“This is that!”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 31, October 19, 2008

ACTS 2:12 What does this mean?
ACTS 2:37 This is that!
ACTS 2:12 What will we do?
Over 5,000 kilometers wide, Canada’s 10 provinces and three
territories are home to 31 million residents. This is a typical Sunday morning in Anytown, Canada. Our local churches are having a morning service as per usual of most of the 20,000 Christian church services across this great land. The people respectfully listen to earnest preachers. They may not be particularly stirred, but they don’t fall asleep. Soon every one will leave the church building with a sense, a comfortable sense of having done their duty.

I can’t help wonder, if we really believe the glorious things men and women of God preach about, those wonderful truths we’ve gathered here to talk about. If we really believed would we go out so lifelessly?
Erhard said something Tuesday morning that hit me…. “People need to stop acting like Christians and just be Christians”.
After all, if 2000 years ago there lived on this earth a Man who was also God, if He was all He claimed to be and if He did all the record says He did, shouldn’t we be excited about it?
So how do we get back the lost radiance of Christian faith? Strange thing about Christians, we’re afraid not to give something to the cause of Christ, yet we’re equally afraid to give it everything. Yet, if it is worth anything, isn’t worth everything.
If we’re not going to live out our faith, let’s take down our sign.
The Early Church met the same kinds of problems we face today, the same combination of opportunity and opposition.
One big difference - then the church was in conflict with outside forces; now she is in a compromise with them.
Sadduceeism: The Sadducees denied the resurrection. We call them modernists, but modernism is not modern; it is older than dirt. We’ve had it ever since men first doubted God's Word.
But the Church today is not meeting Sadduceeism as the Early Church met it. Then it was outside the Church; now it is inside, even in pulpits, where we are told that the Bible merely contains God's Word.
Pharisaism: The Early Church met pharisaism. That was ritualism, form without force. Once again, what was outside the Church then is inside now. “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”
The Drop Dead Couple: The Early Church encountered Ananias and Sapphira. Their sin didn’t lie in giving part or in keeping part but in pretending that they gave the whole. The Church was at such a height of rightness, that liars couldn’t stand it. If we had spiritual purity like that in our fellowships there’d be corpses everywhere.
Sadly today, men with fingers crossed, one hand behind their backs, sing, “I surrender all.”
Although we’ve had many courses in stewardship and have been told countless times that we are not our own but are bought with a price, we still withhold from God our time, talents and money.
Above all we hold back ourselves.
Persecution: The Early Church met persecution. Peter and John forbidden to preach in the Name of Jesus, had the church pray for more boldness, the thing that got them into trouble in the first place.
From then on, the path of the church was a path of blood and fire, but “the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church”. The church always has prospered in persecution but suffered in prosperity.
Vance Havnar speaking of the church said, “She is secure in danger but endangered by security. She has always been rich when poor, and poor when rich. She has had least treasure in heaven when she has had most money in the bank.”
Idolatry: The Early Church met idolatry. In Athens Paul saw only a city given to idolatry. They listened until he came to the resurrection and repentance and then, like many in the 20th century, they smiled him away. Paul left Athens, never to return.
He went back to places where he was persecuted, but he had no time to waste on the mild, intellectual curiosity which we court so fervently today.
Demonism: The Early Church met demonism in Philippi and Ephesus. Paul, as usual, had a head-on collision. If you think our cities are any better today you don't know our cities.
But the church today is not meeting it as Paul met it; we try to handle it with psychiatry instead of preaching. Have we forgotten that “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”
There are congregations a plenty of whom it can be said, as far as experience goes, “We’ve not so much as heard of the Holy Spirit.”
No matter what the Early Church met, she met it triumphantly.
What is wrong with us that we don’t follow her example?
How do we recapture the lost radiance?
We too often dismiss these things by saying, “there's nothing we can do about it."
Is that true? Is there nothing we can do about it?
Are we supposed to accept conditions as they are, fold our hands, and say, “Let well enough alone; it could be worse?”
There was a reason for the radiance of the Early Church, that reason was Pentecost.
Two questions were asked by the people who looked on that day: “What does this mean?” and “What shall we do?”
Today we try to reverse the order. We are trying to make men ask, “What must I do to be saved?” before they have seen enough in our churches to make them inquire: “What does this mean?”
We are pushing for evangelism without revival. When people are once again amazed by a church filled with the Spirit, then we may expect them to ask further as to the way of salvation.
“What does this mean?” they asked. Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Joel was a revivalist. He called first for A SWEEPING REVIVAL.
It was a call to all ages. Preachers were included in Joel's call: “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep . . .”
What is needed today is a stirring of God's Spirit among all ages, all groups, in pulpit and pew. We need to weep not just for the lost, but that God’s reputation has been slammed!
God wants a broken and contrite heart. Nehemiah wept. Paul warned men night and day with tears. Jesus wept.
People are by-passing the Church today and saying, “Where is this Holy Spirit you talk about?”
May we seek revival, for the right reason, not for growth of our programs or more dollars in the offering. but for God's sake. For the honor of His Name, that the world may no longer pass by and jeer.
After the Church has her lost joy restored and is upheld afresh by the Spirit, transgressors will be taught God's ways and sinners be converted. Psalm 51
The Church will not get on its feet, until it first gets on its knees.

