Views from the Pew – 11.3.21

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What did you learn from last Sunday’s sermon “God Breaks His Silence”?

Q1: How many priests served alongside Zacharias?

Q2: Who did Elizabeth give birth to?

Q3: What pushes us to obedience to God’s commandments (law)?

Q4: Law without grace is called what?

Q5: What did Luke mean by saying that Zacharias and Elizabeth were “walking blameless”?

Q6: How many years was God silent between the Old Testament book of Malachi and the time the angel spoke to Zacharias?

Sermon Summary & Answers

So far, in the last two sermons, we’ve determined the author, time, setting, and background for the book of Luke. He was a Gentile doctor and a renowned historian that was very close to the Apostle Paul. Now we jump right into the story by introducing Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth. They were a truly remarkable couple. Zacharias was one of about 18,000 – 20,000 priests serving the temple. His typical job would be to butcher the sacrifices as they came in. Each priest would only serve for two weeks out of the year and all week at Passover. They would draw lots to see who would serve at the Altar of Incense. It was during this service at the Altar of Incense that an angel appeared to Zacharias. The angel told him that his barren wife of advanced years would give birth to John the Baptist, who was to remain pure and would be filled with the Holy Spirit so that he could lead many people to God.

Zacharias and his wife had prayed hard to have this child. When we pray for God’s will, that is called a prayer of faith that springs forth hope until He comes again. When we pray for something not necessarily in God’s will, we call that a prayer of hope. Psalm 37:4-5 tells us that our hopes will begin to align with God’s promises if we delight in Him and commit our ways to the Lord, trusting in Him.

Luke 1:6 tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth did just this. They were “righteous in the sight of God and blameless in all the commandments.” We might at first think this means they were perfect like Jesus and unable to do wrong – but we need to look closer. God looks at Zacharias and Elizabeth and no longer counts their sins against them. Why? Because they genuinely believed what God said about His promises (faith), His commandments, Himself, and about themselves just like Abraham (Romans 4:2-5). God took their sin and placed it (imputed it) onto the Messiah that was to come to earth. Then God imputed Christ’s righteousness onto them. When God looks at a true believer today, it’s the same thing – God only sees the righteousness of His son and not the believer’s sins.

A believer can never be good enough. That is why we must have absolute faith to live eternally with God. This couple truly believed and clung to the last words God recorded in Malachi 3:1 (God will send Jesus and come back to get us) and Malachi 3:17-18 (the righteous will be spared and “they will be Mine”). This book is so short. Just take a moment and bathe your mind in the triumphant language that God uses. Even though God was silent for 400 years after this book was written and before the Gospels, this couple still believed. That’s amazing! They were in a desert of revelation and contact from God. The Messiah had yet to come. The prophets were gone; there were no churches or disciples. They were literally starved for news from God – yet they had their spiritual game together (says God). How is this possible? Isaiah 61:10 tells us that it is God Himself that clothes us (them) in righteousness. He plants us in our steadfastness (like a tree) for His glory (Isaiah 61:3). Romans 3:23-26 gently tells us that this act (Jesus’ death covering our sins) is a gracious gift from God that can only be received by faith. God did this to show His righteousness and His ability to pass over all of your sins – GONE! He is just and the justifier. Nothing else can cleanse you and save you but believing God. If you don’t believe what God says, then you simply have no hope at all (see Malachi 4).

When Luke writes that this couple was “walking blameless,” he was saying that they were walking in sanctification, living a sanctified life. In other words, they were not perfect; they were becoming more perfect as time went on, and they grew in their faith. This is what we are supposed to do after we are justified by the justifier – we grow in holiness by pursuing righteousness (2 Timothy 2:19-22). This is how we are useful to God and His kingdom. We can do this now because we are under God’s amazing grace, and sin has no dominion over us (Romans 6:12-14). Psalm 19:7-11 literally sings about how a believer truly wants to obey the God they love and believe. There is absolutely no confusion to God about who is His and who belongs to the devil. Sanctification is the evidence that you have been justified (1 John 2:3-6). If you aren’t growing in holiness, you might not be saved.

“It’s grace working in us obedience to the law [God’s commandments]. This is the relationship between grace and law. Grace and law is not in conflict in the life of a believer. Grace pushes us to obedience. The law is the marker along the way and grace is the fuel.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

Law without grace is legalism

Grace without the law is antinomianism.

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  1. 18,000-20,000
  2. John the Baptist
  3. Grace
  4. Legalism
  5. That they were leading a sanctified life – pursuing holiness and growing in holiness
  6. 400 years