Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Matthew 15:21-31 “great is your faith”
21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed."
23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us."
24 But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"
26 But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."
27 And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
29 Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there.
30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them.
31 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
The Lord Jesus the Messiah of Israel, has passed beyond the borders of Israel, driven off by the hostility of the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem, those who should have been His subjects. The delegates of the priestly party from Jerusalem, who had come down to push control over Jesus and His movement had made it necessary for the Lord Jesus Christ to withdraw. He goes northward, towards the territory of Tyre and Sidon. The incident of the Syro-Phoenician woman becomes more striking –it was the area of the Gentile’s towards the coast on the Mediterranean Sea. Then, skirting Eastwards, the Lord circuits right around to the eastern side of the sea of Galilee, where in verses 29-31 He performs many miracles. You can see the contrast between the single cure of the woman’s demoniac daughter, obtained after so long imploring, and the spontaneous abundance of the cures wrought when Jesus again dealt with Jews on the eastern shore of the lake. This contrast is a demonstration of the parable the Lord told in verses 26,27 of the crumbs that fell from the table and the plentiful feast that was spread upon it for the children.
Did you notice the repeated phrase “But He answered”? “And answering He said..”
This phrase divides the section of scripture onto four pieces.
These messages and miracles that Matthew collects here follow the same theme, the theme of faith.
Last Sunday we saw the contrast between Peter’s faith and Peter’s doubts. Faith is the Assent of the mind and the consent of the heart and the affiance or trust of the person upon the Saviour. This morning we read of a woman who is told she has “great faith” And we get the opportunity to see how her great faith works itself out. She desires to trust her situation to the Lord Jesus. But there is a refusal here. Ands we see how her faith continues to persevere. Would you receive the Lord’s commendation?
1. Faith’s Duress…
a. The Silence Of The Saviour To This Sufferer.
This Sufferer was a Canaanite and therefore a descendant of Israel’s enemies, she has learned to call Him the Son of David, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!” She owns His kingship. She owns His Lordship. She owns that He is the Davidic Messiah. She owns what His own people, the Israelites disowned. She beseeches for that which He delights to give, identifying herself with her poor child’s suffering, and asking as for herself His mercy. As Chrysostom says: ‘It was a sight to stir pity to behold a woman calling aloud in such distress, and that woman a mother, and pleading for a daughter, and that daughter in such evil plight.’
A Christ silent to a sufferer’s cry is a paradox which contradicts the whole gospel story, and which, we may be very sure, no evangelist would have painted, if he had not been painting from
b. The Sermon of the Saviourhood To the Students
And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us."
The disciples evidently meant, ‘ Lord grant her request’. The disciples seem, then, more merciful than the Lord Jesus is. But they were thinking more of themselves than they were of her.”, “for she cries out after us." “Lord we need a break. Please get rid of her quick. Do what she wants so we can have some piece. You know how irritating it is to have her squawking all day!”
Then the Lord explains the paradox of His silence. It puts emphasis on two things: His subordination to the divine will of the Father, and the restrictions imposed thereby on the scope of His beneficent working. He was obeying the divine will in confining His ministry to the Jewish people.
There must be this geographical and national limit to His life. To the Jews first. The Messiah who comes last as the fulfilment in the long series of the kings and prophets, can only be authenticated as the world’s Messiah, by first appearing to the Jews as the fulfiller of the promises made to the fathers.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
Acts 28:26 He said, Go to this people and say: ‘You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never perceive. 27 For this people’s heart has grown callous, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and be converted—and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore, let it be known to you that this saving work of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen!”
He knew that there was an order of development in the kingdom, and that at the stageof His appearing to Israel this was the surest way to attain the ultimate universality of the gospel going to all nations. This conviction locked His gracious lips against even this poor woman’s piteous cry. How grateful we should be that the gospel is not for the Jews only, but also for us Gentiles as well.
Ephesians 2: 11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” done by hand in the flesh. 12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.
Did He intend to help her? I think so. But only after He had made clear the historical role He was playing in bringing the gospel first to the Jews.
Romans 3: 1 So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the spoken words of God.
Romans 9 continues Paul’s argument 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The forefathers are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
The most important thing was not the healing of the child, funny enough, but the declaration of His Messiahship as the Saviour of the Jews, and then of the World. This was the important thing. The mazing thing for you and I is that we must remember to always focus on what is absolutely important. 1 Cor 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
2. Faith’s Determination…
Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"
a. The Persistence Of The Petitioner To The Prince.
Now she falls at His feet, and with ‘ beautiful shamelessness,’ as Chrysostom calls it, repeats her prayer, but this time with pathetic brevity, uttering but the one cry, ‘Lord, help me!’ The intenser the feeling, the fewer the words. Just before falling into unconciousness once as a consequence of my foot injury a few years ago, I remember as I passed out I reached out a hand a uttered the only two words I could find “Help me!” There was nothing else that could be said. There was nothing else that mattered. So here the woman now cries urgently, “Lord help me!” Heart-prayers are short prayers. She doesn’t invoke Him as the Son of David, (all that did was reinforce the issue that she wasn’t Jewish and not among the covenant people) nor does she tell her sorrow over again, but she flings herself in desperation on His pity, with the cry, wrung from her agony, as she sees the hope of help fading away. “Lord help me!”
That is one cry the Lord will not turn away from.
Luke 18: 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: 10 “Two men went up to the • temple complex to pray, one a • Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
It was the same cry of Peter Matt 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
26 But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."
The ‘bread’ is the blessing which He, as the sent of God, brings; the ‘children’ are the ‘ lost sheep of the house of Israel’; the ‘dogs’ are the Gentile world.
To her now He announces that the Jews were to be favoured with the blessings of the many miracles, and not the Gentiles. He wasn’t extending at that time the blessing of His Announced Messiahship to the Gentiles. First the Jews. The Lord Jesus uses a diminutive for ‘dogs,’ which shows that He is not thinking of the fierce, unclean animals, wild, starving dogs, but He is speaking of domestic pets, who live with the household, and are near the table. And undoubtedly the Lord uses this illustration to provoke her faith, to provoke her petitions, to get her to ask again:
27 And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."
b. The Persistence Of The Petitioner To The Prince of Peace.
Out of His very words she weaves a plea. ‘Yes, Lord; I am one of the dogs; then I am not an alien, but belong to the household.’ As Luther says, ‘she catches Him in His own words.’ She does not ask a place at the table, nor anything taken from those who have a prior claim to a more abundant share in His mercies. A crumb is enough for her, which they will never miss. She acquiesces in the divine appointment which limits His mission to Israel; but she recognises that all nations belong to God’s household, and that she and her countrymen have a real, though for the time inferior, position in it. There may be a reference to the fact of His being there on Gentile soil, in her words, ‘Which fall from the children’s table.’ She does not want the bread to be thrown from the table to her. She is not asking Him to transfer His ministry to Gentiles; but here He is. A crumb has fallen, in His brief visit. May she not eat of that? In this answer faith, humility, perseverance, swift perception of His meaning, and hallowed ingenuity and boldness, are equally admirable.
