Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

Abraham 3.4.24

Grab your Bibles, and let’s go deeper into the testimony of Abraham.

The life of Abraham takes up a good portion of the Genesis narrative from his first mention in Genesis 11:26 all the way to his death in Genesis 25:8. We started our reading of Abraham’s story where it really picks up in Genesis 12. In the first three verses, we see the call of Abraham by God and one of the greatest and most critical promises of God in all of Scripture.

The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

In this passage, we see the foundations for God’s covenant with him. The two primary promises to Abraham are:

1) The promised land (of Canaan) and temporal blessings for those in the covenant.

2) The spiritual promise of the seed/offspring to come—being the Redeemer, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

These promises lay the foundation for what will later be called the Abrahamic Covenant (established in Genesis 15 and ratified in Genesis 17).

What really makes Abraham special is that he obeyed God. Genesis 12:4 records that after God called Abraham, he went “as the LORD had told him.” For his faith, the author of Hebrews “enshrines” Abraham in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

Surely, we all have had moments in our life when we’ve had to trust in God despite not knowing what was ahead of us. This was life-changing for Abraham, and yet he knew and recognized the call of Yahweh, the LORD, and obeyed willingly, not hesitantly.

Now, Abraham was a fallen man and didn’t always do what was right.

Read: Genesis 12:10-20

It is easy for us to look out only for ourselves—to ask others to lie or cheat or steal for our good. In this moment, Abraham was not walking in accordance with his faith. Instead, he feared the hand of man and manipulated his situation for his own benefit. By the grace of God, this did not ultimately cause him or his wife harm, for God had bigger plans for them.

Abraham and Sarah were without a child of their own. This was a real source of shame in that culture and time, and yet God promised that Abraham would have a son.

Read: Genesis 15:1-6

Abraham believed the promise of God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). It is important to see the work of imputation here again. Just as we saw that Adam’s sin was credited to the human race as our federal head and, for the elect, Jesus was later credited with our sin and we were credited with His righteousness. Paul speaks of this in Romans 4.

Read: Romans 4:1-8

It is so important to see that we are not saved or credited with righteousness by God for anything we do on our own. The righteousness laid upon Abraham and us is God’s righteousness. It is not something Abraham produced. The Bible says that even the faith we have in God is a gift from God (cf. Philippians 1:29; Eph. 2:8-9).

Therefore, Paul says we have nothing to boast about, for God’s righteousness and renewal is a gift of grace. “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Romans 4:7-8).

God reiterates His promised covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17.

Read: Genesis 17:1-8

Next, God gave Abraham the rite of physical circumcision as the specific sign of the natural (or ethnic) layer of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Read: Genesis 17:9-14

Under the Old Covenant, all males in Abraham’s line were to be circumcised and thus carry with them a lifelong mark in their flesh that they were part of God’s Old Covenant people. Any descendant of Abraham who refused circumcision was declaring himself to be outside of God’s covenant. This was a sign for the chosen people of God, just as baptism is a sign of the chosen and redeemed people of God in the New Covenant.

Abraham’s faith is finally rewarded in Genesis 21 with the birth of Isaac. But Abraham’s faith would be seriously tested regarding his greatest gift, his son, Isaac. In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the top of Mount Moriah. What is almost shocking to us as we read on is that Abraham faithfully set things in motion to fulfill this command of God. If there was ever a great testimony of obedience to God’s commands despite great sacrifice to what is most important to you, this situation surely ranks at the top of the list.  Abraham was faithful to his God. He obeyed God’s command to sacrifice Isaac even though Isaac was so important to Abraham. This is one of life’s greatest tests. Often, we will give up ourselves, our time, and our money; but to give up our most loved ones is truly a great test of who our ultimate prize is, what the greatest affection of our heart is, and who God truly is to us. Many of us are quick to say that God is number one, but is He?

Now, it is important to note that Isaac was spared, and we will spend more time on this situation and Isaac next week, but let’s not miss the readiness and obedience of Abraham to go the distance despite his own heart’s desires.

Now, don’t forget—Abraham did some amazing acts of faith, but he struggled in this area too. Not only did Abraham show a lack of faith when in hostile lands a couple times, but we also know that the frustration of not having a child got to Abraham and Sarah as they carried out their man-made plan—a plan to have a child through Sarah’s servant, Hagar (Genesis 16:1-15). The birth of Ishmael not only demonstrates the futility of Abraham’s folly and lack of faith, but it also shows the grace of God (in allowing the birth to take place and even blessing Ishmael).

