Psalm 51 Part II

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Introduction

As I said last week, this Psalm is a theological masterpiece. When it comes to the deadly seriousness of sin; the pain and trauma of guilt; and the joy that comes with repentance–There is not another passage like it in all bible.

I am absolutely amazed that David could write this and I assure you, it is a tribute to God’s greatness, not David’s. I am impressed with David’s wisdom and understanding. This Psalm does accent the power of God’s grace, which is an encouragement to me.

I. THE PROBLEM BEGINS WITH PERSONAL SIN

[1] Note the fact that David takes ownership of his sin. Go back to verses 2-3…

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.

David is aware of the fact that others have sinned but his first concern is with his sin. He does not mention Bathsheba or anyone else.

Like the old negro spiritual…“It’s not my mother or my brother but it is me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

G. K. Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer, philosopher, Christian apologist, theologian and art critic. He is often referred to as the “prince of paradox.” Time magazine observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.” Some years before Chesterton’s promotion, a London Times editorial asks the question: “What is wrong with our world?” Chesterton’s reply became the most famous of all answers. It went like this: “What is wrong with this world? I am.” If every man understood this, the world would be a much better place. We always begin with our sin. We cannot teach transgressors God ways unless we deal with our sin. Would n’t it be refreshing to see people gathered in the streets to confess their personal sin rather than finding fault with America and our founding fathers. This crowd is so intent on prosecuting our founding fathers for owning slaves that they are completely oblivious to their own sin.

[2] David also understood that sin is inherent. We sin because we are sinners by nature. We do not have to sin to become sinners, we are born sinners.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
[v.5]

II. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO DEAL WITH SIN

Adam and Eve sinned; we all know about their sin. Like David’s sin, it is recorded for all mankind to see. They did not deal with their sins properly. They tried to [1] hide it , [2] cover it, [3] deny it by blaming others.

Sin is a problem, one that man cannot handle.

God intervened in Adam and Eve’s case and in our case as well. God can handle sin, we cannot.

Our first step in dealing with sin is to [1] Recognize it and call it by name…iniquity, transgression, etc. We will never get victory over sin in general. If it was a lie, we call it a lie. If it was stealing, we call it stealing. Then we [2] Confess it to Him. We agree with Him that we have sinned and that our sin is evil. It is against Him and society as a whole.

I heard a story of the college freshman who didn’t wash his clothes for the first month at college and then he bundled them up and washed the entire bundle because he was embarrassed for the folks in the Landry mat to see his filthy clothes. Then to make bad matters worse, he dried them in a bundle which took hours. Got to his dorm room, untied the bundle and the closes were still filthy.

The way to deal with sin is one at a time and you call them what they are; you don’t call adultery an affair and you don’t call drunkenness a disease. [3] After identifying the sin and calling it by name, you give it to Jesus. He can handle all our sin. He has already suffered for it: we are not putting more suffering on him when we give Him our sin. We are acknowledging the fact that sin is bigger than we are and we need a SAVIOR.

III. THE RESULTS OF DEALING WITH SIN THE PROPER WAY IS JOY

The happiest people in the world are sinners who have just been forgiven. The story of the Prodigal son is a perfect illustration. Note all the references to joy in Psalm 51…

[v.8] Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

[v.12] Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

[v.14] Forgive me for shedding blood, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
[v.15] O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. It is hard to praise God when you have no joy. I’m not sure it is even possible.

You know that if there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents, there is going to be joy here and joy in the heart.

Sin creates a heavy burden that saps the soul of joy. Repentance washes away the guilt and sorrow that sin produces. Just as soap removes dirt, repentance cleanses us. It unburdens us. {Pastor’s conference}


Conclusion

Sometimes, the only way to get to where God wants us to be is through the portal of a broken heart.

Quote

Where God loves, He afflicts in love and whom ever He afflicts in love learns a lesson that will last for all eternity.

~Thomas Brooks

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.

Gospel Truth

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath: Luke 13:10-17

10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!

14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

17 This shamed His enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

INTRODUCTION

Again, we have a story in Luke’s gospel that is not in the other three and it is a wonderful story about a woman who could not look up. This story is filled with refreshing, wonderful truths that inspire and motivate.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS: JESUS HAS COMPASSION ON THE HURTING.”

  1. Jesus saw her…


    10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.


     Sometimes we feel conspicuous and at other times we feel invisible and alone. Regardless to how we feel, Jesus sees us. He not only sees us, He sees our pain, our disappointment, even our shame and failure. This woman was sitting in a congregation much like you tonight and yet amidst this crowd of people, Jesus saw her. When Israel was in bondage in Egypt…God saw their affliction. When Hagar ran away from Sarah, the Angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness and she said, I will call God El Roi, the God who sees. He is a God who sees and He sees your pain today. Whatever you are feeling, He sees it!

  2. Jesus called her…


    12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!”


    Jesus not only saw her, saw her pain, distress and suffering but HE CALLED HER. It is very important for Jesus to call. There is a group that teaches limited atonement. They say that Jesus died only for the elect, the chosen few. He does not call everyone and He may not call you. Well the scripture makes it clear that He called all the Israelites but some did not hear because they were not listening. Francis Crosby wrote on poem based on Hebrews 4:7…


    1. Jesus is calling the weary to rest—
      and He is calling today,
      Bring Him your burden and you shall be blest;
      He will not turn you away.
    2. Jesus is waiting, oh, come to Him now—
      Waiting today, waiting today,
      Come with your sins, at His feet lowly bow;
      Come, and no longer delay.
    3. Jesus is pleading, oh, listen to His voice:
      Hear Him today, hear Him today,
      They who believe on His name shall rejoice;
      Quickly arise and away. {I guarantee you the reforms don’t sing this hymn, actually, there are that many that they can sing}


  3. Jesus touched her….


    13 Then Jesus touched her and instantly she could stand straight.


It is one thing to see a person is need but to touch them is something else. Our willingness to touch those who are hurting is an indication that we are not afraid to get involved, touching is a show of affection. You don’t touch people who you despise, do you? You don’t, you avoid them as if they had the plague. As a matter of fact, some folks in our society are known as untouchables. They had them is Jesus day. The lepors were untouchable, yet Jesus touched them. He is not afraid of your infirmity. That is great news! Wonderful news!


