Hebrews 2:1-4 The More Earnest Heed

Hebrews 2:1-4            The More Earnest Heed                               WC McCarter
2012 in review: ups and downs, mostly ups; we now stand strong; we are alive and well.
            Giving, Activity, Team-work, Growth, Kids, Great Homecoming/Thanksgiving
I would not be doing my job if I did not allow the Word of God to warn us from time to time. We can become too settled and at ease in our faith if we do not listen to the whole of Scripture. The Scripture wants to direct our attention on Christ this morning. Because of the season, the question I want to ask is what will be your focus in the New Year?
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Lest We Drift Away (v1)
Chapter one established the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage, then, is a brief exhortation for Christians to not drift away based on the argument that has already been made. The first verse of our passage intends to strike an image in our minds. We are to picture a ship heading to port. These Greek words were actually used in nautical situations. The seaman navigating the ship would have to pay close attention to his route or he would end up drifting off course and would miss his desired port.
The same is true of us. We desire to arrive at a certain port: heaven, in the presence of the Lord. Yet, we will miss that port if we drift away. Are you paying attention? Are you on route or are you drifting? We will be reminded next that being on the route is not about living a perfect life. That is our goal in the long-run, but that is not what saves us. You do not have to clean yourself up. God will do that for you. Being on route is about setting your focus on Christ and trusting Him until the end. He will usher you into His port. If your eyes are set on anything else you will drift away.
As one person has said, life is not a lake, it is a river. That river constantly flows to Hell. If you’re not focused on your route you will inevitably end up there and not Heaven.
Spoken through Angels (v2)
The Old Testament Law that was mediated by Moses was said to be declared by angels. In Acts chapter seven, Stephen states that Moses spoke with an Angel on the mountain when he received the Law. He goes on to say again that Israel received the Law at the direction of angels. That word was proven valid, the author of Hebrews says, and it was taken seriously because of the penalties that it prescribed.
Spoken by the Lord (vv3-4)
The author is now going to argue from the lesser to the greater. If we were to take the Law seriously, how much more importance should we give to the Gospel? In chapter one of Hebrews, we were told how much greater the Son is than the angels. The Law was first spoken through angels, and the Gospel of salvation was first spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. How much greater is the Gospel word of our salvation? READ Heb 1:1-3.
The author has established that the Lord Jesus is greater than the angels; the Gospel is greater than the Law of Moses; and now we learn that the penalty for neglecting the word of the New Revelation is greater than rejecting the word of the Old Revelation. If those under the Law were strictly punished for rejecting it, then those who neglect so great a salvation will be no means escape the wrath to come.
Conclusion and Application
Look with me at Hebrews 12:1-2 – Setting our eyes on Jesus
#1 The Christian life is not in the first place laboring for the Lord.
            In the first place, it is trusting in Him. It is looking unto the Lord
#2 You safeguard against drifting by paying attention to traditional Christian teaching.
            Devote time to Bible study personally and in groups as well as scriptural sermons.
            The Bible is where you meet the Lord Jesus Christ, it is where you see Him.
#3 To get back on track, all you have to do is set your eyes on Christ once again.
            This is a call to repent of your sins.

Matthew 2:1-23 Exceedingly Great Joy

Matthew 2:1-23          Exceedingly Great Joy                                              WC McCarter
In the first half of chapter one, Matthew told us that Mary’s Son is royalty, and in the second half of that first chapter, Matthew told us that the baby boy is divine. Now, in chapter two, the Scripture will tie these two streams of thought together. We will once again receive conformation that Jesus is the divine king, the Christ. We will see the extreme that the wise men went to worship the Christ child. We will also see the extreme to which Herod went to destroy the royal infant.
Before we read the Scripture this morning about Christ’s infancy, I need to tell you about Herod the king of Judea and about the wise men who showed up from the east.
Herod the King: Herod built his reputation by completing many building projects, chief among them being the Jerusalem Temple. His rule gave him the title of “Herod the Great.” Yet, in all that splendor, Herod was merciless. He was a brutal and nasty ruler. He was at first given the territory of Galilee to rule by his father. Then he was appointed tetrarch of Judea by Mark Antony. Lastly, he was given the title “King of Judea” by the Roman senate which in effect made him “King of the Jews.” In his old age he was a paranoid and murderous man. He went so far as to murder several of his sons and wives, including his most favorite wife. It will be no wonder as we read our passage today that he was troubled when he heard that a new king had been born.
Wise Men from the East: These “wise men” were literally “magi.” The word can really not be translated. They were a tribe of people who served as priests and king makers from the Babylonian Empire, through the Medo-Persian and then Greek Empires, and into the Roman age. It is said that there was not a Persian king who was not: first, trained in the law of the Magi and second, made king by the Magi. Much of their belief and practice mirrored that of Israel. They were, in fact, much like the Levitical priesthood. They believed in only one god. They performed animal sacrifice to god. Yet, that religion was false. They did not truly worship Yahweh. The Babylonians came into contact during the second exile which first took place about 586 B.C. Daniel and many others were very influential on the Babylonians and the Magi. These Magi who sought out Christ may have been worshipers of Yahweh and students of the Old Testament.
Will you open your heart to the Word of God this morning?
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Star ~ King of the Jews ~ Troubled ~ Bethlehem ~ Child ~ Gifts ~ Fulfilled ~ Death ~ Nazareth
Conclusion and Application
First, notice the obedience of Joseph throughout these narratives. He is not the main character. The spotlight does not shine brightly on him. He is seen in the shadows of the light that has shined on the Christ Child and His mother. Joseph takes the word of the Lord on faith even though it put him in tough situations. He was probably shamed because the woman pledged to him had become pregnant before their consummation. He went to Bethlehem for the census, but had to settle down there for a while because the Baby was born. He had to run for his life because Herod was searching for them. And then, when he thinks he can go back to Bethlehem where he had started a new life, he is forced to move back to Nazareth. Now these are real trials. Yet, the Scripture affirms that God is faithful and will not allow His people to be tempted beyond what they can bear. In another place the word says, “. . . the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.” It was Daniel who said, “. . . our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. . . .” Would you obey the word of the Lord like Joseph, without wavering in your faith, without second-guessing His commands?
Second, we cannot help but realize God’s sovereignty in the birth narratives of our Lord. From beginning to end, it is God at work sending His Messiah and then ensuring that His plan of redemption is accomplished. He went to grand and miraculous lengths to save you and me. How great is His love for us! And if He would give us His best, why would He not freely give us all things, even things that are far beyond what we could ever dream or hope for? Let me assure you, and I hope you will live out this Christmas season and the rest of your life with this knowledge: God is sovereignly orchestrated all things together for your good just as he did for Mary and Joseph. He does this for all who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Third, “Those we least expect to honor Jesus may worship him, and those we least expect to oppose him may seek his death. . . . The Magi worship Jesus; Herod seeks his death; Jerusalem's religious elite-forerunners of the opponents of Matthew's audience-take Jesus for granted. . . . this passage reminds us that we must preach the gospel to all people because we cannot always predict who will [receive] the message and who will not” (IVP Commentary).
Fourth, notice the two very different responses from both the wise men and Herod. Of the wise men, verse ten says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.” Of Herod, verse sixteen says, “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry. . . .” Maybe the worst of the responses was that of the chief priests and scribes of the people. They were basically indifferent. They knew that the Christ would come from Bethlehem, and they had good evidence that He had arrived, but what did they do? They did nothing. And where does indifference lead a person? Well, they were the ones who eventually cried out, “Crucify Him!” The coming of Christ commands a response. How will you respond this Christmas?

