Give God The Glory

Scripture: Malachi 3:13-15, NLT

13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the LORD . “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins?
15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’”

INTRODUCTION

As we have discussed previously, the Jews of Malachi’s day had a severe attitude problem. They had been liberated from Babylonian captivity years prior but like the generation that died in the wilderness, they had forgotten what captivity was like and were complaining about their present circumstances.


Their unhappiness had reached such a low state that they were saying ‘harsh’ things about God. The Hebrew word is chazaq {ka-zack} which means to be strong, firm, rigid, hard, severe, grievous, and the prevailing thought in translation is harsh although some translate the word ‘arrogant’. The Jews were arrogantly saying some harsh things about God….Any time we rail against God, pride is involved.

 They said things like….

  • What good does it do to serve God?
  • What do we get out of keeping His laws or commands?
  • What good does it do to wear sackcloth, to mourn and repent?
  • God blesses the arrogant and the proud more than us.
  • God prospers the wicked, they get richer and richer while we get poorer and poorer.
  • The wicked tempt God and get by with it.

These are pretty strong accusations

Man by nature is selfish and although the Jews are blaming God for their problems, it is actually they who are at fault. They cannot see the truth because, they who accuse others of pride, are blinded by their own pride and arrogance. Pride is not just an affliction on the wicked and the wealthy…

….Pride is a problem for all of us….

June and I attended a Braves game this past Tuesday. We wanted to see the new ball park. They have a huge jumbo-tron in center field and someone pans a camera through the crowd and they show the picture on the jumbo-tron. Time and time again, June and I saw people push others aside to get in the forefront of the picture. I hate to admit, but most of the guilty were children. The same thing is in adults but we try harder to hide it.


The truth is: most of us want to be the focus of attention–we want to be in the center of the picture. The difference is that kids like Chloe don’t make any bones about it.

You note, I said “Most of us.” There is a reason I said most. God is at work in us to change us, to transform us and bring us to a place where are greatest desire, our driving passion is to give HIM the glory. To get us to this place, God works via a process and we call it sanctification. A huge part of our sanctification is suffering, set back, disappointment, heart ache and even shame. What we need to understand is that God is moving us from point A [selfish, vain glorious and craving the spotlight] to point B where we delight to give Him all the glory. Many times, broken hearted people do not want to be the center of attention and when we are suffering shame, we certainly don’t want any attention. We usually want to hide.

If you read Isaiah 24, you will see that God is doing the same thing with the world at large: He is moving the world toward a day, a specific day when they, the world, give God the glory. This coming day lays somewhere in the future.

The good news is: you and I do not have to wait for this day in the future when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD. We can do it today!

I don’t do this often but today I want to illustrate my point [God is moving us from point A to B] with my own personal testimony.

I surrendered to preach at age 19, a sophomore in college. God blessed me in my youth. I had the privilege of pastoring a church my last two years in college. It was a good church. The people loved me and were good to me. I thought I loved Jesus. I considered myself devoted. I worked hard and did my best and got lots of affirmation. I assumed I was doing everything for God’s glory and probably said so.

Then I went to Seminary and things changed. I had no church to affirm me. The first few months in Seminary, I ministered at the Down Town Rescue Mission on Magazine Street in New Orleans. It was an eye opening experience for a country boy from North Alabama. I soon realized that I had lived a sheltered life. My wife went with me and played the piano because I was both music director and preacher. About six months into my Seminary experience a church in New Orleans called me. It was a tiny church, head over hills in debt. They had two deacons and one of them was moving to Mississippi when I accepted the call. I don’t remember seeking God’s will, I just wanted a place to preach on a regular basis.

Long story short, we went door to door in that East New Orleans subdivision and God blessed. We began reaching people and baptizing people. I experienced one of the most powerful services I’ve ever been a part of in that tiny church. I had been warned by the previous pastor that the church had a matriarch but I ignored the warning. I was a firm believer in Pastoral authority and I was not about to get instructions from some 75 read old woman who thought the church belonged to her.

