Sermons by Thomas Becker
What is justification? God, motivated by grace, declares guilty people to be righteous. God is both just and the justifier, sending His son to be the atonement for our sin.
In Hebrews 13:7-8, we are encouraged to remember those who have influenced us and established us in the faith. We are to consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus is the source of the grace that is manifested in the outcomes of their lives. We should lean on Christ, never giving up, devoting ourselves to teaching and sharing the Word of God.
The Gospel is an announcement of good news. Salvation is our rescue from guilt, separation from God, slavery to sin, and eternal death. Salvation is also rescue for life, adoption as children of God, and blessedness. The Gospel message is filled with the inherent power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
In Psalm 32 King David expresses the blessedness of forgiveness. David had committed sins of which the consequences of those sins still occurred, but he received forgiveness and a restored relationship with the Father when he cried out to God. Righteousness comes through faith to us as well. It is credited to us as a gift, apart from works.
Mark 1:14-15 marks a turning point in history when Jesus proclaims, “The time has come.” Israel had been waiting for the Messiah for thousands of years, the Promised One who would suffer and die for our sins and bring deliverance from sin. Our response to the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf should be one of repentance and faith, awe and worship.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (ESV) We are reminded often to be thankful in Colossians. Although God does not need our thanks, we benefit from being thankful. It is important to remember our own helplessness and dependence on God for everything that we have, especially the salvation which we have received as an unearned gift.
Colossians 4:5-6 reminds us to be wise in our lifestyle before a watching world, truly caring for others and honoring the Lord in all things. This type of admirable, attractive conduct should lead to opportunities for outreach. Pray for such opportunities and for wisdom to share our convictions graciously and with respect.
Prayer should be like a constantly flowing river— a natural undercurrent in our lives. We are to be devoted (standing at the ready), watchful (vigilant), and thankful (recognizing all things come from God). Prayer and outreach are connected so remember that “prayer is the primary work of God’s people.” and pray for open doors and clarity of speech.
Self-made, counterfeit religion is powerless to produce change in our lives. Lists of regulations, mystical experiences, asceticism-all these should be neither a foundation for salvation, nor a way to measure the progress of ourselves and others, nor a remedy for besetting sin. Instead, it’s essential to cling to Christ and draw near to Him everyday. It is also important to find and give encouragement to others in the body of Christ, the church.
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This is the message to which Paul had a single-minded devotion, the Good News that we can all be reconciled to God. Paul was convinced that this message worth dying for and worth living for with all his energy. We too, are to be Christ’s ambassadors, sharing in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Saving faith has three essential components, all described in Colossians 1:21-23. We must recognize our condition apart from Christ, alienated from God and falling short of His holiness. The next step is reconciliation, in genuine repentance accepting the forgiveness that we could not earn for ourselves. Once we have found peace with God, we must continue to move foward in confident hope, steadfastly walking with Christ.
Our world, filled with war and injustice, awaits the reconciliation of all things to God mentioned in Colossians 1:19-20. Sin brought personal separation from God and disruption to the universe (Romans 8:20-23). But God initiated reconciliation through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The final restoration will occur when the enemies of Christ will one day be destroyed (1Corinthians 15:24).
Colossians 1:15-20 provides a glimpse into the majesty and glory of Jesus. He is preeminent in His very being – the image and manifestation of the invisible God. He is preeminent over all all of creation – the source and force that holds the universe together. He is preeminent over the church, its head, ruler, and guide. Let us pursue Christ over all else.
Paul in Colossians 1:9-12 encourages the Colossians to “Live a life worthy of the Lord.” We are to conduct ourselves in balance with all that Jesus is by bearing fruit in every good work and growing in a personal, experiential knowledge of God. We can be strengthened by His glorious might, filled with thankfulness and in tune with God’s will.
In Christ we are saints, not because of what we do, but because we are set apart for God, His treasured possession. We are faithful brothers in Christ, sharing a deep family bond with all who have put their faith in the Lord. Where are we? We are in Christ, part of a new kingdom, a new mindset. Yet we are also still “in Colossae,” part of a particular earthly community. We are called to engage with the world in order to win it for Christ.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, he addresses false teachings by proclaiming the truth about Christ and challenges the Colossians to remain in the truth. Jesus is preeminent. In Him we can be redeemed and reconciled to God. Christ can live in us by faith — He is our life, our strength, and our hope.
The person who only hears the Word of God soon forgets what he reads and its truths do not penetrate his life. The one who is both a hearer and a doer of the Word perseveres in the study of God’s word and acts upon it. The filling/control of the Holy Spirit enables the doer to live out the truths of the Word of God.
How often do you pray and don’t receive the answer you desire? Pastor Becker explains how we can understand another great promise that Jesus gave the disciples during the Upper Room Discourse, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” He helps us understand what it means to pray in Jesus’ name and what it means that God is glorified.
The story of Daniel’s life is the story of how to survive and thrive in a hostile spiritual environment. Daniel and his three friends developed daily habits and attitudes that prepared them for intense challenges. Daniel relied on the sovereignty of God. He resolved not to defile himself and acted with humility, prudence, and discretion. Finally, he refused to worship and and serve false gods.
Love binds us together as believers and is a witness to the watching world. Paul reminds us that during the Communion, we mutually participate in the cross. We identify with Christ and proclaim that He died in our place to give us His righteousness. Unity must be guarded by excluding ungodly affiliations and divisions.