II. JESUS HAS THE POWER TO STRAIGHTEN US OUT

13 Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!


This message is filled with Gospel Truth. Sin had messed this woman up, big time. Luke said she was “crippled by an evil spirit.” It is just a way of saying, SIN HAD MESSED HER UP. Sin twisted her, broke her down and that is what sin has done to me. This woman and I have a lot in common. Sin has messed me up. It has mangled and twisted me. I battle the sin that is rooted in my flesh every day and it is a battle that I am weary of fighting. Inside me there is a greedy little fellow and a lustful one at that: my twisted fleshly nature is constantly trying to pull me down but Jesus is fixing me. When He comes, He is going to touch me and straighten me out. I know there are those who pretend to be straight now: the pretend to be fixed but I’m not fixed. Jesus is in the process but He has not completed the project but this story gives me hope. There are many things about myself that I don’t like and there are things that you don’t like. The truth is: I can’t fix myself and you can’t fix me either. Ask my wife how much progress she is making in straightening me out.

I ran into one of these wise guys the other day who ask me, “Have you got those folks at Danville straightened out.” I remember his question because it has been asked before but I don’t remember my answer. What I normally say is “No, I don’t have them straightened out but I can’t straighten myself out.” There are a lot of things I can’t do.

  • I can’t forgive sins, can you?
  • I can’t heal the sick or raise the dead, can you?
  • I can’t make it rain, can you?

Neither can I straighten myself out but Jesus can and that is GOOD NEWS!

III. JESUS LOVES US MORE THAN RELIGIOUS DAYS, ANIMALS OR PROFIT

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving animals and generally speaking, people who mistreat animals have a problem. The Jews who Jesus was addressing were not animal lover in the sense that you are; they were money lovers and they took care of their animals because it would be a huge lost financially for one of them to die. Jesus was simply pointing out that they showed more compassion on animals than they did people.

This is what is so sad about the story, the synagogue leader and the Jewish Religious Leaders as a whole had no compassion on people. They were cold and insensitive when it came to hurting people. They cared much more about Sabbath Observance than they did people. They were not happy for this dear woman. They were angry that Jesus did this miracle on the Sabbath and they directed their anger at the crowd who was rejoicing.

Basically the leader of the Synagogue said, “Go on home. Get out of here, this is not a hospital. You have six other days in which to get healed. Go to Dr. Jesus on one of those other days but don’t come here on the Sabbath and turn this into a healing service.

Can you believe that any human could be so insensitive? I can, I have seen it up close and personal. Some people care more about their assets {livestock in this story} than they do lost or hurting people. They care more about their reputation and pride than they do lost or hurting people. I’ve seen grown men d0 hurtful and harmful things to the fellowship of a church simply because their pride was offended or reputation was damaged.

CONCLUSION

Jesus not only called them hypocrites, He shamed them by making it obvious to the people that they loved things more than people. Jesus illustration of the animals was vivid and clear and everyone understood what He was saying…

17 This shamed His enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

There were two responses to Jesus miracle and words:

  1. His enemies got angry [later convicted and ashamed]
  2. The people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

This is prophetic: these are the same two responses we will see in judgment. Those that have not believed are going to be convicted and ashamed. Those who have put their trust in Christ are going to be rejoicing, not because of what they have done but what Jesus has done for them.

Fear God

Luke 12:4-5, NLT

4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.
5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say,
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

Introduction

June and I had the pleasure of seeing the Niagria Falls in person some twenty years ago. It is an awesome sight and I highly recommend that you save your beach money and go see the falls.  I have not had the priviledge of seeing the Grand Canyon from the ground, only by air and from 35,000 feet, it looks line a line in the sand. I have loaded us a picture and I understand that from the observation tower to the bottom of the canyon is 6,000 feet. I have been told by those who have seen it in person that it is an awesome breath taking sight.

Grand-Canyon-Skywalk-View

King David said, “Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him.” {Psalm 33:8} 

In an infinitesimal way, the Grand Canyon is like God: by that I mean it is awesome in its presence but it must be feared. An average of 6 people die at the Canyon each year. No mere human can survive a 6,000 foot fall, not even if they land in the Colorado River below. It is an awesome breath taking sight that could rob you of speech but it must be respected.

David wisely puts these two words–Awe and fear together in relationship to God. Just as it is foolish to disrepect the danger of the Canyon, so it is exceedingly more foolish to disrespect the power of God. Abraham feared God, Job feared God and hated evil, so I too fear God.

I can only imagine what my eyes will see when His face is before me. Surrounded by His glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in His presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah or will I be able to sing at all. I can only imagine but if I had to guess, I would say His presence will leave me in stunned silence and amazement.

TODAY, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU FOR A MOMENT ABOUT FEARING GOD

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I. FIRST OF ALL: LET ME SAY, WE ARE NOT TO FEAR MEN {or women}

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. {Proverbs 29:25}

Insecurity is really our biggest problem

  • If we crave comfort–we will fear discomfort
  • If we crave approval–we will fear criticism
  • If we crave acceptance–we will fear rejection
  • If we crave admiration for our attractiveness–we will fear getting old and fat

Let me put it another way

  • Why don’t we share our faith?
  • Why don’t we confess our sins?
  • Why don’t we put passion into our worship?

The answer to all these questions is we have a man fearing spirit and Jesus tells us not to fear man.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Today, I am going to tell you how to overcome your man fearing spirit.

ONE: Admit your fear of man–confss it.

