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Sunday, 24 April 2016


Matthew 6:16-18

Jesus said: “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

We are embarking on a subject that brings all sorts of terrors to the preacher. If you are anything like me then you have rarely heard a sermon on fasting. There seems to be two schools of thought in the modern church concerning fasting. The one school tends to give the impression that fasting is not really relevant and so they largely ignore the subject hoping that it might disappear. The other school believes that fasting ought to be a regular part of the church diet??? and that we ought to be fasting as often as possible. This school usually has the powerful preacher who with great passion leaves the average Christian squirming in his seat because we could never match up to his wonderful example.

If you want to know which school I belong to then I confess to being in the first one, but is that where I should remain? That has been the challenge to me and hopefully by the end of our time together we might find ourselves thinking biblically about the point of fasting.

The three points of our passage are:

Jesus' expectation:

Jesus at the beginning of His ministry in this passage which we call the sermon on the mount approaches the subject of fasting. The first thing that we notice is that Jesus was not in the school that I belong to because He began by assuming that His followers did fast. He said “when you fast!” Surely that means that Jesus expected His followers to fast.

Jesus' rules:

Jesus not only expected His followers to fast, He gave rules as to how they should fast. He continued in the sermon to say that they should not fast in order to draw attention to themselves and to gain spiritual “Brownie points” for their piety!

God's blessing:

Jesus also taught that there is a blessing from God the Father for those who truly fast.


These are the three points that I find in the passage set before me and I suppose that in this there is little more to add to them. In saying that there is something that is missing from our understanding of what is going on here. We have a problem in that we are not first century followers of Jesus as were His hearers on that day. That is stating the obvious really but it is nonetheless vitally important in order that we begin to understand what Jesus is really teaching. To most people in Britain outside of religious circles fasting is something that we do before we go for hospital tests, operations or for detoxing our abused bodies, but to the Jew of Jesus' day fasting was a concept that they were well acquainted with.

Fasting is spoken of many times in the Old Testament. In fact it was expected of the people of God for the celebration of the Day of Atonement . The purpose of which was that God would see their earnest desire that He make His presence once again in the temple of Jerusalem for the year to come. Of course Jesus fulfils the Day of Atonement which was why the Angel called Him Immanuel when he announced His coming birth to Joseph. Jesus is God with His people ALWAYS and He dwells permanently in the church. We do not need to fast in order to bring His presence amongst us, He has guaranteed His permanent presence by His Spirit. We cannot therefore use the Day of Atonement as our guidance for fasting. Fasting is not a way of guaranteeing God's presence to be with us.

Nevertheless the Old Testament does speak much about fasting but for various reasons. We do not have time to go through them all but I would urge you to pick up a concordance and check them out, it really is a fascinating topic to study and as we shall see it is worthwhile for our understanding.

In typical preaching mode I have chosen three examples for our consideration.

David fasted in desperate days:

I suppose that the most famous passage concerning fasting is found in 2 Samuel 12:15-17. It concerns King David after his wife Bathsheba had given birth to the son conceived through their adulterous affair.

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.”

Firstly we notice that fasting for David was much more than abstaining from food, he put everything aside at this time of fasting even his royal duties!

It is clear from the passage that David was distraught at seeing the child so unwell and dying and so all of the time that the child suffered then David pleaded with God that somehow God's judgement upon David might be averted from the child. David was inconsolable, nobody could help him. Food was the last thing on his mind. In reality it was David being completely reliant upon God. This was the most natural thing for a father to do. This is what happened next:

On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Do you see what was happening, David fasted and wept for the child in the hope that God would allow the child to live but that did not happen. Incidentally we may find this a difficult concept in 2016 but look at David's faith in this. He believed that to die was to be in God's presence. He recognised that once the child had died then that was final here on earth and that even the king could do nothing about it. David believed that the child would not return to him but he had every confidence that one day he would go to be with the child. Do you have that kind of faith? David had a belief in God that assured him that the child would go to heaven and that is far better than life on earth.

