Pray we and our children Imitate God (Eph. 5:1)

Pray We and Our Children Imitate God (John 1:14; Gal. 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:1)

Praying Scripture Series

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, July 29, 2018

Charlie Chaplin was a huge movie star in the silent-picture era. One of the by-products of his popularity were the look-alike contests that sprung up around the country. Contestants attempted to imitate Chaplin dressed as the “tramp” character he made popular in his films. Even the young up-and-coming actor Bob Hope entered such a contest in Cleveland, Ohio, and won.

Legends have sprung up that Chaplin himself took part in one contest. Steve Chandler in his book 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself says Chaplin was on holiday in Monaco when he decided to enter a Chaplin look-alike contest. Others cite the incident as taking place in Switzerland. Although the event has been embellished through the years, it did occur. Chaplin entered a look-alike contest in a San Francisco theatre. Amazingly, Chaplin failed to even make the finals.

In a similar way, sometimes we do not recognize the truth about God when it is staring us in the face.[1]

On a similar note, we are told to imitate God. It has been my prayer for myself and my family that we imitate God as the Bible tells us to do in Ephesians 5:1.

My theme and application is: pray that we and our descendants imitate God.

  1. Imitate God, let’s talk about that.
    1. 5:1 says just that, it says: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children
    2. Last fall I preached on the broader section of that passage. Today, I just wish to talk about the main phrase “imitate God.”
    3. Notice we are to imitate God, not other people.
    4. Tozer shared: Christian literature, to be accepted and approved by evangelical leaders of our times, must follow very closely the same train of thought, a kind of “party line” from which it is scarcely safe to depart. A half-century of this in America has made us smug and content. We imitate each other with slavish devotion. Our most strenuous efforts are put forth to try to say the same thing that everyone around us is saying–and yet to find an excuse for saying it, some little safe variation on the approved theme or, if no more, at least a new illustration.[2]
    5. But we are not to imitate others, we are to imitate God.
    6. The question must be asked, “How”? How do we imitate God?
    7. A few months ago, I talked about that with respect to this broader passage and I said that a key to imitating God is being filled with the Holy Spirit from Eph. 5:18. I believe that and I believe that we can know if we are filled with the Spirit by the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. We will come back to that.
    8. So, let’s talk more about imitating God.
    9. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3), so imitating God must mean imitating Jesus.
    10. What does it look like to imitate Jesus?
  2. We must be full of grace and Truth.
    1. John 1:14: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    2. Jesus was and is fully Human and fully God and He came full of grace and full of truth.
    3. Grace is a free gift. We cannot earn our salvation. Jesus did everything for us, completely free.
    4. Randy Alcorn writes in “The Grace and Truth Paradox: “During a British conference on comparative religions, scholars debated what belief, if any was totally unique to the Christian faith. Incarnation? The gods of other religions appeared in human form. Resurrection? Other religions tell of those returning from the dead. The debate went on until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. The scholars posed the question to him.  ‘That’s easy,’ Lewis replied. ‘It’s grace.’ Our Babel-building pride insists that we must work our way to God. Only the Christian faith presents God’s grace as unconditional. People say: All religions are basically the same’? Imagine a geometry or French teacher who said to his students, ‘It doesn’t matter what answers you give on the test. All answers are basically the same.’ Hinduism’s gods are many and impersonal. Christianity’s God is one and personal. Buddhism offers no forgiveness or divine intervention. Christianity offers forgiveness and Divine intervention. In Judaism and Islam, men earn righteous status before God through doing good works. In Christianity, men gain righteousness only by confessing their unrighteousness and being covered by Christ’s merit. Every other religion is a man working his way to God. Christianity is God working His way to man.”
    5. So, that is grace in salvation. But I think this verse means more. Jesus came full of grace and truth.
    6. The grace that Jesus had was not just about a free gift of eternal life; though that would be enough.
    7. Grace is any good gift.
    8. Grace is forgiving someone who did something wrong to you.
    9. Grace is giving someone a second chance. Grace is giving someone a first chance.
    10. We must give people grace in our daily lives. One more story about grace before we move on about truth.

