July 6, 2019
Emmanuel Baptist Church was started in 1984 by brother Bob Fleming. After his retirement in 2017, the church called Matthias Knopp to be the pastor. The following is one of his first messages to the church.
"After I accepted the call to the pastorate here at Emmanuel Baptist Church, I was speaking to a friend of mine and he said, “Well, what are you going to call the church now?” It seems that his anticipation was that since we were coming here we would want to change everything about this church. Maybe that is how some people would like to function, but that doesn’t make sense to me.
In full disclosure, I had never even considered a name change. Don’t worry, I still don't want to change the name! But, as I considered what he said to me, it started me thinking: “Why wouldn’t we change the name?” After all, what is in a name?
Juliet said, “What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” While it is true that the rose would smell the same, you would have less people smelling it if you called it a skunk! And it is important that we are named the right thing and that we understand why we are named what we are named! You know, why don’t we just name the church Wal-Mart? The parking lot might get filled up, but we would have a lot of disappointed people in here!
A name is important, because it tells people what to expect. Like a well-designed cover on a book, a name gives people an idea of what is on the inside. In our case, our name sets an ideal for which we should strive. We belong to no denominational structure. We are an independent, fundamental, baptist church and I would like to equip you to be able to give an answer for these questions if anyone should ask you!
So to begin, would you please open the Word of God to Isaiah 7? If we were to make an outline of this large book, we would see that the first 35 chapters are almost completely given over to God’s pronouncement of judgement against kings, populaces, and nations. Isaiah 7 is no different! Let’s begin reading in verse 10,
Isaiah 7:10-16, “Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.”
There is a sad message here addressed to King Ahaz, so let me give you some thoughts on this man. Ahaz was 25 when he began to reign in Judah and he reigned until age 41 (2 Chronicles 28:1, 8; ca. 735–715 B.C.). Israel and Syria formed an alliance to combat the rising Assyrian threat from the East, but Ahaz refused to bring Judah into the alliance (2 Kings 16:5; Isaiah 7:6). For this, the northern neighbors threatened to dethrone him, and war resulted (734 B.C.). In panic, Ahaz sent to the Assyrian king for help (2 Kings 16:7) and the Assyrian king gladly responded, sacking Gaza, carrying all of Galilee and Gilead into captivity, and finally capturing Damascus (732 B.C.).
Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria led to his introduction of a heathen altar, which he set up in Solomon’s temple (2 Kings 16:10–16; 2 Chronicles 28:3). In fact, let’s turn to 2 Kings 16 right now. I want to show you some of the things that king Ahaz did. Out of fear and trepidation of earthly enemies, he sacked the house of God,
2 Kings 16:8, “And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.”
He introduced new form of worship,
2 Kings 16:10, “And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.”
He took upon himself the duties God had ordained for the priests,
2 Kings 16:12, “And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.”
He defaced and ruined the furniture God had ordained for his people to use,
2 Kings 16:17-18, “And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones. And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's entry without, turned he from the house of the LORD for the king of Assyria.”
It’s important to note that while he was doing all of this, no one spoke up or tried to stop him. Even the high priest stood idle, nodding his head and agreeing to everything that was being done as though the word of the king could overrule the word of Almighty God. It’s kind of hard to be mad at God for sending judgment against people who thought so little about his word.
During his reign (722 B.C.), Assyria captured Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom, and carried many of Israel’s most capable people into captivity (2 Kings 17:6, 24). This was a result of years and years of people doing their own thing and living life their own way. God had had enough, and even though God is slow to anger, these men provoked the Lord.
Even in the midst of judgement, God did not want his people to overburdened with sorrow. The Lord spoke by the mouth of Isaiah and asked Ahaz to request a sign. Ahaz was disobedient even in God’s attempt to bless him. He said, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.” This is like people who refuse to pray because they have excuses lie, “Well, God already knows what I want. It would be foolish to ask.” But, God has commanded us to ask, so we should ask! God asked Ahaz to ask for a sign! He was foolish and sinful to not ask!
