4/30 Discussion Questions

  1. How did God speak to you through His Word today?
  2. In what way are you encouraged to take one step toward Jesus? How should your life change because of what you heard, sang, or prayed?
  3. What do you think about the following truth? We were made to glorify God by showing how great He is and we show He greatness by serving others.
  4. Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. What specific reason is given for the death of Christ?
  5. What does it look like for you to protect the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3)?
  6. What does it mean that Jesus did not play “the God-card”?
  7. How does Paul and Silas allowing themselves to be beaten in Philippi show the church how to avoid serving self and encourage serving others?
  8. Jesus’ path was exaltation, humiliation, than exaltation. How should this pattern shape the way you think about relationships?
  9. In what ways do you need to lay aside your rights, put on the slaves’ towel, and serve others?

The Blessing of Deacons

Text: Acts 6:1-7                                                                      4/23/2017

Main Point: God has blessed his church with deacons.

Church polity, or government, can be a lot like money. We can trust it, put our hope in it, or ignore it. It is easy to find a person who puts her trust in money. This person thinks she is okay because she can pay the bills, has sufficient insurance, and is saving enough for retirement. Money makes her feel safe. Others put their hope in money. This person thinks he will be happy if he gets a little more. He lives in a constant state of frustration because he doesn’t have what he thinks he deserves. More money would solve his problems, or so he hopes. Still others choose to ignore the subject of money. I think this is where most of us are, seeing that American credit card debit recently crossed the one trillion-dollar threshold. We don’t care if we can pay for it, don’t even think about that, just buy it. This leads to crazy amounts of stress because we know we are in trouble but we never really know how much trouble. Just go buy something else and forget about it.

I bring this up because many of us think about church structure or polity like we think about money. Some of us put our trust in polity. This person thinks she’s okay because all the offices are there and they are all filled. We’re safe because, while the world is changing rapidly, the church remains the same. The way this person “does church” provides comfort and security. Still others put their hope in the church. After trying to bring change to the political world and failing, this person turns to the church. If only he can get the church in order then he will feel like he’s done something. He can’t change the world but he can change this church. His hope, his legacy, is polity. Still others, and again it’s probably most of us, ignore polity all together. Like forming and keeping a personal budget, forming and keeping a biblical church structure just isn’t a priority. We ignore polity because, after all, just getting ministry done is ultimately what matters. We’ll let the eggheads fight about polity while we go win souls for Christ!

Like order and structure in our families, like order and structure in our finances, God has revealed his intentions for order and structure in the church. We put our trust in the gospel, not in polity. We put our hope in Christ, not in polity. And we will not ignore polity. Instead, we seek to understand how we out to behave as a church. There is a blessing for us in a proper understanding of the offices of member, elder, and deacon. Having looked into congregationalism and the office of pastor/elder/overseer, we now need to seek God’s blessing through the office of deacon.

Acts 6:1-7

I. We want deacons because they bless the church in many ways

Deacons are awesome. The more I study this office and the more I spend time with faithful deacons, the more I see how helpful deacons actually are. Let’s talk blessings, #blessed

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by protecting and restoring joy in the body

In Acts 2 the church is in a most excellent state. They are growing in the gospel, they are caring for one another, prayers are being answered, and as any has a need the church body is meeting those needs. Acts 2:46, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The church in Acts 2 is marked by glad and generous hearts. They are sincere, happy, and focused on caring for one another. But then things go sideways; Acts 6.

Acts 6:1, as the church grew, so did the number of needs. When the number of needs grow, but the people available to meet those needs does not grow, it is a recipe for strife. The Hellenist widows, that is the Greek speaking Jewish widows, began to complain about being neglected in the daily distribution of food. They were hungry and had no means of income. The church was responsible for caring for its poor but these women were being overlooked. What was the outcome? Complaining started to happen. No longer were they looking after one another resulting in glad and generous hearts. They were growing bitter.

