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Monthly Archives: August 2012

FOUR WOMEN IN JESUS’ FAMILY TREE ~ MATTHEW 1:1-16 ~

You might call this text “The forgotten chapter of the Christmas story.” It is a genealogy—a list of names, most of them unpronounceable. Because of that, this is a portion of Scripture that we tend to overlook. We don’t know what to do with it. It’s not often read in public. For that matter, we don’t read it often in private unless we’re following one of those “read the Bible in a year” plans. Hardly anyone ever memorizes this passage, and to my knowledge it’s never been set to music.
It’s just a long list of names starting with Abraham, moving on to David and ending with Jesus. In between are some names we recognize—Jacob, Solomon, Jehoshaphat—and many more we’ve never heard of—Hezron, Abiud and Azor.
The structure is simple: “So-and-so was the father of so-and-so, who was the father of so-and-so, etc.” One name after another, a listing of the generations of the Hebrew people from their father Abraham to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. As history, the list is fascinating, but for most of us, that’s about as far as it goes.

book graphic fade

RELATED BOOK
The Leadership Lessons of Jesus
Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard unearth
important leadership lessons from the life
of Christ, based on the book of Mark.
Applicable to anyone who wants
to become a better leader.

It’s like the story of the man who was asked to write a review of the phone book. His summary: “Great cast of characters. Weak plot.” That’s the way we feel when we examine Matthew 1: “Great cast of characters. Weak plot.” Unless you happen to know the Old Testament. But even that may not help you because some of the names in Matthew 1 are completely unknown to us—particularly the ones in the last few verses. Since most of these men lived in the intertestamental period, we know nothing about them except their names.
If you are familiar with the King James Version, you remember that the word “begat” is used instead of the phrase “the father of.” “Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judah,” and so on. That strange word has given rise to many strange interpretations. One day a little boy came home from Sunday School excited about his lesson. When his mother asked him what he had learned, the little boy replied, “I learned all the “forgots” of the Bible.” “What do you mean?” “You know, Abraham forgot Isaac, Isaac forgot Jacob, and Jacob forgot Judah.”

The Jews Loved Genealogies

In that spirit we may call this “the forgotten chapter of the Christmas story.” We routinely skip it in order to get to the “good stuff.” But the Jews of the first century would be quite surprised by our attitude. To them the genealogy would have been an absolutely essential setting for the story of Jesus’ birth.
The Jews routinely paid close attention to questions of genealogy. For instance, whenever land was bought or sold, the genealogical records were consulted to insure that land belonging to one tribe was not being sold to members of another tribe—and thus destroying the integrity of the ancient tribal boundaries. You couldn’t just put the money down and take the deed. You also had to prove that your ancestors came from the same tribe.
Genealogy was also crucial in determining the priesthood. The law specified that the priests must come from the tribe of Levi. Genealogy also helped determine the line of heirship to the throne. That helps explain why Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 contain lengthy listings of the various people returning from captivity. As the Jews re-established themselves in Israel, it was crucial that they know which families had historically held which positions in the nation.
But that same principle applies directly to the Christmas story. “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world … And everyone went to his own town to register.” (Luke 2:13) That meant that each man must return to his ancestral hometown—the town from which his family had originally come. But the only way you could be sure about your ancestral hometown was to know your genealogy.
Which is why Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in the ninth month of her pregnancy. They had to make that long and dangerous journey because Bethlehem was Joseph’s ancestral hometown—a fact they knew from studying their genealogy.

I. Why This Passage Is Important Today

You may readily grant all that I have said and still wonder why we should study this passage. Although it was important 2000 years ago, what relevance does it have today? Let me suggest three answers to that question.

A. It establishes Jesus as part of the royal family of David.

This is no doubt the central purpose of Matthew 1:1-16. To a skeptical Jewish reader, no question would be more central in his mind. God had said 1000 years earlier that the Messiah must come from the line of David (II Samuel 7). In the time of Christ, Jesus wasn’t the only one claiming to be the Messiah. Other men—imposters—claimed to be Israel’s Messiah. How would the people know who to believe? One answer: Check his genealogy. If he’s not from the line of David, forget it. He can’t be the Messiah.
That’s why Matthew 1 begins this way: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” David is listed first, even though chronologically Abraham came first in history. Why? Because the crucial issue was not, “Is Jesus a Jew (a son of Abraham)?” but rather, “Is he a direct descendant of David?” In order for Jesus to qualify as the Messiah, he must be a literal, physical descendant of David.
We can see the same principle at work in the recent controversy concerning Prince Charles and Princess Diana. This week Buckingham Palace announced that they were separating—a prelude to a possible divorce. Beyond the personal tragedy involved lies a much greater constitutional crisis for the royal family. Because the sovereign is also the head of the Church of England, no divorced person may sit on the throne. When Queen Elizabeth steps down, who will take her place? Prince Charles is next in line, but if he is divorced, he can’t take the throne. Who is next in line? Genealogy gives the answer. The oldest child of Charles and Diana would be second in line, their second son would be third in line. But the monarchy itself has been called into question by this crisis. The rulers of England must come from the house of Windsor, and those rulers are determined strictly by genealogy.
The same is true for Jesus Christ. His “right to the throne” is determined by his genealogy, which establishes beyond question that he is indeed a literal descendant of King David.

B. It demonstrates that Jesus Christ had historical roots.

Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” The italicized phrase has the idea of fruit ripening for the moment of harvest. That is, when God had perfectly prepared every detail of history, he sent his Son into the world. Historians have known for years that at the time of Christ, there was a widespread expectation that “something” was about to happen. The now-extinct religions of Greece and Rome held out hope that a deliverer would come from heaven. The Jews themselves knew that the Messiah would come according to the prophecies. The Persians studied the heavens and knew the time was at hand. There was a desire, a hope, a yearning, a deep feeling throbbing in the heart of humanity that someone must appear who would radically change the world.
No, they weren’t consciously expecting Jesus, but the yearning was undeniably there. And into that expectant world God sent his Son. At just the right time. In just the right way.
Matthew 1 is telling us that Jesus Christ had roots. He had a family tree. He didn’t just drop out of heaven, he didn’t appear magically on the scene, but at the perfect moment of history, Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Jesus had a human family. He had a mother and a father and a history. He’s not some fictional character—like the gods on Mount Olympus. No, he was a real person born into a real family. Galatians 4:4 teaches us that behind it all stood God superintending the whole process.

Kunta Kinte

Do you remember the TV mini-series Roots? It was the story of how Alex Haley, a black man, set out years ago to discover his family’s history. All he knew was that his family had descended from an African slave named Kinte who landed in America at a place called “napolis.” He also remembered bits and pieces of the stories his aunts and grandmothers used to tell him when he was a child. With that meager information, he began to put the story together. Across the generations, a few syllables of the original African language had been repeated. He went from one linguist to another, repeating those few syllables, asking if they knew what language they came from. No one seemed to know, until one day he met someone who identified the words as belonging to a tribal language from the small West African country of Gambia. After more research, he discovered that “napo-lis” stood for Annapolis, Maryland, entry point for thousands of African slaves. When he went to that area, he found the name Kinte in the breeding records of a family that had owned slaves a century and a half earlier.
Eventually Alex Haley made the trip to Gambia. There he visited tribe after tribe, listening to the tribal historians tell their stories. These were old men who had memorized hundreds of years of birth, death, marriage and war. One day he sat for hours listening as a man told the story of his tribe. “So-and-so was the first. He married so-and-so. They had so-many children and lived so-many years.” On and on it went, the story of one African tribe spanning the centuries. Then it happened: “So-and-so married so-and-so. They had a son. In such-and-such a year he was taken away and never seen again.” What was the name of the son? Kunta Kinte. The year was 1752. Alex Haley said, “I had what they call a peak experience.” It was one of those moments of revelation that you have once or twice in a lifetime. He said, “I realized then that I had roots. I had history. My family came from somewhere.”
That’s what Matthew 1 is teaching us. Jesus had roots. He had a history. He had a family. He came from somewhere.

C. It’s a chronicle of the grace of God.

If you study these names in detail, it’s almost as if God has pulled together a rogue’s gallery. I’ve already said that we don’t know about every person on this list. But of the ones we know about, nearly all of them had notable moral failures on their spiritual resumes. For instance, Abraham lied about his wife Sarah. Isaac did the same thing. Jacob was a cheater, Judah a fornicator. David was an adulterer and Solomon was a polygamist. Manasseh was the most evil king Israel ever had. And on and on we could go.
This is not a list of plaster saints. Far from it. Some weren’t saints at all. The best of these men had flaws and some were so flawed that it is impossible to see their good points.
How does that show the grace of God? Simple. It shows the grace of God because people like this make up Jesus’ family tree. A murderer is on the list, a fornicator is on the list, an adulterer is on the list, a liar is on the list, a deceiver is on the list. Think about that. Most of these men were very great sinners.

II. Four Unusual Women

That brings me to my second major observation about this list: It includes four women. That in itself is unusual because when the Jews made a genealogy they normally didn’t include women on the list. They just traced the family tree from father to son. But Matthew 1 includes four women in Jesus’ family tree. They are Tamar (3), Rahab (5), Ruth (5), Bathsheba (6). All of them are very unlikely people. With the exception of Ruth, none possessed an exemplary character.

A. Tamar

Her story—unknown to most of us—is found in Genesis 38. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah who was the son of Jacob, grandson of Abraham. All you need to know is that Judah had a son named Er who married a Gentile woman named … Tamar. Er died and his brother Onan rose up to do his brotherly duty by marrying Tamar. But he, too, suddenly died, leaving Tamar both husbandless and childless—a kind of twin curse in those days. So because she was impatient and unwilling to wait for God to supply her need, she hatched a scheme to cause her father-in-law Judah to sleep with her. Her plan was simple: Dressing up as a shrine prostitute, she seduced Judah into sleeping with her, whereupon she became pregnant and gave birth to twin boys—Perez and Zerah. When she confronted Judah with the truth, he said (rightly), “She is more righteous than I.” Indeed, no one looks good in this story, which reeks of greed, deception, illegitimacy, prostitution, sexual lust, and even the hint of incest. Whatever you can say about Judah (and it’s not very good), you cannot by any stretch of the imagination make Tamar look good. She’s only less-bad than her father-in-law. But what she did was evil, wrong and immoral. She truly acted like a prostitute even if she wasn’t one by trade. That’s all we know about Tamar. There really isn’t a happy ending to this story. She’s just a footnote in biblical history—and an unsavory one at that. The story of her encounter with Judah is a story of human frailty and weakness—of the sinfulness of human flesh. That people like Judah and Tamar would be included in the line of the Messiah sends a strong message about the pure grace of God. Neither one deserved it, but both are on the list.

B. Rahab

We pass now to the second woman on the list—Rahab. Most of us know more about her. In fact, she is almost always mentioned by a certain phrase in the Bible, a phrase most of us know by heart: Rahab the harlot. But that’s not all. Rahab was also a Canaanite—who were the hated enemies of Israel. Her most exemplary deed was the telling of a lie. Think about that. A Harlot, a Canaanite and a liar. You wouldn’t think she would have much chance of making the list, but there she is.
Her story is tied in with the larger story of Joshua’s conquest of the walled city of Jericho. When Joshua sent spies into the city, Rahab hid them in her house. In exchange for safe passage out of the city, they promised to spare her and her household when the invasion took place. All she had to do was to hang a scarlet cord from her window so the Israelites could identify her house. She agreed, hid the spies, and when the king of Jericho sent messengers asking her to bring out the men, she lied and said they had already left the city (they were hiding on the roof). She let them out of a window with a rope, whereupon they returned to Joshua.
It’s a great story with many lessons, but we mustn’t miss the point that Rahab was a harlot. That was her “trade.” The men hid there because people would be accustomed to seeing strangers come and go at all hours of the night. We also can’t deny the fact that Rahab told a bald-faced lie. Is there anything good we can say about her? Yes! She was a woman of faith. You don’t have to take my word for it. Hebrews 11:31 says, “By faith Rahab …” She was a believer! And her lie was motivated by her faith!
When the invasion came, she was spared and in the course of time became the great-great grandmother of King David. A harlot … a Canaanite … and a liar. Also a woman of faith. She made the list and she’s a part of Jesus’ family tree.

