Sermon November 30, 2008


“Giving Thanks to God for Forgiveness”

Audio Here

I. Introduction

A. A Story of Forgiveness and Repentance

1. Beauty and the Beast

T- A similar, but true story we find today in the Book of Joel, Chapter 2:

B. Explain Background of the Book of Joel and Chapter 2

C. The main point of today’s text is that God is passionate for His people when they repent of their Sin and as we will discover as we look at Joel 2:18-27 particularly there is a great lesson to be learned in our own lives from the example given to us by this part of Scripture. That prayer and repentance given with humility and sincerity shall be forgiven.

T- Turning to the Scripture Lesson for this Lord’s Day morning let us look once more at verse 18 of chapter 2 in the Book of Joel: Joel writes:

II. The Lord our God is Passionate for Purity in His Church

A. Destruction of the Earth in Noah’s Time (Gen 7)

B. Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Abraham’s Day (Gen 19)

C. Destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24)

D. What about Today? (Matthew 24, Sheep and Goats)

T- We see how God deals with those who refuse to repent of their wicked ways, both as a nation and as a people. But what about those who do repent of their sin? What waits for them? Look again at verses 18-20 of our Scripture Lesson:

III. God has Pity on and Forgives His People when they repent.

A. Read Joel 2:12-17, example of true repentance

B. David’s Repentance after Affair with Bathsheeba (Read Psalm 25)

C. Story of Repentance and Forgiveness in Modern Times

(James Earl Ray and Martin Luther King III)

T- But how can we know that God will forgive us of our Sins, that God will do this for us?

Look again at Joel 2:21-23.

IV. Our God has Done So Before And Will Do So Again

A. As we saw with David, who was King and through whom Christ is a descendant.

B. The Children of Zion in Verse 23 are God’s Elect, His people, The Church is Zion (John 6 and 17, the Shepherd laying down His life for the Sheep)

C. God Fulfills His Promises (Adam (Gen 3:15) Abraham (Gen 16, Isaac)

T- We have seen that God honors our Repentance when given with humility and sincerity, but what does He promise He Will Give us in our Repentance? Read verses 24-26

V. Our Blessings Shall Overflow

A. Salvation in Christ (Read 2 Thess 2:13-14, Explain, Illustrate, Applicate)

B. Eternal Life (Read Acts 2:38, John 3:16)

T- From where will these blessings come and by whose authority will they be made known? Read Verse 27 again.

VI. By All these things We will know the Lord our God

A. The First Commandment (Verse 27 directly quotes from Exodus 20)

B. Why We Should Not Doubt He is Our God (Luke 24:36-45)

In closing this morning Brothers and Sisters what we should take away from this prophetic declaration from the words spoken to the Prophet Joel in the time after the exile from Babylon is that when we come to the Lord Our God with honesty and humility and sincerity in confessing the sins we have done in both in ourselves and omission our Sins shall be forgiven, not may but shall be forgiven by our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Because He is Our God and We are His people. For: (re-read Joel 2:18-27)

Amen and Amen.

The Abandonement of Hermenuetics, Part 2

Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:15-21 are the subject of our next inquiry into the “Science” of Hermeneutics. It has been posited in the comments section of the answer to Part 1 that this should be used as a proof text for those who support Women’s Ordination and to not to leads to “General Assembly-like” pronouncements like women not being able to teach adult men but being able to teach male children.

There are several questions that come up when thinking here and must be understood when looking at these two passages. 1) How should we look at Old Testament passages cited by New Testament authors (inspired by the same Spirit?) 2) How much can we read into a text before we obscure and obfuscate its meaning? 3) Can a text have separate contexts?

However first we need to define the major word of this pericope. PROPHECY. John Calvin in his commentary on Acts 2 says, “…this word prophesy doth signify nothing else save only the rare and excellent gift of understanding, as if Joel should say, Under the kingdom of Christ there shall not be a few prophets only, unto whom God may reveal his secrets; but all men shall be endued with spiritual wisdom, even to the prophetical excellency.” John Chrysostom in his Homily V on Acts 2 also gives the same definition as John Calvin saying,” but for the grace, he fetches the prophet as witness. “I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh.” [“And your sons,” etc.] To some the grace was imparted through dreams, to others it was openly poured forth.” This Prophecy of which both Calvin and Chrysostom speak has nothing to do with teaching or preaching, as some have surmised, but has to do with the revelation of the Will of God. In this case Peter is speaking to the Jews who are wondering why Cretans and Arabs are speaking in tongues they do not understand. They are speaking not only in a tongue the Jews cannot understand but of a way that cannot be understand because the Holy Spirit has not been imparted to them. John Piper in a sermon on Acts 2 says this:

In the Old Testament the Spirit of God is the presence of God in the world to reveal himself by some action or word. Therefore when Joel says that God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh, he means that God will draw near to men and women and make himself known and felt in a powerful way. There is a great difference between perceiving a lake at a distance and being immersed in the lake. So there is a great difference between experiencing God as a distant object of knowledge and being immersed in his presence. The picture of a worldwide pouring compels us to think of being soaked and saturated and swept along by the Spirit of God. Joel wanted his readers to anticipate an unmistakable flood-tide of God’s presence.

The context of Peter’s commentary and quotation of Joel 2 belies nothing that would tell us Peter here is speaking about teaching and preaching in the Church. Peter is speaking to the Jews during the event of Pentecost when Jesus’ words to the Apostles were fulfilled. To make the argument that Peter here is is quoting Joel to give the office of teacher to both men and women is stretching the meaning of the text. As we see from the several commentators we cannot give a meaning to a text that it itself cannot and does not give. This on its own not only breaks Scripture’s internal hermeneutic but it violates the rules of literary analysis, tools that even wacko conservatives use to help determine the meaning of the text. Also as Reformed Christians who hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith as the best summary of the Doctrine of the Christian life we must (unless you are like our dispensational friends that believe that we can still receive prophecy after the death of the last Apostle) say that Prophecy has ceased. Richard Gaffin, Professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia in his book Perspectives on Pentecost in summary says, “The apostolic witness, prophecy and tongues were bound up with the foundation of the church following the ascension of Christ, and therefore, since the foundation has been laid, have no purpose for today.” For a Reformed believer if Prophecy has ceased then what Joel and Peter speak of in this passage cannot have bearing on us because we do not live in the Apostolic age. The Westminster Confession says:

The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1, section 1:

Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.
Chapter 1, Section 6:
The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

Even moreso Paul in 1st Timothy 5:17 says, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” Now who is to be preaching and teaching? Elders. What are the qualifications for Elders according to Paul (who like Peter and Joel is inspired by the Holy Spirit)? Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 that the office of Overseer, or Elder is restricted to “…the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

Now where do Elders receive their call to head the Church? For that let us take a look at Acts 20:17-38. In this passage Paul is writing to the Elders at the church in Ephesus. He is giving them a sort of pep talk and exhorting them to keep strong in the faith that has been delivered to them and to be vigilant like a shepherd tending to their flocks. Now what does this description sound like to you? Sounds like the daily work of a Pastor does it not? Also worth remembering is the location of Timothy when Paul writes to him. Where is he? Ephesus. So if Paul believes that only qualified men (not all men) can be Elders, and Elders are the Shepherds of the Church, and Elders are to be the ones preaching and teaching what does that say about Joel and Peter and there speaking of Prophesy? Well we can be sure that it does not mean that Peter in Acts 2 and Joel in his book chapter 2 cannot be, if taken with the whole counsel of Scripture, to mean that the act of “Prophesy” which both men and women are called can be conflated to therefore mean that both men and women are called to and can preach and be Teaching Elders in the Church of Christ.