November 15, 2015
Talking with the right person is important. If you have a complaint about the way you are treated at a store, you want to talk to the manager. If you have an illness that needs to be addressed you call the doctor. If you want to improve your grades at school, you call on the teacher. If you go to the doctor to complain about the salesclerk the doctor will say, “You are talking to the wrong person.”
Now if you want to live life to the full who do you talk to? Well I wouldn’t talk to your alderman. Nor would I talk to Oprah. If you want to live life to the full you need to call on the name of the Lord. Are you a person who calls on the name of the Lord?
I. THOSE WHO CALL ON THE LORD TRUST IN HIS WORD. Gen.4:25; 3:15
The sin of Adam and Eve has had very deep and lasting effects. Gen.4 begins with the birth of Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer while Abel was a herdsman. At some point they both brought an offering to the Lord as an act of worship. Cain brought an offering from the harvest of his crops. Abel sacrificed a lamb from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s offering.
Gen.4:5 tells us that Cain was very angry and his face fell. Notice v.6-7. Sometimes it is thought that Cain’s offering was rejected because it was not an animal sacrifice. But when we look at the laws governing the Old Testament offerings we see that God accepted offerings of grain as well as animal sacrifices. It would seem that there was something going on in Cain’s heart. His heart was not right before God.
This tells us that when it comes to worship we can’t just mail it in. The offering itself is not as important as the heart behind the offering. You remember that Jesus told us that when we bring our gift to the altar, if we have something against someone we need to go and reconcile and then come and offer our gift. God encouraged Cain to assess his heart. “Get your heart right and your gift will be acceptable. Don’t let anger rule your life.” From v.8 we know that Cain did not listen to God. Instead he killed his brother Abel.
In Gen.4:25, we learn that Eve became pregnant and had a son. He was named, Seth. The text reads, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel.” Many believe that Eve is alluding to Gen.3:15. Last week we noted that Gen.3:15 is the first promise of salvation. The offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, of Satan. From what we know about Cain, he embraced the way of the serpent, of Satan. In other words, Cain became one of the offspring of the serpent. Abel’s heart was right before God, but he was dead. And so now we read about Seth. Could it be that perhaps Seth would be the offspring that would crush the head of the serpent? It seems that in Gen.4:25, Eve is thinking back to that word of promise from God. Well, Seth grew up and had a son named Enosh. In v.26 it says, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” It looks to me as if Seth was someone who embraced God and his ways and he influenced others.
Those who call upon the Lord, trust in the word of the Lord. Now from the very beginning this was the issue that tripped Adam and Eve up. They did not fully trust in the word of the Lord. They trusted the word of the serpent instead, and Cain wanted nothing to do with the word of the Lord.
We live in a day when skepticism and doubt are highly valued and scientific proof is considered to be far more trustworthy than religious truth. And if we are not careful it is very easy for believers to put the word of God on the back burner of their lives. So when it comes to making decisions we do not often consider the word of God. We decide on the basis of what seems best to us at the time without regard for God. Paul reminds us in Rm.1:17 that the righteous shall live by faith.” Paul spoke about the righteousness of God that is available to us, “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” When Jesus walked this earth he said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
When we come to Jesus in faith, we put our confidence in him and his word for all of life. Our confidence in Jesus is not just so we can get into heaven. We are trusting in Jesus to help us live like Jesus would live if he were in our shoes. Many of us have memorized Prov.3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Are you living your life by trusting in the word of God?
The word of God is the sword of the Spirit by which we vanquish the fiery darts of the evil one. “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Peter writes, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”
Today many do not believe that the word of God is true. What about you? Do you trust in the word of God and the teachings of Jesus enough to stake your life on them?, enough to live your life with Christ by them?
II. THOSE WHO CALL ON THE LORD WALK WITH GOD. Gen.5:22
In Gen.4 we see what happens to Cain. Because he killed his brother, Abel, the ground would no longer yield a harvest. The work that he loved was taken away from him. Cain was sentenced to be a wanderer. From v.14 it would seem that the population was growing and Cain feared that by having to wander his life would be in jeopardy. He pleaded with God to show mercy. And God did show mercy. God shows mercy to sinners. He put some sort of mark of protection on Cain. In v.16 we read very sad words, “Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” When you are not interested in the word of the Lord what else would you do, except move away from the Lord?
In the rest of Gen.4 we read about the descendants of Cain. Cain went out and built a city and he had a son named Enoch. This is the first reference to a city in the Bible. In v.18 we read about a number of Cain’s descendants through Enoch until we come to Lamech. Lamech married two wives and had three sons. Jabal establishes himself as in innovator in the area of animal husbandry. Jubal is an innovator in music and musical instruments. Tubal-Cain cultivates an expertise in working with bronze and iron. They each established new technologies in the development of culture.
But we also see something else. Cain and his descendants are not godly men by any stretch. In v.23 Lamech boasts of having killed a young man. It sounds as if he is just looking for any provocation to kill others. I don’t want to make too much of this, but surely there is a link between the values and lifestyle passed on from one’s parents. Cain did not honor the Lord. He had no regard for God. So we are not surprised to find that his children and grandchildren also do not honor or acknowledge the Lord.
