God Lovingly Corrects Us (Hebrews 12:5-11)

God Lovingly Corrects You (Proverbs 3:12; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Hebrews 12:5-11)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 30, 2023

The train chugged its way through Indiana at twenty-four miles per hour. That doesn’t seem like a frightful speed. That is, until you take into account how long it takes to stop a 6,200-ton train… and what lay upon the tracks ahead.

“That’s a baby!” yelled Robert Mohr, the attentive conductor.

The engineer, Rodney Lindley, had thought it was a small dog, but the thatch of blonde hair and the colorful clothes made it all clear.

Emily Marshall, a child of nineteen months, was playing on the rails. She had strayed from safety as her mother picked flowers in the garden.

It was all chaos and shouting at the controls of the train. The engineer hit the brakes, but there was no way the train could stop short of disaster. Mohr, forty-nine and a Vietnam vet, had to think quickly.

He threw open the door, moved along a catwalk to the very front of the engine, and leaned precariously forward, steadying himself with one arm as Lindley continued to pull frantically at the brake. The train slowed to about ten miles per hour—still much too fast. Lindley said, “It felt like we were just eating up the rail, going faster and faster.”

As the great locomotive approached, Emily heard the noise and sensed danger. “She sat up and watched us for what seemed like an eternity,” said Lindley. Then she began to crawl off the rails, but not fast enough. Just as the train was about to go over her, Mohr, at the leading edge of the locomotive, stretched out one leg as far as he could and, like a field-goal kicker, booted the baby over the edge and down the soft embankment. Then he leaped down, picked up the crying child, and comforted her.

Emily came out of the near fatal experience with cuts on her head, a chipped tooth, and a swollen lip.1[1]

We know how deeply grateful the mother was—remorseful, too, I’m sure. But I wonder if that little child truly comprehended how blessed she was that a stranger with a big foot kicked her down a hill. She was trying to play, there was a lot of noise, and suddenly something jarred her and sent her tumbling like Jack and Jill. It hurt!

Perspective makes a difference. What seems hurtful from one vantage point can, when seen in full perspective, turn out to be an act of compassion. That’s how it is with discipline and correction. Sometimes we have to hurt a little now, so we won’t hurt a lot later. Some lessons come only through tears. We know this as parents; we also need to know it as children of God.

What brand of love would keep that conductor from rescuing a happily playing child on the grounds that a good boot is rude and painful? What brand of love would have kept your parents from scolding you for not doing your homework, since scolding would have put a damper on a pleasant dinner? As Lewis points out, the willingness to administer pain to prevent a greater harm is a mark of true love.[2]

We are talking about God’s love for us.

Today my theme is:

God Lovingly Corrects You

Please turn to Hebrews 12:5-11.

  1. The Lord disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-7).
    1. Let’s talk about the context of this passage.
    2. Hebrews is written to tell us who is to brew the coffee, he is, he-brews.
    3. No, seriously, Hebrews is a New Testament letter written to encourage Jewish believers to persevere in the faith.
    4. The writer is encouraging them to fix their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).
    5. These Jewish people had become Christians and then faced suffering. Some were in prison.
    6. The audience’s social situation can be inferred from commands to “remember those who are in prison” and who are “mistreated” (13:3). Timothy himself had just been set free (13:23). Indeed, the author of Hebrews commended his audience for their former endurance of persecution, for their compassion on those in prison, and for having “joyfully accepted the plundering of your property” (10:32–34).[3]
    7. They are being exhorted to stay the course.
    8. That fits with these instructions.
    9. Look at Hebrews 12:5–7 (ESV)

