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OF ROCK AND FLESH AND EYES AND EARS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
3 APRIL 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Deuteronomy 30:15, 19-20
Revelation 1:3, 12-20
The Preparation: (Luke 24:5a-6b)
“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.”
Today is a day of rejoicing. All real sorrow has been wiped away. Jesus Christ, our Lord, is alive.
This is the good news of eternal life for all who will accept it.
The unfortunate thing, however, is that in the midst of this rejoicing, there are some who will not accept this great gift of God.
Thus we come to the title of today's sermon: "Of Rock and Flesh and Eyes and Ears."
It is a message intended to spark the desire in each of us to judge for ourselves the true relationship that each of us has with the Lord.
Yes, this also includes me; for I also preach to myself.
We each must ask our self if we have a heart of rock that is so hard that the Word of God does not enter, or a heart of flesh that will absorb all that God has for us, and then seek even more.
Also, do we have eyes and ears that see and hear all that God offers us? Or are we blind and deaf to Him?
Even if we are physically blind and deaf, we are still capable of seeing and hearing Him. That is, if we desire to do so.
After Jesus died on the cross, He was buried in a tomb cut out of solid rock. Another rock was rolled in front of the tomb to keep the living and the dead separated.
But on a Sunday morning much like this one, the rock at the entrance was rolled away, and our Lord rose from the dead.
The closed vault of the rock contained only death.
This is why, after the entrance rock had been rolled away, the angels said,
"Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has
risen." (Luke 24:5-6)
Ezekiel also spoke of a similar tomb that contained only death. It is the heart of stone. as we are told in Ezekiel 36:22-32 with particular emphasis on verse 26.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
23 “I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.
24 “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
29 “Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.
30 “I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.
31 “Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.
32 “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”
And unless the entrance rock of that heart is rolled away, the living Word of God cannot enter to remove the death within and change the heart into living flesh.
I pray that if there is anyone in here today who has a heart of stone, they will let the entrance into it be opened.
In the third chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus is having a conversation with Nicodemus, a leader and teacher of Israel.
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
At the beginning of the conversation, Nicodemus had a spiritual heart, eye, and ear problem. He couldn't understand what Jesus was telling him, when He said, "You must be born again."
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?
11 “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.
12 “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
Jesus lovingly rebuked him for not understanding the meaning of these Ezekiel verses we just read. (Ezekiel 36:22-32)
And, do you know what happened?
The heart of Nicodemus was split open, and he began to see and hear the true meaning of God’s Word.
At that moment, God began to give him a new heart and to put a new spirit within him.
Then God removed the heart of stone from Nicodemus and gave him a heart of flesh.
God put His Holy Spirit within him, thus giving Nicodemus the desire to walk with God and to observe all that God desired him to do, not according to the Law, but in fulfillment of the Law.
God worked that same miracle in me, and I know He desires to do the same for everyone else as well, if they are willing to receive it.
Have you received this life-changing gift?
Has He risen in your heart? Or is He still dead in your tomb?
If you have received Him, I glorify God with you.
If you have not, I pray that you will not let another day go by without receiving this greatest gift of all time.
The Revelation that Jesus Christ gave to the apostle John was directed to the churches. The churches listed are types of churches that have existed throughout the ages, and that are in the world today.
Note Revelation 1:3 –
3. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
For one to read the words of this prophecy, they must have “eyes that see.”
And for one to hear the words of this prophecy, they must have “ears that hear.”
In order for this to happen, there must be a heart of flesh or at least a
sufficiently large enough crack in the heart of stone to let the Holy Spirit
begin His work.
Inside a sealed rock tomb there is no light. Everything is in darkness.
Outside of a rock tomb there can be either light or darkness. It only depends on the conditions.
Jesus is the light of the, world.
And where there is light, there cannot also be darkness, for the power of the light is greater than the darkness; thus it flees from the light.
The power of death is darkness, and where there is spiritual death, there is also darkness.
But praise be to God, Jesus Christ conquered death.
He is the first born of the dead, never to die again.
He loves us; and by His death and resurrection, and His blood which was shed, He has released us from our sins and the death they bring. (James 1:15-17)
15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
We get this release by repenting of our sins and asking God to forgive us. And when we mean it, God is always faithful to grant our request.
If we open a heart of rock by rolling back the entrance stone, light will shine into it, drive death away and bring in its place everlasting life.
The Revelation message to the churches speaks of golden lampstands. These are the churches. (Revelation 1:12-20)
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;
13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.
14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.
15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
19 “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things
20 “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
However, these verses do not indicate that these lamps are lit. Thus some of the churches may also be in darkness.
For in just the same way that the entrance rock of the tomb can be rolled away to allow in both light and life, so also can it be rolled back to cover the entrance, thus bringing both darkness and death.
What about this church?
The light is most definitely shining in; but is it shining into everything and everyone within its walls?
I pray that it is, but at the same time I fear that there are some personal burial vaults still closed up tightly.
If you are one of those who are holding on to that rock in the middle of your chest, then let go of the entrance rock so that the Holy Spirit may roll it away.
For I promise you, in the name of Jesus, that if you roll away the stone so that it cannot be covered over again, you will never be the same again.
Your rock will be turned into living flesh that will fill you with
Your eyes will be opened to see all the wonders of God's creation and the life-giving miracle of His Word.
And your ears will be opened to hear of all the glories of God, and His Word will continually refresh you.
To quote the words of Moses to Israel as they were about to cross over into the promised land, a message that is just as appropriate today for those of us who desire to enter heaven: (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, and 20)
15. "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity."
19. "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
20. by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."
These verses really say it all; but just in case there are some of us who still need to hear more, in order to be convinced, let's hear it from the Lord Jesus Christ from John 14:1-6.
1. "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
2. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
3. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
4. "And you know the way where I am going."
5. Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?"
6. Jesus said to him, "1 am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."
I have told you, Moses has told you and, most importantly, Jesus has told you the truth of salvation and everlasting life.
What have you judged about yourself and your relationship with God?
Do you have a heart of flesh or of rock?
Do you have eyes that see?
Do you have ears that hear?
I pray that you do have a heart of flesh, and eyes that see, and ears that hear.
But just in case you don’t, I am also praying that you will submit yourself wholly to Jesus; for He is faithful to cure that condition and give you eternal life with Him in heaven.
Seek Him with all your heart, soul, and might.
He loves you very much.