The first step to recovery is heonesty. You cannot hope to get better unless you are willing to confess there is a problem. Some of you men are as henpecked as all get out and you will sit here today and deny you have a problem. Come on, get real!

TWO: Ask the LORD to help you begin to grow in your fear of God.

{Psalms 34:11–Come, my children, and listen to me,and I will teach you to fear the LORD} Fearing the LORD is a learning process and there has to be a starting point. That starting point could be today.

THREE: Assess your motives and goals.

What do you want most from life and who do you want to please most?

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. {John 12:42-43}

FOUR: Act today and begin small.

Don’t put this off, begin today working on your man fearing spirit. Worship is a good place to start. Sing with all your heart no matter who is sitting near you. Move to the front if that makes it easier. Don’t start with the firing squad or a martyrs heroic death. Start small and grow big. {Peter is a good example}

FIVE: Acknowlege that your fear of man is driven by your selfish desires.

As Ed Welch and Geoffrey Kirland have said, Exchange your Need for others for a passion to love others more.” In other words, stop focusing on your needs and begin to focus on the needs of others. [All five points came from the insights of Geoffrey Kirland, [http://thecripplegate.com/the-fear-of-man-how-to-destroy-it/]

Jesus said, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. Perhaps you are thinking, this doesn’t comfort me but think about this way, beyond physical death, man has no power over you. Yes, Obama could have the CIA eliminate me but that is in this world. In the next world, he has absolutely no power. I am comforted to know that ultimately, no man has power over my eternal destiny other than Jesus.

II. SECONDLY AND IN CONCLUSION: WE ARE TO FEAR GOD

Jesus said, I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.

Man has the power to murder, to kill to execute but man has no power after death. They can kill us but that is as much as they can do. God has the power to take life and to cast us into hell. He is the One we should fear.

Let me tell you briefly how hell or gehenna got its name. It was a narrow ravine located Southwest of Jerusalem and was known first as the valley of Hinnon, meaning it belonged to someone in the family of Hinnon. Then Solomon brought in Molech and Chemosh and it became a place where the charred bodies of innocent babies were disposed. By the time of the incarnation, it was the city dump where the fire burned day and night

I have just described to you a hideous and horrible place where no one would want to go but the real hell is infinitely worse. We cannot imagine the horror of hell. It is far worse than any movie or picture you have seen. Hell was not created for you: it was created for the devil and his followers.

God does not want you to go to hell. 2 Peter 3:9 clearly states…The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

There can be no heaven without a hell, just as there can be no freedom without prisons. Lucifer destroyed any hope of that in eternity past. God is going to encarserate evil someday and confine it to this awful place called hell. I can promise you, there will be no jokes in hell, no laughter, no fun, no merriment. It will be the ultimate horror movie, worse than anyone can imagine.

So today in Christ behalf, I beg you to repent of your sins, turn from your selfish ways and interest and turned to Christ. He is our only hope. I don’t know exactly where heaven is so I cannot know the way. Some think it is beyond space, others think it could be as near as our atomosphere but I know Jesus and He is the way.

Turn from self and sin and turn to Jesus, today! Hell is for those who demand their way.

Relationships

Scripture Text: II Corinthians 6:11-18

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you.
12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us.
13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil ? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.
18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. ”

INTRODUCTION

In previewing tonight text, one subject came to mind immediately and it is RELATIONSHIPS. This passage is about relationships: Pastor to congregation, husband to wife, child to parent and God to man.
Life is about RELATIONSHIPS. All the above are important but of course, no relationship is more important than your relationship to Christ.

I. RELATIONSHIPS ARE BUILT ON TRUST AND AFFECTION

Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
Let me say in passing, healthy relationships are 50/50 but there are not many healthy relationship. Perhaps one out of ten but that may be a stretch. In most relationship one party dominates the other. One gives more than their share which means the other is taking more than their share.
CAUTION: Most of us here tonight are beyond these instruction but do not take your spouse for granted: it can be a fatal sin when it comes to your relationship. 
It is true that many folks have adjusted to an imbalanced relationship. They do most of the giving but they are content. These are going to the folks our age. Some do not make it to the age of contentment.
Paul was convinced and I have no reason to doubt him, his relationship with Corinth was not 50/50. Paul was open and honest with them but they were restrained. The Greek word that Paul uses is stenochōreō  and it means to be in a narrow place, a strait, or to be compressed, cramped by the narrowness of the situation. In other words, your walking on egg shells in this relationship. There is no freedom for you to be you.
Honesty and openness are vital to intimacy. You cannot achieve intimacy without them. Insecurity is the arch nemesis of honesty. It is for this reason that I counsel those in pre-marital counseling to get profession help if they were abused as a child. Sexual abuse scars a child severely and there is no way they can enter into an adult relationship without the excess bandage creating by the scaring. They cannot forget what happened to them and without proper help, they can’t get beyond it. The number one problem in marriages is lack of intimacy and this is caused by our failure to be honest and open.
Paul was convinced that his relationship with Corinth was one sided: He had great affection for them but they had little for him. He was making all the sacrifices. He was doing the giving. He longed for his love and affection to be reciprocated. It was an unrequited love: a one-sided love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such by the beloved. The beloved may not be aware of the admirer’s deep and strong romantic affection, or may consciously reject it. Unrequited love is lonely and painful but the beloved doesn’t care.
Paul challenges the Corinthians to OPEN THEIR HEARTS TO HIM.

II. RELATIONSHIPS ARE BUILT ON COMMON INTEREST

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.

  • NKJV–Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
  • NIV–Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
  • Holman–Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. 
  • NASB–Do not be bound together with unbelievers.
  • GNT–Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers, it cannot be done.

We assume that Paul was talking about marriage but this is probably not the case but the principle can certainly be applied to the marital relationship. Paul is probably referring to any partnership because the context of the passage is SEPARATION, [v.17] Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. The Greek word translated ‘Partner’ can mean sexual intercourse but it also means participation and fellowship with.