Ezekiel said, “The Spirit entered into me and set me upon my feet.”

After we have repented and are Spirit-filled, we shall stand on our feet in testimony and men shall first ask, “What does this mean?” and then, “What shall we do?”


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 30, October 12, 2008

Psalm 100:4 Enter His Gates With ThanksgivingWe are gathered together today to count our God blessings. We are gathered together to give thanks to our God Who has provided us with life itself!Listen to what the psalmist says: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs… Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
A little boy went to a birthday party. On his return, his mother queried, "Bobby, did you thank the lady for the party?" "Well, I was going to. But a girl ahead of me said, 'Thank you,' and the lady told her not to mention it. So I didn't."
Of course we should always say thanks to our host or hostess. This is true for God too. When it comes to thanking God, we can't remain silent and we must not remain silent.The psalmist tells us to rejoice in the Lord. We are to shout for joy to the Lord. We are called to serve Him with gladness. We are urged to come before Him with joyful songs. We’re to be filled with an enthusiastic, overflowing joy.In the Hebrew, joy or rejoicing is an inward emotion that simply has to express itself as praise to and for God!
The Old Testament shows God’s people were filled with joy they couldn’t help but come into God's presence with clapping, singing, shouting, and dancing.
Joy, all joy, expresses itself in praise!
Though joyful thanks is to be given in all of life, it is especially worship that the psalmist has in mind: Serve the Lord ... come before him ... Enter his gates ... and his courts.
Our life is to be a time of joyful thanks. Thanks Living!
Why? The psalmist tell us: For the Lord is good ... Good is a word so common we use it without thinking. "How was work?" Good "How you doing?" Good “How’s supper?” Good We use the word a lot, but what does it mean?God is good, says Scripture. God is good; He wants to share Himself, His life, His love, with others.
When we read through the first chapter of Genesis we come across that word good 7 times. Not only is God good; God saw all that he had made, and it was very good Genesis 1:31On this Thanksgiving Day we rejoice in our God Who has shared His goodness with us by giving us life itself.
God is good. He satisfies us, fills us to the brim, and meets our God created needs.
God is good. He satisfies the needs of all His creatures. We all can testify that God satisfies our need for shelter, food, drink, clothing, fellowship.God is good. He satisfies our biggest and greatest need.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1,2
God Himself is our biggest and greatest need. That is why the Psalmist can say, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing Psalm 23:1
David probably wrote this while out in the wilderness. He may have lacked food, drink, clothing, shelter, safety, and or protection. Yet, he said he lacked nothing. Why?
Because he had the Lord and in that he had the most important thing in life. Having the Lord, nothing else is really needed.
He who has the Lord, lacks nothing.God is good. He satisfies our need for Himself.To satisfy this need, our need for Him, God had to come to us in Christ.
There was a time that man could come to God without Christ. In fact, there was a time when he lived, talked and walked with God. He was so completely in God that he had no knowledge of life without God.
This wasn’t a religious thing - it was completely natural!
But then came man’s fall into sin and man became incapable of coming to God on his own. Man was incapable of satisfying the deepest need of his heart – fellowship with and in God.
So God sent His son Christ Jesus. Christ took on human form, He died on the cross and rose from the grave so that we could once again have fellowship with God, satisfying the deepest need of our heart.
On this Thanksgiving Day we rejoice in our God Who shared His goodness with us by satisfying our need for Himself in and through Jesus.God is good. He is so good. God is loving and faithful in His goodness. His love endures forever; his faithfulness through all generations, says the Psalmist.
This means that God continues to share Himself with us, He continues to satisfy all our needs. He is always good.
Our God is good. He is so good. That is why the Psalmist says, Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Our God is good. He is so good. That is why the Psalmist says, Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
The Lord is good. He is so good.
Only one response is possible: we must now give Him our joyful thanks, by thanks living!

