A Sanctuary for Saints and Sinners in Need of a Saviour. Luke 18:9-14
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Christmas or x-mas? We see in stores, cards, social gathering throughout Christmas, Christ being taken out of this great celebration and replacing it with an ‘x’. Why does the world want to take Christ out of Christmas? When Christ is taken out you just have ‘mas’ left and what is mass? It’s a religious traditional event and time of year, but void of Jesus. Today we’ll see why the world wants to take Christ out of Christmas.
Let’s read in Matthew 11:5-6 about an average day for Jesus when John the Baptists followers were sent to ask Him if He was the Messiah and Jesus replies saying this; “5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
It’s the religious system that wants to take Jesus out of Christmas, not the poor, blind, naked or lame. The religious system could not control Jesus when He walked the earth over 2000 years ago and they can’t control the work of the Holy Spirit today.
Jesus operated in power of His Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Have you had an average day like this with these signs, wonders and miracles happening? Have you preached to the poor lately leading them to Christ? As Christians, this aught to be an active part of our life. It’s interesting how Jesus ends that verse when He says; “blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Why did He say that? What did He mean?
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says this about that verse; “2. He pronounces a blessing on those that were not offended in him, Matt. 11:6. So clear are these evidences of Christ’s mission, that they who are not wilfully prejudicedagainst him, and scandalized in him (so the word is), cannot but receive his doctrine, and so be blessed in him. Note, (1.) There are many things in Christ which they who are ignorant and unthinking are apt to be offended at, some circumstances for the sake of which they reject the substance of his gospel. The meanness of his appearance, his education at Nazareth, the poverty of his life, the despicableness of his followers, the slights which the great men put upon him, the strictness of his doctrine, the contradiction it gives to flesh and blood, and the sufferings that attend the profession of his name; these are things that keep many from him, who otherwise cannot but see much of God in him. Thus he is set for the fall of many, even in Israel (Luke 2:34), a Rock of offence, 1 Pet. 2:8. (2.) They are happy who get over these offences. Blessed are they. The expression intimates, that it is a difficult thing to conquer these prejudices, and a dangerous thing not to conquer them; but as to those, who, notwithstanding this opposition, to believe in Christ, their faith will be found so much the more, to praise, and honour, and glory.”
It's interesting to see the word, ‘prejudice’ used. If you’re prejudiced against Jesus, you will not receive nor be blessed by what He says. You can be:
· Offended at what He looked like; a rough and tough carpenter with no stately form or majestic appearance, neither polished or pristine looking. Isaiah 53:2
· Offended that He was from Nazareth which as Nathanael said; ‘can anything good come out of Nazareth?”. John 1:46
· Offended at His poverty, no place to lay his head, relying on what His disciples provided for Him. The one who saved your soul was homeless for His three years of ministry after His baptism. He was born in a manger, raised by a carpenter step-father, living with his parents until He was 30 years old. Luke 9:58
· Offended at His disciples and followers, poor humble men and women. Today it’s the same, they appear to be the foolish ones of the world (1 Corinthians 1:26-28). But when you know Jesus, you know how rich in the Spirit you are! You’re not laying up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but your mind is set on things above, on eternity as we can take nothing with us to heaven.
All of these things keep men and women from giving their lives to Jesus, because they’re offended with His prerequisites to follow Him. Many Jews today are still prejudice against Jesus, He is a rock of offence to them and others who do not believe in Him.
Christmas is a time of declaring the signs, wonders and miracles that surround the virgin birth found in Luke 2, but the salvation message is at the center of it all. After Jesus’ birth, He is then circumcised and presented at the temple and it was there that a man by the name of Simeon saw God’s salvation.
We read this in Luke 2:25-35; “25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” 33 [a]And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.
It's interesting to see that even though both Joseph and Mary knew Jesus was the son of God, they’re still marveling at what is being said. They were still very much walking by faith themselves in what they were living. They’re seeing right at this time, that Jesus is THE SALVATION of the whole world.
