Sermon Transcript – The Anti-Venom to Darkness

Series B – Fourth Sunday in Lent – Sunday, March 14, 2021 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:23The holy gospel according to saint john
0:30the third chapter glory to you
0:37as moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the son of man be lifted up
0:42so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life for god so loved the world that he gave
0:48his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life
0:53for god did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him whoever believes in him is
1:00not condemned but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only son of
1:07god and this is the judgment light has come into the world and people love the darkness rather than
1:13the light because their deeds were evil for everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the
1:20light lest his deeds should be exposed but whoever does what is true comes to the light so that it may be clearly seen
1:27that his deeds have been carried out in god this is the gospel of the lord in the name of
1:33Jesus all right hear the judgment of Christ this is judgment light has come into the
1:39world and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their
1:44deeds were evil i think another way you can put it the reason why pagans do what they do is well because
1:50pagans peg that’s what they do and you’re going to note that each and every one of us according to our epistle text
1:56we were born dead there you know you ever have somebody
2:01ask the question why do you think that god allows bad things to happen to good people
2:07and you should scratch your head and say what are you talking about not a single one of us is good and the
2:14only one who was good we murdered him you see that’s kind of the point so in
2:19our text today we’re going to weave them all together because i think you can do that with these texts and walk through some of the major
2:26themes here and you’re going to note that Christ is the light of the world he’s come into the world and well
2:31people love darkness and don’t think this doesn’t apply to you even though at one point you were dead in
2:37trespasses and sins each and every one of us baptized into Christ still have our old sinful nature until
2:43we either die or Christ returns and i don’t know if you’ve noticed this about your sinful nature your sinful nature
2:49really likes sin really enjoys it and and quite naturally you can steer
2:55right into the weeds and so you’ll know we’ve got to pay attention to the fact that each and every one of us
3:00still has that proclivity to love darkness and so in that context i always
3:06like to return to the scene of the crime with a text like this let’s review again the fall of man shall
3:12we in genesis chapter 3 because you’re going to note that adam and eve’s behavior
3:18post-fall goes perfectly with what Christ says about men loving the darkness and
3:24not coming to the light so the serpent it says in genesis 3 was more crafty than other any other beast
3:31of the field that the lord god has made always and again i always crack up when atheists think they’ve really got us
3:37over a barrel because you believe in talking snakes well actually uh snakes on their belly as we know them
3:44were actually postfall this you’ll note goes in conjunction with revelation 13 where the term dragon
3:52and serpent are used interchangeably okay in fact we know from isaiah chapter
3:586 that there are seraphim in the very presence of god and these seraphim well they’re
4:06serpentine if you would they’re kind of like dragons that’s really what that’s all about so the
4:11he said to the woman and here it comes and by the way Christ has let us know what’s going on here in the gospel of
4:17john Jesus makes it clear that the devil was a liar and a murderer from the beginning and he
4:23is the father of lies he’s the inventor of lying and being a fact that he’s a murderer
4:29from the beginning we now know from Jesus’s words what the whole scheme was about there’s the devil he’s seen that god
4:36has created mankind in his own image and he’s spoken a word to man and
4:42basically said you can eat of any of these trees except for that one
4:47in the the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because on the day you eat of it you will surely
4:52die and the devil knows a thing or two about god and that is is that when god says something’s going to happen
4:58it happens god’s word never returns to him void god’s word accomplishes the thing for which he sent it so adam
5:06and eve the way the devil’s thinking ah i’m going to murder them because they look
5:12just like the god that i hate and i’m going to make god the murder weapon you know in all of the annals of evil
5:19this is like the ultimate right yeah the this is the ultimate villain setting out to murder humanity
5:25and so he begins with these words a question and he says did god actually say you
5:32shall not eat of any tree in the garden did god ever say you can’t eat of anything
5:38let me give you rose bros paraphrase of the devil’s word is it true oh he’s just a terrible awful deity is
5:44it true he’s not letting you eat i knew he was wicked but this is just beyond the pale that’s rose bro’s
5:50paraphrase but it kind of gets you in the ballpark because you’re going to know what is the devil doing here slandering
5:56god and i love how our epistle text today is going to take the slanders of the
6:01devil and just turn them on their head because anybody who thinks that god is in has it out for them doesn’t understand
6:08who he is and what he’s done for us so eve kind of thrown on her back heel
