God's End Game - Part 26

Series: My Preaching Bucket List

May 26, 2019
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

Ed Stetzer recently called for pastors to share their funniest sermon responses. Here are a few that were sent in…

Jeremiah Clements @JremiahClements: “Early in my first pastorate I had a guy stop me after service to introduce himself: “You know how Paul said he had a thorn in the flesh?” I nodded & he continued, “I’m yours.”

Liam Thatcher @liamthatcher: “I couldn’t focus for the entire talk coz you were wearing new glasses”

Jason Spears @Jason_Spears: “Coming from my other church and my former pastor to here listening to you is like going from filet mignon to ground beef hamburger meat.” … “Unfortunately, in my youthful insecurity, the next week I handed her a small bottle of A1 steak sauce and encouraged her to go back if she saw fit.”

Hershaelyork @hershaelyork: “I preached in Grenada, MS, and a guy came up to me afterward, shook my hand and said, “Spurgeon! Charles Spurgeon.” I was flattered, but thought he was overstating things a bit and I told him so and he said, “No, that’s my name. I’m Charles Spurgeon.”

Kris Freeman @PastorKris: “That was an amazing message. Too bad no one will ever respect you with your shirt not tucked in young man.”

That one just hurts right there.

John Blase @johnblase: “On the way out of church on Sunday a.m., a guy used to give my Dad a nickel for a swing-and-a-miss, a dime for decent job, and a quarter if heaven was stirred.”

I’d have a lot of nickels.

Jeff Chandler @jeffmchandler57: “I was new to my first church and someone said: “You’re not like most pastors; when you say that you sin – we believe you.” Still trying to figure whether that was a compliment…”

You can believe me too.

J-T Richards @JT_Richards: “While I was preaching a sermon on a text mentioning circumcision, a man in his 90s leaned over to my dear wife and said, “I’ve been circumcised.”


Challis @challies: “Have you ever read any books on public speaking? You probably should.” That was after my first-ever sermon at a conference.”

Gary Buchanan @Buchanan_G: “Elderly female guest pianist to me after the service – Did you go to seminary?

Me – Yes ma’am

Her – Did you graduate?”

Nate Farrow @_natefarrow: “Had a sweet elderly lady tell me in all sincerity: “That was such a wonderful sermon that it put me right to sleep”

Tom Peers @PastorTomPeers: “The Lord healed me of insomnia during your message.”

Joe Puentes @joepuentes: “Once I had someone tell me I talk too much about Jesus in my sermons so they were going to attend another church.”

I’d be okay with that.

Dan Donahue @dpdonny: “I saw a documentary on Hell and thought of you.” Um, thanks… I think?”

Alan Rathbun @alanrathbun: “I was preaching in a church that met in a space with a bathroom just off the worship space. Guy said – “Your sermon was so good I left the bathroom fan off so I could hear you preach.”

John Everett @johnatignite: “Had a lady that would tell me after EVERY sermon “just keep trying.”

Dan Thompson @cdanielthompson: “One of these days you’ll really know what you’re doing.”

I don’t know what you might say to me after this message but it might be “How long did you say we are going to be in this series?”

When my text includes the last chapter of the book of Revelation you’ll know we are close to the end.

But until then remember that all of history, all that’s recorded in the Bible, is a record of God’s end game plan for setting things to rights, for restoring our relationship with him, a relationship that was severed when sin came into the world through Adam and Eve’s rebellion.

God’s end game plan revolves around Jesus and has three telescoping parts, one flowing from the other.

It begins with the INCARNATION. Which we looked at. Jesus is God with us in the flesh, both 100% God and 100% man.

It climaxes with the CRUCIFIXION. Which we are finishing today. And…

It carries on with the RESURRECTION.

When it comes to the crucifixion we have focused on…

What did it do?

A theology book gave us a very good breakdown…

Jesus’s death by crucifixion was a divinely ordained historical event by which he lovingly accomplished atonement, purchased Christians’ freedom from sin’s bondage, won their justification before the Father, and triumphed over Satan’s tyranny.

Today let’s unpack the final phrase in this theological explanation of what Jesus’ crucifixion accomplished…

He triumphed over Satan’s tyranny

Tyranny means “a cruel and oppressive government or rule.” Everyone knows Satan is cruel and oppressive by his very nature but this implies he rules over something. It may surprise you to know he rules over the earth, this world — not hell.

Evidently what happened in the garden, back when Satan tempted Adam and Eve and won, gave the devil much more than just bragging rights. Somehow, in ways I don’t think any of us could understand, it gave him the keys to the whole world. It made him the ruler of this world.

That can’t be right, can it?

In Matthew 4, when Jesus spends forty days fasting in the wilderness, the devil comes to him to tempt him.

Matthew 4:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”

Jesus didn’t say, “Ha, you don’t have them to give, So there.” How could the devil offer him these things if he didn’t have the power to give them?