Notice that in the midst of all the wonderful proclamation of Gods salvation plan, what Simeons final words were to Mary. “34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
It was a reality check to Mary particularly that her son would cause many in Israel, then and now, to fall and rise, or believe and not believe, that He would be spoken against and that even a sword (figuratively) would pierce her soul. But remember what we just read in Matthew 11:5-6; “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Simeon was prophesying about the life of Jesus that he would be a rock of offence.
Let me poise a question to you; are you offended with Jesus also? Search your heart today if you’re operating in prejudice or offence toward Christ Jesus.
We read in 1 Peter 2:4-8 about Jesus being the chosen stone and we being His chosen people; “4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who [a]are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. Let’s read again what Matthew Henry’s Commentary says; “Note, (1.) There are many things in Christ which they who are ignorant and unthinking are apt to be offended at, some circumstances for the sake of which they reject the substance of his gospel. The meanness of his appearance, his education at Nazareth, the poverty of his life, the despicableness of his followers, the slights which the great men put upon him, the strictness of his doctrine, the contradictionit gives to flesh and blood, and the sufferings that attend the profession of his name; these are things that keep many from him, who otherwise cannot but see much of God in him.”
The prejudice against Jesus goes beyond skin colour, it’s everything about Him that people are offended at. Who’s following Him, where He lives, where He’s from, the substance of His message claiming to be the only way, truth and life; that He died and rose again, that He ascended to heaven, that He sent the Holy Spirit to you so you wouldn’t be an orphan. Offended at everything, that He is the Messiah.
Again we read in Matthew 11:5-6; “5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
Here’s what Matthew Henry’s Commentary says about 1 Peter 2:7-9; “Those who reject him as a Saviour will split upon him as a Rock. (3.) God himself hath appointed everlasting destruction to all those who stumble at the word, being disobedient. All those who go on resolutely in their infidelity and contempt of the gospel are appointed to eternal destruction; and God from eternity knows who they are. (4.) To see the Jews generally rejecting Christ, and multitudes in all ages slighting him, ought not to discourage us in our love and duty to him; for this had been foretold by the prophets long ago, and is a confirmation of our faith both in the scriptures and in the Messiah.”
As a Christian, you’ve been appointed to be obedient to the Word of God, not disobedient. At the same time, don’t think you’re so strong that you won’t fall. Each person, by their decision making, can make or break their salvation. Take heed lest you fall, I Corinthians 10:12; “Now these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So the one who thinks he is standing firm should be careful not to fall”.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God, as Romans 8:5 says, except yourself; by the way you’re obedient or disobedient to His Word, by the offence that you’re walking in towards Jesus and what He’s requiring of you, by not prioritizing the things in your heart that are to be a priority as a Christian, by allowing the little foxes to come in a nip at the vine and eventually cut off the life of your soul.
It’s common in our day to remove Christ out of Christmas and say Merry x-mas instead. I’m convinced that those who do this are operating in offence to the gospel, an antichrist spirit has overtaken them and the God of this world has blinded them. Is that you today? Didn’t the Apostle Peter and the rest of the disciples, except John, flee when Jesus was arrested and crucified. They thought they never would deny Him but they did. We’re not exempt from the devil’s temptations.
But all it took was for the disciples to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the upper room where they were given power to be able to live in the authority that Jesus had commanded them to live in. That’s when the signs, wonders and miracles manifested in them. But still, don’t think you’re so strong that the devil won’t try to take you down, even if you are baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. Stay humble and don’t let pride get in to let down your guard.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says; “3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
How many people have had the gospel preached to them, they’ve seen the power of the Holy Spirit, they’ve seen the miraculous but they still don’t comprehend it? It’s because the devil has blinded their minds.
Those offended by Christ that are saying Merry x-mas instead of Merry Christmas, have exchanged; blindness for sight, sickness for healing, deafness for hearing, death for resurrection, salvation for damnation. This is not a great exchange, and the blessing from Jesus is withheld because of their offence (prejudice) towards Him.