Fasting on this occasion was the most natural thing for a believing father to do. David was desperate and so weeping and fasting before God in the hope that God might just bring about a different outcome was exactly what was needed. David's dilemma came due to his sin and so we can be assured that the weeping was remorse and repentance. This was not a show of piety or even of self pity as we often see at times of great sadness, it was David doing the most natural thing in difficult days.
Fasting comes natural at the point of need!

There will be times in our lives and also in the life of the church when we will need to come before the Lord in tears of repentance pleading with Him to remove the consequences of our guilt and to bless us. It is interesting that David and Bathsheba were eventually blessed with the birth of another son Solomon who went on to be the successor to David's throne even though he was not next in line. Jesus many years later said that when we fast rightly then our Father who sees that done in secret will reward us. That was clearly the experience of David.

Nehemiah fasted in repentance on behalf of Israel:

Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah even though a Jewish captive in Persia was the official cupbearer of King Artaxerxes. He heard the news that his people back in Jerusalem were in great trouble. They were shamed because the city was in ruins and the walls were broken down. He knew that this was due to their former sin. They had not kept God's commandments and in accordance with the law given to Israel through Moses the nation had been overpowered and taken into captivity by foreign forces. Nehemiah knew that he had to repent on their behalf and ask God's forgiveness and also His enabling in order that he might approach his boss the king. He wanted leave of absence to organise the repairs that Jerusalem needed. How on earth can a mere foreign cupbearer gain favour from the most powerful man on the earth? He needed to be released to build a city up in foreign territory. Nehemiah knew enough about the character of God to realise that God's anger and wrath are turned by true repentance and so he sat down before God. He wept, he mourned, he fasted and he prayed. As he prayed Nehemiah reminded God of His character. Nehemiah had confessed his own and also the sins of his people and he subsequently appealed to God for mercy in accordance with His character and in accordance with His word as recorded by Moses.
Often when we hear of Nehemiah we are usually reminded of what the preacher loves to call his “arrow prayer” recorded in chapter 2 verse 4. When he king had asked Nehemiah what his request was he quickly prayed to God for success but the real work had gone before. He had spent many hours in anguish before God. He had wept and mourned over the difficulties of his people, he had fasted and prayed and now was the time when all of that came into focus.
There are times when like Nehemiah we need to be serious before the Lord on behalf of God's sinful people. Just consider the church today. Look at how it is, the foundations have crumbled, it is a mess. We seem to be grubbing around with little blessing when in reality we are the jewel in the crown of our Saviour, we will one day be presented to God as the bride of Christ but yet we seem to be in rags.
When is the church going to sit before God and weep over our sinfulness? When are we going to mourn over our dead state? When are we going to put aside the luxuries of life for a season whilst we come humbly before God in true repentance? When do we in prayer speak honestly about our sinfulness and appeal to God in heaven to restore the honour of His name through us His church?
It seems to me from Nehemiah's example that fasting is much more than simply deciding that we will go without our lunch. True fasting is putting aside everything as we sit before God pleading with Him for forgiveness and a restoration of blessing. Our social media and varying entertainments are put aside as an act of fasting. When somebody is truly grieving food, entertainment and the superficial things of life are no longer important. That is how it should be with us if we are to fast.

The words of Psalm 42 come to mind:

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

Do we really desire God like this?
Do we really want Him to restore the honour of His name?
If we do then we need to fast and pray for forgiveness for His people for what we have done in His name.

The Jews fasted in the face of persecution:

In the time of Ester, bad man Haman was plotting to exterminate the Jewish nation but Mordecai discovered his plans. King Ahasuerus was being manoeuvred into wiping out the nation and something needed to be done. Ester the wife of the king was a Jewess and Mordecai who was her uncle needed to be persuaded to help her people. In Ester chapter 4:1-3 we find:

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went up to the entrance of the king's gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth. And in every province, wherever the king's command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.

Ester had been persuaded to help and so eventually through hers and Mordecai's efforts God saved the nation. Notice it was when the nation mourned, prayed and fasted that God blessed them.