Even a dog is smart enough to figure out that: THE WORST THAT FALLS FROM THE MASTER’S TABLE IS STILL FAR BETTER THAN WHAT THEY’VE GOT.
John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Even a DOG KNOWS THAT THE WORST THAT JESUS GIVES, IS STILL FAR BETTER THAN THE BEST YOU COULD EVER GET ON YOUR OWN One day, the crumbs of the gospel did indeed fall from the table of the Jews, and it fed poor, vile, sinful Gentile dogs with the Bread of Life. If Jesus could take care of our greatest need with a crumb, don’t you think He could certainly take care of any other need we have?
3. Faith’s Domination…
The Saviour’s citation 28 “O woman, great is thy faith:”
Only one other got such a citation: Luke 7:1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. 9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"
The Saviour’s Surrender
“be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
Spurgeon said, “The Lord of Glory surrendered to the faith of the woman. She kept asking until she received. She kept seeking until she found. She kept knocking until the door was opened
I recently read a story that told of a woman who went to a neighbor's produce stand to purchase grapes. She stood in line while the farmer waited on other customers. Each person seemed to get special attention and the line was long. When the woman finally got to the head of the line, the farmer greeted her with a warm smile of recognition. She ordered her grapes, but the farmer did not immediately fill the order. Instead, he took her produce basket and walked away.
Having to wait again, the woman began to fume, thinking about how the farmer had taken such care of the strangers in front of her, not wanting them to become impatient, but with her he took his time, because he knew his nearby neighbor would be reluctant to put up a fuss. Her smoldering anger was doused, however, by the farmer's explanation as he returned with the basket full of beautiful, perfectly ripened grapes. He said, "I know I kept you waiting. But I needed the time to get you the very best."
Jesus gave us a promise, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7: 8-11)
John Newton the author of Amazing Grace, wrote; Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring. For His grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much!
But make sure that you ask for what is MOST important.
Last week I was asked to pray for someone with a persistence illness. Hey I am asked to pray for a lot of people each week. I explained to this person that in praying for the sick there is a biblical order.. its in James 5
13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
What is the most important thing that I can pray for for a person? Their physical health, or their spiritual health?
Clearly it is their spiritual health. He who brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
The first thing to do is get right with God. Once you are right with God, then physical healing might not be such an important thing for you. You have had the greatest thing, salvation, and the secondary thing healing.. well.. its not so important any more.
This woman’s great faith is contrasted to the no or little faith of the Jews.
Jesus is again on the shores of the lake, after a tour through the Tyrian and Sidonian territory, and then eastwards and southwards, to its eastern bank. There He, as on several former occasions, seeks seclusion and repose in the hills, which is broken in upon by the crowds. The old excitement and rush of people begin again. And large numbers of sick, ‘lame, blind, dumb, maimed and many others,’ are brought. They are cast ‘down at His feet’ in hot haste, with small ceremony, and, as would appear, with little petitioning for His healing power. But the same grace, for which the Canaanitish woman had needed to plead so hard, now seems to flow almost unasked. She had, as it were, wrung a drop out; now it gushes abundantly. She had not got her ‘crumb’ without much pleading; these get the bread almost without asking. It is this contrast Matthew points: ‘they glorified the God of Israel,’
Sure they glorified the God of Israel. But did they know that the Son of David, the Messiah was there in their midst? Did they trust Him for whatever He would give from His hand for their salvation? Later we will find out that they didn’t. They may have had a lot of bread on the table for them, but the lady who took the crumbs got the better deal. She had the Saviour. Do you have the Saviour? You may have had many, many special blessings in your life, health, prosperity, comfort. Even a form of religion. But do you have the Saviour? That is the real question.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Jesus Draw Me
Sunday, October 18, 2009
THE MIRACLE OF GOD’S GRACE Titus 3: 1 -8
Every true conversion is a miracle of God's saving grace, and in this study we shall consider several aspects of the salvation which has been made available to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. There are three key words in Titus 3:5 – 'he saved us'. This is the testimony of a great company of people to whom Paul is referring. Do you belong to that company? This key verse gives us a word-picture of the content of the Christian gospel, and at the very heart of the verse is the great Bible word 'saved', which occurs very frequently throughout scripture –Isaiah 45:22Turn to Me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth.
For I am God,
and there is no other.
Matthew 1:21She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins."
Luke 19:10For the • Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost." John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.
Acts 16:30-31Then he escorted them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."
Romans 10:13For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotchman rose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and gave the following testimony:
I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar on that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper, of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me.
"Man," he said, "are you saved?" "No," I said," I am not." He replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The waves bore him away; but, strange to say, they brought him back a little nearer, and he said, "Are you saved now?" "No," I said, "I cannot honestly say that I am." He said again, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
Shortly afterwards, he went down, and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper's last convert.
This is what the Bible is all about; it is about being saved. Jesus came in order that we might be saved. But:-
1. WHY DO WE NEED TO BE SAVED?
We need to be saved from sin (Matthew 1:21); from wrath (John 3:36); from self (Romans 6:12); and from Hell (Luke 16:23). But Titus 3:3 answers the question very graphically giving us God's description of the natural, unregenerate man. Notice that the apostle uses the pronoun 'we', not 'you', when he is describing unregenerate human nature.
"Speechless," Steven Curtis Chapman writes: "In the gospel we discover that we are far worse off than we ever thought, and far more loved that we ever dreamed."
Notice also the words 'at one time'. Paul is really saying, 'This is the kind of people we were before we became Christians; here is a group photograph, a family picture of the human race.' Look at this picture of every one of us in our natural state:-
FOOLISH – or, as we should say, ignorant – compare 1 Corinthians 2:14. But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God's Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually.
DISOBEDIENT – or, refusing the Lord's authority in our lives.
DECEIVED – by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), Regarding them: the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
ENSLAVED – 'by all kinds of passions and pleasures.'
MALICE AND ENVY – 'We lived in malice and envy' (or jealousy).
BEING HATED – detestable, odious, repulsive.
ANOTHER – look up Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick—who can understand it?[
Whether we admit it or not, this is God's description of the natural man.
There is a persistent myth that Count Leo Tolstoy was a great Christian, and even a saint.
He may have been a great novelist, but he was not a good Christian. In fact, he was a self-righteous egoist who felt himself to be "God's older brother." Tolstoy once arrogantly penned these words in his diary: "I have not yet met a single man who was morally as good as I. ... I do not remember an instance in my life when I was not attracted to what is good and was not ready to sacrifice anything to it." This statement was repeatedly proved to be a lie by his habitual adultery and neglect of his family. Tolstoy's diary goes on to say that he was baffled by the failure of other men to recognize his qualities: "Why does nobody love me? I am not a fool, not deformed, not a bad man, not an ignoramus. It is incomprehensible."
A drowning boy was struggling in the water. Again and again the drowning boy appealed to his teacher but he made no move. By and by the desperate struggles began to abate. He was losing strength. Presently he arose to the surface, weak and helpless. safety to the shore. "Why did you not save me sooner?"