“Caught In The Act!”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 29, October 5, 2008

This is one of the most contested texts, one of the most beloved texts and one of the most misunderstood texts in the Bible. It is a contested text because it doesn’t show up in any of the earliest and best manuscripts. Look at your footnotes. On top of that, it’s language and style doesn’t fit the book of John. Fact is, you can skip this story, and jump from John 7:52 to John 8:12 with perfect coherence. Actually, it’s more like Luke’s style and one ancient Bible version has this story at Luke 21:38 (check it out and see how it works there).

Normally modern scholars would simply throw it out as an early church invention. But it’s not the sort of story the church would invent. So, most everyone agrees, whether it’s at the beginning of John 8, or in Luke, or in a footnote, this story belongs in the Bible.

In eleven compact verses, we have a story of unsurpassed drama, wisdom, grace, and beauty.

Jesus is teaching in the temple area. There’s suddenly a ruckus as a group of prominent men, scribes and Pharisees, drag in a woman and stand her before Jesus. Imagine her, tear-streaked face, eyes cast down, absolutely terrified. Pointing at her, the sneering men make their charge, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. What do you say?” Now this is an interesting for several reasons. First, being “caught in the act” was absolutely necessary. The law stated that in order to bring this charge there had to be at least two witnesses, which, when you think of it is hard to do without some kind of sting operation. There’s a smell of a set up. But even more interesting is the fact that only the woman gets convicted here. Leviticus 20 states: “If a man (note the emphasis) commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.” So my question is “Where is the man?”

Now folks, I may not be the smartest guy on the block but far as I can tell, adultery is not something one does in splendid isolation.
Did he somehow manage to escape? Or was this another case of the double standard? In fact, then and now, women endure severe social consequences for their sexual sins, while men get away with a permissive wink; boys being boys and all of that crap.

Of course, if this was a sting, the Pharisees may have let the guy off with a handshake, thanking him for his assistance, the woman being no more than a pawn in their plan to get Jesus. Bottom line was, they wanted to get Jesus into a no-win situation. If Jesus let’s her off the hook, he’s soft on sin and adultery, playing fast and loose with the law of Moses. If Jesus condemns her, he risks offending the Roman authorities who have to give their own permission for any capital punishment, as the Sanhedrin had to do with Jesus. But as many others find out, when you set a trap for Jesus, you risk falling into it yourself. The crowd leaning in listens with great interest.

They glare at the woman apparently pulled straight from her bed. They watch for a reaction from Jesus. What Jesus does has been analyzed in depth. He writes with his finger on the ground. Believe it or not, someone actually figured out what He wrote.

One ingenious scholar has figured out how many Hebrew letters one could write within an average arm reach, and came up with 19 characters, which happens to fit exactly a relevant passage from Exodus 23:1 Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. Isn’t it amazing what you can discover when you let someone loose with a text and a PhD? I also think that it is important, that He wrote with His finger. As you may remember the law was carved in stone with God’s very finger. Here is God incarnate, carving a new law into human history. Perhaps He was just doodling, buying time, cooling off what could well be described as a lynch mob.

You must admit it sure raises the tension level in the story. They all wait, the woman, the accusers, and the crowd standing by, while the question hangs heavy in the air, “Now, what do you say?”
Jesus looks up from his writing and speaks. He goes with the law. “Go ahead and stone her.” But he adds one conscience-shattering provision that turns everything upside down: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” This is where the misunderstanding I mentioned in the beginning comes in. This saying of Jesus has been both well used and abused. Jesus is not saying that we sinners can’t form judgments about the actions of others. That would make the administration of human justice impossible, because not one of us is without sin. None of us can ever “throw the first stone” in judgment of someone else.