6:14says well we may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden but god said you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that’s in
6:21the midst of the garden neither shall you touch it lest you die
6:27and i i got to give her just a little bit of space here you know because you know people note that she’s added to god’s
6:34words and she has you know it’s true that it’s god said that if you eat of the tree that’s in
6:39the midst of the garden you will die but he didn’t say you shouldn’t touch it so this is this is what i would call
6:45like just not quite memorizing your catechism lesson yet you know so you haven’t quite
6:50got the catechism but you’re in the ballpark she’s in the ballpark and now it comes and listen to
6:55what the devil says he says you will not surely die
7:01let me say this another way god lied to you he said you would die but he’s lying
7:06you’re not going to die it it’s going to be okay dear you you just go right ahead and the reason why he
7:12lied to you is because he knows that when you eat of this tree your eyes are going to be
7:17opened and you’re going to be like god knowing good and evil and god is he’s small-minded he’s he’s
7:24jealous he’s capricious he’s threatened by you he doesn’t want you to achieve
7:29your full potential he wants to keep you from experiencing your purpose and so because of this you know you you
7:36can’t listen to him i’m your friend i’m here to tell you the truth i’m here to set you free from that
7:42tyrant god the one who made you
7:50so now the woman goes full pentecostal eve goes full pentecostal she looks for
7:56the answer inside of herself it’s god within ism and so feeling the spirit moving
8:03within her she saw that the tree was good for food that it was a delight to the eyes and
8:09the tree was to be desired to make one wise never go inside to find god’s word
8:17it always comes to you from outside so then she took of its fruit and she ate it and then she also gave
8:23some to her husband who was with her yeah he was standing there the whole time and he ate
8:29also and then the eyes of both were opened and they knew that they were naked and
8:36they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths yeah when their eyes were opened they
8:41didn’t sit there and go haha i now have ultimate power i am a deity
8:47no it just resulted in complete disaster and shame and as god said
8:55death and he said they’re going well they’re still breathing other physical death will catch up but
9:02at this point they are spiritually dead they are spiritual corpses
9:08at this point how do i know well remember what our epistle text said
9:14and you you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked
9:21following the course of this world following the prince of the power of the air the spirit that is now at work and
9:26the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh
9:31carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and we were by nature children of wrath
9:37like the rest of mankind dead objects of god’s wrath they for
9:44sure died that day so who was lying god or the devil
9:50and you’ll note that in our epistle text we are warned that being a child of the devil being on
9:56one of the sons of disobedience means carrying out the desires and the passions of our own sinful flesh
10:02i already warned you that what your sinful flesh desires are contrary the things contrary to what
10:08god would have you do or not do and so you think of the fellow who says but you
10:14know i i’m a victim of oppression so i have a right to steal uh-huh
10:20right we always try to justify what we do wrong but but she’s my soul mate man i can
10:25commit adultery on my wife because i i was meant to be with her you’re just following the passions of your sinful
10:31flesh well i didn’t feel like taking out the trash and i don’t like it when my parents told me what to do
10:38been there done that too that’s your sinful flesh being lazy not wanting to do
10:44what your parents have told you to do which is the breaking of the fourth commandment and is a sin and i could go on i mean
10:50exciting example after example but you get the point so now god at this point shows up
10:58they heard the sound of yahweh elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the
11:03day and the man and his wife what did they do rather than run to god they were ex and be excited to see him
11:09oh so good to see you again god they hid from him they hid from the presence of yahweh
11:15elohim among the trees of the garden well that’s going to be effective right
11:22and we already know that they had decided to cover their nakedness with fig leaves like a lot of good that’s going to do
11:29but yahweh elohim called to the man and said to him where are you he said i heard the sound of you in the
11:35garden and i was afraid because i was naked and i hid myself who told you that you were naked have
11:42you eaten of the tree of which i commanded you not to eat and now comes the proverbial blame game
11:50rather than taking responsibility confessing his sin repenting adam blames god
11:57the woman whom you gave to be with me she gave me the fruit of the tree and i ate it’s your fault god you gave me that
12:02woman so then yahweh elohim said to the woman what is this you’ve done the woman said
12:08well the serpent deceived me and i ate at least she gives an honest answer so now the lord god says to the serpent
12:14because you’ve done this cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field and on
12:19your belly you shall go dust you shall eat all the days of your life and then comes the first gospel i