"I could not save you as long as you struggled. You would have dragged us both to certain death. But when you
ceased to struggle, then it was easy to save you." To struggle to save ourselves, is simply to hinder Christ from saving us. To come to the place of faith, we must pass from the place of effort to the place of accepted helplessness. Our very efforts to save ourselves turn us aside from that attitude of helpless dependence upon Christ which is the one attitude we must take in order that He may save us. It is only when we "cease from our own works" and depend helplessly upon Him that we realize how perfectly able He is to save without any aid from us.
2. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?
We are told here that it means at least three things that God does for those whom He saves by His grace:-
It means to be Born Again. See the end of verse 5. To be born again or regenerated by the Holy Spirit means to receive a new life – compare 2 Corinthians 5:17. When God saves us He does not patch up the old life; He imparts a new nature – look up 2 Peter 1:4By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. A Christian and a Communist were standing on a street corner...a beggar walked by, unclean, unshaven, and unkempt. "There is capitalism," said the Communist. "If we were in power, we'd put a new suit of clothes on that man." The Christian said, "If Christ were in him, he would put a new man in that suit of clothes." John 3:3,5,7,8. When we are born again we receive 'the hope of eternal life' (verse 7).
It means to be Justified. Verse 7 tells us this. When we are saved we not only receive a new life, but God does something about the old life. He forgives and forgets our sins, and He also justifies us – which means He treats me 'just-as-if-I'd' never sinned at all. He completely removes our sins from us, and then declares us righteous in His sight. Look up Psalm 103:12As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed
our transgressions from us.
Romans 5:17Since by the one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ
It means to be made a Child of God. Verse 7 tells us that when God saves us we 'become heirs…' We are made 'God's children, and if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ' Rom 8:16-17.
Notice the wonderful change that has taken place between verse 3 and verses 5 and 7; the man of verse 3 is transformed into the man of verses 5 and 7. How this magnifies the wondrous grace of God! But:-
3. HOW ARE WE SAVED?
How is the man of verse 3 made the man of verses 5 and 7 – a man who now possesses a new life (born again), a new standing before God (justified), a new relationship with God (a child and an heir)? What an important 'How' this is! In verse 5 it is answered both negatively and positively:-
Negatively. 'Not because of righteous things we had done…' Man's philosophy is to leave out the word 'not'. Ask the average man how to be saved, and he will answer, 'By my good works!' But God's way of salvation is 'not because of righteous things which we had done', for we are not saved by any effort, by trying or by works of our own – look up and compare Ephesians 2:8-10. We are not saved 'because of righteous things which we had done.' How are we saved? Verse 5 (and verse 4) goes on to tell us:-
Positively. 'But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared…because of His mercy He saved us…' The word 'appeared' takes us back to Bethlehem, and the word 'saved' takes us back to Calvary, where the Lord Jesus Christ completed the work of our salvation 2000 years ago.
WE ARE SAVED BY HIS KINDNESS. To be kind means to have "goodness of heart." The King of Heaven is kind toward unholy people. In one Dennis the Menace cartoon, Dennis is shown walking away from the Wilson's house with his friend Joey. Both boys have their hands full of cookies. Joey turns to Dennis and says, "I wonder what we did to deserve this?" Dennis answers with profound insight: "Look Joey, Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we're nice, but because she's nice." The kindness that comes our way from God is not because we're good but because He is.
WE ARE SAVED BY HIS LOVE. This word for love is not agape, but rather the word from which we get philanthropy. MacArthur defines it this way: "pity, compassion, and eagerness to deliver from pain or distress because of strong affection."
WE ARE SAVED BY HIS MERCY. Verse 5 is an excellent verse to remember when someone says that they are trying to get to heaven by their own efforts: "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."
WE ARE SAVED BY HIS GRACE. Grace is God's unmerited favour that pardons us from our guilt. You and I don't deserve to be forgiven but grace grants forgiveness to us freely. In verse 5, therefore, we have man's way, which is 'do'; and God's way, which is 'done'. Our part in salvation is simply to believe the testimony that God sent His Son to be our Saviour, and to put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the end grace means that no one is too bad to be saved. God specializes in saving really bad people. Do you have some things in your background that you would be ashamed to talk about in public? Fear not. God knows all about it, and His grace is greater than your sin. Grace also means that some people may be too good to be saved. That is, they may have such a high opinion of themselves that they think they don't need God's grace. God's grace cannot help you until you are desperate enough to receive it. Romans 11:6: "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." All this leads us to ask one more question:-
4. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF BEING SAVED?
What is the evidence that we are saved? Verse 8 tells us – 'doing what is good'. There is no contradiction here. We are not saved by working for our salvation, but when we have been saved by God's grace, the evidence of that salvation is seen in our works. It is vain to say we are saved if there are no 'good works' evidenced in our daily living James 2:20Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?
In concluding this study will you answer these two questions?
Have I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 8), and am I therefore saved (verse 5)?
If so, is my life different? Is it the opposite of verse 3?
In 1967 while taking a class in photography at the University of Cincinnati, I became acquainted with a young man named Charles Murray who also was a student at the school and training for the summer Olympics of 1968 as a high diver. Charles was very patient with me as I would speak to him for hours about Jesus Christ and how He had saved me. Charles was not raised in a home that attended any kind of church, so all that I had to tell him was a fascination to him. He even began to ask questions about forgiveness of sin. Finally the day came that I put a question to him. I asked if he realized his own need of a Redeemer and if he was ready to trust Christ as his own Savior. I saw his countenance fall and the guilt in his face. But his reply was a strong "no." In the days that followed he was quiet and often I felt that he was avoiding me, until I got a phone call and it was Charles. He wanted to know where to look in the New Testament for some verses that I had given him about salvation. I gave him the reference to several passages and asked if I could meet with him. He declined my offer and thanked me for the scripture. I could tell that he was greatly troubled, but I did not know where he was or how to help him. Because he was training for the Olympic games, Charles had special privileges at the University pool facilities. Sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 that evening he decided to go swim and practice a few dives.
It was a clear night in October and the moon was big and bright. The University pool was housed under a ceiling of glass panes so the moon shone bright across the top of the wall in the pool area.
Charles climbed to the highest platform to take his first dive. At that moment the Spirit of God began to convict him of his sins. All the scripture he had read, all the occasions of witnessing to him about Christ flooded his mind. He stood on the platform backwards to make his dive, spread his arms to gather his balance, looked up to the wall and saw his own shadow caused by the light of the moon. It was the shape of a cross. He could bear the burden of his sin no longer. His heart broke and he sat down on the platform and asked God to forgive him and save him. He trusted Jesus Christ twenty some feet in the air.
Suddenly, the lights in the pool area came on. The attendant had come in to check the pool. As Charles looked down from his platform he saw an empty pool which had been drained for repairs. He had almost plummeted to his death, but the cross had stopped him from disaster. (In The Shadow of the Cross by Mark Renicker)
`For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.' (1 Cor. 1:18)
In Warren Wierbe's "Meet Yourself in the Psalms," he tells about a frontier town where a horse bolted and ran away with a wagon carrying a little boy. Seeing the child in danger, a young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon.
