15 October 2013

MISPLACED AFFECTIONS [PART 4]


John 6:60-71

There is a word that describes an action that every parent, husband or wife would hate to hear or see! A word called “abandon” By definition this word means “to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert: to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship.  To give up; discontinue; withdraw from: to abandon a project; to abandon hope. We are about to see this word in action as the crowd begins to walk away because what Jesus said was too hard for them to understand or to demanding and not what they expected. Again they had misplaced affections that blinded them to the truth and to whom Jesus truly was and why he came in the first place. This is a sad part of the conversation that Jesus had with the multitudes! Why? The bible says they walked with Him no more from this point on. To me, this is very sad, maybe it because I’m a preacher. Not only are we about to see that they walked away from the truth, but they also walked away from the gift of salvation! Church family this is tragic and heart wrenching to witness. I remember a dear professor of mine, who told me of a story he went to see a friend who was dying in the hospital and to top it off he didn't have a relationship with Christ. So, the only thing he knew to do was to go to the hospital and share with him the gospel truth! Sadly just as we are about to see this man raised his hand and told him “to leave because he didn’t want to hear this Jesus stuff.” That man died that night! To turn your back on Christ is worse than turning your back on your spouse or child when they need you the most. To walk away from the only one who can save is sad and disturbing all at the same time! It amazes me all the time that people are so hostile towards the things of Christ! It amazes me that God is the punch line or topic to everyone’s joke. It amazes me that people will turn down a free gift of salvation and eternal life, but will spend hundreds of dollars for a chance to win a prize or a house. It amazes me that God would even bother to save us at all. We continue with the discussion between Jesus and the hostile crowd. A crowd, according to the scriptures walked with Him no more! This breaks my heart because this speaks of many if not millions of people today. Truth is lying in the streets through tracts and proclamation of words, on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Blogs. And most of all in our hearts, because we have been transformed by the power of God through the Gospel of truth by the Holy Spirit. Sadly people hate truth…….especially the truth of the bible “The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." Psalm 53:1. Sadly this is how people react when the truth of the scriptures are proclaimed. As Friedrich Nietzsche said “There are no facts, only interpretations.” See, when truth is revealed to us, there are only two possible reactions to it: It can be received, or it can be rejected. People receive the truth when they see it for what it is: Truth!

PEOPLE REJECT THE TRUTH FOR MANY REASONS. HERE ARE JUST A FEW:


SOME PEOPLE MISUNDERSTAND IT

The people misunderstand the truth and, as a result, they rejected it. (v61). Just as Nicodemus thought Jesus was talking about gynecology, when He was actually speaking of the new birth. The woman at the well thought Jesus was talking about plumbing, when He was actually talking about Himself, the Water of Life. The man at the pool of Bethesda thought Jesus was talking about a rescue mission, when He was actually talking placing faith in Him. Sadly though this trend continues today! That is why people join the church and are baptized without ever being saved and realize what they are committing too. That is why the Word of God is so offensive to so many people.

SOME PEOPLE ARE OPPOSED TO IT

As Jesus revealed Himself and His demands in this passage, the Jews were in constant and increasing opposition, back in (v41-42; 52) and here in (v60). The Jews were not able to accept His Deity, His impending Death or His claims of Lordship. They opposed Him at every turn and every opportunity! So it is today in and outside the church. Many are opposed to the truths of the Bible and the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. His call to commitment goes against their desire to live for self, and as a result, they find themselves in opposition to the Lord. We need to remember the claims of the Gospel, the cross and the blood of Jesus are designed to be offensive! Jesus warned us about this! "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matt 10:34. In John 15:18-19 Jesus explains what’s going to happen if we continue to follow Him "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

SOME PEOPLE ARE BLIND TO IT

All the way through this passage, the Jews had this approach to Jesus: "Show us and we will believe." They had already seen Him feed five thousand with five loaves of bread and 2 fish previously. They had already assumed that He had somehow, miraculously, crossed the lake, (v22-25) yet they were still blind to Who He was and what He was doing. When Jesus made His claims and issued His call to commitment as the Bread of Life, they were unable to see the truth because they were blind! The sad fact of the matter is this: All men are blind to the truth until their eyes are supernaturally opened by the intervention of God. (v44) “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” Again we read “And he said “therefore I have said to you that no can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father.” (v66). Paul penned these words! “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Cor 4:4. That is why so many people reject the truth and embrace the lie then and more so today, they are simply blinded to the truth! Why? The gospel is an offence to the natural man and without the prompting of Holy Spirit man will remained blind. (v63)