How can we, who have entertained lustful thoughts, judge the sin of adultery. How can we, who have hated others, judge the sin of murder? From the mouth of Jesus, it makes perfect sense, but when some corrupt politician or some caught-with-his-pants-down preacher comes up with this as a defense, it doesn’t ring true, does it. Sinners though we are, we sometimes have to make difficult judgments about our own and other people’s behavior. But Jesus wants to make sure we face our own soul in the process. When Jesus says, “Let anyone among you who is without sin throw the first stone,” he tilts us in the direction of mercy rather than prideful judgment. Suddenly we see the beam in our own eye. In making our judgments, we must do so mercifully, deeply mindful that our own sins stand under God’s judgment as well. The woman’s accusers resurface today… we want longer prison sentences for first offenders. We want ‘three strikes and you're out,’ a ‘throw-away-the-key’ approach to smalltime repeaters whose harm has been only to themselves. We want the rebels reduced to nothing. We want law and order.”Go ahead, there are lots of people out there, struggling trying hurting, failing. Feel free to hunt them down. Grind them under. Count them out. Throw them away. Go ahead. Throw the first stone. After his startling words, Jesus bent down for some more writing on the ground, while his words land like a pebble in a pond, sending a ripple of reality through the crowd. One by one they drop their rocks and go home; interestingly, from the oldest to the youngest.

I would hope that the older we get, the more we would sense our own need for mercy, because then we will be more likely to offer it to others. Finally, Jesus looks up, and they’re all gone. It’s just Jesus and the woman: the sinful woman and the sinless one, or as St. Augustine put it so wonderfully, misery and mercy. He straightened up. Where are your accusers?
They’re all gone, Lord. “Neither do I condemn you.”

Jesus, the only one in the whole world who, according to his own criterion, had the perfect moral standing to throw the first stone, refuses. While this is unbelievably good news for the woman, I wonder about her betrayed husband and family.

Adultery has incredible fallout. The anger and hurt. Worlds are totally upended, trust is devastated. How can Jesus forgive him or her so freely?” Because that’s what Jesus came to do. As it says earlier in John, “God sent his son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

Or as Paul puts it so wonderfully in Romans 8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The only one who could be our perfect accuser has become our perfect savior, by taking the condemnation on his own soul. Notice something else here. She says nothing.
There’s no, “I’m sorry.” No, “I’ll never do it again.”
Not even, “I’ve made a mess of things.” Not a word of remorse. Which reminds us again; our repentance, isn’t the condition for forgiveness, it’s the consequence. It is all grace-- wonderful, free grace. But it is not cheap. It wasn’t cheap for Jesus to win, nor is it cheap for us to live. “Go and don’t sin any more.” Yeah, and that’s going to happen. No, we’ll be back again, standing in front of Jesus, condemned by self, or condemned by others. And again, he will say, neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.

Many of us struggle in one-way or another with the nagging voice of guilt. It’s as though a band of scribes and Pharisees lurk in the corners of our soul ready to remind us of those actions or thoughts for which we are ashamed.

But if you listen to the gentle voice of Jesus you will hear, “I do not condemn you.” This is the voice of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ.
If you listen to that voice coming from the center of your soul, and if you trust in it, you will find peace. And when the other voices fight for your attention again, as they will, just return to that gentle, powerful, voice from the center until the other voices stop, and the rocks drop.

Having faced the real misery of your sin, and its effects in your life and others, the next words will sound more and more like grace too, “Go and sin no more.”

Jesus will be right there with you by the power of his Spirit on that sometimes long and winding road to spiritual wholeness.

“Is Jesus Your Everything!”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 28, September 28, 2008

I want to declare to you as the Apostle Paul declared in the Colossians that "Christ is all and in all.” Christ was everything to Paul. To the Corinthians he had written, I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified. To the Galatians he wrote: God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And to the Philippians he declared, To me to live is Christ.