Matthew 1:18-25 The Birth of Jesus Christ

Matthew 1:18-25        The Birth of Jesus Christ                              WC McCarter
Jesus could legitimately be king based on 1:1-17, but He could not save mankind if that is all that could be said about Him. Yet, Matthew goes on to tell his readers, in 1:18-25, that Jesus Christ was/is the God-man. He will show us that the Holy Spirit conceived the Child in Mary and that prophecy was fulfilled in Him.
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Mary was Betrothed to Joseph (vv18-19)
We do not know anything much about Joseph. We know that he was a carpenter, and verse nineteen tells us he was a righteous man. We know that Mary was highly favored by God and was submissive to His word. These two, who were likely both teenagers, were humble, righteous, obedient, favored Jews. They were young and poor, but they were an outstanding couple.
The word “betrothal” refers to the official engagement of the couple. First, the families of the two young people would arrange the marriage; the father would choose a wife for his son. Second, the families would throw a party, when the two became of age, to make the betrothal official. Formal (and legal) arrangements would be made at that time. The couple was legally married at that time (husband and wife), but didn’t live together or have physical relations for sometime around a year when the wedding took place. For an entire year the two would have to go on about their lives knowing that they were married, but not living like it. If the two split, they would have to legally file for divorce. If one was found to have had intimate relations with another, they would be guilty of adultery.
Now, it is during that engagement period that Mary was found to be with Child. It was during that period that Joseph was considering the real possibility of a divorce. It is important to hear that Joseph was a just man. That is what caused him to consider divorcing Mary secretly. Apparently, Joseph already loved and respected Mary. He knew that he did not want to make her a public example.
An Angel of the Lord Appeared (vv20-21)
There is no telling how long Joseph considered these things in his mind or how much stress was placed on his heart. While Joseph was still considering these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. Luke tells us that an angel appeared to Mary, but Matthew gives us another story. He tells us that an angel appeared to Joseph. Let’s be clear, this particular dream that Joseph had is unlike any dream we have ever had. The word of the Lord was delivered to him by an angel. We know that throughout the Old Testament God caused a deep sleep to fall on many individuals and He spoke to them in dreams. Joseph is an Old Testament saint.
Listen to what he was told. First, he is called by name, Joseph, and he is called, “Son of David.” I think that is to reinforce what Matthew has already told us: Jesus is a legitimate descendant of David. Second, he is told to do the exact opposite of what he had been doing: “Do not be afraid. . . .” Notice how Mary is already referred to as Joseph’s wife, although they have not been together. Third, it is important to realize that the angel is clear about the Child who had been conceived in Mary. That conception took place without Joseph or any other man, it happened by the power of the Holy Spirit. To reiterate that point, the angel says, “And she will bring forth a Son. . . .” Lastly, Joseph is told to name the Child Jesus. Why this name? “He will save His people from their sins.” The name literally means, “Yahweh saves.”
That It Might be Fulfilled (vv22-23)
In the next two verses, Matthew adds an annotation. This was all done so that Scripture may be fulfilled, Scripture that had spoken by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years earlier. What is the point of the inclusion of this prophecy? First, it is fulfilled in the Son of Mary; but, second, it climaxes with the promise that the Child would be Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” This is exactly why the little phrase “of the Holy Spirit” appears in verse eighteen. This Child is like no other. This is God in the flesh, entering humanity, and changing history forever. This is God coming to dwell among His people, His creation. This is God coming to save His people from their sins. This was God coming to save you from your sins, to save you from the present wicked age, to save you from the wrath to come. This is the Word become flesh. This is our God. He is real. He is not far. He is “with us.”
You see, only God could do something about our sin problem. Psalm 49 says, “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him— for the redemption of their souls is costly. . . .” Only a perfect, sinless sacrifice would do. Only God Himself would do.
Took to Him His Wife (vv24-25)
What did Joseph do in response to the word of the Lord? He did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. Matthew wants us to be sure of one thing: Joseph would be the legal guardian of this Child, but the conception and birth had nothing at all to do with him. Joseph took Mary as his wife, but he did not have physical relations with her until after she had brought forth the Boy, and Joseph then called Him Jesus.

Doesn’t this story give you chills? You haven’t heard it so many times that you are numb to the truth, have you? Does it still resonate in your soul? Does it still spark interest, faith, and joy in your heart?

In chapter one, Matthew wants to demonstrate how Jesus is the Son of David, the rightful heir to the throne. He wants to establish that Jesus is a legitimate Jew, a Son of Abraham. He wants to show how Scripture is fulfilled from the very beginning of Jesus’ story. He wants to exhibit how miraculous that story is. BUT. . . . First and foremost, Matthew wants to tell us that God is with us (Immanuel). What does that mean?
            First, God is a promise-keeping God. He is faithful to His word.