C. Ruth

The most significant point about Ruth is that she, too, was not a Jew. She was in fact from the country of Moab. And that takes us back to Genesis 19 and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. On that dreadful day Lot escaped Sodom with his wife and two daughters. His wife was turned into a pillar of salt, but Lot and his daughters found refuge in a cave. His daughters evidently had been badly affected by their time in Sodom because they conspired to lure their father into sleeping with them. On successive nights they got Lot drunk and slept with him. Both sisters got pregnant and gave birth to sons – one named Moab, the other named Ammon. Those two boys—born of incest—grew up to found nations that would eventually become both incredibly evil as well as bitter enemies of Israel. The Jews hated the Moabites and Ammonites and wanted nothing to do with them.
The book which bears her name tells of the romance that blossomed between Ruth the Moabitess and Boaz the Israelite. They were a very unlikely couple but in God’s providence they were brought together in marriage. They had a son named Obed who had a son named Jesse who had a son named David, making Ruth David’s great-grandmother. And that’s how a person from the hated nation of Moab entered the line of the Messiah.

D. Bathsheba

The last woman is not mentioned by name. She is however clearly identified as the woman “who had been Uriah’s wife.” The story of Bathsheba’s adultery with King David is so well-known that it need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that adultery was only the beginning. Before the scandal was over it included lying, a royal cover-up, and ultimately murder. As a result the child conceived that night died soon after birth and David’s family and his empire began to crumble.
Eventually David married Bathsheba and they had another son—Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Quite a result for a union that began in adultery. There’s dirt all over this episode. But don’t miss the main point: Bathsheba made the list. Her name isn’t there but she is mentioned nonetheless.

Four Unlikely Women

Before going on, let’s think about these four women for a moment:
Tamar: Incest, immorality, feigned prostitution, a Gentile
Rahab: Harlotry, lying, deception, a Canaanite
Ruth: A woman from Moab—a nation born out of incest
Bathsheba: Adultery
Four unlikely women:
Three are Gentiles
Three are involved in some form of sexual immorality
Two are involved in prostitution
One is an adulteress

All four are in the line that leads to Jesus Christ!
Why would God include women like that in this list? But it’s not just the women. Think about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. They were sinners, too. Why include people like that?

A Message to the Self-Righteous
I think there are three answers to that question:
1. He did it to send a message to self-righteous people.
Matthew was written especially to the Jews. Many of their leaders (the Pharisees in particular) were self-righteous and judgmental toward others. They truly thought they deserved eternal life. What a shock it would be to read this genealogy because it is filled with liars, murderers, thieves, adulterers and harlots. Not a pretty picture. Not a “clean” family tree. This list was a stinging rebuke to that kind of judgmental self-righteousness.
Do you know what this means? Jesus was born into a sinful family. He came from a long line of sinners.
2. He did it so that God’s grace might be richly displayed.
If you come from a family like this, you can’t exactly boast of your heritage. Sure, your ancestors were rulers and kings, but they were also great sinners.
Question: Can a prostitute go to heaven? Yes or no? Can an adulterer go to heaven? Can a murderer go to heaven? Can a liar go to heaven? You’d better say yes, because Rahab and David are both going to be in heaven—and Rahab was a prostitute and a liar and David was an adulterer and a murderer.

When you read the stories of these four women—and of the men on the list—you aren’t supposed to focus on the sin, but on the grace of God. The hero of this story is God. His grace shines through the blackest of human sin as he chooses flawed men and women and places them in Jesus’ family tree.
3. He did it so that we would focus on Jesus Christ.
Many people are intimidated by Jesus Christ. They hook him up with a lot of religious paraphernalia—big sanctuaries, stained glass, beautiful choir, pipe organs, formal prayers, and all the rest. When they look at the trappings, it’s all very intimidating to them. To many in the world today, Jesus seems too good to be true.
This genealogy is in the Bible to let us know that he had a background a lot like yours and mine. He called himself “the friend of sinners,” and he said he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He said, “The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Home for the Holidays
It’s almost Christmastime, and many of us will be traveling home to spend time with our families. Some of you don’t feel too good about that. You would rather not be going home this year, but you have to. You may have family members who embarrass you. Some of you are going to have to spend time soon with people who have hurt you deeply in the past. Fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and grandparents and distant relatives. Some of them you’ll be glad to see. The others? Some of them you’d rather not ever see again.
Some of them are incestuous. Some are adulterers. Some are liars. Some are murderers. Some are filled with anger and bitterness. Some are evil in bizarre ways. And you wish you didn’t have to do what you’ve got to do—go home and face those family members at Christmastime.
Jesus understands the way you feel. He came from a disreputable family. His family tree was decorated with notable sinners. He knows what it is like to have relatives who embarrass you. He knows all about a dysfunctional family situation.
Good News From Jesus’ Family Tree
My final point should greatly encourage you: No matter what your past, Jesus can save you.
Any murderers reading these words? Any prostitutes? Any adulterers? Any liars? Any cheaters? Any angry people? Any thieves? Any hypocrites?
Good News! No matter what you’ve done in the past, Jesus can save you. If a prostitute can be saved, you can be saved. If a murderer can be transformed, you can be transformed. If an incestuous person can be saved, then there is hope for you.
No matter what your past looks like, or your present feels like, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God can give you a fresh start.
Hope for the Hurting
After I preached this sermon in the early service, a man who is going through a difficult divorce said these words to me: “I’m glad to know somebody else comes from a broken family.” He’s right. There’s a lot of dysfunction in Jesus’ family tree. There’s a lot of brokenness and a lot of pain.
He knows exactly what you are going through this year at Christmastime.
I hope you won’t skip Matthew 1 in your Bible reading. This unlikely list of unlikely people may be the greatest chapter on the grace of God in all the Bible. In these forgotten names from the past God turns the spotlight of his holy grace on fallen men and women, and through their lives, we see what the grace of God can do.

Good news! Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Good news! Call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. He didn’t come to make you religious, he came to save you from your sins. He didn’t come to make you pious, he came to save you from your sins. He didn’t come for moral reformation, he came to give you eternal salvation.
As strange as it may seem, the worse you are, the better candidate you are for the grace of God. He came to do for you what you could never do for yourself. He came to save you from your sins.
The same grace that Rahab experienced is now available to you. I invite you in Jesus’ name to come and be forgiven. He’s already made the first move. The next step is up to you.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in #BIBLE, #CHRISTIAN, #GOD, #GRACE, #JESUS, #LOVE

 

THE SHAKING OF THE NATIONS ~ HAGGAI 2:20-23 ~

All of us need some special encouragement from time to time. It may be that you need encouragement to stay in school, or to stay on the job, or just to get out of bed in the morning. Maybe you’re facing the surgeon’s knife and you fear what the future may hold. Perhaps you are struggling right now in some area of your life and feel like giving up. I’m sure many of you find it hard just to get up, get dressed, and go to work five or six days a week. I know that some of you have come to a crossroads in life and don’t know which road to take.
This week our high school seniors will graduate. But now you face the great question: What will I do with the rest of my life? You’re excited but also a little nervous as you think about the future. Deep inside you truly want to do God’s will—if only you could figure it out.
Some of us lack confidence that we can do all God has called us to do. We feel a bit like my friend who told me that “confidence is your last thought before reality hits.” For some of us, reality has hit pretty hard and our confidence is about shot.
Well, for all of us I’d like to give you some words of encouragement this morning from the last few verses of Haggai 2. Encouragement comes in many forms: a pat on the back, a smile along the way, a friendly phone call, a cheerful word from a friend, or a listening ear. This morning we’re going to see how God encouraged his people with an inspiring vision of the future.

book graphic fade

RELATED BOOK
The Leadership Lessons of Jesus
Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard unearth
important leadership lessons from the life
of Christ, based on the book of Mark.
Applicable to anyone who wants
to become a better leader.

We can sum up the message of this text in four simple lessons.

I. The Value of Faithfulness

“Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah …” (20). I find it fascinating that God’s final message is not to the people in general but to their leader—Zerubbabel. That’s instructive on several levels. Dr. Lee Roberson often reminded his listeners that “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” You could read a thousand books on management and not find a statement more important than that. In some ways, it is the story of every human endeavor. Every success and every failure can usually be traced back to one ultimate source—leadership. It matters not whether you are talking about the corner grocery store or a multinational corporation. Leadership makes the difference. It applies just as much to a seven year old boys’ soccer team as it does to the U.S. ice hockey team. Leadership makes the difference.
Leadership is the reason some schools excel while others flounder for years. Leadership is the reason some companies boom while others go bust. Leadership is the reason some men are elected to office year after year, while men equally qualified can’t make it the first time. Leadership is the reason a man like Sam Walton can take a local chain of dime stores and turn it into Wal Mart and in the process become the richest man in America. That’s no fluke. That’s leadership.

Leaders Get Discouraged Too!

But sometimes leaders get discouraged. Evidently that’s what happened to Zerubbabel. And who could blame him? After all he was the one who had led the people back from Babylon only to find the situation worse than he had imagined. All the familiar landmarks in Jerusalem had disappeared. The city walls had been torn down and foreign soldiers marched through the streets. The magnificent temple of Solomon had been utterly destroyed. Quite simply, there was nothing left. Nothing at all. The people were rebuilding a nation from scratch.
Eventually they began rebuilding the temple. Then they stopped for 16 years. Then they started again but quickly became discouraged.
No one knows the burdens a leader bears. It’s been truly said that the higher you go in any field of endeavor, the lonelier your job becomes. Even though you may be surrounded by throngs of people, you feel alone because no one knows the pressure that weighs you down, that stoops your shoulders, and turns your hair prematurely gray.
You feel alone, and like Elijah of old, you begin to cry out, “I and I alone am left.” Then one day the Lord taps you on the shoulder and says, “You’re not alone. I’ve been watching you through all your trials. I’ve been by your side the whole time. Fear not, for I am with you.”

The Best Way to Be Successful

Do you know the hardest part of rebuilding a temple? It’s putting that next stone in place. Sometimes it’s just so difficult to keep on going when you’re hip deep in alligators with no way to drain the swamp. That’s precisely how Zerubbabel felt. There were “fightings within and fears without.” He looked at his discouraged, fickled workers, he listened to the howling opponents, he surveyed the massive job still before him, and he felt like giving up.
It’s at that point that God says, “Tell Zerubbabel I’ve got a message for him.” And that message is simple. Just keep on doing your job because I’m watching you every day.
In the current issue of Reader’s Digest, there’s a timely quote from James Baldwin, “Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck—but, most of all, endurance.” That’s what it takes to do anything great in this world. You’ve got to have endurance to just get up in the morning, face the world head on, and do the job assigned to you with all the vim and vigor you can muster.
This week I had an occasion to remind a group of fellow pastors that we shouldn’t be discouraged when we look at the world because “God doesn’t call us to be successful, but he does call us to be faithful.” And if we’re faithful long enough, we have an excellent chance of being successful in the end. That’s a good word for moms and dads, for graduating seniors, for people who feel a bit lost in the shuffle, for workers who wonder if they should bother showing up tomorrow morning.
Just be faithful, and when all is said and done you’ll have an excellent chance of being successful.

II. The Power of God’s Providence

There is a second lesson in this passage and it has to do with God’s providence. Notice how God puts it in verses 21-22: “I will shake the nations” and “I will overturn royal thrones” and “I will overthrow chariots and their drivers.”