Paul gives us a list of question to reinforce his point:

  • How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?
  • How can light live with darkness? 
  • What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil ?
  • How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
  • And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?

The Greek word for ‘Harmony’ is the word from which we get symphony. Agreement in sound or sameness is sound. Harmony is being on the same page, on the same song, not necessary the same note.

The core values of a lost person compared to the core values of a saved person are in conflict and so are their world views. Erotic love or romantic love has a way of temporarily overshadowing all other loves but it will not last. “He/she is the one for me, that’s the way it is, I don’t care about all these other things.” This sentiment is not going to last: it will wear off; it is just a matter of time. People fall madly in love and they can’t eat or sleep. This too shall pass, it is temporary. It is infatuation. Eventually, you are going to get hungry.

Because humans are triune beings, body, soul and spirit being joined to another involves the union of body, soul and spirit. When only the bodies are joined, you have a sensual relationship which is driven by lust. It is not only unhealthy, it will not endure. If you have body and soul, that is progress but not ideal, you still do not have full union. Many marriages survive on body and soul but God’s plan is not for you to survive: He wants you the thrive. When two people, both knowing Christ, are joined, they have an opportunity to move to a new dimension because they are joined physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our first needs are physical [food, water, shelter, sex, etc.] but we need more. We want to be loved and appreciated but in time our greatest need is spiritual. Dying people don’t want food. They have no desire for it or need for it. Eventually the SPIRITUAL NEEDS surface as the most important. Young people cannot understand this truth.

Young people are anxious to share a bed but eventually you will take pleasure in sharing a meal, ultimately you will take pleasure in sharing a destiny.

There are some rare exceptions but as far as church work is concerned, your leaders are not going to come from 30 and down because it takes us that long to realize the value of spiritual things. Young people have their face in front of a mirror or cell phone. Old folks don’t do mirrors. I heard a daughter say just last year, “The older my mother gets, the more she reads her bible and she doesn’t even remember what she read yesterday.” This is par for the course. Our values change as we age.

The spiritual dimension gives us a decided advantage because we are endued with agape love; the love from above and it is totally unconditional. It is the way we humans want to be loved.

III. RELATIONSHIPS ARE PARAMOUNT

As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.  And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. ”
I was 40 years old before this truth hit me but when it did, it stuck like a arrow. I had been invited by a former church to preach at a homecoming or something of that nature. When I left the church, there was some tension. I could have dealt with their problems but I did not get the support I needed so I resigned and left with hurt feelings on both sides. It took me years to process the disappointment and pain that I felt personally but when I walked in the building that day and saw some of those folks who had been less then supportive, it didn’t matter. I was glad to see them and they acted like they were glad to see me. 
On the way home that day some 27 years ago, the LORD spoke clearly, “Jack, relationships are more important than riches.” If you’ve being paying attention, you have heard me quote that many times over the last 27 years.
A former son-in-law told my daughter before their divorce, “I don’t want to end up like your daddy, old and broke.” He was never impressed with my income. I have friends who are worth millions but I was never a good business man and I’ve made a lot of bad decisions. Long story short, I don’t have millions. I’m worth more dead than alive. I can’t remember the last time I lay down at night thinking about wealth, how much money I have or down have. Thoughts of money rarely cross my mind. If you think I’m be dishonest, talk to my wife, she goes behind me trying to clean up the mess because I am prone to spend without thinking. It’s a gift I passed along to one daughter and a grandson.
No one is going to stand at my COLS and talk about Bro. Jack the business man and I’m glad. I have little money but I have things that money cannot buy. There are a lot of bad things about greed but one that bothers me a lot is how it hurts relationships. Some people are so greedy for more that they squander every opportunity to build enduring relationships. I see what they are doing and it breaks my heart.
Relationships are paramount. Family is huge and friends are vitally important. I do go to bed at night thinking about my family and friends because they are important to me. Our heavenly Father wants a relationship with us. It was His desire to come to us in the incarnation and live among us, as John said, “to pitch His tent among us.” God not only desires to be with us, He desires to be in us. “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” [v.16]
Jesus Christ came to this world seeking a relationship with us. The whole idea of redemption is unbelievable, why would the Son of God condescend to our low estate to save a wretch like me? There is no answer to this question. It is a mystery.
However, this relationship is not automatic, it does not happen by default. A choice must be made on our part. The LORD says emphatically, “Come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. ”
The choice is simple: we turn our backs to this world and move toward Christ. We make a choice between Christ and this world. We can’t embrace both, it is impossible. The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back. The rich young ruler was presented with this choice and he choose the world. I hope you will not make that same mistake.

The Sweet Exchange

SCRIPTURE

II Corinthians 5:21

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. [NLT]

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [NASB]

INTRODUCTION

Growing up in the middle of the last century, I had a legendary uncle by the name of Charlie. As children, we simply knew him as Uncle Charlie. Looking back, I am sure he was about my present age [66] when I came to know him. He was a great uncle, my grandmothers baby brother. He lived at Bridgeport, Alabama which was about half-way from our home to Chattanooga, Tennessee. As kids, we loved the trip to Uncle Charlie’s. He seemed to be a rather jolly man, he cut hair for a living and called himself a preacher. Our image of Uncle Charlie was all positive and my parents did not tell me the truth until I was grown.

In fact, Uncle Charlie had been a pistol. He married a woman, got her pregnant and then skipped the country. A few months later, he came home, got her pregnant again and then disappeared for a second time. You will fine this hard to believe as I did, but she let him come back for a third time and he got her pregnant for a third time and then skipped the country for good. This time, he did not come back. The poor woman raised the three children by herself. She never received one dime of support from our infamous Uncle Charlie. My grandmother and others tried to help but those were tough times. I am thankful to say, the woman raised the children but they never knew their father. He did try to establish a casual relationship with them after they were grown but they wanted nothing to do with him and who could blame them. I was at his funeral and none of his children were present. I knew of only the three but there could have been more.