So, Abraham who is considered the “father of the faithful” surely had his moments of doubt and disbelief, yet he still is exalted among men as an example of the faithful life. There are a few significant things we can learn from Abraham.

1. Faithful

Abraham’s faith wasn’t an ignorant faith; his faith was a settled assurance and trust in the One who had proven Himself faithful and true—God Himself.

If we were to look back on our own lives, we would see the hand of God’s providence all over it. God doesn’t have to speak from burning bushes or part the sea waters to be active in our lives. God is orchestrating the events of our lives. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but Abraham’s life is evidence that this is true. Even Abraham’s failures demonstrate that God, while not removing us from the earthly consequences of our sin, graciously works His will in us and through us; nothing we do will thwart His plan.

2. Obedient

Abraham’s life also shows us the blessing of simple obedience. When asked to leave his family, Abraham left. When asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham “rose up early the next morning” to do so. From what we can discern from the Biblical narrative, there was no hesitation in Abraham’s obedience. Abraham, like most of us, may have agonized over these decisions, but when it was time to act, he acted. When we discern a true call from God, or we read His instructions in His Word, we must act. Obedience is not optional when God commands something.

Romans 3:28 says, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law …”

Theologically speaking, Abraham’s life is a living example of the doctrine of sola fide, “justification by faith alone.” Abraham’s faith in the promises of God was sufficient for God to declare him righteous in His sight. Abraham did nothing to earn justification. God’s grace is enough. The faith God gives His people is enough to set us free because of the perfect work of the Redeemer—Jesus.

We see in this the workings of God’s grace very early in the Old Testament. The gospel didn’t start with the life and death of Jesus; rather, it was promised all the way back to Genesis. In Genesis 3:15, God made a promise that the “seed of the woman” would crush the head of the serpent.

The rest of the Old Testament chronicles the outworking of the gospel of God’s grace through the line of promise beginning with Seth (Genesis 4:26). The calling of Abraham and the familiar promise of Seed was just another piece in the story of redemption (cf. Galatians 3:16).

3. Faith is not hereditary

Another big take away we must see in Abraham is that faith is not hereditary. All through the Gospels (cf. Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8; John 8:39), we learn that it is not sufficient to be physically descended from Abraham to be saved. The application for us is that it is not sufficient to be raised in a Christian home; we cannot ride into heaven on the coattails of someone else’s faith.

God is not obligated to save us simply because we have been raised in a godly family. Paul uses Abraham to illustrate this in Romans 9, where he says not all who descended from Abraham were elected unto salvation (Romans 9:7). God sovereignly chooses those who will receive salvation, but that salvation comes by grace through the same faith that Abraham exercised in his life. Each of us must have our own saving faith in Jesus and not lean on someone else’s.

4. Faith that does not show fruit in righteous works is not real saving faith

Finally, we see that James uses the life of Abraham as an illustration that faith without works is dead (James 2:21). The example he uses is the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. Mere assent to the truths of the gospel is not enough to save. True saving faith will result in good works of obedience that show a living faith. This is not perfection; rather, it is a growing in obedience to the revealed will of God. The faith that was enough to justify Abraham and count him as righteous in God’s eyes (Genesis 15) was the very same faith that moved him into action as he obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham was justified by his faith, and his faith was proved by his works.

5. God fulfills His promises

In the final analysis, God called Abraham out of the millions of people on the earth to be the object of His blessings. God used Abraham to play a pivotal role in the outworking of the story of redemption culminating in the birth of Jesus. In Matthew 1, we read about Jesus’ genealogy, and in its opening, we read the critical understanding that He was a son of Abraham: Matthew 1:1 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

The redeemed in all generations are called the “children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). The work that God set out to do for us all in Christ came through Abraham. Aside from Moses, no Old Testament character is mentioned more in the New Testament than Abraham. Abraham is a living example of faith and hope in the promises of God. Our lives should be so lived that when we reach the end of our days, our faith, like Abraham’s, will remain as an enduring legacy to others.

By grace, through faith in Jesus, may we too be a part of the legacy of blessing that comes through God’s covenant with Abraham and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ—that we would not only be blessed, but be a blessing to others.

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

Melchizedek 2.24.24

Grab your Bibles, and let’s go deeper into the testimony of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:1-3 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

Abraham had killed some kings, and upon his return he runs into this man named Melchizedek. This is really interesting, because in the Old Testament, typically, when we are introduced to a character, it will tell us their ancestry, the time in which they lived, and when they died.

But when Melchizedek shows up on the scene, it doesn’t tell us anything. I mean, he just literally appears out of nowhere. There are just a few verses on him, and then he disappears. He is a very mysterious character in the Old Testament and to the Jews in the first century—until the Psalms and Hebrews were written to unveil more. These are some of the passages we read this week.

