Thursday, August 30, 2012

ARE YOU SERMON PROOF?


“There is nothing that moves them!” This common expression is often used of people who are stoic in their attitude or emotions. Sadly, it is also true of people who sit under the preaching of God’s Word week after week and are unmoved by its truth. They may even seem to enjoy going to church or entering into discussions about spiritual matters, but there is no sorrow over their sin; there is no repentance.  It was said of King Herod that he enjoyed hearing John: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly” (Mark 6:20). Such was also the case in the days of the prophet Ezekiel, who ministered to the Israelites in the Babylonian captivity. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., Ezekiel received word of what had occurred back in his homeland. He had been deported prior to the fall of Jerusalem.  Although he had preached hard against the sins which led to God’s judgment, those who remained in the land were still in rebellion to God. Was it any different with those taken to Babylon?  The answer is no!  Ezekiel had a congregation who loved to hear him preach, and they offered their pious praise, but that’s as far as it went: And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not” (Ezekiel 33:31, 32). This is exactly what James warned against in his New Testament epistle: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:22-24).
 
Hearing but not doing is the mark of men and women who trifle with God’s Word. They may be entertained by it, but they refuse to change their ways. This is a dangerous condition for anyone to be in. Jesus uttered woes (divine judgments) upon some of the cities of Galilee because they had witnessed the power of God in miracles and heard the words of wisdom of spoken by Jesus but remained unconverted: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matthew 11:21-24).
 
What will it take for godly repentance to happen in response to the hearing of God’s Word?  It will take surrender to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7, 8).  Pride, however, is a great obstacle to genuine conversion. Indifference is another. For a spiritual awakening to occur there must be a humble admission of the grievous nature of sin in light of the holiness of God and the judgment of sin which fell upon Christ. “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 NKJV).
 
My prayer for those who hear the preaching of God’s Word and the gospel of grace is that they will not remain “sermon proof.”  Hardness of heart is like a spiritual Kevlar (bullet proof) vest that resists the truth. But the truth is what sets a man free from the clutches of Satan and the bondage of self-deception (John 8:32).
 
If you are like the crowd in Ezekiel’s day which heard but did not obey, you must turn to the Lord for forgiveness.  It may be that you are not saved and need to be born again. Look to Jesus who died for your sins, and He will give you the gift of eternal life (John 3:16).  Don’t remain “sermon proof”!
 
Pastor Tom

3 comments:

Sarah Johnson said...

Hi, this is a great post, very thought-provoking.

I was raised as a Christian but I always had trouble understanding what it meant to "live as a Christian." For me, morality is based on love for our fellow humans (and animals) and while this may be the essence of Jesus' teachings, I didn't (and still can't) see the difference "being a Christian" would make to one's actions and the way they live their life. I wonder if you have any thoughts on this?

Thanks

Tom Chesko said...

Sarah

Thank you for your comment. Being a Christian makes a big difference in how we live because Christian’s endeavor to live according to the standards God reveals in His Word (the Bible), and not what they think, or feel is good or right. Jesus came into this world to save sinners. That was the purpose of His coming. He didn’t come to make good men better, but to give dead men (spiritually dead men) new life. Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. And, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Who can honestly say they have done that? Nobody! There is not a single person in this world who has kept God’s laws. Just look at the Ten Commandments and see how far you have fallen short. Must people don’t even know them, let alone live them! The Bible says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:25). This means that every person is in need of God’s forgiveness. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and is willing to forgive us, but we must first acknowledge our sinful condition and call upon Him to forgive us and give us eternal life (Romans 10:9 and 6:23). Once we receive Christ as Savior, God begins to bring about changes in our life through the presence of the Holy Spirit who is given to every true child of God. Life takes on new meaning and purpose because Christian’s live to please God above all else, to worship Him as the Lord of their lives, and serve Him. Christian’s are Christ’s ambassadors in this world to tell others about Him. I hope you will read some of my other posts, but more importantly begin to read the Bible, starting with the gospel of John and the book of Romans. I will pray that the Lord gives you wisdom in the knowledge of Him.

Sincerely,

Pastor Tom

Eimile said...

Thanks for sharing! I like your writing style