Some men are like Uncle Charlie, they bring nothing to the table. They are bums and deadbeats. They are more than willing to get a woman pregnant but once the child is conceived, they want no part of the huge responsibility of raising the child. These irresponsible men, known as characters, take what they can get and then get out of Dodge. They are masters at evading responsible. It still happens today. Men marry and then refuse to provide for their wives and children. They want to hunt, fish, play ball and spend time with the guys but they leave all the responsibility of parenthood and providing to the wife and this eventually takes its toll on the woman who was not created to provide, protect and manage the home. This is not to say that some women do not do a stellar job at managing everything because some do but it is not the perfect design.

Folks, we do not want to see ourselves in this light but when it comes to our relationship with Christ, we are like a deadbeat husband, we bring absolutely nothing to the table. We have nothing to offer other than our honest confession. The only thing we can give Jesus is our sin and shame and the amazing thing is that he is willing to take it.

We give Him our sin and shame and He gives us His righteousness. F.B. Meyer calls this the GREAT EXCHANGE and he wrote a book, “THE CHRIST LIFE FOR YOUR LIFE” on 2 Corinthians 5:21. F.F. Bruce calls it the SWEET EXCHANGE.

When it comes to this text: I think there are some things we must acknowledge. To acknowledge is to accept or admit the existence or truth of something. It is to confess, to agree, concede, admit or recognize said reality. There are several things in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that we must acknowledge.

I. JESUS IS SINLESS–SON OF GOD

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

  • Isaiah 53:9–He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone.
  • I Peter 2:22–He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
  • I John 3:5–And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in Him.
  • Hebrews 4:15–For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The virgin birth is a fundamental Christian doctrine and it cannot be denied. Jesus was born of woman but not from the seed of a man. We all know that children are conceived by the seed from the male but in Mary’s case, she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Did she feel anything? Was there any sensation? I don’t know: I doubt it but it is immaterial, doesn’t matter. Jesus is the proof of the pudding.

What this means is simple: Jesus did not have Adams blood coursing through His veins, He was born without a sinful nature. Although Jesus was tempted by sin or to sin by the devil himself, Jesus did not think of sin the way we do. He had a pure conscience which none of us can boast about and we know that anyone who pretends to have a pure conscience is lying. {If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. I John 1:10}

The Old Testament teaches Lev 22:21 (NASB)When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. A holy God demands perfection.

John 8:46, Jesus said to the Pharisees…“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?  We live is a crazy upside down world which shows little respect to Jesus. Most think of Him as a good teacher or revolutionary but can anyone explain why no one, not even one, found fault with Him during His 33 years. Not even the Pharisees could find a fault. Pilot, the Roman governor, could not find one single fault. Why? Because there was NO FAULT TO FIND. It is hard to find something that is not there.

So: acknowledge with me that JESUS IS THE SINLESS SON OF GOD!

II. JESUS BECAME A SACRIFICE [OFFERING] FOR OUR SINS

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

  • Isaiah 53:6–All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him {Jesus} the sins of us all.
  • Isaiah 53:10But it was the LORD ’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD ’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
  • I Peter 2:24He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.
  • Hebrews 9:28–Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

On the cross, Jesus literally became sin for us. He took all our sin and shame upon His own person and suffered like a vile criminal. He didn’t only take our preferred sins such as greed, gossip, jealousy, envy, vain ambition, lust and selfishness: He took the most vile sin imaginable. Jesus knows what it is like to feel guilty. There are sins that we love but there are sins that we loathe and do not want to be associated with. We tolerate lust for women but we loathe lust for children. Pedophilia is loathsome, disgusting and intolerable. Jesus didn’t just feel the guilt of an adulterer, He bore the shame of a pedophile.

I am a history buff and I do love to watch War movies during the Memorial Day weekend. I was watching a documentary the other night about the Nazis. I was not aware of the fact that they starved Holland. That set up a blockade and didn’t allow food to come in: people died by the thousands. When the allies got there, they said the starving bodies were like skeletons with skin and breath. Some were still alive but they appeared to be ghost. Their eyes could focus but they were too weak to talk. 

One America soldier said, “It shook my faith. How could God allow such atrocities to happen? I didn’t lose my faith, eventually, it became stronger but I could never erase the image of those starving people from my mind. It will haunt me until the day I die.”

Jesus felt the guilt of Nazi murderers. Jesus felt the guilt of hate filled Muslims who primary goal in life is to destroy other humans, namely Jews and Christians.

Chris Tomlin says it best–We’ll never know how much it cost to see our sins upon that cross.

Will you acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins

III. WE BECOME RIGHTEOUS BY GRACE

[This is the most difficult thing for me to acknowledge]

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. NLT

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [NASB]

There is a wonderful passage in Romans 8 that tells us about God’s purpose…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them his glory.

The world is confused about SALVATION. We think in terms of being saved from out sin and from hell and this is as far as some people get but there is much, much more. God did save us from something, namely self, sin and hell but He also saved us to something, namely Jesus, righteousness and heaven. God’s intended purpose for you is for you to be righteous like Jesus. He is accomplishing this purpose through Jesus Himself. The only way we can be saved is by grace. We cannot deserve forgiveness or love. The only way we can become holy is by grace, God is going to make us righteous through Jesus.

Whereas, we are instantaneously forgiven of our sin, we do not become righteous in an instant, not in the sight of others. We become righteous to God instantly due to His foreknowledge but in time and history, it is a process. The NASB translates the verb, “Might become,” which speaks of a process. We are not righteous [in view of others] but we are becoming righteous.

The NLT states it in a slightly different way, “We are being made righteous.” Sanctification is God’s doing, just like justification. I can no more sanctify myself as justify myself. This is totally a work of grace.