Now look at verse 2 where it says, “He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.”

So, he is called the king of righteousness, the king of peace. Do we know anybody else who goes by those names? Hmm?

Back to the top.

Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God …

Melchizedek was a King but he was also a priest. This is also odd because someone who was a priest and a king was unheard of. We’ll come back to this later, but know it makes him very unique.

Hebrews 7:1b … met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him

Now, this idea of blessing in Genesis would have been to offer wine and bread—bread as a symbol of sustenance and strength and wine, the symbol of life and joy.

So, Abraham, exhausted from battle, having just finished slaughtering the kings, comes across the king of righteousness, the king of peace, who offers to him strength and life. Is this starting to sound familiar?

Think of your own life. Do you feel like a soldier who is exhausted and weary? Wouldn’t it be nice to know the king of righteousness, the king of peace, who offers life and strength?

Hebrews 7:2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. …

Here is another odd thing! Abraham is the patriarch and he tithed. We don’t have time to get into that, but I want to point out the tithe. Abraham comes across the king of righteousness, the king of peace, who offers him strength and life, and he tithes 10% of all he owns.

Now, the tithe to the Hebrew wasn’t, “Oh, I’ve got to give my 10% to be obedient” like we can often think about it. It was a symbolic gesture that meant this: “All I have and all I own is Yours.” It’s not just, “Oh, I’ve got to do this, because of what he did for me” as though I owe my waiter a good tip for serving a good meal.

It is a symbolic gesture. It’s not that “hey, this 10% is Yours,” but rather “everything is Yours, and this is the symbol of that.” Our first fruits given to God is a statement of the priority of our life—the submission of our life to Him!

So, you’ve got Abraham tithing or saying, “everything is Yours” to the King of Peace, the King of Righteousness.

Hebrews 7:3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

Now, verse 3, exegetically, has caused people fits for years, because what it makes it sound like is that Melchizedek is eternal. So, does that mean, you’ve got God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and God the Melchizedek? There are two ways to interpret this. I think both are true.

  1. It’s NOT saying that Melchizedek is eternal, but that his character in the story seemingly has no beginning and that we hear nothing about where he came from and we know nothing of his ending, both of which are highly unusual in the Old Testament.
  2. What the writer of Hebrews is saying is, the silence that occurs in the book of Genesis is so that this word picture could point to the one who is eternal: a king of peace and a king of righteousness, who longs to offer life and strength to those who are completely His.

So, the word picture here says, Melchizedek is Jesus, you and I are Abraham.

Now skip down to Verse 13, because this is where it gets really good. Lean in and don’t miss this.

Hebrews 7:13-19 For the one of whom these things are spoken [Melchizedek] belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest [Jesus] arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” [This is quoting Psalm 110:4] For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect) …

Understand, the Law makes nothing perfect. I will say it again, the law makes nothing perfect.

Now read on: Hebrews 7:19 … but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

In other words, there is good news—a new hope. Through this good news, we draw near to God.

Hebrews 7:22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

This is why Jesus is the truer and better Priest and is so much better than the Law.

Hebrews 7:23-24 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.

So, the author is going to show another reason why the Law is lacking. Not only can the Law not change your heart, but there had to be tons of priests because they were always dying. They were always limited on how much they could help because they were human, and they were dying all the time.

Have you ever had your world unravel and not be able to get a hold of anyone?

Now what this is saying is: in moments when there is no one to be found and you are all on your own, Jesus here is referencing that moment and is saying, “Here’s another way I am greater. I am always, always, always available. At 2:00 a.m., I am available. On Thursday night, I am available.” Jesus is saying, “I do not nap; I do not eat dinner; I have no other things to tend to that take my attention from you; I am always available to those who will draw near to Me. No voice mail; no three days to get back to you via e-mail. I am here. Right now, I am here.” Do you know Jesus in this way? You can!

Now, I believe the main point of this chapter is in verse 25.

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Intercede means to appear on behalf of someone who is on trial.

We all whether we see it or admit it or not. We are trying to gain the approval of those we look up to. Whether you believe in God or not we are all constantly trying to prove ourselves—how we look; how valuable or useful we are; how knowledgeable we are; how morally good we are; how talented we are.

Why do we need a truer and better Priest? Because we need an advocate, a mediator, a representative—a Savior that will get the job done! We don’t have to prove ourselves anymore. He represents us perfectly. Our identity is found in Him and no longer in our performance.

