"Dead Ringer"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 26 06/24/2007

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life Romans 6:3-4
Water Baptism shows the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and our participation in that.
First, we show in our baptism that we believe in the death of Jesus, and desire to partake in it.
Second and equally important is our experience, a manner of dying, of being buried, of rising, and of living in Christ which must be displayed in each one of us if we are indeed members of the body of Christ.

The next thought in baptism is burial. Death comes first, and burial follows. What is burial? Burial is, first of all, the seal of death; it is the certificate of decease. "Is that guy dead?" asks one, "Of course he was buried a year ago", says another.

There have been instances of people being buried alive, and I am afraid that happens with sad frequency in baptism. I fear that many have been buried alive in baptism, and have therefore risen and walked out of the grave just as they were.

But if burial is true, it is a certificate of death.

If I’m able to say in truth, "I was buried with Christ 30 years ago," I’ve gotta be dead to sin…. But actions speak loud.

I think there are a lot of dead ringers in Christendom!

Fear of premature burial was widespread in 18th and 19th century Europe, leading to the invention of the safety coffin. Over thirty different designs were patented in Germany in the second half of the 19th century. The common element was a mechanism for allowing the 'dead' to communicate with people above ground. Many designs included ropes which, when pulled, would ring the church bell, or a purpose-mounted bell. Some say expressions “saved by the bell” and “dead ringer”, come from this little bit of trivia.

Burial is the displaying of death.

While the corpse lies indoors those passing by don’t know that he is dead; but when the funeral takes place, everybody knows that he is dead.

This is what baptism ought to be.

The believer's death to sin is at first a secret, but by a public confession he invites every one to know that he is dead with Christ.

Water Baptism is the funeral rite by which death to sin is openly shown to the public.

We’ve looked at death and burial; but baptism, according to our text is more, it also represents resurrection. That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Notice next that the man who is dead in Christ, and buried in Christ, is also raised in Christ.

This is dependant upon Christ.

All the dead are not raised, but our Lord himself is "the first fruits of them that slept" He is the first-begotten from among the dead.

Christ was raised from the dead and what began with Him, will continue until all the members of His church partake of it, for…

The Lord by his power has called you out of your grave, and now you are alive in the midst of death.

There can be no real fellowship here for you; for what communion have the living with the dead? Notice next, that this life is entirely new. We are to "walk in newness of life."
The life of a Christian is an entirely different thing from the life of other men, entirely different from the life before conversion, and when people try to counterfeit it, they utterly fail.

And this new life is an active thing.

We Christians are given an awesome responsibility. We are actively alive, and we begin walking, and so the Lord keeps us all our lives in His work; He does not allow us to sit down contented with the mere fact that we live, nor does He allow us to spend all our time in examining whether we are alive or no; but he gives us one battle to fight, and then another.

The life that is given to those who were dead with Christ is an energetic, forceful life, that is evermore busy for Christ, and would, if it could, move heaven and earth to bring others to Christ. What did Christ do after he rose from the dead?

To bear any more sin? No, just to live unto God. That is where you and I are.

We have no sin to carry now; it was all laid on Christ. What have we to do?

Every time we have a headache, or feel ill, are we to cry out, "This is a punishment for my sin"?
Nothing of the kind. Our punishment is all done with, for we have borne the capital sentence, and are dead: our new life must be unto God.

I have only now to serve God and delight myself in him, and use the power which he gives me to call others from the dead, saying, "Awake, you that sleep and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light."

I am not going back to the grave of spiritual death!
I am not going back for my grave-clothes of sin; but by divine grace I will serve God by faith in Jesus, and go from strength to strength, not under law, not fearing hell, nor hoping to win heaven, but as a new creature, loving because loved, living for Christ because Christ lives in me, rejoicing in glorious hope of that which is yet to be revealed!
I am a new creation raised from the dead by my oneness in Christ.

"I Cry - God Answers"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 25 06/17/2007

Have you ever experienced a dark night of agonizing soul searching, attempting to touch God?

Have the heavens ever seemed as brass when you cry out your prayers?

Have you searched in your dark of night for the hand of God?

This poor cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open unto their cry. The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them, he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Psalm 34

More than 400 times the Bible repeats - “I cry” / “I cried”.
More than 400 times the Bible repeats - “Deliver / Delivered”.