The child who was saved grew up to become a lawless man, and one day he stood before a judge to be sentenced for a serious crime. The prisoner recognized the judge as the man who, years before, had saved his life; so he pled for mercy on the basis of that experience. But the words from the bench silenced his plea:
"Young man, then I was your savior; today I am your judge, and I must sentence you to be hanged."
One day Jesus Christ will say to rebellious sinners, "During that long day of grace, I was your savior, and I would have forgiven you. But today I am your judge. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!"
Matthew 14 What To Do When you Are Overwhelmed
Max Lucado writes: There are snowstorms. There are hailstorms. There are rainstorms. And there are doubtstorms. Every so often a doubtstorm rolls into my life, bringing with it a flurry of questions and gale-force winds of fear. (In the Eye of the Storm, p.125).
In this great passage of Scripture, we find the disciples at the mercy of a storm of the sea and a storm of doubt. However, amidst their fears and doubts, Jesus proves to them, once and for all His divine identity. V. 33 is the pinnacle of the story. After a stormy night, they gain newfound faith and proclaim, "Truly You are the Son of God." That may not seem so unusual to us, but remember, this is the first time the twelve unequivocally declared Jesus to be the Son of God. If you are in the midst of a doubtstorm, if you are at a crisis of faith, I pray that the Spirit of God will teach you from the Word of God to trust in the Son of God.
There are three storms in this passage, 3 pericopes with the same message. The Lord was overwhelmed at the death of John the Baptist. 12 His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus. 13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
Jesus was completely exhausted from His ministry. There is no doubt that He was physically drained from His hectic schedule of preaching and working miracles. He also faced the stress of the growing opposition among His enemies. He was dealing with the personal grief of losing John. On top of all that, He struggled with the continual immaturity among the disciples. He needed a break!
The Lord was overwhelmed with compassion and desired to feed the multitude
14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves." 16 But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!"
The disciples were overwhelmed with a situation beyond their ability. John's gospel tells us the Lord used this as a teaching opportunity. The disciples were about to learn what to do when they are overwhelmed.
"Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" (John 6:5-9).
Think about the ways the disciples "despaired" over the seeming impossibility of what faced them. First, they despaired over what they didn't have. Philip quickly sized up the crowd and said that it couldn't be done financially. It would take more than "two hundred denarii" -- the rough equivalent of eight to nine months wages -- to feed such a crowd. They just didn't have the money to do what Jesus was suggesting. And even if they did; Bethsaida was a tiny little town. There weren't enough stores and markets to buy the goods. They'd have to travel out of town to get the supplies.
Second, in terms of what they did have, they despaired over the humble source. All they had was the lunch that a little boy had brought. The text doesn't say this explicitly, but my suspicion is that this little boy heard what was going on and volunteered to give up his lunch for the cause (and if that's true, then -- like Dr. John Mitchell from Multnomah Bible College once pointed out -- one of the greatest miracles in this story is that a little boy was willing to give up his lunch!). But that's all they had: one little boy's lunch -- enough perhaps to satisfy the hunger of a little boy; but certainly not a multitude of several thousands of people.
Third, they even despaired over the nature of what little they had. It wasn't just five loaves and two fish but, as John tells us, five "barley" loaves and two "small" fish.
Barley loaves was a pretty humble thing to offer to people. Barley was cheap, and was usually reserved only as animal feed. One of the rabbinical laws even suggested that offerings for certain, particularly heinous sins should be made of barley instead of wheat or meat, because if the sinner was going to act like animals, then they should offer the food of animals for their sins (cited in Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. 1, pp. 681-2). That tells you something of what people thought of barley loaves!
And what's more, the word used to describe the fishes is one that refers to a tiny sort of fish that you eat whole -- bones and all; much like our modern idea of sardines. And all they had were two of such fish! That would have hardly been enough to dress-up one barley loaf -- let alone five!
It might have made things easier for the disciples if they simply didn't have enough of some good quality food. But the food that they didn't have enough of wasn't even that good to begin with!
Finally, they despaired over the enormity of the task of buying food for that many people. All the gospel writers except John has the disciples saying basically the same thing, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food" (Matt. 14:15).
Frankly, the disciples didn't want anything to do with this problem. The events of the day had pushed them to their limit. Have you ever felt like you were pushed to your limit? Jesus now commanded the disciples to get into the ship and go over to the other side. He remained back and dismissed the multitudes, He then spent time alone with the Father. In the meantime the disciples had encountered a storm, and a strong wind was blowing against them, so that though they had been rowing hard all night they were only to the middle of the sea. Sometime after 3:00 in the morning Jesus came walking to them on the water. Initially they were frightened thinking that He was a ghost. He assured them that it was only Him, and Peter said, "Lord, if it is You bid me come to You." Jesus said, "Come"
Again the Lord was teaching them something about the crises and storms of life. You may be going through some deep waters. The storms may seem overwhelming. It may be that the resources seem to be entirely exhausted. This is the time to learn the lesson the Lord teaches.
1. Give The Lord What You've Got
John the Baptist gave the Lord his life
John the Baptist gave the Lord what he had. There wasn't much that he had, all he ahd was his life, but he gave it for whatever purposes the Lord should choose.
The disciples gave what food they had
It was compassion that moved the Lord to seek to feed them, the Lord taught them His compassion for the multitude.
16 But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!" 17 They *said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish." 18 And He said, "Bring them here to Me."
The disciples gave their obedience
22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.
One of the great disasters of history took place in 1271. In 1271 Niccolo and Matteo Polo (the father and uncle of Marco) were visiting the Kubla Khan. Kubla Khan at that time was a world ruler, for he ruled all China, all India, and all of the East. He was attracted to the story of Christianity as Niccolo and Matteo told it to him. And he said to them: "You shall go to your high priest and tell him on my behalf to send me a hundred men skilled in your religion and I shall be baptized, and when I am baptized all my barons and great men will be baptized and their subjects will receive baptism, too, and so there will be more Christians here than there are in your parts." Nothing was done. Nothing was done for about thirty years, and then two or three missionaries were sent. Too few and too late. It baffles the imagination to think what a difference to the world it would have made if in the thirteenth century China had become fully Christian, if in the thirteenth century India had become fully Christian, if in the thirteenth century the East had been given to Christ. In that, we have seen man frustrating God's purpose in history. William Barclay -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 390
The very scope of Jesus' request was overwhelming ... but not impossible! They were looking only at the task ... and as long as we do this we will never succeed for God To see merely the task is to fail, these same disciples had watched Jesus all day heal the sick and yet they could not see Him in such a way as to accomplish the task He asks of them! How many times have we missed God's best because we simply saw the overwhelming task and so did nothing!?
25% of South Korea's 40 million people are Christians. The city of Seoul has over 6,000 churches. 100 years ago it had none. Costa Rica has seen a 100 percent increase in Evangelical churches in the past four years. An estimated six million people in Africa are turning to the Lord each year. Continent wide, 5,000 new churches are started annually. More Iranians were saved in seven years under Khomeini than during the previous 70. One out of every three in the Soviet Union now professes to be born again. -- From Servant Magazine, May/June, 1989
In each of these places people gave what they had. Sometimes all they had, their lives!