When God's people are under attack they need to take Him seriously and to be serious as we approach Him to intercede on behalf of those being persecuted. It was whilst the church in the UK was praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe that the Berlin wall came down. Radstock Ministries had called Christians to pray all night for their suffering brethren and it was during that time of depriving ourselves of sleep and food in order to plead for His intervention that He acted!
There are so many such examples throughout scripture and history that we might think that the lesson is obvious.
Why then are we so reticent to fast in the modern church?
Do we really take our faith seriously?

Fasting has nothing to do with self glorification as it did with the Pharisees of Jesus' day, they received the accolade that they desired as they presented themselves emaciated on street corners! Jesus said that we are not to be like that! When we fast we are to look perfectly normal, it is a secret between us and the Lord or between the church and the Lord if it is a corporate effort. If we tell it abroad then we are not really fasting but are in reality feasting on the accolade afforded to us!

When asked if we fast our standard answer should be “what has that got to do with you?” Fasting is private, it is serious and it is between us and God alone. We are doing serious business with Him

There will be times when we need to fast and to pray but as we have seen from these three examples god will only bless us in accordance with His word the bible. There is no point in us fasting in order to twist God's hand into giving us something that is contrary to God's revealed will and so like David, Nehemiah and Mordecai we need to be scholars of the scriptures in order for us to be serious with God for the things that He is serious about.

It was whilst the church in Antioch were praying and fasting that God by His Spirit instructed them to set apart Saul and Barnabas for ministry. The church needs to pray and fast as we make serious decisions for our future, we need to be just as serious for our past sins in order that we have a heart for the lost which will then cause us to fast and pray that God might revive our sad nation.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

“We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.” John 14:1-14

Building the right foundation part 23

John 14:1-14
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’
Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’
Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
The church constitution or official rule book by which we adhere contains two other documents which are foundational to what our identity is. We have as part of this series of “Building the right foundation” considered our church covenant to which all who become members of the church promise to adhere. The covenant governs how we operate and how we relate to God and to each other and also the importance of reaching out with the gospel into the surrounding community and further afield.

The second document known as the “Basis of faith” is an outline of the basic principles of faith that we believe in. We are by conviction an evangelical Baptist church which means that we believe that the gospel is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus' final command to the church was that we should be evangelical which simply means that we should take the gospel to all that it is within our power to do so. In order to be the church and to fulfil the command of Jesus it is important that our theology (knowledge of who God is) is clear and true. The founders of our church thankfully adopted a clear statement of what our foundation of belief is. We are currently considering each of the points in sermon form in order that we might continue to establish the foundation that the church stands upon.


The Lord Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life in obedience to the Father. He taught with authority and all his words are true. On the cross he died in the place of sinners, bearing God’s punishment for their sin, redeeming them by his blood. He rose from the dead and in his resurrection body ascended into heaven where he is exalted as Lord of all. He intercedes for his people in the presence of the Father.

Our text for this morning is John 14:6 in which Jesus simply says that He is the one and only way to God. For us to begin to understand what He meant when He declared that we need to first consider the context. John records in chapter 13 that Jesus had just been telling His disciples that he was about to die. It was the night before His crucifixion and He had already washed the feet of the disciples in readiness to eat the Passover Supper, they had eaten and Judas had left them to betray Jesus. In fact after Judas' departure Jesus announced that He was now glorified for the work of salvation. He gave the disciples the command to love one another, reminding them that it is by the evidence of their love one to another that others will know that they are disciples of Jesus.
Peter was told the devastating news that he would not stand up for Christ but that he would publicly deny Him three time before the next day begins.
Chapter 14 begins with Jesus comforting His people. These are His words of departure to them. He was about to die the most horrendous of deaths and yet His main concern is their comfort:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