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

     “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

   For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

  1. This chapter begins exhorting them to fix their eyes on Jesus.
  2. The previous chapter is about those of faith in the Old Testament.
  3. Now, he quotes Proverbs 3:11-12 about God’s discipline. God is seen as speaking through the Proverb.
  4. What are we to think of the hardships we face in life?
  5. Why does God allow certain things? Why doesn’t He intervene?
  6. I think that is what the writer of Hebrews is addressing.
  7. The writer of Hebrews brings in this Old Testament passage.
  8. Sometimes discipline is punitive, other times it is training.
  9. Do not regard the discipline of the Lord lightly… TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
  10. Don’t be weary when reproved by the Lord.
  11. The Lord lovingly disciplines us.
  12. Hebrews 12:6: The Lord disciplines those He loves. The Lord chastises every son who He receives.
  13. If the Lord loves us, we will be disciplined and chastised, but for a purpose.
  14. Verse 7 sounds strong. This whole section sounds strong. However, the preacher is comparing us with sons of God and that is a very good thing. God loves us enough to discipline us. God loves us enough to build us up.

  1. Those not disciplined are illegitimate children (Hebrews 12:8).
    1. Verse 8 is straightforward.
    2. Hebrews 12:8 (ESV) If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
    3. David Jeremiah shares: In New Testament times, there could be no more serious charge than to question one’s legitimacy. Imagine three boys playing in the courtyard of a wealthy man’s estate. They get into some kind of mischief, and their father comes out, his face beet-red, fire in his eyes, and he drags away two of his sons by the ear. The other boy, who is also his son by a female servant, stands and watches, totally ignored. He has misbehaved, too. He even lives on the same estate. But his father doesn’t care what he does because he doesn’t consider him a true son.
    4. How that would have stung! The rejected boy would have learned that a father’s indifference is far worse than the momentary pain of chastening.

  • Our earthly fathers discipline us (Hebrews 12:9-10)
    1. Hebrews 12:9–10 (ESV) Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
    2. This lesser-to-greater analogy from the readers’ own childhood training shows that it is appropriate for the heavenly Father to discipline, and it calls for a response of respect and submission; as a loving Father, the Lord always disciplines his children for their good.[4]

  1. The fruit of discipline (Hebrews 12:11).
    1. Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
    2. It does not feel good when we are disciplined, but when we learn something there was a benefit.
    3. Or, what about the discipline of training.
    4. I am sure that learning piano takes discipline and is difficult, but later you have a benefit.
    5. I am told that when you are learning guitar your fingers hurt, but you have a benefit and bless others.
    6. David Jeremiah: We should cherish our chastening because it is God’s way of saying, “You belong to Me, and I love you.” His discipline may anger us at times, but it will protect us, teach us, and prepare us. This is why the early church theologian Jerome is reported to have said, “The greatest danger of all is when God is no longer angry with us.”[5]

  1. C.S. Lewis had a lot to say about the pain of discipline. He noted that some of us have a shallow view of God’s correcting love:

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven… whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”… I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since its abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.

As Scripture points out… it is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes.2[6


1 “Kick Save: With Their Freight Train Hurtling Toward Certain Disaster, Two Brave Railroad Men Sweep a Toddler Off the Tracks,” People, June 1, 1998, accessed April 24, 2012, http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20125421,00.html.

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2357.

[4] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2383.

[5] Ibid.

2 C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Macmillan, 1973), 31–32, 40.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

God’s Love Seeks Us When We Are Lost (Luke 15:1-10)

God’s Love Seeks You When You Are Lost (Luke 15:1-10; Romans 5:8)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 23, 2023

Have you ever lost something? Maybe you have lost a piece of jewelry? Maybe, you have lost a piece of clothing. For me, every spring I take my winter clothes and put them in a laundry basket on the top shelf of my closet. Sure enough, every fall when I bring those winter clothes down, I feel like I am missing one of my favorite shirts. But what a joy it is to find that shirt. But you know what is better than that? It is great to find money when I never knew that it was missing. In years past there have been times that I put on a jacket at the end of the summer, and I put my hands in the pocket and find money! Have you ever lost a pet? Not by death by but by them running away.  I can think of 3 times when I was a kid that my pets ended up missing.  Allow me to share one of those times:

When I was in 6th grade my dad brought a blue tic beagle home from work. My brothers and I ran to the car and asked if we could keep him. We thought my dad found him on the road somewhere. Turns out, someone my dad worked with needed to get rid of him, so we took him.  We had a pet rabbit at the time. It is not a good idea to have a rabbit with a beagle! Anyways, this beagle, which we named Sam, had a way of getting out of the house. We would let him in the back yard, which was fenced in, and he would get out. I never saw how he got out, but he did. Eventually we started putting him on a cable. Then, he still found ways to run free by sneaking out the front door when people were coming in. My older brother and I would try to chase him down and sometimes we were successful.  Well, one cold Friday in February I got home from school and went looking for Sam. But Sam was nowhere to be found. My mom said that Sam got out that day. My brother and I looked everywhere but we couldn’t find Sam. That night I remember sitting in the living room watching the television. But every 5 minutes I walked to the door to see if Sam had come home.  We had another dog named Sandy. Sandy missed Sam too. We could tell because she would walk to the front door too. My mom would say, “You see Sam outside”? And the moment Sandy heard Sam’s name she would look up! But no matter how many times I went to the front door Sam was not there!

Maybe you have had similar experiences.

In the passage we are about to read Jesus talks about how when we are lost God seeks us out. When we are lost God seeks us.

God loves us when we are lost.

We have been talk about God’s love for us. Today my theme is:

God’s Love Seeks You When You Are Lost

  1. The context: Let’s look at the context of this passage.

Luke 15:1–2 (ESV)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

  1. Notice in verse 1 that all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus. Yet, the Pharisees and the Scribes didn’t like this. They talked badly about Jesus for eating with them.
  2. The Pharisees and the scribes were the religious elite. They kept every bit of the law.
  3. The tax collectors were not liked by most Jews because they would take money from people and usually take more than they needed to.
  4. Sinners would refer to someone who didn’t keep the religious law as well as the Pharisees. The Pharisees didn’t only hold to Moses’ law but also traditions that were treated as Scripture. Sinners could also refer to Gentiles.
  5. The tax collectors and sinners were rejected by the religious elite but notice how they came to Jesus. Yet, the religious people rejected Jesus. The people who knew they were sinners went to Jesus but the people who were supposed to be the religious authority rejected Jesus.
  6. Jesus loves the outcast. Jesus loves everyone.

So, in verses 3-7 Jesus tells a parable. He tells them an allegorical story.

    1. Let’s read these verses.

Luke 15:3–7 (ESV)

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

  1. The parable is simple but there is still information that we can take from it and apply to us.
  2. Someone has 100 sheep and loses one. Now I know that you may be thinking, “big deal, he has 100 sheep, he still has 99 other sheep left.” But to shepherds it was a big deal This was their income. One scholar said,

The shepherd was responsible for each sheep; if one was missing, the shepherd had to pay for it unless he could prove that it was killed by a predator (see Gen. 31:38–39; Ex. 22:10–13; Amos 3:12). This explains why he would leave the flock with the other shepherds, go and search for the missing animal, and then rejoice when he found it. Not to find the lost sheep meant money out of his own pocket, plus the disgrace of being known as a careless shepherd.”

  1. So, the man in the parable goes to look for the one sheep. He leaves the 99 in the wilderness.
  2. Then he finds his other sheep and he rejoices. He rejoices so much that he calls his friends and tells them about it.
  3. Have you ever had this situation? Have you lost something, and then when you found it you were so excited that you had to tell someone?
  4. The idea is this individual is excited to find that one sheep.
  5. Jesus brings the parable together, “In the same way, there will be rejoicing in Heaven over a lost person, a sinner, who repents. Notice the sarcasm? Jesus says more rejoicing over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous persons who don’t need to repent. I think that is sarcasm. The Pharisees didn’t think they needed to repent.
  6. When we are lost, God’s love seeks us out.
  • The next parable is about a woman who has lost one silver coin out of 10. Let’s read the next 3 verses.