The solution was to create a new office, an office that hadn’t existed previously in the temple or in the synagogue. The office of deacon was created in order to restore and protect the joy of the church. Biblical deacons bless the church by helping address conflict in the body. Deacons are spiritually-mature gospel-saturated men. They have been given authority to meet needs and help the church. Don’t complain, go to the deacons. Deacons bless us by protecting our joy and unity. Also,

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by meeting physical needs

This is the model we see in Acts 6. When we compare the qualifications of elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 we see quickly that their character qualifications are almost identical. What differs is their job descriptions. While elders must be able to teach, there is no similar requirement of deacons. The title, deacon, gives us insight into their job. Deacons are set apart by God to serve the church like a table-waiter. This is why, among us here at Mambrino, our deacons are actively involved in benevolence or mercy ministry. When a member of the church or community comes seeking financial assistance, it is the deacons who respond. What if you need work done around your house? What if something needs to be fixed on church property? Deacons bless the church by meeting physical needs. Go and ask them for help. Go be blessed. Deacons bless us with joy, they bless us by meeting needs, and

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by encouraging biblical elders

I gave this truth to you earlier regarding elders; biblical elders bless the church by encouraging biblical deacons. When elders do their teaching and equipping work it frees the deacons to focus on their ministry of meeting needs. When the deacons focus on their ministry of meeting needs it frees the elders to focus on their ministry of teaching and equipping. We need clarity in these offices so we can do more better. Faithfulness in one office encourages faithfulness in the others so that the church is blessed. Another avenue of blessing relates to discipleship.

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by modeling and encouraging sacrificial service

Every Christian is called to serve others (1 Pt 4:10). Every deacon is a servant. So, should we pay deacons to serve in our place so we don’t have to? If we have biblical deacons are we off the hook? No, we should look to deacons as models of ministry. Just as we look to elders to teach us how to rightly handle the word of truth, we  also look to deacons to teach us how to rightly meet the needs of our members and neighbors. Deacons set the pace for service in the church.

Romans 12:8 tells us some members will be particularly gifted with generosity and doing acts of mercy. I think it is a fair connection to say the deacons should be actively looking for and encouraging those members who are gifted in the body to perform acts of mercy. Deacons should be multiplying themselves, equipping others to meet needs. So, deacons do not just bless the church by meeting needs. They also bless the church by setting the example and raising up others who are glad and generous givers. We need deacons because they are a blessing and now

II. We need to think about the church as a family

In many ways, deacons are to elders what wives are to husbands. Stay with me, and think about responsibilities. It is the responsibility of husbands and elders to lead. It is the responsibility of wives and deacons to help accomplish the mission in the family and in the church. When husbands and wives neglect or overstep their responsibilities then the family suffers. When elders and deacons neglect or overstep their responsibilities then the church suffers. The dysfunction of the family is mirrored in the dysfunction of the church.

We need to clarify roles. Deacons are not do-boys or yes men. Wives are not slaves. The offices of deacon and wife carry identity, work, and authority. A deacon’s identity is a servant of a particular church. His work is to meet needs in order to protect and strengthen joy. His authority is to collect and disperse funds as well as train and send out ministers of mercy in the church. While elders and deacons are not essential for the existence of a church, they are both necessary for a healthy church.

I want to offer an honest word of critique aimed squarely at us pastors. One of the reasons churches struggle to enjoy a biblical leadership structure is elders seem to be faithful to the church about as long as husbands remain faithful to their wives. When the going gets tough, elders and husbands either check out or run off. The difficulty finding faithful pastors should not surprise us. It is difficult to find faithful husbands. We need elders who will stick around and labor for the good of the church like a husband and father sacrificing and working for the good of his wife and children.

But it takes two to tango. Beware of the non-committal husband and

  • Beware of the insubordinate and nagging wife

The sheer number of horror stories and jokes about deacons reveals a glaring problem. Deacons and elders work together for the good of the church. When deacons refuse to work with the elders there will be big problems. Avoid deacons who think their calling is to keep the elders in check, constantly nagging and complaining. Deacons who want to stir up controversy in the church, are as helpful as an insubordinate or nagging wife. And I think it is necessary to note that a great deal of the problem with bad deacons can be tied to bad elders. When the office of elder is neglected or abused then the office of deacon will suffer. Likewise, when the office of elder is faithfully discharged then the office of deacon will most likely blossom and vice versa. So please do not hear this as an indictment of deacons as a class and it is certainly not the case for our deacons here. We are blessed with faithful, godly, and biblical deacons. It is our responsibility to raise up and affirm more men like them.