“Andre is a twenty something African-American who was recently hired for his first promising job. After making it through an impoverished and difficult inner-city upbringing, he enrolled in a mentoring program to help him find and retain a well-paying career. Now, if you purchased this in a bookstore, you may have no idea why a young man would need to learn how to find and retain employment. ‘Just get a job’ is the simplistic mantra of people who don’t understand guys and girls like Andre. But when you have never had parental involvement and have lived in four different foster homes growing up, you miss out on learning basic life skills that some of us take for granted. Many of Andre’s role models’ only income was from the social service check they got for being a foster parent. Andre was never encouraged to learn and never watched a man develop a skill. He had never seen a man get up early and come home at the end of the day for five days a week. He never experienced a strong work ethic leading to a better job with more money and better benefits. He rarely saw anyone graduate… ”[3]

Andre needed grace. He needed a mentor to help teach him life skills and guide him in finding a job. You know what, he also needed truth. What is Truth?

  1. Jesus came full of grace and truth. Truth is God’s Word.
  2. Truth is integrity. In Truth your actions and your words reflect what your inner being is.
  3. But there is also ultimate moral truth, and that is from the Bible.
  4. Randy Alcorn compares truth to gravity in his book “The Grace and Truth Paradox.” Whether we like it or not gravity is here. Whether we like it or not Truth is here too. Even if you don’t agree with truth, it is Truth.
  5. In John 17:17 Jesus is praying to the Father and says, “Sanctify them in Truth, Your Word is Truth.”
  6. I love the word of God.
  7. The Old Testament law is Truth. The Ten Commandments are Truth. Do not commit adultery, don’t lie. People need truth. The Bible teaches that if you don’t work, you don’t eat (2 Thess 3:8) and that is truth.

Alcorn tells a story that relates to truth:

“Flew across the country to not preach at a church that invited me to preach. After leaving my hotel I rode with a prominent Christian leader to the church. I knew this man had been accused by the media of misrepresenting certain key details on his resume, so I asked him about the charges. He admitted saying and writing some things that weren’t true—but it didn’t seem to bother him. I told him, calmly, that I thought he should repent and publicly ask for forgiveness for his dishonesty. He said nothing and we rode to the church in silence. A few minutes after we arrived, I was escorted to the office of the senior pastor, where we were scheduled to pray before I preached in the service. When I stepped in, the pastor slammed the door behind me. I was surprised to see his face turning scarlet, his veins bulging. He poked his finger at me. ‘No way will I let you preach from my pulpit!’ he thundered. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man I had just confronted. The pastor told me I had no right to question our brother’s integrity. The pastor was fully aware of the man’s reputation but thought it none of my business. We left the office the pastor still seething.”[4]

  1. Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Love must be our motivation, not making me look better, but love.
  2. 64% of Americans say, “I will lie when it suits me as long as it doesn’t cause any real damage.” 53% say, “I will cheat on my spouse—after all, given the chance, he or she will do the same.” Only 31% of Americans agree that “honesty is the best policy.” When asked what they would do for ten million dollars, 25 percent said they would abandon their family, 23 percent would become prostitutes for a week or more, and 7 percent would murder a stranger.[5]
  3. I believe imitating God means pursuing a life being full of grace and truth.
  4. This is not easy, but Jesus was and is full of grace and truth.
  5. I pray that myself and our descendants are full of grace and truth.
  • Check to see if you have the fruit of the Spirit.
    1. 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
    2. I have also been convicted to pray that myself and my descendants have the fruit of the Spirit.
    3. How are you doing with love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Goodness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self control?
    4. Are you showing more of the fruit of the Spirit now than 1 year ago? What about 10 years ago?

The Holy Spirit Works Like Alka-Seltzer

To be filled with the Holy Spirit means that we allow him to occupy and control every area of our lives…How much of you does the Holy Spirit have?