Why is Jesus Christ the Priest we need? Look back at verse 11.

Hebrews 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?

Here’s what just happened: Verse 11 just said, “If you and I could be made right by obeying the Law, then why did God send Jesus?” If you and I could gain right-standing before God by doing everything that’s right and avoiding everything that’s wrong, then why send Jesus?

Look at verse 26: Here we hear the understatement of the year!

Hebrews 7:26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

That is the understatement of the year! We are not bound to the Law; we no longer are dependent on our ability to obey the moral code in order to see God.

For those who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have a high Priest who wants to transform your soul in such a way that sin loses its power. You have a high Priest who’s not interested in you gaining control over your lust, but in giving you a new heart that loses its enslavement to lust. You don’t have a priest that commands you to get control of your lies and your drinking and your issues; you’ve got a high Priest who gives you the power to overcome them.

So, it’s fitting we should have Him. YES!! This is the greatest news in the world!

Why is Jesus the Priest, or Intercessor, or Advocate we need?

I’ll explain with this: if you are being audited by the IRS for years of back taxes, what do you do? You don’t know all the tax code and ways to work through all the legal ramifications of this. So, you get an advocate; you get someone to represent you who knows what he is doing and knows the technical jargon—the ins-and-outs.

Now, here is the key we must understand if this is to make sense. What do you look like in court? You look like your advocate. He goes before the judge and represents your case. The judge hears him while he thinks of you!

So, what it comes down to is this: if he is brilliant then you are brilliant and if he fails then you fail. Your advocate represents you in the courtroom. You are in your advocate.

I really want to help firm up a very important view of Christianity in this: to be Christian is not just for Jesus to be your example for how to rightly live life.

You might say, “I pray to Jesus and ask Him for help. I read my Bible and learn how to be a good Christian based on its teachings.”

Do you see what you are doing? That is the lifestyle that means YOU are going to appear in court and be your own attorney—to represent yourself and Jesus is just your model for how to do that. But that is not Christianity! To be Christian is to be in Christ!

Colossians 1:27 … Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Jesus is your Substitute. Jesus is your Source. Jesus is your Advocate. He stands in for you in the ultimate trial of your life.

Now read Hebrews 7:27: He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

Jesus stands before the Father and says, “Father, you demand justice. You are a just God. My friend here is guilty! But, I have made payment—in my blood. And it would be unjust to receive two payments for the same debt. I am not asking for mercy for them, my substitution in their place demands justice.”

How dare we think that the perfect wrath of God and the true justice of God are somehow negotiable—that, somehow, we don’t need Jesus to substitute for us.

Representing ourselves by thinking, “But look at how good of a parent I am, or how hard I work, or how loving I can be. Surely these are enough.”

Enough to have relationship with a HOLY GOD? Enough, to convince Him that His true and perfect justice should be graded on a curve? NO WAY!

We are desperate to have an advocate that will do what Jesus did, and continues to do, on our behalf—be our atoning, sacrificial Substitute.

I want you to experience CONFIDENCE today; experience the GOOD NEWS, and let it capture your heart in the deepest place!

To be in Christ is to demand the justice only He can bring you! It is yours in Christ. That’s how good He is. That’s how absolutely dependent on Him you are. That’s why we sing His name out loud in a crowded room—because I will do things I don’t do for anyone else for my JESUS!

Now if this sinks into our core and we understand that life in Christ is the Christian life, then what difference will it make if you receive Jesus as your Priest?

Realize this: high priests were absolutely covered in gold and jewels. The net worth of a community was put into the robes of the high priest.

The other picture that is important to see is this: when you are in Christ, when the Father looks up on you and sees Jesus, the High Priest, He sees you as utterly beautiful, completely accepted, marvelously brought into the family.

What I want you to take with you today is this: Do not listen any longer to the world’s damning standards that cut and tear at you—that the world brings, or the law brings. Stand humbly, confidently in Christ who is your Advocate, who allows the holy God to look upon you as utterly beautiful and wonderfully accepted.

He is our Priest-King!

I want to close with this:

At the top of this study I mentioned that Melchizedek was unique. Here is why! Never did you have a priest who was also a king nor a king who was also a priest. Why?

The King represented the law. He told the law and enforced the law while ruling over the people. The priest represented the people to God. He was the caregiver alongside the people.

-Kings are like stern fathers demanding that you tow-the-line.

-Priests were like caring mothers who loved you even in your worst state.

So, it was a complete conflict to ever see the two offices filled by the same person.

But what if you and I needed someone who was both at the same time? Brothers, we do!

