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When Discipline Is Grace

by Rev. Kirby Williams

Learning that harsh warnings and even discipline are tools of God's grace.

Text: Luke 1:56-66
Date: 03/21/2021, the Combined service.
Series: "Luke: Thy Kingdom Come" Part 12

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Our focus shifts in this message from Mary's song of worship to the birth of John the Baptist. Mary returns to Nazareth while Zechariah and Elizabeth once again take center stage. Of particular interest is the relationship between the naming of the new child, the end of Zechariah's punishment, and John's ultimate place in Redemptive History. We will ask ourselves why God insisted this child be named "John", (which means God is gracious) when his life would be so short and difficult, and his message so harsh and condemnatory? This will lead us to a discussion of what is truly gracious and what is a misleading concentration on "grace". In the end, we will find that John was perfectly named for the task he was given and that contrary to the teaching of many modern Evangelicals-- divine discipline IS grace.

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I. Introduction, Matt. 7:13-14.
II. Exposition of the text, Luke 1:56-66.
A. Context
B. The dramatic birth and naming of John the Baptist.
1. Mary goes home, vs. 56, Luke 1:26.
2. The birth of John the Baptist, vs. 57-58, Luke 1:13.
a. God's promise fulfilled, vs. 57.
i. The promise of Redemptive History.
ii. The angel's promise fulfilled,
b. A joyous occasion, vs. 58, Luke 1:14.
3. The drama over John's name, vs. 59-63.
a. The visitors name the son, vs. 59.
i. The circumcision ceremony.
ii. Named after his father, Ruth 4:17.
b. Elizabeth names her son, vs. 60.
c. The visitors objection, vs. 61-62.
i. Breaking tradition, vs. 61.
ii. Breaking the stand-off, vs. 62.
d. Zechariah names his son, vs. 63.
i. The writing tablet.
ii. A unified front.
iii. Analyzing the meaning of the name.
• Names that refer to the parents.
• Names that refer to the child.
• The expansiveness of John's name.
iv. The amazement of the crowd.
4. Zechariah's speech restored, vs. 64, Luke 1:20.
5. Fear and awe in Judea, vs. 65.
a. The impact of God's presence.
b. Word travels fast, Luke 1:39.
6. The hand of the Lord, vs. 66.
a. The nature of the community.
b. Great Expectations.
c. Analyzing the meaning of the phrase.
i. Evident to the people in Judea.
ii. Evident in Redemptive History, Isa. 40:3, Mal. 4:5-6.
iii. Paying attention to the miraculous, John 10:38.
III. Application
A. A message to unbelievers.
1. A politically incorrect prophet, Matt. 3:2,7,8,10,12; 7:1.
2. But totally gracious!
a. An illustration.
b. A real-life warning.
B. A message to believers.
1. Zechariah's punishment.
a. Analyzing the nature of the punishment.
b. Understanding the graciousness of discipline, Prov. 13:24, 2Sam. 7:14-15, Job 5:17, Psa. 94:12.
2. Determining whose message is truly gracious.
a. Two kinds of transgressions.
b. Another illustration.
3. Discipline is grace.
IV. Conclusion

The Preaching Ministry of Kirby Williams

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