When teaching this to my seminary students, I bring two glasses of water and two packets of Alka-Seltzer to class. I drop a packet of Alka-Seltzer, with the wrapper on, into one glass. Then I plop an unsealed packet into the second glass, and watch it fill with fizz.

I say to my students, “Both glasses have the Alka-Seltzer, just as all Christians have the Holy Spirit. But notice how you can have the Holy Spirit and not his filling.” Our goal is to live in such a way as to unwrap the packaging around the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within us.[6]

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


[1] Andy Scarcliffe, Edinburgh, Scotland; source:

[2] A. W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 11.

[3] Tome, Brian. Free Book, pages 130-131

[4] Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, pages 51-52.

[5] Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, page 53.

[6] Adapted from James Emery White, Long Night’s Journey into Day (WaterBrook, 2002)

Glorify God

Pray We and Our Children Glorify Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on July 22, 2018

Praying Scripture Series


A student once asked Albert Einstein, “Dr. Einstein, how many feet are there in a mile?” To the utter astonishment of the student, Einstein replied, “I don’t know.”

The student was sure the great professor was joking. Surely Einstein would know a simple fact that every schoolchild is required to memorize. But Einstein wasn’t joking. When the student pressed for an explanation for this hiatus in Einstein’s knowledge, he declared, “I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes.”

Albert Einstein was not interested in trivial data. His passion was to explore the deep things of the universe. His passion for mathematical and physical truth made him a pivotal fixture in modern world history.[1]

 What is our focus?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That comes from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. But I also believe the idea is Biblical.

Desiring God’s slogan is: God is most glorified in us
when we are most satisfied in him.

Is God glorified in us? Are we living for Him?

Jonathon Edwards had these resolutions throughout his life, one was:

Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: That whether others do or not, I will.[2]

Could we say that? Do we want to glorify God with our lives?

It is my prayer that we do. I pray that myself and my descendants glorify Christ with our lives. I am in a sermon series on Scriptures which I am convicted to pray. Today we talk about glorifying Christ.

My theme:

Pray We and Our Children Glorify Christ.

Let’s read 1 Cor. 10:31:

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

  • Glorify Christ.
  • We just read 1 Cor. 10:31. In context this passage is placed after a long discussion on dietary laws.
  • From 1 Cor. Chapter 8 through chapter 10 Paul was writing about disputes with believers eating meat sacrificed to idols.
  • Paul is now about to wrap up the passage.
  • In chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians verses 24-30 Paul is saying to do what you can for the good of all.
  • Then in verse 31 Paul is saying to glorify God.
  • Food is something that we hold quite precious, don’t we?
  • Someone wrote:
  • My husband has an almost boundless appetite for ice cream, and it was obvious at a Sunday school party where he helped himself to a good sample of every flavor available. Later during the game time, he was asked: “If you could choose any famous couple to be your parents, who would they be?” His answer came without hesitation: “Baskin and Robbins!”[3]
  • But 1 Cor. 10:31 is not limited to food. I think ever since I was required to memorize this passage, the passage has been near to my prayer life.
  • The passage says, whether you eat or drink, so this is not limited to food, nor is it limited to drink.
  • The passage says “whatever you do…” So this is not limited to food or drink.
  • What fits under “whatever”? Everything.
  • The verse says, “do all…”
  • What fits into “all.”
  • Do all to the glory of God.
  • I have a quote: The glory of God is man fully alive. —Irenaeus, early Church Father (died c. 200)
  • We glorify God by living as His creation. BUT is it our aim to glorify God?
  • I believe we were created to bring glory to God.
  • Why we glorify God, He is worthy
    1. Read with me Rev. 5: 9-14:

And they *sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Angels Exalt the Lamb