Luke 15:8–10 (ESV)

The Parable of the Lost Coin

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

  1. This silver coin is probably equal to a day’s wages. But more than that, it is possible that Jesus is referring to a coin that was part of her dowry. The dowry was the only portion of money that a bride was able to keep even if the marriage ended. Another possibility is that Jewish women would wear a head band of ten silver coins as a symbol that they are married. It would be a disaster for one to be missing.
  2. The Jewish houses were often dark and there would be cracks in the stone floor where the coin could be.
  3. So, this coin is important to her. She lights a lamp and sweeps hoping to find it. When she does, she, also, calls her friends to rejoice.
  4. Now Jesus says that there is rejoicing by the Angels of God over one sinner who repents.
  5. Now, God is not the only one rejoicing but also angels. God’s created beings
  1. Some more applications:
    1. God searches for the lost.
    2. God seeks us out.
    3. We were all lost at one time and some of us may still be lost.
    4. Remember the story of Adam and Eve?
    5. Remember how they hid after they sinned? Yet, God searched for them. God cares about the lost. God seeks out the lost.
    6. There is another parable in Luke 15:11-32 and it is about the lost son, it is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We won’t talk about that parable today except to see these are 3 back-to-back parables that Jesus tells to show that His love seeks us when we are lost.

Well, remember my dog Sam that was lost? Sam did come home eventually. But he didn’t come home on his own. Somehow, we found out that someone had taken him in. We picked him up and brought him home. We were so excited that Sam was safe and at home. But you know, during that whole time we weren’t rejoicing that our other dog, Sandy, was at home. Of course, we cared about her. But we knew that she was home and safe. We didn’t know where Sam was.

In these two parables Jesus is saying that God cares about every lost person. Even though He has so many righteous people, He still cares about the lost. More than that, He seeks out the lost. He initiates the salvation of the lost. God looks for us. God looked for us. And there is a celebration in Heaven when the lost are found.

But there is a problem. I think too often Christians do not look for the lost. Too often Christians do not celebrate when a lost person comes to church.

Dr. Kalas was the president of Asbury Theological Seminary. He told a story of a Sunday school teacher that he had when he was a kid. This was back in the 1930’s. Dr. Kalas said that sometimes the Sunday school teacher would get off topic and share a story. One day he shared the story of how he came to know Christ. The Sunday school teacher said that he was a drunk [Dr. Kalas said that is what they called it back then]. This man was a drunk and he was going to throw himself in the river. But there was a church service going on. So, he ended up at church. That night, when he was going to commit suicide, he ended up giving his life to Christ. He was lost but he was found by God. He was going to literally kill himself but instead he died to the world and became alive “in Christ” for the first time. Instead of dying he was alive. Then, years later he taught Sunday school to a student who would someday become a pastor and Seminary professor and president.

God’s love seeks us when we are lost.


God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 16, 2023

David Jeremiah shares:

Many years ago, in the little English village of Brackenthwaite, there lived a quiet and lonely man named William Dixon. His wife had died years before, and later he had lost his only son. Dixon often could be seen sitting by his window, watching the world go by and smiling at the happy families on the streets.

One day he looked out and saw a neighbor’s home on fire. Other neighbors were already gathering, scrambling for water and shouting for help. Dixon ran out and joined them just as an elderly woman was pulled from the flames.

“Who else is inside?” someone shouted above the commotion.

“My little grandson!” she gasped through smoke-filled lungs. “Upstairs—trapped!”

The people groaned, knowing the stairway was impassable. But William Dixon hurried to the front of the house and found an iron drainage pipe running up the wall. Taking hold of it, he pulled himself upward to the window and found the terrified boy. He scooped up the child and scrambled back to the ground.

