Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
WHY DO WE SO OFTEN FEAR THE GOOD THINGS, AND GO ALONG WITH THE BAD THINGS?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
29 JULY 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (John 10:9)
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
In the 13th chapter of the book of Matthew, verse 44, we are told an important analogy about heaven:
44. "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
That must be some treasure!
What would you have to find that you would be willing to sell everything you have – and I mean everything, even your personal things – and buy that new thing?
I personally have some things that I would not sell to buy any other material thing found here on earth.
So then, at least for me, it would have to be of more value than any earthly possession.
The Lord gives us another example of this analogy in verses 45-46.
45. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,
46. and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
If we look at the value of heaven from a worldly point of view, we could consider it only as a living place, and as nearly equal to another, just as pearls have similar value.
Some are worth more money than others, but not that much more that we would consider selling everything else we have to buy it.
Yet some people do just that for drugs.
And other people put themselves in debt supporting their addiction to cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, gambling, and pornography.
In the end, the vast majority of these people couldn't afford even the smallest pearl.
The value of heaven is worth much more than pearls, and nothing really compares with it; and once you lose it, you can never enter in.
Moses knew what the Israelites were like, and he struggled with the thought of being selected to carry God's kingdom message to them.
He knew that God was real, but he hadn't yet grasped his own vision of the value of the kingdom of heaven.
Keep your finger, or a marker, in Matthew, for we will be coming back here shortly, and turn to Exodus 3:13 and listen carefully to the way Moses tries to avoid the responsibility that God desires to place upon him.
13. Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?"
14. And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' "
God understands Moses' weakness, and He tries to show him, as well as the sons of Israel, by His name that He is the ever-present God who is above all others, for He made everything, including us humans who, in our foolishness, fabricate our own idols before us from what God created for good.
Moses feared the good things because of the people.
Listen again as we continue with this conversation between God and Moses:
15. And God, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.
16. "Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.
17. "So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey." '
18. "And they will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt, and you will say to him, 'The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.'
The Israelites didn't fully listen to God's command to leave until after many signs and wonders were performed, and even then they didn't fully hear in their souls.
Egypt is an example of the land of sin, and Moses is like Christ come to lead the people out of a life of sin into the promised land.
By comparison to the size of the world's population when Jesus was incarnate, not many truly followed Him.
Take for example this town and this church. I, who am not really anyone important, and really nothing in comparison to a Moses, and even less when compared to Christ, came into this place preaching the Gospel in the hope of leading you, and others who never come to hear, out of a land of sin into the kingdom of heaven.
And look at the struggle that many of you are having letting go of the
worldly things in your life.
Why do we fear the good things, and go along with the bad things? Think about this within yourselves – not in comparison to others.
Think about what you eat, and the suffering it caused the animals, and the health problems that many of you have.
Perhaps we, and our leaders, are too much like the king of Egypt, as we can see from the following verse:
19. "But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion.
The king of Egypt is like Satan, doing everything in his power to prevent us from improving our lives; and we are also like Satan, when we try to convince others to wallow in the same filth we wallow in, and not to accept God's saving grace.
Let those who have ears hear what the Lord is saying.
Listen, as we continue at verse 20.
20. "So I will stretch out My hand, and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.
21. "And I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.
22. "But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians."
Maybe we won't plunder the non-believers who reject the ways of God, but most assuredly they will receive the wrath of God, and we who believe will enter the kingdom with more blessings than we can carry.
We just have to be strong in the Lord, and pray, and we will overcome.
Before we go back to Matthew 13, listen to what we are told in Romans 8:26-30.
26. And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
27. and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
I hear people complain that they don't know how or what to pray. That's a cop-out, for these verses tell you that you can indeed still pray.
All anyone has to do is talk to God as we talk to each other, and tell Him how you really feel, and ask Him to help you live as He want you to live, or whatever else is on your heart.
If you really can't pray, then your heart is not set upon God.
And even then, if we mean it, we could pray, "God! If you're really there, You have to let me know, for I don't have any other answer." And, He will hear and answer; maybe not immediately, but you will begin to see and feel and hear His answer in your heart and soul.
Those who say they have trouble praying, even this way, also probably have trouble with their walk with God.
And those who have trouble walking with God, also say that they don't really
know what God wants them to do, or they make up some lame excuse.
Several years ago, a woman told us that God didn't want her to read her Bible, but to read historical-romantic novels instead, so that she would learn something about life.
God never told her any such thing.
She also struggled very badly in her walk, and shortly afterwards left the church.
We can't fool God; we only make a bigger fool of ourselves.
As we continue with our Romans verses, listen to what God tells us about our everyday life situations:
28. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
29. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
30. and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
If a lot of things are going wrong in our lives, and they have been going wrong for some time, and you can see no good purpose for it all, then your life is not in Christ, but still in the world.
We are told here that "all things work together for good"; but there is a
condition for this to be true, for it is only true for "those who love God."
Don't tell me that you have a lot of problems in your life and you don't know what to do about it, if you are living an openly sinful life before God; for you don't really love Him.
If this is your state, you are fearing what is good, and going along with what is bad.
But if you truly do love God, and are doing everything in your power to conform your life to Jesus Christ, then all things will work together for good.
Now let's go back to Matthew 13 and pick up where we left off at verse 47.
47. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind;
48. and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.
49. "So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous,
50. and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This furnace of fire is hell.
Yes, the good and the bad both die the same physical death, and they may even die together.
But only those who truly follow the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and truth shall be selected to go to heaven and live forevermore.
All those who have not wholly accepted Jesus Christ, and all who are playing “Christian games,” and all those who are selling out their souls to the world by going along with the bad things, shall be cast into hell which burns forever and ever.
These will most assuredly die the second death, a death which has no end, and in which they will always be conscious and will continually feel their pain and loneliness.
So, you answer the question Jesus poses to his disciples, as we continue with our reading.
51. "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes."
What do you say?
Have you understood all these things?
Then are we going to reverse the way things have been with our own lives and encourage others to stop fearing what the world says about us following the good things, and follow the ways of God, and turn from the ways of Satan?
Jesus answers our response in verse 52:
52. And He said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old."
God looks to see if His word is a living part of your life.
I don't teach you to inflate my own ego. I teach you so that the word of God might blossom within you; that you would receive it in your innermost being and that there would be no distinction between His word and your lives.
God's word is our guide into everlasting life.
Therefore, every one of us, who call ourselves Christians, should be able to teach others the truth of God's word, both from the Old Testament and the New Testament, and not just in words but by our very lives every moment of every day.
And if we cannot, or will not truly strive to do this, then we are only fooling ourselves.
O my beloved, we can make a difference in our own lives and in the community around us.
So let's do it and quit playing games.
Time is running out.
And remember, God wants us all with Him, and not with Satan.
Your Comments are welcome
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