            Second, God has not abandoned us in our sins. He has interceded to save us.
            Third, He is not far from any of us.

Matthew 1:1-17 The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Matthew 1:1-17         The Genealogy of Jesus Christ                    WC McCarter
When the Christmas season comes every year, Luke’s account of the Savior’s birth is most often quoted and read. We will read selections from Luke during this month, but we will take a deeper look at what Matthew has to say. Today, we will look at the genealogy that Matthew offers us at the very beginning of his book. He will give us Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph and will demonstrate Jesus’ legal ancestry which will establish Him as a legitimate heir to the throne of David. One thing is certain, if Jesus is King, then He must come from a royal line. Matthew will verify that in today’s text.
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Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham
The opening verse of Matthew’s Gospel account states the main character. The subject of the book will be the person and work of Jesus Christ. Matthew gives Him three titles from the very beginning, three very Jewish titles. He is called Christ, the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham.
“Christ” is the Greek word for Messiah which means “Anointed One.” Jews during the first century had all sorts of ideas about who the Christ would be and what He would do when He appeared. One of the primary views was that He would physically conquer all of Israel’s enemies.
“Son of David” refers to Jesus’ messianic and royal lineage. Do you remember why Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census? He was of the house and lineage of David.
“Son of Abraham” refers back to Jesus’ Hebrew/Jewish heritage. Yet, we must also add that any Jewish reader of Matthew’s Gospel would have had thoughts of God’s promises to Abraham. The verses to remember are Genesis 12:1, 2, and 3 which say, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
“The book of the genealogy” refers to the origin of all we know about Christ. Matthew is setting out to tell how the plan of redemption was enacted during Jesus’ life and ministry. This is the beginning of a marvelous story of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice. Human history will be changed from this point on. All of Israel’s hopes and dreams, all of the prophecies and Scriptures are fulfilled in this One individual.
Fourteen Generations
It is clear that Matthew omits some names in order to maintain his literary symmetry, yet all of these names are listed in order to validate Matthew’s very first claim, that Jesus is the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. Thus, we see three divisions in Matthew’s record: the times of Abraham, the times of David, and the times of the Babylonian captivity which were all leading to the appearance of the Christ.
1) Five references are significant in this record: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. What do they all have in common? They are all women. To include women was “both unnecessary and unusual in Jewish genealogies” (Blomberg, 55). Yet, we can take this further. All five of the women have a common theme of suspicions of illegitimacy surrounding their childbearing. This will be a spring board for Matthew to argue that Mary’s conception is not suspicious at all, but profoundly miraculous. What is my point?

First, women have always been an important part of God’s plan. Women, never think that you have nothing to offer in service to God. We have been wonderfully created male and female. Each of us has a distinct set of abilities to use in His service.

Second, in each woman’s case, the scandal that surrounded them never hindered their spiritual characters. We have seen that Jesus consistently ministered to the outcast, scandalous, and disreputable sinners of the region. Jesus ministered to them, and Matthew has honored them simply by their inclusion in the record.
2) Jesus is Savior and King. You must submit to His Lordship. There is no such thing as having a Savior who is not Lord. The New Testament shows that the two go hand-in-hand. He first accomplished His plan of redemption and then was given the name which is above every name. How does this play out? Do not go on doing what is right in your own eyes. Do not follow your own selfish, sinful desires. Seek the truth which is found in Him. Obey His word and teach others to do the same.
3) There are a lot of sinners in Christ’s genealogy, and those are the people He came to save. I can say a few more things about this:

First, those who are in Christ must sin no more. He humbled Himself and became like a man. He put on flesh and blood and lived a sinless life. He then humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. We should strive to live a holy life in response to His love and grace.

Second, we should not pick and choose who we are going to minister to. Christ came to save sinners, and we should do the same.
            Third, do not allow your history to keep you from God. Whether you have a
             prestigious background or a poor background, either could keep you from God if you allow.
            God doesn’t care, and I don’t care, if your family was terrific or terrible. You are who you
             are, and you are safe and special in Christ.

Matthew 9:18-34 Do You Believe?

Matthew 9:18-34                    Do You Believe?                                             WC McCarter

