Thursday, August 17, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Christ Sealed By The Father ]


John 6:26,27 says, Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly I say to you, you seek Me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, because God the Father has put His seal on Him." The subject to be discussed is, "Christ Sealed By The Father". Jesus said that God the Father had sealed Him. The proposition in this passage is that people should make an all out effort to obtain eternal life for the important reason that Christ has been sealed by Almighty God. Jesus Christ is the only religious leader in the world today who is sealed by God the Father. Hence He is the only religious leader that mankind should follow and obey.

Jesus had just miraculously fed over five thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. This free food, miraculously provided by Jesus, greatly appealed to the people as do all give-away programs. Jesus then boarded a ship and crossed the sea of Galilee, but the multitudes crowded into boats and followed Jesus to the other side. Jesus rebuked the crowd by saying that they sought Him not because of His religious teachings but because of the food He provided. After this, He delivered the words of the text, "Labor not for the meat which perishes but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life.." Christ had the power to give them eternal life, but they were interested only in what He could do for their physical needs.

Eternal life beyond the grave has been an unfading hope of mankind since the beginning of recorded history. The American Indians held the belief that there was a happy hunting ground to go to when they died. The Mohammedan heaven is portrayed in the Koran as a place of unlimited enjoyment of physical pleasures. The heaven of the polytheistic religions was conceived of as a place where mortals might continue the pleasures of the earthly life. However, these ancient concepts of an eternal existence after death were superstitious and not based on a substantial foundation of truth. For this reason, they had little really to hope for in the way of eternal life. Nevertheless, John 6:27 declares that the eternal life offered by Christ is based on very substantial evidence. His offer of eternal life means something because God the Creator has stamped Jesus with heaven's seal of approval.

I would like to discuss first the sealing of Christ by God the Father. In ancient times, a legal document was always authenticated by a mark or seal of the State to give it force. Some ancient kings had a signet ring which was used to stamp or seal official documents. The seal was used much more in ancient times than it is now. In our day a document is usually authenticated by a signature However, there are still legal documents which bear the official seal of the State to give it force. Hence, the purpose of a seal is to authenticate or guarantee something to be genuine. When the Bible says that God sealed Christ, it means that God has put His divine stamp of approval on Him as the authenticated representative of God. He has been authorized to speak in behalf of God. God the Father has commissioned, authorized, and placed the official seal of heaven on the work of Christ. Jast as the seal of the State of California on a document proves that the State is behind that document, so the seal of God on Christ proves that God sent Him as heaven's representative.

Next, let us give attention to how God sealed Christ and what the seal of Christ consists of, in order that we can identify it.First, God sealed Christ to the human race by means of miracles. The sealing of Christ by the Father is seen in those supernatural works associated with His ministry which the sealing of Christ by the Father is seen in those supernatural works associated with His ministry which reveal the special intervention and sanction of God. A true miracle is an action peculiar to God, for only God can work a genuine miracle. The character of a true miracle is not merely that its a strange and wonderful occurrence or that it is above the power of many people to do. A genuine miracle is identified by the fact that it is above all human power, and it is so extraordinary as obviously to show direct intervention by God. Such were the wondrous events by which God sealed the ministry of Christ. We read that He cured diseases, not by applications of medical knowledge, but by a touch or a word. When Jesus turned more than a hundred gallons of water into wine in a moment of time. Physical elements changed their nature, not by a process of chemistry, but by a mental volition (an act of the mind). What can we say when bread multiplies in the hands of Jesus, and five thousand people are the witnesses? What shall  we conclude when raging winds are hushed and tumultuous waves subside at the authoritative mandate of an apparent human being? What shall we answer when the very dead hear his voice, come to life, and worship Him? Furthermore, these supernatural wonders were not wrought merely to gratify curiosity, excite a profitless admiration, and to confer temporal benefits. They were performed in order to lead people to seek those benefits of life and salvation which He came to bestow. We too often admire the external array of the Lord's miracles without regard to the practical and saving purpose for which He did them.

In addition to these amazing feats of supernatural power, we behold in Him a tenderness, kindness, benevolence, and fitness almost as wonderful as the greatness of His power. Must we not exclaim with the conquered magicians of Egypt in the days of Moses, "Behold this is the finger of God". We are made to feel the irresistible force of the words of Nicodemus who said, "No man can do these miracles which you do except God be with him" (John 3:2). The supreme purpose for which Jesus worked His miracles is expressed by the apostle John, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name" (John 20:30,31).

The miracles which conclusively proved that Jesus was the divine Son of God from heaven were all performed in the first century A.D. They included the miracles Jesus performed during the three and a half years of His earthly ministry and the miracles performed by the apostles and selected Christians before the close of the first century. The miracles worked by the apostles and early Christians are called the seal of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, "In whom ye also trusted after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." As the seal of Christ was the miracles He performed proving his divinity, so the seal of the Holy Spirit was the miracles performed by Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit. These miracles included tongue-speaking, divine healing, raising the dead and such like things. The religion of Christ was sealed or authenticated by the miracles worked by apostles and other Christians. All of these miracles heaven saw fit to preserve for posterity are recorded in the New Testament. These wonders recorded in the New Testament still convince the mind that God sent Christ and that the apostles established Christianity as a heaven-sent religion. No other religious leader in the world has authentic and verifiable miracles to support their claims. People have been deceived by false prophets who have not been sealed by God the Father. The seal of the Holy Spirit came to an end in the first century by completely proving or guaranteeing the religion of Jesus by a great display of miracles. Any religious leader who claims the power to work miracles after the close of the first century A.D. is a deceiver and false prophet and should not be believed or followed. The so-called miracles of today are pseudo miracles and are not real miraclesat all.