Most of us aren’t very good at foretelling the future. We wonder whether the market will go up or down, we ponder the great cosmic question: Can the Bulls beat the Jazz tonight? Or on a completely different vein, we attend a funeral and wonder when our time will come. You can be healthy today and then have a heart attack tomorrow. Or you can have peace today and war tomorrow. Nothing is certain in our ever-changing world. Solomon ponders this predicament and wrote these telling words in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.
The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come.
This week I got a call from Ed Loomis who told me that Laura Cronin had suddenly died. I first met Laura about six years ago when she started attending Calvary. She and Ed became good friends and Ed led her to Christ. Everyone who knew Laura knew that she struggled with many personal issues in her life, but you couldn’t be around her without realizing that her faith was very genuine. She moved to another village and I hadn’t heard from her for a year or so until she called me a couple of months ago to say hi. She wanted me to know that she still loved the Lord and that at last things were beginning to work out for her. She had a new job she was very excited about and wanted me to pray she would do well. So we prayed together over the phone. That’s the last time I talked with her. She died suddenly and unexpectedly a few days ago. She was only in her 40s and left behind several children in deep sorrow.
“No one knows when his hour will come.” We all expect and pray to live long, happy lives. When I think of our high school graduates I am so excited for them. What enormous potential lies in these young people. What great things they can do for God. I remember the night I graduated from high school feeling like I could do anything, go anywhere, and tackle any challenge. I feel the same way when I look at this year’s graduates. You have a bright future. But above everything else, remember that your life is in God’s hands.
Let us reflect this morning on the power of God’s providence. He holds the power of life and death. He opens a door that no man can shut. But when he closes a door, no one can open it. When he overthrows a king, that king stays overthrown. That ought not to frighten us. If we are biblical Christians, it ought to give us enormous confidence as we face the problems of life. If we are wise, we will humble ourselves before Almighty God and seek to please him in everything we do.

III. The Overthrow of Earthly Kingdoms

Our text contains a third reminder relating to the overthrow of earthly kingdoms. There is coming a day when God is going to shake the heavens and the earth. In that day everything made by the hand of man will come crashing down. Revelation 16:17-20 describes that day and connects with the Battle of Armageddon just before Jesus returns to the earth:
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘‘It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.
Think of it. Paris leveled, Tokyo in ruins, London turned into a disaster area, New York burning, Miami in flames, Phoenix in ashes, San Francisco fallen to the ground. And in Chicago, the Sears Tower is no more, Comisky Park turned to rubble, the Brookfield Zoo a zoo no more, Upper Wacker has become Lower Wacker, Lower Wacker has become underground Wacker, every building in the Loop falls to the ground, all the freeways destroyed, Moody Church collapsed, and in Oak Park, every single Frank Lloyd Wright home destroyed, OPRF a heap of rubble, the Unity Temple gone, the Pancake House gone, the Tasty Dog turned into dust, and at 931 Lake Street, where a church used to meet until the whole congregation mysteriously disappeared seven years earlier, the ground is covered with tiny shards of colored glass, all that remains of the lovely stained-glass windows.
Everything that man builds collapses before his eyes. So it is with everything that is of this world. Several years ago a friend sent me an email containing these lines from a poem called “Gray’s Elegy” written in a country churchyard in England:
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave
Awaits alike the inevitable hour

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
The Apostle John told us in his first epistle that “the world and its desires pass away” (1 John 2:17). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Indeed, the best and brightest of us will someday die. All that we do will eventually be forgotten. This is a sobering reminder, and one we dare not forget.

IV. The Certainty of Eternal Reward

Our text—and the short book of Haggai—close with some very comforting words. Listen to God’s final message: ‘On that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”

Most of us aren’t familiar with the concept of a signet ring. Perhaps the closest contemporary analogy would be an identification badge that allows you access to highly classified information. When an ancient king wanted to affix his seal to a document, he would take his signet ring, impress it into soft wax, which would then harden into an unbreakable seal. Thus a signet ring was much more than a decorative ring. It signified honor, authority, ownership, preservation, tender regard, special relationship, and a personal guarantee of safety.
Now there’s an additional fact about this you may not realize. Zerubbabel had a grandfather named Jeconiah (also called Jehoiachin) who many years earlier had been one of the last kings of Judah before the exile. He was wicked king who did not serve the Lord. In Jeremiah 22 God pronounced a curse upon Jeconiah, in which he said, “You were like a signet ring in my hand, but because of your sin I am taking you off my finger.” Then he sentenced Jeconiah to deportation in Babylon, never to return to Israel. Finally, he uttered these words : “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days; for none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David and ruling anymore in Judah” (Jeremiah 22:30). Jeconiah is being told that not only will he be punished, but all his descendants will be punished as well and none of them will ever sit on the throne of David.
But now God says to his grandson Zerubbabel, “I will make you like a signet ring.” Here we see the grace of God at work. Because of Zerubbabel’s faithfulness, the curse on his family has been lifted. The signet ring is back on God’s finger.
Zerubbabel himself never sat on the throne of David. But one of his descendants did. Matthew 1:12 mentions the name of Zerubbabel in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Zerubbabel never made to the throne but his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson did. We know it because the angel Gabriel said of Jesus, “And the Lord God will give him the throne of his Father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33). Five hundred later a baby was born in Bethlehem who was the lineal descendant of Zerubbabel, God’s signet ring.
Thus the book ends with a stirring word of encouragement to a discouraged leader. It was God’s way of saying, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. You have no idea of how great my plans are for you.”

That’s a good word for all of us consider as we face the challenges of today.

Let me close with two words of application:

1. Those who look to this world for lasting approval must eventually be disappointed because the best things of this world must one day disappear. I received a very personal illustration of this recently. Most of you know that I have published several books. My first one came out in the summer of 1995. It was a book on knowing God’s will called The Road Best Traveled. That was only two years ago, which doesn’t seem very long but in the publishing business that’s an eternity. Some friends told me recently that they had seen the book for sale. Where did you see it? “At a garage sale. It was marked ‘25 cents.’” Oh how quickly fame comes and goes. “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

2. Those who look to the God who created the world will find the safety and security that will last forever.
We come, as we so often do, to the reminder that “only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Meanwhile, the days hasten on for the return of Christ. All the signs are happening just as the Bible said. Even now the Antichrist may be alive somewhere on planet earth. All across the globe the nations are beginning to shake. The first days of dawn are streaking the eastern skies. Somewhere in heaven Gabriel is warming up his trumpet. And in Israel scientists report the birth of the first red heifer in 2000 years.
What fantastic days these area. Remember what Jesus said. “When all these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Let us not be afraid, not even a little bit. Fear not, child of God, for the plan of the ages is in the hand of Almighty God. Build your life on those things that will last forever and you will never be disappointed.
One final word and I am done. Jesus is coming again. Do you know him? No question is more important for time or for eternity. Recently I saw a bumper stick with a fascinating play on words:
Know Jesus? Know life.
No Jesus? No life.
How true. If you know Jesus, you also know life for he came to provide “life more abundantly” (John 10:10). But if you don’t know Jesus, you don’t even know what life itself is all about. Run to the cross, embrace the dying form of the Son of God. Rest all your hopes on Jesus. Believe that he died and rose from the dead and you will be saved. Look to Jesus and no matter what happens around you, your future will be secure.

 

WHY GOD PREFERS LOSERS ! ~ 2nd CORINTHIANS 4:7 ~

God prefers losers.
That statement sounds positively un-American. As General George Patton famously remarked, ”Americans love a winner. America will not tolerate a loser.” Then we have this from Coach Vince Lombardi: “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” We all want to be on the winning team, don’t we? That’s why millions of people filled out brackets during March Madness, and it’s also why over 100,000 people gathered at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky last Saturday for the Kentucky Derby. And it’s why millions more watched the live telecast. That multitude included my wife and me. I learned about the back stories on a number of different horses and their owners. So you find yourself inevitably pulling for this horse or for that jockey or for that set of owners. I say that as someone who generally has no interest whatsoever in horse racing. But the truth is, if I’m watching a sporting event where I don’t already have a favorite team, I’ll pick one of the teams to root for. I just do that automatically. I suppose most people are like that. We like competition, and we like to be on the winning side.
But the preeminent example is football. At least down South it’s always football. Here in Mississippi we have a heated rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. A few miles east you have Alabama and Auburn. Further south you have Florida and Florida State. Up north you have Ohio State and Michigan. In South Bend you have Notre Dame versus everyone else.

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A year ago I attended the Ohio State-Michigan game in Columbus, Ohio. I was one of over 100,000 fans who gathered in the stands to watch one of the most storied rivalries in college football. A few days after the game a friend sent me a copy of The Winners Manualby Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Besides being a fine coach (his teams at Youngstown State and Ohio State have won five national championships), he is also a man of character and a strong Christian. In his chapter on “Handling Adversity and Success,” Tressel includes this provocative quote from Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft:

“Success is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they can’t lose.”

Then he adds his own commentary:

“I love that quote because it puts so many things in perspective. When ’smart people’ think they can’t lose, there’s an upset brewing. That’s when David beats Goliath and the underdog triumphs” (p. 156).

That’s the problem with winners. Once you think you can’t lose, you feel invincible. At that point, you’re about to become a loser. You just don’t know it yet. You can win too much, too soon, too easily. Before long you prove the old adage that it’s just a short step from victory to defeat. For all the problems that losing brings, at least it cures the illusion of invincibility.
When I say God prefers losers, I mean he prefers people who know their weakness, see their flaws, admit their mistakes, and cry out to him for help. God specializes in taking losers and displaying his power through them. During a radio interview I was asked why so many of the heroes of the Bible had serious flaws. My answer was simple. That’s all God has to work with.All the perfect people are in heaven. The only ones on earth are the folks with serious weaknesses. The talent pool has always been pretty thin when it comes to moral perfection. So God works with sinners because that’s all he has to work with. In heaven we will all be perfected by God’s grace. But until then, he uses some pretty ornery people who fall short in many ways, and he does some amazing things through them.

You can win too much, too soon, too easily.  

Consider the roll call of God’s imperfect heroes:
Noah got drunk.
Abraham lied about his wife.
Sarah laughed at God.
Jacob was a deceiver.
Moses murdered an Egyptian.
Rahab was a harlot.
Gideon was fearful.
Jephthah made a foolish vow.
Samson had serious problems with lust and anger.
Eli failed as a father.
David was an adulterer and a murderer.
Solomon married foreign wives who turned his heart toward idolatry.
Elijah struggled with depression.
Jonah ran away from God.
Peter denied Christ.
Paul argued with Barnabas.
Barnabas compromised the gospel.
James and John wanted special seats in the kingdom.
All the apostles argued about who was the greatest.

God prefers people who know their weakness, see their flaws, admit their mistakes, and cry out to him for help. 

If God chose only well-rounded people with no character flaws, some of the credit would inevitably go to the people and not to the Lord. By choosing flawed people with a bad past, a shaky present, and an uncertain future, God alone gets the glory when they accomplish amazing things by his power.
And that’s what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7. It’s one of the most important verses for understanding who we are and how God works through us. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” In this verse we find three statements we need to ponder.

I. The Gospel is a treasure. 

When Paul says, “We have this treasure,” what does he mean? We can see the answer in verses 3-6:
            “If our gospel is veiled” (v. 3).
            “The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (v. 4).
            God “made his light shine in our hearts” (v. 6).
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the treasure we possess. Yesterday I came across the website for John Barnett, a pastor from Kalamazoo, Michigan. While looking at various things he has written, I came across a wonderful statement called The Confessing Church. Pastor Barnett puts it this way:

 “Through seven divine works of God, guilty sinners are made ready for dwelling in the Presence of God forever; and their bodies, formerly slaves to sin, instantly become the very dwelling place and temple of God. How does God do all that? He does it through the seven elements that make up the Gift of Salvation.”