2. Trust What The Lord Says
Fear defeats Fear brings illness, both mental and physical illness, hospitals are crowded with the fearful Doctors say that a high percentage of those patients hospitalized are there because of fear.
Fear Destroys your testimony No man can speak winsomely of Christ when he is fearful When he does not have faith in God, then his testimony is weak and meaningless and a lie. No man is at his best when fearful Fear destroys happiness shatters the nerves, weakens the mind Fear defeats'
Fear Dishonours God. Our God has promised to be with us always, every step we take every breath we breathe Listen to this wonderful promise given to Moses "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor hi. afraid of them for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (Deut 31 6)
Actually, fear is calling God a liar Why? Because God promises to give us all things to provide for our needs this is written down in Philippians 4 19 'But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus " He has promised to protect us 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb 13) We have the promise of His power "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me
Keep in mind that God cannot lie therefore, when we fail to believe Him, we are dishonouring His name Titus 1 2 says, "In hope of eternal life which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began."
The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. -- Oswald Chambers in The Highest Good.
In hot tropical rain forests, huge plants and trees grow quickly, sometimes almost overnight. But these trees have soft wood, and they fall prey to insects and diseases and live only a short time. In the rugged mountains of the north, growth is slow. Plants and trees must endure high winds, ice storms, and intense cold, but they grow strong and tough with knotty, hard wood. Hardships have values we don't usually appreciate at the time, but they have a tendency to strengthen us. --
A man confined to bed because of a lingering illness had on his sunlit windowsill a cocoon of a beautiful species of butterfly. As nature took its course, the butterfly began its struggle to emerge from the cocoon. But it was a long, hard battle. As the hours went by, the struggling insect seemed to make almost no progress. Finally, the human observer, thinking that "the powers that be" had erred, took a pair of scissors and snipped the opening larger. The butterfly crawled out, but that's all it ever did--crawl. The pressure of the struggle was intended to push colourful, life-giving juices back into the wings, but the man in his supposed mercy prevented this. The insect never was anything but a stunted abortion, and instead of flying on rainbow wings above the beautiful gardens, it was condemned to spend its brief life crawling in the dust. That gives me the idea that God knows what He is doing. It's a fact that you can depend on Him--even when it seems the struggle is hard and meaningless.
Oh, for a Faith That will Not Shrink
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink,
Though pressed by ev'ry foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe!
That will not murmur or complain
Beneath the chastening rod,
But, in the hour of grief or pain,
Will lean upon its God;
A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage the while;
That seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan's arts beguile;
Lord, give us such a faith as this,
And then, whate'er may come,
We'll taste, e'en here, the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal Home.
—William H. Bathurst
3. See What the Lord Does
9 Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
A.T. Robertson said of John, "It cost him his head; but it is better to have a head like John the Baptist and lose it than to have an ordinary head and keep it."
Are we willing to stand for truth and fulfill God's will no matter the cost? It is better to die for Jesus than to live for self. Mk. 8:36 says, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" Though some may be called to die for Jesus, most are called to live for Him.
Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." 28 Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!"
As the sounds of battle drew closer to Saigon on April 29, 1975, biology teacher Thoa Nguyen gathered his family. South Vietnam would soon fall to the Communists. "We will never surrender our beliefs," said Thoa, a devout Christian. "We must leave our country." But at the airport Thoa, his school-principal wife, Son, and their seven children were turned back. The following morning a band of Communist youths seized Thoa and pushed hm into the street to be executed. "Please, dear God, help!" Son screamed as a pistol touched Thoa's head. Suddenly a woman ran forward. The Nguyens, she said, were popular for their good deeds as teachers. An execution without trial would harm the revolution. God answered Son's prayer as Thoa and his family were released. -- Today In The Word, Moody Bible Institute, August 6, 1991.
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
~~ By Annie J. Flint (1866-1932) ~~
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
To You Who Believe He is Precious The parables of the treasure and the pearl
Matthew 13: 44 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
This parable has sometimes been interpreted as reflecting the Lord's attitude to Israel and the Lord's attitude to the church, rather than the believer's conversion or the believer's attitude to Christ. These interpreters, such as Griffith Thomas, try to maintain the symbolism of the previous parables. "Maintaining harmony with foregoing parables, we may interpret the metaphor of the Field and the Man (1) Field clearly symbolizes world, as in first three parables.
(2) There seems little doubt that, as before, man typifies our Lord engaged this time in seeking instead of sowing.
b. The Treasure This, of course, may be thought of as humanity in general but, since word "treasure" is often used of Israel, we may distinguish between this parable and next hy suggesting that here specifically Jewish Church, or Hebrew Christian group, is primarily in mind (cf. Exod. 19:5, Ps. 135:4, Mal. 3:17); this, indeed, is not usual interpretation, but is here submitted because it seems more natural and consistent than one generally adopted.
(2) Treasure was "hid" — and only Christ knew it was there to be "found"; and His estimate of it is seen throughout Gospels (cf. Luke 15, 19:1-10; John 17:6).
(3) Treasure was hidden again; and, Kingdom having rejected and therefore postponed, we may interpret this as indicating that those in Israel believing on Him at that time, though true members of His Church, would not be revealed until later, perhaps after Pentecost, for they may well be included in three thousand forming first local church (cf Acts 2:41-47, 4:32).
c. The Purchase Meanwhile, man in parable "for joy thereof, goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field"; and surely this joyful sacrifice and purchase form beautiful picture of our Lord's redemptive death (cf. Luke 15:6,9, 23; Acts 20:28; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Heb. 12:2; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19). Therefore, Jesus Christ our Lord "sold" all He had, His very life, for man's redemption, so that we are "bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20); and "mystery" in this case may well include His surprising estimate of value and hidden potentialities of lives "he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
However the Lord did say, Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,
26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish'? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
I think it is always wise to take a parable at its simplest and most obvious meaning. And in this case, the preciousness of the Kingdom of God is the thing that is missed by the multitude. This is why the Lord was telling these parables. Consistency is actually about the point of the parables. The three poor soils were poor because they did not receive the message of the kingdom is a good heart. 1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:
'In Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' —1 Peter 1:8.
I don't know what thoughts of treasure and pearls may evoke in your minds. It always reminds me immediately of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, of Long John Silver, and doubloons and pieces-of-eight, pegleg pirates, and all the exciting things usually associated with the idea of buried treasure. It is intriguing to realize that Scripture deals with this subject as well. It recognizes the allure and the mystery which always gathers around the notion of hidden treasure.
A friend told me how a long lost uncle had not believed in banks for 60 years, and kept all his money at home. When he died, the family searched everywhere but couldn't find his treasure trove. Finally reg noticed a jar sitting out in the middle of a field. He walked over and tried to kick it, but found it was glued to something much bigger - a 44 gallon drum. When they dug up the drum they found it filled with money, right back to the old pounds shillings and pence days.
People in trouble sometimes bury their valuables as disaster approaches. The land of Israel had been fought over by many armies for many years. When armies approached, the people would take their valuables and hide them where they could be reclaimed when the turmoil had passed. Of course, sometimes they were unable to return.