1 Corinthians 1:18 says; “18 For the [a]message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
This scripture ties in with what Jesus said about offence with Him, because people claim the cross is foolishness. The god of this world has blinded their minds and they refuse to submit to the Word of God.
For the Christian, we read in 1 Peter 2:9-10; “9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
You see, there is no middle ground to get comfortable in. Either you’re a child of God or a child of the devil, because that’s whose camp you’re in if you’re not born again. Many don’t see it as that though. Deep inside people refuse to see the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, but until a person is born again, you’re of the kingdom of darkness whose god is the devil. A person in the kingdom of darkness may not be bowing down in veneration to the devil, but their life and lifestyle reflect who their god is, their heart is not right.
Jesus says this in Matthew 5:14-16; “14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
As a Christian today, are you offended with Christ in any area of your life that He’s asking you to be obedient in? Now is not the time to be lazy about the things of the Lord. Keep vigilant in the Word of God, in prayer, in humility and in obedience to all that Jesus is asking of you to do.
What makes a Christian a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master (JESUS), and prepared for every good work? We read in 2 Timothy 2:19-21 the following: “19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of [a]Christ depart from iniquity.” 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, [b]sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
Jesus is saying that to be a vessel of honor, you have to cleanse yourself of any sin that would lead to dishonor which is likened to wood and clay and to depart from iniquity. Is there anything dishonorable in your life today that would hinder you from being a vessel of honor?
Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17:17-19 saying; “17 Sanctify[a] them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
Jesus emphasizes sanctification and truth three times in these verses. Sanctification is a prerequisite in your life to be a vessel of honor. We read more about this in the NKJV Study Bible 17:17 Sanctify means “to set apart.” There are two ways to understand this statement: (1) as separate for holiness, or (2) as set apart for service. According to the first view, Jesus was praying not only that the disciples should be kept from evil, but that they should advance in holiness. However in v. 18, sanctification seems to refer to the disciples’ mission, indicating that sanctify may also mean that Jesus was setting apart His disciples for this. Your word is truth is a strong statement of Jesus’ confidence in the veracity of Scripture. People’s opinions may vary, and experiences are notoriously untrustworthy, but God’s Word always remains true.”
God’s word does not change or shift; He makes a Law and He doesn’t break it. We read that abstaining from sexual sins leads to sanctification. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who[a] has also given us His Holy Spirit.”
How many people have been defrauded in the body of Christ by sexual immorality? It went on in the early church and continues today…but it is sin and ought not to be in the body of Christ. The Lord’s promise is that He will avenge those who practice this. The Christian is to live a sanctified and holy life and whoever rejects these two prerequisites, rejects God. That’s how seriously God sees this.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14; “13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 [a]Because narrow is the gate and [b]difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
It is very sobering what Jesus has said here; few find the way of life because it requires a life walking the straight and narrow path.
I ask you again; what makes a Christian a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master (JESUS), and prepared for every good work? It’s the truth in Gods word that will cause you to get rid of those things in your life that dishonor your walk with Christ, no ifs, no buts or maybes.
So if sanctification is a part of obtaining salvation, then why is it that so many Christians place unrealistic expectations on God to retract on His word and save the soul of a backslidden family member or loved one that has died in their sin, be it through an accident, drug overdose, suicide, sickness, etc.
You’ll hear Christians say that he or she went onto be with the Lord in Heaven, but a more realistic expectation of Jesus would be to say; that when they died, they have gone on to the Lord to be judged. It’s also unrealistic to say that they went to hell, if you don’t know what happened to them while they were dying and what their last words were. Maybe they called on the name of Jesus to forgive them and save them.
It’s unrealistic to expect God to save a soul of someone whom you have no knowledge of having repented of their sins before dying, regardless of their previous salvation prayer in the past that was not presently lived out while they were alive as a Christian. There will be many standing before Jesus when they die who have prayed the salvation prayer but didn’t sanctify themselves and didn’t live holy lives but continued in a lifestyle of sin.