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

  • Now, in the first 4 verses of Revelation chapter 5 we see that no one is worthy to open the scroll.
  • Have you ever been in a situation when it seemed like there was no one, really no one who could help?
  • Think about it. We think, or at least I do, that there are always options. We have cell phones, we have access to all kinds of information.
  • I watched a movie based on a true story about people climbing Mount Everest when some amazing storms hit. Really, we know Mount Everest we really cannot get help to you.
  • We always can get help in most places, but in today’s world there are still places when there is no help.
  • But even when we think we have help everywhere is it the help we really need?
  • We need to fix creation. We need to get rid of sin. We need to get rid of murder, violence, stealing, unfaithfulness, poverty, gangs, government oppression.
  • We need help!
  • They needed help in John’s day as well. The government was persecuting Christians, they were dying torturous deaths. Fallen Babylon was reigning and fallen Babylon meant that it was the fallen system.
  • Now, we see these scrolls and we see in verse one that the scroll is written on both sides. Usually a scroll was only written on one side because it needed to be rolled up.
  • This scroll being written on both sides is saying that it is complete.
  • It has seven seals which is a number of completion.
  • John weeps (verse 4) because he thinks no one is worthy.
  • Again, he is overwhelmed seeing this vision of Heaven and then for a moment thinks that no one can help.
  • How would you feel?
  • Then in verse 5 it reads: and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
  • So, in verses 8-14 Jesus takes the scroll and He is worshipped.
  • Verses 8-14 are similar to chapter 4.
  • The four living creatures and the 24 elders are constantly bowing down.
  • They are singing a new song.
  • Verse 9 is about why Jesus is worthy:
    1. He was slain
    2. Purchased for God with His blood people from every nation to be a Kingdom and priests (Rev. 1:6).
  • There is the emphasis on the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice. There is the emphasis on Him making us worthy to be priests.
  1. So we get to verse 11 and there are myriads and myriads and thousands upon thousands of angels. A myriad is 10,000, so we have 10,000 times 10,000 times 1000 times 1000 angels with the 4 beasts and the 24 elders worshipping.
  2. This would be a loud worship service.
  3. We see what they say and then as they say it the elders are constantly falling down to worship.
  • Applications
    1. We are called to glorify Christ and why?
    2. He is worthy!
    3. God loves you and gave Jesus for you (John 3:16).
    4. The world was created for you and for us.
    5. He created you and everything else (Gen. 1-2; John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20).
    6. He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139).
    7. He saved you (Rom. 6:23).
    8. He has sanctified you (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11), this means you are set apart for Him.
    9. He has justified you, declaring you righteous (1 Cor. 6:11).
    10. He has made you a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
    11. He took on sin for you and gave you His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).
    12. He gives us the Holy Spirit (John 14-17).
    13. He takes the scroll for us in Rev. 5.
    14. He gives us a new Heaven and a new earth in Rev. 21-22.
    15. Glorify God, Glorify Christ, live for Him. Is there anything or anyone higher to live for than Jesus?


Early in his career, Matt Redman, the popular Christian musician in Britain, was singing with his church’s praise band when his pastor confronted them. They were proud of their musical performance, he said, but they were neglecting true worship. Insulted by the charge, the members of the band left the church—all, that is, except Redman. Shortly afterward, he wrote his hit song “The Heart of Worship,” which included these words: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, Jesus.”[4]

D.L. Moody shared:

I believe the religion of Christ covers the whole man. Why shouldn’t a man play baseball or lawn-tennis? … Don’t imagine that you have got to go into a cave to be consecrated, and stay there all your life. Whatever you take up, take it up with all your heart.[5]

Let’s pray.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] R. C. Sproul, Jr., In the Presence of God (Word, 1999)

[2] Jonathan Edwards, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1.

[3] Sherrie Murphree, Odessa, TX. Christian Reader, “Lite Fare.”