Jesus has to be absolutely committed to truth while also being absolutely committed to love if He is going to be willing to stand in our place to take our deserved wrath upon Himself. He has to believe that our sin will condemn us. He has to be flowing with love to be willing to stand in our place so that we can live forever with Him.

On the cross, He took upon Himself the eternal cup of justice for His people, because someone had to pay the debt of our rebellion—our sin.

Jesus can now look at the adulterous woman, the addict, the over worker, the liar, the prima donna, the over-spender, the loner, and you and me, in the face of our trials and not only bring us temporary counsel, but lasting counsel, because He says, “You are not condemned. Go and sin no more, because I stood in your place and took the condemnation for you.”

He is saying, “You are not going to get stoned to death today, because I was tortured to death for you.”

Jesus is our Priest-King; Jesus is our Advocate; Jesus is our wonderful Counselor. This is truly good news!

Draw near to Jesus.

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

The key is that we draw near to God through Jesus. Turn to Jesus. Rest in Him. Hope in Him. Fix your eyes on Him. Consider Him. Draw near to Him! He is the covering for our justification—our right-standing with God. We must continue to enjoy and draw near to Him!

Today, hear the good news that God bids you, “Come!”

Our holy God of righteousness and wrath says, “Draw near to me through my Son, your high Priest. Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.”

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

Lot 2.17.24

Grab your Bibles, and let’s go deeper into the testimony of Lot.

Genesis 13 discusses the return of Abram and Lot to Canaan after the famine had passed and the lands became fertile again. The conflicts between the herdsmen had become so troublesome that Abram recommended to Lot that they should part ways so there wouldn’t be unneeded conflict amongst them.

Abram gave Lot the choice of which land he wanted to settle on, and Lot picked the well-watered plains beyond the Jordan, for it was like “the garden of the LORD.” Lot’s taking of the best land in Canaan for himself was one of the worst decisions he ever made. Instead of dividing the country equitably between himself and his uncle, Lot seized the lush area near Sodom and lived far away from the covenant family. The first result of this decision was his capture by Chedorlaomer’s forces, but even his rescue by Abraham did not convince him to abandon Sodom (Genesis 13:12; 14:1–16). Loving Sodom more than the Lord’s people, he moved into the city God would later destroy (Genesis 19:1–29).

In Genesis 19, we read that Lot is spared from the judgment of Sodom, so surely God is not done with His plans for him. Even though God gives him a longer life, Lot doesn’t process things well. Sometimes we are guilty of only focusing on what we have lost and not what God has ordained to continue. If this is you lately, confess your self-centeredness of this and thank God for what He has given you. Ask Him to keep you full of faith and move you forward.

Abraham’s nephew, Lot, once had so many servants and livestock that it was difficult to live near his uncle. But now, he who once selfishly sought to increase his wealth (13:8–13) could fit everything he owned into a cave (19:30). What a change in life this meant to him. Like many of us, Lot’s life was full of big turns and tides. The key for us is to keep our eyes on Jesus and recognize all that we are and have is His and is to be used for His purposes. This is to help us not over grip or over trust in the things or people of the world, but to fully trust in God.

Lot additionally struggled with fear and trying to keep himself full of faith. When life doesn’t go your way, do you resort to fear or do you trust that God is on the throne and will see His mighty purposes through? It is easy to look back and see mistakes we made or hard times we went through and begin to lose faith. But we are a people built not on our circumstances or on our performance. We are a people who trust in God and lean on Jesus’ performance alone.

In the end of Genesis 19, we read that Lot suffered an even worse disgrace from his daughters. The two women hastily, through fear, thought there were no men that could be arranged to marry them. So they got their father drunk and lay with him, so as to produce heirs (vv. 31–36). Incest between father and daughter was condemned by God’s law but also by the pagan cultures surrounding Israel. This shows how despicable these acts were. The result of this was one daughter had a son named Moab (father of the Moabites) and the other had a son named Ben-Ammi (father of the Ammonites).

Ironically, Lot at one point was willing to sacrifice his daughters’ virginity to avoid danger (Gen. 19:6–8); but now, his children dishonored him at the first sign of struggle. In this, we see the reality of the impact of a culture on God’s people. No one is outside of temptation to sin and selfishness. We must be people of prayer and of the word—not only to get out of hardship, but to build up our maturity and strength in God to avoid it. Sometimes it is easy to think that the temptations of our past are way behind us, but we must stay vigilant in avoiding sin and temptation and growing in who we are in Christ. Let us not forget that Lot and his daughters got out of Sodom, but the influence of the city’s corrupt morals showed themselves in their lives later.