One Sunday, I was getting ready to begin the service when one of my ushers came and got me. He said, “You have to come out side and see this.” I went with him and the dear lady was greeting for us [unofficially]. She was telling folks, “You don’t want to come here: this church is in debt and the pastor is a dictator.” I gave her a mild rebuke and told her to get inside. I think she opted to go home instead but she was not through. In the next few weeks, she stirred such a stink that we called a business meeting and I let her have the floor which was a mistake. She called me things that I had to go home and look up in the dictionary [before google]. A few weeks later, I resigned. I probably should have stayed and fought it out with that heifer but I was there for the education and it was affecting my studies.

Then I get called to a church in Mississippi and again, I don’t pray and seek God’s will, I just go. Basically, my attitude was, “God, if you don’t stop me, I am going.” The church was split but they had a patriarch and he got his way at the expense of the pulpit committee. It was six to one but the one ruled. That was not a good things but I did not look close enough to analyze. I did not get a great vote but I went anyway. I was full of confidence and thought I could fix any problem. Wrong! They turned me every way but loose. I came under fire from day one and my critics never let up. One lady said, “He is a good mixer but a preacher, he is not!” The only thing they liked about me was that I said Amen with an A, they didn’t like Ah-meners.

After graduating Seminary, I was called to a church in Northwest Alabama and I still had not learned my lesson. Again it was, “I intend to go LORD unless You stop me.” I went, the church was divided and in the midst of a turf war. I knew I was in trouble when I found out they had 18 people on the nominating committee and this committee cleaned house. They changed everything: it was a complete coup. The ousted party vented on me and I was totally innocent. They publicly disrespected me. They would not bow when I prayed, they would not stand to sing, they made horrible faces at me when I stood to preach and even heckled me a time or two. I was three years into this dismal mess when God finally got my full attention and began to show me my depravity. When we begin to understand our depravity, we feel a sense of shame and it curbs our lust for glory.

Let me cut to the chase and tell you what this is all about. Although I didn’t realize it at the beginning, I was doing things for my glory. As my former secretary would say, “Imagine that.” It was much more about Jack than it was Jesus. I had not confessed that publically, I pretended to do all for God’s glory but I was hurt and offended when I didn’t get at least a portion. When I came to Morgan County in 1979, there was still a lot of Jack so the process continued. [Yes, I know, there is still a lot of Jack]

A major break through came in the 90’s when I attended an Associational Meeting of all things. My wife says they are boring but God used this one to help me. A preacher by the name of Harlon {Robin} Hood preached out of Colossians on the preeminence of Christ and the Holy Spirit turned the lights on in my darkened ignorant mind. I saw the truth as clear as day. I was immediately released from a ton of anxiety. I realized that day that my motivation had always been wrong. Although I had known all along that Jesus is to get the glory, I had always craved some for myself and even thought I was deserving.

A few years later, I went through what old preachers call, the DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. I got involved with some hyper Calvinist. I stood my ground, I didn’t back down but all the arguing and debating lead to a struggle with doubt that lasted more than a year. I wrestled with these horrible doubts until I was exhausted. Finally, I reached a place where I was totally whipped. I said, “God, I give up. I surrender. You are sovereign. You make all the final decisions. I want to spend eternity with You but I don’t know whether my name is in the book of life or not. I do know that I trust Jesus and I am surrendered to His will. The devil keeps telling me my name is not written in the book of life but I know this, I am going to serve you regardless and I do pray for you to get glory from my service.” It was a Job moment, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust HIM.” For the first time in my life, I had put HIS glory over my eternal welfare. Then peace like a river began to wash the doubts away.

The year 1527 was the most difficult year in Martin Luther’s life. He began having dizzy spells in April that forced him out of the pulpit. He became bed fast with an acute intestinal virus. For weeks he believed he was at the point of death. He was overcome with a debilitating discouragement, the dark night of the soul. He felt completely abandoned by Christ, so much so that his entire body would tremble. All this time a raging storm occupied his mind: he even had blasphemous thought about God. To make bad maters worse, the Black Plague hit and thousands were dying. Friend begged Luther to flee the infected area but he refused and he and his wife stayed to minister to the dying. Luther’s house was transformed into a hospital as he and Katy ministered to the sick and dying. On top of this, his son Hans became desperately sick. All of this drove Luther to seek Refuge in the LORD and Psalm 46 became his hiding place. You do know what came out of his meditations on this Psalm, A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD. I dare you to pull it up on YouTube and listen to the hymn as you read the words.