SOME PEOPLE WANT THE EXPERIENCE BUT NOT THE EXPECTATION

These people were following Jesus because He had satisfied their fleshly appetites, v. 1-15. They wanted more of this blessing (v34). In fact, they wanted Jesus to prove that He was greater than Moses, (v22-31). They were looking for something that satisfied their flesh and that made them feel good about themselves. They wanted an experience! They wanted to be following the next king. They wanted the miracles and the sensational. But, when Jesus began to talk about His expectations and issued a call for commitment, they turned away from Him and walked away. Why? They wanted to be carried away in the excitement of the moment with no commitment. The same mentality has developed within the church! There are many today who want a religious experience, but without and expectations. They want to serve God for what they can get out it, without any concern for His glory of His will. They want entertainment and excitement without the commitment that comes along with the proclamation of the truth. As one preacher said “The churches that are growing the fastest today are those who minimize biblical doctrine the requirements of the faith and emphasize entertainment and experience. All you need to succeed today as a church is a contemporary band, a message that challenges no one's life, a youth program that will babysit the children while the parents are lulled to sleep by a "touchy feely" religion that is devoid of the truth!” Ouch, but true! Something to take note of in this passage is that most people who walk away from the things of God…….are selfish! One writer put it this way  “We use relationships for what they can do for us and what they can get us, but not for what we give to others and receive from them. We keep our distance from intimacy and trust through our cynicism and calloused hearts.” 

They are only concerned about themselves and how they feel. Can you imagine how the disciples felt when the multitude walked away? The same thing happens in the church when you see people walk away and never come back. Heartbreaking and tragic not just for the soul but for the whole body…..the church! The lives of others always affect those who are close by to those who choose to walk away. Can you imagine how the Lord of Heaven felt to see people turn away from the truth and the living hope found in Christ alone? The bible says Jesus wept and had compassion for lost sinners! “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44. God’s heart is grieved when people make a superficial commitment to Him but then bail out. So, what lessons can we learn from this passage? Not everyone can handle the truth! Sometimes, the truth is tough! Sometimes the truth makes demands upon our lives. Sometimes the truth is brutal and seems unfeeling. But, the truth is always true! Remember God’s word is always right and it is always perfect. 

One first lesson that we learned is that there will be temporary disciples in the Christian church. We will see a decline in the things of God in the church and in our homes. The revolving door will continue to open and close as people will be either receptive or hostile towards the truth. They walked with Him no more! (v66)

A second lesson that we learned was that true disciples will be tested as to their loyalty to Jesus. Again hard truths call for drastic measures and drastic changes! Are you up for the change? As Jesus asked His disciples if they would also leave Him. (v67). Are you committed to Christ as Him being you’re Saviour or as ATM machine and you only need Him when you’re desperate?

A third lesson from this incident is that true disciples often cannot discern the presence of a false disciple. As Judas walked and ministered with then during the 3 years with Jesus (v70). He mentions Judas as a “devil” which means here in the text “slander of false accuser” This passage could be better rendered “one of you is the devil” Again we see an opportunity to respond to the truth! An opportunity for Judas to come clean and say “help me Lord, I’m the one. I’ve lost confidence in you and seeds of resentment have settled into my heart, and I’m afraid where this will this will lead me. Save me Lord.” But like the others that walked away his silence was evidence to his own misplaced affections.

The fourth lesson is that this incident would have taught the disciples that Jesus does not need a large crowd in order to fulfil his intentions. The only ones, who remained after the thousands upon thousands left, were 12 and one of them was of the devil. (v67-v69). Just as it was for Sodom, only 3 remained. Just as it was when the Ark was built, only 8 entered in. Just as it is here in this passage! Jesus doesn’t need a large crowd in order to fulfil his intentions. Again remember what Jesus said “narrow is the way and few find it” There is a world of people that do not know what the church has, for the church has the Word and the means by which God gives forgiveness and eternal life to poor miserable sinners.......Through the gospel that saves!

SO THE SUNDAY QUESTION IS THIS: Does God truth draw you closer to Him or does it anger you to the point of walking away from Him? You truly need to answer that question this morning before you leave! Why? Your soul depends on it…..this is serious business. We’re talking about your eternal soul and where you will spend eternity! SO I LEAVE YOU WITH THE QUESTION JESUS ASKED HIS DISCIPLES!“Do you want to go away as well?” Are you prepared this weekend, this week for what lies ahead no matter how you might be tested, to say to Christ,"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

07 October 2013

MISPLACED AFFECTIONS [PART3]


John 6:41-59

The biggest problem with man [meaning mankind] is that they cannot get pass the idea that they need saving. Blinded by their own ignorance to the fact they are dead! Not literally but spiritually. The Bible teaches that man, since the fall, in his natural corrupt state, has lost all ability of the will to do any spiritual good accompanying salvation and is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself. Hence the fact, people don’t think they need saving because they already think they’re? Good people. The bible declares differently about the state of natural man. The sinfulness of man’s natural state: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” Gen. 6:5. The misery of man's natural state: “We.. .were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” Eph. 2:3. Man’s utter inability to recover himself “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” Rom. 5:6. In this unregenerate, fallen state, man has no ability to do anything spiritually good. Man is a slave; he is in Satan’s prison house and does not have the key to get out. How great was the liberty of the will before the fall, that is, as God made Adam? The testimony of Scripture answers this question “Truly, this only have I found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” Eccl. 7:29. “Schemes” means that……. Adam and Eve, not content with their present knowledge and happiness, they sought out new ways and means of being wiser and happier than God made them by our nature we are depraved we seek what’s best for us which is not God.