Since Ahaz wouldn’t obey, Isaiah said that God himself would give a sign. The sign would be that a child would be born out of the womb of a virgin! God promised that he would send a miraculously born deliverer. His name would be Immanuel.
The importance of that word may be lost on us, but the Jews knew exactly what that word meant. It’s a transliteration of several Hebrew words that mean, “With us (is) God.” The message is, “Listen up! Hard times are coming. Pain and trials and difficulties are coming. But you are God’s people, God will not leave you alone. You may be taken away from your homes and forced to march halfway around the known world, but God will be with you. You may have to leave your homes; you may have to leave your families; You may have to leave your house of worship; But God will never leave you!”
Isn’t that an amazing message? The spelling we are used to can be found in Matthew 1. Please find that now. As you’re turning there, I would like to share with you a secondary thought that really goes along with this in a primary way. While the Jews (As God’s special people) would have recognized that this promise belonged to them, there is a more primary application to the entire world.
Since we have the rest of the story, we know that the virgin who bore a son was Mary, and the child was the Son of God. We can actually connect the dots all the way from Adam to Jesus to us! The first dot is Adam.
Adam was created in the image of God and was designed to hold a special place in God’s heart and be the apple of God’s eye! When Adam sinned, the promise of God’s presence was lost. God was no longer with man. Sin had brought separation between men and God. From that day on, God was no longer present for men’s day to day lives. He dwelt in heaven and would occasionally visit men, appear in a pillar of cloud or fire, hide himself in a thick, burning darkness, or appear to a priest behind a thick veil.
But, God did promise Isaiah that God himself would be with us and we read about it in Matthew 1:18,
Matthew 1:18-25, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
Joseph, in obedience, called his name Jesus - “Jehovah Saves.” And people since that day have called his name Emmanuel - “God with us.” Because we connect that dot to us. Any person who accepts the payment for sin that Jesus made has the Spirit of Christ dwelling within them! If the Spirit of Christ dwells within you, then God himself is with you.
That is the name of this church: “God himself is with us” Baptist Church. In my opinion, that is the most important part of the sign. We’re not bragging, but it does put a heavy burden on us… We claim that God is with us. That’s a heavy claim. I want to be sure that my living backs that up.
Some time ago an 18-year-old girl from Washington state attended a worship service in a like-minded church. For the first time in her life she heard the gospel message. The following Tuesday the members of the church received a letter from her. It read:
“Dear Church Members:
Last Sunday I attended your church, and I heard the preacher. In the sermon the preacher said that all men have sinned and rebelled against God. Because of their rebellion and disobedience they all face eternal damnation and separation from God. But then he also said God loves man and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to redeem men from their sins and that all those who believe in Him would go to Heaven and live with God eternally. My parents recently died in rapid succession. I know they did not believe in Jesus Christ, whom you call the Saviour of the world. If what you believe is true, they are damned. You compel me to believe that either the message is true, that you yourself don't believe this message, or that you don't care. You see, we live only three blocks from your church, and no one ever told us.”
Friends, how sad that is… How sad it would be for us to claim that God is with us and then never make a difference in our city, or with our neighbors. How sad it would be for someone to attend here thinking, “God is with these people.” And then find out that we are all frauds. I’ll ask you, “Is God with you? Do you know it? Is he making a difference in your life? Is he using you to make a difference in the lives of others?”
How do we know that God is with us? Let me give you a few things to meditate on:
We will know God is with us if we are seeing our prayers answered.
We will know God is with us if we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
We will know God is with us if we are at peace and have joy.
We will know God is with us if we see him at work in our children and in our spouse
We will know God is with us if we have love for each other.
John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
We will know God is with us if we have a genuine love for lost souls.
We will know God is with us if we have love for our enemies.
May God bless us with each of these things and more. As we dismiss, let’s pray that we would see God’s active power in our lives over the next few days. I would love nothing more than to come in here Saturday for visitation or Sunday for church and hear testimonies of how we have seen God working in our life. My prayers are with you church! May God bless Emmanuel Baptist Church with his presence and his blessing! May God bless each of you with his evident working in your lives!
Do you know that God is with you?