WE WOULD NOT HAVE THIS GREAT HYMN HAD LUTHER NOT SUFFERED

As believers, we are going to have difficult times. God will not have us living sheltered lives. He wants us to be mature, not spoiled brats. The storms we face are not to punish us, they are to make us better. We cannot let the storms, the difficulties make us bitter as it did these Jews who had a rotten attitude. God is moving us to a place where everything we do is for His glory. As Paul said, So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

The Jews that Malachi was dealing with were serving God or at least going through the motions but they were not doing it for His glory. They were serving for their own personal gain. They had no intention of serving for nothing. This is what had them upset: they felt like they were getting nothing in return for their service. We must reach a point in our sanctification where we serve HIM because He is God and worthy of our praise, worship, admiration, adoration and service. We don’t serve Him to get, we serve Him to give HIM GLORY. Our getting is no longer important.

George Washington was commissioned to be the commander-in-chief of The Continental Army by Congress on June 19, 1775. {by the way, he is the most despised man in American history by the liberals} Washington was selected over other candidates based on [1] His previous military experience [2] The hope that a leader from Virginia could help unite the colonies and [3] Washington agreed to serve without pay if Congress with reimburse him for expenses after the war.

Liberals today are squawking about the $160,000 Congress paid Washington in expenses after the war [$20 Thousand a year for eight years] when Obama spent $96,938,882.51 [slightly under 100 million] on vacations in just 8 years. Washington didn’t serve for pay, he served because he loved his country. We need a higher motivation than a pay check.

I am not saying it does not pay to serve Jesus but I am saying this: we need to serve Him because we love and not for the pay. When you get to the point that you serve Him for His glory, you will get your pay even if they crucify you or burn you at the stake. If we could have put a mic to the lips of Peter as he died on a cross upside down, I think it would have said, “Glory to God, it pays to serve Jesus.”

Peter would not have said that in the beginning but God in His grace moved Peter from being self-centered and vain-glorious to doing all for the glory of God.

We do not serve HIM so that He will serve us in return: we serve HIM because it is the right thing to do.

We are to have the same attitude as Christ: THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY.

Doubting God’s Love

Scripture Text: Malachi 1:1-5

This is the message that the Lord gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi. “I have always loved you,” says the Lord. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?” And the Lord replies, “This is how I showed my love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob, but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau’s inheritance into a desert for jackals.”

Esau’s descendants in Edom may say, “We have been shattered, but we will rebuild the ruins.” But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies replies, “They may try to rebuild, but I will demolish them again. Their country will be known as ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and their people will be called ‘The People with Whom the Lord Is Forever Angry.’ When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, ‘Truly, the Lord’s greatness reaches far beyond Israel’s borders!’”

INTRODUCTION

If we have a firm conviction that God loves us, we can bear any burden and endure any storm but if we begin to doubt God’s love, our faith begins to falter. Remember, a strong or healthy faith must be maintained. In a way, faith is like a muscle, it must be nurtured and exercised or it atrophies.

Growing up I was a bit of a rebellious child. Not mean but a kind of a dare devil and very hardheaded. My mother was very strict, daddy not so much. I got whipped more than my seven sibling combined. A got a beating on a weekly basis. As a kid, I had doubts about my parents love. I seriously doubted Mother’s because of the beatings. In today’s culture, my mother would be arrested for child abuse.

I had a special place I would go after a whipping. I would sit on the ground with my face on my knees and cry. There were times when I prayed, “LORD, why don’t my mother love me?” Then I grew up. By the time I was 17, I had decided not to give my mother anymore grief. I began being nice to her and showing her respect. I discovered something shocking: My mother was very fond of me. She did love me and became my best friend. When I left home at age 22, I knew my mother loved me. Through the years I have battled some storms, some of my own making, but I never doubted [during those bad times] that my mother loved me.

As we will see tonight, the Jews had a childish faith. There were going through some difficult times and they were doubting God’s love.  If you are doubting God’s love, I want to give you some tips on how to overcome that doubt.

