hebrews says that Christ was “tempted in all points, like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).  Here we see Jesus humanity in that God allowed Satan to do everything he could to deter Jesus from the cross.  This was necessary not to see if Jesus was truly God, but to prove that he was God.

It is important to glean from our text, Jesus Christ in his present ministry.  When Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, he did not leave behind just a fond memory of himself in the hearts of his followers.  He had told them, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). What about his present ministry in heaven? He is completing in heaven the work he began on earth.  The phrase “right hand of God,” describing Jesus’s position now in heaven, is a symbol of his power, authority, and glory. Part of his present ministry in heaven is the preparation of an abode for his church.  He said to his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2) At the same time, he has kept his promise and sent the Holy Spirit to fashion the church and to prepare it as his bride. Two glorious projects are underway simultaneously: God is preparing heaven for us and us for heaven.

But that’s not all.  Christ also intercedes for us.  Every Christian has a redeemed soul, but that soul is housed in an unredeemed body that sometimes disobeys and dishonors God.  Often we find ourselves crying as Paul did, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).  On the basis of his complete sacrifice on the cross, Jesus is our intercessor before the throne of grace. He takes our imperfect prayers, perfects them, and offers them to God as a sweet smelling savor.

Finally, Christ’s present ministry in heaven brings to completion and perfection the three Old Testament offices: prophet, priest, and king.  After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit was manifested in him “without measure.” Therefore, possessing all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit without measure, he has the full knowledge of a prophet, the perfect holiness of a priest, and the absolute power of a king.  A prophet spoke to the people about God and declared God’s word to them. Jesus was the very embodiment of that word. A priest mediated between people and God; Jesus suffered in humankind’s place, satisfied the divine holiness of God, and opened the way for people to be reconciled to God.  Kingship is one of Christ’s eternal prerogatives. He was born a king; during his earthly life, he asserted his kinship and people recognized his claim. His resurrection proved his sovereignty as King of Kings and Lords of Lords.

Now as we anticipate Christ’s return, Christians rejoice in the prospective majesty of the Son of God, for Jesus will in reality be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords.    

“The Living Word”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS McCARTHY

5th SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

FEBRUARY 3, 2019

Title: “The Living Word”

Text: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 1:19-21

In 1985, for the first time in more than fifty years, Congress authorized the issue of official US government gold coins. Beginning in 1986 these new coins came on the market. Each of these American Eagles, as they are known, is guaranteed by the US Mint to contain the stated amount of pure 22 karat gold. They come in 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1-ounce sizes, and buyers from around the world trust these coins because they trust the promises of the United States government that the coins are what they claim to be.

When it comes to Scripture, we have something far more reliable than the guarantee of a government—we have the promises of Almighty God that His Word is perfect and pure. God promised to preserve His Word for us. That means that, according to the promise of God, we can have complete faith that every word in the Bible is there on purpose. Psalm 12:7 affirms, “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”  The wise man in Proverbs also caution, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” Proverbs 30:5

What should be one’s attitude toward the Bible? Some have made a sacred fetish out of the Bible.  People worship the book rather than the Christ it portrays. Others feel that there is some magical value in having a Bible nearby, regardless of whether it is read or studied.  These attitudes are dangerously close to bibliolatry. Bibliolatry is the worship of the Bible as a book rather than understanding the Bible as a divine Word of God and the expressions of God’s plan for people’s lives.  

Before we can properly assess our attitude toward the Bible, we must discover what it is.  We call it the Word of God, the living Word, the Law of life. All of these definitions are valid.  But what we do mean by them? To answer this question, let us look at few things we can consider the Bible to be.

    The Bible is a specific revelation.  People decide that they are going to “study the Bible” and master its contents just as they would study American history, anatomy, philosophy, or any other subject.  They immediately become frustrated and convinced that the Bible is nothing more than a mass of unrelated material filled with contradictions. What is their problem? It is simply that they are natural people attempting to understand spiritual things.  Paul commented on this problem to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:14).