Untimely deaths are often so instant that there is no time to repent, and I think its important for Christians to be realistic and not place unrealistic expectations on Jesus to go back on His word. That’s why it says, Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
The doctrine of eternal security (once saved always saved) has placed unrealistic expectations on Jesus to go back on His word and save the soul of an unrepentant Christian who is backslidden in sin. It’s a delusion to think God would go against His own Law regarding salvation.
The Apostle John says in 1 John 1:5-10; “5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
If someone has prayed the prayer of salvation, but has continued in darkness – sin – it says that they’ve lied because they’ve not practiced the truth. Christianity is conditional; it’s turning away, repenting, giving up a lifestyle of sin, and turning to Christ, living holy and sanctified to Him.
1 John 2:1-6 continues saying; “2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God [a]is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
Jesus is righteous in all He does, He is the righteous one, He’s not a Law-breaker, double-minded or unstable. How do you have the assurance that you know Him? You keep His commandments and don’t be a Law-breaker. Your confession of faith in Jesus and repentance at the altar is good, but then you have to keep His commandments. Maybe you say like the Apostle John said in this verse, that you ‘know Him’, you went to Bible camp, Bible college, served Him faithfully for a season, but if you do not abide in Him, stay in the truth and keep His commandments, he says that you’re a liar. You see, Jesus died in order that the righteous requirements of the law could be met in you, he’s given you everything to live godly and holy and His grace is sufficient for you and you’re without excuse.
Some would say that this sounds legalistic because Jesus did everything on the cross. He did conquer all on the cross by defeating the devil and took the keys of death, hell and the grave. He also sent the Holy Spirit to you to help you keep the commandments.
By John saying that, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”, questions the validity of their salvation. When you’re saved, your heart is to keep the commandments of God, the Holy Spirit is inside you to bring conviction so when you do sin, you repent and not continue in sin. You’re supposed to walk and talk like Jesus did and keep His commandments.
John is stating that there are those Christians who repent and there are those who claim to be Christian and don’t repent. One is walking in truth and one is walking in lies. Both profess to be Christians, but one is a Law-breaker and the other not.
John continues to expose sin and the child of God in 1 John 3:4-9 by saying; “4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
Temptations come in our lives to sin, but we have the power to resist temptation in Jesus’ name, so John is showing that the one who continues in a lifestyle of sin, is of the devil. Either they were never a Christian to start out with or they’ve backslidden and they’re back in the devil’s camp.
That’s why Jesus could say in Matthew 7:21-23; “21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Remember, sin is lawlessness.
Jesus also says in Matthew 13:40-42; “40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
We’ve said this repeatedly that it’s not God’s will to cast any sinner into hell for eternity, for He’s willing that none perish but that all be saved. But he’s given each person a free will to choose, so if they choose to continually break God’s Laws and live as a Law-breaker, God has no choice because He can’t retract or recant on His commandments.
It’s unrealistic to believe that God would retract on His word; it would make Him out to be a Law-breaker of His own Law. It’s time to repent of portraying God as a Law-breaker with regards to him saving the soul of your backslidden loved ones, friends and family members who have died in their sin. It’s time to have a realistic expectation of God as a Lawgiver who does not go back on His word, it’s time to repent of eternal security and cheap grace doctrines that have got you to believe a lie and make Jesus out to be a Law-breaker of His own Laws.
Hebrews 10:26-31 says; “26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”
[a]says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Have you been insulted before? No one likes it. That’s what is done to the Holy Spirit, Jesus and Father God by those who continue in lawlessness after they were sanctified, or born again. You trample down the blood of Jesus and the new covenant he made for you, considering it unholy, no better than the blood of a malefactor. Shouldn’t God then, have full authority to render His most sever judgment? Of course He should.
What makes a Christian a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master (JESUS), and prepared for every good work? It comes down to this; He gave His Word, He died on a cross, He gave you the ability to live an honorable life, He gave you the power of the Holy Spirit to keep the Law to give honor to Him. His word is truth. He is the one who gives you the ability to walk a sanctified life, to submit your free will to Him to walk holy.