He was telling them that He was about to die for their benefit; He was about to go to heaven where He would be preparing a home for the church. He was not going to stay there but He would return to take them there to be with Him. He added the words that left them confused: “You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas begged to differ and told Him that they did not understand what He was saying to them. How could they know the way?
It is this that caused Jesus to reply:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’
The first sentence of our basis of faith article says: The Lord Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. Throughout his gospel John makes a great deal of Jesus saying “I am”, there are 7 statements from Jesus who claimed to be:
  1. The Bread of life: John 6:35
  2. The Light of the world: 8:12
  3. The Gate to security: 10:9
  4. The Good Shepherd: 10:11
  5. The Resurrection and the Life: 11:25-26
  6. The way the Truth and the Life: 14:6
  7. The Vine which supports life: 15:5
A general reading of all of these claims causes us to wonder at how any man could possible fulfil such qualities. It is for this reason critics often say that Jesus was a madman. He is actually claiming that He is the food that keeps us alive, the Light that causes us to see truth, the Way of entry into security, the only Shepherd that looks after his people as if they were precious sheep. He is the One that raises His people to eternal life, the only way in which we can come to God with a clear conscience, He is the life support system as a vine is to it's grafted branches. When we put that together it is not hard to see what Jesus is claiming of Himself. The logical conclusion is that He is claiming to be God. But even that in our modern day is not enough for many even though these same statements enraged the religious leaders in Jesus' hearing so much that they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. They certainly understood Him to be saying through these statements that He was equal to God in heaven.
But there is one more significant I Am statement that caused the leaders of the Jews to pick up stones immediately. It is found in John 8:48-59.
The Jews answered him, ‘Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?’
I am not possessed by a demon,’ said Jesus, ‘but I honour my Father and you dishonour me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.’
At this they exclaimed, ‘Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?’
Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’
You are not yet fifty years old,’ they said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’
Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
It was the statement that Jesus made saying that “before Abraham was I AM” which caused them to want to kill Him. It might just pass us by as we read it but the words I Am in this context are really important. Some years after Abraham died; Moses was being commissioned by God in the wilderness. A voice came from within a burning bush that drew Moses forward. The voice was God speaking and instructing Moses to go to Pharaoh and to demand that he let free the children of Israel (who are Abraham's descendants.) Moses needed an authority to use and so God in Exodus 3:14 gave Him His name which is simply “I AM WHO I AM” which in Hebrew is Yahweh.
The Jews listening to Jesus on that day fully understood what he was claiming of Himself and so did the authors of our basis of faith when they wrote the article we are considering.
The Lord Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.
There is no doubt from this and many other scriptures which we do not have time to consider today that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. We only need to consider the declaration made to Joseph by the Angel of the Lord concerning Mary being pregnant: “she will have a son and they will call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means God with us, the son to be born is God with us, Jesus by all that He said and did was living proof that He was fully divine but yet He was fully Human. In all of His life He did not sin which was the whole purpose of His becoming man. He was to do what no other could do. The passage we have before us happened just hours before His execution. He died on the cross bearing the sins of all of His people.
That is gospel truth but what does it mean for us?
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Is the answer.
It is all about the way to God. Ever since sin entered the world through Adam then there has been no way to God. Sin is an abomination to God, He cannot have sin or sinners in His direct presence which means that all of humanity is barred from heaven but yet Jesus said on the night before he died that he was going to prepare a place for His friends in heaven where they will be at one with God. The impossible needs to happen.
We had surprise visitors in the week and due to circumstance they needed to stay overnight. Whilst drinking their coffee Pam told them that she needed to go and prepare a place for them to stay. That involved clearing out the room we had used to store the contents of the study which we were renovating. It was an arduous task for which she was pleased to do, after all it was for her sister's benefit.
The preparation that Jesus spoke of was much greater than that and far more costly. It involved the ultimate sacrifice on his behalf. As I have said sin bars us from entry into heaven because it is punishable by death. It carries the death sentence which cannot be commuted, there is no remission for sin. The sinner must die.
It is here that we find the grace of God to be amazing. Due to His love for us He does not want any to experience punishment and so He sent His Son Jesus (who as we know is the God-Man) to be the substitute of repentant sinners. Jesus said on that day to His disciples that they knew the way that He was going, He had already told them on a number of occasions that it was a sacrificial death that was His destination and that He would rise on the third day. This was His preparation and He made it just a few hours later.
He is the only Way to God, He is the only Truth of God and He is the only One who gives eternal life!
This is what we believe as the church:
The Lord Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life in obedience to the Father. He taught with authority and all his words are true. On the cross he died in the place of sinners, bearing God’s punishment for their sin, redeeming them by his blood. He rose from the dead and in his resurrection body ascended into heaven where he is exalted as Lord of all. He intercedes for his people in the presence of the Father.
Our Jesus has accomplished salvation by His sacrifice on the cross thus making way for all who believe in Him to one day be with Him eternally. He is now in heaven interceding with His Father on our behalf. We have a man in heaven who understands us and cares for us, our place is secured and we will one day be with Him forever.
That is the promise for all who have been born again of the Holy Spirit, is it true of you? Why not pray that God will give you the faith to see your own need and the faith to believe Him and to repent and trust Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life for you also.


Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church, it is He who we believe in. e is the only way to God. He is the One True God-Man and we worship Him and we declare Him to be the only Saviour that is necessary for salvation.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Behold the King Psalm 110

 Behold the King:  A Royal Song.

Psalm 110: A Psalm of David.

The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’

The Lord will extend your mighty sceptre from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of your enemies!’
Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendour, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind:
You are a priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek.’

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. He will drink from a brook along the way; and so he will lift his head high.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
I'd like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company
I'd like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace through out the land
(That's the song I hear)

Songs and singing are an important part of life, in fact the minstrels of our day are amongst the wealthiest people in the world. Man was made for singing and as such we sing about many things. We sing when we are joyful, we sing when we are at war, we sing when we are in love, we sing when we are in grief. We sing at all sorts of occasions whether they be sporting occasions or political gatherings. We sing when we are in the presence of royalty. Our English national anthem has been sung so often to our Queen that it makes you wonder if she is not just the slightest bit bored with it by now. But then when you see the worthy words that it has then we are not too surprised that she is the Godly woman that she is. Our short Psalm is a song also of which Augustine said: “although brief in the number of words it is great in it's thought!” Luther regarded this Psalm to be the “crown and chief and worthy to be set in a frame of gold and diamonds.” The Psalms were all written to be sung and are as such are poetry. As with all poetry they are not always that easy to interpret. That is especially true of Psalm 110 which if we break it down really has three stanzas:
  • The King and His army. (1-3)
  • The King who is also a Priest. (4)
  • The Priest-Kings victory. (5-7)

This is the most quoted from Psalm of the New Testament which indicates how important it is. The most important quotations come from the Lord Jesus who says that David wrote it about Him Matthew 22:41-46
It is directly and exclusively a Messianic Psalm that speaks of the King to come who will be a Priest and King.
Melchizedek who was the High Priest of God and the mysterious King of Salem came to Abram and blessed him and offered bread and wine. Abram in turn gave him a tithe and recognised Him to be the Lord God most High. This was the pre-cursor to Abram being given the covenant by God in which He was promised that a people who would come from his own descendants even though both he and Sara were far too old. This mysterious person Melchizedek is later spoken of in Hebrews as being the forerunner of Jesus who also is King and Priest. The Levitical priests were never to be kings and the kings were not permitted to act as priest. The dual function was reserved for the perfect Priest King who was to come.
Jesus on a number of occasions quoted from this Psalm, in particular when he was arguing with the Pharisees one such example is found in Mark 12:35-37

While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:
‘“The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’”
David himself calls him “Lord”. How then can he be his son?’
The large crowd listened to him with delight.
Matthew 22:41-46
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, ‘What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?’
The son of David,’ they replied.
He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him “Lord”? For he says,
‘“The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’”
If then David calls him “Lord”, how can he be his son?’ No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Luke 22:66-71 At His trial this happened.
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. ‘If you are the Messiah,’ they said, ‘tell us.’
Jesus answered, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.
They all asked, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’
He replied,‘You say that I am.’
Then they said, ‘Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.’
From here Jesus was taken to Pilate and on to be crucified. It is clear that when Jesus quoted from Psalm 110 they were convinced that the promised Priest King was a divine character and any claiming to be such was a blasphemer.
You will need to spend some time with a concordance, pen and paper to go through the many either direct quotations of or allusions to this Psalm found in the New Testament in order to find it's true significance but by looking at these passages I am hoping to have whet your appetites for further study.
I have just one more passage to highlight before we consider how this Psalm helps us today:
Hebrews 8:1-2
Now the main point of what we are saying is this: we do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