12:25will put enmity between you and the woman between your offspring and her offspring he Christ that’s who he’s referring to
12:31here shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel
12:37but there’s adam and eve god comes and they flee hide from the presence of god
12:43light comes into the world but thou they are dwellers in sinfulness a darkness
12:51that’s what’s going on here and over and again i think it’s important to note there’s different ways in which you can
12:56describe what has happened to humanity we describe it as the fall the effect is
13:02called original sin the calvinist they call it total depravity
13:09and they’re not wrong in calling it that we just don’t generally use that term but the idea here is the fall is is
13:16total it’s catastrophic it’s devastating this is the reason why we experience the
13:21suffering and the misery that we have this is why there is evil in the world this is why pagans peg
13:27another way you could talk about it is you can say well on that day the serpent envenomated them with
13:33well the lies that led to our fall and we still have this venom of the
13:39serpent running around in our veins today it’s been passed on from generation to generation to generation i didn’t have
13:45to teach my kids how to disobey it was a chore it was a difficulty teaching them
13:51how to obey so those of you thinking about having kids any time in the near future just keep in
13:57mind it’s quite the task okay because they come out broken and you try to fix them and there’s only so
14:03much you can do with glue and paper mache but you get the idea right so it’s with
14:09that in mind that we consider then our old testament text as a foundation for our gospel text
14:15in our old testament text in the types and shadows we see
14:20here one of those big picture types and shadows that points us to Jesus himself and
14:25Jesus makes it very clear that what we’re going to see here is a type and shadow of himself
14:31and so here we hear about the children of israel they are just setting out from mount sinai and heading
14:38by way to the red sea to go around the land of edom and the people became impatient on the way and listen how much these people
14:45sound exactly like the serpent so they spoke against god and against moses why have you brought us up out of
14:51egypt to die in the wilderness what a terrible question what an awful question because
14:56the question assumes something that is absolutely slanderous about god
15:02isn’t that exactly what the devil did and so you can see here the children of israel know well the ways of satan and that
15:08venom is still running through their veins because they have attributed to god that his intent all along
15:14was to kill them in the wilderness how could somebody honestly say that
15:20about god especially after what they’ve been through they had been in slavery for
15:25hundreds of years oppressed under pharaoh forced to kill their own first
15:31their all their male children and god sends a deliverer and that you got the whole ten plagues
15:38of egypt then you have them crossing the red sea as on dry ground and then god destroying
15:44the army of pharaoh feeding them miraculous bread from heaven and what
15:49are they saying about god god you you brought us out here to kill us
15:56hey men love darkness
16:05then they complained about the food and saying that the manna was worthless so then yahweh sent fiery serpents among
16:12the people and they bit the people so that many of the people of israel died
16:20now a little bit of a note here the necha shim seraphim that’s how you say fiery
16:26serpent in in hebrew the necha shem seraphim they’re not called fiery serpents
16:33because they have a really cool flame paint job on their bodies and in fact
16:39they’re just kind of like a bronze colored snake the reason they call them fiery serpents is because if
16:44you are unfortunate enough to be envenomated by one of them it feels like you’ve caught fire on the
16:50inside of you and that’s your experience and the pain that you experience prior to dying from being envenomated by
16:56them it’s not a good way to go and so you’ll note here we’ve got sarah feme showing up
17:02and that’s kind of the point so the people of israel realize you know maybe we should repent here and
17:08that’s not a bad thing to do here so the people came to moses and said all right we’ve sinned
17:14we’ve spoken against yahweh and against you yeah they have so please pray to yahweh
17:21so that he may take away the serpents from us so moses prayed for the people
17:27and yahweh said to moses make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole and everyone who was bitten when he sees
17:34it shall live and this is where we understand something very important that god doesn’t take away the curse
17:42instead he gives him a way to live through the curse and this
17:49fiery this bronze serpent that moses makes is one of the instances of what we call
17:55a sacrament sitting there going a sacrament yes sakura the the term sacrament means mystery and
18:02so what is a biblical concept of a sacrament it’s where god takes his
18:08word and he attaches it to something that we can see smell taste or touch and the idea
18:14here is is that by combining it with earthly material that then god mysteriously works through
18:22that thing because we know that bronze serpents in and of themselves have no medicinal properties for healing
18:28people bitten by snakes in fact you know i i when i was growing up i
18:33used to hike in the foothills of southern california i lived in monrovia and arcadia in that area and i