The miracles in the New Testament are the real miracles which seal Christ. and Christianity as authentic and approved of God. Don't be deceived by pretended faith-healing and miracle-working preachers today. The day of true miracles have ended forever. When the evidence for Jesus and His religion was completed and committed to writing in the New Testament, the need for miracles ceased. What do we need with miracles today? If those recorded in the New Testament will not convince you, you can't be convinced. The seal of the Holy Spirit on the early Christians was really an extension of God's seal on Christ.In addition to miracles, God sealed Christ to the human race by the broad and striking seal of fulfilled prophecy. God has marked Jesus and put a divine stamp of approval on Him by hundreds of prophecies which foretold His coming. Some of these prophecies are general, and some are very minute and detailed. The more minute and specific a prophecy is, the more evidence it supplies of Divine inspiration and supernatural foreknowledge. For example, when the Babylonian Empire ruled the world and was in the height of its glory, the Bible predicted that Babylon, the greatest city of the ancient world, would fall and never rise again (Isaiah 13:19). The prediction of its fall was uttered about 700 B.C, and the city was taken by the Persians in 539 B.C. Isaiah looked 160 years into the future to foretell this event. Had it been predicted that Babylon would merely fall by some foreign invader, this would scarcely have been prophecy, but when Cyrus, King of Persia, is mentioned by name as the foreign invader 150 years before he was born (Isaiah 45:1), the evidence for supernatural prediction is plain and irresistable.

The Jews expected for centuries a Messianic deliverer to be sent to them by God. When we notice the exactness and minuteness of the predictions about Him and their precise fulfillment, every doubt vanishes, and we are compelled to accept the supernatural inspiration of the prophecies. Hundreds of years before His appearance in the flesh, it was predicted He would be born in the city of Bethlehem. It was foretold that He would teach in a particular manner, and that he would not cry, nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets. In addition it was prophesied He would be rejected and persecuted but bear His sufferings with meekness, humility, and silence (Isaiah 53:7). Hundreds of years before His birth, it was written that He would die tragically, not a bone of His body was to be broken, gall and vinegar would be presented to Him to drink. He would be numbered with transgressors, His tomb was to be that of a rich man, and after His death He would rise again. The heavenly Father sealed Christ to humanity by these marvelous prophecies, divinely foretold life characteristics. They have been so clearly fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ that we can say at once in the fullest confidence, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth"(John 1:45). Together with the miracles Jesus performed and the prophecies He fulfilled, the sealing by the heavenly Father was completed by His resurrection from the dead, His ascension to heaven, and the great miracles performed by the apostles and other Christians of the first century. All of this evidence is overwhelming and remains to this day as recorded in the books of the New Testament. All miraculous activity ceased at the close of the first century because the evidence for the divinity of Christ was conclusive and recorded in scripture for mankind. All religious groups should be avoided who profess to be able to work miracles like we read about in the New Testament. If you diligently study the Bible, you will not be taken in by these counterfeit miracles.

My final observation on the text is that the primary reason for God intervening in history to mark and seal Christ with divine approval was to convince the human race there is such a thing as eternal life. John 6:27 states, "Labor not for the meat which perishes but for that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you..." The reason we should work and strive to obtain eternal life is that God the Father has sealed Christ. Eternal life is an absolute certainty; there can be no question about it This one miracle of feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes by itself proved also that He was speaking as divinely sent from heaven, and it proved also He was speaking the truth when He claimed He could give them eternal life. If this one miracle proves that eternal life is a reality, how forcibly does the whole array of miracles and attestations press the great truth that eternal life is no myth or superstitious hope. Eternal life is now a distinct possibility and a plausible hope.

However, it should be carefully pointed out that Christ is the one and only authorized prophet to offer eternal life to mankind. If you refuse to acknowledge this divinely revealed fact, it is your own fault and you will miss heaven. That is why I am a member of the church you can read about in the New Testament. Mohammed was not sealed by God; hence, his religion does not have the sanction of heaven, people in that religion will be rjected at the day of judgment. By the same token, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, was not sealed by God. This means that it is vain to seek everlasting life through Mormonism. Inasmuch as Christ was sealed by the Father, we must not accept any supposed revelation in addition to the revelation of Christ in the New Testament. We should follow no religious leader who claims a special divine revelation in addition to that which is found in the Bible. Since the coming of Christ and the establishment of His religion, the Jewish religion is no longer sealed by God. No one can obtain everlasting life today in the Jewish religion. Furthermore, the Buddhist religion does not carry the seal of God. There are some twelve or thirteen world religions in existence, but only the Christian religion carries the seal of God's divine approval. Outside the religion of Christ, the hope of eternal life is no more than a legend, a myth,a vain dream and a vain hope.

n conclusion, Jesus reminds us that whatever we work for beside the bread which will permit us to live eternally in heaven is food that perishes. Jesus said labor not for the food that perishes but for that which endures to eternal life. He didn't say that we shouldn't work for physical food; He meant that we shouldn't work for that alone or foremost. How sad to see people neglecting the enduring realities of the Christian religion and putting forth strenuous efforts only for physical things which must soon fail them. The pleasures of sin are but for a season. The earthly good which swallows up your cares, either perishes in your hand, or you perish yourselves in the midst of it. When will you follow Christ for the "meat which endureth to everlasting life?" You must not rest in an empty wondering after the miracles of Christ and the glories of His religion. You must labor to acquire right views of New Testament Christianity by reading the scriptures and attending the services of the New Testament church. Christ offers you principles, affections, traits of character, and blessings which will live in you now and forever. May God help you to obey the gospel of Christ, commit your life to Christ, diligently study the scriptures, and live a life that is well pleasing and acceptable in His sight.

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