  • We do need to challenge common misunderstandings about deacons

We must also beware of the unfit deacon. To keep the image going, beware of the unfit girly-deacon. Now there is nothing wrong with being girly. Women should look and act like women. But men should look and act like men. Women should not look and act like men and men should not look and act like women. Deacons should act like deacons. So, what should we avoid when raising up and affirming deacons? Look back at the way deacons should bless the church. If deacons bless the church by meeting physical needs then we should avoid selfish men. Ask, does he actively and sacrificially work to care for people in need? Then he should be considered. Next, if deacons bless the church by encouraging biblical elders then we should avoid men who don’t understand polity. Men who play the devil’s advocate, or like controversy, are unfit to serve as deacons. Never affirm a man who likes to stir the pot. A deacon’s responsibility is to speed up and advance the work of pastors, not serve as a check or governor on their work. A deacon’s responsibility is to strengthen and protect the joy of the church. A man who constantly produces strife and conflict is unfit for the office.

Another common misunderstanding is seeing deacons as a separate branch of government, like elders are the Senate and deacons are the House of Representatives. I understand the sentiment but if taken too far, the separate branches idea puts elders and deacons at odds with one another. Some may even think elders are Republicans and deacons are Democrats, so that opposing philosophies or personalities are encouraged. Maybe you have heard of schisms in other churches trying to get their man elected as deacon in order to represent their desires in the church. This is not helpful or biblical. Instead of being a separate branch of government checking the authority of elders, deacons are mature and godly workers who help keep the elders going. Instead of houses of government, think about a team. The elders are like coaches and the deacons are like trainers. Both groups work together to keep the team healthy and help each player improve.

That leads us to a helpful form of deacon ministry

  • Task specific deacons

In Acts 6, those men weren’t chosen because they met the qualifications. They were chosen because they met the qualifications and there was a job to do. These proto-deacons of Acts 6 were charged with making sure the Hellenistic widows were cared for by the church. They had a specific and helpful job description- make sure all the widows have enough food and money for daily life.

Originally, it appears that deacons served the church through what we call benevolence. Deacons have particular responsibility for caring for the poor. If someone has a financial need then they should go to the deacons. Additionally, it is right for us to think about the deacons taking on those tasks in the church that must be done but are not necessarily related to teaching. Tasks like greeting, benevolence, counting offerings, building maintenance, running the sound board, and setting up for church meals could easily be given to task-specific deacons. Do the members need help around the house, a ride to the doctor, or meals during illnesses? Then you members should go and take care of those needs. As those needs multiply or continue over a long period of time, we should expect a deacon to take the lead to ensure the need is met. So please do not think that deacons do all the work. Elders and deacons work together to make sure the members are healthy and able to do the work.

As we move forward as a church, it is my recommendation to you that we adopt task-specific deacons. The starting point is not with a man but with a need. The elders, current deacons, and the members will work together to determine these needs, find suitable men, and then appoint them to the work. Deacons should not continue on in the office indefinitely. It’s not once-a-deacon-always-a-deacon. Instead, it’s here’s a need that is distracting or dividing the church and here’s a man to meet that need. When the need no longer exists, or the man needs a rest, then he no longer serves as a deacon. He returns to the regular work of a faithful member.

As we close this morning I think it will be helpful to step back and get the big picture.

III. The big picture

  • In a healthy church, every member is being equipped and doing ministry

Here, I remind you that we are all in need of sanctification. No one here is perfect. We all need to helped along against sin, toward Christlikeness, and with the work God has given us. We all experience seasons of need. So, if you see a need, meet that need. Do you see guests among us? Go and greet them. Do you see members who need encouragement? Go and encourage them. Does someone need to be discipled? Offer to meet up to read the Bible and pray together. Is something old, worn, or messy? Clean it up or replace it. We are after every member ministry. Let’s get specific.

  • In a healthy church, every elder is equipping the members for ministry through preaching, teaching, and overseeing ministry

The primary task of pastors is to shepherd the sheep. Elders are under-shepherds, entrusted by Christ with caring for the members. Are you struggling against sin or with unbelief? Are you wanting to grow in godliness? Come and be fed through preaching and seek out opportunities to talk with your pastors. But elders can’t do everything.