A few days later, the grandmother succumbed to her injuries, leaving the little boy an orphan with no home, no guardian. The village held a hearing to determine his fate.

When the meeting was called to order, two volunteers came forward. One good citizen answered the standard questions, giving every assurance that he would provide a good home. The second volunteer was William Dixon, the rescuer. He said few words, but his hands spoke for him. They were bandaged. The hot iron pipe he’d been forced to climb had burned them severely.

When it came to a vote, the man with the scarred hands went home with the orphan, a father once more. His love, everyone agreed, was written on his hands.1

The love of our Lord was also written on His hands—the two hands stretched out and nailed to the cross, where they flowed with the blood that indelibly wrote His love for us for all eternity.[1]

We have been talking about God’s love.

Today, my theme is: God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

John 3:16–18 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

  1. Background to John 3:16
    1. David Jeremiah shares: You might think that since the message of John 3:16 is for the entire world, it would have been delivered to a large assembly, maybe in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or in some of His discourses in the temple. Instead, it was spoken privately to a single person.4 Nicodemus was a leading member of the ruling Jewish council, the Sanhedrin. Jesus had aroused the anger and opposition of these Jewish leaders because of His claims to be the Son of God and what they saw as His disregard for some of their laws.
    2. But Nicodemus was not so sure. He had seen the miracles of Jesus, and he could not write Him off as easily as his peers. We must remember that Nicodemus, like all Jews, saw himself as one of God’s chosen people in a highly exclusive sense. They belonged to God by virtue of their birth into His favored race. Their coming Messiah would destroy all Gentiles—especially the hated Romans who occupied Israel. Could Jesus be the man? Nicodemus wanted to find out.[2]
    3. The rest of this sermon I have broken down based on an acrostic that spells “Gospel” and we see this in John 3:16.
  2. God…
    1. This is about God.
    2. God loved the world.
    3. To most cultures in the past they did not think of a loving God.
    4. They were always trying to appease the gods. This is about God.
    5. Salvation always begins with God.
    6. God is holy and our sins are treason against God almighty (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
    7. But God loves.
    8. We have been talking about God’s great love.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.[3]
    11. God loved and he loved everyone.
    12. No one is left out.
    13. God so loved the world, it is the Greek word: kósmos which means the inhabitants of the earth.
    14. 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.
  • Only
    1. God gave his only “begotten” Son, or His “one and only Son” or His “unique” Son. Several years ago, 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.”
    2. 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.
    3. So, as we consider which term is best to translate the Greek remember that the Greek adjective monogenḗs literally does mean only born.
    4. 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.
    5. 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 whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    6. Salvation is opened to all people but only through Jesus. Look at John 3:18.
  • Son
    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. Everyone is eligible for the free gift of salvation in Jesus.
    6. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God the Father.
    7. 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.
    8. We see this idea all throughout the New Testament, actually all throughout the Bible. We need a way to take care of our sins and it is only through Jesus.
  • Perish
    1. David Jeremiah shares: I remember reading of the apocryphal engraving for Les Moore of Tombstone, Arizona (an appropriate place to have an epitaph, I would think). Apparently his departure was not overly mourned, for his epitaph reads,
    2. Here Lies Les Moore
    3. No Les, No More
    4. The humor rings true, but the theology falls flat. Somewhere, more or less, Les Moore abides.[5]
    5. We will perish without Jesus to take away our sins.
    6. We could not pay for our own sins because we have sinned.
    7. Jesus knew no sin and became sin for us.
    8. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
    9. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Everlasting
  • Life
    1. We have life now and for eternity if we receive Jesus.
    2. John 10:10 (ESV)
    3. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
    4. Will we believe? J. C. Ryle puts it succinctly: “Salvation… does not turn on the point, ‘Did Christ die for me?’ but on the point, ‘do I believe on Christ?’ ”10[6]

The great playwright Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe during the 1950s. In his autobiography, he describes the misery of watching the troubled actress descend into the lowest regions of depression and despair. It seemed there was no way he or anyone else could make her happy. He knew that her very life was on the line—that this could go only so far before she succumbed to her various demons—loneliness, paranoia, addiction to barbiturates.

