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2-26-23 Who or What Feeds You?

Who or What Feeds You?

David Peterson / General

Temptation of Jesus; Faith; Transformation / Matthew 4:1–11

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: Jesus passes the test for us and in so doing awakens in us faith which causes us to live like him.

Introduction

1. We must be fed—our limited human nature

2. What we’re seeking is life

3. What feeds you will determine your orientation and your obedience (action)

I. We are to feed on God’s word (Matthew 4:4)

1. God’s word is the tangible, objective means

We search the world for truth. We cull

The good, the true, the beautiful,

From graven stone and written scroll,

And all old lower-fields of the soul;

And, weary seekers of the best,

We come back laden from our quest,

To find that all the sages said

Is in the Book our mothers read.

—John Greenleaf Whittier

2. Jesus is himself the content (his life and his work, the very thing we read today). He feeds our soul. The Bread of Heaven.

An Authentic Portrait

In front of old Trinity Church in Boston stands a statue of Phillips Brooks, its great preacher. Behind the figure of the New England minister and bishop, Christ is portrayed standing with his hand on Brooks’ shoulder. The story is told of a working woman who paused to gaze upon the figures and asked, “Who is that standing back of Dr. Brooks?” A stranger replied, “That is Christ.” The dear soul replied, “It doesn’t look like Him.”

The only authentic picture we have of Christ is in the Bible, and we miss the whole point of it when we try to make the Bible an ethical scrapbook or a handy, do-it-yourself manual. It is the revelation of Christ.

Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (pp. 27–28). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

“All other religions are independent, to a certain degree, of their founders, because these founders were nothing more than their first confessors. But Jesus was not the first Christian; He was or is the Christ. He is not the subject, but the object, of religion. Christianity is not the religion of Jesus … but Christ-worship.”

SOURCE: Herman Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation (Longmans, Green, 1908), 227.

II. The result is a New Orientation: Worshiping God (Matthew 4:10)

1. He begins in experiencing the love of Christ

2. It continues with coming to understand the greatness of God

a. Holiness

R. C. Sproul on Worship

“We see throughout the Bible that when someone in antiquity encountered the holy God, the experience was almost uniform. To a person they stood quaking in terror, trembling before the Most High God. They were frightened; they were humbled; they were disintegrated; but they were certainly never bored. How is it possible then that people say church is boring?”

Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed., p. 810). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

b. Wisdom and Power

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His Holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin. Yes—worship in spirit and truth is the way to the solution of perplexity and to the liberation from sin.”

SOURCE: William Temple, Readings in St. John’s Gospel (Macmillan, 1947), 68. Cf. similar passage in The Hope of a New World (1940), 30.

III. The result is a New Obedience: Based in Trusting God (Matthew 4:7)

1. Obedience based in trust: Trusting God’s timing

2. Trusting God’s methods

3. Obedience leads to increased appetite for God’s word (compounding cycle)

At age 35 I bought running shoes and began enjoying the smooth rhythms of long-distance running. Soon I was competing in 10K races every month or so, and then a marathon once a year. By then I was subscribing to and reading three running magazines! Then I pulled a muscle and couldn’t run for a couple of months. Those magazines were still all over the house, but I never opened one. The moment I resumed running, though, I started reading again.

That’s when I realized that my reading was an extension of something I was a part of. I was reading for companionship and affirmation of the experience of running. I learned a few things along the way, but mostly it was to deepen my world of running. If I wasn’t running, there was nothing to deepen.

The parallel with reading Scripture is striking. If I’m not living in active response to the living God, reading about his creation/salvation/holiness won’t hold my interest for long. The most important question isn’t “What does this mean,” but “What can I obey?” Simple obedience will open up our lives to a text more quickly than any number of Bible studies, dictionaries, and concordances.

Source: Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book (William B. Eerdmans, 2006), pp. 70-71; paraphrased in the September 18 entry of Men of Integrity (September/October 2009)

Conclusion

1. The promise of divine aid

2. Victory in Jesus

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