First Steps In The Promise
1. One of a parent’s greatest joys is when their child walks for the first time.
2. They’ve crawled for months, but finally they take those first wobbly steps.
3. It’s a blast watching babies work up to it.
a. they crawl over to a piece of furniture & pull themselves upright.
b. then they turn, leaving just one hand clutching their prop, put one foot out & let go.
c. since they haven’t learned the mechanics of walking,
d. they teeter in mid-stride then drop like a sack of potatoes on their rear.
4. Infants go through that same routine dozens of times till they learn how to balance & take another step.
5. As soon as they do, they get so excited they want to immediately break out in a sprint, which of course sends them sprawling head first on the ground.
1. At several points in the NT, the Christian life is likened to a natural growth process.
2. When we first come to Christ we are spiritual babes.
3. But we don’t stay infants;
a. our Heavenly Father desires that we would grow up,
b. emerging from infancy into adolescence and on into full-adulthood.
c. we find these phases of spiritual growth in 1 Cor. & 1 John.
4. At each place along this path of spiritual growth, there are new lessons to learn – new steps to take that carry us into a more mature experience of our relationship with God.
5. Our text today shows us two crucial steps the mature Christian must take.
1. In our study on
Wednesday nights we’ve seen how
2. In 1 Cor. 10, Paul says the Exodus is a type or example for us.
a. the Exodus from bondage through the blood of the Passover lamb is a picture of our deliverance from bondage to sin and death through the blood of the Lamb of God.
Red Sea crossing is a picture of baptism which marks our transition from the
c. the wilderness wandering, in which the entire generation of those who’d left Egypt died off, speaks of the fact that before we can enter into all the Lord has for us, we must die to the world & realize we are new creatures in Christ.
comes the crossing of the
3. That brings us to
our text today - Joshua had the people of
5. Those two things have an important parallel to our walking in maturity before the Lord.
1. As we read here in
4:1-7, when the people crossed through the
2. They took 12 stones
from the midst of the riverbed, & carried them to their first camping site
3. There Joshua arranged them as a pillar, making a monument that would serve as a testimony for later generations of the power of God which dried up the river so they could cross.
4. As we read on we
find that besides the pillar they erected in their camp, Joshua set up another
pillar of 12 stones in the very midst of the
6. But what do those memorial pillars mean for us?
7. Well, remember that
the passage through the
8. Just as those pillars were a memorial to the power of God which made their entrance into the promise possible,
9. God has given us an abiding memorial to the fact that it is by His power & work, not our efforts, that we are saved.
10. That memorial is Communion, the Lord’s Table,
a. which reminds us of the sacrifice of our Savior.
b. we take a piece of broken bread, a symbol of His broken body,
c. and we drink a cup of the blood of grapes that reminds us of the blood He shed.
11. Just as the
pillar in the camp where
12. But remember now, the Promised Land speaks of the Spirit-filled life; the pillar was in the place of Promise. Here’s the lesson for us . . .
13. Some people have the mistaken idea that when they’re baptized in the Holy Spirit, they enter a place of spiritual enlightenment that moves beyond the fundamentals of the Faith.
14. Not so! The Cross is the Heart & Soul of the Christian Life.
16. I first came to
Christ when I was 11 years old at
a. but I didn’t really do anything with my faith & ended up backsliding badly in my teen years.
20, burned out by sin, I re-committed my life to Christ & got involved in a
heavily Charismatic church in
c. what I observed there confused me.
1) during the church services, there was an abundance of –
2) tongues, interpretation, prophecy, words of knowledge & such,
3) people being “slain in the Spirit” was a regular thing.
4) while during the services there was plenty evidence of the gifts of the Spirit, before & after service, there was little evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.
5) there was no love in the parking lot, no gentleness in finding a seat, no kindness to one another in the bookstore.
d. what there was, was a huge amount of arrogance that they were so spiritual.
17. When I studied 1 Cor. for the first time, I realized that church I had attended was just like the Corinthian church.
a. the Corinthians had the spiritual gifts going full-bore.
b. Paul had to tell them to “turn it down” because they were getting unbalanced in their use of the gifts.
c. but his letter begins with a stern rebuke – get this – for their horrendous lack of spiritual maturity!
18. How could a church that was so fluent in its use of the gifts be so shockingly immature?
19. We find the answer in Ch. 11 where Paul has to remind them on the meaning of Communion.
20. The Corinthians had lost sight of the Cross.
22. Christian, no matter how far you go with Christ, no matter how mature you may be – you will never outgrow the Cross.
23. There is no place of spiritual enlightenment, no ground of spiritual accomplishment, that isn’t founded on the Cross.