I. FOCUS ON THE PERSON OF GOD

Sometimes we focus too much on Gods activity but our first focus should be on WHO HE IS

GOD is first and foremost Holy. Everything else about God is predicated on His holiness. God is also a God of love. I John 4:8…But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4:16…God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. John 3:16…For God so loved the world…Romans 5:8…But God showed {demonstrated, synistēmi, to stand side by side, along side, with} his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

  1. God loves us with an eternal love, He has always loved us.
  2. God loves us with a sovereign love...it is His choice, prerogative.
  3. God loves us with a super natural love…The N.T. writers created a word to distinguish God’s love from all human loves. The word is Agape. 

Peter loved Jesus but not completely, not perfectly. Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” [Jesus reply] “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Who loved who the most? Did Peter love Jesus more than Jesus loved Peter? Of course not!

We are talking about two different brands of love–one is human and the other divine. Jesus does not love us the way we love HIM. His love is perfect, complete and totally unconditional. His love can never be earned or deserved.

II. FOCUS ON THE WORD OF GOD

In the book of Malachi, the LORD speaks more than Malachi; we see God speaking twice in verse 2. Reading, studying, ingesting and obeying God’s word is paramount to our faith. Our faith grows when we feast on God’s word.

Every believer is tempted to doubt. The Jewish Religious leaders knew that they knew they were saved. One huge problem, they rejected Jesus. Even Jesus was tempted with doubt but we cannot allow doubt to become a stronghold; the devil will use it to cripple our faith. I read the word of God daily. My goal is to spend more time in the word than in any other single activity. I read the bible much more than I do books and I rarely read a news paper or fiction. Most news papers are fiction. I am not guilty of wasting time watch fake news. I love to read and study God’s word. This passion did not happen over night. You might not believe it but 25 years ago, I only read the bible to preach and teach. Today, I study the bible for pure enjoyment.

Let me remind you that Eve’s first temptation was to doubt the goodness and benevolence of God, to doubt that He loved her. Remember this passage in Genesis chapter three:

1The serpent was more clever than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. The serpent said to the woman, Did God really say, ‘You must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. But God did say, ‘You must not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. Do not even touch it. If you do, you will die.’ ”

“You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “God knows that when you eat fruit from that tree, you will know things you have never known before. Like God, you will be able to tell the difference between good and evil.”

Notice what the devil is doing: he is impugning the integrity of God’s word. It was a calculated and malicious attack on the God’s spoken word. In so doing, he cast doubt not only on God’s word but upon His essential goodness. Eve made a tradgic mistake, she put more stock in the devil’s word than she did God’s.

Remember, Satan tempted Jesus with doubt and how did Jesus respond? With the word of God.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.

3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

So if you are having doubts about God’s love for you, get into the word.

III. FOCUS ON WHAT GOD HAS DONE

The Jews were focused on their circumstances which were not good. They had been back in the homeland for 70 years and things were no better than when they first returned. Taxes were high, the economy was bad, they had to mortgage their farms and some had to sell their children into slavery just to survive. They were surrounded by folks that despised them and they were being oppressed by wealthy Jews within the community. It was not suppose to be this way. Their disappointment in the circumstances had changed to cynicism and apathy. They continued to go through the motions of worship but they were not focused on God, they were focused on themselves. Actually, they were being intellectually dishonest with themselves.

  1. They had not put God first as was indicated by the offering they were bringing. The offering lame, blind and even stolen animals. They were offering things that cost them nothing.
  2. They were singing but they had no real enthusiasm, they giving lip service. Their hearts were far from God.
  3. They were not being obedient to Scripture and the priest were setting a horrible example.
  4. They were not living by faith as was indicated by their refusal to tithe.

To top it all off: they are angry with God for not blessing them with prosperity and power. There attitude toward God was very selfish…“What have you done for us lately?”