Have you ever found yourself in a desperate situation? What do you do in those times when you have sunk to your lowest point and have nothing else to lose? Do you lay down and sulk, or do you fight and scratch? For some, the desperate, seemingly hopeless situations are the ones that drive them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we will consider a narrative that tells of a woman who has been plagued for years by a certain ailment, but in the end she finds restoration and joy in the power of Jesus Christ. We also will read about a young girl who was raised from the dead, blind men who were healed, and a demon-possessed man who was freed. These hopeless situations find hope in the Lord, and you can find hope as well, if you approach Him by faith.
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A Woman Who had a Flow of Blood vv20-22
This is a fantastic story bookended by the beginning and end of the story of the girl raised from the dead. This woman who comes to Jesus has been continually bleeding for twelve years. Obviously the problem is no threat to her life, but with this condition she is an outcast. She would have been considered unclean by the community. She would not have been able to worship at the Temple, in the synagogues, nor had relationships with any friends or family.
Because of this, she approaches Jesus from behind. This is a daring move to approach someone, especially Jesus. She went for the hem of His garment, maybe the tassels that would have been hanging from His prayer shawl. For some reason, the woman thinks that if she could touch the hem of His garment she would be healed. The grammar tells us that’s what she continually told herself as she approached the Master. Maybe it was an act of humility. Maybe she thought it would be out of the question to grab Jesus’ hand or something of the like, but if she just touched His garment it would be enough. Or possibly she considered the act of grabbing His garment as a sign of a request for help. Either way, she was healed when she touched the garment, but Jesus makes clear that it was her faith that accessed the mercy that was provided. That she was made “well” or was “healed” is more literally the word “saved.” Jesus told the woman that her faith had saved her. She was delivered from her present condition, and, possibly, we can hear a hint that she was saved from her sins. She could now be cheerful.
What is so important about this story? First of all, notice the irony. Jesus is on His way to a girl’s dead body and is met on the way be a woman who has a flow of blood. Both of these could make Jesus unclean, but He is not concerned with external laws of cleanliness. He is concerned about the people. So, He does not consider Himself, but others. Remember, He is the One who said that He had come not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. Second, Jesus was on a mission to raise the girl from the dead. One request had already been made, yet He takes the time to stop the parade that was forming in the street in order to speak to this woman. Not only would this have been viewed as inappropriate for the situation, but the crowd would have found it inappropriate for Jesus to speak to a woman. Yet, Jesus is not concerned with what is socially appropriate. Lastly, “This woman lived in a perpetual state of impurity, which resulted in her poverty, isolation, and suffering” (Burge, 44). Yet, we see that Jesus is not a respecter of persons. He is a respecter of faith. Faith is what He is looking for and is what He responds to.
Daughter has just Died vv18-19 and 23-26
At the beginning of our text this morning we were told that Jesus was approached by a ruler while He was still teaching. Visualize this scene. A ruler comes and bows down to Jesus, the Lord. This man was probably the ruler of a synagogue. He had to truly humble himself to go and request help from Jesus. He is desperate because his daughter had become greatly ill and had died, but He knows Jesus’ reputation. He says, “. . . lay Your hand on her and she will live.” The ruler’s faith is as great as desperation. He believes that Jesus can raise the dead to life! Notice that the woman with the hemorrhage had bled for twelve years. This girl was about that age. Jesus’ response is immediate. He gets up and follows the man.
When Jesus finally arrived at the man’s house, after His encounter with the bleeding woman, He sees flute players and wailers. All Jews were required to hire at least two flute players and one wailing woman. Jesus is actually able to get the noisy crowd to leave the house. “Put outside” reflects a word that can literally mean “throw out.” Apparently Jesus and the ruler throw the people out of the house. Matthew gives us few details, but sticks to the root of what happened. “. . .  He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.” Of course, this news spread throughout all the land in a matter of moments.
Two Blind Men vv27-31
Jesus rarely finds the time to rest. He is teaching and is interrupted by a man who wants his daughter brought back to life. He is on His way to that house and is interrupted by a woman who wants to be healed from an issue of blood. As soon as both are restored, two blind men follow Him seeking another miracle. They want to be healed of their blindness. Jesus apparently ignores their cries, but they follow Him into a house. Jesus has one question for them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They reply affirmatively and respectfully. If Jesus can raise the dead, He can surely restore sight!
As Jesus touches their eyes with His healing hands, He once again emphasizes faith. He heals them in response to their faith. Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would have such a ministry. He said in 35:5-6, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” Their eyes were opened, but Jesus commands them to tell no one. Possibly Jesus does not want to gain a false following. He did not want followers who were only there to see a spectacle or only there for physical healing. The two are disobedient to the word of the Lord, and they go spread the news all over that country.
A Man, Mute and Demon-Possessed vv32-34
Once again Jesus is faced with another issue that demands His attention. As He leaves that house He is confronted by a group who bring to Him a mute and demon-possessed man. This miracle will mark the end of this section in Matthew’s Gospel account. He has shown us the great wonder-working power of the Son of God in sweeping fashion. Jesus has the authority and power to cast out demons, command the storms, heal every type of illness, and even raise the dead to life. In this last paragraph, we are not directed toward the details of the exorcism, but to the crowd’s reaction. There is a foreshadowing here of things to come. The crowd says, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” Yet, the Pharisees say, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.” Matthew gives us no explanation, just the facts. We are left with the two options of how we will respond. Will we react with derision or with delight in the things of God?
1) Jesus does not allow Himself to be constrained by tradition or social standards. What does this teach us? First, none of us are too far from Him. He will touch and save any of us. He is no respecter of persons. He has come to seek and save the lost. He did not come to call the righteous (seemingly) to repentance, but sinners. He did not come to be served, but to serve and lay down His life for us. Second, we should not allow ourselves to be limited in our scope of ministry. How dare we discriminate against certain peoples! How dare we show favoritism to one and not another! Are we above our Master? He humbled Himself to do the work of the ministry, Gospel ministry, Kingdom ministry, and we must do the same. No servant is greater than his master.
2) We are called to follow our Master, to pick up our cross and follow Him. Therefore, we must act immediately when we are confronted with needs, even when we must be inconvenienced. As Americans, our goal every day is to find convenience. Convenience in-and-of-itself is not a bad thing, but the ferocious pursuit of it can be sinful. We are to consider others better than ourselves. Therefore, if we see a need, even if it may hassle us, we must act in response.
3) There is nothing too great for the Lord Jesus to overcome. An application to almost any sermon is found in two words: Trust Christ. Why would you not trust the one who heals diseases and conditions, raises the dead back to life, restores strength from disability, and is sovereign over the works of the adversary? I will trust Him, every moment, and I hope you will too.

Matthew 9:14-17 Both Are Preserved

Matthew 9:14-17                    Both Are Preserved                                       WC McCarter



We will pick up where we left off last week with Jesus saying, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” This kind of ministry will turn the Jewish world upside down. The Pharisees and Scribes do not comprehend it, not even the disciples of John can come to an understanding. Jesus has already weathered an attack from the Pharisees. They were not bold enough to face Jesus with their scorn, but went to Christ’s disciples instead. Now Jesus will be faced with a critical question from the disciples of John the baptizer.


Jesus will answer the immediate, smaller question and then go on to describe the bigger picture. So often we get caught up with the small stuff and completely miss the large. We spend a lot of time packing a suitcase, but we miss the boat. You see, the Pharisees and John’s disciples had one thing in common. Both groups were extreme legalists. They were excessive in their rule-keeping, and their laws came from not only the Old Testament, but also the traditions that they had established. They spent so much time tending to the details of the Law that they completely missed the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among them.


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Question and Answer vv14-15

The Law of Moses only commanded that God’s people fast on one particular day, the Day of Atonement. Yet, the custom of the Pharisees and disciples of John was to practice fasting on a regular basis, even twice a week. Probably on several occasions the strict, legalistic Jews of the Pharisees and disciples of John found themselves fasting while Jesus and His disciples were feasting. It was so outrageous that Jesus’ disciples did not fast that the disciples of John put themselves in a category with the Pharisees, a group of which they were very critical. Remember, it was John who said to the Pharisees, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. . . .” I mean every good, law-keeping, righteous Jew fasted often; even twice a week. Yet, Jesus and His group had never been known to fast. This is strange, if not scandalous.