Finally, we read 2 Peter 2:4-10 this week. Here, Peter speaks of God saving Lot from Sodom and says why the wicked should fear God’s judgment on wickedness.

In verses 9 and 10, Peter says, “… the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials [like Noah and Lot], and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority …”

This is a great take away for us as well. God will judge unrepentant sin, and He will endure His people through great hardship so that He can accomplish His purposes. We must walk in faith and not by sight. We must avoid the sinful influences of the culture around us and aim to stay trusting in God despite how hard things get. I pray that what we have seen in Lot this week motivates and moves us forward in honoring Christ in all things.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

Noah 2.10.24

Grab your Bibles, and let’s go deeper into the testimony of Noah and study Genesis 6-9.

Read Genesis 6:5-8.

First off, we see here why God decides to flood the earth, and God makes a clear declaration as to what He intends to do about the wickedness of sin.

Read Genesis 6:9-22.

So, God decided to save Noah, and his family, alone. In obedience to God, Noah built a very large boat; and notice how the chapter ends. Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Verse 9 tells us that Noah was a righteous man.

Verse 22 gives us the evidence of this fact.

How many of each kind of animal did Noah take on the ark with him?

Read Genesis 7:1-5.

Noah took seven pairs of the clean animals, one pair of the unclean animals, and seven pairs of the birds.

Notice something that is becoming a pattern in verse 5: it reads, “And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.”

When we jump ahead to verse 16, we see the floods start. On the same day Noah takes himself and his family into the ark, God shuts him in. Notice Noah did what he was commanded again, and God sealed him safely in the ark and away from the flood.

Read Genesis 7:21-24.

So, God saw the wickedness of man, and He set forward to pour out His wrath. He found favor in Noah and commanded him to build an ark and take in animals and his family. God followed through with His plan to flood the earth and cleanse it from its sin. God blotted out all the living creatures and mankind except for those in the ark with Noah. The judgment of God is right and good. The wrath of God is right and good. Sometimes we are guilty of thinking that His love or mercy are more important than the attribute of this wrath or justice, but they are not. All of God’s attributes are good and perfect. We must see God’s worldwide extermination as righteous and good, not because the death of many is to be celebrated, but because God did it. William Perkins once wisely said, “We must not think that God does a thing because it’s good and right, but rather the thing is good and right because God does it.”

In Genesis chapter 8, we read that God pulled back the waters and unveiled the land; the storm was over. Noah built an altar and worshipped the Lord.

The Lord’s response is the key for us today.

Read Genesis 8:21-22.

In the beginning of Chapter 9, God gives Noah instruction similar to one we’ve heard before: God blesses Noah and says be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Sound familiar? God then tells Noah that the plants and animal are his to rule over and cultivate. Sound familiar? God is rebooting this creation with Noah and his family. Then, God makes a covenant with Noah and all who will come after him.

Read Genesis 9:8-17.

God commits to never flood the earth again, even though the intention of a man’s heart is evil from his youth. This is His promise of common grace. Common grace is the idea that God extends some of His grace over all men, even though they are wicked in sin and deserving immediate judgment and wrath for their rebellion against Him.

Matthew 5:45 … For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust

Common grace is different than saving grace in that common grace is for all mankind, but saving grace is just for God’s elect.

The sobering reality is that man is still wicked and deserving of God’s perfect and just wrath. Every man will be judged. We will stand before the great Judge and either be condemned for our wickedness because we stand on our own merit and pride, or we will be pardoned for our wickedness because Christ stands in our place; He is our perfect advocate and mediator who took on our sin, and as a result, takes on our wrath. He then gives us His righteousness, allowing us to be accepted by God and brought into His holy presence forever.

2 Corinthians 5:21(NASB) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Oh, how desperate we are for Jesus alone.

Here is the thing: we truly are a wicked people when we take God’s promised symbol, the rainbow, that He has graciously given us as a promise of His common grace to not send His swift judgment on our sin, and we then, in the very sin for which this grace is promised, use His symbol to represent homosexuality, which He has made clear in His word is sin.

Here is the truth: God will righteously judge, and those who rebel against Him will be condemned.

Let me show you an interesting passage in 2 Peter that brings light to God’s judgment:

2 Peter 3:5-7 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

“For they deliberately overlook this fact.” In other words, they shut their eyes to the facts.

The old King James says, “They are willingly ignorant of …” This is speaking of the false teachers who are not of God’s people and are deserving judgment and wrath.

Heretics and false teachers choose to ignore the truth to form lies that suit their needs. It might be right in front of them, but they don’t want to see the truth!

