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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Genesis Series

I have completed my 42nd sermon from the book of Genesis. It will nearly take a year to finish this series. It has truly been informative and edifying as I have learned much from my study and sermon preparation. Here are my notes from Genesis 45:16-47:26.


The broken family of Jacob torn apart by favoritism, rivalry, and polygamy has found partial redemption through the most unlikely of circumstances.

God gives the favored son of Joseph dreams when interpreted predict a day when his entire family will bow down to him. Joseph’s sharing of this dream with his family coupled with the tension that already existed led his angry and jealous brothers to sell him into slavery.

Joseph ends up in the nation of Egypt in the care of Potiphar, the captain of the guard for Pharaoh. Despite the desperate plot that Joseph found himself in, separated from his family, in servitude, in a foreign country, God was still with him.

God blessed Joseph to the extent that Potiphar made him head of his household. Additionally, when Joseph was unjustly thrown into prison, God blessed him there too, and he was made overseer of the prisoners.

Threw providential circumstances, Joseph was bale to correctly interpret the dreams of two men who were extremely close to Pharaoh. Years later when Pharaoh himself had two dreams that could not be interpreted by the wise men of Egypt, Joseph was remembered and was brought before Pharaoh where he satisfactorily interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.

Joseph says that Egypt will face 7 years of plenty and 7 years of great famine. He suggests that Egypt prepare in the first seven years to sustain the country in the second seven years. At his suggestion, Pharaoh appoints Joseph to second in command with the goal of preserving the nation.

The famine reaches Canaan where Joseph’s family resides. And his brothers come to purchase food for the family. Through a series of tests by Joseph, the brothers confess their sin towards Joseph, they demonstrate the health of Joseph’s blood brother Benjamin, and Judah demonstrates his own personal redemption when he offers to trade his life for Benjamin.

Last week, as we surveyed, the first half of chapter 45, we witnessed the partial reunification of the family of promise. We witnessed the reconciliation of a family were bitterly divided and full of jealousy. Now we have 12 brothers who are once again one; they are a family again.

The Invitation of Pharaoh (Genesis 45:16-28)

The healing process is only partially complete for Joseph has been reunited with his brothers including Benjamin, but he has yet to be reunited with his father, Jacob.

Pharaoh, who has been a hidden figure in this developing situation enters into the narrative again and commands Joseph’s family to return to Canaan taking abundant provisions for their entire family to make a pilgrimage back to Egypt and live in the healthiest part of the kingdom.

The Pharaoh’s generosity to the family of Jacob is further evidence of God’s fulfillment of his promises. God’s covenant to Abraham included the promise to bless those who bless him. This promise extends to each generation of the sons of promise. Pharaoh’s kindness to Joseph was rewarded by God’s salvation of Egypt through the severe famine. This generosity continues from Pharaoh to Joseph’s family as he invites them to live in his land.

The family returns to Canaan, and after some prompting, Jacob believes in the report that his long dead son is alive. The family makes preparations to move to Egypt.

God’s Promise & Jacob’s Family

The importance of God’s encounter with Jacob in a dream is significant for this reason. The land of Canaan is the land of promise. Canaan is the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His departure from the land of promise might be interpreted as a sign of faithlessness.

However, since God specifically told him to not be afraid to go into Egypt, this sojourn is deemed appropriate.

The author then proceeds to tell us about the vast number of family members who made the journey. The author emphasizes the number 70. Seventy was a Hebrew number which symbolized completeness.

Lamech (seventy times seven) Genesis 4

Days of mourning for Jacob (seventy) Genesis 50

70 nations descended from Noah Genesis 10

Technically speaking there were more than seventy people who were brought into Egypt. For example verse 7 says that all of his son’s daughters came, but none are listed. Additionally in verse 5 it says that his sons’ wives came, but they are not listed. His servants are not listed either. It seems the only ones counted as descendants are sons, grandsons, one daughter, and one granddaughter. A further evidence that the number seventy is more symbolic than technical is that Joseph’s two sons are counted as part of the seventy, but they never came from Canaan. They were born and raised entirely in Egypt.

The main idea expressed here is his entire family was spared and saved in Egypt. Furthermore, the number seventy expresses the idea that the family of promise was rapidly growing as God had said it would. God’s promises do not always come to pass in the timing we think it should, nevertheless they do not fail and always come to pass.

Joseph and Jacob reunite (Genesis 46:28-30)

The family is one again

Joseph’s instructions (Genesis 46:31-47:12)

Joseph gives a crash course to his family on proper conduct before Pharaoh so that all may go well with them. The family passes test.