It is clear to see that Jesus not only believed that King David wrote the Psalm but due to the very fact that David calls this descendant His Lord he cannot be talking of a mere king. The King now has a whole new dimension, He is not only Priest King but also he is Lord! This King to come is a man who is descended to David and is rightly King over His people, He is a priest but not of the order of Aaron who needed sacrifice to cover his own sins before he dare to minister before the Lord. This Priest to come is a mystery just like Melchizedek was, he came and offered sacrifice and accepted worship and as such was a remarkable character. I would like to put it to you that this King of Salem who we know to be Melchizedek or King of Peace is none other that the pre-incarnate (before His incarnation) Lord Jesus.

The King and His army:

In verses 1-3 we are entering into the courtrooms of heaven where there is a conversation between God the Father and His Son, the Messiah. If you notice in your bible you will find that the first LORD of verse 1 is capitalised but the second Lord only begins with a capital letter.

My paraphrase of the verse goes something like this: The word of Yahweh to My Adoni who is My Ruler. Be enthroned at My right hand, which is the place of honour, authority, and power, until I make Your enemies subject to You just as is a footstool for Your feet.

Adoni means a human superior whereas Adonai is a reference to a divine superior. Why is this important? Because God is saying that Jesus who is the God in humanity has a rightful place in heaven where He is King and is very God but also very human,. It may seem to be complicated but what David was promising is that a man who is descended from him will one day be the Messiah who will reign over His enemies in heaven and on earth. He will come from the Holy City and rule with all of the authority of heaven amongst His enemies. He will rule in and through His people who will themselves be priests (wearing holy or sanctified garments) The army will be as fresh as the dew and will be as youthful and full of energy as their King.
The great promise here is that when the Messiah comes He will gather His army together and empower them to be powerful, effective and energetic enough to fight the good fight.

This being the first verse of the song I was wondering what it might be that they would be singing:

Fight the good fight with all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength, and Christ thy Right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the Path, and Christ the Prize.

Cast care aside, lean upon thy Guide,
His boundless mercy will provide;
Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its Life, and Christ its Love.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear.
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.

Our subject this morning is; “I would like to teach the world to sing” the world is already singing songs it's songs about so many things but there is none such a worthy topic as this: Jesus the Messiah rules over earth and heaven and He alone is worthy of all of our praise and worship.

  • He King who is also Priest:

This is the declared and unchanging word of God. This is forever true for all times which is for our great encouragement. Our Jesus is an eternal and mysterious priest forever. Melchizedek as we have already said was a mysterious figure that seemed to come from nowhere and to return just as mysteriously. It is His name and location that give us a great clue as to His character. His name means my King is Righteousness and He is the King of Salem which simply means peace. The King of Righteousness is the one who brings peace. Not the hippy peace so often sang of 50 years ago, that peace only brought disaster to the world. The one whom Melchizedek speaks of is none other than the Prince of Peace who imparts of His righteousness to His people.

When we consider some of the promises made about Jesus then we begin to see just how perfectly He fulfils all that is promised in the Scripture. It was said of Him that He would be called Immanuel which means God with us. There is none righteous but God alone! Jesus is the King of heaven who is with His people. It was also said that he was the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. It is the function of the Priest to intercede for sin, the Lamb was the acceptable offering to atone for sin and here we have in One Man both the Priestly function and also the Sacrifice that is effective! Jesus does exactly what Melchizedek pointed to, He is Priest but He also offers sacrifice and worthy of all praise.

We could look at so many different examples as to the King-Priest function of the Lord Jesus Christ that we would be here forever and not even begin but there is one more that is important and that is the King of Righteousness. Remember in the last point we saw an army dressed in holy garments. They have been set apart or sanctified, they have been made worthy, they are fit for service. How is it possible for any who are sinful to ever be fit for service of the Holy and Righteous God of heaven. We are so tainted with sin that the theologians tell us that we are before God “totally depraved!”