Why do they do this? They love their evil. They love their sin. They love their lust. They don’t desire truth. They don’t want a judgment, and they don’t want Christ to return, so they develop a system that says He won’t.

Peter speaks of two great, historic, game-changing events here:

The first is creation! He says they willingly shut their eyes to the fact that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water, and by water. Peter is saying creation was a cataclysmic act of God.

The false teachers who don’t want a God—who don’t want a God who is going to judge their sin—teach a big bang theory and a system of evolution that is absent of the need for God.

Peter says they forget willingly. Now look at this detail he adds:

2 Peter 3:5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God

You might be saying, “That sounds off.”

So, to jog your memory, read Genesis 1:1-2:In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

In God’s original creative action, the earth was without form. The darkness was over something God made. What was it? “The face of the deep” What is“the deep?”

Look next: The Spirit of God was hovering over what? The face of the waters! Ahhhhh!

So, it wasn’t nothing and then light. The darkness hung above a watery formless mass that God made first.

In Proverbs 8:27, God says He inscribed “a circle on the face of the deep.”

Read Genesis 1:3-10.

Then God made light, then a separation between the waters below and the waters above, and then a separation of the water below to determine ground from rivers or oceans.

And do you know what He said about it? What God said about it is in verse 10, “it was good.”

But it isn’t very long before man sins and multiplies, and the multiplication of that sin equals mass judgment. God looks at the world in Genesis 6:5-7: The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land …

 How’s He going to destroy it? With Water!

Go back now to 2 Peter 3.

2 Peter 3:5-6 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

Back to Genesis:

Genesis 7:11-12 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Read again Genesis 7:19-24.

So, you can’t say, “All things continue as they have from the very beginning.” No, they haven’t. There was devastating, total judgment on the whole world, and there will be in the future.

Look at 2 Peter 3:7: But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist …

This means the world was different after the flood. No one lived 900 years after the flood. Things were different. A new kind of judgment was at work in the post-flood earth. God’s symbol of promise, the rainbow, was given as a symbol that He will never destroy the world again by water.

But we know worldwide judgment is coming again. Why? Because God’s Word tells us so! But it won’t be by water, because God promised to not flood the earth again. So, by what will the judgment be if not water? Fire!

2 Peter 3:7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Kept for the judgment, the day of judgment, and the destruction of ungodly men.

God is the creator, and He is the destroyer. Only the next time He brings global judgment, He’ll do it by fire—it is reserved for fire. The word “reserved” in the Greek is where we get the word “treasury.” It means “to store up.”

Isaiah 13 says, “When the final Babylon is destroyed it will be destroyed as were Sodom and Gomorrah.”

How were they destroyed? By fire and brimstone.

The promise of God’s judgment coming in fire is all over the word of God: Malachi 4:1 fire; Micah 1:4 fire; Daniel 7:9 and 10 fire;

Matthew 3:11 and 12, John the Baptist said He’s coming, and He’s coming with fire.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 is so graphic. It says when Jesus comes, He’ll be “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire.”

And in 2 Peter 3:12: waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

Wow! This is a sobering reality. Jesus is coming! God will judge and execute His wrath; the Bible tells us that this is good and right for God to do.

Romans 2:5 … because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Beloved, this is why we take full advantage of the common grace that God has given to those who are unrepentant, wicked, and deserving death. God has sent us into a sea of darkness to testify of the only One who can save condemned, guilty people from the fire of God’s wrath—Jesus. This is why we ride, why we testify, and why we serve in Jesus’ name!

Come Lord Jesus; and in the meantime, help us be bold in our testimony of your saving grace in this season of patience that You show for all those under your common grace.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

Cain and Abel 2.3.24

Today’s study on Cain and Abel gives us a number of things to mediate on and grow in.

1. The importance of giving God our first fruits

Our reading in Genesis 4 reveals that our sovereign Creator “had regard” for Abel’s sacrifice of the firstborn of his flock, while He did not approve of the elder brother’s gift of produce (Gen. 4:3–5a). Some have thought that God disregarded Cain’s offering because it was not a blood sacrifice. But this doesn’t work, because the Lord did accept grain offerings on many occasions (see Lev. 2) so that the poorest in Israel could have their sins atoned by them.

The point of concern is that Cain did not bring to God the first fruits of his harvest. In this, his heart was not wholly committed to the Lord, and thus he kept the choicest of his labor from God. This shows his lack of faith. This was his sin and showed Cain’s wicked heart, which we see shows itself more clearly in his murder of Abel.

This is a good point to stop and consider if we are guilty of pridefully assuming that anything we bring to the Lord is acceptable.