Jesus responds to the question with a question of His own. He answers allegorically, but the truth is apparent. There are plenty of times in life to mourn, but a wedding is not one of those times. A groom’s buddies are not going to grieve while they are with their friend. They are going to celebrate. They are going to enjoy themselves. “The bridegroom’s [friends] cannot be fasting while the feasting is at its height!” (Morris, 224). Jesus says that as long as He is present, the disciples have no reason to mourn. They have no reason to fast. Then Jesus foreshadows His coming death and future ascension back to heaven. That will be a time for fasting. The book of Acts tells us that the early Christians did spend time fasting.


Biblical Christianity is not about religious performance, but about faith. It is not our accomplishments to which God responds. The Father responds to the accomplishments of Christ. Thus, we are to trust in what Christ has done and not in ourselves.


Connective: Jesus has now answered the direct question, but He will go on to give the men more than they were asking for. He will tell them what they really need to know.


Unshrunk Cloth on an Old Garment v16

I have some old jeans that have holes in them. I wear them to work in. I went and bought some of the iron-on patches and followed the directions line by line, but down to the last patch they all fell off. This would hold true especially of materials in the New Testament times. A garment would shrink when it was washed and it would become worn over time. Now if you took a new piece of cloth that had not been shrunk and placed it on the old garment, what would happen? The first time the garment was washed the patch would shrink. There would be tension, and the tension would tear the garment even more. The hole would become larger.


The ministry of the Lord Jesus was not going to be a patch for traditional, legalistic Judaism.


New Wine into Old Wineskins v17

New wine refers to wine that is still fermenting. Old wineskins refers to a container that is practically worn out. In ancient times, people would make liquid containers out of animal skins, usually goats. They would skin the animal, tie up the feet and neck, and leave a small opening. Fermenting wine would have lots of pressure from the gases. New skins have flexibility, they have some stretch. An old skin loses that stretch and cannot withstand the pressure from new, still fermenting wine. The pressure would cause an old skin to burst. If that happens, you have lost both the wine and the skin. What people would do is put new wine into a new skin so that both are preserved.


The new wine of faith in Christ cannot be poured into the old wineskins of traditional Judaism.


Notice that Jesus does not completely do away with structure (wineskins). There are new skins for the new wine. We are not under law but under grace. We live in the age of the Spirit. He has come to dwell within all those who have accepted Christ by faith. He writes the law of Christ, the royal law, upon our hearts. This is the new skin in which the new wine is poured.



This is the point in the sermon when you are supposed to say, “So what?”


First, we do not have to do “religious” things because everyone else is doing them.

            Many of the “righteous” Jews of the first century fasted, but Jesus’ group did not.

Second, have you noticed the new vs. old idea?

Jesus was not going to force the new work He was doing into the old frame. Attempting to patch the old would have made an even worse tear from the tension. Attempting to pour the new into the old would have caused so much pressure that both the old and the new would have been lost.

Now let’s get real personal and practical. What is it in your life that you will not do away with? Is God doing a new thing, but you won’t let go of the old? The tension and pressure will only build if you don’t realize that you need a new frame for this new work. What is it that needs to be done in this church, but we are trying to force it into our tradition to the detriment of both?

Matthew 9:9-13 I Desire Mercy

Matthew 9:9-13                      I Desire Mercy                                              WC McCarter
When was the last time that you sat down to eat with someone who was considered an outcast? When was the last time that you went to spend time at the house of a worthless sinner?
The Lord will challenge us today with not only His words, but with His actions as well. We will read of the time that He called a gross sinner to discipleship and even sat down at the guy’s house to eat a meal with many more sinners of the same ilk.
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Proper Response v9
We don’t know what kind of contact Matthew had with the ministry of Jesus or the influence that Jesus had on Matthew previous to this “calling.” Matthew probably heard the preaching of Jesus. He had probably either seen or most definitely heard about His ministry. Thus, it is not outrageous that Matthew would drop what he was doing to follow Jesus. What we can say about Matthew’s action is that it was a proper response. You don’t have to make a decision about the Gospel the very first time you hear it, but you must begin to count the cost of following Christ and make a decision very soon. When you hear the call of Jesus you must respond. Maybe He is calling some of you today to follow Him. Make a commitment today. Maybe you have been a Christian for many years, but you have sensed that He is calling you to do a new thing. Make a decision to follow Him wherever He may lead.
Ministering, Not Communing vv10-11
We must go outside of our comfort zones to reach the lost in this community, but we must not participate in their sin. You see, Jesus ministered to “sinners,” but was Himself sinless. Do not fear sinners, outcasts, or this world, but go to them with the love of Christ. Go to them with the Gospel of their salvation by faith in Him. There is something to “meeting people where they are,” yet we must take caution to not fall into sin. Sin separates us from God. We want to bring people to the Savior, not separate ourselves from Him. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin. . . .” Although we must minister to sinners, we must be wary of keeping bad company. The Apostle also told the Galatians, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” There is a ministry of restoring sinners back to God, but we must guard ourselves lest we fall into the same sin. Let me lastly quote to you what the Apostle told the Corinthians on another occasion. He said, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” My key point here is to say that there is a major difference between ministering to the lost and joining in their wrongdoing.
Jesus obviously dined with sinners. The word “sinners” here in verses 10-11 refer to the most grievous sinners of the community. They were the outcasts, the most despised. Now, let’s imagine something. What if Jesus were to put on flesh and blood and move into our neighborhood? Who would be the outcasts that He would dine with? I can imagine that He would eat with and minister to minorities, the poor, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, homosexuals, prostitutes, and the like. That is not to say that all of these are sinners in the same sense, but they are all outcasts in our society. At best, we ignore them. At worst, we spite them.
Tax collectors like Matthew were hated for several reasons. They were considered:
1) traitors because they were Jews working for Rome.

2) unclean because of their constant contact with Gentiles.