David penned these words “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” Ps. 51:5. Sin causes us to have misplaced affections as we continue to see in this passage of scripture! In this unregenerate state, men are spiritually blind and cannot see, spiritually deaf and cannot hear, and what is worse, they are dead in trespasses and sins. But here is the hope and the promise! There is a God in heaven who can open blind eyes, who can unstop deaf ears, and, bless His holy name, who can and does raise the dead. There are many things we can learn from this passage or encounter! Why? The crowd is getting antsy and irritated with Jesus. And this speaks volumes today whenever that name is mentioned in a conversation or discussion.

CHRIST’S STATUS WHEN HE WAS UPON THE EARTH WAS A STUMBLING BLOCK TO THE NATURAL MAN (V41-V43)

See, if Christ came in Kingly cloths and lavished His money, prosperity upon the people and did this coming with a great army. I think they would have not had a problem with where Jesus came from and who He was born too. This is the same ignorance we see today in the church culture! A Jesus to shine my pocket book and keep me healthy. I have a good friend [his name is Virgil Patterson] who is dying at this very moment of cancer and to hear that they're worshipping Christ through this, makes me appreciate what Christ is doing in my life more today through the eternal promise found in the Gospel. Jesus, God in flesh came as a simple humble man born into a poor family, who came from a town that according to the Jews nothing good can come out of that town. Remember what Nathanael said to Philip? "……Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" John 1:45. This shouldn't surprise us church family! This is human nature showing it’s true colors. In 1 Cor 1:22-23 says  “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, the cross was an offence to where the gospel was preached, just as it is in our generation. There are many today who want to do away with Jesus and His people.

MAN’S INABILITY OR HELPLESSNESS TO REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL (V44-V46)

Now, the reason why man cannot come to Christ, is not because he cannot come, so far as his physical body or his mere power of mind is concerned, but because his nature is so corrupt that he has neither the will nor the power to come to Christ unless drawn by the Spirit. See, in our corrupt nature we don’t want a Saviour…..because we love our sin too much. Just as I can’t tell my brain to do the EDGE WALK at the CN Tower is the same reason why people are unable to come to Christ on their own. They love darkness rather than light and without the Spirit’s work we would continue in sin. In John 3:19-20 Jesus said “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” Paul said “no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Rom 3:11-18. Apart from God drawing us, none of us would ever be saved! Have you ever wondered or ask the question! Why would He save me and not the closet person to you? Like a father or mother,  brother or sister, an aunty or uncle,  cousin or maybe a best friend or co- worker. You would probably say and defend them by saying “They are all pretty decent people….some might behave better then you did, before salvation came into your life.” Have you ever asked why me and not them Lord? What is preventing them from receiving the same blessing that I received so long ago? The answer: there inability to receive the things of God because they love their sin way too much and truthfully, they are hostile towards whom we must give an account and so are a great majority of people today. If you don’t believe me! Then ask them?

SALVATION IS A PRESENT BLESSING NOT A FUTURE ONE (V47-V51)

“believes has eternal life” Trusting in God’s self-revelation in Christ brings present blessing. Not only do we have the hope of eternal life, but we also enjoy the daily life that promises today! [Present tense]. Christ was speaking in the present, meaning now! Christ again in speaking of Himself as the living bread that gives eternal life not food in general. See, the bread the Israelites ate in the wilderness sustained then in their physical, but we need to remember, all the fathers still died later on after eating the manna. Again, Jesus isn’t talking about food, but using food as a way for them to understand that He is the One! The only one who came from Heaven to save lost and helpless sinners from eternal judgement and torment? As John already said earlier! “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36. Jesus was offering Himself, because He knew we can’t do anything to attain eternal life in and of ourselves!

THE WONDERFUL FELLOWSHIP WE RECEIVE WHEN WE COMMUNION WITH CHRIST “THE BREAD OF LIFE” (V52-V58)

This is where our fellowship lies…..with the only one who can save our blind, wretched and depraved souls from judgement and wrath “the Bread of life” Jesus’ point was an analogy that has spiritual rather than physical significance. Just as eating and drinking are necessary for physical life; so is belief in the sacrificial death on the cross necessary for eternal life. Once again the Jew’s failed to understand the spiritual truth behind Jesus’ illustration. Why? Because according to Lev 17:10-12 it says "If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.  For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. The Jews were unable to go beyond the mere physical perspective which made them angry and confused! See eating here displays spiritual truth!