Today’s Christians seem to put Jesus in a box, either in Palestine a long time ago or now at the Father's right hand. We need Paul's vision - to see Christ past, present, and future. If Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and Ending, Author and Finisher of our faith, if by Him all things consist, it would follow that everything centers and converges in Him. For by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him Colossians 1:16
How many Christians ever think of Christ as the One by whom all things are created, as C0lossians puts it; by whom all things were made: as John puts it; by whom God made the worlds, as Hebrews put it?
By Him redemption consists. In order to conform men to the image of His Son, God gave His Son. There is no salvation in any other.
By Him the Gospel consists. The Gospel is simply the good news about Jesus, that He came, died, and rose again. It is not a program, plan, or philosophy that saves, but a Person.
By Him the church consists. God gave him to be head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all Ephesians 1:22,23
By Him true doctrine consists. Some Christians become disciples of a phrase, playing a one string banjo. For example, Some get off on a tangent on sanctification. But sanctification, strictly speaking, is not just a doctrine it is Christ Himself. I Corinthians 1:30

Spurgeon said, "Holiness is not the way to Christ; Christ is the way to holiness."
Better still, Christ is our holiness.

Some make the Holy Spirit the figurehead of movements, but the Spirit testifies not of Himself but of Christ John 15:26 In that classic passage regarding the Holy Spirit, John 7:37-39, it is Jesus who is at the center of the stage: If any man thirst, let him come to ME and drink. He that believes on ME, as the scripture has said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. This spoke HE of the Spirit which they that believe on HIM should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that JESUS was not yet glorified.

Any supposed experience of the Spirit that draws attention to itself and not to Christ is not to be trusted.

By Him the resurrection consists. Jesus said to Martha, Your brother shall rise again. She said, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Martha was orthodox, but she needed to move from the doctrinal to the personal. So Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life.

The resurrection is not something to believe, but Someone to believe.
By Him faith consists. It is not the quantity or the quality but the object of our faith that matters. Saving faith is faith in Christ, not just things about Christ. It is not faith in our faith, but a faith in our Christ.

By Him all Christian experience consist. The Christian life is simply Christ, the indwelling and outliving Christ. To me to live is Christ The victorious life is just more of Christ and less of self. He is our Life, not just a teacher of how to live.

By Him separation consists. He is the Great Divider, who came not to send peace, but a sword, and He in fact must separate us. Separation is not just quitting things, it is going to HIM, outside the camp bearing HIS reproach. When He was on earth, there was often a division of the people on account of Him, and He still divides men today. But this should not be confused with those who cause division among us. They are to be watched out for and avoided.

Let me ask you a question; What is the main thing about the Lord's return?
It is the Lord. Some are merely looking for an event, rather than for a person.

By Him Christian fellowship consists. Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ I John 1:3 The mark of true fellowship is love to all the saints, which springs from faith in Jesus Colossians 1:4 By Him our testimony consists. We are His witnesses, not His lawyers. We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. Simon Peter comes to Jesus because Andrew goes after him with a testimony.

By Him our fruitfulness consists. He that abides in me and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing John 15:5

It is not what is done for Him, but, by Him that counts.

I wonder how much church activity really comes from Him? We need to get our eyes off our efficiency and on His sufficiency.
By Him the answer to every situation or need consists. God has promised to supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Jesus. If we need victory we can reign in life through Christ. If we need peace, the peace of God will garrison our hearts through Christ Jesus. If we need wisdom, He is our wisdom. If we need strength, we can do all things through Christ.
By Him the future consists. It is not just about going to heaven, it is about being WITH CHRIST. It is His presence that makes heaven so glorious. And it is separation from Him that is hell's worst feature. My dear friends - I wish I could convey this incredible message to you in such a clear and simple way that we all would get it all!

Jesus is to be our everything. It is in our looking to Him - not in a backward over the shoulder glance or in a futuristic hope so - it is in our looking to Him right now as He is here this very moment in time, that life itself will make sense.

A little girl was struggling to put together a ripped torn up map of the United States, discovered that on the reverse side was a picture of George Washington and that by putting his picture together she also assembled the map, illustrates a profounder truth.

Nothing can be assembled, either one's life or the universe, apart from Christ. But when we know Him everything else will find its place….. for by Him all things consist!