He then offered this list (with supporting material) of those seven elements:

1. I am FORGIVEN: God has removed my Debts.2. I am JUSTIFIED: God has changed my State.3. I am REGENERATED: God has transformed my Heart.4. I am RECONCILED: God has become my Friend.5. I am ADOPTED: God has changed my Family.6. I am REDEEMED: God has changed my Ownership.7. I am SANCTIFIED: God has changed my Behavior.

If a man has all this, he is rich. It doesn’t matter how much money he has in the bank because if he has all this, he is rich in what matters most. Compared to this, Donald Trump is a pauper.
How do we come to possess the treasure that is the gospel? Verse 4 says that unbelievers are blinded by Satan who keeps them from seeing the glory of the gospel of Christ. But then verse 6 puts the credit where it belongs when it says that God “made his light shine in our hearts.” In other words, God did it! If we are saved, it is not because of anything we said or anything we did. Our condition was so hopeless that apart from God’s grace, we had no hope at all. We would never have discovered the truth about Jesus on our own. As the song says, “Once I was blind but now I see.”

If we are saved, it is not because of anything we said or anything we did. 

II. God hides his treasure in jars of clay.

Have you ever watched “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS? That’s the show where people bring their knick-knacks, their family heirlooms, and things they found at a flea market to an appraiser, hoping to discover that that funny-looking ceramic clown turns out to have been made by some obscure Polish genius who lived for a while outside of Warsaw but later moved to Buffalo in the early1820s where he made only a few dozen of these very rare ceramic clowns. And you have one. “How much did you pay for it?” “Eighteen dollars.” “Well, Mrs. Jones, I have good news for you. At auction I would expect this ceramic clown to go for at least $45,000.” Camera cuts to Mrs. Jones who looks like she’s about to faint. And all the viewers start scouring their attic to see if they might have one of those ceramic clowns stashed in a box somewhere.
Sometimes a vase turns out to be a “vahse.” And $18 becomes $45,000. Sometimes the greatest treasures come in ordinary pots. In 1947 a Bedouin shepherd found a ceramic jar containing very ancient scrolls in a cave overlooking the Dead Sea. Since he could not decipher the scrolls, he had no idea what they said. Later more scrolls were discovered in the same cave and in other caves nearby. The shepherd eventually sold three of the scrolls for approximately $29. Only later was it determined that he had stumbled upon the greatest collection of biblical manuscripts found in the 20th-century, the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those scrolls contained parts of every Old Testament book except Esther-all of them dated a thousand years earlier than any copy known at that time.
You never know what you might find in a clay pot.

Sometimes the greatest treasures come in ordinary pots.  

The word used for “jars of clay” in verse 7 refers to ordinary earthenware. These clay pots were used by common people to store grain, hide valuables, and to keep oil for lighting their lamps. Paul is saying, “We’re not like a vase from the Ming dynasty. We’re cheap brown pots you can buy at Wal-Mart.” Here are two things we know about those clay plots:
                        They were fragile.
                        They were easily broken.
That’s us, folks. And it’s true of all of us all the time. When I gave this talk at David Langerfeld’s Sunday School class in Tupelo, a woman on the front row listened intently to everything I said. Afterwards she remarked on how true it seemed to her. “My father died in February. It’s been a hard year. I know all about being fragile and easily broken.”
We all have our limits whether we like to admit it or not. We can go and go and go but sooner or later, life catches up with us, and we are broken like everyone else.
We like to think we can handle anything. We can’t.
We like to think we can go forever. We can’t.
We like to think we can stand up to anything. We can’t.
Here’s a good lesson in biblical self-esteem:
Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust.
We’re nothing but a bunch of ordinary clay pots. God formed the first man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7), and we’re all made from the same clay. What happens to our bodies when we die? They begin to decompose, returning back to the earth from which they came. So this is our true identity-we’re all just little clumps of dust, some of us dressed up a little better, some of us look a little stronger, some of us last a little longer, but in the end we all go back to the dust.
And this is where God “hides” his gospel-in fragile jars of clay. Perishing people who are here today and gone tomorrow.

In one of his sermons John MacArthur writes about what it means that God chooses to work through “jars of clay.” He points out that when God wanted to communicate his message, he didn’t go to the elite of Egypt, Greece, Rome, or even to the elite of Israel. “Where did He go? He went to the shore of Galilee and found a bunch of fishermen.” Then he adds these words:

I think God absolutely delights in that. He chose clay pots through whom to preach his great salvation message. He passed by Herodotus the historian, he passed by Socrates the philosopher, he passed by Hippocrates the father of medicine, Plato the philosopher. He passed by Euclid the mathematician, Archimedes the father of mechanics. He passed Hipparchus the astronomer, Cicero the orator and Virgil the poet. And he chose what some would tell us is a little hunchback Jew with a deformed face without great oratorical abilities. And he put in that little clay pot the priceless treasure and he’s still doing it.

The last phrase is the key. “He’s still doing it.” God intends to bless the world by “hiding” the gospel in “clay pots” that don’t seem very impressive by worldly standards. We wouldn’t do it that way. But God had a special purpose in mind.

III. He does it to demonstrate the true source of spiritual power.

Translators use different phrases to highlight the power Paul has in mind. They speak of the “surpassing greatness” of this power or “this extraordinary power” or “this transcendent power” or even “this splendid power.” The Greek word for power is dunamis, from which we get the English word dynamite. That’s a fitting word because in our world power is often very negative. In the hands of sinners power can be very dangerous. Power divides people, it separates families, it creates a gap between the rich and the poor, and it destroys the ties that bind us together. Before I went to bed on Saturday night, I turned on the TV and saw a live news report about an attempted car bombing in Times Square in New York City. Someone filled an SUV with gasoline, fireworks (meant as a detonator), black powder, electrical wire, two clocks (as timers), and a white substance thought to be fertilizer. When street vendors saw smoke coming from the SUV, they alerted authorities who were able to defuse the bomb before it exploded. It was a sobering reminder of the dangerous nature of power in our world. Police said they think the perpetrators wanted to create a fireball that would kill and wound many people on a Saturday night when thousands of people crowded into Times Square.
That’s one kind of power.

God’s power is different.

God’s power is different. It unites people, tears down walls, restores marriages, rebuilds families, lifts up the downtrodden, heals broken hearts, forgives the deepest sins, imparts hope in the darkest hour, and gives light in the valley of death.
God arranges things so that the whole world will know that this sort of life-changing power comes from God and not from us. He has lots of different ways of reminding us about that. Consider the story of Gideon in Judges 7. When the Midianites attacked Israel with 135,000 soldiers, Gideon led an army of 32,000 men in the counterattack. That’s a 4 to 1 advantage for the bad guys. Evidently God didn’t like those odds because he told Gideon to tell all those men who were afraid to fight to go home (v. 3). Twenty-two thousand men departed, leaving him with only 10,000. That would make it 13 to 1. Evidently that was still too low so God instructed Gideon to dismiss all the soldiers who didn’t lap water like a dog (vv. 5-6). Only 300 men were left, making it about 450 to 1. That suited God just fine so he told Gideon to attack whereupon Gideon divided his men into three groups of 100 for a nighttime assault. He instructed his men to wait until the changing of the guard (around midnight), and then blow the trumpets (the ram’s horn, called a shofar), hold up torches, and shout “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon” (v. 20). That “ambush” so greatly shocked the Midianites that they fled in fear and confusion, attacking each other in the process, leading to a total rout by Gideon’s band of 300 men. Guess who got the credit when the battle was over?
God did. And that’s what he had in mind all along. Before the battle began the Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength” (Judges 7:2 NLT). Sometimes God has to “cut us down to size” so that when the battle is over, he alone gets the glory.

“God is looking for nobodies who will become somebodies in his hands.” 

When God wants to win a victory, he chooses a loser and makes him a winner. Or as Jack Wyrtzen used to say, “God is looking for nobodies who will become somebodies in his hands.” God put this treasure in earthen vessels – on purpose! He does it so that when great things happen, the people around us will come to only one possible conclusion:

“All I know is, it can’t be him. It can’t be her. He’s not that smart. She’s not that strong. It’s got to be God.”

God wants the world to see what he can do through people whose trust is in him alone. And that’s why he puts the treasure of the gospel in fragile “jars of clay.” He delights in people like us! The weaker we are, the more he can do through us.
That brings me back to the quote from Bill Gates: “Success is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they can’t lose.” That’s why God prefers losers. The less we are, the more he becomes to us. Winners think they don’t need God very much. If we think we’re moderately strong, all we need is a “moderately strong God” to help us out. But when we see how little we bring to the table, then we cry out, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Those simple words, prayed in hours of deep darkness, receive an answer from heaven because they touch the heart of God.

If we think we’re moderately strong, all we need is a “moderately strong God” to help us out. 

As I prepared this message, I ran across a hymn based on this verse, translated from the original German in 1907.  It forms a powerful summary of the message of 2 Corinthians 4:7.
Earthen vessels, marred, unsightly,
Bearing Wealth no thought can know;
Heav’nly Treasure, gleaning brightly –
Christ revealed in saints below!
Vessels broken, frail, yet bearing
Through the hungry ages on,
Riches giv’n with hand unsparing,
God’s great Gift, His precious Son!
Vessels of the world’s despising,
Vessels weak, and poor, and base;
Bearing wealth God’s heart is prizing,
Glory from Christ’s blessed face.
Naught of earth to cloud the Glory!
Naught of self the light to dim!
Telling forth Christ’s wondrous story,
Emptied to be filled with Him!
That’s all we are, folks. Clay pots, fragile and easily broken. But God delights to place the gospel treasure in people like us. A while back I was reading about the great ministry of Dr. Billy Graham. What is the secret of such a fruitful life? Scholars agree that his sermons are not particularly unique. You cannot explain his success merely by the force of his intellect or his many natural gifts. Why did God raise up a young man from North Carolina and catapult him to worldwide fame? Years ago one writer gave this answer: “God uses Billy Graham because he knows he can trust him with his glory. Billy won’t try to claim it for himself.” That explanation stands in good harmony with our text. And it ought to lead each of us to ask, “Can God trust me with his glory?”
Professor James Denny of Scotland remarked that “there always have been men in the world so clever that God could make no use of them.” Are we too clever for our own good? Are we so self-sufficient that we have no need of God, and he makes no use of us? Questions worth pondering.
But let’s end with this encouraging thought. God uses broken, fallible, and very weak people because that’s all he’s got to work with. Do you sometimes feel like a “cracked pot?” Do you sense your own weakness and cry out to Jesus for help? If so, take heart and be glad. God’s army isn’t perfect. Someone has called the church “the march of the unqualified.” So get in line and join with the rest of God’s clay pots and see what he can do through you.

 

THE TOWER THAT FELL : WHY GOD STOPPED THE BUILDING PROGRAM ~ GENESIS 11:1-9 ~

From the First Things: The Amazing True Story of How the World Came to Be (Genesis 1-11) series

 “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).

Think of it! A tower that reaches to the heavens. And we thought that we had big ambitions. This one takes the cake, wins the prize, earns the blue ribbon. One hundred years ago a man named Daniel Burnham laid out the plan for the modern city of Chicago. The beauty of the lakefront with its green space, bike trails, and beaches reflects his vision. He summed up his philosophy in two famous sentences: “Make no small plans. They have no power to stir men’s blood.”

“Make no small plans.” Good advice if you’re building a world-class city like Chicago. Think big, plan big, dream big. Today Chicago is the largest city between the coasts and is becoming what one writer called a “global city” with a vibrant inner core teeming with millions of eager people who actually enjoy living in the city.