  • In a healthy church, every deacon is protecting and strengthening joy by doing what needs to be done

Are you discouraged, unable to pay your bills? Go seek the help of a deacon. Are you a single-lady or widow and need work done around your house but you are afraid to just call someone in the phone book? Go seek the help of a deacon. Do you see something around the buildings that needs to be tended to? Go talk with a deacon. As elders help us lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us, so also deacons help us lay aside the physical and financial distractions that so easily entangle us.

When we talk about biblical members, elders, and deacons we are talking about a healthy church that enjoys Trinitarian unity. We want our unity to match and proclaim the unity of God himself. Oh, how good it is when the family of God dwells together in spirit, in faith, and unity. Oh, how good it is when we have biblical members, elders, and deacons. Let’s pray and work for unity.

4/23 Discussion Questions

  1. How did God speak to you through His Word today?
  2. In what way are you encouraged to take one step toward Jesus? How should your life change because of what you heard, sang, or prayed?
  3. What is church polity?
  4. When you think about church polity, how do you think about it?
  5. Explain the three offices of member, elder, and deacon. How do they relate to one another in a healthy church?
  6. Which of the blessings of deacons do you find most appealing: deacons protect and restore joy, deacons meet physical needs, biblical deacons encourage biblical elders, and deacons encourage sacrificial giving?
  7. Explain the metaphor that compares the offices of a church to the offices of a team (coaches, trainers, and players).
  8. What can you do to encourage the members, elders, and deacons of Mambrino Baptist Church?

Deacons, Purveyors of Joy

Cornelis Van Dam writes:

A key reason for appointing men to minister at tables was to protect the joy of the fellowship of believers. When the legitimate needs of the saints were not being met, there were complaints, indicating that there was unhappiness. Fractures were developing  in the community. To address this situation, the seven were chosen. Their task, in a nutshell, was to see to it that there were no needy so that everyone could rejoice and celebrate the salvation and freedom given by Christ. They could employ others to make sure that all needs were taken care of. These seven and the deacons that followed, like other office-bearers, were given to the church ‘for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry [diakonia], for the edifying of the body of Christ’ (Eph. 4:12). Deacons are to safeguard the communal joy of the fellowship of believers so that everyone in the church can function according to the God-given responsibilities each has been given. Several responsibilities derive from this key duty. Deacons need to focus on the poor and needy, on the lonely and sick–indeed, on all those whose joy in the Lord is being challenged by their circumstances. Also, deacons need to direct their attention to those members of the congregation who have the necessary gifts that can help restore joy in those who are losing it. In other words, deacons are to see to it that the appropriate resources, talents, and attributes found in the congregation are put to use to alleviate suffering and want. Finally, deacons have a the responsibility to mobilize the members of the church to diaconal service both within and outside the congregation. After all, believers were to do good to all people (Gal. 6:10).

From The Deacon: Biblical Foundations for Today’s Ministry of Mercy, page 72

The Lamb of God

You are here today because God became a man. Some of you are here today because someone in your family believes God became a man. Maybe you have been a Christian for decades or have just begun to consider what it means to follow Jesus. We are glad you are here. It is this point, that God became a man, that separates Christianity from every other religion. And it is crucial to understand why. Did God become a man in order to take a wife or to be worshipped and pampered? No, God took on flesh, he became a man, in order to die. Jesus was born to die. But why? Why would God do that? Most people don’t create life in order to kill it; that would be wrong. And it would be wrong for the Son of God, infinite and eternal, to take on human flesh and then just die.

When considering the death of Jesus, we rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus. God didn’t just become a man and live and die. The Son of God took on flesh, lived a righteous life, died an atoning death, and then rose again victorious over sin and the grave. He did all of this so you can share in his victory. He came, died, and rose so that you can live. He came, died, and rose from the grave so that you can live with God. His is a mission of redemption and restoration.

And this redemption plan has been the plan from before the beginning. Revelation 13:8 tells us there is a book, it’s called the book of life, and this book was written before the foundation of the world. The full title is the book of life of the lamb who was slain. Before there was earth and sky, before there was day and night, before there were people or sin, there was the book of life of the lamb that was slain. Today, on Resurrection Sunday, I want to tell you the story of the lamb that was slain. And I hope, at the end, you will celebrate the resurrection of the Lamb and rejoice because your name is written in the book of the Lamb that was slain.