For just a few moments; I want us all to focus on what GOD HAS ALREADY DONE. Let’s stop thinking about what He has not done and focus on what He has already done. For the Jews of Malachi’s day the list would look something like this…

  1. God had miraculously preserved the Jews in bondage. He saved the Hebrew children from the fire, Daniel from the Lions den and the entire population from Haman who planned to exterminate the Jewish population.
  2. God moved the heart of a pagan king to release them from bondage and give them back the articles that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple and to fund the rebuilding of the temple.Wow!
  3. God gave them a safe trip home. A 900 mile journey through dangerous territory.
  4. God gave them leaders to rebuild the Temple.
  5. God sent Nehemiah to rebuild the wall.
  6. God sent Malachi to confront them with their sins.

When God miraculously delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh and they crossed the Red Sea with God parting the waters for their safe passage, they sang praises on the North bank when they saw the Egyptian army floating in the water but three days later they are angry with God and Moses because they have no water. They had a three day faith.

All they had to do was stop and think about what God had already done for them but they were too immature and could not look back and give thanks.

CONCLUSION

Right now, I want you to bow your head and close your eyes. I want you to think about who God is and what He has already done for you. Primarily, I want you to go back 2,000 years to the cross. I want you to think about what God did for you in Christ.

  1. He paid for your sins, all of them.
  2. He broke the power of sin in your life.
  3. He conquered death and the gave in your behalf.
  4. He gave you peace.
  5. He gave you hope.

Because of what Jesus did for you: [1] you can’t die [2] you cannot go to hell [3] and you will never be alone or forsaken. Stop focusing on all the things that are going wrong and focus on Christ and His great love for you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Invitation

Scripture: Luke 14:15-24, NLT

15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations.
17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’
18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’
19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’
22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’
23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.
24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

INTRODUCTION

This morning we are going to focus on THE MASTER’S INVITATION and tonight we will focus on the EXCUSES various people made in declining the invitation. Jesus told this story because the room where they were dinning was filled with elite Jews–Aristocratic Jews, Pharisees, Religious leaders. Jesus mentioned the resurrection in verse 14 and the Pharisees believed that just after the resurrection of the dead, the KINGDOM would be inaugurated with a huge banquet. Jesus doesn’t deny that a banquet will take place but He is calling in to question, whether or not these elite Jews sitting around the table will be there. They assume they will be because one of them says in verse 15, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”

As the old Negro spiritual read, “Everybody talking about heaven aint going there.” There is only one way to heaven for Jew and Gentile and that is Jesus. We do need an invitation to go but we have one right here in Luke 14; no one is excluded, not even the poor, crippled, lame and blind. Sinners are invited. Whereas it is true that we can’t save ourselves, we can certainly damn our self by rejecting Christ invitation {T.W. Manson}. You may go to hell but it will not be because you are predestined to go there, it will be because you shunned multiply invitations.

This morning, lets focus on the invitation…

I. IT IS A GRACIOUS INVITATION

Obviously, the host is a person of infinite resources. There is no anxiety about running out of food or space. There is no hint of reward in the story: the Host is being gracious and generous. Legally, he does not have to share his wealth but he invites others to come and dine at his expense. There is no charge, no tickets to buy; no hoops to jump through. This wealthy man did not have to have a feast. He did not have to share his riches. He chose to do it: it was a gracious and generous gesture.

Of course, the Host is God the Father, who in Christ extends us an invitation to partake of His mercies. None of us deserve to go to heaven but because God is merciful and in Christ has made a way for our sins to be forgiven, we get invited.

II. IT IS AN EXTENDED INVITATION

In the ancient East banquets and feast were big deals. They were planned on a set day but the hour was always determined by the host on the day of so we actually have in this story four invitations;

  1. The initial invitation–[v.16] A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations.
  2. The follow up invitation–[v.17] he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’
  3. The third invitation–[v.21] ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’
  4. The final invitation–[v.23] ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.

As you can see, there are multiply invitation and no one is left out. The wealthy were invited first but eventually, everyone was invited and no one was left out. The is the GOSPEL. Jesus died for all. {2 Corinthians 5:14} For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died. If Christ died for the elites and the so called elect who believe that they are elite, we have no gospel. Jesus did not die for the rich and religious, He died for sinners.

Today, you can claim your personal invitation to heaven by acknowledging your sin and turning from it. Repentance is turning from sin and turning to Jesus.