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“Make no small plans.” That’s why the Sears Tower dominates the landscape from every angle. And that’s why we have two professional baseball teams to go along with professional football and basketball and hockey. And two world-class private universities plus medical schools and law schools. In an earlier sermon I mentioned that big cities are exciting. This is where the jazz is, the music, the lights, the crowds, the fun. If you’re looking for action, you’d better leave the cornfields and head for the city. Anything you want, you can find in Chicago, somewhere, from someone, if you look long enough, and if you have enough money. Daniel Burnham would be pleased a century later at what Chicago has become. He made no small plans, and those who came after him followed his advice. For better or for worse, this is a city of bigness: big shoulders, big dreams, big business, big problems and big ideas.

“Make no small plans.” Daniel Burnham would have loved the Tower of Babel. That was right down his alley. “Let’s build a tower that reaches into the heavens.” “Great idea. Let’s use bricks instead of stones. That way it will last forever.” “I’ll call the bank and set up the financing. We’ll borrow most of the money at prime plus one and the city council will float a bond issue for the rest. We’ll rent out the lower floor for retail, put families in the middle, and reserve the top floors for multi-national corporations that need a prime location.” “I love it. This tower will stand forever. We’ll be the envy of every city in Mesopotamia. They don’t have anything like this in Nineveh.” “It’s a great idea. People will come from everywhere to see the tower. We can make money leading tours to the top.”
“Make no small plans.” No one ever tried to do anything like this before or since. This was the greatest building program of the ancient world. But the tower they started was stopped by God, and it eventually fell to the ground. Let me repeat that another way. They started the tower, God stopped it, and along the way, he confused their language and scattered the people across the face of the earth.

I. Crucial Background Facts

In order to understand this story, there are a few background facts we need to know. First, the story of the Tower of Babel occurred just a few generations after Noah’s flood. It may have happened 100-150 years later. By this time the population of the world had expanded considerably from just eight people to a much larger number. One writer suggests that there were more than 30,000 people living on earth at the time. Second, in those days everyone spoke the same language. That fact (mentioned in verse 1) is crucial to understanding this passage of Scripture. The human race was united then in a way that has never been repeated since then. A careful student of Scripture may wonder how the whole world could speak one language in Genesis 11 when Genesis 10 specifies that the whole earth was divided into competing tribes and nations, each with its own language or dialect. The answer is that Moses has flip-flopped the narrative in order to highlight the essential problem of the human race. Chronologically, the Tower of Babel story comes before the scattering of the nations in Genesis 10. But Moses reversed the order to emphasize the high cost of rebelling against God. We are supposed to come to the end of Genesis 10 and ask, “How did the world become so hopelessly divided?” Genesis 11 answers that question.
Third, most people lived in the Middle East, in an area called Shinar, which is another name for Babylonia, which is in the region of modern-day Iraq. As the post-flood generations migrated east from Ararat, they settled in the region we now call the “fertile crescent,” a well-watered plain near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Fourth, the tower they built was religious in nature. This fact might not be evident from a quick reading of the text. When this passage is taught in Sunday School, teachers sometimes imply that the people were trying to build a tower all the way to heaven. That’s probably not accurate. It seems more likely that they were building a tower that would bring heaven down to earth. Some writers suggest that the tower was tied to the early development of astrology. They suggest that at the top of the tower was an altar surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, making it an enormous symbol of man’s attempt to control the universe apart from God. This suggestion seems likely since we know that astrology originated in ancient Babylon.
At first glance, the religious nature of the tower they built may seem to make it quite different from modern skyscrapers, but perhaps there really isn’t much difference after all. After the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Twin Towers were described as temples of modern commerce and shrines to the ingenuity and prowess of American technology. But this is not unusual. When we visited Mount Rushmore recently, I noted that it is called “The Shrine of American Democracy.” It should not surprise us that when men build anything great, they invest it with symbolic religious significance. Buildings, statues and monuments all say something about the values of those who build them, and those who support them. The Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument say something powerful and positive about the values we hold dear in America. And when you come to Oak Park and hear so much about Frank Lloyd Wright (his studio is located here) and Ernest Hemingway (he was born here and there is a Hemingway Museum that draws thousands of visitors each year), those names tell you something about our values as well.
So it was a tower but it was more than a tower. It was a massive, united effort to bring humanity together wholly apart from God. Is it any wonder that the Lord would not let the tower stand?

II. Two Implications

In his sermon on this text J. I. Packer calls this passage a “mirror of the modern world.” It reveals to us what we might call the power game. The builders of the Tower of Babel had two purposes in mind, both mentioned in verse 4: 1) that we may make a name for ourselves, and 2) that we may not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. The tower was meant to make a statement: “Don’t mess with us. We’re the greatest city on earth. No one is like us. No one can touch us.” How modern that sounds. We live in a world that exalts the superlative. Big, bigger, biggest. Good, better, best. Fast, faster, fastest. Smart, smarter, smartest. Tall, taller, tallest. Rich, richer, richest. We all want to be the “est” if we can. Why be the “er” if you can be the “est”? That’s why we compete, that’s why we keep score. We Americans love a good fight and we love competition and we love to win. Last month the World Basketball Championships were held in Indianapolis. I had absolutely no interest in it whatsoever, but one night I tuned in to watch our US team (made up of second-string NBA players) get beat by a team from Argentina. I found myself cheering for our guys (Get that? Our guys, even though I didn’t know a single name on the team) to beat those other guys from Argentina. Yesterday I went to the Internet to check on the progress of the Ryder Cup matches between the US and Europe. Not that I really care, but, hey, this is for the Red, White and Blue. As Al Davis said, “Just win, Baby.” It’s fun to play, good to compete, and it’s very satisfying to win. Losing stinks. As someone said, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” That’s a truly American point of view, but it wouldn’t have been out of place in ancient Babylon.
Architecture is theology. Show me what you build or show me where you live (or where you wish you lived) and I’ll know something about your values. Maybe not everything, but I’ll know something important. The Tower of Babel was an ancient power game for people who felt the inner need to be Number One. They wanted a name, they wanted security and they thought the tower would give them both things.
There are two implications I would pass along for you to think about: First, the compulsive drive for power and prestige stems from our deep-seated fear of dependence on someone else. We want to be the “est” in our field—biggest, strongest, smartest, loudest, richest, fastest—because if we are the “est” then others will have to depend on us, but we won’t have to depend on anyone or anything. As the poet said in words that could have been carved on the Tower of Babel, “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul.” At this point we need to ponder carefully the implications of this story. Is there anything wrong with building a tower? No. Is there anything wrong with working together to build a tower? No. Is there anything wrong with building the tallest tower on earth? No. Is it wrong to advertise that your tower is the tallest tower on earth? No, but at this point we’re drifting into a danger zone, one that is so subtle that we hardly see it until it captures us completely. Human pride is a tricky thing. Pride is what made Lucifer rebel against God in the first place. Pride was the original sin of the universe. Ambition is not wrong, competition is not wrong, winning isn’t wrong, celebrating your victories is not wrong, being the best is not wrong but it is never entirely innocent either. Sin always lurks in the neighborhood somewhere. And usually not too far away. That’s why Jesus declared that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven (Matthew 19:24). When you’ve got money or power or prestige or fame or friends in high places, you think you don’t need God. But when you’re flat broke and your power is gone and friends won’t return your phone calls, you’re on your knees crying out for mercy.
Jesus showed us the antidote to the hubris that built this ancient tower when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) Blessed are the losers for they shall win in the end. Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek. The meek! You must be kidding. Who wants to be meek? Meekness is weakness and the weak get crushed. Or do they? “They shall inherit the earth.”
That leads me to the second implication, which is that the compulsive drive for power and security leads to the moral degeneration of the soul. Our desperate search for significance leads us to compromise our values time and again in the name of independence, freedom, and the need to control our own destiny. We want to be like Frank Sinatra and say, “I did it my way,” which perfectly expresses the spirit of Babel. And so we cut corners, use illegal drugs, wink at insider trading, break the rules, lie to our parents, lie to our spouses, lie to our friends, and we end up lying to ourselves. We use people and then discard them when they don’t fit into our plans anymore.
And what seems to be noble turns out to be sinister in the end. There is nothing wrong with a tower and nothing wrong with a good reputation and nothing wrong with working as a team to accomplish a great goal. But when those things are fueled by arrogance, the end result is grotesque and outright evil. The tower becomes a symbol of man’s independence from God. It is humanism in its full flower.
There is a kind of uneasy paranoia about being on the top of the heap. It’s striking that the people of Babel feared being scattered even though there was no reason to fear anything. They were the only people on earth! Still they feared what might happen to them. If you’re a basketball superstar, you have to come back one more time even though you’re only a shell of what you used to be. It’s hard to be Number One; there’s a lot of pressure. Win the championship and after the cheering dies away and the lights are turned off, your prize is likely to be two ulcers, high blood pressure, and a heart attack around the next corner. That’s life in the big city, buster. Get used to it or get out.
Life is hard without God. You end up doing desperate things, like building towers that reach into the heavens. Arrogance makes men think they are invincible. But no one is invincible. Yesterday I read those haunting words from Isaiah 40:6-7, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass.” This is a good time of year to ponder those words because the leaves are starting to fall to the ground. That’s all we are—grass that fades and leaves that fall to the ground. Here today, gone tomorrow. We don’t like to hear that we are weak and mortal, but we are. All of us were born to die, some of us just get there sooner, that’s all, but we all get there eventually. Men think, “No one can stop me now. No one can touch me.” But as they say out West, “Ain’t no horse that cain’t be rode, ain’t no cowboy that cain’t be throwed.” That’s bad grammar but good theology. As Teddy Roosevelt remarked, there’s a bear trap waiting for every bear.
We desperately need to take these words to heart because we live in a world that encourages us to think we can do it all. Believe it and achieve it. Dream it and do it. No limits on human potential. But remember this. The next time you feel the need to brag about what you’ve done, pay attention to that faint cracking sound. It’s the thin ice beneath your feet that is about to give way.
And that’s why God stopped the building program. If he let them continue with the tower, they would think they could do anything. So God confounded their language. The pipe fitters couldn’t understand the electricians, who couldn’t understand the truck drivers, who didn’t have a clue what the bricklayers were talking about. And that drove the carpenters nuts. Everyone started talking gibberish, no one understood a thing the others were saying, and soon the massive building program ground to a halt. Then the Lord scattered them across the face of the earth. And do you know what they called the name of that city, the one with the unfinished tower, the one that eventually fell to the ground? They called it “Babel,” which means “confusion.” They called it “Confusion City.” Everyone was babbling at the same time, and it drove everyone nuts so they moved away to get some peace and quiet. And that’s how we got so many different languages.
Here is the ultimate irony: They built the Tower so they wouldn’t be scattered but they ended up scattered anyway. Thus does God judge all human efforts that leave him out. He brings down the high and mighty with a great big thud. Write over this story these words, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

III. Three Questions

As we come to the end of this story, there are three questions (suggested by J. I. Packer) that seem to jump out from the text to confront us personally.
First, to what extent do I embody the attitude of Babel? Remember, the problem of the tower was not the tower itself but the attitude that built it in the first place. Anything good can become like the Tower of Babel when we are motivated by pride or arrogance or paranoia or a need to establish our own independence from God and from others. There is a mighty thin line between healthy ambition and sinful pride and any of us can cross it without even knowing it. It’s the compulsive need to be in control of every aspect of life, including those around us. It’s the spirit of Babel that causes us to say, “He’s God in heaven but I’m the God of my own little world.”