18:39used to carry with me a snake bite kit all right and and so
18:45if you’re ever bitten by a snake do not follow the methods taught to you by the old spaghetti westerns okay you’ll end up
18:51dead if you do that because how do the spaghetti westerns work somebody’s bitten by a snake and somebody says here let me suck the
18:58venom out you know you’re gonna die if you do that okay but snake bite kits do have a way for
19:04you to extract the venom and it and so the way it works is it’s kind of kind of gross you know
19:10so you’re supposed to break this thing open and you’ve got a really nice sharp scalpel and you’re supposed to
19:16actually make the wound bigger you know by opening things up with the scalpel and then you have the syringey
19:22kind of thing that you’re supposed to throw on to the on onto the bite and then you
19:27take the plunger and you go you know to get the you know it it’s really kind of gross think about
19:34it okay yeah it’s kind of involved and and i would note that
19:39most people die anyway so all of that being said
19:46being snake bits not something that you want but i can tell you this that in my snake bite kit
19:52they did not have a bronze serpent so that i can take a look at the person
19:57who’s been bit here quick look at this you know and then they yeah it doesn’t work that way and the reason why
20:03is because there was only one bronze serpent that had god’s word attached to it only
20:09one and that was this one and so you’ll note then that god gives them this
20:15sacrament so that they can get through the curse so moses made a bronze serpent set it on
20:21a pole and if a serpent bit anyone he would look at the bronze serpent
20:27and he would live so here we’ve got an anti-venom
20:34sacrament if you would types and shadows pay attention to that stuff well all that
20:40being said then consider what we hear
20:45than from Christ in our gospel text Jesus in his nick at night passage he’s
20:51talking to nicodemus at night that’s why i call it that um it’s his nick at night passage he’s discussing with nicodemus
20:58uh the the importance of in fact i would say the vi the how vital it is
21:04imminent that somebody be born on oh then born from above and then he in his discourse with
21:10nicodemus says these words just as moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the son
21:18of man be lifted up so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life
21:28hmm so the right way then to understand that bronze serpent
21:34is that it’s a picture of Christ and this is where we struggle a little
21:39bit here because it seems sacrilegious to ascribe to Jesus
21:45the symbol of the serpent which is the thing that brought us into misery in the first place but this is where we have to
21:52recognize something very important about the work that Christ has done and that is is that he has extracted
22:01all of satan’s venom from us from all of us and taking it into
22:08himself as the scripture says god has laid on him the iniquity of us all but
22:14corinthians says it a little stronger than this where it says that god made Jesus to be sin so that we might be the
22:22righteousness of god and there it is
22:27so that bronze serpent foreshadows Christ and it foreshadows Christ in
22:33him taking all of the venom of the serpent into himself so that we can be pardoned forgiven so
22:40that rather than die we would live and then we hear these very comforting words that every one of
22:46us knows even from when we attended sunday school as kids because this is always a verse that you got to
22:52memorize as a kid for god so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever
22:59believes in him should not perish but have eternal life this stands in stark contradiction
23:07to the words of the serpent is it true that he’s not letting you eat oh he doesn’t want you to eat of that tree
23:13he’s lying to you because he he knows that you’ll be like god and then you got the children of israel you
23:19brought us out into the wilderness in order to kill us you don’t know anything about god you’re
23:24lying about him you’re speaking against him the text says that god so loved the world and by the way that includes you
23:31it includes me and this great love that god has he has this
23:37and it’s demonstrated by the sacrifice that he’s willing to make
23:43in order to save humanity now people in the nar and in the
23:48purpose-driven churches they’ll say things like this that you were so worth it that god laid down his
23:53life for you you oh god looks at you and he sees what a beautiful future you have and he
23:58recognizes you are so valuable scripture says in romans 3 that because of our
24:05rebellion again against god we have become worth less that’s how scripture
24:12describes us in the fall it is not because we are so amazing that god sent his son instead
24:19the reason why god sent his son is because god’s love is that amazing
24:24and you can see the depth of his love because the thing that is sacrificed is his only begotten
24:31son imagine if god had said you know i i i like you guys and i feel bad that you
24:37were deceived so i’m gonna send an angel you know maybe send clarence you know an
24:42angel in training from it’s a wonderful life would you would you believe that god really loved you if he sent
24:49clearance no you see god demonstrates his love for
24:54us and that while we were yet sinners Christ the son of god the only begotten son of god dies
25:01in our place think of it this way from our epistle text even though we were dead in trespasses