III. IT IS A TIMELY INVITATION

Note: with each invitation, there is a greater intensity. The first may have been engraved; the second is by word of mouth [Courier], the third is a urgent plea, Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite and the fourth is even stronger, its urgent…urge anyone you find to come.

There is one catch to the invitation: The host has a temper and he was insulted and offended by those who made excuses and refused to come to his banquet. He took the offense personally. He said, For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.”

Had you ever received an invitation that said RSVP? Actually RSVP is French and it stands for répondez s’il vous plaît. In English, it means “Please Respond” or Respond Please actually. RSVP invitations have a set period of time in which you can respond.

Jesus knows that the Jews will recognize Him when He returned in glory but it will be too late. The invitation was for now but the window of opportunity would close soon.

CONCLUSION

There is room at the cross for you:

The cross upon which Jesus died
Is a shelter in which we can hide
And its grace so free is sufficient for me
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea.

Though millions have found him a friend
And have turned from the sins they have sinned
The Savior still waits to open the gates
And welcome a sinner before it’s too late.

The hand of my Savior is strong
And the love of my Savior is long
Through sunshine or rain, through loss or in gain,
The blood flows from Calvary to cleanse every stain.

Chorus
There’s room at the cross for you
There’s room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there’s still room for one
Yes there’s room at the cross for you.

 

The Narrow Gate

Scripture Text: Luke 13:22-30, NLT

22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem.

23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied,

24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.

25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.

29 And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God.

30 And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. ”

INTRODUCTION

At first reading of today’s text, those of us who have a Western mind set are most likely disturbed, not comforted by the words of Jesus but we are looking through the wrong lens. What we must do to interpret this passage accurately is think like a Jew. Jesus is talking to Jews and it was a Jew that asked the question: “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

The Jewish Mindset

The Jews believed they were the chosen people, God’s elect or favorites. They were convinced that there were only two kinds of people in the world, Jew and Gentile. The Jews were righteous and the Gentiles were sinners. Most Jews did not see themselves as sinners.

This Leads To A Question

Do you personally, view yourself as a sinner? {Think about this question}

I was saved at the age of 9 so I have had a relationship with the LORD for 58 years. I read my bible daily and I pray on a regular basis. My favorite time of day is my QT, time alone with Jesus. Yet, I feel like a sinner. I know scripture teaches that I am a saint but I feel like a sinner because I sin.

Not all Jews, the disciples were exceptions, but most Jews did not see themselves as sinners. They saw themselves as ‘righteous’. A lot of Jesus teaching contain satire, Jesus is making fun of the Jewish pride, they thought they were righteous and in no need of repentance. When Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance…” {Luke 5:32} He said it tongue in cheek. The Jews were not righteous, they only thought they were righteous.

One last note before we get into the Message…

I am sure the Reforms love this passage but it does not teach predestination. It’s wishful thinking on their part. Matter of fact, the Reforms have the same mindset as the Jews, “They know that they know that they know they are the elect and everyone else is going to hell.” Free will and faith are not factors. Dr. Wiersbe says in his commentary on Luke, when people wrote him with their theological questions and ideas: he wrote back and ask them about their “witnessing,” and “prayer life”? He said, “They never responded.” They didn’t respond because they don’t believe is sharing the gospel. Actually, they don’t have one to share. If you can’t look a person is the eye and tell them that God loves them and Jesus died for them, you don’t have any good news. The new REFORM bumper sticker reads…SOME LIVES MATTER. They take this story as well as others out of context…Jesus was speaking to Jews who were rejecting Him as their savior, not Gentiles begging to be saved.

I. THE FIRST THING I CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO IS THE AGONY OF SALVATION

“Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.” [Verse 24]

  • The NASB reads, Strive to enter in at the strait gate.
  • The NIV reads, Make every effort.
  • The Greek word is agōnizomai from which we get our word agony.

When a person is born physically, there is some agony, struggle and intense pain. A spiritual birth has an equal intensity. There is a struggle. It is not easy for a man to admit that he is a sinner and in need of a savior. It is not easy for anyone to let go of their life and give it to Christ. Jesus encounter with the RICK YOUNG RULER was intense. The young man was struggling and unfortunately, he made the wrong choice.