Second, in what areas have I experienced the judgment of Babel? In Genesis 11 God judged the people by throwing them into confusion and ruining their massive building program. God does the same thing to us today. We suffer confusion and fear and incredible loneliness in our drive to be the “est” at whatever we do. I heard of a fortune-cookie motto that read: “Confucius say, ‘Top of ladder nice place, but very lonesome.’” How true. Some of us have suffered incredibly because we’re still trying to live according to our own rules. So we push God out to the edges of life and then do our own thing. But you can’t push God to the side and succeed for very long. Your tower will come crashing down sooner or later, and when it does, the shaky foundation of your life will be destroyed with it.
Third, have I embraced the alternative to Babel? There is only one alternative—the Lord Jesus Christ. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
What shall it profit a man,
What shall it profit a woman,
What shall it profit a company,
What shall it profit a team,
What shall it profit a family,
What shall it profit a leader,
What shall it profit a city,
What shall it profit a nation,
What shall it profit you, if you build a mighty tower with your life and lose your own soul in the process? You can have Babel with all its power games, its moral degeneration, its paranoia, loneliness, despair, and deceptive pleasure. Or you can have Jesus Christ. Those are the choices of life.
At this point the gospel message becomes incredibly relevant to our generation because we too are massive Tower-Builders. We’re ladder-climbers, control freaks, estate-builders, and compulsive overcommitters. We’re looking for love and pleasure and power and purpose and meaning in all the wrong places. We build towers that crumble before our eyes and we wonder what went wrong. We’re too busy building our kingdoms to seek first the Kingdom of God. No wonder we’re frazzled, tired, nervous, uptight, jumpy, irritable, easily distracted, and easily seduced by money, sex and power. When the London Daily Mail asked, “What is wrong with the world?” G. K. Chesterton wrote back a simple answer; “Dear Sir: I am.” He was right. The Spirit of Babel is not just out there, it’s inside all of us all the time. After I preached this sermon, a good friend sent me an e-mail. He said that I as preached, “I felt uneasy about my ‘towers.’ That’s a good thing. They are heavy burdens.” My friend is a wise man who recognizes that it is very easy to start building “towers” in our own strength and for our own glory. And the tricky part is this. You can’t tell by looking at the tower why it was built. Only the Lord knows the thoughts of the heart. So while we may appear to have everything in order because we are happy and busy and successful, God may know that our towers need to come crumbling to the ground.
The people said, “Come, let’s build.” And Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). If you are tired of building castles in the sand only to see them washed away by the tides of life, come to Jesus. If you are weary of trying (and failing) to be the master of your circumstances, come to Jesus. If you are burdened with the pressure of trying to be all things to all people all the time and if you fail to meet your own expectations, much less anyone else’s, come to Jesus. If you are worn out from the fruitless search for power and prestige, come to Jesus. Here is a word for frustrated tower-builders everywhere. If you are tired of your life and want something better, come to Jesus. All that hungry hearts seek is found in him. By his death on the cross our sins are forgiven. By his resurrection we gain new life. Do you know him? Has your heart been changed by his mighty power? If you are tired of building towers that fall to the ground, come to Jesus. He’s the firm foundation, the cornerstone that can never be shaken. Build your life on Jesus Christ and you will never be disappointed. Amen.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in #BIBLE, #CHRISTIAN, #FAITH, #GOD, #JUDGEMENT

 

WHY GOOD PEOPLE WONT GO TO HEAVEN ~ ROMANS 10:1-4 ~

I’d like to talk to you about who goes to heaven. We all know that the Bible teaches the reality of heaven and the reality of hell. Jesus himself spoke of both places many times. All of us, I’m sure, would like to go to heaven if we could. Even if you are not a Christian, I’m sure if given a choice, you would choose heaven, whatever it is and wherever it is.

I begin with a very simple observation. Not everyone is going to heaven. Jesus said, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
 A line from a Negro spiritual says it well, “Everybody talkin’ ’bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.” Lots of people talk about heaven, and most people think they are going there, but that’s not what Jesus said. There are two roads in life–one leads to heaven, the other leads to hell. There are many on the road to hell, only they don’t know it. This means that millions of good, decent, religious people who think they are going to heaven will one day find out how wrong they were.

My second observation is that most people believe that good people go to heaven. According toone poll, 53% of Americans agreed that “Good works can earn a place in heaven.” So I ask the question very pointedly: Will good people go to heaven? I believe the answer is no. In this message I’m going to share four reasons why good people won’t go to heaven.

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I. Because You Can Never Be Good Enough.

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved” (v. 1). This is a truly shocking statement. Paul (a Jew himself) was praying for his Jewish friends to be saved. That raises a troubling question, doesn’t it? What about all the people in the world who aren’t Christians but they have their own religion and they are happy with it?

*What about the Muslims?
*What about the Hindus?
*What about the Buddhists?
*What about the followers of Confucius?
*What about the millions who follow tribal religions?
*What about people who follow the Baha’i faith?
*What about the practitioners of Native American religions?

For that matter, what about the millions of people with no religion who seem perfectly happy just as they are?

Before I say anything else, we must acknowledge the prevailing view that all religions are essentially the same. They are simply different roads leading up the same mountain. One road goes east, the other west, but the all end up at the same place. According to a 2005 Newsweek/Beliefnet poll, “eight in 10 Americans–including 68 percent of evangelicals—believe that more than one faith can be a path to salvation.” George Barna reported that 64% of Americans agreed with the following statement: “Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others all pray to the same God, even though they use different names for God.” Barna reported that 62% of those surveyed agreed that “it does not matter what religious faith you follow because all religious faiths teach the same lessons about life.”

“If It Works For You”

What can we say in the face of those statistics? For one thing, we’re living in a confused generation. Once we lost the concept of absolute truth, it was only a short step to opening the door to universalism. Barna’s findings ought not to surprise us or depress us. They simply alert us to the fact that lost people are truly lost. Lacking any solid foundation for truth, they have adopted a kind of “anything-goes” mentality. “If it works for you, it must be okay.”
Earlier this week I met a man who serves as a youth pastor in a mostly liberal mainline denomination. We discussed the difficulty of convincing today’s teenagers that there is such a thing as absolute truth. The youth pastor said many of his students have trouble with the concept that homosexuality is always wrong. He went on to say something like this: “Many people want to say it’s alright to be homosexual and also be a Christian at the same time. If you press them on tough passages like Romans 1:24-26, they will respond by talking about Jesus in a vague, fuzzy way. It’s as if having an ’experience’ of Jesus trumps anything the Bible actually says.” That’s a convenient theology because it allows you to disregard what the Bible says about sin and still claim to be a Christian. You end up with a fuzzy experience that allows you to bypass all those pesky dos and don’ts in the Bible.

Against all of that we have the majestic words of Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). When Jesus said, “I am the truth,” he was making an utterly exclusive claim about himself. A few years agoMoody Magazine carried a cover story about living in “Post-Christian” America. How do you do evangelism in a society that rejects any concept of absolute truth? One writer commented that many people have shifted from being agnostic to ignostic. An agnostic says, “I don’t know if God exists;” The ignostic says, “I don’t know what you mean.” We’re now dealing with people who don’t know who God is, or who Jesus is, or what the gospel is, or what salvation is all about. That means we have to start at the very beginning. We can’t assume that people know the basics about God. Most of them don’t. We’ve got to go back to the ABCs.

No Fuzzy Thinking!

I talked with a friend about the moral and spiritual crisis in his community. We both agreed that the spiritual darkness is deepening. But does that mean we just cut and run? No, it means that the darker the night, the brighter the light must shine. My friend made a compelling point that the world slides farther into the moral relativism where “anything goes,” we who believe the Bible must equip ourselves with basic Christian truth as never before. It won ‘t be enough to say, “I go to a good church.” No one out there cares about it. It won’t be enough to give some touchy-feely testimony about how good Jesus is. You can’t start there because too many people think Jesus is just another New Age guru–a glorified Santa Claus who helps you handle your problem. In the days to come, testimonies will only matter if they are actually based on objective truth.

If we’re going to reach this generation, we’re going to have to study apologetics, which is the art of explaining the Christian faith to those who don’t believe it. We’ve got to be able to answer questions and give a rational explanation for what we believe and why we believe it. Fuzzy-headed Christianity won’t cut it because the people of the world are already fuzzy about God. Believers are going to be put on the spot–at work, at the neighborhood block party, at the Rotary Club, at the local high school, at the country club, at the grocery store and in the car pool. You won’t be able to get by with pat answers. We’ve got to get serious about our Christian faith.

It Took Him Four Years

Not only that, we must take the time to build bridges with unbelievers. A man spent four years patiently sharing the gospel with someone he met quite accidentally. Over that time, he has invited this person to church, has explained the gospel over and over again, has answered hard questions, sometimes calling me for advice, has shared tapes and books, and has prayed repeatedly for his friend. Finally the friend called and said, “I did it.” “What did you do?” “I asked Jesus to be my Savior.” Think about that. It took four years of hard work and prayer, but it finally paid off. That’s what it’s going to take if we’re going to win our friends to Jesus. The day is long past when we could simply float a gospel blimp over our town and drop Bible tracts over the side, hoping to bomb people into the kingdom of God. That never worked very well. In an agnostic age, it doesn’t work at all.

One other implication. You can’t expect your pastor to do evangelism for you. No matter how eloquent the preaching may be, it’s not enough. Remember, the people “out there” truly don’t understand what the pastor is talking about. In the future, we’re going to have to see ourselves as a “team” in which we build bridges through relationships, while at the same time offering various “entry-point” small groups, events, classes and programs. Sunday morning sermons won’t do much good unless you’ve already been doing some bridge-building beforehand.

But all of this means getting dead serious about our Christian faith, which includes dealing with the uncomfortable truth that outside of Jesus Christ, there is no salvation. Nothing you can say goes more against the grain than this. But Paul said, “I’m praying for the Israelites to be saved.” We must say the same thing, believe the same thing, and be prepared to stand our ground when we are called narrow-minded.

Let us be crystal-clear on this point. Good people don’t go to heaven–not even good people from other religions–because no one can be good enough.

2. Because Good People Are Fundamentally Deceived About Their True Condition.

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (v. 2). When Paul says they were zealous for God, he knew what he was talking about. When we think of the law, we usually limit it to the Ten Commandments. But observant Jews went much further. By their own count, there were 613 commandments in the Old Testament–”Do this, don’t do that, don’t touch this, eat this, don’t eat that, bring this sacrifice, don’t bring that sacrifice.” To those commandments, the rabbis had added thousands of additional commands. They had rules on top of rules, all designed to keep people from sinning.
There were two problems with that system: 1. There were so many rules that the average person could never be sure of keeping them all. That’s what Jesus meant when he accused the Pharisees of putting a heavy yoke on people (Matthew 23:4). There was too much to remember. 2. There were so many rules that many people ended up trying to keep the rules but not worshiping God from the heart. So you either ended up failing or you became a hypocrite who just went through the motions.

Religion tends to do that to people. It turns people into failures or hypocrites or both. The same thing happens today when people base their acceptance with God on outward conformity to rules and regulations. You either feel guilt because no one is perfect or you feel proud of how good you are–and that pride is sin.

Good people won’t go to heaven because they are fundamentally deceived about their true condition. Isaiah 64:6 uses a very graphic picture to describe the truth: “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Have you ever seen a rag after a man has used it to clean his engine? It’s covered with dirt, grease and grime. Now imagine dragging that rag through a puddle of human excrement and then dipping it in diseased human blood. That’s the picture behind the phrase “filthy rags.” That’s what God sees when he looks down from heaven at your life. Even the good things you do are polluted with sin. We say, “Look at me, God, I’m so good.” And God says, “All I see is a pile of dirty rags.”

3. Because Good People Think They Don’t Need Jesus.

“Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to estalish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (vv. 3-4).

We now arrive at the crux of the problem. Good people don’t go to heaven because they think they don‘t need Jesus. That’s what happened to the Jews. Because they didn’t seek the righteousness that comes from God, they sought to establish their own. That’s what all those rules and regulations were about. That’s why they added so much to what God had already said in the Old Testament. They were trying to “establish” their own righteousness. To put it in simple terms, they didn’t want God’s way so they set up their own way to go to heaven. They didn’t understand God’s plan (salvation by faith) so they came up with one of their own. They made up their own rules, so to speak.