Joseph secures all Egypt’s Gold and Land for Pharaoh (Genesis 47:13-26)

The famine was so severe the people of Egypt sold everything to Pharaoh so that they might survive.

Important Phrases, Observations, & Applications:

1. Genesis 45:26, “And they told him, “Joseph is alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt. And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them.”

There are so many happenings in this large narrative that remind us of the story of Jesus.

Turn with me to Luke 24:1-12

A son was dead, but now he is alive. Indeed it was hard to believe in both situations. Joseph is Lord of Egypt. Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings.

Joseph was “dead”, but was raised by God to bring deliverance and salvation to Egypt and the family of promise. Joseph was used by God to bring about family reconciliation even through sins and trials.

Likewise Jesus was literally dead, but was raised by God from the dead. In his resurrection, Jesus was declared the Son of God in power (Roman 1:4). Jesus was used by God to bring deliverance and salvation to the entire world. His work set in motion and laid the foundation (Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11) for the redemption of the cursed earth, and forgiveness of sins to all who will believe in his name.

Through Jesus, God brings reconciliation between the families of the earth and God and between the peoples of the earth.

2. Genesis 46:3-4, “The he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt…”

God’s presence brought greater confidence for Jacob as he sojourned in a foreign land that God would continue to work to fulfill all his covenant promises.

The same is true for all God’s covenant partners, especially to those who are covenanted with him through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus gave us similar words in Matthew 28:20, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” So with the Hebrews author we can say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me (Heb. 13:6)?”

We can with certainty cling to hope in Jesus Christ no matter what context of life we may find ourselves in. God’s words never fail. Jesus said, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Matt 24:35).” “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

3. Genesis 46:34, “you shall say, your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers, in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

The power that Pharaoh accumulates and the utter distaste the Egyptians normally hold to the Hebrews who are pastoral shepherds foreshadows the future hostility the family of Jacob will face in Egypt.

When the current Pharaoh dies and the famine is history, a new Pharaoh will turn on the Israelites. God’s abundant blessings to turn a family of seventy into a nation of thousands leads to their freedom being turned into slavery, which in turn would to the great display of the mighty hand of God in power over the Egyptians in the Exodus.

Monday, January 28, 2008

BF&M: Evangelism and Missions

Here are my notes on a recent exposition of article 11 of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations.
The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.

Great Commission Churches

Historically, the great cause around which Southern Baptists have cooperated and united together are Evangelism and Missions. In fact the Southern Baptist Convention itself was organized in part for the purpose of sending out missionaries.

Southern Baptists have rightly identified evangelism and missions as part of the central tasks of the local church. We believe the Great Commission command to make disciples goes to the very core of what it means to follow Jesus. As Jesus made disciples, so too does Jesus command us to follow in his steps and make disciples as well. And discipleship does not happen apart from evangelism.


Evangelism is a word that means to proclaim the good news concerning the work of God through Jesus Christ. Evangelism is a word transliterated into the English language from the Greek language much like Baptism. Euaggelion (the gospel, good news) and euaggelizw (to proclaim the gospel or good news) were terms often used by the gospel writers to explain the ministry of Jesus. Jesus came to preach and proclaim the goods news of the Kingdom of God. God ushers in his reign and rule through Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins is offered and reconciliation with God is attainable.

The first line of Article 11, in the BF&M states, “It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations.” Southern Baptists affirm the necessity of every believer to participate in the work of spreading the goods news about Jesus Christ.

The responsibility of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is not only for pastors, good communicators, evangelists, or deacons. The command to share the good news about Jesus Christ is given to every follower of our Lord.

Often times we seem to make evangelism much harder than it really is, however evangelism is the proclamation of a handful of truths to sinners.

Mark Dever writes concerning what evangelism is not:

Evangelism is not an imposition of our ideas upon others. It is not merely personal testimony. It is not merely social action. It may not involve apologetics, and it is not the same thing as the results of evangelism. Evangelism is telling the wonderful truth about God, the great news about Jesus Christ. When we understand this, then obedience to the call to evangelize can become certain and joyful. Understanding this increases evangelism as it moves from being a guilt-driven burden to a joyful privilege.

Evangelism is not merely our involvement in good deeds. Social action is surely a part of obedience to Christ, but apart from the proclamation that in Jesus Christ sinners can be forgiven of sins and find peace with God, it cannot be categorized as evangelism.

Testimonials, which are wonderful and common in Southern Baptist life, can even fall short of evangelism if they do not include the call for sinners to believe in Jesus Christ and to repent of their sins.

