Sunday, April 27th, 2008 | Author:

[Note: This is a message I shared with my church on April 27, 2008.]

My main scripture this morning is very short, and by God’s grace, it will mean more to us when I’m done than it does right now: 2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

When I think about what Jesus saved me from, I usually think of the gravity and the multitude of my sins. Remember, I lived for 39 years before I committed my life to Him, and you can do a lot of serious sinning in 39 years. Because of that, one of the passages that I claim as my own is from Luke 7, starting in verse 44:

And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’

So if I seem fanatical sometimes about Jesus, it’s because I know how much I have been forgiven. As a side note, I recently read that the new-ager Oprah is promoting these days, Eckhart Tolle, said that all those who have a rigid belief system reflect a “collective mental illness.”[1] So I guess I’m going out in a straightjacket.

Since I was saved from 39 years of sins, though, about fourteen years ago now, I have been perfect and have not sinned. No? Well, okay. Maybe I sinned a couple times, but they were little ones and nothing that would really need forgiveness. No? You’re right. Or as the kids would say, “Not!” The truth is, whether it was before I was saved, or after I was saved, I have sinned every single day of my life. “Whoa,” you say, “she must really be a tough case!” That may be true — but so are all of you. Maybe you haven’t done what I’ve done, but maybe, over the years, we’ve all gotten a little complacent about some sin, because we know we’ve been forgiven, or maybe we’ve even gotten a little smug and self-righteous, because we’ve been serving the Lord. God, however, has provided some verses that will get us back to His perspective:

· Genesis 6 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”[2]
· Psalms 53 God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.[3]
· Isaiah 64 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.[4]
· Romans 3 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God[5]
· Romans 7 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. [6]
· 1 John 1 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.[7]

So we’re all sinners. Every day of our lives on this earth, we need the forgiveness that Jesus bought for us on the cross. When we talk of salvation, that’s usually what we mean. Jesus saved us from our sins.

While that’s true, and I may have more reason to be grateful than most, I’d like to make a distinction this morning between Jesus saving us from our sins, and Jesus saving us from the consequences of our sins. What happens when we accept the gift of salvation? What happens when we don’t?

Here on earth, people who don’t have the gift of salvation are ruled by their flesh, and Galatians 5 tells us this:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.[8]

In contrast, those who have received the gift of salvation have the Holy Spirit, and

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.[9]

I think that’s a good summary. If we accept the gift of salvation that Jesus Christ offers us, we gain the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If we don’t accept His precious gift, we live by the deeds of the flesh. Pretty clear consequences.

But what about after our earthly lives? What happens when these temporary bodies are dead? I’ve gone to Revelation for the answer to these questions.

For those who have received the gift of salvation, chapter 7 says this:

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.[10]

I can’t imagine much better than that. By the same token, I can’t imagine much worse than what follows, starting in Revelation 5.

And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer. And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. And when He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard as it were a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” And when He broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” And I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. And authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also. And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”[11]

It gets much worse with the seventh seal and the seven trumpets, and eventually the lake of fire, but I’m going to stop now, because I want to make sure you picked up on what is causing all this mayhem on earth: the wrath of the Lamb. Listen again:

“Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”

Our gentle Jesus, our loving and compassionate God, will someday take the earth out of the hands of evil men, and bring justice for all the pain and suffering we have caused.

“VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.[12]

But now, gratefully, I return to our first, simple scripture for the day:

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift![13]
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
[14]
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
[15]

This is the choice that God puts before the whole world: We can humble ourselves and accept His indescribable gift of salvation, which brings us the fruit of the Spirit, white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and Jesus as our shepherd forevermore …

… or we can reject the gift of salvation, live on this earth following our fleshly desires — and someday suffer the unendurable wrath of the Lamb.
To me, that seems like a pretty simple choice: the gift of God — or the wrath of God. As a result, today I’m passing out gift certificates — gift certificates from Jesus. I encourage you all to read them and pray, while we listen to a song about The Gift. Even if you’ve done this before, today I encourage you to recommit your life to our Lord and Savior.

[Note: This gift certificate may be downloaded from the column on the right.]

Benediction:

May we all walk in the fruit of the Spirit, in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. By the grace of God, may we all don white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and worship Jesus as our shepherd forevermore. Amen.

[1] Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D., April 7, 2008, NewsWithViews.com
[2] Genesis 6:5-7
[3] Psalms 53:2-3
[4] Isaiah 64:6
[5] Romans 3:21-23
[6] Romans 7:18-19
[7] 1 John 1:8
[8] Galatians 5:19-21
[9] Galatians 5:22-23
[10] Revelation 7:14-17
[11] Revelation 5:14-6:17
[12] Romans 12:19
[13] 2 Corinthians 9:15
[14] 2 Corinthians 9:15
[15] 2 Corinthians 9:15

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