In England they found a treasure that goes back earlier than 11th century. Wow what a find.
A few years ago, eight Dutch children aged 9 to 11 were digging beneath their club house. A foot and a half down they came across two glass jars. The jars were filled with coins - Maple Leafs, Kugerrands the gold kind. The coins and jewelry were worth more than $215,000. It's all theirs - if not claimed in 30 years.
In Jesus' parable, a man finds a forgotten treasure. It is great enough for the man who finds it to sell all he has to possess it. The man who finds the gold is not the owner of the field. He might have been gleaning in the field or picking grain. But the fact that he dug deeply enough to find a hidden treasure suggests that he was a workman who was employed by the owner, and that he discovers the treasure in the course of his daily labour. Jesus says that this discoverer of the treasure reburies it. The implication was , that if a person discovers a treasure and lifts it out of it's hiding place, it belongs to the owner of the field. So he is careful not to move the treasure until he has bought the field. He goes and sells all he has to buy the field. He gives up something in order to have something greater because he is sure of a great reward.
The Kingdom is Priceless
CH Spurgeon commenced his ministry as a lad of sixteen, "I stood up for the first time in my life to preach the gospel in a cottage to a handful of poor people, who had come together for worship. I felt my own inability to preach, but I ventured to take this text, "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious." I do not think I could have said anything upon any other text, but Christ was precious to my soul and I was in the flush of my youthful love, and I could not be silent when a precious Jesus was the subject. "He is precious." For a thing to be rightly called precious, it should have three qualities: it should be rare, it should have an intrinsic value of its own, and it should possess useful and important properties.
He is absolutely unique. Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid. He is the one sacrifice for sin. Not the infinite God, nor all the wealth of heaven, could supply another like him. As God and man, he alone combines the two natures in one person. "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." If we can never find another like him, after searching all the ages through, we may well call him precious. It is also most clear that he is intrinsically valuable — who shall estimate his worth? I should darken counsel by words without knowledge if I were to attempt in detail to tell you what he is. Only dwell on the simple fact, that while he is God over all, and has thus the fullness of the Godhead, he is also man, true man of the substance of his mother, and so has all the adaptation of perfect manhood. "Consider how great this man was." Not even heaven itself can be compared with Christ Jesus. He is incomparably, immeasurably, inconceivably precious. As for useful qualities, where else shall we find such a variety of uses in one place? He is eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, feet to the lame, healing to the sick, freedom to the slave, joy to the mourner, and life to the dead. Think of his life, and how it gives life to the believer! Think of his death, and how it redeems from hell all those who trust in him! Think of his resurrection, and how it justifies believers; and of his second coming, and how it delights our hearts! Think of our Lord in all his offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King! Think of him in all his relationships, as husband, brother, friend! Think of him under all the types and figures with which Scripture delights to sot him forth!
Thomas Guthrie's description: "In the blood of Christ to wash out sin's darkest stains, in the grace of God to purify the foulest heart, in peace to calm life's roughest storms, in hopes to cheer guilt's darkest hour, in courage that defies death and descends calmly into the tomb, in that which makes the poorest rich and with which the richest are poor indeed, the gospel 'has treasures greater far than east or west unfold, and its rewards are more precious than all the stores of gold."
The Kingdom is Present but obscured
Note that this man isn't in the field because he is looking for something. But he finds it anyway and he recognizes the value of what he has found.
To one, He didn't know it was there in the field until he accidently stumbled across it. Perhaps he was tilling the soil, and there he found it. It was unexpected. Not what he thought. Perhaps that is your experience. You never knew about the Saviour until you heard about Him recently, and now the decision is yours. What will you do about it?
To another the Saviour was known. Jesus then tells a second parable as a companion to the first. He speaks of a merchant who is seeking fine pearls. He finds one pearl of such great value that he sells all his other pearls in order to have the one.
This parable suggests that there are other pearls -- but only one pearl of great price. That is to say, there are many fine things in this world in which we may find loveliness. We may find it in knowledge, in the wonder of the human mind, in music, in art, in literature. We can find loveliness in human relationships. Each of these are lovely -- but compared to knowing God, they are each of lesser loveliness. This is not to insult these fine things. They are genuine pearls and valuable. But there is only one pearl of great price, which is the acceptance of the reign of God in our lives. This does not mean that we must forego art and literature and human relationships and knowledge. It's just that the one unique pearl of great price must come first. Jesus said. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and then these other 'pearls' will be added unto you."
Oh Christ was known to be precious, but now He is the more precious, and something must be done. But there had been other precious things, and those other precious things had at one time or another seemed more precious than Christ Himself. And then he hets a better look and he realises that there is nothing more precious than Christ, and He must have Him.
Either way, you must have Him now.
The Kingdom is Pleasant
IT'S WORTH THE QUEST
Note well, that to faith the promises concerning Christ are made By faith, again, the Lord Jesus is appropriated. In possession lies much of preciousness. Is the Koh-i-Noor diamond a precious thing to me? Well, it is precious in itself; but I cannot say that it is precious to me; for I do not even know where it is, nor do I give it more thought than if it were a bit of glass.
When a thing belongs to you, it has a value to you, and you make a full estimate of it. Now, no man possesses Christ except he believes in him.
By faith the Lord Jesus is more and more tasted and proved, and become
more and more precious. In proportion as we test our Lord, he will rise in our esteem. If it so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, he is precious to you; The more afflictions a believer endures, the more does he discover of the sustaining power of Christ, and therefore the more precious Christ becomes to him.
These parables tell us that you have to have something in order to get something. Now you can't buy salvation. But you do need the eyes to see what God is doing and the ears to hear what God is saying to you.
The man who discovers the hidden treasure is apparently not looking for it. His discovery is accidental. But in the case of the merchant, the finding of the pearl is the result of a long and faithful quest. To those outside the field, a cultured pearl is scarcely distinguishable from one created by an oyster in the wild state. And to my untutored eye, a necklace of pearls of the KMart bargain table may be as attractive as the real thing. But the merchant of pearls knows the difference at a glance. Anyone can recognize a pot of gold but only the merchant of pearls knows the pearl of supreme value when he sees it.
Some are not particularly anxious to find Jesus. They aren't very interested in religion. They are going on their way when suddenly an unexpected thing confronted them -- the Gospel. They have not really seen it before. They have not known they were seeking it. But there it is and with the insight granted them by the Holy Spirit, they recognize it as something of far greater value than anything that has come into their lives before. They see themselves in need of a Savior. They recognize that if they have Jesus, they have everything else as well. So they turn to Him and believe. They are an illustration of God's words in Isaiah: "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me." (Isa. 65:1)
Others like the seeker of the pearl are truly fascinated by spiritual things. They seek, they look, and they feel their need. They move up one blind alley after another. Finally they come to Jesus and they see the truth of his words: "I am the gate; whoever enters by me will be saved." (John 10:9). Their seeking is initiated by God. They move because of the calling of His Holy Spirit. When they finally stand face-to-face with Jesus they recognize him as the answer to their long-felt longing and the purpose of their long-experienced lack of ease in spiritual things.