On the other hand, when people are filled with the Bible, they find an inexhaustible source of truth opening up before them.  They discover an amazing unity and a beautiful symmetry in its message. They see a magnificent interrelationship between its sixty six books, each making a contribution toward the overall theme of God’s redemptive purpose for the fallen, sinful humanity, as that purpose is culminated and revealed in Jesus Christ.  That makes me to ask the question, what do we mean by the term revelation?

    The word itself means “drawing back the veil,” signifying that an obstruction must be removed for a person’s vision to be complete.  It means to make known that which was once concealed from view. Divine revelation is disclosure by God of truths that one could not know otherwise.  Therefore whatever people discover about the truths of God must come by divine revelation. So then, what do we mean by illumination?

If a specific revelation by God to a person is to take place, that person’s understanding, which has been darkened by sin, must be illuminated.  Spiritual illumination means the bringing of heavenly light into the soul of a person who was born into spiritual darkness and who has lived in that darkness.  This is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. This is to illuminate the minds of believers so they understand God’s Word. In honesty and sincerity, the true believer prays, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).

    To receive illumination from God in regard to the meaning of the Bible, we must be faithful to the light, or understanding, that we receive.  If the motive of our study of the Bible is spiritual pride, causing us to be “puffed up” with our intellectual grasp of the Bible, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us.  We must carefully apply the spiritual knowledge we receive to our everyday lives.

    The Bible is a progressive revelation.  Not only is the Bible a specific revelation of God to humanity, but it is also a progressive revelation.  When Christian begin a systematic study of the Bible, they discover that it is a gradual unfolding of God’s plan and purpose.  

    When children are in kindergarten, they aren’t given Shakespeare to read and algebra problems to work or solve.  Rather, they learn how to write the alphabet and how to count. The progressive development of their minds and understanding begins here.  So it is with God’s Word. God started with people, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” until Jesus came and lived with symbols, or “pictures.”  The Old Testament is a great picture book filled with symbols that lead us to Jesus as he is revealed in the New Testament.

    For example, there is a ‘scarlet thread’ that runs through the Bible.  It begins in the garden of Eden, where the blood of an innocent animal was shed to provide coverings for the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they had sinned.  From that primeval incident, God began to show that people cannot hide their sins from him nor remedy the condition of sin in their lives. Only God can do it.  Thus the ‘scarlet thread’ has woven its way through the Bible. Finally, in glorious climax and culmination, it flows forth on Calvary to fulfill every symbol in the Old Testament.

    One would see how the New Testament as a book is bathed in blood, the vicarious, redemptive blood of our crucified Lord.  Natural people are repulsed by this; the critics of Christianity turn away from it. But without the power of God progressively revealed in the Scriptures, flowing forth in the shed blood of his Son, there is no power to save people from their sins.  Therefore God has progressively “turned on the lights” of understanding. The first promise of God in Scripture (Genesis 3:15) has in it the anticipation of a completed redemption; and the first act of worship looks toward God.

    Finally, the Bible is an inspired revelation.  In addition to being a specific and progressive revelation of God to humanity, the Bible is also an inspired revelation.  Without an acknowledgment of the divine inspiration of Scripture, the Bible becomes little more than the study of history, myth, and superstition.  The word inspired is found twice in the King James version of the Holy Bible. It is found in Job 32:8 and 2 Timothy 3:16. The job reference refers to God’s authorship of humanity’s intelligence, while Paul’s word in 2 Timothy means “God-breathed,”  suggesting that God imparted his Word directly into the minds of the authors.

When we speak of inspiration of the whole Bible, we refer to those original documents as they came from the pens of the various authors.  We no longer have the original manuscripts, but of one thing we can be certain: the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers in the beginning will preserve the truth of the Scriptures.  Translators are not inspired in the sense that the original authors were , so their choice of words and phrases may not always be completely accurate.

