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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
 
Title:Jesus is the only and complete Saviour
Text:LD 11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son
 
Preached:2013
Added:2013-07-12
Updated:2013-12-30
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

NOTE:  all songs from the 2010 Book of Praise

Hymn 36
Psalm 116:1-5
Hymn 79
Hymn 1
Psalm 150

Scripture readings:  Galatians 5:16-26, Ephesians 6:10-18
Catechism lesson:  Lord's Day 11

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Saviour Jesus,

In Matthew 7:13-14, Christ said, “Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Loved ones, note carefully what he says there.  Many go on the road to destruction.  Only a few find the narrow way that leads to life.  Elsewhere, he makes clear that he is the way.  In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’  The Bible is quite clear then that there is only way of salvation and that way is through Jesus Christ. 

Unfortunately, many people think differently.  Oprah Winfrey says, “One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there is only one way.  Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God.”  In other words, what Oprah is saying is that one of the biggest mistakes people make is to believe what the Bible says.  Our biggest mistake is to believe the word of Jesus.  But brothers and sisters, I will take the Word of Jesus over the word of Oprah any day and I trust you share that sentiment.  There is a narrow way and only a few find it.  That narrow way is through Jesus Christ. 

We have to quickly add that it is through Jesus Christ alone.  There are many who say that they believe Jesus Christ is the way to the Father, and yet they add others, either consciously or unconsciously.  The Roman Catholics consciously add to Christ’s saving work.  They say you need Mary, you need the intercession of the saints, you need the church, you need your good works, and on it goes.  But it’s easy to pick at the failings of others.  What about us?  Could we be consciously or unconsciously undermining Christ’s position as our only Saviour?  Self-deception is notoriously difficult to spot from the inside, but I have some questions for you to think about.  These questions come from Christian counselor David Powlison and they can help us uncover those things to which we look for comfort and help, besides Jesus.  Here are some of the questions.  Think about them carefully for yourself: 

·         What am I most afraid of?

·         What do I long for most passionately?

·         Where do I run for comfort?

·         What do I complain about most?

·         What angers me most?

·         What makes me happiest?

·         How do I explain myself to other people?

·         What do I brag about?

·         What do I want to have more than anything else? 

·         If I could change one thing in my life what would that be?

·         Whose approval am I seeking?

·         What comfort do I treasure the most?

If you’re like me, some of those questions are uncomfortable.  If we’re honest, the answers reveal that sometimes we do look for other saviours besides Jesus.  Of this, we need to repent continually.  We need to be constantly turning back to the only Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We must find in him all that is necessary for our salvation and well-being.  As the Catechism rightly says, “salvation is not to be sought or found in anyone else.”  This afternoon, we again want to direct our attention to Jesus, the one whose name means Saviour.  I preach to you God’s Word, Jesus is the only and complete Saviour.

We’ll consider how he delivers us from our sworn enemies: 

1.      The devil

2.      The world

3.      Our own flesh

Satan is the first of our sworn enemies.  The name Satan literally means enemy or adversary.  He is first of all the enemy of God.  He hates God and is at war with him.  However, Satan also hates us and wants to destroy us.  Think of 1 Peter 5:8, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life.  He is not interested in having you as a friend, he’s interested in having you for lunch.  He will not be satisfied until he can drag as many humans to destruction with him as he possibly can.  Moreover, he is a powerful enemy.  It’s for good reason that Peter compares him to a lion.  Lions are strong creatures.  Satan is a mighty enemy.  Much of his might comes from the fact that he has demonic allies.  He has an army of evil angels at his disposal.  Even though as an angel, as a creature, Satan cannot be in two places at once, he can have forces at the ready anywhere on the planet.  These forces are there to oppose and undermine Christ’s work of gathering, defending, and preserving his church.  They’re there to attack you, brothers and sisters.

Satan would be happy to have you live in sin while you merely go through the outward motions of being a church-going Christian.  He will do what he can to push you in that direction, even providing you with incentives and persuasive arguments.  Satan would be equally happy if he could get you to think that being a good person is all there is to being a Christian.  Satan masquerades as an angel of light.  If he could get you to think that you just have to work hard to be a moral person and if he could get your eyes off of Jesus Christ, he would be just as happy as if you were totally living in sin.  Legalism, moralism, hypocrisy – these are all places where Satan wants to get people.  He knows that all of these will leave you with him at the Judgment Day.      

There can be little question that we need deliverance from this enemy.  We’re not strong enough on our own to withstand him and his army of evil demons.  Anyone who thinks they are strong is self-deceived.  Satan is a mighty enemy and we ought to respect his deadly powers, even though we do not respect him.  You need someone to take him down.  But you cannot do it yourself.  There is only one to whom you can turn.  There is only one who has the strength to conquer Satan and his forces, so that they can’t harm you.  That one is our only Saviour Jesus.

