Harbor Lights Sermon Feb 21, 2010

A Gospel Presentation

I'm nobody special, though I've been teaching the Bible for about 30 years. But then again you guys have about 30 years life experience more than me. However what the Bible says is timeless. And we share a common fate as the Bible says, "Everyone must die once, and after that comes judgment" Heb 9:27. We are all going to have to give an account of ourselves before God. Heb 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." To many people that may not seem important because they're concerned only about right now. And many people know of the judgement day but assume that it will go well with them, not having studied what God said about it. We will all regret it if on that day we find we are unprepared to give an account of ourselves. Imagine getting stuck in a place you don't want to be and there's no hope of ever getting out.  So let's make sure we're ready for the judgment day. Jesus told his parable of the 10 virgins. They all intended to enter the Kingdom of God, but 5 of them showed up too late and they were not let into the Kingdom. Time is running out. We all have to get right with God before it's too late because there is no second chance.

Understand, of course that God has provided us with a way to be saved from His wrath. Very simply a man asked the apostle Paul, "What must I do to be saved?". Seems like a rather important question, don't you think? Does anyone here know the answer Paul gave to the man? If you don't know the answer to that question, why don't you know it? Is it not an important question? It's in the book, and you've had more time to find it than I've had. When I was young I went to a church for 20 years and they never gave an answer to that question. It was not until I read the Bible that I found the answer. Acts 16:31 "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved"

Romans 3:22-24
Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

But there's a very important question here. If salvation is through believing in Jesus, then it is very important to understand what it means to believe in Jesus. Don't you think? What does the Bible say is involved in believing in Jesus? That's the main subject I'll be covering periodically as I'm invited here to speak. Jesus told a parable saying in

Mt 18:23-24
The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.

The first servant owed the king 10,000 talents. If it's referring to talents of gold that would be about 10 billion dollars. This is an illustration of how deep in debt that Jesus considers us to be. A debt of sin and guilt that we owe to God.

Mt 18:25-27
Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

This is an illustration of how graciously God forgives our sins despite how deep in debt we are to him.

But under what condition was the debt forgiven? The servant demonstrated some contriteness. In fact later on the master will say, "I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to." Mt 18:32

Ps 51:17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

He first of all acknowledged the debt and asked for the king to be gracious. To be saved a person must acknowlege their indebtedness to God and their intent to do something about it - that is, to repent.

The faith that saves is the faith that acknowledges one's indebtedness to God.

The faith that saves is the faith that seeks to reconcile with God. It's a faith that seeks to pay back what he owes.

One day Jesus visited a tax collector, Zacchaeus. At that meeting Zacchaeus said: "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house" Luke 19:8,9 Now Zacchaeus was not going to pay back God for all his sins. But that kind of attitude and those kinds of actions reflect the kind of faith that is acceptable to God for salvation. But the story goes on:

Mt 18:28  But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

The second servant owed the first servant 100 denari, which is about $1000

29  "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

Same thing the first servant said to the master

30  "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

Which was his legal right

31-33  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’

The first was forgiven a 10billion dollar debt but was unwilling himself to forgive a mere $1000 debt. What's up with that? The contrast between these two debts reveals the attitude that Jesus demands we take on considering our indebtedness to God compared to others indebtedness to us. It can be humiliating to consider.

The servant was called "wicked". He did the legal thing. He exercised his legal right to get the money that was owed him. But he didn't do the right thing. Sometimes the legal thing to the do, or exercising your legal rights, is not the right thing to do.

Notice that the master hadn't commanded the first servant to forgive others, but it was something he expected. It should have come naturally if the first servant had received the master's grace in the right spirit. When God is gracious to us, he expects that to be reflected in our lives, in our decisions, in our relationships.

Now watch what happens next. And this is Jesus Christ saying this. I'm not making this up.

Mt 18:34-35
In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

We can only obtain the forgiveness of sins which God offers us if we receive it with the right attitude.You've heard the Lord's pray - the Our Father.  "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Mt 6:12 The wicked servant in the parable is not actually a believer. At most he represents the nominal Christian who though he begs forgiveness from God doesn't have an application oriented faith and so ultimately is not saved. Though he may have seen sincere, yet by his behavior it appears that he considered his debt and the master's forgiveness to be trivial. There are those who may pray a prayer for salvation, but who lack serious conviction of sin and don't consider the implications of being forgiven, not receiving it with true humility, true contriteness and real conviction. Such people are not qualified to be saved.  Saving faith is not a trivial thing.

Though salvation is a free gift, it is not unconditional. It is conditioned upon faith in Christ. Putting our faith in the atoning work of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins requires that we view ourselves as truly in debt to God. We cannot receive Christ without true conviction of sin. We cannot receive him with the attitude: "I'm not really all that bad a person, but whatever trivial things you have against me, forgive me for these." Those who don't forgive others who sin against them and ask for forgiveness, reveal that they haven't really accepted the fact of the depth of their own sinfulness against God and the extent to which God had supposedly forgiven them. They hadn't received the word in humility. Mt 6:15 "if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

The faith that saves is the faith that forgives.

Eph 4:31,32  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Col 3:12,13 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Jul 29,2015