Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Sermon Preached at Toronto Baptist Seminary

I have in the past included notes of sermons I have preached at places like TBS, so thought I would do it again! It was a delight to be with my brothers and sisters in chapel today, and I can hardly wait to teach tomorrow morning... after that 7:30AM Starbucks!

This is a rough preaching outline - so it may look weird. Sorry for that. But, you don't have to read it!

Why are you here?

· Prestige

· To learn Hebrew

· A wife

· To lengthen your name with a few letters m.d.i.v.?

· Because you cannot do anything else?


“One brother I have encountered--one did I say? I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry--they were quite certain of it, because they had failed in everything else. This is a sort of model story: "Sir, I was put into a lawyer's office, but I never could bear the confinement, and I could not feel at home in studying law; Providence clearly stopped up my road, for I lost my situation." "And what did you do then?" "Why sir, I was induced to open a grocer's shop." "And did you prosper?" "Well, I do not think, Sir, I was ever meant for trade, and the Lord seemed quite to shut my way up there, for I failed and was in great difficulties. Since then I have done a little in life-assurance agency, and tried to get up a school, besides selling tea; but my path is hedged up, and something within me makes me feel that I ought to be a minister." My answer generally is, "Yes, I see; you have failed in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has especially endowed you for his service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men, and not those who cannot do anything else." (Lectures, 37)

Perhaps you have more altruistic reasons?

I trust that one of those is that you are in awe of our Almighty God. He is your chief delight in life. And for some reason, entirely unknown to you, He has called you to be a minister of His Gospel.

So, you have come to seminary as a kind of spiritual bootcamp before entering the war-torn Afghanistan of the world. You know quite well the foul plans of that Taleban Devil and are intent on fighting back – hazarding your own life for the Gospel’s sake.

But may I suggest that our mutual enemy is not waiting for you on the battlefield. He is mustering all his strength, infiltrating his spies, corrupting all good communications, launching his spiritual RPG’s in order to ruin you now.

· Promoting secret sins (to get you by)

· Whispering cotton-candy flatteries in your ears to swell your pride

· Letting you alone so you are lulled to sleep and have your attention drawn away from the need.

· He might seek to make you feel you are in a ivory tower in your gilded cage - free to nit-pick the idiosyncrasies of the Hebrew weak radicals or acceptable worship positions.

Thus giving meaning to the old saying, “While the world goes to hell in a handbasket.”

There are many reasons to be here. Each of us has our own, I am sure. But there are some that apply to every one of us, and one of the chief of these needs surrounds us!

I am not talking about

· Homelessness

· Poverty

· Hunger

· Repression of women

· Feminism

· Arminianism

· Eroding theology of evangelicalism

The great need I suggest to you is: The Wrath of God.

Of all the reasons to come and prepare for a life of ministry, might I remind you of this one.... mankind is under the wrath of Almighty God. And that is not good.

Romans 1:18-23

Consider this under the illustration of our legal system.

I. Verdict: Mankind is already condemned.

WE begin with the verdict since this is where Paul begins. The wrath of God IS REVEALED. Current. Now. As I write.

Wrath is “God’s anger in action.”

Of course it is a sinless anger – it is the reply of His holiness to sin.

This wrath is His and is from heaven.

Who receives it? All people (18)

Ungodliness – all that is opposed to God

Unrighteousness – all that makes them guilty in sight of God

Whoever is UNDER heaven,

And NOT UNDER the Gospel,

Is UNDER wrath.

Judgment passed. Trial is over. Verdict is in. No exceptions.

II. What is the crime?

Two parts:

A) They know God is real, but live like He is fake

1) They muffle the Truth

“by their unrighteousness suppress truth”

- a sinner sins because he is attempting to deny the reality of God that he knows

2) The Truth? God is!

“invisible attributes” - eternal power and divine nature (General Revelation)

ILL: He left His fingerprints all over everything

No denying this! (:19)


B) They know God is real, but worship fake Gods

1) They willfully refuse to worship the real God (:21)

- they are “knowing God” – not in saving way, but in way just described

- Why so many false religions? – men must worship!

2) They stupidly make fake Gods to worship out of the Real God’s creation (21-23)

a) became futile – vain in inward thinking and reasoning

b) foolish hearts darkened – lights out on sanity!

c) they became fools – moronic in spiritual matters

Reasoning grows vain

Thinking grows dark

Life becomes moronic

à Whole time assert: “I am wise!”

III: The Punishment: Wrath... now and later...

Three times “God gave them over”

ILL: Mankind in a boat. In river rushing to a great falls.

Holding to rope on shoreline is God.

Everyone in boat is shouting.

What are they saying? What cries reach our ears on the shoreline?

“Let us go!”

· Let us be idolaters.

· Let us commit shameless acts.

· Let us envy, murder and slander.

· Let us gossip, invent evil, disobey parents and hate God.

· Let us alone. For we are foolish. Faithless. Heartless. And ruthless!

And every so often, that restraining common grace of God releases the grip.

A little of the rope runs out. And everyone in the boat... CHEERS!

It is wrath! And they welcome it!

Brothers you have come to the seminary...

· not to get pretty letters after your name...

· not to swell your head with pride...

· not to get yourself a nice Baptist wife...

you have come to be outfitted and equipped to run to the shoreline and shout over the roar of waters: Life! Life! Here is life!

Mankind’s great need is not a young man full of himself with a fat-cat salary in some social club church. Mankind needs men who are willing to lose all to preach Christ and Him crucified. Foolishness to Gentiles and to the Jew a rock of offense!

You are called to be liaisons in the real-life courtroom of God.

ILL: There stands a sinner.

· Condemned before the trial begins.

· Putting all his hope in the nice things he did to the other people in the boat as they cheered their sin. He is a fool. He is lost. He stands no chance of winning.

· But you are there, whispering in his ear of the Great Defense Lawyer, Jesus Christ. Who stands before the all-knowing Judge of the Universe and declares: my righteousness, for his sin.

Brothers, remember what brought you here. Remember the need. Remember God’s wrath and tremble.

You are called to a breathtaking task – to point men to Jesus, their only hope.

No time can be wasted.

No room for slacking.

No excuses to professors.

Give yourself to your studies. Give yourself daily to Christ. Give up your life as a sacrifice to God – living, holy and acceptable to Him.

Remembering – that lives hang by a thread.

1 Samuel 26:6 à Today the Lord asks, just like David asked his men, “Who will go down with me into the camp?” Where are the men who can with Abishai said, “I will go down with you.”

Isaiah 6:8 à Today the Lord asks, just as He asked the court of heaven: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Who will answer with Isaiah, “Here am I! Send me.”

If that is your heart, brother, then I say give yourself to God anew at the start of this semester. Remember His wrath. And remember your great and glorious calling to be a messenger of Good News to a world who is only now tasting, what they will eat forever in hell.

Where, “because of their hard and impenitent hearts they are storing up wrath for themselves on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.”

To this darkness – we preach light!

To this foolishness – we preach the wisdom of God!

Into this vanity – we inject sanity!

In all this death – we bring life!