25:07and sins it says of god in verse 4 that god is rich in mercy and use that word there for a second
25:14because it’s it’s wonderful modifier because i don’t know what it’s like to be rich but could you imagine like having
25:20like all the money you ever need and a whole lot more that you you if it would be impossible for you to run out of money that’d be kind
25:27of cool right i have no idea what that’s like but all of that being said you’ll know that when it comes to mercy
25:32god isn’t cheap god isn’t on a budget he doesn’t have to sit there and
25:38go you know i don’t know i don’t know if i have enough mercy to go around this month but so we we might have to just pull it
25:46back just a little bit we need to put you on a mercy diet okay god doesn’t act like this it says
25:52that he’s rich in mercy god being rich in mercy because of the great love not
25:58small love great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses god has made us
26:05alive together with Christ it is by grace you have been saved it’s not something you’ve done
26:11and he raised us up with him and listened to god’s intent god raised us up with him and seated us
26:17with Christ in the heavenly places so that in the coming ages god might
26:22show the immeasurable riches of his grace
26:29this sounds nothing like the words of the serpent immeasurable riches of god’s grace now
26:37i need to assure you of something here your sin and my sin is measurable it is not immeasurable
26:45it is not infinite it is very finite in fact in the books that are
26:51opened on the last day people’s record sins are recorded in the section known as the
26:57record of debt it’s the world’s most satanic spreadsheet but all of that being said there is a
27:04limit to your sin but scripture here says of god that his grace
27:11is immeasurable and when you take your very measurable
27:18sin and you weigh it against the immeasurable grace of god do you think for a second that god
27:26could say you know i Christ died for you but it wasn’t enough to cover that
27:34no not at all and so you’ll note here scripture tell paints a completely different picture of
27:41who god is he is loving he’s rich in mercy his grace is immeasurable and his intent
27:49in the new world the world that is coming is to demonstrate in the ages to come and show us his
27:56immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us
28:05it’s really easy for us to believe the lies of the darkness
28:10when pagans peg what they often do is they slander god one of the things
28:16they say about god is oh he’s cruel god is guilty of genocide look at all the people he had murdered
28:23in the old testament he is evil he’s wicked he doesn’t care anything he’s not deserving of your love
28:28oh and worse than that the sjws assure us that god is evil because he allowed slavery you see he doesn’t
28:36care anything about social justice so you shouldn’t believe in Jesus at all
28:43those are the lies of the devil and people who speak those lies
28:48they sound just like the serpent they sound just like the children of israel in the desert in the wilderness and they are
28:54slandering god but we do it too when we believe that
29:01our sin is too big for Christ to forgive we do it too when we believe that god
29:07turns a blind eye to sin because he doesn’t there’s all different ways in which we
29:14love the darkness and we slander god
29:19well the god i believe in would never and then fill in the blank well the god you believe in isn’t god
29:25then so note this god is kind
29:31he is rich in mercy his grace is immeasurable and
29:37his kindness towards us and his love for us is staggering
29:44i noted on wednesday that when Christ was inaugurated as the king of israel
29:49proclaimed to be the king of the jews unlike human heads of state
29:55who wait until their last act in office to pardon people because pardoning people is
30:01usually kind of scandalous because always and again there’s people that make the list of people who got
30:06pardoned and the opposite side says i can’t believe you pardoned that guy but Jesus begins his reign as king
30:15by pardoning all of his enemies you and me included is it any wonder
30:22then that we hear these amazing words god so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him
30:30and that’s right you don’t have to earn that salvation and if you’re trying to earn it you’ll never earn it
30:35you’ll be damned for trying whoever believes in him will not perish but have
30:40eternal life you see god did not send his son into the world to condemn the world
30:46but in order that the world might be saved through him and whoever believes in him is not
30:53condemned whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed
30:58in the name of the only son of god so brothers and sisters note then
31:06god truly is loving he is kind he’s merciful and he does not will your
31:12destruction he does not will that you perish and anybody who perishes it is such a
31:18tragic thing because they perish aside from the love and the mercy and the will of god
31:24so be assured today brothers and sisters that Christ has taken your sin upon himself god made him to be sins that we could
31:31become the righteousness of god so that we can be forgiven and pardon and not perish
31:37and all of this is a gift it is not your own doing it is from God and it is so that we can be saved so
31:43take comfort in these assuring wonderful gospel-filled words because they reveal the true nature and
31:50heart of God he is kind slow to anger abounding in steadfast love pardoning iniquity
31:58even yours and mine in the name of Jesus amen
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