What if a person declares: “I don’t want the righteousness of Christ, I just want forgiveness. I don’t care to be like Jesus, I just don’t want to go to hell.” I would imagine that the church is filled with just such people.

What can we do about such an attitude? My solution or answer would be to “Tell the truth.” No man can come to Christ and get salvation without repentance and faith. I am very afraid that a lot of professing Christians have never repented of their sins. Authentic faith takes place only after repentance. There is no real faith without repentance of sin. We have far too many people relying on a past experience. I don’t care what kind of experience you had, goose bumps on goose bumps, bright lights with angelic music, if you had no sorrow over your sins, you are unrepentant and the proof will be in your present attitude. I preach to people every Sunday who never move. They don’t sing, clap, celebrate and they don’t repent. I have folks that I have never seen come to the altar and we are talking 37 years. If you haven’t repented of a sin in the last 37 years, something is wrong. I had to stop and repent during my quiet time this morning.

Dr. Graham believes that the majority of church members in America are lost and he may be right: the majority is certainly carnal. Their salvation is not working out. There is no visible evidence that they are saved. Several years ago, we had a young man who came to the altar every service. He was struggling with assurance and we tried to help as best we could but I don’t worry about those who struggle with assurance nearly as much as I do those who are cock sure but never display one ounce of humility or repentance. I know preachers who do not have a spirit of repentance.

You cannot get the Son without the Spirit and the Spirit bestows a spirit of repentance. If you do not have this spirit of repentance, then obviously, you have never repented.

Not only will a true born again person have a spirit of humility and repentance; they will, by grace, have a desire to be like Jesus. It is one thing to admire Jesus yet another to want to be like HIM. Jesus was fearless and I suppose we would all like to be fearless but Jesus was also holy: how many of us want to be holy.
By grace, God is going to make us holy. In exchange for our sin and shame, you and I will get the righteousness of Christ. He got our very sin and we get His very righteousness. He didn’t take a part of our sin and we will not take a part of His righteousness, we will get it all. How is this possible?  It is a God thing and all things are possible with God.
Paul said is Galatians 2:16….Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

Jesus by grace will make us right with the Father. Are we there? NO! But we are to take encouragement in God’s purpose more than in our progress. God says we are going to get there and share in His glory and I believe it.

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. [Colossians 3:3-4]

CONCLUSION

Mary is a good example of our salvation: regeneration, sanctification and glorification. Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Unaffected by physically senses, she in time knew that a person was indwelling her. First, she was given God’s word to believe but eventually, there was visible evidence. Jesus grew in the sanity of Mary’s womb. He became bigger and bigger until He came out. Her motherhood was undeniable. What began in a seemly small way, invisible to the eye became grand and glorious. Who did this? Who is responsible for the INCARNATION? You know the answer: Mary didn’t pull this off, nor did the Jewish Religious Establishment. This was the work of God. Impossible, you would think but not with God.
Jack Bailey, becoming righteous, impossible! You would think but with God all things are possible.

Ambassadors For Christ

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:20

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

INTRODUCTION

An ambassador is an envoy, emissary, or representative commissioned to diplomatic service. Ambassadors are persons sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country. It could be a person representing a firm, industry or organization. The United States has hundred’s of ambassadors–one to each country where we have diplomatic ties, several to the UN and then many more to organizations such as NATO.
You and I, as believers in Jesus Christ, have been called to be His royal ambassadors. We represent HIM in this world.
Rome had their provinces divided into two groups: [1] Senatorial–Submissive Subjects and [2] Imperial–rebellious subjects. Obviously, Judea was an imperial providence. This world is an imperial providence. Our rebellion is not against Rome but God.
What are the aspects of a good ambassador?

I. REMEMBERING ALWAYS WHO WE ARE AND WHO WE REPRESENT

“We are Christ’s ambassadors.” 

Ambassadors are seldom greater than the one they represent. A good ambassador forgets himself. He has no agenda. In every way, he/she is a reflection of their boss, king, president, etc. This is an awesome responsibility. Before leaving for New Orleans and Seminary, I put a bumper sticker on my car that read…”Honk, if you love Jesus.” It was one of the dumbest things I’ve done because I forgot that it was there. One day while driving in heavy traffic on I-59 in New Orleans, a hippie van with flowers painted on the side, the whole nine yards, passed me in the left lane, he was blowing his horn like a fool and I was upset. My wife calmly said, “It’s your bumper sticker. He is honking because he loves Jesus.” I probably said, “Then why don’t he get his hair cut?” I was thoroughly embarrassed, I had made a fool of myself but because of the bumper sticker, Jesus got bad publicity. When I got back to the apartment, I took the bumper sticker off; not because I was ashamed of Jesus but because I was ashamed of how I had represented Him.

I would be thrilled if I could tell you that this has never happened again but that would be a lie. Time and time again, I have misrepresented Jesus with poor to sorry behavior. We are a reflection on our LORD, good or bad. Some people keep their faith private so that they cannot commit the sin I committed but how can we represent HIM if we never mention HIS name or fail to tell people who we are and we ARE ambassadors of Christ. Denying Him is not a solution. We just have to remember always, that we represent HIM.

II. UNDERSTANDING ALWAYS THAT THE MINISTRY AND MESSAGE IS NOT OURS

Remembering is important but understanding is also important. Bearing His name puts pressure on us but understanding the ministry of reconciliation takes a lot of pressure off. I did not have this understanding in the early days but now I am comforted by the fact that RECONCILIATION is God’s idea, not mine. Christ has done the work, not me. This is a ministry that God has given to me in terms of an assignment but technically, it is HIS ministry and HIS message. No preacher of the gospel is perfect. From time to time we will misstate things. Our knowledge is not complete and our theology is not perfect but we preach the word of God, not our word. It is always a battle to separate our personal opinions from the word of God but we have to understand that He will bless His word, not ours.

