"A+": Making the Grade in Christ

Deuteronomy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:47
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Our text today from Deuteronomy 6, is about the testing of our faith. When Scripture speaks of the “testing” of our faith it is referring to one of two things. The first is the “testing” of the QUALITY of our faith, and the second is the “testing” which ENHANCES our faith. In my message this morning, I will speak on both kinds of “testing”. In addition, because it is Communion Sunday, I will focus on how Christ’s work on the Cross makes it possible to receive not just a passing grade, but an “A+”! Our Scripture readings begin with Deuteronomy 6:10-19:
Deuteronomy 6:10–19 ESV
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.
Ephesians 5:25–27 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
1 Peter 1:6–7 ESV
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
May God bless this, the reading of His holy and infallible Word.
"Anderson, Baker, Clark, Davis, Ferguson...”. I still remember the mixed feelings of dread and anticipation as I watched my classmates walk up to the teacher’s desk to receive their tests back. Some walked back to their seats dejected and others with a spring in their step. Mercifully, my last name was in the middle of the alphabet and I did not have to wait too long for my results.
In our passage today, Moses speaks of God testing Israel’s faith. Once they had conquered the Promised Land and enjoyed its fruits, would they forget God and run after other gods, or would they remain faithful to the covenant? Every person, of every generation, has faced a test of faith and every one of us has failed—we have failed because of sin.

Because of Sin, We Have All Failed the Test

In his letter to the Romans, Paul devotes three chapters to the examination of human sinfulness and concludes by saying, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). We need to understand that the primary purpose of the Law is to show us our sin. As we read the book of Deuteronomy, it is easy to misunderstand what Moses is doing. He is repeatedly urging us to obey the Law and he reminds us that God is promising great rewards and blessings if we do. The goodness of the Law is not in question. It is to be delighted in and loved. However, as we strive to obey the Law and to enjoy its blessing, we run head on into our own sinfulness. Our inability to fulfill the requirements of the Law is what Paul calls the curse of the Law.
If left to our own devices, the curse of our sinfulness would be an insurmountable obstacle keeping us from enjoying the blessing of the Law; but the Good News (that is the Gospel) is that God has not left us to our own devices. As we will see later in the book of Deuteronomy, God is sending another prophet, a prophet greater than Moses, and this Prophet will become a curse for us in order that we might enjoy the blessings of God! Our reading from Ephesians is about this great Prophet.

For Christ So Loved His Bride

Sin is spiritual adultery, because when we sin, we are replacing God with another “god”. It is also called spiritual adultery, because the covenant God has made with us in not a political covenant, but a covenant of love. Both Israel and the Church are called God’s Bride.
I realize this is an ugly picture, but God wants us to realize how ugly our sin is; but more importantly, He wants us to realize how great His love is towards His elect. God choses His elect, not because they are better than other people (we have all sinned and fall short of His glory), but because of His love.
Our passage from Deuteronomy speaks of God being jealous. This is not sinful jealousy. God is not jealousy OF anyone or anything. When He is jealous, He is jealous FOR His elect.
Why is He jealous FOR His elect?
He is jealous FOR His elect because His love for them burns like a consuming fire! In Deuteronomy 4 we read:
Deuteronomy 4:24 ESV
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
It was God’s jealousy FOR His holiness and FOR His Bride that sent Christ to the Cross to be consumed by the fires of God the Father’s wrath against sin, in order that His Elect Bride would not be consumed by those same fires.
This is the love that Paul writes of in Ephesians 5. This fiery love not only atones for our sin, but it purifies us from it as well! This brings us to the next point:

Into the Refining Fire of Christ’s Jealous Love

When I introduced our Scripture lessons, I explained how there are two ways Scripture speaks of “testing”. So far, we have looked at the first—the testing of the QUALITY of our faith. Now, we are ready to look at the second—the ENHANCING of our faith. Both of our New Testament Scripture lessons speak of our being “purified”. Our passage from Ephesians used the imagery of washing” clothing and our passage from 1 Peter used the imagery of purifying gold to communicate this. Both passages teach this process will be life-long, and only be completed when we appear before Christ in glory.
To better understand this purification process. I would like to have us look at another passage in 1 Peter:
1 Peter 4:12–13 ESV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Peter is reminding us that we should not be surprised by, nor misunderstand the purpose of “fiery trials”. Christ desires that His Bride the Church share in the fulness of His joy, including the joy of receiving an “A+” on our report cards! This is why we should not be surprised by “fiery trials”. If the path of Christ’s “A+” was suffering, how could our path be any different?
If you are anything like me, the sanctification process can get discouraging at times. When I evaluate my life, I am often disappointed. On a good day I may have a “B” on my report card. Other days it is a “C” or “D”. Some days, it is even a big fat “F”!
However, I have to remind myself, that Christ is going to “bring to completion, the work He has begun in us” (Philippians 1:6) and He “is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy” (Jude 24)!
If you have hidden yourself in Christ by faith, you will be fully sanctified when you see Jesus in His glory! This means that someday you will make the grade. You will finally have that A+ report card!
This is one of the things we are “remembering” at the Lord’s Table, not just what He did for us in the past, but what He is presently doing and will do in the future. So, come to the Table in joy this morning.
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