Evangelism becomes more of a privilege for us rather than mere duty when we understand that defending the faith or answering every critic’s questions or objections about our faith is not necessary for evangelism to be accomplished. As Dever again correctly points out, “We do not fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not subsequently converted; we fail only if we do not faithfully tell the gospel at all.”

One result arising from our own conversions is our growing love for others. As 1 John 4:20 emphasizes, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Thus the BF&M article states concerning evangelism, “The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others.” If we cannot love our brothers and neighbors, then the love of Jesus is not within us.

Let us look at the next sentence in the article. It reads, “Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ.”

One cannot faithfully carry out the task of making disciples and proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ without first having been born again from above by the Spirit. Apart from the life giving Spirit, we remain in the bondage to our sins and we remain unconcerned for the mission of God to redeem the lost world.

Additionally, evangelism and missions is not a periphery issue to Jesus. Both go to the core of why Jesus came. It is through the evangelistic proclamation of the good news concerning Jesus that men and women gain entrance into God’s unshakable Kingdom. And it is through mission activity that the world is partially redeemed. Mission activity also brings glory our Father in heaven and leads to his glorification by his creation (Matt 5:16). Through faithful mission activities, men and women are drawn to the love of Christ as often it provides the context by which Christians gain a hearing with unbelievers.

Here I am defining evangelism and missions differently. Evangelism is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missions is any Christian activity done with the aim to glorify God and participate in redeeming this fallen world and making right of any wrong.

Mission activity should always try to include evangelism, however mission activity can often be the bridge by which we get the chance to evangelize, but we must be patient and refrain from turning people off to the gospel by being overly pushy.

Mission activity includes (not exhaustive) the following:

--NAMB emergency aid relief in major crises.
--Building projects
--Donations of food, water, clothes to those deprived of basic needs.
--Payment of bills which cannot be paid
--Cleaning projects in our communities
--Medical relief for the sick

The objects of evangelism and missions are the entire world population. As the Article states, “The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations.” God’s desire is to see every man, woman, and child repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (1 Tim 2:3-4). The gospel of Jesus Christ is a universal message. It is intended to draw men, women, and children from every tribe, tongue, and people.

The message is universal because there is only one exclusive savior for mankind (1 Cor 15:22).

It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.

The drive to evangelize must be one in which we are consistent. The need of lost sinners to find Jesus is of the utmost concern. It should be central to our personal lives, the life of our local church. It is the central task to which Jesus called us.

But our lives should not only consist of the gospel proclamation. We should also undergird our gospel witness with a faithful and holy lifestyle so not to compromise the integrity of our message. Hypocrisy is one of the chief obstacles for sinners when viewing our message and weighing its worth. We must strive to live a life in harmony with the gospel and in harmony with the life of Jesus Christ. Our lives should be full of both love and truth, not just one or the other.

While our lives cannot express the gospel completely, words are needed, nevertheless the entirety of our witness can have positive or negative effects upon those whom we are trying to reach.

Lastly, the methods we use in order to reach men and women with the gospel of Jesus Christ need to be commensurate with the spirit and teaching found in Scripture. In other words, we are not free to use any method in order to reach people for Christ. We do not believe that the ends justify the means. We believe the entire pursuit of seeing men and women come to saving faith in Jesus must be god-honoring.

For example some churches entice youth to come to events by promising to give out playstations and large sums of money in order that they get kids to come and then they tell them the gospel.

The question we always should ask is: Are our methods revealing to others the true power in the Spirit of God and his ability to change hearts or are we confident that our tactics will reap success?


How is LRBC doing with evangelism?
How is LRBC doing in Missions?
How can we get better?

How can we fix our problems?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dr. Albert Mohler for SBC President

The Southern Baptist Texan is reporting that Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas will nominate Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for President at the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis in June.

If elected, Mohler would become only the fourth active Seminary President to serve simultaneously as Convention President and Seminary President according to the article, joining Paige Patterson, W. W. Hamilton, and L. R. Scarborough.

It will be interesting to see how it unfolds given that Mohler is a confessed Calvinist. However, I believe with all the negativity (mostly undue) surrounding Calvinism in Southern Baptist life, I believe Dr. Mohler is one Calvinist among a few who is electable.

There are many who believe it will be difficult for him to win given his theology. However remember that Dr. Mark Dever, in Greensboro 06, was only narrowly defeated by Jackson for one of the Vice President positions. And Mohler is significantly more well known than Dever.

Nevertheless, I am confident that whoever is elected President whether it is Dr. Mohler or not will be very capable of providing the necessary leadership the SBC needs at this hour. This is my prayer, anyway.