Here are a few Biblical examples we can draw strength from:

See Adam and Eve excluded from Eden - their first night out. They miss the sound of the trumpets in the morning. They cry. See Cain with the weight of murder. His brother’s blood cries out. And Cain cries too. Noah with his sacrifice after the flood cries out… the rainbow brings God’s answer.

Abraham cries with his only son, his only sacrifice. The ram in the bushes shouts God’s answer to the father’s cry of anguish.

Isaac cries at his mother’s death - Rebekah comes to comfort him. After 20 years of barrenness Rebekah cries: Jacob and Esau are born as God’s response.

Jacob flees his brother’s wrath. At Bethel he cries from his stone pillow. God reveals a ladder from heaven. God shows Jacob a divine purpose for his life. Grandson of Abraham he is without God or purpose until Bethel. In his flesh nature he’s out for old number one. But God meets him repeatedly - at Bethel, at Rachel’s well, at Peniel, and then back at Bethel again. Jacob cries - God answers.

Remember how Joseph cries out, Egyptians cry out, Moses cries out. Israelites cry out. More than 400 times the Bible reports “They cried”. Then and today, when we cry, God answers.

· Judges cry - God answers.
· Prophets cry - God speaks.
· Daniel cries and lions grit their teeth.
· Balaam cries - a donkey talks.

Jonah cries and a big fish God has prepared throws him up - on dry land.

But Jonah’s wicked attitude still persisted.

Jeremiah cries so much he is called the weeping prophet. God answers….

After the prophets - 400 years of dark silence, a dark soul’s night.

Then John the Baptist cries in the wilderness, “Prepare, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Repent and Believe.”

Then the star, Immanuel, God with us!

Then the human cry, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”

Angels sing, Shepherds rejoice, Wise men bring gifts.

Jesus walks among men, women, boys, girls.. God’s Answer.

Lepers cry.
Blind cry.
Deaf and Dumb cry. God answers.

Today we cry… God replies.

Your cry may be personal or cultural, individual or national. You may cry from pain, pleasure or panic. You may cry in distress, in delight, or in despair. Cry from the heights of life or from its depths. Or from just ordinary days.

You may cry for help, for hope, for home, for heaven. You may cry from hurts, from hunger or for higher ground.

You may cry with inner purpose or you may rail out in life without meaning, without pattern or value.

You may cry in silence with muted words, or you may cry out loud!

Cry “Abba, Father” for relief, for restoration, for reconciliation, for repentance, for rebuilding….. No matter when you Cry out to God He hears! Cry! Cry!
Come to the cross - here we know God hears. Here God answers.

This poor man cried - God answered!

God answered in yesterdays gone by. Jesus the Savior is born.

Christ the Savior was crucified and died. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. He has risen as He said. God answers when we meet him at the cross or at His table.

Our text is only 13 words, “This poor man cried and God delivered him out of all his troubles.”

All in all not a bad line for your tombstone. If you couldn’t afford that many words you could summarize it to: “I cried - God delivered”

Save a few more dollars and simply put: “God delivered”

And if your Dutch and have to pay for your own Tombstone you might just say: “Delivered!”

The thief on the cross had so little time to carve his tombstone. One character will do it!

Not a question mark, but an exclamation point. It can be your mark and mine…
Surprised by joy!

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

What a Gospel!
What Good News!
What Glad Tidings of Great Joy!

When we cry God answers!

He always has! He always does! He always will!

"No Doze Sermon"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 24 06/10/2007

Judi and I are praying that as you study God’s Word, you will get to know Him, for we have seen first hand that those who know God have great energy for God!

We really appreciate that you chose each week to be part of our fellowship. You need to understand that we value you. It is to that end that we seek God for practical, personal and above all significant messages for you.

The sad truth is most of the present generation of Canadian youth have no Christian memories. Most would have no clue as to the words to “Guide Me Thou Great Jehovah”, yet could verbatim recite Kelly Clarkson’s hit “Never Again”.

The message of Christianity is just as strange and new and fresh today as it was in the 1st century. We are going to have to readjust our approach in order for us to be effective.

Today I hope to show you a simple way to travel to the High Ground of God’s Word! I hope to give you some pointers to help you in your “untried” faith, producing in you a spiritual maturity, bringing you to a place of Extreme Faith!

Let me ask you
· Do you really want to know God?
· Do you long for a deep relationship with Him?
· Do you want to know what He requires of you?

Most Christians have been encouraged to study the Word of God, yet many have never been shown how.

My job description as Pastor / Teacher is to help you recognize and believe the Truth when they see it! In His inspired Word, God has given us everything we need to know about life and godliness. But He doesn't stop there. He gives every believer a resident teacher - the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides us into His truth.

