THOSE WHO CHOOSE DEATH AND THOSE WHO CHOOSE ETERNAL LIFE
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THOSE WHO CHOOSE DEATH AND THOSE WHO CHOOSE ETERNAL LIFE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

15 MAY 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 27:3-10
Luke 19:1-9
        22:1-6
Acts 1:15-26
1 John 5:6-17

There is a very interesting aspect to the free will that God has given us that very few people ever consider, including, unfortunately, many Christians.

It's that we have been given the free will to choose between life and death, that is, eternal life and the second death.

So, this morning we are going to look at a few passages of Scripture that focus upon those who choose death and those who choose life.

Let's begin our excursion in Luke 22:1-6.

1. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching.

2. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.

The very fact that these so-called religious leaders were seeking to put Jesus to death is proof that they are not seeking life, but death.

They are doing this out of jealousy and because of their pride of office, for Jesus was showing the people the truth, something that the leaders were either unable or unwilling to do.

But they weren't alone in this, for even among the twelve with Jesus, there was one like them, and perhaps even worse.

3. And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.

Satan was able to enter into him because his heart and mind were seeking the ways of this world, and not eternal life.

4. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them.

5. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.

6. And he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the multitude.

No one who is of God could ever betray anyone; and yet here Judas is seeking ways to betray the Lord Himself.

And, around us in our communities there are many who have a like-mindedness with these temple leaders and Judas.

If we believe, and are truly seeking eternal life, then we must learn to be careful and not to become ensnared by them.

If we look at the book of Acts, beginning at 1:15, we will see what happened to Judas, and how the other apostles reacted.

15. And at this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,

16. "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

17. "For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry."

18. (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.

19. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

For Judas, when he realized what he had done, went and gave back the money he was paid to betray Jesus, with which the priests purchased this field, and he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-10)

3. Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4. saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!”

5. And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.

And apparently no one cut him down, but let him hang there until the rope or the tree branch broke, and he fell down into the field.

6. And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.”

7. And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers.

8. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

9. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the One whose price had been set by the sons of Israel;

10. And they gave them for the Potter’s Field, as the Lord directed me.”

Judas, of his own free will, had chosen death; and not only had he chosen his physical death, but also his second death in hell.

Matthew, however, tells us that Judas "felt remorse", but we don't know if that was true repentance, and whether or not God's grace would cover even this sin.

It's a question that remains unanswered in the Bible.

Let's return to our Acts passage: (Acts 1:20-26)

20. "For it is written in the book of Psalms,

'Let his homestead be made desolate,

And let no man dwell in it';

and,

'His office let another man take.'

And that is exactly what they did.

21. “It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—

22. beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us---one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection."

23. And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.

24. And they prayed, and said, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen

25. to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place."

26. And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

They didn't sit around and debate about the sins of Judas, and they didn't worry about the temple leaders; they simply went forward with the work of the Lord.

They left the fate of the evil people to the Lord.

Their job was to lead as many people as possible to the Lord by being positive about the salvation, non-violent, and peacemaking message of Jesus.

They concentrated on the good news before them, and not the bad news behind them.

These are extremely important points for us to remember and live by:

We cannot change the past, so worrying about it is a useless endeavor;

But we can help shape the future, through our words and through the way we live before others;

Leading people away from the corruption, pain and suffering of this earth into the heavenly realm of our Lord.

Beginning at Luke 19:1, we are told another story; this one about a dishonest man, who, upon hearing the good news, repented, and was saved unto eternal life.

1. And He [Jesus] entered and was passing through Jericho.

2. And behold, there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; and he was a chief tax-gatherer, and he was rich.

3. And he was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.

4. And he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.

5. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house."

6. And he hurried and came down, and received Him gladly.

7. And when they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."

Instead of rejoicing over a sinner who was in the process of repenting, the religious leaders, and others were again jealous, for in their own eyes, they were more worthy than a tax-gatherer.

So, if the tax-gatherer was no longer the sinner they could point to, then they might not look as honorable to the people of Jericho.

They were not seeking eternal life, as was Zaccheus.

8. And Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much."

9. And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.

Jesus saved the sinner because he chose eternal life.

We all know the difference between the things of God and the things of this world, but few choose the right way.

We have all received the witness of the truth, but few admit it.

Note what we are told in 1 John 5:6-17.

6. This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood.

7. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth.

8. For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for the witness of God is this, that He has borne witness concerning His Son.

The witness of men is not necessarily the witness of God, and we had best know the difference.

10. The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son.

11. And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

12. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

A whole lot of people and even angels know that Jesus is the Son of God, but only relatively few people and two-thirds of the angels actually have the Son of God in their life.

Thus we choose death or eternal life for ourselves.

13. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.

14. And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

15. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Thus we choose life or death.

16. If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.

17. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

That's a scary thought isn't it, that no one is asked to pray for sinners like Judas and those leaders?

But for us who know the truth, and have Jesus in our hearts and souls, we know that the way of the cross leads home.

Let us pray.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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