The amazing thing about King Jesus is that by His Priestly function He personally atones for our sin not by proxy but in reality. He becomes the sinner that we are in our place and is punished on our behalf and in return for our sine He gives us His righteousness and so we are seen by God as perfectly righteous and without sin.

Revelation 9:6-10
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.’
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.’

Let us start singing in our hearts:

Jesus is King and I will extol Him,
give Him the glory, and honour His name;
He reigns on high, enthroned in the heavens–
Word of the Father, exalted for us.

We have a hope that is steadfast and certain,
gone through the curtain and touching the throne;
we have a priest who is there interceding,
pouring His grace on our lives day by day.

We come to Him, our Priest and Apostle,
clothed in His glory and bearing His name,
laying our lives with gladness before Him–
filled with His Spirit we worship the King:

O Holy One, our hearts do adore You;
thrilled with Your goodness we give You our praise!
Angels in light with worship surround Him,
Jesus, our Saviour, forever the same.
  • The Priest King's victory.
In verse 5 the term the divine titleAdonai is used of the Messiah who is a man. (The divine title is nowhere else in scripture applied to Him.) Adoni and Adonai are like the bookends of the Psalm they keep it all together neatly. It is clear that the earthly Lord and the heavenly Lord are one and the same person. This is not easily seen in our English translations and therefore we lose some of it's importance. In verse 1 God is saying that God the Son is a man and in verse 5 He is saying that Heavenly Lord is reigning victoriously upon the earth with God the Father at His right hand! In verse 1 God calls upon Jesus in order to empower Him in verse 5 we see it working out with God the Father working with His Messiah to bring judgement upon His sinful world.
Jesus is the King of heaven who will break all kings when he comes in judgement. He is King of kings, Lord of lords and He is God of heaven but now notice this. He will judge the nations, He will judge all peoples in righteousness. There is coming a day when sin will no longer rule and he will rule supremely. The earth has finally come under subjection to the King in the same way as a footstool does to weary feet.
I suppose that it is fair to say that it is better to be seated on the throne with the king than it is to be His footstool: that is the offer of this Psalm. Jesus offers exaltation through the forgiveness of sin, He offers to deal with the sin that separates you from God if only you will submit to Him in repentance. If you come to His feet at the cross distraught at your own sin and the price that was paid there. He is then faithful and He is just and will forgive you your sin and He will exchange your guilt for His righteousness and instead of you coming under wrath and judgement you will become a much loved child of God.

There's a sound on the wind like a victory song,
Listen now, let it rest on your soul.
It's a song that I learned from a heavenly King,
It's the song of a battle royal.
There's a loud shout of victory that leaps from our hearts
As we wait for our conquering King.
There's a triumph resounding from dark ages past
To the victory song we now sing.
There'll be crowns for the conquerors and white robes to wear,
There will be no more sorrow or pain.
And the battles of earth shall be lost in the sight
Of the glorious Lamb that was slain.
Now the King of the ages approaches the earth,
He will burst through the gates of the sky,
And all men shall bow down to His beautiful name,
We shall rise with a shout, we shall fly!
Come on, heaven's children,
The city is in sight.
There will be no sadness
On the other side.
Now the King of the ages approaches the earth,
He will burst through the gates of the sky,
And all men shall bow down to His beautiful name

I would like to teach the world to sing the most important songs ever written. The Psalms are the songs of the bible and are as such the only inspired songs that have ever been written. There are many inspiring songs and many great songs but these are supreme because they are written by God's special people and inspired by God's Holy Spirit.
Hopefully we are all inspired today to sing as we go on our way and to teach first each other how to sing and then to teach the world all about the King of Kings as we sing of Him.

King of kings, majesty,
God of Heaven living in me,
gentle Saviour, closest friend,
strong deliverer, beginning and end,
all within me falls at your throne.

Earth and Heaven worship you,
love eternal, faithful and true,
who bought the nations, ransomed souls,
brought this sinner near to your throne;
all within me cries out in praise.

Your majesty, I can but bow,
I lay my all before you now.
In royal robes I don't deserve
I live to serve your majesty.