1. Just as food is useless unless it’s eaten, so also is spiritual truth if it is not consumed! Merely knowing the truth, without acting on it, both profit nothing.

2. Eating is prompted by hunger; those who are full are not interested in food. In the same way sinners who are satisfied with their sin have no hunger for spiritual things.

3. Eating involves trusting, no one knowingly eats spoiled or rotten food. The act of eating requires faith that this food is edible.

4. Eating is personal. No one can eat it a meal for another; there is no such thing as eating by proxy. Nor is there salvation by proxy. As Psalm 49:7 says “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life,”

Our fellowship and communion is in His body and in His blood, which reminds us of His grace and love for saving our wretched souls. He did this by drawing you and I out of darkness into His glorious light though the Holy Spirit prompting. Sadly, they didn’t get it!  Because they were blinded by their own ignorance, because they love darkness rather than light! As the bible says “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1Cor 1:18. See! By taking part in His body and His blood is an outward profession of an inward change as we remember His death for sinners like us. Acknowledging our desperate need for a Saviour, because of our inability to make things right in our own strength! Receiving the Lord’s Supper in faith is a means by which our union with Christ is strengthened. What we see here is the Saviour’s preparation for future things, since He hasn’t gone to the cross yet…..but for us today, it’s a daily reminder of His love in our lives through the gospel that saves.

This is what makes the gospel so precious and personal for me! He saved me by His will and by His sovereign power. As one preacher said “God’s sovereign grace does not annihilate man’s will: it overcomes his unwillingness. It does not destroy his will but frees it from sin. It does not stifle or eliminate his conscience but sets it free from darkness. Grace regenerates and re-creates man in his entirety, and in renewing him, causes him to love and consecrate himself to God freely. So what’s keeping you from coming to the table of grace according to this passage?Answer! YOU and your misplaced affections. I came across an interesting post who heard an evangelist use two analogies to describe what happens in our redemption. “He said sin has such a strong hold on us, a stranglehold, that it’s like a person who can’t swim, who falls overboard in a raging sea, and he’s going under for the third time and only the tops of his fingers are still above the water; and unless someone intervenes to rescue him, he has no hope of survival, his death is certain. And unless God throws him a life preserver, he can’t possibly be rescued. And not only must God throw him a life preserver in the general vicinity of where he is, but that life preserver has to hit him right where his fingers are still extended out of the water, and hit him so that he can grasp hold of it. It has to be perfectly pitched. But still that man will drown unless he takes his fingers and curls them around the life preserver and God will rescue him. But unless that tiny little human action is done, he will surely perish. The other analogy is this: A man is desperately ill, sick unto death, lying in his hospital bed with a disease that is fatal. There is no way he can be cured unless somebody from outside comes up with a cure, a medicine that will take care of this fatal disease. And God has the cure and walks into the room with the medicine. But the man is so weak he can’t even help himself to the medicine; God has to pour it on the spoon. The man is so sick he’s almost comatose. He can’t even open his mouth, and God has to lean over and open up his mouth for him. God has to bring the spoon to the man’s lips, but the man still has to swallow it. Now, if we’re going to use analogies, let’s be accurate. The man isn’t going under for the third time; he is stone cold dead at the bottom of the ocean. That’s where you once were when you were dead in sin and trespasses and walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. And while you were dead hath God quickened you together with Christ. God dove to the bottom of the sea and took that drowned corpse and breathed into it the breath of his life and raised you from the dead. And it’s not that you were dying in a hospital bed of a certain illness, but rather, when you were born you were born D.O.A. That’s what the Bible says: that we are morally stillborn.”

This was you and I, before the power of God drew us to Himself! Sinking and dying on a hospital bed. Isn’t it amazing that God saved you? And doesn’t it sadden you that you know people who are still dead and hostile towards the things of God? I want you to think about that person right now! They could be seating here in this sanctuary? We need to pray for the power of God to bring them to foot of the cross in newness of life.  “living Bread” But we must never stop praying for them! And don’t be surprised or discouraged when people take a long time to understand the good news of the gospel. They're dead according to the scriptures until God breathes new life into them; just like it took you and I, before salvation came into our lives. Our confidence should not rest in ourselves, but in the power of God to change the will of the unbeliever who has misplaced affections. Again “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:16. Spend time today praying that the Lord would give faith to an unbeliever in your life. That they would turn from their sin and partake in “the Bread of Life”