Let’s start the story with a big promise, a promise made to a man n named Abraham. Abraham and Sarah will have a son, not Abraham and Hagar, Abraham and Sarah will have a son, named Isaac, and that son will become nations; kings will come through Sarah. And God will make a personal covenant promise with Isaac and his offspring after him. Isaac will be born, he will have children, and God will be his God and the God of his descendants. It’s unthinkable that a 90 year old woman would conceive and then it happens! Sarah becomes pregnant and bears a son at 91! Years later the unthinkable happens, God tells Abraham to take Isaac and sacrifice him on Mt Moriah. Here’s the point

I. God’s lamb was Isaac’s substitute

I need to let you in on a little secret. This game of life is rigged. In fancy language we say God is sovereign and providentially rules over the details of life according to his perfect plan. Ephesians 1:11 tells us God works all things according to the counsel of his will. Simply put, God has rigged it. That’s true for you and it’s true for Abraham. Notice this in the text

  • Abraham knew God would provide a lamb (Gen 22:7-8)

Read Genesis 22:7-14

Here’s what you need to grab onto today. The burnt offering is an offering for sin. It’s a sacrifice in which one life is given for the redemption of another life. The lamb dies in the place of, and for the sins of, the worshipper. This means the burnt offering is fundamentally about personal sin and restoration to God. You see, God doesn’t deal with our sin because sin is bad. God deals with our sin because our sin separates us from God who is good. When you and I trust ourselves to our sin we are cut off from the joy and strength of God. So, it isn’t God who is hurt by our sin, we are hurt because our sin separates us from God. But God provided a way for Abraham’s sin to be removed, God provided a sacrifice, not Isaac but a lamb. Now catch this

  • Jesus is the Lamb of God, our substitute (John 1:29, 1 Pt 3:18)

The start of Jesus’ ministry, the season opener, was his baptism by John the Baptist. And it was John the Baptist who saw Jesus and yelled out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” The next day, when Jesus shows up, again John cries out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” What is John talking about? He’s talking about a substitute, Jesus is the sacrifice God has provided. But who is Jesus the Lamb a sacrifice for? He takes away the sin of the world. Jesus came to be the full and final payment for all your sin. He came to take your sin on himself, pay for it, and restore you to God. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” Jesus came to bring us to God.

What amazes me about the generosity and love of the Father is that he gave his Son so Abraham wouldn’t have to give his son. The Father gave his Son so you and I wouldn’t have to give our children. This God, our God, provides everything we need in order to enjoy life with him. God saves us. He has given us His Son. God’s lamb was Isaac’s substitute. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is our substitute. Now, let’s look at the next lamb.

II. God’s lamb was Israel’s protection

So, as is always the case, God keeps his promise to Abraham and makes Isaac into a great people. The problem is, those people are slaves in Egypt. They are not free to worship and obey God. In their sorrow and oppression, they cry out to God and He hears them! God commits himself to redeeming his people from slavery by judging and ultimately punishing Pharaoh the king of Egypt. Maybe you remember the story of Moses and the 10 plagues? With increasing intensity, God sends 9 plagues to break Pharaoh’s pride and let the people go, but Pharaoh refuses. The final plague is the death of the firstborn. God is going to send his angel through the land and every firstborn is going to die. But there is a way of escape.

  • The lamb will die instead of Israel’s firstborn (Ex 12:1-13)

Think about what God is saying. He is coming to punish their rebellion; the rebellion of the Egyptians and the Hebrews. The angel of death is coming. It is not enough just to be a Hebrew. To survive, a lamb must die in their place. The blood on their doorposts proclaims a message, “A death has occurred here. The lamb has died in our place.” The lamb provided protection from God’s wrath. The lamb redeemed them for God.

Every year after this one, God’s people were to celebrate the Passover and remember what God did to free them from slavery in Egypt. Every year they would sacrifice the lamb. Every year they would remember a death occurred so they could live. Now understand this,

  • Jesus is our Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7-8)

In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle Paul is calling the church to live holy lives. He is addressing sin in the members of the church. Like leaven working through a lump of bread dough, sin works its way from one person to another until the whole lump is infected. The church, the people of God, are called to be a pure, holy, and faithful people. The biblical image is unleavened bread; bread without the leaven of sin. This is a reference to the Passover meal which was celebrated by eating unleavened bread. They were a clean people, a pure people without the leaven of sin.