24. Listen to how
the Apostle Paul expressed his own understanding of this in
[O] that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
25. Friend, the Spirit-filled life is entered & sustained through the Cross of Christ,
26. Through the continual reminder that who & what we are is not the work of our own efforts but the power of God.
27. 1 Cor. 1:18 –
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
a. note that – the cross is the power of God, not who were saved, but who are being saved.
b. If you want or need God’s power to change you & make you more like Jesus, then stay connect to the Cross.
28. Now, I don’t mean wearing a piece of jewelry around your neck or a in on your lapel.
30.That brings us to the second step
5:1So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.
1. Rahab of
2. If the Canaanites had been worried before, now they’re just plain freaked out!!
4. At the time of the crossing, it was the rainy season & the River was near flood stage.
5. Sure a couple of spies could swim across but not a whole nation.
6. The Canaanites
figured they had several months at least before the
7. So, when word reached
them that the waters of the
8. This would be the
perfect time for
9. Right! And that is precisely why they can’t!
a. Because if they do, then they’ll be able to attribute their success to the panicked condition of their enemies.
b. God wanted them to know their victory came from Him.
2At that time the Lord
said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of
11. While a flint can hold a pretty sharp edge, it’s not the instrument you’d prefer for this delicate operation.
12. The men would be incapacitated for several days.
13. We have the
14. The men were so out of it after the operation they couldn’t defend themselves.
15. So this seems
like a strange strategy for God to give Joshua if his task was to lead
16. You don’t want to incapacitate your army on the eve of battle.
17. So why did God tell Joshua to do this?
4And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. 5For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. 6For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord—to whom the Lord swore that He would not show them the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” 7Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.
18. Circumcision was the unique mark God told Abraham & his descendants to take as the sign of His promise to them as a people.
19. The entire generation born in the wilderness had not been circumcised.
20. Now that they are back in the land God promised Abraham & his descendants, they must once again take the mark of the promise, identifying themselves by it.
8So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the
people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were
the Lord said to Joshua,
“This day I have rolled away the reproach of
21. Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew word for “roll.”
23. What does the circumcision
24. To answer that we need to first ask why God called Abraham to take this unique mark as a covenant sign.
called Abraham out of his homeland in
b. in that new place of covenant with God, Abraham was being called to make a break with everything of his past that tied him to the world.
c. he was invited into a new way of living that was based on faith in God, rather than confidence in the flesh.
d. what better way to give evidence of that change from self to God than circumcision,
e. a cutting away of useless flesh, at the very organ that creates life.
25. The sign of circumcision was meant to teach the Jews that as the covenant people of God they are to define their lives, not by the world, but by God.
28 He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is [real] circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit . . .
27. To the Colossians he wrote in 2:11 –
28. As a picture of our life in the Spirit, the circumcision at Gilgal represents the necessity that we come to a place finally, where we say, “I’m done with the flesh! I am so over the world!”
a “No longer will I identify myself according to the things of my past.”
b. “I AM a new creature in Christ, and from now on, that is how I will live.”
29. Look at v. 9 again –
Then the Lord
said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of
32. Far too many
Christians try to live with one foot in the world & another in the
a. They wonder why they find no joy or victory in their spiritual life,
b. While at the same time feeling guilty in their pursuit of the flesh.
c. They have too much of God to be happy in the world, but too much of the world to be joyous in the Spirit.
33. We will only make progress in the Spirit when we’ve come to our own Gilgal & said, finally – “That’s it! I’m done with the flesh! From now on, all that matters is Christ.”
34. Here’s how Paul says it in Philippians in 3:3 –
We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
1. The Spirit is calling us to move on, to press in to all the Lord has for us.
2. Maturity is the destiny He has planned for every one of us.
3. The Spirit-filled life isn’t just for some elite sect of the super-spiritual.
4. The Spirit-filled life IS the abundant life Jesus said He came to give ALL who believe in Him. [John 10]
5. Today we’ve seen
the first 2 steps in the Spirit-filled life, demonstrated in the story of
- We must stay connected to the Cross of Christ, for it is the power of God that
empowers us. Communion points to the Cross, just as the pillar in Gilgal
pointed to the pillar in the
b. 2nd – If we would live in the Spirit, then we must pass through our own spiritual Gilgal, where what ties us to the past is cut away, fully & finally.