Jesus was preparing the disciples for his departure in John 14 when he said…

John 14:30 (ESV) — 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,

There’s only one being he could be referring to. John the apostle wrote in his first letter…

1 John 5:19 (ESV) — 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth…

2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV) — 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Who can the god of this world be other than the devil? Like I said. Evidently, Satan knew exactly what he was doing in the garden. He wanted much more than just to shame the pinnacles of God’s creation. He wanted to usurp God’s rule over the whole world.

But how can this be right? I thought God was the god of this world. Did satan actually defeat God in the garden? Some mistakenly see it that way.

The devil probably thought he defeated God in the garden, but from the beginning the great deceiver has been deceived in himself, first thinking he was worthy to take God’s throne and then thinking he somehow overcame God.

God is the God of this world with a big “G.” Satan is the god of this world with a little “g.” Satan wouldn’t be the little “g” god if the big “G" God didn’t let him.

For reasons I’m sure we could never understand, God allowed him to do what he did and allowed him to take over as god (little “g”) of the world. But he did that knowing down the road he’d actually use the devil’s plans against him and win in the end.

This has never been so beautifully illustrated or explained than in CS Lewis’ book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. By now you know I read them every year, and I won’t apologize for quoting Lewis often.

In book one, The Magician’s Nephew, we learn how evil came into Narnia at the very beginning of its creation. Queen Jadis, the evil White Witch, invaded it because two children unwittingly brought her into it. Aslan, the great Lion who created Narnia, allowed her to remain even though he knew one day she’d rise up to conquer the land. Aslan said of her: “All get what they want; they do not always like it.”

In book two, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, millennia have passed and we discover the White Witch did take over Narnia, making it always winter but never Christmas. She ruled with cruelty and brutality, turning those who dared oppose her to stone.

She was ever fearful, though, of the prophecy that when two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve showed up, they’d set all things to rights and defeat her rule.

The Pevensie children (two sisters, Susan and Lucy, and two brothers, Peter and Edmund) stumble into Narnia through a magic wardrobe. Edmund foolishly betrays his siblings and falls under the influence of the Witch.

With Aslan’s help, Edmund is rescued from the Witch’s control but there’s a problem…

“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said. 

“Well,” said Aslan. “His offense was not against you.” 

“Have you forgotten the Deep Magic?” asked the Witch. 

“Let us say I have forgotten it,” answered Aslan gravely. 

“Tell us of this Deep Magic.” 

“Tell you?” said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. “Tell you what is written on that very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the fire-stones on the Secret Hill? Tell you what is engraved on the scepter of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill.” 

“Oh,” said Mr. Beaver. “So that’s how you came to imagine yourself a queen—because you were the Emperor’s hangman. I see.” 

“Peace, Beaver,” said Aslan, with a very low growl. 

“And so,” continued the Witch, “that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property.” 

“Come and take it then,” said the Bull with the man’s head in a great bellowing voice. 

“Fool,” said the Witch with a savage smile that was almost a snarl, “do you really think your master can rob me of my rights by mere force? He knows the Deep Magic better than that. He knows that unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.” 

“It is very true,” said Aslan, “I do not deny it.” 

“Oh, Aslan!” whispered Susan in the Lion’s ear, “can’t we— I mean, you won’t, will you? Can’t we do something about the Deep Magic? Isn’t there something you can work against it?” 

“Work against the Emperor’s Magic?” said Aslan, turning to her with something like a frown on his face. And nobody ever made that suggestion to him again. Edmund was on the other side of Aslan, looking all the time at Aslan’s face. He felt a choking feeling and wondered if he ought to say something; but a moment later he felt that he was not expected to do anything except to wait, and do what he was told.

Aslan meets alone with the witch and she leaves, apparently satisfied with the bargain made. In the next chapter, Lucy and Susan follow Aslan as he sneaks away from camp in the dark of night. He went to the Stone Table, where the witch and all her evil followers gathered.

To the girls’ horror, they watch as he allows himself to be bound and shaved by the witch’s minions. They nearly fainted when they saw the witch lift a knife.

Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice, “And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.” The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.

The next morning Susan and Lucy’s mourning turned to joy when they found Aslan alive and well.

“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad. “Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy. 

“Not now,” said Aslan. 

“You’re not—not a—?” asked Susan in a shaky voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost. Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forehead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came all over her. 

“Do I look it?” he said. “Oh, you’re real, you’re real! Oh, Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer. 

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.

Conclusion: If the devil thought he’d outdone God in the garden, he probably thought he’d sealed the deal for sure at the cross. Here’s God’s son come to save everyone and the devil had stopped him in his tracks, using one of his own disciples against him, employing his own people - the Jews - in having him crucified.

I can just hear the devil whispering in Jesus’ ear: you should have taken my offer in the wilderness while you had the chance, fool.

But in reality, the devil had unwittingly played right into God’s hand. And in the greatest irony ever known, Jesus’ scourging, Jesus’ suffering, Jesus’ dying on the cross, was actually the climax of all God’s plans in undoing what the devil had done in the garden. 

Hebrews 2:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

If God can do that on a cosmic scale, he can do that in your life. He can weave your past or present into his plans for you.

If you think the cross was something, just wait…

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