Today, the church must be a pure people. We must clean out malice and evil from our lives. And what is the express reason why we must be pure? Look at 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” The angel of death is coming. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). We will all stand before God and give an account of our thoughts, words, and deeds. But God, in His great mercy, has provided a way of escape and it is through Jesus, our Passover lamb.

Just as the angel of death looked at the bloody door posts in Egypt and understood a death had occurred that ransomed those inside. So now, God our Father, looks at the bloody cross and understands a death has occurred that ransoms all those who trust in Jesus. We are saved from the wrath of God because of Jesus our Passover lamb. And there’s more!

III. God’s lamb was the daily sacrifice

We’ve looked at Abraham’s ram and the Passover lamb, now let’s look at the lambs sacrificed in the temple every morning and evening. God established this twice-daily sacrifice for the sins of the people. Under the Old Covenant,

  • Restoration came through sacrifice (Ex 29:38-46)

Notice, like Abraham’s offering, this is a burnt offering to make atonement for sins (Lev 1:4; Num 28.3). Those lambs would die in the place of the people so that their sins could be forgiven and they could meet with God. There in the temple, God would meet with His people and speak to them. Every day, twice a day, sacrifices for sins would be offered to God so that God’s people could be with and enjoy God. Fast forward to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament. Hebrews loves to call Jesus our great high priest. Look with me at Hebrews 7:26-27 (screen).

It was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself (Hebrews 7:26-27). Rest and rejoice in this

  • Jesus is our better sacrifice

God wants us to think about those lambs being offered daily in the temple for the sins of the people. You don’t need to do that. You shouldn’t do that. A better sacrifice has been made once for all. Jesus has come and he gave himself as our lamb. Hebrews 9:12 says, “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” The reason we don’t need the temple any more is we have a better and perfect sacrifice in Jesus Christ. Jesus is our substitute. Jesus is our Passover lamb. Jesus is our better sacrifice. We are forgiven. And there’s more!

IV. God’s lamb is Isaiah’s servant

The prophet Isaiah speaks about a lamb who is a servant. Isaiah 53 is a great Old Testament passage about Jesus. Look with me at Isaiah 53:7 (screen)

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 his shearers is silent so he opened not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

Why is he doing this? Why is this servant a silent sacrifice? (screen)

It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:10-11). God showed Isaiah a servant, a righteous servant, who would come and be crushed by the Lord.

  • A servant is coming to take away our sin

The purpose of the servant’s death will be to make an offering for guilt. When this servant gives himself for the guilt of others he will purchase offspring, sons and daughters. He will succeed. The will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. When people trust in him, he will make them righteous.

Now fast forward to the book of Acts chapter 8. God tells a man named Philip to take a walk. He then tells Philip to go up to a chariot on the road. When Philip gets within earshot, he hears the man in the chariot reading from Isaiah 53 verses 7&8 which we just read. The man is confused and askes Philip, about whom does the prophet speak, about himself or someone else? Here’s Philip’s answer

  • Jesus is the servant who takes away our sin

Starting with Isaiah 53:7, Philip told the Ethiopian Eunuch the good news about Jesus. Philip evangelized this guy starting with the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. The good news for us, in this very moment, in this very room, is that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. There on the cross, Jesus was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Is 53:5). Jesus is our substitute, our sacrifice, for our sin. Jesus restores us to God!

But here is another important distinction between those lambs back in the day and the saving Jesus of today, those lambs are still dead. Jesus is alive!

V. Jesus has risen from the grave

Every other sacrificial lamb stayed dead, but death could not hold our strong King. One final passage to help you understand, enjoy, and follow Jesus. 1 Peter 1:13-21 (read it)

  • God commands us to think (v.13)

Prepare your minds for action, gird up the loins of your mind, get your head on straight. Wake up from your stupor, drunk on the shallow things of this world. Jesus is coming with great grace. We can have hope today because Jesus is coming for us. Think about what he has done. Think about what he is going to do. Maybe the reason why you are so torn up and scared on the inside is because you don’t know how to think about Jesus. As a church, we want to help you do that. We want your help. We want you to join this church and we want you to follow Jesus. Think and come back next week. Next,

  • God commands us to be holy (vs. 14-16)