[4] Jack Hayford, Midday Connection (11-28-01), used with permission from the Moody Broadcasting Network; submitted by Steve Gertz,

[5] D.L. Moody, Christian History, no. 25.

exclusivity of salvation and inclusivity of Christianity

I read the following from John Ortberg:
John Ortberg Considers the Ongoing Battle with Racism
Psychologists have found an intriguing way to study what it is that we really like and dislike. It’s called “affective priming.” They print a word over a bouncing dot on a computer screen. If people’s response is positive, they push any key with their left hand; if negative—any key with their right.
Too discover our deeper responses, researchers will use subliminal stimulation. They’ll print a negative word (like “fear” or “storm”) subliminally, below your level of awareness. Your intuitive system is so fast it reads those words and responds to them before you are aware. So if they show a negative word subliminally, then a positive word slowly, it takes you longer to move toward a positive response.
Sometimes they will flash a subliminal picture instead of a word. When it is a picture of an African American, “Americans of all ages, classes, and political affiliations react with a flash of negativity.” Including people who report they have no prejudice at all.
Mark Noll has written a fascinating little book called The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. He notes that all the wrangling between North and South over the Bible and slavery overlooked one huge difference between slavery in ancient Mesopotamia and slavery in 19th-century America—the latter was race-based, race-soaked, racist. The deepest evil over slavery was not just the economics of it, it was the racism of it. Even northern Christians, who were opposed to slavery as an institution, were much slower to oppose racism.
Noll also notes that, over the long haul, Christian theology always tends to have a radicalizing effect on society because of one belief: that all human beings come from the same ancestor, that all human beings bear the image of God.
I thought about these stories, and many others, when I watched the nation respond to the presidential election results. I wondered what my grandfather would have thought about a man, who could not have spent the night in his town, now governing his country. I imagined the response of the retired Louisiana colonel. Quite apart from party preference or position on any number of political issues, I cannot imagine living through that moment without hoping that there might be healing for wounds that go deep and raw.
I thought about how Paul said there was a time when the dividing wall of hostility that separated the “us” group from the “them” group came down. I thought about the Azusa Street Revival and how, for a few years, black people and white people defied all polite society and worshiped together, and then when the fervor cooled and things got respectable, they stopped and mirrored the rest of society.
I thought of how when God sits in front of his computer—whatever face gets flashed on a screen—the only button he pushes is marked love. Love. Love.
I wonder about the church…

I have been in a sermon series on Scriptures I have been convicted to pray for my descendants. Today we come to two passages. One is Galatians 3:28 which reads:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The other passage is Revelation 7:9-12 and that is where we will spend the bulk of our time today. What we see from these two passages is that Heaven is multicultural. If you have a problem with another cultural group, you will not like Heaven.

Today, I want us to turn to Revelation 7:9-12 and let’s look at a passage giving us a picture of worship in Heaven.

My theme is:
Worship in Heaven will be multicultural.

Turn with me to Rev. 7:9-12:

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches werein their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
I. Worship God in humility and unity as we see in this picture of Heaven, we may be there. I notice this from verses 9-12.
a. I read the following:
b. Interestingly, of all the songs in the Book of Revelation, not one is a solo. The twenty-four elders sing and cast their crowns before His feet, the united voices of countless angels resound, every living creature in heaven and earth and under the earth and all that is in them are joined in one song. Those who are victorious over the beast are given harps and a song to sing. In every case multitudes of people or angels unite in the same song with absolute unity.
c. I have been convicted by this passage of a few things:
1. Heaven is multicultural.
2. This is a picture of vertical worship, this is a picture of worship in Heaven and it is all about Jesus.
d. So, when I think about what I desire in my own life and my children’s lives it must flow from this Biblical picture of reverent, upward, holistic worship.
e. First let’s notice unity.
f. Prior to this passage John was listing the tribes of Israel and we are not going to talk about that passage today, except to say that verse 9 begins with “after these things.”
g. It is the Greek preposition meta (μετά metá). It can be translated “after” or “with.” Some scholars like to think of this as being better translated “with.” This would mean “with the Jewish tribes, listed previously, we see this great multitude.”
h. Either translation still shows Heaven being multicultural.
i. Here we see a picture of worship in Heaven. This is sometime during the end times. This is likely before the New Jerusalem comes down out of Heaven.
j. Verse 9 begins to describe a great crowd. No one was able to count this crowd.
k. Someone joked that John could not count this large crowd but if a Baptist evangelist was there he would find a way.
l. The text says it is a large crowd.
m. Every nation, tribe, people and tongue are in this crowd. This is John’s way of saying that every people group from the world is in this crowd.
n. This crowd was clothed in white robes. White represents purity.
o. Palm branches were in their hands. There is a lot about palm branches.
p. The Archaeological Study Bible gives insight:
The branches of the date palm appear in the symbolism of Greek, Roman and Jewish cultures:
• Palms were a longstanding sign of victory in the Greek world, and the Roman authors Livy, Virgil and Cicero made use of them based upon this significance as well.
• Palm branches were associated with the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40). Together with the myrtle, willow and citron, they formed the lulab, an object the rabbis tell us was shaken at the recitation of Psalm 118:25: “O Lord, save us!” (Hebrew, Hosanna! ).
• In John 12:13 the crowds waved their palm branches while shouting this same verse.
• The Maccabees used palm branches as part of the rededication ceremony for the temple (2Mc 10:7) and minted coins picturing palm trees along with the inscription “For the redemption of Zion.”
• These symbols were also employed by the Jews of the failed Bar Kokhba rebellion when they attempted to overthrow the Romans and set up a Messianic kingdom.
Palm branches thus vividly depicted God’s victory and the deliverance of his people. Revelation 7:9 portrays Christians who have overcome the persecutions of this world as waving palm branches and wearing white robes. The symbolism of the palm branches would have been meaningful to any ancient reader, but especially to one familiar with the place of palm branches in Jewish tradition and worship.
q. Dr. Mulholland, a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary actually added to this. In his lectures on Revelation he shared the palm was on the flag of Israel.
r. Think of Palm Sunday….This is a revolutionary parade. If you look at the coins minted during the bar kokhba revolt (132-136 BCE) they all have the palm branch on them.
s. All these people are united to worship the Lord.
t. Unity: what is uniting them? Worshipping our Savior is uniting them, we’ll get to that.
u. So, one day Martin Luther King Jr. shared the following words:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
v. I believe we have come a long way, but I speak only from one point of view, the point of view of a suburban white male. But we have not gone far enough.
w. We see in this passage that Jesus can bring us together.
x. So, God loves all and tribes, tongues and nationalities, all of them will be in Heaven. It is not the color of our skin, but our great Savior. All these groups are worshipping the Savior together.
y. I was recently at Moody Bible Institute and the praise band from an African American Church led worship at the pastor’s conference. It was a lot different. We must all remember that different cultures worship our Savior differently and I believe He is glorified in all of those different expressions of worship.
God is no respecter of persons, especially when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit. For an example from recent church history, consider the beginning of the Pentecostal movement at the turn of the twentieth century. In the decade prior to 1906, lynchings of African Americans in America had skyrocketed. It is estimated that well over one thousand blacks, mainly men, were lynched—hanged, shot or sometimes buried alive—in the United States. Millions of people in the United States had joined the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1906, the Spirit of God was poured out in a powerful revival in Los Angeles that has come to be known as the Azusa Street Revival. Under the leadership of an African American man, William Seymour, tens of thousands of people from all over the world and all walks of life—rich, poor, men, women, Americans, non-Americans, black, white, Asian, Latino— came by car, by horse and buggy, by train and by boat. They all encountered the Spirit. In a year of lynchings, blacks and whites were embracing each other as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. Frank Bartleman, a historian of the Azusa Street Revival, said, “The color line is washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ!”
II. Now, notice humility: they cry out with a loud voice saying salvation belongs to the Lord sitting on the throne and to the Lamb.
a. Then we see in verse 12: the angels, all of them, the elders, the four living creatures bow down, faces down before the throne.
b. There is great humility in worship.
c. They said:
i. Praise
ii. Glory
iii. Wisdom
iv. Thanks
v. Honor
vi. Power
vii. And strength belong to the eternal God.
d. They give God the glory due His name.
e. This passage continues through the rest of the chapter and is comparable with Revelation 4:5-11 and 5:11-14.
III. Some applications:
a. Do we worship the Lord with great power and humility as this crowd did?
b. How do we feel about the cultural groups?
c. Do we desire that we love all cultures?
d. Do we desire that our church and our family and our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren love all cultures?
e. Do we pray that way?
f. Pray that we and our descendants worship the Lord this way.
g. Pray that we and our descendants recognize Heaven is multicultural.

