Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whom Do You Say I Am?

Psalm 141:1-10; Mark 8:27-30 / 1 Peter 2:1-10

I. Who Is Jesus?

A. Jesus raised the question; what did the public think? “And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? (Mark 8:27)

B. The Apostles knew the common opinions. “And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.” (Mark 8:28)

C. Some people were looking for the prophet promised through Moses; perhaps the age of Moses would return.I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-20)

D. It could be that Jesus is a restoration or even a reincarnation of Elijah. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:” (Malachi 4:5)

E. Perhaps Jesus is actually a risen John the Baptist. “But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.” (Mark 6:16)

F. Mark answered the question in the first sentence of the gospel and then kept proposing the question in various ways; Christianity rises or falls with the answer. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;” (Mark 1:1) “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)

II. Jesus Made the Question Personal

A. Jesus moved from the general to the specific, getting personal. “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (Mark 8:29a)

B. Peter made a profession of faith. And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. (Mark 8:29b)

C. The personal answer must be settled before taking the question to the public. “And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. (Mark 8:30)

III. The Answer Matters

A. The intermediate answers are not options; Jesus is all or nothing. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,” (1 Peter 2:7)

B. Will Jesus be your stone of stumbling? “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Peter 2:8)

C. Or will you profess that Jesus is more important than any other thing in life? “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:8-10)

D. Say what is on your heart; make your profession so that everyone can hear it. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

E. Courts have little interest in testimony given after the judge passes sentence. “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)

F. Paul explained what Peter was answering and called people to invest in Jesus as he and Peter invested with all they had. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10) “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

G. Who would risk eternity for what cannot be? The psalmist Asaph put it this way,Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” (Psalm 73:25)

“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:11)

What Does God Want?

I. God Calls People To Acknowledge Him

A. God is the ultimate authority above all other authorities, and when He says we should come to Him with thanksgiving, the only option is to do so. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:2-3)

B. No other authority amounts to much; all of life’s other claims pale in comparison. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. (Psalm 86:8-10)

C. The maker has an indisputable right to be acknowledged. “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:6) “But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10)

II. That Call Is Personal for the Redeemed

A. God finds the worship of His people beautiful. “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. (Psalm 45:11)

B. God is speaking to the elect—people redeemed with the blood of Jesus. “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

C. God redeemed people to glorify Him; worship is central to that process. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26-27)

D. As people draw near to God and He draws near to them, two propositions emerge in believers. “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. (John 20:28)

III. God Does Not Share

A. God states that He is jealous and prohibits fraternization with other gods. “But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:” (Exodus 34:13-14)

B. Everything which contributes to displacing God in the human heart is abominable and must be excised. “The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.” (Deuteronomy 7:25-26)

C. Jesus acknowledged the centrality of God in His dispute with Satan at the start of His earthly ministry. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10)

D. The right focus on God alone can impact 1,000 generations. “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:5-7)

E. When people get the right focus on God, He draws them to Him; what incentive could be more powerful? “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

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