3) Sabbath offenders for working on the Sabbath.

4) swindlers because they overtaxed the public to make a large commission.
The Great Physician vv12-13
Apparently the Pharisees who opposed Jesus were not bold enough to do it to the Lord’s face. So, they ask the Lord’s disciples why Jesus would eat with tax collectors and sinners. The Lord answers for His disciples with a proverb, a phrase, and the plan.
The proverb that Jesus answers with may have been one that was well-known, but we cannot know for sure. It seems innocent enough as it stands, but considering the tension between the Lord and the Pharisees, this was an indictment of their “righteousness.”
Jesus uses a phrase from Hosea 6:6 on a couple of occasions, and Matthew is sure to record it for us. Obviously it is an important expression. It teaches that God requires more than external obedience. He requires more than a going-through-the-motions type of law-keeping. Those things are all well and good, but God requires much more. He calls us to agree with Him sincerely from a pure heart. Under the Old Covenant, making sacrifices to God was good, but God expected mercy that much more.
The last part of the Lord’s response is the statement of the plan of redemption. Once again, this statement condemns the Pharisaical system and understanding of righteousness while stating the plan of God. Jesus has come to call everyone to repentance and salvation, all those who come to the understanding that they are poor in spirit.
1) Respond to the call of Christ whether it is initially or later in your Christian life.
2) Move outside of your comfort zone to minister to the lost, but do not sin.
3) Do not attempt to conform to a system of righteousness, trust in Christ’s righteousness.

Matthew 9:1-8 Your Sins are Forgiven

Matthew 9:1-8                        Your Sins are Forgiven                      WC McCarter
The forgiveness of sins is a distinctive of Christianity. No other belief-system on earth offers atonement for sin. Other religions may all have a concept of the after-life (for example Buddhism teaches that one ceases to exist, Islam teaches that men are taken to a paradise where they receive 72 virgins, Mormonism teaches that godly men become gods of their own worlds, and the list goes on), but only Christianity offers a true heaven where we will dwell with God forever. Christianity also explains why things are the way that they are (people have sinned against a holy God), and Christianity offers atonement for those sins. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come into the world and taken our sin upon Himself that we may become the righteousness of God. We are told exactly how one is saved from this present wicked age and the wrath to come: put your faith in the One that the Father has sent, Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
In today’s sermon text, Matthew, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recounts one of the few recorded descriptions of Jesus declaring someone’s sins forgiven. Now remember, Matthew told us in chapter one what the angel said to Joseph. The messenger said, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” This was Jesus’ mission on earth. This is why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Let us take a look into the narrative of Matthew 9:1-8.
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Your Sins are Forgiven vv1-2
Capernaum has become the Lord’s new hometown. Matthew records three sets of miracles that happen on each side of the Sea of Galilee. He healed a leper with only a touch. He healed the centurion’s servant without evening seeing the boy. He also healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. He then cast out many demons with only a word. He calmed the storm on the sea. Then He cast out many demons from two men and into the herd of swine. These miracles have shown and will continue to show His Lordship. You can see from Matthew’s arrangement of the narratives that he is building up more and more evidence to demonstrate Jesus’ divinity. Now he shows us that Jesus even deals with sin. It is one thing to heal a sickness which is only for this life. It is another thing to have the power to deal with sin which is relevant now and into eternity.
This is the famous story of the men who lowered their friend through the roof. Matthew does not give us that detail as he retells the story. He is focused on one point: Jesus’ authority and power to forgive men their sins. This is an important passage. If the Messiah cannot forgive sin, if He does not have that authority, then He is merely human and can save no one.
What was it that prompted Jesus to intercede in this man’s life? Faith is what God requires. Faith is what God desires from us. He wants us to trust Him, that what He has done is enough to save us now and forever. We are challenged everyday to trust our self, our spouse, a friend, this world, a career, or to trust God Almighty. He offers the better promises and who can fulfill what they have said? We are forced to put our trust in a presidential candidate as if he can save us and our country. Let me say this, God has already proven His worth. He has shown His love.
Why Do You Think Evil vv3-5
Blasphemy is a great sin. It was then and it is now. Then, according to their law, the blasphemer could be stoned to death for this grievous sin. Only God can forgive sins because ultimately all sin is committed against His holiness. To declare someone forgiven of all their sins is to stand in the place of God. To claim the authority to forgive sins is to claim to be God. Of course, the scribes look at this man, Jesus, and see nothing divine about Him. If that is the case, then what He has said is blasphemous. So, you see, Jesus is claiming to be God.
In His divinity, Jesus knows the hearts of men. He knows what is inside of individuals. He knew that the scribes thought evil within themselves, just as He had seen into the hearts of the other men and found faith.
Which is easier to say? “His opponents said nothing, but the answer was obvious: both things are equally impossible for men and both are equally possible for God” (MacArthur, 54). You see, Jesus can both heal the effects of sin and sin itself.
But That You May Know vv6-7
Jesus does not even have to finish His sentence with words to prove His authority. He displays His divine authority and power by healing the man. He does so with only a spoken command.
They Marveled and Glorified God v8
On this occasion, the crowds to not plot against the Lord or cry out, “Crucify Him!” No, this time they marvel (which may have a sense of fear in it) and they glorify God.
This miracle was unmistakable and undeniable. It also proved Jesus’ claim.
There are two ways to respond to Christ’s offer of the forgiveness of sins:
1) Reject the offer as blasphemous and respond with evil
2) Recognize the offer as truth and respond with faith.
Your sins can be forgiven! If you have already committed to Christ, then you live forgiven.
If you never have yielded to His call, you still can even today.
If you have sinned since becoming a Christian, He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness if you genuinely confess those sins to Him.

Matthew 28:16-20 Make Disciples of All

Matthew 28:16-20      Make Disciples of All                                    WC McCarter



In ancient times, men who were chosen to have great authority in a king or queen’s house were often made eunuchs, that is they were castrated. One of these men, who had become the highest treasury official for the queen of Ethiopia, once traveled to Jerusalem to worship. Apparently he had become a Jewish proselyte and made a pilgrimage to worship at the Temple. On his way back to Ethiopia, the man read Isaiah’s fourth servant song, Isaiah chapter fifty-three. The Holy Spirit moved Philip to go to the man and to speak to him about the Scripture. He proclaimed the message of Jesus to the Ethiopian from that text. Because of what Philip told him in a chariot out on the road in the middle of the desert, the man believed that Jesus is Savior and Lord. He believed it in his heart, confessed it with his mouth, and was baptized that day.