One evening there was yet another visit from the doctor, who talked Marilyn into taking a sedative that put her to sleep. Miller was pensive as he stood and watched his wife. “I found myself straining to imagine miracles,” he writes. “What if she were to wake and I were able to say, ‘God loves you, darling,’ and she were able to believe it! How I wished I still had my religion and she hers.13[7]

In 1912 the Titanic, the largest, most luxurious, and most advanced ship of its time, sank on its maiden voyage, taking the lives of 1,514 passengers. Though the disaster occurred one hundred years ago, several movies, documentaries, and books have kept the horror of that night alive in our minds. We’ve all heard of passengers such as “the unsinkable” Molly Brown and the entrepreneur John Jacob Astor IV. But one of the most astounding stories from the Titanic has received little press.

It’s the story of Pastor John Harper, a widower who was traveling with his six-year-old daughter at the invitation of the great Moody Church in Chicago. Not only was he to preach there, he intended to accept the church’s offer to become their next pastor. His hopes were high, and it seemed he had a brilliant future ahead.

After the ship hit the iceberg and it became apparent that it would sink, Harper got his daughter safely aboard a lifeboat. It’s likely he could have joined her, being her only parent, but he chose to stay aboard the sinking ship because he knew that with this disaster, God had given him an urgent mission.

Harper immediately began to go from one person to another, telling them about Christ’s love and urging them to accept Him. He shouted for Christians to let the unsaved fill the lifeboats so they would live to come to belief. When one angry man rejected the message, Harper removed his own life vest and gave it to him, saying, “You need this more than I do.”

Harper was still actively pressing his urgent evangelism when the ship tipped upward, wrenched in half, and slipped beneath the frigid North Sea. Even then Harper did not stop. Seeing the many passengers struggling in the water with little chance of rescue, he swam to as many as he could, urging them to accept God’s loving offer until hypothermia finally overcame him.

Four years later, at a Titanic survivors meeting in Ontario, one survivor told the story of his own encounter with John Harper. He was clinging to a piece of flotsam when Harper swam to him and urged him to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The man rejected the offer and Harper swam away. But soon Harper came around again, and this time, knowing death to be only minutes away, the man gave his life to Christ. Moments afterward, he watched the near-freezing water finally take Harper’s life just as a returning lifeboat approached to rescue him. At the conclusion of his story, he said simply, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”

The Titanic left England with three classes of passengers aboard. But when accounting for their fate, the White Star Line set up a board listing only two classes: KNOWN TO BE SAVED and KNOWN TO BE LOST. These categories provided a fitting analogy for what John Harper already knew. There are only two classes of people in this world: those who have chosen to accept Christ and will spend eternity with God in heaven, and those who have not chosen Him and will not.14

Which class are you in?[8]


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

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

4 Scholars debate whether John 3:16–21 is a direct quote from Jesus or a reflection from the pen of John, summarizing Jesus’ words. In either case, it is clear that the teaching came from the lips of Jesus.

[2] Ibid.

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

8 James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 287.

[4] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[5] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

10 Ryle, Gospel of John, 160.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

13 Arthur Miller, Timebends (New York: Penguin, 1987), 482.

[7] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

14 Adapted from Douglas W. Mize, “As Titanic Sank, He Pleaded, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus!’ ” Baptist Press, April 13, 2012, accessed April 25, 2012, http://www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?ID=37601.

[8] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

Christ Arose, Now What (John 20:1-10; Acts 1:8)?

Jesus rose again.

The resurrection changed the disciples and Jesus changes us.

Tim Keller shares:

Confucius, Muhammad, Buddha, Moses, founders of major religions, they all died in old age, in comfort and blessedness, triumphant over their opponents. Of all the founders of major religions, Jesus alone died alone, young, stripped naked, stared at, mocked, while he died by inches in agony, crying out to God who had forsaken him.