God’s Word was inspired not by ‘common inspiration’ or in the same way that human literature geniuses are inspired.  Rather, God gave his thoughts to the individual writers, and they then expressed them within the framework of their unique personalities.  Holy people of God spoke in old times as they were “moved,” or inspired, by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

Since John penned Revelation, God has not given any new pr further revelation to humanity.  His will for people and for the ages is contained in the Bible. Everything people need to know to be saved from their sins and to live a Christian life is in God’s Word.  It tells people that they are lost and condemned in their sin. It also tells people that God loves them and that he demonstrated his love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  All they need to do is accept by faith the message of the living Word of God.

We were Created for something better

“We were created for something much better.”                                                                                                

February 12.

 I am here on earth for just a little while.” Psalms 119:9

When my dad passed in 1979, I was young. I didn’t come to terms with the reality, that I had lost a love one, who was very important to my survival in this world.  The news came, my late brother and I had to trek a mile down the road, to inform our maternal uncle.  Life went on as usual for me, for the next two weeks.  The reality of dad’s death set in, when the body was brought home for wake keeping.  I remembered, I stood by the house and realized that dad was not going to wake up again.  It was the first time I cried, since the news broke.  As I grew up, I knew that life on earth was temporal.  We will be here today, and gone tomorrow.  Death is humankind common destiny.  We will all die some day.  The Psalmist says, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. Psalm 39:4.  While some dread the idea of death, it is important for us to remember that life on earth is temporal.  Compare to the fact that we will enjoy everlasting life with God, life on earth is brief.  Many forget that earth is not our permanent home.  Some encourage others to live recklessly.  Let us remember, that the life we have is from God.  We are only stewards of it.  Some day, God will call us home and we will be required to give an account of how we live it.  How we live life on this earth will determine our reward.  There is a better reward waiting for us: We will live with God in eternity.  Rick Warren in “the Purpose Driven Life,”  recounts a story of a retiring missionary coming to the U.S. on the same boat as the President of the United States.  There was cheering and merry making as the president was welcomed.  No one noticed the missionary.  The missionary complained to God.  God spoke to him quietly saying, “But my child, you are not home yet.”  His home was heaven.  Even in death, we will not be leaving home, we will be heading home to heaven, when Christ comes.  Friends, whenever you are down and trouble.  When death knocks on your door, and life on earth and serving God makes no sense.  Please know that your labor in God’s vineyard is not in vain, your reward is in heaven.

Memory verse:  Genesis 2:7

“Our faith gives us knowledge of something better.” E. F. Schumacher

“The Living Word”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS McCARTHY

5th SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

FEBRUARY 3, 2019

Title: “The Living Word”

Text: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 1:19-21

In 1985, for the first time in more than fifty years, Congress authorized the issue of official US government gold coins. Beginning in 1986 these new coins came on the market. Each of these American Eagles, as they are known, is guaranteed by the US Mint to contain the stated amount of pure 22 karat gold. They come in 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1-ounce sizes, and buyers from around the world trust these coins because they trust the promises of the United States government that the coins are what they claim to be.

When it comes to Scripture, we have something far more reliable than the guarantee of a government—we have the promises of Almighty God that His Word is perfect and pure. God promised to preserve His Word for us. That means that, according to the promise of God, we can have complete faith that every word in the Bible is there on purpose. Psalm 12:7 affirms, “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”  The wise man in Proverbs also caution, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” Proverbs 30:5

What should be one’s attitude toward the Bible? Some have made a sacred fetish out of the Bible.  People worship the book rather than the Christ it portrays. Others feel that there is some magical value in having a Bible nearby, regardless of whether it is read or studied.  These attitudes are dangerously close to bibliolatry. Bibliolatry is the worship of the Bible as a book rather than understanding the Bible as a divine Word of God and the expressions of God’s plan for people’s lives.  