Let’s reflect for a moment on Satan’s role in the suffering and death of Christ.  Was Satan directly involved?  Do you remember?  In John 13, Satan comes into the picture.  The devil prompted Judas to betray Jesus.  In John 13:27, we read that Satan actually entered into Judas Iscariot.  Satan worked through Judas to try and destroy Jesus.  Satan thought that by putting Jesus into the hands of the Jewish religious leaders, he could kill him and get him out of the way.  Satan rejoiced to see Jesus on the cross.  He thought that he had won.  But he was wrong.  Satan did not know that on the cross Jesus was enduring the wrath of God against our sins.  Then Easter Sunday morning came, and Jesus rose from the dead victorious.  God declared that his sacrifice had been accepted.  Jesus had won salvation for his people.  He undid the curse that had fallen on Adam and Eve and their children.  He did that for all who believe in him.  Our Saviour has conquered Satan and he has delivered us from his power and slavery. 

This is good news for us!  Brothers and sisters, the devil cannot own us.  He cannot possess us.   Through faith, we belong to Jesus Christ.  He is our Lord and master, our owner.  No one can steal us from his loving hands.  Sometimes people will ask whether Christians can be possessed by demons.  No, they cannot.  If someone is a child of God through faith in Christ, they cannot be possessed by a demon.  However, any of us can be oppressed by demonic forces.  Look at our Saviour Jesus Christ.  He was never possessed by a demon – in fact, that’s what his enemies claimed about him, but we know that’s not true.  He was never possessed, but he was oppressed.  He was attacked by Satan, tempted by him, and finally pushed to the cross by him.  If Satan could do that to our Saviour, he could do something like that with us too.  Satanic oppression is a possibility for Christians.

This is why we read from Ephesians 6.  There Paul writes about the full armour of God.  Why do we have this description of the Christian soldier and his equipment?  Well, it says in verse 11, “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  Our Saviour not only went to the cross and conquered Satan there, he also gives us tools and means by which we can be delivered from Satan when he seeks to oppress and attack us today.  There is a spiritual war going on and our gracious Saviour has given us the armour to be able to not just merely survive, but come out victorious.  Christ wants us to stand our ground.  He gives us the means to do it.  He gives us his Spirit to be able to use these means.  There are several defensive pieces in the Christian’s armour:  the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.  To be protected from the attacks of Satan, we need these things that only our Saviour provides.  He gives us all of this:  truth, righteousness, faith, salvation.  We put on those pieces of equipment through resting and trusting in Jesus Christ. 

But then our Saviour adds one more key piece of equipment:  the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  This is the only offensive weapon we Christian soldiers have at our disposal.  It is a gift of Christ as well, a gift through which he will deliver us from the evil one.  But that doesn’t happen automatically.  The sword of the Spirit is like any other weapon.  The Colt C7 is the standard military rifle in Canada.  If you were to join the military, they would issue you a Colt C7.  But you would need to learn how to use it and then you would have to practice with it for hours to become proficient with it.  Using an assault rifle well is not a natural activity.  You have to practice for hours.  It’s the same way with the sword of the Spirit.  It’s the same way with Scripture.  Christ gives you this gift of his Word as a means of deliverance and help against Satan, but it will not benefit you in your spiritual warfare if you neglect it.  Loved ones, one of the most powerful things you can do to keep Satan at bay is to have a well-read Bible.  I can’t overstate the importance of this.  When your Bible is ignored, it’s like the soldier who hasn’t been practicing with his firearm.  When the enemy makes a surprise attack, your aim will be off; the enemy will have his opportunity to overcome you.  This is why soldiers practice, practice, practice with their weapons.  This is why Christian soldiers have to constantly arm themselves with the Word of God by reading and studying it.  This is how Christ will deliver you from our enemies.  And parents, I urge you to teach your children from a young age to read the Bible for themselves.  When combined with prayer, it is one of the best ways to be protected from the schemes of the devil.

Our only Saviour Jesus also delivers us from the world.  The world is also a sworn enemy set on destroying us.  The world hates us.  That’s what Jesus himself said in John 15:19, “As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.”  But what do we mean by “the world”?  What does Scripture mean when it uses that expression?  “The world” refers to the world of unbelief and rebellion against God.  It refers to sinful humanity which sets itself against God.  The world is an enemy of God and the world is also our enemy.  The world hates us because it hates Christ. 

