We are previewing our next Sunday’s Sermon here. We hope you like it and it is called So That.
The title to this sermon is ‘so that’ and it is labeled this way because the words ‘so’ & ‘that’ appear together in the Bible 737 times. The quantity alone makes these normally insignificant words, important to talk about in a sermon.
When I was in Bible school, my OT professor told us that we need to understand what the word therefore was there for. He made it an issue so that we would grasp the importance of that term and why it was placed in scripture at those specific points.
We must do the same for the words ‘so that’ because even though they seem like unimportant terms they bring with them an important message to us as we read God’s word.
That communication tells us something about God and we will get to that in a few moments. But first
#1. What is the function of the words So That?
The main function of this term is to tell us that the reason behind the words telling people to take action. For example we read in Gen. 11:4, the leaders of the original one world civilization saying
Ge 11:4 Then they said, come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
The words ‘so that’ inform the reader/listener that the purpose behind the call to action is coming and everyone will know why that call was made.
God does the same thing as he uses the words ‘SO THAT’ to tell us his reason for his instruction . He says– ‘you must do this SO THAT…’ God does not tell us to do as he says or else,’ he does not say ‘just do it’ or similar words many parents use when they want their kids to do a certain task.
No, God provides the reason behind his words and he does so ‘SO THAT’ we understand the purpose of his instructions. For example, and we will look at an OT and a NT example here, we read in Deut. 4
Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you
Now as I said last Sunday, we are not going into take possession of the land of Canaan but we do have a promised land for us to enter into and live within if we do as God instructs—heaven. We can rephrase that verse and say
Hear now, O followers of Jesus, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of heaven that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you
God is giving us access to heaven if we follow his instructions, commands and decrees. Now a NT example:
1Co 1:8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought
We are being given the reasons for these instructions. if I may depart for a moment from the words ‘SO THAT’ and state that the reason behind the instruction does not mean that we accept everyone and their alternative ideas and theories but that everyone is united in the truth.
The unbelieving world complains that there are over 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world today and they ask which one has the truth. The reason we have so many different denominations is because we are not united in the truth but allow so many to adopt and follow alternative ideas and still call them Christian.
There is only 1 truth and that is what we must teach and accept, then convince others to do the same.
We now understand why the words ‘SO THAT’ are present in God’s word, let’s move on to some examples of instructions and their reasons for God giving them to us.
#2. Examples of ‘SO THAT”
I am going to read some different passages of scriptures from both the OT and the New to show you why God says what he says to us. The problem is that there are so many examples to choose from that it is difficult to choose the ones that should be used here.
Starting with the OT:
Deut. 4: 15 & 16 Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol
Ex 4:4 Then the LORD said to him, reach out your hand and take it by the tail.So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.
Ex 4:5 This,said the LORD, is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has appeared to you.?
Dt 6:18 Do what is right and good in the LORD’S sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers
Dt 6:24 The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.
Now we go the NT:
Gal 2:5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
1Co 4:6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, do not go beyond what is written. Then you will not take pride in one man over against another
Tit 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Tit 1:13 This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith
Heb 2:1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away
For every instruction we have from God we have a sound reason behind them helping us to understand why God wants us to follow what he says. God does not write instructions for the sake of writing instructions or that he was bored and needed something to do.
He provides those instructions in order for us to fulfill his command found in
1Pe 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
1Pe 1:16 for it is written: be holy, because I am holy
#3. What Is The Message Of The Words ‘SO THAT”
If you recall at the start of this sermon I mentioned that the words ‘SO THAT’ communicated to us something about God. It is a very important communication even though those words seem so insignificant.
The Bible tells us that God is love and if we go to 1 Cor. 13 we find how God defines the term ‘love’ and in the midst of that definition we find the phrase;
it is not self-seeking
or if you want the KJV version—love seeks not its own
If you look at the all the reasons behind God’s instructions you will see the words ‘you’ and sometimes ‘they’. God’s instructions show us his love for us as he seeks the best for us. That best, of course, is following his instructions so that we may live with him forever.
Here are some examples:
Dt 4:6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.?
1Pe 1:7 These have come so that your faith, greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed
2Pe 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires
1Jn 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin
The first example shows how generous God is. He shares credit with us as he says we will look to other nations as wise and understanding. If we obey God we get to look good.
The other examples shows that God loves us so much that he provides us with instructions to escape corruption and keeps us from sin
God has provided for us guidance so that we do not fall to destruction. The words ‘SO THAT’ bring us a message of God’s actual love for us and that he has not left his creation alone to make their own way in this evil and sinful world.
All we have to do is understand his instructions correctly, implement them properly and obey him, then we get to take possession of the Promised Land – heaven—when we leave this earth and live forever.
God provided us with rules SO THAT we may live.
Let us pray