Before we can properly assess our attitude toward the Bible, we must discover what it is.  We call it the Word of God, the living Word, the Law of life. All of these definitions are valid.  But what we do mean by them? To answer this question, let us look at few things we can consider the Bible to be.

    The Bible is a specific revelation.  People decide that they are going to “study the Bible” and master its contents just as they would study American history, anatomy, philosophy, or any other subject.  They immediately become frustrated and convinced that the Bible is nothing more than a mass of unrelated material filled with contradictions. What is their problem? It is simply that they are natural people attempting to understand spiritual things.  Paul commented on this problem to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:14).

On the other hand, when people are filled with the Bible, they find an inexhaustible source of truth opening up before them.  They discover an amazing unity and a beautiful symmetry in its message. They see a magnificent interrelationship between its sixty six books, each making a contribution toward the overall theme of God’s redemptive purpose for the fallen, sinful humanity, as that purpose is culminated and revealed in Jesus Christ.  That makes me to ask the question, what do we mean by the term revelation?

    The word itself means “drawing back the veil,” signifying that an obstruction must be removed for a person’s vision to be complete.  It means to make known that which was once concealed from view. Divine revelation is disclosure by God of truths that one could not know otherwise.  Therefore whatever people discover about the truths of God must come by divine revelation. So then, what do we mean by illumination?

If a specific revelation by God to a person is to take place, that person’s understanding, which has been darkened by sin, must be illuminated.  Spiritual illumination means the bringing of heavenly light into the soul of a person who was born into spiritual darkness and who has lived in that darkness.  This is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. This is to illuminate the minds of believers so they understand God’s Word. In honesty and sincerity, the true believer prays, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).

    To receive illumination from God in regard to the meaning of the Bible, we must be faithful to the light, or understanding, that we receive.  If the motive of our study of the Bible is spiritual pride, causing us to be “puffed up” with our intellectual grasp of the Bible, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us.  We must carefully apply the spiritual knowledge we receive to our everyday lives.

    The Bible is a progressive revelation.  Not only is the Bible a specific revelation of God to humanity, but it is also a progressive revelation.  When Christian begin a systematic study of the Bible, they discover that it is a gradual unfolding of God’s plan and purpose.  

    When children are in kindergarten, they aren’t given Shakespeare to read and algebra problems to work or solve.  Rather, they learn how to write the alphabet and how to count. The progressive development of their minds and understanding begins here.  So it is with God’s Word. God started with people, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” until Jesus came and lived with symbols, or “pictures.”  The Old Testament is a great picture book filled with symbols that lead us to Jesus as he is revealed in the New Testament.

    For example, there is a ‘scarlet thread’ that runs through the Bible.  It begins in the garden of Eden, where the blood of an innocent animal was shed to provide coverings for the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they had sinned.  From that primeval incident, God began to show that people cannot hide their sins from him nor remedy the condition of sin in their lives. Only God can do it.  Thus the ‘scarlet thread’ has woven its way through the Bible. Finally, in glorious climax and culmination, it flows forth on Calvary to fulfill every symbol in the Old Testament.

    One would see how the New Testament as a book is bathed in blood, the vicarious, redemptive blood of our crucified Lord.  Natural people are repulsed by this; the critics of Christianity turn away from it. But without the power of God progressively revealed in the Scriptures, flowing forth in the shed blood of his Son, there is no power to save people from their sins.  Therefore God has progressively “turned on the lights” of understanding. The first promise of God in Scripture (Genesis 3:15) has in it the anticipation of a completed redemption; and the first act of worship looks toward God.

    Finally, the Bible is an inspired revelation.  In addition to being a specific and progressive revelation of God to humanity, the Bible is also an inspired revelation.  Without an acknowledgment of the divine inspiration of Scripture, the Bible becomes little more than the study of history, myth, and superstition.  The word inspired is found twice in the King James version of the Holy Bible. It is found in Job 32:8 and 2 Timothy 3:16. The job reference refers to God’s authorship of humanity’s intelligence, while Paul’s word in 2 Timothy means “God-breathed,”  suggesting that God imparted his Word directly into the minds of the authors.