They accomplish many wonderful things because they bear the image of God and because of God’s common grace, but they do not know the Lord. I suppose many of Cain’s descendants were nice enough people, but they did not care about the Lord. And just to remind us, these would all qualify to be the serpent’s offspring.
In Gen.5 we read about the descendants of Seth. This is the chapter that lists how many years these people lived. They lived for hundreds of years. In v.26 Methuselah lived for 969 years. Various ways of looking at these long lives have been offered. The text is pretty straight forward here so I just accept it as it is.
There are ten names listed in this chapter. What we need to see is that eight of the names include the phrase, “and he died.” Verse 5 says, “Adam lived 930 years and he died.” Physical death is the outcome of spiritual death.
But in v.22-23 we find something different (read). Enoch is said to have walked with God. When a person trusts God their trust is expressed in their walk. Enoch walked with God. Now we have been saying that life to the full begins with God. God exists, so we worship him. God created all things, so we belong to him and obey him. God sustains all things, so we depend upon him. God saves all so we call to him in faith. This is what it means to walk with God. Our primary reference point in all of life is God. Look at v.24. It says, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” In other words, Enoch never died. And while Noah, in v.32, did die at the end of Gen.9, here in Gen.5, there is no record of his death. Interestingly enough, in Gen.6:9 we read that Noah also walked with God.
Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. They experienced spiritual death. They were separated from God. Cain rejected God. They forfeited life. They all died. Enoch was also separated from God because of sin, but he was one who called upon God. Enoch entered into life, life with God. Noah did the same.
I cannot help but draw the connection with the words of Jesus in Jn.11:25-27. At the death of Lazarus, we read that Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."
When a person turns to Jesus Christ in faith for forgiveness and life in the Kingdom of God, that person is made alive to God and begins to walk with God through faith in Christ. Walking with God is part and parcel of receiving his salvation. If you are not seeking to walk with God then you need to think twice about whether or not you have received God’s salvation in Christ. Those who call upon the Lord, walk with God
III. THOSE WHO CALL ON THE LORD STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH. Gen.6:5-9
What does it mean to stand firm in the Faith? As Christians we are told to stand firm in the faith a number of times. In 1Cor.16:13 it says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” In Eph.6:13 we read, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” There is a very interesting verse in Dan.11:32. As Daniel prophecies about the various armies that shall come against Jerusalem we find the phrase, “…but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”
The phrase, “stand firm,” implies that walking with God can be very challenging. In the days of Noah, God saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God determined to blot out mankind through a flood.
But look at v.8-9. Here was one man, Noah, who found favor or grace with God. He was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Like Enoch, Noah walked with God.
Noah was 500 years old when he had his three sons. He was 600 years old when the flood came. Some have estimated that it took about 60 years to build the ark. One would imagine that many would have ridiculed Noah as he was building the ark. There was no place to float a boat that big. What on earth is Noah doing? Noah was obeying the Lord. He stood firm in his faith regardless of social pressure. He stood as a witness of living life with God. According to Heb.11:7, through his steadfast obedience to God he condemned the world showing the corruption of the world. Of course no culture, no generation has a corner on corruption. In Mt.24 Jesus makes it clear that at his second coming, it will be just as it was in the days of Noah.
Now, it is important that we put things into perspective here. When you go to Starbucks they will write your name on your cup of coffee. Recently Starbucks rolled out their bright red cups for the holidays. If you are on facebook, no doubt you have seen some of things that Christians are saying about the fact that Starbucks does not put Merry Christmas on their holiday cups. Some have concluded that Starbucks hates Jesus. So instead of having their names written on the cup, Christians are being encouraged to say “Merry Christmas” as their name.
Men and women, is this really the battle we want to fight as Christians? We are not living in a Christian country. We are living in a secular country in which thankfully, there are a good number of Christians. According to cnn.com, “When the cups rolled out in late October, Starbucks vice president Jeffrey Fields said the company "wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories." Doesn’t that make sense for a secular company trying to appeal to everyone? Forcing Starbuck’s employees to write “Merry Christmas” on a cup is not what it means to stand firm in the Faith.
Standing firm in the faith means that no matter what trouble or sorrow comes into our lives we will trust in the goodness of God. Standing firm in the faith means that when we are being pressured to lie or cheat at work, we will refuse. We are people of integrity. Standing firm in the faith means that we will strive to live lives of moral purity. Standing firm in the faith means that we will choose to love everyone, even our enemies. Standing firm in the faith means that we will return good for evil. Standing firm in the faith means that we will be willing to be imprisoned, tortured and martyred for Christ’s sake.
If anyone lived life to the full, it was Jesus. Yet Jesus faced many troubles. He endured the cross, scorning its shame for the joy that was set before him. The joy of the Lord was his strength and the joy of the Lord is in us through the Holy Spirit. When we call on the name of the Lord it does not mean that we will be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease. Rather we must stand firm in the faith.
From looking at Genesis 4-6 it would appear that there was a time when few, if any people were calling on the name of the Lord. And then Seth was born and people began to once again seek the Lord and call upon him. Are you a person who calls upon the name of the Lord? Are you trusting in the word of God? Are you walking with God? Are you standing firm in the faith? This is the way to live life to the full. Amen