Once again, I want to remind you of the Jewish mindset… They believed Jews were included and all Gentiles were excluded: all Jews were righteous and all Gentiles were sinners. They were smugly and arrogantly sure of their salvation and refused to consider the remote possibility that they could have misinterpreted scripture and might not be going to heaven.

Do you realize the pride of religious Jew? Do you realize how hard it was for them to admit they were sinners? They were standing in the presence of the MESSIAH but they saw absolutely no need is a vicarious death on the cross…for what reason…they were not depraved sinners…and they needed no savior.

There is no question that the Jewish people are elite. Hitler said they were vermin but he was wrong, not about everything, but he was badly mistaken about their worth. They are highly intelligent people. They make up less than 1% of the world’s population and have captured 22% of the Nobel Prizes {this is global}. Here in the U.S., Jews have accounted for 36% of the Nobel recipients. You cannot tell me this is not impressive. They are highly intelligent people but like the Germans, they are proud, arrogant and haughty. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said of the Germans, “Our strength {intelligence} is our weakness. We are intelligent but we are also arrogant.” Do you know any full blooded Germans? They are not stupid, are they? You do have a hard time getting along with them don’t you: that is due to their arrogance. There is a lot of similarity between Jews and Germans: both are highly intelligent but very arrogant. For a Jew to admit he needed help was an intense struggle.

So, get the context right: Jesus is talking to arrogant Jews who are sure of their salvation based on their physical birth. Since they were sons of Abraham, they had to be sons of God. This is the way they thought. To get a Jew to acknowledge his/her need for Christ was an agonizing struggle. The passage does not teach a works salvation, its teaching us that we have t agonize to get birthed into Christ kingdom. Births are not pain free. There is an agony in both physical and spiritual birth.

II. THE SECOND THING YOU NEED TO NOTICE IS THE TIMING

Look at verse 25…When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

The Jews in Jesus presence are ignoring the fact that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus is giving them a stern warning. The day of salvation is today. Any Jew in the crowd could have been saved this very day but Jesus is warning them not to wait until it is too late.

Every knee is going to bow and every tongue confess but even when this happens and they recognize that they are on the outside but it is going to be too late. God’s door of mercy is open wide at the moment but that can change in an instant. Anyone here today who is contemplating giving your life to Christ, you need to do it today. The longer you wait, the harder it will be and you may wait until it is too late.

God is merciful but He has deadlines. There will come a time and place where there is no going back, no opportunity to repent and be saved.

III. THE THIRD POINT IS THIS: A RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST MUST BE ESTABLISHED

25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

It is essential that we know Jesus, not know about Him but know Him in a personal, intimate way. These Jews knew about HIM, they said, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But they did not know Him in a personal or intimate way.

What Should I do With Jesus?

Scripture: Matthew 27:11-26

Jesus’ Trial before Pilate

11 Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus replied, “You have said it.” 12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. 13 “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise. 15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.” 20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” 24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” 25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!” 26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

Introduction

Recently a newsletter from one of America’s most prestigious universities has revived the accusation. Here’s what the “anonymous” author, reportedly a Jewish convert to Christianity, wrote in Ichthus the Harvard Christian undergraduate newsletter: “We, the Jews, collectively rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we deserved the punishments that were heaped on our heads over the last 2000 years.” This young man’s confession created an uproar. Personally, I see nothing wrong with what he said. It is a well documented fact that the Sanhedrin, the supreme ruling body of Judaism orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus. This does not mean that the Jews alone are responsible for the death of Jesus but they were the impetus that lead to His crucifixion. It is also true that the Jews manipulated Pilate into carrying out the execution. He was pressured by the Jews but he did not have to yield to this pressure.

The question of the ages was presented by a pagan Roman governor, “What should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” This is the most pertinent, the most important question that you must answer. In Matthew 27 we have several characters and groups and they all respond to Jesus in different ways but there is only one acceptable way to respond to Jesus Christ and that is to ask Him for forgiveness, confess Him as Lord and invite Him to become the center of your life.