Really, the Bible needs no other books or truths to supplement it. The Bible is its own commentary, and it can be understood by any believer.

Beginning with prayer. Prayer is often the missing element in Bible study.

Even the most effective method of Bible study, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, is but a method. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, taking the things of God and revealing them to us.

· Do you ask God to teach you as you open the scriptures?

· Do you think there is more to the Word of God than you have discovered so far?

· Do you want a rock solid faith that keeps you from being tossed around by
conflicting winds of doctrine?

· Do you want to be able to face the future without fear?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions then what I am about to show you is of the utmost importance. Please keep in mind that God can give you insight at any point in your study, so be sensitive to His leading.

Take the Word as He reveals it to you, eat it, every bit of it. Allow it to become part of you, for as James says, it is the implanted Word that is able to save your soul.

As you study the Bible chapter by chapter, book by book, you will grow in your ability to comprehend the whole counsel of God. This will lead to "wholeness" of spirit, character and life.

The very heart of inductive study is: seeing truth for yourself, discerning what it means, and applying that truth to your life.

In-duc-tion: The bringing forward of separate facts as evidence in order to prove a general statement.

Certainly NO study method will be successful if you don’t apply what you learn. Ask yourself, is there a truth here I can put into practice? What changes should I make in my life?

"To Hear the Word and Not Act upon it, robs us of understanding and effectiveness!"

When you know what God says, what He means and how to put His truths into practice, you will be equipped for every circumstance of life.

Turn to James Chapter 1.

Background: What a turnaround from the day James told his half-brother what to do if he wanted to be known publicly!
Full of unbelief and convinced that Jesus was nothing more than his eldest brother, James told Jesus to take His disciples and go up to the Feast of Booths and do his work there. Jesus might have found more disciples there, but James was not to be numbered as one of them - until Jesus rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:7)

From that point on James would lay claim not to his physical relationship to Jesus, but rather to his spiritual relationship as a bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

James became a pillar of the church and a friend of Peter and Paul. But most of all he was a friend of Jesus, a covenant friend for whom he would be martyred.

James wrote one epistle to be included in the pages of Holy Scripture, an epistle that would show what the gospel is like when it is lived out in shoe leather.

Prayer: “Holy Spirit I welcome your leading. You have promised to bring me into all truth. I want to hear what you have for me to learn. Heal me of my pre-conceived ideas and opinions. Remove the wax of worldly knowledge from my ears. Heal me of dull hearing, open my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of your Word.”

Over the next few minutes consider:
· What does the Bible say? Establish the facts
· What does it mean? Avoid Speculation
· What does it mean to me? Be willing to put it into practice

Read: James 1 (re-read 2-3)

What are the facts in those two verses? What exactly is said, not your words or opinions, rather what facts are written in that set of verses.

Keep what you read in Context, avoid bunny trails. Context: “With text”.

Read at least 3 verses before and after your study verse. You don’t need to cross reference from cover to cover. Each individual Book or Letter should be in fact must be able to stand on its own.

When a verse you are reading begins with a word such as: “And”, “Then”, “So”, “If”, “When”, and “Therefore” you can be pretty sure that there is more information around that verse (in context).

Get to a place where you ask, “What is the therefore there for?”

Look at James 1 again, read verses 2-3.
· James speaks of trials, does he give any indication to what some of them are?
· What produces patience?

· Compare those who consider it joy to those who do not.

“New Every Morning!”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 23 06/04/2007

I know the New Testament provides us with better promises than the Old.

I know Christ will never allow us to be tempted more than we are able to bear.

I know God wants all of His children to enter into the rest of faith and not worry and fret.

I know there is complete victory, joy, and peace to all who rest in His Word. Yet the fact remains that God still permits testing times, in which the soul is permitted to go through a fiery trial - which, according to God's word, is to try us.

God actually allows severe testings in our lives to prove our love for Himself. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trials which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you I Peter 4:12

All the prophets predicted that saints of God would be tried by fire - just as gold is refined by fire. Jeremiah said, God...shall melt them...and try them... Jeremiah 9:7

Daniel predicted that in the end times, saints would be tried severely to purge them and make them ready Daniel 11:35

Zechariah prophesied the coming of the testing fire to refine them as silver is refined...as gold is tried... Zechariah 13:9

The New Testament suggests that fiery trials are to be accepted - as common to all men.