This is a great illustration of someone coming to the faith. One must hear the Gospel, repent of his sins, believe that what Jesus Christ has done is enough to save him, confess Him as Lord, be immersed in the waters of Christian baptism, and abide in His Word. All of this begins, and in fact does not happen, unless someone like you tells someone else the Good News of Christ Jesus. The reason that Philip declared the Gospel message is because the Lord Jesus, on the day that He ascended back to heaven, commanded that His disciples are to go out and make more disciples. We are to multiply. That is the subject of our sermon today. Our text is what has been famously called the Great Commission.


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They Worshiped Him vv16-17

After Jesus was raised from the dead, the Jewish leaders began passing around a false story that said that Jesus’ body had been stolen. Of course, we know that this could not have happened considering the circumstances surrounding the tomb. Jesus had been raised from the dead. Many had believed the false explanation, but the eleven chose to trust Christ, and they obeyed His command to meet Him on the mountain in Galilee. Remember, Matthew often tells us that magnificent things happen on a mountain (sermon, healed great multitudes and fed 4,000, transfiguration, and now ascension). We know that all eleven disciples were obedient in that they went to the mountain, yet the group reacts in two different ways. “Some of the disciples worship Jesus at once; some were less sure how to react” (Blomberg, 430). Their doubt was hesitancy. They did not know exactly how to respond to such miraculous and glorious events.


All Authority v18

Jesus dismisses their hesitancy with His first sentence as He appears to them on the mountain. He says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” That should set aside any doubt. That should cause someone to fall down and worship. This is the climax of Matthew’s Gospel account. After all is said and done. After Christ has ministered by preaching, teaching, and healing and after He has been crucified for the sins of the world and resurrected – He now confirms that all authority over the whole universe is His. Only God can have this full authority and only God should be worshiped. Christ’s full divinity is put on display here. Let me tell you something, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That is authority. Blessed are those who in this present life gladly and willingly bow the knee to and confess the lordship of Jesus Christ.


All the Nations v19

Because of the divine authority that the Lord Jesus maintains, He can commission His followers with the following orders. He has universal authority and His mission of redemption is universal. Therefore, He commands that His disciples “go.” They were, and we are, to go because of this authority and within this authority. An important and often forgotten part of this “commission” is the scope of the mission. The saving work of God has no limits. Maybe we often forget this part because we want to ignore it. Maybe we want to hold back because we want to box Jesus into a corner as if He is only mine or ours. No, no, no! God loves the world. Christ died for the sins of the world. That message is to go into the entire world. It is for ALL the nations without distinction. Don’t you think that the Gospel is what the raging and violent Middle East needs? Don’t you think that the Gospel is what the seemingly hopeless continent of Africa needs? Don’t you think that the Gospel is what the poor of America needs? Anything less is falling short of the glory of God. We need to help make this happen by supporting preachers, missionaries, churches, and others financially and through prayer. We also need to share the Gospel ourselves in whatever realm we find ourselves in. God gives each of us opportunities to share the Good News of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.


How do you make a disciple? First of all, you baptize them. Yet, for someone to be baptized they must first hear the Gospel message, believe it, repent of their sins, and confess the lordship of Christ. The crusades were not carried out by true Christians. We do not force someone to simply submit to being dunked in water. No, we preach Christ and Him crucified. If someone believes, then they are baptized. When Christ commands us to baptize new believers, He also means that we are to take the Gospel with us.


All Things that I have Commanded v20

Secondly, we are to teach them to observe (notice the word) ALL things that Jesus commanded. The eleven had received lots instruction and they were to then teach others to follow the Lord the same way. You and I have learned lots of things in our Christian lives that we are to share with others. We are to teach others about the Lord and the Scriptures. We are to teach them to trust and obey Christ.


Now notice that Jesus recorded words here do not end with a command, but with a promise. He promises that He will be with His followers to the end of the age, “always” or we could say “ALL the days.” God’s work and His story does not end with Christ’s death; it continues. It does not end with the resurrection; it continues. It does not end with the ascension, but continues into the future, even until the end of the age as we continue going into the world making disciples by baptizing and teaching them. And Jesus will be with us every step of the way, in each and every day.



Notice how, “‘All’ dominates vv. 18-20 and ties these verses together. . .” (Carson, 594).

            *ALL authority belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.

            *ALL the nations must hear the Gospel.

            *ALL the things Jesus commanded are to be taught to new disciples.

            *ALL the days is the length of time Christ will be with His followers.


(1) Trust the One that has all authority. There is no one more worthy of your trust. We are about to cast votes for the man who will lead our country for the next four years. It is an important decision to make, along with all the other offices for which we will be voting. You need to think it through and pray about it, but let me tell you something. No matter who you may think is the better choice and no matter who is elected, you better not trust them with much of anything. The One you should trust is the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth.


(2) The Gospel has the power to save people from every nation, language, class, etc.

Do not let yourself limit God’s saving work because of your prejudices.


(3) The Christian life is about learning of God, who He is and what He does.

            First of all, take the time to learn (sermons, Bible classes, devotions, reading).
            Second, teach the weaker Christians and the younger ones who are around you.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Continue Running and Fighting

1 Corinthians 9:24-27     Continue Running and Fighting     WC McCarter

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The Olympic games were the grand athletic spectacle of the ancient world as they are today. Even today, many who are not avid sports fans will tune in to see the various events of the Olympics. Athletics, culture, and pagan religion were all celebrated during the Olympic festival. The Greek festival that was second only to the Olympics was called the Isthmian games which were hosted on the Isthmus (or neck) of Corinth. This was a narrow land-bridge that connected the penisula with the mainland. On this narrow passageway was a temple for Poseidon. This was in the territory of Corinth, who was the host city. The games took place every two years, the year before and the year after the Olympics which were every four years. Of course the Romans took over these traditions, and added many of their own Caeserean cultic traditions. The Apostle Paul would have been at the games during his stay in the city. The Corinthians knew athletics well and all of the things surrounding them. They would have been genuinely proud of hosting their own festival and games which attracted people from all over the Greek world.