A few years ago something hit me. I don’t know what made me think of this, but I will share this with you. In Genesis 11 we see God divide the people and divide their language. It seems that without the Holy Spirit, fallen humanity needed to be divided and God used language to divide. However, it seems that since Jesus came, died, was resurrected and we received the Holy Spirit God has been reversing that. In the CHURCH, in the BODY OF CHRIST, God has redeemed humanity and part of that redemption is bringing us together again. Heaven is multicultural.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


The exclusivity of salvation and inclusivity of Christianity, part 1


Mr. Johnson, a businessman from Wisconsin, went on a business trip to Louisiana. He immediately sent an e-mail back to his wife, Jean. Unfortunately, he mistyped a letter and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. Joan Johnson, the wife of a preacher who just passed away.

 The preacher’s wife took one look at the e-mail and promptly fainted. When she was finally revived, she nervously pointed to the message, which read: “Arrived safely, but it sure is hot down here!”

Well, the Bible does teach the salvation is opened to everyone through Christ.

Chuck Swindoll writes:

Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the old country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities.

Early one chilly morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window, he could see the mouth-watering morsels being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully.

The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.

“Son . . . would you like some of those?”
The boy was startled, “Oh, yeah . . . I would!”

The American stepped inside and bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. The soldier smiled, held out the bag, and said simply: “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat.

He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: “Mister . . . are you God?”

We are never more like God than when we give. “God so loved the world, that He gave” (John 3:16).

Let me encourage you, in spite of the high cost of giving and the small number of servant-models you may see around you, to determine to be different. God tells us He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and He promises us that the one “who is generous will be blessed” (Proverbs 22:9). Let’s believe Him!

Deep down inside most Christians I know is a deep-seated desire to release instead of keep . . . to give instead of grab. It is worth whatever it takes to let that start happening. Moms, dads, singles, kids, teachers, preachers, businessmen, professionals, blue-collar workers, students—it is worth it!

Become a giver . . . and watch God open the hearts of others to Himself. We are never more godlike than when we give.[1]

God so loved the world that He gave… think about our salvation. Praise God for our salvation. Ask God to give you the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:12). Okay, so we continue the sermon series on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for my children. Today, we come to a Theological Truth. I desire that my children and descendants understand the exclusivity of salvation and the inclusivity of Christianity recognizing John 3:16-18 and John 14:6 as well as Luke 9:23 and Galatians 2:20. Today, let’s look at John 3:16-18 as well as John 14:6.

My theme today is: pray that your children and descendants understand the exclusivity of salvation and the inclusivity of Christianity recognizing John 3:16-18 and John 14:6 as well as Luke 9:23 and Galatians 2:20.