Today, lets look at the characters in Matthew 27 and see how they respond to the question: What should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

PONTIUS PILATE

[1] PILATE’S HISTORY: Pilate is the Roman Governor of Judea who was never popular with the Jews. The Romans believed in Pax Ramana which is means Roman peace. They believed with the proper organization, authority and administration, they could rule and society including the Jews. Pilate was not sent to Judea to incite a revolution but he came very close to doing just that: [1] He marched his troops from Caesarea to Jerusalem bearing the Roman eagle and the image of Tiberius on their banners. This infuriated the Jews who staged a massive demonstration. When Pilate threatened to execute the entire lot; they assured him they were ready to die for their cause. Pilate gave in. Pilate’s second offense was to take money from the Temple Treasury for a water works project. This did not end well either. Third, Pilate had special shields made with the Roman Emperor engraved on the front. The Jews protested to Tiberius and Emperor forced Pilate to change the shields. The Jews were hard to govern. The Jewish powers {High Priest and Sanhedrin} had gone over his head repeatedly and Pilate did not think he could afford another riot which Jews excel. They wrote the book on inciting riots.

[2] PILOT’S DILEMMA: Pilate has enough experience as a judge to know that Jesus is innocent and that the Jews are motivated by envy and hate. Pilate said repeatedly, “I find no fault in this man.” {Luke 23:13} “I have examined Him throughly on this point in your presence and I find Him innocent. Herod came to the same conclusion.”

[3] PILOT’S WEAKNESS: Pilot’s gut feeling as a judge was that Jesus was innocent and there was no evidence to prove otherwise. In his conscience, Pilate believed Jesus to be innocent. Pilate’s wife believes that Jesus is innocent and begs her husband not to have any part in His death. So Pilate ignored all the warnings: his experience, his conscience and his wife’s advice.

Thus Pilate is representative of those who prefer to stay neutral. If Pilate could have had his wish, it would have been to evade the entire situation. Pilot asked the right question but he stands for the millions who refuse to do anything with Jesus. Pilate is symbolic of the indifferent. I’m not for Jesus and I’m not opposed to Jesus: I am neutral.

PILATE’S WIFE

Pilate’s wife represents the superstitious. These are folks who weight heavy into dreams and visions. They are very religious but not committed to Christ. They to recognize right from wrong and they want nothing to do with the guilt associated with the execution of Jesus. They know that it happened but they have distanced themselves from it and have convinced themselves that they share no guilt in His torture and death.

THE CROWD

The Sanhedrin illegally rendered a guilty verdict during the darkness of the night but to make everything appear legal, they reconvened at daylight, probably about 5:00 am in the morning. On an ordinary day, the streets are not crowded and Pilate is not holding court at 5:00 am. My theory is that they awoke Pilate and that they gathered the rabble, the street people, the beggars, pick pockets and those who had not yet gone to bed. The people making up the mob were the aristocrats and the rabble, the two extremes of Jewish society. The Jewish religious leaders prompted the rabble to call for the death of Jesus. These ignorant people had no idea what was going on. They represent the dupes in society. Those who do not think for themselves. Those who vote the way some lying politician or political party tell them. Ignorance is no excuse and since you are sitting under the sound of the gospel, you cannot claim ignorance.

THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS

I have intentionally saved the Jewish Religious leaders last because they represent those who are antichrist. These are people who hate Jesus and they hate anyone who follows Him. These are they who are driven by envy, greed, jealously and hate. You will note that they were garbed in religious garments: many were priest and all professing believers in YHWH. Oh my dear people, religion is not the answer, it is a major part of the problem.

I am thankful that we have some exceptions: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did not take part in this diabolical deed of darkness.

CONCLUSION

I don’t know if you see yourself in any of these four groups: Pilate and the indifferent, Pilate wife and the superstitious, the fickle crowd lacking character and morality or the evil hate filled Jewish leaders but make no mistake you and I were there.

Note what Peter said at Pentecost“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know but God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.

Let me tell you what is wrong with that statement and why: we are all guilty of the death of Jesus. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, all the disciples abandon Him, the Jews accused Him and the Romans crucified Him. Jesus said in Matthew 20:28, The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus was born to die and He died for all because all have sinned. Had it not been for your sin and my sin, Jesus would not have had to suffer the most agonizing death in history. Peter was there: his sin, just like my sin crucified Jesus. No one is innocent of the blood of Christ. NO ONE!