When we speak of inspiration of the whole Bible, we refer to those original documents as they came from the pens of the various authors.  We no longer have the original manuscripts, but of one thing we can be certain: the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers in the beginning will preserve the truth of the Scriptures.  Translators are not inspired in the sense that the original authors were , so their choice of words and phrases may not always be completely accurate.

God’s Word was inspired not by ‘common inspiration’ or in the same way that human literature geniuses are inspired.  Rather, God gave his thoughts to the individual writers, and they then expressed them within the framework of their unique personalities.  Holy people of God spoke in old times as they were “moved,” or inspired, by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

Since John penned Revelation, God has not given any new pr further revelation to humanity.  His will for people and for the ages is contained in the Bible. Everything people need to know to be saved from their sins and to live a Christian life is in God’s Word.  It tells people that they are lost and condemned in their sin. It also tells people that God loves them and that he demonstrated his love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  All they need to do is accept by faith the message of the living Word of God.

“Importance of Prayer”

“Importance of Prayers”

Thursday, February 7.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” Ephesians 6:18.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, Satan considers you armed and dangerous.  He will treat you as the enemy. And he won’t fight fair. The devil is the ultimate terrorist. He will attack when you least expect it. God’s word reveals to us certain patterns in Satan’s tactics.  Satan does not attack us when and where we are strong, but he waits for moments of weakness. When we stumble, he is right there. We as Christians need to remember those times in our lives when we can expect Satan to attack us.  

When our Lord Jesus Christ was hungry Satan showed up and tempted him.  In Matthew 4:1-11 the record tells us that Jesus Christ, after fasting forty days and forty nights, the devil showed up and tempted Him. It was a time of weakness because Jesus was hungry and He was tired.  But, Jesus waged spiritual warfare against Satan. In such time, Christians ought to use the only weapon available to us: Prayer. Do you know how to use your spiritual equipment and weapons? Prayer is your spiritual weapon.

Memory verse: Ephesians 6:10.

“To be a Christian without prayers is no more possible than being without breathing” Martin Luther.

Prayer as a Foundation

“Prayer as a Foundation”

“…and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4)

Wednesday, February 6.

One of the first administrative decisions by the apostles was to give their attention to prayers and preaching the Word of God. This yielded dramatic results. The accounts in Acts tells us that the Word of God spread .

Making strides in the life of the church isn’t easy. The people of God must be awakened to the importance of prayer; then they need to be equipped in prayer. Prayer is the foundation or blueprint for building a church of prayer. Prayer leaders must be selected. Do you feel called to a life of prayer in the church? If you feel call, visit the prayer room in the church and pray. it is also good to get involved in constant fasting and praying. Let us remember that intercession is an integral part of the church life.

Memory verse: 2 Corinthians 1:11

“Prayer is the breath, watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian.” Spurgeon

“House of Prayer”

“House of Prayer”

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you are making it, ‘a den of robbers'” (Matthew 21:13).

When Jesus Christ pointed out how the church shall be a house of prayer, He was telling folks that the church ought to be a place of prayer. You see, when a church is a praying church, it prays about what it does. it prays about problems, blessings for what it is doing, and the list goes on.

It is impossible to be successful in this Christian life if we do not pray. A powerful house of prayer is a church that understands that prayer acts as an oil upon it. Prayer will build all of its ministries. Prayer acts as a shield against enemy attacks on ministries and relationships.

Let us continue to live a life of prayer in our church and in our homes. God will surely answer, for God always answer the fervent prayer of the righteous.

Memory verse: 1 Timothy 2:1)

“Prayer is the passport to spiritual power.” Spencer W. Kimball