As Abel’s example proves, true worshipers of God will give the first and best of their time, money, and possessions to Him.

John Calvin says this about when God sees false worship: “Combined with gross and manifest mockery of himself, it is not surprising that he hates it and is unable to bear it.”

If we do not give that which is costly, the Lord is not pleased with our praise. Do you joyfully and freely and sacrificially give of your time, money, and efforts to the spread of the gospel and make much of the name of Jesus? Abel’s example and Cain’s opposite example give us a great framework to consider the heart behind the way we dedicate our best to God in the area of time, talents and money.

2. We are our brother’s keeper

Genesis 4:9-12  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

It is easy for us to see the crime of murder and even Cain’s lying to God about his brother’s whereabouts, but hidden in his sin is a heart that all-too-casually disregards his responsibility for the wellbeing of his brother.

An Israelite’s brother had the primary responsibility to rescue him if he was in trouble according to Levitical rule. Additionally, Leviticus says life is in the blood (17:11), and so the most defiling substance possible is the shed blood of an innocent person.

This fact is what makes his disregard for Abel particularly horrendous.

We are our brother’s keeper! God has adopted us into His eternal family, and we are to show great love in laying down our lives for each other. This is a call to sacrificial love.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The word “interests” here could be anything. John Piper says it well: “So it could be, ‘Let each of you look not only to your own financial affairs, or your own property, or your own family, or your own health, or your own reputation, or your own education, or your own success, or your own happiness—don’t just think about that, don’t just have desires about that, don’t just strategize about that, don’t just work toward that; but look to the financial affairs and property and family and health, and reputation, and education, and success, and happiness of others.’”

In other words, this is a way of saying the words of Jesus: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matt 22:39). So a Christian makes the good of his brother the focus of his/her interest and strategy and efforts. How are you keeping your brothers? Fighting for them? Walking with them? Serving them?

3. Confess your secret sin, because it’s not a secret to God.

Cain refused to confess and repent when confronted with his sin. God graciously gave Cain a chance to confess his iniquity, but he was too hardened in his sin to submit. Again, John Calvin comments on how this passage warns us when we are convicted of sin. Though the Lord no longer confronts us audibly, “let those, therefore, whose consciences accuse them, beware lest, after the example of Cain, they confirm themselves in obstinacy.” We must not harden our hearts as Cain did.

Cain was sorely mistaken when he thought he could get away with this horrendous act, for God said that Abel’s blood cried out for justice in Genesis 4:10. The verb rendered “crying” here is the same word used elsewhere to speak of the pleas of those who have met injustice.

 Exodus 22:22-24 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless

When the God—the great Judge of all—punishes Cain, He puts on display what He promises by His word: that He always hears His faithful servants’ cries for vindication. This promise is fulfilled in Christ, who was vindicated by God in His resurrection (see Rom. 8:11; 1 Tim. 3:16). In says in Hebrew 12:24 that for the saints, the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than Abel’s. At Calvary, the blood that demands judgment on and destroys the wicked becomes for us a cleansing flood.

Let us always be aware of God’s all-seeing power. Though our flesh may try to convince us that we can sin in secret, God knows every evil deed we commit, even if no one else on the planet finds out. How have you sinned against the Lord in private? We should come clean in confession before the Lord about these things. Not because He doesn’t know what they are, but because confession allows us to agree with God that sin is indeed sin. It allows us to show right remorse for our transgressions and to begin our path towards real repentance.

4. Live by faith

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain …

At the end of Hebrews 10, the author of Hebrews makes it clear that it is by faith that we preserve our souls and are saved (Hebrews 10:39). In Hebrews 11, we find many examples of persevering faith. It is important to remember that persevering faith is not something that we create in ourselves. We only possess true faith if God has sovereignty given it to us (Eph. 2:8 & Phil 1:29). In verse 4 of Hebrews 11, known as “the Faith Hall of Fame,” we read, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain.” Hebrews 11:4 says that Abel’s offering was done in faith, implying that Cain’s was not. God had regard for Abel because he had faith; but Cain, though outwardly obedient, lacked such faith.

Do you trust that God will provide for you if you give Him your best—your first fruits? Do you believe that God will really give you all that you need if you lay your life on the line for Him? Take some time to look at the things you can offer to God: time, money, or relationships. If you have been holding back in any of these areas, seek to give of them in ways that truly reflect trust in His provision.

It is amazing to me to see all the things we learn from this short testimony. God’s word is so rich. May it continue to shape us and convict us and cause us to worship Him with our whole lives!

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church