Here’s the question. Who, seeing that or even who hearing that story, would say, “That’s the message for me. That’s the spiritual leader I want. That’s the person in whose footsteps I want to walk”? Who in the world would say that? And yet here’s the empirical point. It’s a simple historical fact that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ transformed lives at a depth and on a scale that it completely changed the ancient world.

Why did that happen? Why would you see someone end like that and say, “What a great spiritual leader! There’s the message for me”? Why would anybody do that?[1]

My theme today is:

Jesus Lives and Sent us the Holy Spirit to change the world.

  1. Let’s walk through John 20:1-10.
    1. John 20:1: Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
    2. Jesus has been crucified, the disciples are in mourning. But they do not realize that Jesus cannot be kept down.
    3. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to see Jesus.
    4. She was the first to the tomb and she sees the stone rolled away.
    5. John 20:2: So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
    6. Mary did the logical thing, she goes to Peter and John. This is likely John, usually when we read, “The disciple whom Jesus loved” we believe it is John. She runs to Peter and John. She was in a hurry.
    7. Do you think Peter and John would have believed her? I would hope so, but Jesus casts 7 demons out of her in Luke 8:2. She could easily say, “I saw the tomb empty and they may say, “You saw something…” “Come on Mary…”
    8. John 20:3-4: So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
    9. Peter and John run to the tomb, but John ran faster.

John 20:5–10 (ESV)

And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

  1. They get to the tomb and see the tomb empty.
  2. John saw and believed.
  3. Verse 9: They had not understood the Scriptures that He must rise from the dead.
  4. Now, what?
    1. Jesus rose from the dead and lives forever interceding for us.
    2. What happened to the disciples after this?
    3. Jesus stayed with them for 40 days and then 50 days after the crucifixion we have the Holy Spirit come upon the church.
    4. Acts is written by Luke to follow up his Gospel account. In the first few verses Luke mentions who he is writing to and for what purpose he is writing.
    5. Luke writes about how Jesus had given commands through the Holy Spirit.
    6. Luke writes about how they were to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that John baptized with water, but they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
    7. The disciples are confused and ask if Jesus is going to restore the Kingdom.
    8. This is interesting. After three years of traveling with Him, they still did not understand. They were still expecting that Jesus would overthrow Rome and start a physical, literal Kingdom.
    9. So, in verse 7 Jesus tells them that they are not to know the times or the seasons.
    10. Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
    11. You will be my witnesses… Jesus says that we will be His witnesses.
    12. The power that we have allows us, or compels us, or enables us, to be Christ’s witnesses.
    13. So, the power of the Holy Spirit is so that we can be a witness.
    14. In the very next chapter of Acts, in chapter 2, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and around 5000 people are saved. After that Peter and John are arrested for preaching the gospel. They are beaten and then released. Would you know that Peter and John said that they must preach the Gospel?
    15. Do you know that the term translated “witness” later became the same word used for “martyr”?
    16. The whole book of Acts is about the spread of the Gospel, even when it costs them their life. The whole New Testament is about the spread of the Gospel.
    17. This passage says that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Awesome! Praise God! But that is not the end of the passage. They will receive power so that they can be witnesses.
  • Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth. . .
    1. This is an outline for the rest of the book of Acts.
    2. The Gospel started in Jerusalem and spread to Judea, and then Samaria and all the way to Rome. We are most accountable to spread the Gospel locally.
    3. Now what? Jesus rose from the tomb, the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles and they tell about Jesus.
    4. We must tell about Jesus as well.

So, the disciples were changed by Jesus.