Even the apostle Paul spoke of being cast down. perplexed and in despair II Corinthians 4:8 Although he sounded a note of victory through all the trials, he did experience despair.

There are times in which you can know in your heart that you are serving God with all that is in you - you are sure of your love for His Word.

You believe all the promises; you know He is faithful and you confess it so; and you know you are willing to do anything God asks of you.

You cannot think of anything standing between you and the Heavenly Father. You know you have prayed in faith, and still you are down. The darkness does not lift.

The burden still presses you down. There is no sign of your prayers being answered. You still cry out, How long, O Lord? How long must this trial go on?

James 5:11 encourages us to consider the suffering of Job.

Here is a righteous man of God, so down he longed for death. He was so crushed by grief and sorrow, he lost his will to live. His sons were taken from him with a sudden cruel blow. He lost his wealth, influence, and his good name. His friends, forsook him and sat as his accusers. Rather than help him, those around him accused him of bringing all the trouble on himself. Not even his own flesh and blood understood what he was going through. No one person really cared.

Looking into the future, all Job could see was pain, tears, loneliness, and emptiness.

There was not one silver lining in all the dark clouds hanging over him. Besides all the battles with being alone in his struggles, a physical infirmity fell upon him. His body also became an enemy. Spiritually, physically, financially-in every way. Job was down.

Job's greatest despair came from a dilemma he could not understand at all. Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God has hedged in? Job 3:23

Job was actually saying, God, everything is closing in on me; I see no way out - so why do You keep sending me all these promises of deliverance? I've got the message; I see the truth; I know what You are saying - but where is my solution?"

It often happens that a believer's worst trials come right after the most glorious revelation and spiritual growth.

The prophet Jeremiah went through just such a trial. He had hoped for deliverance, but, instead, was cast deeper into the pit of despair. He cried out, He has hedged me about, that I cannot get out; he has made my chain heavy, He has enclosed my ways with cut stone; He has made my path crooked... Lamentations 3:7,9

Keep in mind this is the same Jeremiah whom Christ so often quoted.

How could a prophet of God who thundered against kings and nations fall into such deep turmoil and despair?
He lost his spiritual composure, crying: He has filled me with bitterness and he has removed my soul far from peace... Lamentations 3:15,17

Thank God - there is an answer to all this in the Word. We have here a message of comfort for all who are cast down.

So far, we have focused our attention on the problem. Now, let us consider the way to victory over all despair. We can begin with the prophet we’ve been referring to as our example of suffering, because he also sets the example in faith and hope.

In his very darkest hour, Jeremiah discovered a glorious truth that brought new hope and assurance to his mind. It was something he already knew about God, but it didn't touch his soul until he came to the end of himself.

He discovered that at the very bottom - there was God!

When Jeremiah hit bottom, he bumped into God! He fell hard against the faithfulness of a compassionate God.

Listen to his discovery: God is a God of compassion, His compassions for me cannot fail, they are new every morning, great is His faithfulness Lamentations 3:22,23

Little by little, Jeremiah began to realize some great truths that can only be discovered by those who are down.

Listen to the encouraging words in Lamentations:
God whispers, Do not fear! 3:54-57

God will judge my case 3:44,59

God will uphold me with abundant compassion and love 3:32

God wants my troubles to end! 3:33

God is not against me. 3:34

God is not trying to sabotage my plans; 3:35

God’s mercies are new each morning 3:22, 23

God is always faithful, He’ll do right by me. 3:25,26

God will not cast me off. God will save me 3:25, 26

I will thank Him for His faithfulness!
3:40. 41

I can depend totally on His mercies!
3:18, 20. 21

What it all means is simply this: Get your eyes off your problems and afflictions, remind yourself that God is still faithful, His compassion and tender love is yours for the taking.

Rebuke your unbelief and say to your soul, Wait just one minute - God is still God! He is still on His throne, hearing and answering prayer. God is going to act on my behalf not one minute too soon or too late.. He is not trying to hurt me; He loves me. God is overflowing with love toward me; He cares about me. Right now, even though I am down and hurting, He is not far off. He sees every move I make; He bottles every tear; He will take quick action and do what must be done - on time!

God is bigger than your problem! God is too holy to fail you. His promises have not and cannot fail. So you can quietly wait on Him to bring you out into a safe place. Until then, He is with you in the darkest hour. You are not alone - He has promised to never leave or forsake you! In your sorrow - He will comfort you! Even in death - He will not forsake you!