Let’s read John 3:16-18:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

  1. God loved and God gave.
    1. Notice that God loved.
    2. Notice further that God loved to the point where God gave.
    3. One Bible scholar points out: The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not ‘God loved enough to give,’ but ‘God loved so that he gave.
    4. The same scholar continues The construction of the Greek sentence stresses the intensity of God’s love. He gave His best, His unique and loved Son. The Jews believed that God loved the children of Israel, but John affirmed that God loved all people regardless of race.[2]
    5. God loved and he loved everyone.
    6. No one is left out.
    7. God so loved the world, it is the Greek word: kósmos which means the inhabitants of the earth.
    8. God so loved the world that He gave. How are we with giving? Are we giving people? I like how Swindoll pointed out that we are never more like God than when we give.
    9. God gave his only “begotten” Son, or His “one and only Son” or His “unique” Son. Last December I started researching the Greek of this passage. I was required to study Greek in seminary but I am not that good with it so I contacted two Greek scholars to look into that specific word. The Jehovah’s Witness like the word “Begotten” best because it literally means that Jesus was born. It literally means, “only born.”
    10. But Jesus was never born we know that. One Greek scholar, Dr. Long from Asbury Theological Seminary believes “Unique” is the best translation of the adjective. The Greek adjective from which we get “begotten” is monogenḗs and literally means “one and only” or “only born.” This is a case where tracing a words derivation is not helpful because as I stated Jesus was never born. This adjective was also applied to Isaac that Isaac was the only monogenḗs of Abraham. Of course, Isaac was born and Abraham did have another son. Yet, Isaac was the child of promise.
    11. So, as we consider which term is best to translate the Greek remember that the Greek adjective monogenḗs literally does mean only born.
    12. However, also remember we do not form Theology based on one verse. We form Theology, in this case, Christology, based on the whole Bible. Look at John 1:1-14 and we see that Jesus was not born.
    13. God so loved the world that He gave His only “begotten” (sticking with the NASB) Son…The rest of the passage picks up the purpose: that that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    14. Salvation is opened to all people but only through Jesus. Look at John 3:18:
  2. Salvation is only through Jesus.
    1. John 3:18 says: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    2. We have to believe in Jesus.
    3. Salvation is opened to anyone through Jesus.
    4. Salvation is exclusive in that it is through Jesus, BUT Christianity is inclusive. Christianity is opened to anyone.
    5. I remember the 1996 presidential debates. Senator Bob Dole was debating President Clinton. The moderator asked Bob Dole about his tax cut proposal and Senator Dole instantly replied, to the moderator that “he is eligible.” This meant that the moderator is eligible for the tax cut.
    6. Everyone is eligible for the free gift of salvation in Jesus.
    7. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God the Father.
    8. Let’s look at John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
    9. We see this idea all throughout the New Testament, actually all throughout the Bible. We need away to take care of our sins and it is only through Jesus.
  3. Applications:
    1. Do we believe this truth?
    2. Do we care?
    3. Salvation is real and eternity is real:
    4. Two Christians have lived very good, and also very healthy lives. They die, and go to heaven. 

      As they are walking along, marveling at the paradise around them, one turns to the other and says “Wow. I never knew heaven was going to be as good as this!”

      “Yeah”, says the other. “And just think, if we hadn’t eaten all that oat bran we could have got here ten years sooner.”[3]

    5. Do you believe in Jesus?
    6. Is Jesus your Lord?
    7. Are you trusting in Him for salvation?
    8. Do you want others too as well?


As John Wesley rode across Hounslow Heath late one night, singing a favorite hymn, he was startled by a fierce voice shouting, “Halt,” while a firm hand seized the horse’s bridle. Then the man demanded, “Your money or your life.”

Wesley obediently emptied his pockets of the few coins they contained and invited the robber to examine his saddlebags which were filled with books. Disappointed at the result, the robber was turning away when Mr. Wesley cried, “Stop! I have something more to give you.”

The robber, wondering at this strange call, turned back. Then Mr. Wesley, bending down toward him, said in solemn tones, “My friend, you may live to regret this sort of a life in which you are engaged. If you ever do, I beseech you to remember this, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” ”

The robber hurried silently away, and the man of God rode along, praying in his heart that the word spoken might be fixed in the robber’s conscience.

Years later, at the close of a Sunday evening service, the people streamed from the large building with many lingering around the doors to see the aged preacher, who was John Wesley.

A stranger stepped forward and earnestly begged to speak with Mr. Wesley. What a surprise to find that this was the robber of Hounslow Heath, now a well-to-do tradesman in the city, but better still, a child of God! The words spoken that night long ago had been used of God in his conversion.

Raising the hand of Mr. Wesley to his lips, he affectionately kissed it and said in tones of deep emotion, “To you, dear sir, I owe it all.”

“Nay, nay, my friend,” replied Mr. Wesley softly, “not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ which cleanseth us from all sin.”[4]

Luke 9:23

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)



[1] Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 3:16–18.


[4] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 1195.