As I shared a couple of weeks ago: this fact is a great confidence builder. This is God’s work–Christ secured our forgiveness–He did the work of atonement, we had nothing to do with it. This is His ministry, not ours. He thought of this, not us. I speak what He tells me to speak. I don’t have a message. I can’t imagine the pressure I would feel if I had to conjure up a message. When I go into homes or hospitals, I understand that I am only His representative, or clay servant. I’m not God, I have never had any illusions about being God. I have no power. I cannot heal. I go merely as His representative. I am a reminder that He cares and that He is present in the crisis. I did not understand this in the early days and was easily intimidated by difficult visits. I’m not great in difficult situations now but it helps to know that I represent HIM, I am an Ambassador, a servant sent–not a clone of the One who sent me. You would be surprised at how much this understanding changed my life.

III. ACTING ALWAYS, UNDER ORDERS WITH CONFIDENCE

Being a younger sibling in a family of 7, I was called upon many times to deliver messages. When mother or daddy sent me to the field to give my older brothers a message, I never said, “Get to the house guys, right now.” They would have beaten me on the spot. I had no authority over them. I always said, “Mother said or Daddy said, “Get to the house now.” A messenger doesn’t have to have authority, he just needs to get the message right. The authority comes from the one who sent the message.

I do what I do because God called me to do it. He commissioned me to work in the ministry of reconciliation. When my brothers ignored my message from Mother and Daddy, I didn’t take it personally. My job was to deliver the message and get it right. They could do as they pleased. It would be skin off of their back, not mine. Woe unto me if I failed to deliver the message but once the message was delivered, I was free. Whether they obeyed or not, made no difference to me so long as I had done my job which was to get the message to them. I am not advocating that we be indifferent about the response to the message but it is not our responsibility to determine results, only to deliver the message. Many a preacher has becomes discouraged by the lack of response. 

If we are faithful to deliver HIS MESSAGE, their response is not personal. If they are in rebellion against God, they are going to rebel against you because you represent Him. Since they can’t get to HIM, they will take their anger out of you.

IV. PRACTICING ALWAYS, A SPIRIT OF GENTLE HUMILITY

To be honest with you; it is a mystery to me that God would entrust the ministry of reconciliation to us in the first place. It’s not like we are reliable. It is an awesome privilege to be a communicator of the gospel. This did not dawn on me until I was in the latter stages of my career. I wish I had understood this truth when I was a young man but I did not. At one time, I thought I was doing God a service by preaching and serving as a pastor but it was He doing me a service and I had so little sense that I didn’t realize the favor.

It is a blessed task but it is also an humble one. My constant failure and short comings remind me of my dependence upon Christ. I used to get up and hit the floor running but age has slowed me down and it was a good thing. Now I focus on being where God wants me when He wants me. I usually do some planning before I go to bed but then I pray again before leaving the house or office. There is a huge blessing in being at the right place at the right time. If God puts a person on my mind, I take that as a clue. He laid a woman on my heart a few days ago and so I changed my plans. I had been visiting her on Saturday and this was on a Tuesday but I didn’t question what I felt was the Holy Spirit guiding and I went that evening. Just a few minutes after we left, the sweet woman took her flight. I was absolutely amazed. If I had waited until Saturday, it would have been to late.

It is an humbling task to represent Jesus. How does a flawed crack pot like me represent the Son of God? Humbly, very humbly. Jesus was gentle, meek and mild. He never used force. He never manipulated anyone. I’m there to share HIS love and HIS message and I need to use HIS method. Anything I do out of character to who He is will be sin.

Jesus condescended to our low estate but He was not condescending. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without shepherd. [Matthew 9:36] My goal is to see others the way Jesus sees me.

Sin In The Streets and Seats

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat.37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard He was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind Him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on His feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing His feet and putting perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”

40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”

“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”

43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

47 I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”

50 And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

I think I could preach a series from this passage but due to the time, I simply want to share some simple statements of truth and then draw a couple of conclusion. Primarily today, we will be thinking about sin, our own personal sin. With that in mind, please listen to the following statements…

  1. There is a danger in getting close to Jesus: you may find out more about yourself than you want to know. The flip side is: if your are curious to know the real you–Jesus, and only Jesus can help. It is a terrible waste to live a life time and not know who you really are.
  2. Simon the Pharisee saw the woman as a “Sinner” but he did not see himself as a “Sinner.” Our pride makes us prone to see the sins of others while ignoring our own.
  3. It is not the amount of sin in your life; it is your awareness of the sin in your life that counts. The woman knew she was a sinner, Simon was not aware of his. Because the woman knew who she was, she understood who Jesus was and she worshipped. Simon didn’t worship Jesus, He didn’t even show common courtesy. He may have admired HIM as a teacher but that is all. It makes you feel sympathy for the Simons of this world.
  4. Simon’s sin was arrogant pride–the woman’s sin was prostitution. Which of these two sins does God word condemn the most? Some times our sin of pride, contempt and despising other is greater than the sin we despise in them.
  5. Simons sins were private–the woman’s sins were public. Simon had the Eastern mind set: if you don’t get caught, it is not sin. This makes a difference with man but with God all sin is black and ugly.
  6. How much sin do we have to commit to be a sinner? If you break one law, doesn’t that make you a law breaker?

CONCLUSION

Have you ever ran up a tab or credit card bill that you couldn’t believe when the bill came due. “Something is not right about this,” you uttered but the more you check, the more you realize the bill is correct. This is what makes credit cards dangerous. It makes spending too easy.

Something similar has happened with our sin. Since there is pleasure in sin and it is first nature, we sin without realizing how much we sin. What I am saying is that we sin more than we realize. Simon didn’t think of himself as a sinner but Jesus knew his heart: [1] He had contempt for others [2] He measured men but he refused to minister  to men[3] He jumped to a reckless conclusion: the woman’s sins were much worst than his own. [4] Though he thought of himself as spiritually superior to others; Jesus reveals otherwise.