Contrary to popular belief, this passage is not about the Christian life in general. There are other references to athletics in the New Testament which are to promote endurance in the faith, but here we are talking about evangelism. The Apostle has just finished a lenghthy passage on his own personal sacrifice in order that the Gospel may be heard. He said that he had rights as an Apostle, but he did not claim them. He said, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more. . . ." Then he went on to famously state, "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." So, you see, our main point today is to not give up evangelizing. I have a feeling that most of you can remember back to when you first became a Christian. You would have told anyone about the Lord Jesus Christ. Life was breathed into you, and you wanted to share that with others. You wanted them to be saved. You wanted them to be satisfied. You were on fire for the Lord and the church, but that fire soon began to dim. What happened?


Let's talk for a few minutes today about continuing the run and fight of Christian evangelism. Maybe the Lord will reignite a fire within us to reach others with the Good News of Christ Jesus.

Running to Win v24

One of the premier sporting events of ancient times until now was/is foot racing. There will be many competitors in each race, but only one can win, the first to cross the finish line. The Apostle encourages the Corinthians, and us by extension, to run in such a way that we may win the prize. We can discuss all sorts of things on this note. A runner must devote himself to years of training in order to even have the opportunity of competing in an event. His diet would have to be strict and healthy, his sleeping habits would have to be set in order (early to bed, early to rise), and his training would have to be rigorous and steadfast. Then that individual would have to travel a long distance to Corinth to run in an event that would last only a short window of time. It has always amazed me that people will devote hours upon hours of strict training for years upon years, travel accross the world, and compete in a one mile event that will last less than four minutes. Sprinters will compete for only a few seconds. Yet, they do it to obtain the prize. When you do this, you do it to win. A football coach once said, "You play to win the game" which is often quoted in sports today.

Obtaining a Crown v25

The phrase "temperate in all things" refers to the strict training to which an athlete submits himself. Temperance is key to athletic training. Actually, I think we can say, self-control is what makes anyone successful at what they do. You have to know your own limits and hold yourself to them. The athletes would do it win the crown. In those ancient times, the crown was for several hundred years made of celery. At some points it was made of pine twigs and leaves. Either way, though, it was simply a perishable wreath. It would not last, but would evetually rot. All of that hard work, all of those years, all of the fame would soon fade away.

The Christians race is much like the athlete's. It is a race of discipline, self-control, and sacrifice as we pursue the prize. The thing about the Christian life, though, is that there is more than one winner and we will receive an imperishable crown. Keep in mind, we are instructed to run like those who believe there is only one winner. No one competes for second place, right? We must run like that, but with the knowledge that others will obtain the prize as well. The other difference is our crown. We will not receive a fading and flimsy wreath, but a prize that will last forever; that is, eternal life in the presence of our Savior's glory.

Run and Fight v26

This verse is the Apostle's summary statement. Here is the principle. We must know what our goal is. If we do not know where the finish line is or where the opponent is standing we will never run there or hit our target. Set your eyes on the finish line. Know what you are running toward and you can keep straight on that path. If not, you will be one of those people who wander around your whole life not knowing where to go or what to do. The Scripture tells us the path to follow to reach the finish line.

Notice that another athletic metaphor is introduced in this verse. Boxing was another major sport in the Greek games. The phrase about beating the air could refer to a couple of things. First, it could refer to shadow boxing which is an important element of a boxer's training and is actually a good excercise. Yet, if you only shadow box and never get into the ring, what good will it do? You will never win the prize. Second, the phrase could refer to standing in the ring, but constantly missing your opponent. We are encouraged to both run and fight with knowledge, confidence, certainty, and in a way that we may win.

Discipline v27

Paul would not allow himself to be one who did not live the Christian life with discipline and certainty. He uses the language of an athlete when he refers to how he maintained his spiritual well-being. The word "discipline" is the word that is used for giving a punch that would leave a black eye. "Subjection" means that he made his body his slave. I'm not sure that this means that Paul literally beat himself. I believe Paul is using these strong phrases in order to show how he controls himself in the faith. An athlete may have to choose to eat some raw vegetables for a snack instead of a cupcake. A Christian may need to choose a time of prayer instead of a night out on the town. An athlete may need to drink a glass of water instead of a soda. A Christian may need to sing a hymn instead of falling to the lust of the eyes. We must know our limits. We must know our weaknesses. Paul uses one last athletic word, "disqualified," on his last point. Athletes could be found for several reasons to be disqualified. If you did not follow the strict training regiment or regulations of the games, you would not be allowed to compete, much less obtain the prize.


As I said at the beginning, this passage is link to the previous one about evagelism. It was Paul's life-mission to preach the Gospel to others. Now, you are not required to give up everything you have and drop what you are doing in order to travel the world and preach the Gospel as Paul did, but you are called to take advantage of the opportunities you are given. You do not have to be in a pulpit, but you can share the Word of God on the phone. You do not have to be on a stage, but you can share the Good News at the mall. You see, we have opportunities, but we so often do not take advantage of them. You need to reignite that fire you once had, maybe when you first came to the faith. You must be passionate about the Good News. It has saved you from this present wicked age and from the wrath to come, don't you want others to be saved?

So, what will it take?

(1) It will take you running in such a way that you may win. You have to witness in such a way that others will be enlightened to the truth.

(2) You must excercise self-control, temperance in all things. Do not do those things which will hinder others from being saved. So many Christians damage their witness by the activities that they involve themselves in, their negative attitude, and their filthy language. Control yourself both physically, emotionally, verbally, and spiritually. Take a stand. Draw the line that you will not cross.

(3) Know that your prize is eternal. We are not talking about trivial things.

(4) Know your target. Know your goal. Set your eyes on it.

(5) Finally, discipline yourself. You need to be trained in righteousness. Set your mind to Bible reading and study, prayer, heavenly things, eternal things, the good things.