God didn’t give us the perfect sacrifice of Jesus so we could keep wallowing in our sin and eating our own vomit like dogs. God forgives and restores so that we can live life with him, holy and joyful. He commands us to be holy in all our conduct, at work and at home, on our phones, and with others. There is a better way. God has given us the perfect lamb so we can live. We want to help you do that. Come back next week and pursue joyful holiness with us. Next,

  • God isn’t playing (vs. 17-18)

God doesn’t judge us according to the good intentions of our hearts. Verse 17 tells us that God judges us according to our deeds. We should be afraid of falling off into or remaining in sin. But the way we turn away from sin is by remembering and depending upon Christ who ransomed us. He is the lamb of God. He is our atoning sacrifice. He died for us to set us free from our slavery to sin. We weren’t ransomed with a wooly lamb or with silver or gold. We were bought by Jesus. You and I can live solid lives because of Jesus. So,

  • Jesus is exactly what we need (vs. 19-21)

We have been ransomed with the precious blood of Jesus, like that of a lamb without blemish. He has always been God’s plan of redemption. He who was foreknown before the world has now been made manifest. The Son of God showed up, he took on flesh, and became a man. He died an atoning death on the cross for our sins and God raised him from the grave. God has given him glory. Jesus has been given the glory of the only way of salvation. Everything depends on Jesus. All other so-called gods, all other so-called saviors, are an offense to Jesus, the only way to the Father. What should you do?

  • Put your faith and hope in God

It’s Easter, specifically it’s Resurrection Sunday. It’s the day we get dressed up and go to church. No, that’s so far from the fullness of this day. This is the day when we remember the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And why did he do it? Why did he live a righteous life, die an atoning death, and rise victorious from the grave? He did it all so you and I can be restored to God, forgiven and restored. Abraham’s lamb, Isaac’s substitute, points us to Christ, the lamb God provided for us. The Passover lamb, whose blood marked the doors in Egypt, declared a death has occurred for these people. Christ, our Passover Lamb, whose blood marked the cross outside of Jerusalem, declares a death has occurred for us. The daily sacrifices in the temple which cleansed the people temporarily so they could draw near to God and hear from him points us to Christ. His one-time, once for all sacrifice, needs no improvement or repetition. We stand forgiven at the cross where Isaiah’s servant willingly and powerfully took our sins upon himself, died, and rose again.

The only fitting thing we can do is trust ourselves to this crucified and resurrected Jesus. He has all authority in heaven and on earth. He will forgive us. He will make us righteous. He will strengthen us. He will give us his life, his joy, and his peace. Today, Jesus invites you to trust him. The evidence that your name is in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain is you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus. Look at him and live. Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Look and live. Look and celebrate.

4/16 Discussion Questions

  1. How did God speak to you through His Word today?
  2. In what way are you encouraged to take one step toward Jesus? How should your life change because of what you heard, sang, or prayed?
  3. Which understanding of the cross do you lean toward, God dealt with our sin because sin is bad, or, God dealt with our sin because our sin separates us from God who is good? Why does the way you think about the cross matter?
  4. In what ways is Jesus like the ram God provided as Isaac’s substitute?
  5. In what ways is Jesus like the Passover lamb slain in Egypt?
  6. In what ways is Jesus like the morning and evening sacrifice in the temple?
  7. What is significant about Jesus being the suffering Servant of Isaiah?
  8. Is your name written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain? How do you know?

4/9 Discussion Questions

  1. How did God speak to you through His Word today?
  2. In what way are you encouraged to take one step toward Jesus? How should your life change because of what you heard, sang, or prayed?
  3. Do you agree or disagree with the statement that you should be as careful choosing your elders as you are choosing your heart surgeon? Why?
  4. What are some common things people desire of a pastor but God does not require? Are there any particular dangers related to these extra-biblical requirements?
  5. Describe the type of person an elder must be.
  6. Describe the work an elder must do.
  7. Why is an elder’s marriage, family, and home a good indication of his ability to serve as an elder?
  8. Why is a steward a good descriptor of an elder?
  9. One of the qualifications of an elder is that he command with the Word (1 Tim 4:11; 5:7; 6:17; 2 Tim 2:14; Titus 1:9, 13). What do you think about this necessary ministry and how should it look in your life?