God’s word often refers to judgment as a “His Cup of wrath,” each time we sin, another drop goes in the cup. So here is the bottom line. There is more in our cup than we can deal with. We have a sin debt that we can not possibly pay. Some may owe a billion, some ten billion some a hundred. The amount of the debt is insignificant–The point is: none of us have the ability to reconcile the debt. This is where Jesus comes in: He paid our sin debt.

I believe that his woman had heard Jesus before and she repented of her sins: she came to the banquet to express her love and gratitude. I think  Jesus was giving her assurance…If Jesus says Your sins are forgiven”–your sins are forgiven. If Jesus says,  your faith has saved you–you are saved. If He says go in peace–you can go in peace.

If Jesus says “It’s so, then is so because He said so. It may not appear to be so, the devil may declare it not to be so… but it is still so because Jesus said so.” Our Salvation is based on the integrity of Jesus.

I know I am a sinner. I know that I have committed a lot of sin but I am not aware of all my sin and neither are you. I don’t know exactly how judgment is going to work. I have a feeling our sins will be recognized and perhaps displayed. I do believe we will be pardoned by the blood of Christ but I have no doubt that we will be held accountable.

One way or the other, we all need Jesus.

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!

The Horror of Horror Stories

Scripture: Matthew 26:17-30, NLT

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” 18 “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there. 20 When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?” 23 He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. 24 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

25 Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

INTRODUCTION

A lengthy text today and one that lends itself to many subjects. We could talk about Passover or the Lord’s Supper and the New Covenant. We could talk about Jesus courage to sing the Hillel [Psalm 116] in the face of death but today I want us to focus on Judas and the tragic horror story that surround his brief life.

I. FIRST OF ALL: LOOK AT HIS SIN COVERED

Dr. Warren Wiersbe says that Judas sat to the left of Jesus and John on the right. Judas had to have been close because a part of the conversation he has with Jesus was unheard by the other disciples. First Jesus announces that one of the twelve will betray him [v.21] Greatly distressed each one asked, “Am I the one Lord?” They spoke out loud from all points of the table but Judas was sitting right beside Jesus.

Jesus then says in verse 24… For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Then Judas must have whispered, “Rabbi, am I the one?” You will not that the eleven addressed Jesus as Lord and Judas called him Rabbi [Teacher/Master].

So we have this private conversation going on at the table. The other eleven had no clue that Judas was the traitor. If they had known, they would have done everything in their power to have stopped him. They did not know.

In Judas we see man’s ability to hid his sin, to cover his true self. Judas was so good at acting that no one knew. The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 3… Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

Sin is deceptive in two ways: [1] First Judas deceived others by covering his motives [2] Judas was himself deceived in that he did not see the horror of his sin. You see it, the other 11 saw it but Judas did not see the horror of his sin. He does later, after the fact, but here at the table, he sees nothing wrong with his sin.

II. BUT DO NOTICE: JESUS CONFRONTS JUDAS WITH HIS SIN

The ERV translates verse 25…“Teacher, surely I am not the one you are talking about, am I?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” Notice how loving and gentle Jesus is in confronting Judas with his sin. Jesus doesn’t jump up on the table and point a finger at Judas and say, “Judas is a traitor…Judas is a traitor”…Jesus does not attempt to coerce Judas; Jesus used no pressure at all. Jesus confronts him with his sin and he made it clear that it was a horrible choice. Jesus said, “It would have been better for you that you had never been born.”

Remember this: when no one else sees our sin, Jesus sees not only the sin but the outcome. Why do we hid sin in the first place? It’s human nature. We want to put our best foot forward. We all work at making people think that we are better than we actually are but this acting does not work with Jesus. He had a term for actors, Jesus called them hypocrites.

III. THE THIRD THING I WANT YOU TO SEE IN THIS HORROR STORY IS: THE SIN CHERISHED.

All Judas had to do was “Let it go” but he couldn’t do it. My brother died at the age of 69 and his son at age 52. Both were chain smokers: all they had to do was “Let it go.” Elvis died of a drug overdose…He might be living today had he been able to “let go” of drugs. I think Judas had a plan, other than God’s plan. I think he was trying to force Jesus to take a stand and fight. Judas knew that Jesus had supernatural power and he wanted Him to use that power to gain political advantage. I think Judas was more into power than money. He refused to let go of his plan of his ambition for power.

Why don’t we let go of our sin? Deep down, we know what we are doing is wrong but we refuse to let go because of the pleasure our sin brings. There is pleasure in sin, otherwise temptation would lose its power but the pleasure is for a season; eventually, all the pleasure will turn to pain.

Judas refused to repent. He refused to let go of his sin.

IV. THE FOURTH AND FINAL THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS THE: CONSEQUENCES OF SIN

Sin is deceitfully attractive. Paul said, “Even the devil can disguise himself as an angel of light.” The problem of sin is simple: we do not see it as it is. Jesus could see the hideous face of sin but we are blinded. Once we see sin the way he sees it, we can’t abandon it fast enough. Judas made a bad decision and then he reaped a horrible consequence. As Jesus said, “It would have been better had he never been born.”

Don’t picture Judas as the out and out rebel. He was not an overt trouble maker. No one in the group knew what he was capable of other than Jesus. Judas represents your smug church member, possibly a leader serving on some important committee. Judas is there every time the doors are open. Judas may be the treasurer. Judas goes out on church visitation. Judas teaches and preaches. Judas even cast out demons. So don’t get the idea that Judas is out there, Judas is in the building, he doesn’t miss. Judas is the church member who has never repented. The one who sees Jesus as a Teacher but not as LORD. Our churches are filled with the unsurrendered. These folks have their own personal agenda and it is hidden from all except Christ who sees the heart. Jesus said Himself, “Unless you repent, you will all like wise perish.”