The world offers all kinds of temptations to lead us away from Christ.  It offers all kinds of false gods and saviours.  The world offers up its own visions of what hell is and what heaven is, enticing you away from the only true Saviour.   The magazines at the grocery store give a good illustration.  According to those magazines, hell is apparently a place where your face has zits, where you have facial wrinkles, a few extra pounds, outdated clothes, scaly dry skin, and no boyfriend.  On the other hand, heaven is a place where you have perfectly shaved legs, brilliantly white teeth, the right lotion for your skin type, jeans that hug your curves, the perfect diet to keep you from being too curvy, the super-good looking boyfriend, and, well you get the idea.  The world holds all this out as alternatives to Christ as the only Saviour, the one in whom we find not only our salvation, but also our joy and well-being now and for eternity.  It’s so tempting to fall for it.

Loved ones, we need to look to Christ for contentment.  We need to look to Christ as a complete Saviour.  He is not only the Saviour for what happens to your soul after you die, he’s also the Saviour for what happens to you as you live here on this earth.  His deliverance encompasses every single aspect of your life.  He has come to set you free from idols and from slavery to the world and its expectations, and the false promises its gods proclaim.  Listen to what Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  We need to look to this Saviour who has victory over this enemy, so that we can share in his victory, so that we can be delivered from the lies that surround us.  We must look to him only.  No one and nothing else can give what Jesus gives.  No one else can give us freedom and peace.  No one else can be a complete Saviour.

Finally, our only Saviour Jesus delivers us from our own flesh.  Let me explain what we mean by “flesh.”  There is a word in New Testament Greek (sarx) that often gets literally translated as flesh.  The word is used in different ways in the New Testament.  The way we’re using it here is to refer to what the Canons of Dort (5.3) call the remnants of indwelling sin.  We’re talking about the leftovers of our sinful nature.  Before regeneration, a human being has one nature:  a sinful nature, inclined to all evil.  When the Holy Spirit causes us to be born again, a new nature appears.  There is a new nature, a new principle governing the life of that person.  This new nature loves God and wants to serve him.  However, there are also remnants left of the old sinful nature.  These remnants beckon to us, calling us back to the sinful way of life.  This is our flesh.  The remnants of our sinful nature are also our enemy. 

Jesus delivers us from this enemy too.  Through his obedience and through his work on the cross, he ensures that the remnants of our sinful nature cannot condemn us.  If we are united to Christ through faith, these remnants of sinful flesh are blotted out in the sight of God.  Our Form for the Lord’s Supper says it well: 

Daily we have to contend with the weakness of our faith and with the evil desires of our flesh.  Yet, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are heartily sorry for these shortcomings and desire to fight against our unbelief and to live according to the commandments of God.  Therefore we may be fully assured that no sin or weakness which remains in us against our will can prevent us from being received by God in grace…

Ah, we’ve heard those words so many times, haven’t we?  But why is it that the leftovers of our sinful nature can’t keep us from fellowship with God?  Listen, it’s all because we have a perfect Saviour in Jesus Christ.

This perfect Saviour not only takes care of the condemnation angle, but he also delivers us day by day through the process of sanctification.  Sanctification – that’s the process by which holiness and godliness more and more come to expression in our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Christ works through his Holy Spirit so that those remnants of the sinful nature become fewer and fewer and less and less powerful.

This is what Paul is speaking about in Galatians 5.  He acknowledges the struggle for Christians.  Christians always have to struggle against sin and it can be frustrating.  Paul got frustrated over it – you can see that in Romans 7.  But Christ gives us his Spirit, by whose power we can and do overcome the remnants of the sinful nature, our flesh.  He equips us with his Spirit so that we can fight and so that we can win.  Through Christ’s Spirit, the acts of the sinful nature disappear, to be replaced with the fruit of the Spirit.

You see, loved ones, Christ is a complete Saviour.  He saves us from our sins, he saves us from the holy and divine wrath which our sins deserve.  But he gives us far more.  He gives us rescue from enemies who would otherwise destroy us.  His salvation is a grand salvation, encompassing absolutely everything we need for body and soul.  Through Christ we have everything.  So, why would you ever seek for another saviour?  You will find none like Jesus.  There is no creature in heaven or on earth who loves us more than Jesus Christ.  There is no salvation like his.  AMEN.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father,

We praise you for a complete Saviour in Jesus Christ.  We acknowledge our need for him.  We have great enemies arrayed against us.  We have many who want us destroyed and alienated from you.  We’re therefore thankful that we have a Saviour who secured our place with you through his life, death, and resurrection.  We rejoice in a Saviour who keeps us safe from our enemies, who delivers us from their power, and will not allow us to fall prey to their schemes.  Please keep on working with your Spirit in our hearts so that we don’t get distracted from Jesus.  Help us to always keep our eyes fixed on him in true faith.  We want to find all our salvation and well-being in our Saviour only.  Please help us to be faithful to that commitment, so that through this we may continue to glorify your Name in our lives.                                              

NOTE:  the illustration of the world and its offering its own visions of hell and heaven was adapted from Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Jesus, 189-191.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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