on the sermons of 10.01.06

I am burdened by our lower attendance of late. We had 35 today. We are working towards outreach, but we live in a very hardened city. We primarily focus on reaching the lost, not folks who are Christians already, even though our philosophy is so different from the philosophy of most (virtually all) of the other churches in town. Next week on Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving. We will be having our annual Thanksgiving dinner. Several unsaved guests will be present and we will be having a service after the dinner. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work in hearts! Today we did have one unsaved teen in the services who came as a guest of one of our families. Pray for him, that he might receive the gospel preached today.

Our messages were all in Luke today. We are in that extended seciont of Luke that is unique to him, from about the end of chapter 9 all the way to chapter 18 or 19 or so. It covers a good deal of what is known of the Lord’s ministry in the last months leading up to the crucifixion.

The first message covered five ‘vignettes’ which I entitled “Correction of Misapprehensions“. The theme was getting disciples to think God’s way. First, James and John want to call down fire on a Samaritan village. I called that understanding the spirit of discipleship. Then three would-be disciples receive the Lord’s searching question forcing them to examine the heart of their motivation for discipleship. I called that understanding the cost of discipleship. Then we saw the 70 sent out, coming back rejoicing that the devils were subject to them. The Lord corrects their thinking, so I called that understanding the joy of discipleship. The next vignette was Martha and Mary, where Martha complains about Mary’s idleness. I called that understanding the good part of discipleship. And last, we covered the Lord’s instructions on prayer in Lk 11. I called that understanding the prayer of discipleship – we go to God because he is good, not because he is someone we must cajole into giving us blessings.

The second message was “Denouncing the Pharisees” from Lk 11.37-12.12. The proposition: False religion presents particular threats to true faith. The Pharisees are denounced for their hypocrisy, the scribes for their apostasy. The Lord warns his disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees, for Pharisaism is a deadening influence for true religion. The Lord prepares his disciples for the attacks of those (like the scribes) who say the work of the Spirit springs from the devil and will therefore persecute the true believers. God cares more for the believer than for anything else in this world and will protect any saint under attack like this. We need not be forearmed, we must trust in God alone to preserve us against attack.

The last message was on the three lost things of Luke 15, entitled “Joy in Heaven“. We spoke to the proposition: The joy of heaven ought to involve God’s people in the mission of redeeming those who are lost. I began by comparing lost things: the sheep and the coin were lost inadvertantly, we have no moral indignation about their lostness. They are lost because, in the first place, a sheep is a sheep and has a weak, next to useless, brain, and in the second place because a coin is a coin and has no brain at all. It just happens to be lost. The son on the other hand, lost himself. He spent everything he had and ended up in the pigpen. People like this earn our moral indignation. We tend to think of them, they deserve what they get for what they did to themselves. We are partly right, but the fact is that all men do such things because it is our nature to do them. We are sinners. Lostness is part of our nature.

Next, I compared the finding of the lost things. In the case of the sheep and the coin, they were found after a diligent search. God has to take the initiative ‘to seek and save those that are lost’. In the case of the son, the son found himself, so to speak. He realized his condition, saw that even servants had it better than he does, got up and out of the pigpen and headed home. Though God takes the initiative in salvation, man must see himself for a sinner, see Christ as the solution, get up and come home in repentance and faith. Salvation cannot happen without both sides of the equation operating. Those who wish to dismiss one side of salvation or the other do not teach the whole counsel of God.

The next thing to compare was the joy over the found things. In the case of the sheep and the coin, the shepherd and the woman told their friends and rejoiced with them. The father told his servants (not the older son) and rejoiced with them. Those who rejoice with the finder are those who are predisposed to the finder’s point of view.

Finally we compared the mind of heaven over the salvation of sinners. The parables of sheep and coin are essentially one, teaching exactly the same lesson concerning the mind of heaven. God states that there is joy in heaven over ONE sinner that repents. I take this quite literally. The figure is the parable, the statement of fact is the heavenly viewpoint. God’s angels rejoice when a sinner turns to God. I believe that every believer has had his name sung in heaven. I made this application: has your name been on the lips of angels? Then I considered the response to the finding of the son: it is not the heavenly, but the earthly view. The older son comes in from the field (earth-centered focus), he is offended because 1) He has slaved 2) He has kept the law (father’s commandments) and the father has not given him so much as a baby goat (much less a fatted calf) to celebrate with HIS friends (not with the fathers servants). He ‘does well to be angry’. The father reminds him that the son was dead and is alive, was lost and is found. This is the view of heaven. The earthly view is: If I keep my nose clean, God MUST bless ME. The heavenly view is: there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents.

We need to adopt the heavenly view of sinners: they are not our friends just to satisfy our desire for friends. They are lost whom the Saviour desires to save. We are no friend if we will not do all we can to turn the lost to Christ, and find joy in their repentance and salvation.

Well, all in all, it was a great day in the Lord. Salvation is a great joy and those who share in the one bread and the one cup are truly blessed. May there be more to share it with before the Lord returns!

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Note: you can see the notes for the messages by clicking the links in the sermon titles.

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