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PRESENTING YOURSELF AND RECEIVING OTHERS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

27 JUNE 1993

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 10:40-42
Romans 6:12-23

In the eyes of God, the true intent of our heart and soul becomes visible.

If we do something out of love and compassion, if we do something just for the joy of pleasing the Lord, He knows.

But, on the other hand, if we do something in order to earn some reward, or for some selfish motive, God also knows this, no matter how successfully we may have been hiding our true intent from other people.

And if we do nothing in the name of the Lord, God is also aware of that, too.

In Matthew 10:40-42, we are given a very good set of examples of how God's grace really works.

40. "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

The Greek word that is used in this verse, and translated as “receives,” refers to a somewhat passive or simple way of receiving someone or something, much like “receiving” your mail.

But if we just leave it at that, it doesn't make a lot of sense; for many people who have no Godly attributes are received in this manner by others of like mind.

Using our other example, we are like a piece of misdirected mail, and this will not be received.

What this verse means is that as we present ourselves in the name, or lifestyle, of the Lord, and someone receives us because of our true Godly nature, they are in essence receiving Jesus Christ.

And if they receive Jesus Christ, they also receive God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

But as we look at verse 41, we see a more mature way of receiving someone in the name of the Lord.

41. "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

In this verse we have a different Greek word for "receive." This time it carries the meaning of receiving something to possess it, receiving it as a cherished possession.

Now consider, what does a prophet do?

A prophet speaks forth the word or message of God to those who need to hear it.

And also consider: what does a righteous man or woman do?

They live a Godly life.

So, in this case, we are being told that if we mature to the point of receiving these people into our hearts and souls, we shall become like them, and serve the Lord, which leads to our reward in heaven.

Now, with all this in mind, and hopefully a part of our very nature, consider the message of verse 42:

42. “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little [or humble] ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.”

And what is a disciple?

Isn't it one who has received the teaching of the Lord, and who follows after Him?

So, doing good unto others doesn't have the acceptance of the Lord, unless we do so in the simple and pure love and compassion of one who has received the Lord and His teachings of love and peace, and who continues to follow after Him.

Take our recent strawberry festival for example.

If we had the festival for some selfish reason, or excluded others from participating, or didn't do so in the name of the Lord, it would profit us nothing.

But if such a festival is done in love, with everyone working together, just for the joy of sharing what we have with others, and to fellowship with members of our community in the name of the Lord, so that they, too, would receive Him, then we will receive of the Lord's abundance.

This is what Jesus is talking about.

Now, let's go to Romans 6:12-23, and see what Paul has to say about this matter, or about our inner being reflecting the truth of whether or not we have received, or have been received by others.

12. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts,

13. and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

If we follow the ways of the Lord and don't give into the lusts around and within us, and we are received because of that righteousness, we have helped bring back to life one who was formerly dead in their sins.

14. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.

We don't deserve to be forgiven for our sins, and neither does the other person; but by the grace of God we are, if we believe and follow through with our faith by living the life of Christ as one of his disciples.

Not that we work our way into heaven, but that since we have been received by grace, we just want others to know the truth, and we, as disciples, desire to live a righteous, wholesome and peaceful life.

15. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

And yet, today there are some so-called Christians who preach that since you have been received, you can keep on sinning.

But I contend that such people have never really been received, or have received; for if they had, then the presence of the Holy Spirit within them would be clearly seen, and they would no longer desire to sin, or to find excuses not to live in God's heavenly will.

Thus, we would only present ourselves to others, and to God, as righteous members.

16. Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

17. But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

18. and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Perhaps a better way of expressing the term “slave” would be to say that we willingly serve the Lord as bond-servants, still free to turn away, but never wanting to do so, and always willing to obey His command.

As Paul says,

19. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

20. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

Or, free to go to hell.

21. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death [spiritual death].

In other words, we can bond ourselves to Satan, for he is more than willing to receive us, and go to hell with him.

Or, we can bond ourselves to Christ Jesus, who is also quite willing to receive any true believer, and go on into heaven with Him.

We are given a free will to choose, but once we have decided which way we are going, we must bond ourselves to that master.

And I sincerely pray that your master is the Lord our God.

And for those whose master is the Lord, Paul says,

22. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

23. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is something that no person can fake.

This is something that is part of every hour of every day, and is the true desire of our heart.

This enslavement, or bonding, to God is something that every person, whether godly or ungodly, can see.

And this is the characteristic that, when received into our heart, brings forth eternal life.

Sometimes we look at the people around us and we become frustrated, because so few of them really hear our message of love and compassion, of forgiveness and peace, and don't receive us.

Some consider us weak, because of our message of peace, and they make fun of us.

Others just seem to tolerate us, but wish we weren't there, or that they could find a way to get away from us.

But those few, who do receive us in the name of the Lord, make it all worth while.

For those of us who know the truth, we realize that there is no middle ground; there is no place of abode between heaven and hell.

Every person who has ever lived is going to one place or the other.

And if we do not present ourselves in the name of the Lord, or if we cannot see the presence of Christ in others, we can be fairly sure that they are heading for hell.

It doesn't matter how “churchy” someone is; that has nothing to do with receiving Christ into our heart.

But, conversely, when we see Christ reflected in someone's life, in the way they present themselves, in their language, in the everyday things they do, we can be fairly sure they are on their way to heaven.

And it is this that we are to receive from each other.

It is our living in this love and compassion now that gives us a taste of the heaven to come.

From the bottom of my heart, I hope and pray we all receive this message.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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