The disciples learned the same thing we learn– Our Savior Lives

  1. What is the significance of the resurrection? As I make each of these statements I would like you to respond with Our Savior Lives!
  2. We can have a relationship with Jesus because He lives. If He was not resurrected we would not have a relationship with Him. Our Savior Lives!
  3. Christ is our Savior who cannot die again. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again (Romans 6:9).[2] Our Savior Lives!
  4. Because of the resurrection we have new birth: According to his great mercy, [God the Father] has caused us to be born again to a living hopethrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).[3] Our Savior Lives!
  5. We have forgiveness of sins because of the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).[4] Our Savior Lives!
  6. Because Jesus is raised we have no condemnation. Who is to condemn?Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).[5] Our Savior Lives!
  7. Because of the resurrection we have the Lord’s personal fellowship and protection.[6] “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Our Savior Lives!
  8. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we know that we will also be raised from the dead: [We know] that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesusand bring us with you into his presence. (2 Corinthians 4:14; also Romans 6:4; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:20)[7] Our Savior Lives!
  9. If Jesus was not resurrected there would never be a Christianity. Our Savior Lives!
  10. The Romans would have shown the grave and it would be over. Our Savior Lives!
  11. Jesus’ resurrection shows the grave could not contain Him. Our Savior Lives!
  12. Jesus’ resurrection shows that He is the victor. Our Savior Lives!
  13. Jesus’ resurrection shows again, the miracles are true. Jesus has the power and authority over all nature. It’s not hard to figure out: He can break out because he wasn’t forced in. He letshimself be harassed and black-balled and scorned and shoved around and killed.[8] Our Savior Lives!
  14. No one can keep him down because no one ever knocked him down. He lay down when he was ready.[9] Our Savior Lives!
  15. And all God’s people responded with Amen—AMEN!


[1] Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).

[2] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-t-keep-jesus-down

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

Jesus Entered Jerusalem to Take Care of our Sin, to break down the Wall Between Us and Him

When I was a child, I remember seeing children get dropped off at preschool and I saw the children cry the first time they were dropped off. I thought, “I will never do that.” Then I remember being dropped off my first day of preschool and crying reaching for my mother. I remember many times growing up and dealing with rough separation from my parents. I did not cry like a preschooler anymore, I covered it up, but it was rough. I had never been away from home but a couple weeks and then my parents drop me off at college eight hours away from home. That was rough.

In 2012, we dropped Mercedes off at the childcare center at the church I served as pastor, and of course, she cried and hung on. We had trouble leaving. Well, Mercedes eventually got used to it.

Then, in 2014 Mercedes and Abigail were infected with an ecoli type of bacteria. It was so bad that the CDC talked to us and quarantined them. Mercedes, who had adjusted to the childcare center quite well by then, had trouble readjusting. She was off close to a month and sick. She was weak. On a Friday, I was scheduled to help drive our school age students to a field trip. We thought we would have Mercedes spend the morning at the Childcare Center as she was better. We dropped her off and it was not easy. Later, that morning I came to pick up the school age students for their field trip. As I pulled in the parking lot Mercedes was in the playground and saw me. She ran to the fence and in a tear jerking two year old way she said, Daddy, I can’t get to you this thing is in the way. I cannot hug you, this fence is in the way.” The teachers then told me that she had been crying a lot and not acting herself. But we left her at the church the rest of the morning. However, it was difficult for me. I called Meagan and said, “You may wish to pick her up early.” I was sad for her. “Daddy, I can’t get to you the fence is in the way.”

That was our problem. Our sin was in the way. Just like the fence was in the way between Mercedes and I, our sin is in the way between us and God.

God took care of that.

Mark 11:1–10 (ESV)

1Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples

2and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it.

3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ”

4And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it.

5And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”

6And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.

7And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.

8And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.

9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem, but why? He entered to die. He would be crucified the following Friday.

Why? He did this for our sin. He entered Jerusalem and the people honored Him as King and then He would die for our sins the coming Friday. But He did not remain dead. He rose again. Do you know Him?

  • God created us to be with him (Genesis 1-2).
  • Our sins 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).

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.