There has always been an attractiveness about pearls.
1) Tiffany's in New York - pearl necklace worth $33,000.
2) Julius Caesar gave a pearl to Brutus' mother worth $45 million.
3) Cleopatra is said to have owned one worth $750 million.
I was conducting an RSL Anzac Day service many years ago. I had arrived early at the place for the service, and awaited those marching there. An elderly gentleman was seated next to me. We got talking. The fellow says: "I am involved with the… Baptist Church that's the church I go to myself." I laughed: "That's strange. I've been preaching there for five years and I don't believe I've ever seen you." The man responds: "Come on now! I didn't say I was a fanatic!"
Well yes, the Lord does want us to be wholeheartedly on board with the gospel of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom Is Precious.
What is it worth? Well you can tell how much it is worth by how much a person values it. How much are they willing to give up to have it?
"What, then," says one, "what am I to give up?"
You must sell off your righteousness. It will not fetch much, but I daresay you think it is a fine thing.
And everything else that you have heretofore thought fit to boast of-come, you must get rid of it. some men that will have to give up a good deal of what
they call pleasure, sinful pleasure. No pleasure which is honest, which is
really beneficial to us, need ever be denied to us.
"Religion never was designed To make our pleasures less."
It makes them vastly more. But any pleasure that savours of sin is to be done away with. Come, can you sell all that off? That mixing in loose company, anything approaching to lewdness, anything that has to do with the gratification of the vile passions of the flesh-come, for Christ's sake, can you give it up? Well, if you cannot, of course you cannot have the pearl. If you must have the world you cannot have Christ;
The give up sin
They give up the pride of life
And, then, sometimes, in some cases, men have to give up a good deal of the honors and the satisfaction of life that arise from the esteem of their fellow-creatures. Has it come to this, "If I become a Christian they will ridicule me."
Christ is precious — they are proving it every day by their patient sufferings, by their laborious efforts, by their constant offerings to the church of Christ. "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious."
We talk lightly of these things, but these were no mean sacrifices. For a man to leave the partner of his bosom, to be despised by her who ought to honor him, to be spit upon by his own children, to be driven out by his countrymen, and have his name mentioned as a hissing, and a reproach, and a byeword; this is no easy matter to bear; and yet the Christians in the first ages took up this cross, and not only carried-it patiently, but carried it joyfully; rejoicing in tribulations, if those tribulations fell upon them for Christ's sake and the gospel.
Look at Polycarp before the lions, when he is brought into the midst of the assembly and it is demanded of him that he will deny his God. Thousands of savage eyes look down upon him, and there he stands, a feeble man, alone in the arena, but he tells them that "he has known his Lord these many years and he never did him a displeasure and he will not deny him at the last." "To the lions!" they cry, "To the lions!" and the lions rush upon him, and he is speedily devoured; but all this he would have borne at the mouths of a thousand lions, if he had a thousand lives, rather than he would have thought anything amiss against the Majesty of Jesus of Nazareth. The whole history of the ancient church of Christ, proves that Jesus has been an object of his peoples' highest veneration; that they set nothing in rivalry with him, but cheerfully and readily, without a murmur, or a thought, gave up all for Jesus Christ, and rejoiced to do so.
The church that is not prepared to suffer, and bleed and die for Christ, is not Christ's church. For what does he say? "He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." — St. Matthew c. x., 5:37 and 38.
Many are the poor people I have discovered, who have denied themselves of this and that, because they would serve Christ's cause. And many there are, too — every now and then we find them out — in the middle ranks of society, who give a hundred times as much to the cause of Christ as many of the rich and wealthy; and if you knew to what little trials they are put, to what shifts they are driven in order to serve Christ, you would say, "The man that can proves clearly that Christ is precious to him."
Is Christ precious to you? My young brother, is Jesus precious to you in your youth? Men and women of middle age is Christ precious to you? Remember that this world is but a dream, and if you have not something more satisfactory than that, you will die dissappointed, even though you succeed beyond your highest wishes.
But if he is not precious, then you are not believers, and you are condemned already because you believe not on the Son of God.
The Kingdom is Personal.
The central truth to both these parables is that the Kingdom of heaven must be personally appropriated. We do not become citizens of the kingdom by virtue of physical birth but by choice.
2. Both men in both parables found something that was more valuable that all that they owned combined. Both men were willing to give up all their possessions in order to own their newfound treasures.
THE BUYING. He had sold all that he had, and then he pays the shekels over-pays them over that he may have the pearl,
and he gets the pearl
You must personally consider the purchase.
You can immediately make the purchase.
You make the purchase by Faith.
Throughout the scriptures the salvation that has been earned for you by the Saviour is given to you for free.
But you must make that purchase. The opportunity to purchase will not always be there.
2 Corinthians 6: For He says: In an acceptable time, I heard you, and in the day of salvation, I helped you. Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation.
"If he is to be had, let me have him. Oh, if I can know my sins forgiven, let me know it. Oh, if by any means I can have peace with God-if I can become a child of God and an heir of heaven-if my eternal happiness can be secured, oh, let it be secured! "Happy day, happy day, For he has washed my sins away."
It is the beginning of delight to a soul when he can say, "Jesus is mine; I know he is. Grace has enabled me to lay hold upon him." what an enriching purchase it was which the man had made.
When he had once got the pearl instead of his property he thought to himself, "Why, I have got a hundred times more property now than I had.
This was a final purchase. The merchantman, according to the parable, never went buying pearls anymore. "No," said he, "no: I have bought a pearl of great price, and now I will go out of the business." And when a man once finds Christ-ah, then he seeks nothing more. If Jesus Christ be mine, more than all in him I find. "Now rest, my long-divided heart; Fix'd on this blissful center, rest:
Ready For Every Good Work
Titus 2: 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,
2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
Recently, I came across an article which revealed the ultimate tool for persuading somebody to your point of view. Do you know what it is? If you want to bring someone around to your way of thinking, make sure they have a cup of coffee in their hand. Researchers in Australia tell us that caffeine improves our ability to process information and agree with a persuasive message. In other words, if you want somebody to say "yes" to your request, make sure they have a cup of coffee.
The truth is... you and I are asked to say "yes" to all kinds of things... some of them good... and some not so good. We're invited to say "yes" to wind power... as the answer for global warming. We're invited to say "yes" to fruits and vegetables... to provide the ingredients of a healthy diet. We're invited to say "yes" to education.
Parents......can't always say "yes" to kids, but they should do it whenever possible. In fact, one study revealed that the more first grade teachers said the words "stop", "no", and "don't," the more frequently students misbehaved.
This study suggests that parents should do everything possible to practice positive language and say "yes" whenever we can.
Of course, I was most impressed with this advertisement to say "yes" to chocolate.
Some of you are saying, "Well, chocolate is not exactly low fat." But wait a minute. What if somebody told you that
chocolate can be good for you?