They didn’t understand that Christ is the end of the law. The word “end” means completion, fulfillment. Everything in the Old Testament points to him. All those animal sacrifices pointed to his bloody death on the cross. Even the Ten Commandments pointed to him because he’s the only one who ever kept them perfectly.

Many of the Jews thought that by keeping the law they could be good enough to go to heaven. But they had it backwards. The law was meant to show them that no one was good enough to go to heaven. They missed the whole point. The law was like a schoolmaster to lead the Jews to Christ (Galatians 3:24). How? By revealing their failure and showing them their need for a Savior. But they missed it.

What About Baptism?

A few years ago I talked with a woman who had just started attending the church in Oak Park. She enjoyed the services, but she had a serious problem. “Pastor Ray, I love the church but I have a hard time whenever you “pray the prayer” at the end of the service.” That’s because she comes from a church that teaches that you must be baptized in order to be saved. So it bothers her when I lead in a prayer to accept Christ. “Do you think people really become Christians when they pray the prayer?” My answer is, Yes, if they are sincere. But you aren’t saved by prayer but by Jesus Christ. If when you pray, you sincerely turn from your sin and trust Jesus to be you Savior, at that very moment you are born again.

Many people are as confused about how baptism fits into the picture. “We believe in baptism. Nobody believes in water baptism more than I do,” I told her. I pointed out that when we remodeled the sanctuary, we built a baptistry. That fact was vital to me because the church had gone seventeen years without baptizing anyone in our Sunday worship services. We had to use borrowed facilities for all those years. We spent thousands of dollars redesigning the front of the sanctuary to build a baptistry precisely because we believe baptism is important. It happened that the very next day I talked with a man who asked if he and his family could be the first ones baptized in the new baptistery. Since no one else had asked, I said sure, he and his family could be first.

Baptism is vitally important. But let’s not confuse it with salvation. Baptism means nothing unless Jesus is already in your heart. If he’s in your heart, then you are already saved and forgiven and baptism is a public expression of your inward faith. Baptism does not save you or help save you. You’re not a Christian just because you were baptized as a baby or as an adult. I can hold you under water so long that you’ll come up singing “Amazing Grace,” but that won’t make you a Christian.

Romans 10:4 makes it plain. Righteousness comes to “everyone who believes.” Not “everyone who is baptized.” Not “everyone who joins the church.” Not “everyone who is a good person.” God’s righteousness is given only to those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

“Tetelestai”

Even church members need Jesus. I received a letter from a man who had attended Calvary for a short time before he moved to another area. As I was preparing this message, his letter came to my mind because he was in the situation so many people are in today–religious but lost.

Dear Pastor Ray,

A little over a year ago, I attended Calvary for the first time. Being a Catholic, I was brought up believing that attending another religious denomination church was a sin. With the help of my wife who is a Christian, I ventured out because there was an empty void in my life.

Together we attended Calvary, but I must admit the first encounter was only okay. It didn’t move me, but I liked the no kneeling part. The following week I went back to the Catholic church and Marion continued coming to Calvary. Little did I know the seed was sown. Two weeks later I asked Marion if I could go with her again! That Sunday the Lord spoke to me through your sermon on Tetelestai (The Greek word that means “It is finished”). I finally understood the free gift of salvation and asked Jesus Christ to be my personal Savior.

Shortly thereafter we moved to Algonquin, Illinois and became members of the Village Church of Barrington. Not only did the Lord bless us with the house, but He also provided us with a boat. When it came time to name the boat, the Lord was at it again. Without hesitation, “Tetelestai John 19:30” was what we called it.

Not only is the word “Tetelestai” very special to me, but what a wonderful way to witness. I have had all age groups ask how to pronounce the word and ask its meaning. I even had one man ask if my name is John and if I was born in 1930. (I was hurt. My mom was born in 1930.) To date I have had only one elderly man who was sitting on the pier fishing, look up at me at say, “It is finished! I like that!” How ‘bout that… only the fisherman knew!
God’s love and peace,
Craig Kozlowski

(Click here to read the story of Craig’s testimony after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.)

There are many wonderful things in that letter, but I pause to point out only one. Craig first came to church because although he was very religious, he still felt there was an empty void in his life.
That void was filled when he met Jesus.

What happened to Craig can happen to you. He discovered the wonderful truth that being saved and being religious are two different things. Being saved depends 100% upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” he meant it! The work of salvation was complete, the price had been paid, the penalty removed. All that is left is for you to believe it.

4. Because Good People Wouldn’t Be Happy If They Did Go to Heaven.

This is the final reason why good people won’t go to heaven: They wouldn’t be happy there. That may seem like a startling statement because heaven by definition is a place of eternal happiness. The answer is yes, but heaven will be a happy place only for those who truly belong there. Good people would be unhappy there because they don’t belong there.

Who belongs in heaven? Saved people. People redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7 speaks of this when it pictures a vast multitude standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, tall, short, men, women, young, old, from every tribe, tongue, nation and kindred. They have come from every corner of the earth to praise God for his salvation. Who are these people will the courts of heaven? The Apostle John gives us the answer in verse 14: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.” Washing the robes speaks of forgiveness, white speaks of purity, the blood speaks of Christ’s death on the cross.

Years ago I learned a little chorus in Sunday School called Heaven is a Wonderful Place:

Heaven is a wonderful place,
Filled with glory and grace.
I want to see my Savior’s face.
Heaven is a wonderful place.

How true and appropriate those words are. Heaven is for those who call Jesus Savior. If he’s not your Savior, then heaven would not be wonderful for you, even if you went there.

Bored in Heaven!

Have you ever wondered what we’re doing to do in heaven? Some people think you sit around all day polishing your halo, eating grapes, plucking a harp, and floating from one cloud to another. Other people think it’s going to be like an eternal frat party, only you don’t get drunk and you don’t get in trouble. The Bible paints an entirely different picture. Heaven will be a place of intense activity where we will spend our days praising our Lord who saved us from our sins. Jesus will be the focal point of heaven. All our activity will revolve around him.

Good people would feel out of place in heaven. Only saved people will enjoy it. Good people would get tired of all that singing and worship. They would wonder what all the fuss is about. They would feel bored after a while. After all, good people think they deserve to go to heaven. Saved people know they don’t deserve to be there. Good people secretly believe they are good enough to be there. Saved people know they aren’t. Good people like Jesus but they don’t feel like they owe him anything. Saved people know they owe him everything.

Good people simply wouldn’t fit in in heaven. They don’t belong there, they wouldn’t be happy there, and they aren’t going there. If you’re planning on going to heaven because of your good life, forget it. You’ll never make it, you aren’t good enough, and if by some accident you ended up there, you’d soon put in for a transfer.

Heaven belongs to those who are saved by the blood of Jesus. No one else will get in.

Are You a Good Person?

I close my remarks by pressing home the question: Are you a good person? I’m sure you are or you wouldn’t be reading these words. I’ve no doubt about your upstanding character. I’m sure your friends and neighbors would vouch for you. I’ve no doubt that you pay your bills, mow you grass, go to work every day, and take care of your obligations the best way you can. I can even imagine that you may well be a model citizen, the kind of person others would like to be if only they could. Please accept my compliments on the good life you’ve been living. Every society needs fine people like you. What would we do if everyone were a crook? Thank God for good people, decent people, patriotic people, law-abiding people.

So we’ve established that you are a good person. That leads me to a second, far more important question: Are you a saved person?Perhaps you don’t know how to answer that. Many times good people have trouble understanding their need for salvation. They feel that to be saved is to admit some kind of personal failure. As a matter of fact, that’s correct. The Bible says that we are all sinners.“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Are you willing to admit that you are a sinner in the eyes of Almighty God? The Bible also says that sin leads to death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Are you willing to admit that your sin leads to eternal death and separation from God?

The Bible also has some good news for you. Christ died on the cross to forgive you of all your sins. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Bible also says that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

If you are a good person and you want to go to heaven, there is one thing you must do. You must call upon the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

I began this message by saying that good people won’t go to heaven. That’s certainly true, but you have to add a statement to make it clear. Good people won’t go to heaven as long they trust in their goodness to get them there. There will be no one in heaven who can boast of their goodness. In heaven the only boasting will about how Jesus has saved us from our sin.

Can a good person go to heaven? Yes, if he is willing to turn away from his goodness and trust Jesus Christ for his eternal salvation. As long as you cling to the slightest shred of your goodness, you’ll never see the gates of heaven. Once you let go of the rags of your own righteousness, you can be saved.

That means there is hope for everyone. I’ve got good news and better news. The good news is: You can be saved–no matter how bad you’ve been. The better news is: You can be saved–no matter how good you’ve been. We’ve always known the gospel can save sinners. Now we know it can even save good people if they are willing to let go of their goodness.
Ponder the words of this little verse:

Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die,
I risk my whole eternity.

That is what it means to be a Christian. It means trusting in Christ so much that you risk your eternity on what He did for you in His life and in His death. I have sometimes told people that trusting Jesus for salvation means to trust Him so completely that if He can’t take you to heaven, you aren’t going to go there. Are you willing and ready to do that?

Perhaps it will help you to form your words into a very simple prayer. Even while I encourage you to pray this prayer, I caution you that saying words alone will not save you. Prayer doesn’t save. Only Christ can save. But prayer can be a means of reaching out to the Lord in true saving faith. If you pray these words in faith, Christ will save you. You can be sure of that.

Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Amen.

If you have prayed this prayer in sincere faith, you may want to write the prayer, initial it, and put it in your Bible along with today’s date as a reminder that you have come to Christ in faith, trusting him as your Lord and Savior. In the end I can’t believe for you or you for me. Jesus said, “Come unto me.” Will you come? Come and see for yourself. Come and discover how Christ can change your life.

If you are fearful, put your heart at ease. He avoids no seeker. He will not turn you away. You will see for yourself. God invites you. But still you must come. Do not hesitate. Stop making excuses. Give up the notion that you can be good enough to go to heaven. Come to Christ and be saved. Trust in him and your new life will begin. Amen.

 