That's a study I like to hear about. Recent studies have
actually linked the consumption of small amounts of dark
chocolate with lower of blood pressure, lower bad
cholesterol count, increased insulin activity, and improved
blood-vessel function – all which reduce our risk of
cardiovascular disease. Can I get an "Amen?"
You see, we are almost inundated with invitations to say "yes" to a worthy cause, a worthwhile idea, or some advertising campaign. It's no wonder that a couple of
authors wrote a book called...
Don't Say Yes When You Want to Say No. Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote a wonderful book a few years ago called, "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life.
We are nearly overwhelmed by invitations to say "yes" in life. But, did it ever occur to you that the most important "yes" you could ever say in life is a "yes" to God? And one of those things we are to say yes to is good works.
The Power of Doing Good
Titus 2: 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
(Titus 3:8) "I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."
(Titus 3:1) "Remind the people to be ready to do whatever is good."
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.
(Titus 3:14) "(Christ-followers) must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may not live unproductive lives." And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Two Important Questions
1. Why should you do good?
Because the Lord did good to you.
3For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. 4 But when the goodness and love for man appeared from God our Savior, 5 He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
"5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Do you realize the uniqueness in those three words, "He saved us?"
Folks, do you understand we live in a culture where we are taught there is no such thing as a free lunch. Many of us have been raised with a work ethic that says, "You earn every penny you make. You earn your way onto the football team. You earn good
marks at school. You earn it all. There is no free lunch!"
And because I've been conditioned that way, I can spend my entire life trying to impress God with all my good deeds and all my hard work and all my effort. And so can you.
You see the truth about life for most of us is we think we are better than we really are, so we're good at pretending!
Maybe you heard the story on the news Friday night about the zebras in Gaza Zoo? They are actually donkeys with stripes painted on them. They lost the old zebras. Well there was a story about the guy who saw an advertisement for a job at the zoo. When he got there, he was horrified to find the only job available was to play the part of a monkey. A lot of children were coming to the zoo in the next few days, and since the zoo had no monkeys, they needed somebody to impersonate one. Since money was tight, the man decided he'd take the job.
He arrived before sunrise, got into the monkey suit, and slipped into the cage. Finally the day dawned, and the children came. All he had to do was pace the floor, look like he could swing between the trees and eat peanuts and bananas whenever they fed him.
After 8 or 10 hours, he was exhausted. The bananas got the best of him. And as he swung from one tree to another, he slipped and fell right into the lion's den next door. He started screaming, "Help! Help!" About that time the lion leaned over and said, "If you
don't shut up, we'll both lose our jobs."
You see, that's the way it is with many of us. It's easy to pretend we're something we're not. It's easy to pretend we're better than we are. Ravi Zacharias said it like this: "Man attempts to build civilizations not knowing what it
means to be civilized. He tries to be a philosopher when
he does not know the master philosopher. He portrays
his artistic perceptions without knowing the master artist.
He moralizes on life but doesn't know the moral
Listen again: 3For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
The famous philosopher G. K. Chesterton was once asked, "What do you think of civilization?" He said, "I think it's a great idea. Why doesn't
somebody start one."
Later on, after seeing a series of articles on "What's Wrong With the World?" Chesterton sent a short letter to the editor. He wrote, "'Dear Sir: Regarding your article 'What's Wrong With the World?' I am.' Yours truly, G. K. Chesterton."
Listen again 3For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
I want you to know something…I am what's wrong with this world. And you can say the same thing. God has told us for centuries that the fundamental problem with mankind is his heart. Every one of us has a twisted view of things that causes us to be bent toward evil. The Bible calls that sin.
One author said it like this: Dr. John R. W. Stott
"Many of the happenings in civilized society would not exist if it were not for sin. A promise is not enough; we need a contract. Doors are not enough; we have to lock and bolt them. The payment of fares is not enough; we have to be issued tickets, which are punched, inspected and collected. Law and order are not enough; we need the police to enforce them. We cannot trust each other. We need protection from one another. It is a sorry state of affairs."
You see, the Bible says that we're not as good as we think we are. Several years ago, the State of California made a 12-year study of 200 criminals. Not one of them admitted to being evil. They all said they were basically good. We might as well stop trying to impress God. We will never have a relationship with Him because of the good things that we have done.
The older I get, the more I realize it's possible to come up with ways to sin that I never thought of before. I feel like the guy who said, "If you knew me as I know me, you probably wouldn't sit there and listen to me right now.
But before you get up and leave, could I remind you that if I
knew you as you know you, I wouldn't even talk to you right
You see, we do everything we can to make a good impression on others. We've all mastered the art of pretense.
But Paul said: 3For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
"He saved us because of his mercy!."
4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
Because doing good is God's destiny for me.
(Ephesians 2:10) "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
(Titus 3:8) "I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."
(Titus 3:1) "Remind the people to be ready to do whatever is good."
(Titus 3:14) "(Christ-followers) must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may not live unproductive lives."
2. Where should I do good?
Do Good to Whoever you can do good to.
Do you notice that doing good is about people? "In my view, people are never closer to living out the teachings of Christ than when they are adding value to someone else's life. And people who are far from God are rarely more impacted than when they see 21st-Century Christ-followers behaving as Christ behaved." ~Bill Hybels
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,
2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
To ALL PEOPLE… Anyone everywhere!
(Luke 10:25-37) On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'"
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Notice verse 14
14 And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Cases of necessary need.
Be careful to do good to those who are truly in need.
Paul had listed off a couple of friends.
13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey, so that they will lack nothing
They were good examples of folks in need, urgent need. Unfortunately much of what proclaims to be need today isn't. There are professional hucksters who see it as the main game to take money out of your pocket and put it into their own.
I was disillusioned with one organisation that has their representatives living in 5 star hotels as they travel to churches to get money for their "charity". And then most of the money they raise actually goes to putting them into 5 star hotels as they raise money for their organisation. What percentage actually gets there? I don't know! And I don't want to know. I just know their executives live sumptuously off the gifts they raise for good works elsewhere.
I don't disparage a good days pay for a good days work. I do disparage those that live sumptuously when they are claiming to raise money for the Lord's work elsewhere.
"For what am I giving my life? How are you spending your life? Have you said, 'Yes, Jesus, I need your forgiveness? I know I have sinned. Would you forgive me and become the director of my life?'"
If you've not said that those words, that's where to start today. And if you've said "yes" and have experienced His mercy, then I want to ask you, "to what are you giving your
Do you realize that Jesus was all about one thing…and that one thing is people? People who are sick, people who are lonely, people who are wandering, depressed, and hopeless, people who are entangled in suffocating habits and destructive relationships. Jesus came for people. And He has left us here for the same reason. He has left those of us who are Christ followers on this earth to introduce as many people as possible to the God who desperately wants them to experience His mercy and grace.
If you're a Christ follower today, you have to be about people...people who face a Christ-less eternity... people who are ostracized, isolated and hopeless... people who are living for achievements that never satisfy. Above anything else, true followers of Jesus Christ give themselves to pointing people to the Savior. It's the highest and best use of a human life. When you live with that kind of preoccupation, you'll find that whenever Jesus asks you to do something, you'll only have one response…and that is to say, "yes."