SALVATION MADE PLAIN

By The AV Preacher 
Notice: this document is NOT copyrighted and may be freely used, duplicated, and distributed! 
(For scripture references in brackets [ ], please see your Authorized King James Bible of 1611 for the full text.)
Ultra
Quick
Plan
#
Verse
Key Thought
1 Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. God made you.
2 Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. God sustains you.
3 Psalms 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. God owns you.
1
4 Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: God judges you.
2
5 Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Sin allows no good.
6 Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Sin makes even your “righteous” acts filthy.
7 Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Sin has separated you from God.
3
8 [Revelation 20:10-15] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Sin will send you to the lake of fire.
9 John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. God will judge you according to the Bible.
BUT…
4
10 Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God loves you.
11 Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Jesus shed his blood for your sin.
12 Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Jesus shed his blood to meet God’s requirement.
13 Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Jesus made a perfect sacrifice to redeem you.
5
14 Hebrews 10:12, 14 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Jesus will make you perfect forever.
15 John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Jesus is your only way to heaven.
6
16 Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is God’s gift.
7
17 John 1:12, 13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. You must receive Jesus.
18 [John 3:1-7] Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. You must be born again.
19 [1 Corinthians 15:1-4] …I declare unto you the gospel…By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain…Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: You must believe the gospel.
20 John 8:24, 58 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. You must believe Jesus is God.
8
21 Luke 13:3, 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. You must repent.
9
22 Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. You must confess.
10
23 Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. You must call on the Lord to be saved.
Salvation Made Plain
Supporting Verses 
1 Psalm 139:13-14, Isaiah 44:2, Jeremiah 1:5
2 Nehemiah 9:6, Psalm 36:6, Hebrews 1:3, II Peter 3:7
3 I Chronicles 29:11, Romans 14:8, Ezekiel 18:4, Deuteronomy 32:6, Exodus 19:5
4 Hebrews 10:30, Psalms 96:13, John 5:28-29, Matthew 10:26, Romans 14:10-12, Psalms 22:29
5 Ecclesiastes 7:20, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 7:18-24, Romans 3:23, James 2:10, Matthew 5:28, I John 3:15, I John 1:8-10, Proverbs 20:9, I Kings 8:46, Psalm 24:3-4, James 4:17, I John 5:17, Psalm 5:3-5
6 Psalms 14:3, Psalms 53:2-3, Ezra 9:11, I John 3:4, Exodus 34:7, Job 10:14
7 John 9:31, Genesis 2:22-24, Proverbs 15:29, Micah 3:4, Proverbs 28:9, Psalms 66:18, Zechariah 7:12-13, Habakkuk 1:13
8 Revelation 21:8, Revelation 19:20, II Peter 2:4-6, II Thessalonians 1:8-9, Matthew 25:41, Matthew 13:40-42, Psalms 9:16-17, Psalms 11:6, II Peter 3:7, Mark 9:42-48
9 Romans 2:16, Hebrews 12:25
10 I John 3:16, I John 3:1, John 16:27, Ephesians 2:4
11 Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14,20, Romans 5:9, Isaiah 53:4-10, Revelation 1:5
12 Hebrews 9:7, Leviticus 17:11, Genesis 3:21, Exodus 12:13
13 Hebrews 10:10, Romans 5:10, II Corinthians 5:18, I Peter 2:25, Hebrews 9:24-28, II Corinthians 5:14-15, I Peter 3:18, Romans 6:10, I John 4:9-10, I John 2:2, I John 3:5, Romans 3:25, Galatians 3:13, Titus 2:4
14 Colossians 1:20-22, II Corinthians 5:21, Romans 4:5-8, Romans 6:6-8, Romans 8:1-2, John 5:24, John 11:25-26, II Corinthians 5:19, Colossians 3:3, Hebrews 10:17-18, Psalms 32:1-2, Psalms 103:12, Jeremiah 31:34, I Peter 2:24
15 Acts 4:12, John 10:1,7-9, Galatians 1:8-9, Mark 8:36-37, Romans 3:19-20, Titus 3:5, II Timothy 1:9, Acts 8:20, Hebrews 2:3, John 3:17, Acts 16:30-31, Ephesians 2:8-9
16 II Corinthians 9:15, John 4:10, I John 5:11, Romans 8:32, Romans 5:15, Romans 3:24
17 Galatians 4:6, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10, Revelation 3:20, John 14:16,17,20
18 I Peter 1:23, Matthew 18:3, I Corinthians 2:14, Romans 8:8, John 6:63, I Corinthians 1:29, Hebrews 2:9, Ephesians 2:5, I John 5:4-5, I John 3:9, I John 2:29
19 Hebrews 11:6, John 3:18, John 3:36, Romans 3:27-28, Romans 9:30-33, John 3:16, John 20:31, Acts 10:43
20 Exodus 3:14, John 5:23, Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 43:11, Acts 13:23, I John 4:14, I Timothy 4:10, Luke 2:11, I Timothy 1:1, I Timothy 2:3, John 10:30-33, John 14:7-9, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, Matthew 1:23, Matthew 4:8-10, Matthew 9:18-19, Revelation 22:8-9, Psalms 50:6, Psalms 9:7-8, John 5:22, Romans 14:10-12, I John 5:7, Colossians 2:9, Colossians 1:16, John 1:1-3, Isaiah 44:24, I John 3:16, Acts 20:28, I Timothy 3:16, John 1:14, John 1:10
21 Acts 17:30, Acts 3:19, Mark 1:15, Luke 24:47, Luke 15:7, II Corinthians 7:9-10, Job 33:27-28, II Peter 3:9
22 Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 12:8-9, Philippians 2:11-13, I John 4:2-3, I John 4:15, II John 7, John 12:42-43
23 Acts 2:21, I Corinthinas 1:2, Psalms 55:16
 

JEWS vs MUSLIMS

From my friend Drakka Von Koranderthals ,  want to Boycott all Jewish things…

A short time ago, Iran ‘s Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khomenei urged the Muslim World to boycott anything and everything that originates with the Jewish people.

In response, Meyer M. Treinkman, a pharmacist, out of the kindness of his heart, offered to assist them in their boycott as follows:

“Any Muslim who has Syphilis must not be cured by Salvarsan discovered by a Jew, Dr. Ehrlich. He should not even try to find out whether he has Syphilis, because the Wasserman Test is the discovery of a Jew. If a Muslim suspects that he has Gonorrhea, he must not seek diagnosis, because he will be using the method of a Jew named Neissner.

“A Muslim who has heart disease must not use Digitalis, a discovery by a Jew, Ludwig Traube.

Should he suffer with a toothache, he must not use Novocaine, a discovery of the Jews, Widal and Weil.

If a Muslim has Diabetes, he must not use Insulin, the result of research by Minkowsky, a Jew. If one has a headache, he must shun Pyramidon and Antypyrin, due to the Jews, Spiro and Ellege.

Muslims with convulsions must put up with them because it was a Jew, Oscar Leibreich, who proposed the use of Chloral Hydrate.

Arabs must do likewise with their psychic ailments because Freud, father of psychoanalysis, was a Jew.

Should a Muslim child get Diphtheria, he must refrain from the “Schick” reaction which was invented by the Jew, Bella Schick.

“Muslims should be ready to die in great numbers and must not permit treatment of ear and brain damage, work of Jewish Nobel Prize winner, Robert Baram.

They should continue to die or remain crippled by Infantile Paralysis because the discoverer of the anti-polio vaccine is a Jew, Jonas Salk.

“Muslims must refuse to use Streptomycin and continue to die of Tuberculosis because a Jew, Zalman Waxman, invented the wonder drug against this killing disease.

Muslim doctors must discard all discoveries and improvements by dermatologist Judas Sehn Benedict, or the lung specialist, Frawnkel, and of many other world renowned Jewish scientists and medical experts.

“In short, good and loyal Muslims properly and fittingly should remain afflicted with Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Heart Disease, Headaches, Typhus, Diabetes, Mental Disorders, Polio Convulsions and Tuberculosis and be proud to obey the Islamic boycott.”

Oh, and by the way, don’t call for a doctor on your cell phone because the cell phone was invented in Israel by a Jewish engineer.

Meanwhile I ask, what medical contributions to the world have the Muslims made?”

The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000; that is ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world’s population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1988 – Najib Mahfooz

Peace:
1978 – Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat
1990 – Elias James Corey
1994 – Yaser Arafat:
1999 – Ahmed Zewai

Economics:
(zero)

Physics:
(zero)

Medicine:
1960 – Peter Brian Medawar
1998 – Ferid Mourad

TOTAL: 7 SEVEN

The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000; that is FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world’s population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1910 – Paul Heyse
1927 – Henri Bergson
1958 – Boris Pasternak
1966 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon
1966 – Nelly Sachs
1976 – Saul Bellow
1978 – Isaac Bashevis Singer
1981 – Elias Canetti
1987 – Joseph Brodsky
1991 – Nadine Gordimer World

Peace:
1911 – Alfred Fried
1911 – Tobias Michael Carel Asser
1968 – Rene Cassin
1973 – Henry Kissinger
1978 – Menachem Begin
1986 – Elie Wiesel
1994 – Shimon Peres
1994 – Yitzhak Rabin

Physics:
1905 – Adolph Von Baeyer
1906 – Henri Moissan
1907 – Albert Abraham Michelson
1908 – Gabriel Lippmann
1910 – Otto Wallach
1915 – Richard Willstaetter
1918 – Fritz Haber
1921 – Albert Einstein
1922 – Niels Bohr
1925 – James Franck
1925 – Gustav Hertz
1943 – Gustav Stern
1943 – George Charles de Hevesy
1944 – Isidor Issac Rabi
1952 – Felix Bloch
1954 – Max Born
1958 – Igor Tamm
1959 – Emilio Segre
1960 – Donald A. Glaser
1961 – Robert Hofstadter
1961 – Melvin Calvin
1962 – Lev Davidovich Landau
1962 – Max Ferdinand Perutz
1965 – Richard Phillips Feynman
1965 – Julian Schwinger
1969 – Murray Gell-Mann
1971 – Dennis Gabor
1972 – William Howard Stein
1973 – Brian David Josephson
1975 – Benjamin Mottleson
1976 – Burton Richter
1977 – Ilya Prigogine
1978 – Arno Allan Penzias
1978 – Peter L Kapitza
1979 – Stephen Weinberg
1979 – Sheldon Glashow
1979 – Herbert Charles Brown
1980 – Paul Berg
1980 – Walter Gilbert
1981 – Roald Hoffmann
1982 – Aaron Klug
1985 – Albert A. Hauptman
1985 – Jerome Karle
1986 – Dudley R. Herschbach
1988 – Robert Huber
1988 – Leon Lederman
1988 – Melvin Schwartz
1988 – Jack Steinberger
1989 – Sidney Altman
1990 – Jerome Friedman
1992 – Rudolph Marcus
1995 – Martin Perl
2000 – Alan J. Heeger

Economics:
1970 – Paul Anthony Samuelson
1971 – Simon Kuznets
1972 – Kenneth Joseph Arrow
1975 – Leonid Kantorovich
1976 – Milton Friedman
1978 – Herbert A. Simon
1980 – Lawrence Robert Klein
1985 – Franco Modigliani
1987 – Robert M. Solow
1990 – Harry Markowitz
1990 – Merton Miller
1992 – Gary Becker
1993 – Robert Fogel

Medicine:
1908 – Elie Metchnikoff
1908 – Paul Erlich
1914 – Robert Barany
1922 – Otto Meyerhof
1930 – Karl Landsteiner
1931 – Otto Warburg
1936 – Otto Loewi
1944 – Joseph Erlanger
1944 – Herbert Spencer Gasser
1945 – Ernst Boris Chain
1946 – Hermann Joseph Muller
1950 – Tadeus Reichstein
1952 – Selman Abraham Waksman
1953 – Hans Krebs
1953 – Fritz Albert Lipmann
1958 – Joshua Lederberg
1959 – Arthur Kornberg
1964 – Konrad Bloch
1965 – Francois Jacob
1965 – Andre Lwoff
1967 – George Wald
1968 – Marshall W. Nirenberg
1969 – Salvador Luria
1970 – Julius Axelrod
1970 – Sir Bernard Katz
1972 – Gerald Maurice Edelman
1975 – Howard Martin Temin
1976 – Baruch S. Blumberg
1977 – Roselyn Sussman Yalow
1978 – Daniel Nathans
1980 – Baruj Benacerraf
1984 – Cesar Milstein
1985 – Michael Stuart Brown
1985 – Joseph L. Goldstein
1986 – Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]
1988 – Gertrude Elion
1989 – Harold Varmus
1991 – Erwin Neher
1991 – Bert Sakmann
1993 – Richard J. Roberts
1993 – Phillip Sharp
1994 – Alfred Gilman
1995 – Edward B. Lewis
1996- Lu RoseIacovino

TOTAL: 129!

The Jews are NOT promoting brainwashing children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non-Muslims.

The Jews don’t hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants.

There is NOT one single Jew who has destroyed a church.

There is NOT a single Jew who protests by killing people. The Jews don’t traffic slaves, nor have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels.

Perhaps the world’s Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems.

Muslims must ask ‘what can they do for humankind’ before they demand that humankind respects them.

Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel ‘s part, the following two sentences really say it all:

‘If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel .”

Benjamin Netanyahu: General Eisenhower warned us. It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to this effect: ‘Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses – because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened’

Recently, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it ‘offends’ the Muslim population which claims it never occurred.

It is not removed as yet. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 65 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be ‘a myth,’ it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people. Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center ‘NEVER HAPPENED’ because it offends some Muslim in the United States ?