6 Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.” — Proverbs 9:6 NLT
The word proverb means “to be like” . The book of Proverbs is a collection of thoughts or sayings teaching us what we should be like. The Proverbs and there are many proverbs in the Bible that are outside of the Book of Proverbs show us aspects of our lives and how we should look at them and how we should respond to them. In other words, Proverbs gives us a picture of the lifestyle of a Christian versus a non-Christian by contrasting how we respond to situations. Proverbs teaches us to respect wisdom and to seek wisdom for every decision we make. As in the passage we are looking at today, we are invited to partake of God’s wisdom as we would of food and drink. We need to sit with Jesus and ask Him for Godly wisdom before we make our decisions. Not just the decisions that we would consider as major, life-changing decisions but all of our decisions because God is concerned with the smallest things in our lives. Whether we turn left or right at the next intersection (be it on the physical highway or the Spiritual highway) could be the difference in whether we make it home safely or not.
7 “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sins are put out of sight.
8 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”
whose sins are put out of sight.
8 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”
— Romans 4:7, 8 NLT
God, because of His great love, mercy and grace made the plan of salvation so simple that a child can understand it. Because of the simplicity of the plan, it often brings the question, “Is that really all I need to do to be saved?’. And the simple answer is yes. So, we can just keep doing what we were doing? No! and again No! But now we are talking about sanctification which is a lifelong process. The good works we do are not to gain a greater salvation. If we could do enough good works to be saved then Jesus died in vain. We might as well still be living under the law and all of its impossible requirements. But Jesus did not die in vain. His death and resurrection fulfilled the law and opened the gate to heaven so that all that chose Him in faith could come in. When Paul tells the Philippians to “work out your own salvation”, he is not telling them to look for another way to be saved. He is telling them to do good works to show the world the results of their salvation. Phil, 2:12-15 NLT Jesus “went about doing good”. He is our example of how we are to live our lives as His brothers and sisters. As Christians, our response to certain things should be so different from the response of the worldly that it gets their attention. Our good works not only attract others to Jesus but they are also how we “lay up rewards in heaven”.
Just as it only takes a little bit of yeast to make the whole batch self-rising, it only takes a little untruth to make the whole message a lie. God does not need our help to make His glorious Good News any better. He doesn’t need us to stretch the truth to make His miracles any bigger and we don’t need to add anything to His plan of salvation to make it effective. We must be very careful in witnessing to others that we do not add to or subtract from what God has said. We must be confident in what we believe and share it with the love of Jesus Christ. Anything more or less than what Jesus said takes away everything that He did for us at the cross. We must saturate our efforts with prayer and the love of Jesus Christ. But, just as Paul was adamant about rebuking those that sowed confusion to the new converts, we must be courageous in sharing the Gospel. There are lines we do not cross and there is a stance from which we do not back down. Share the Gospel with love, pure and simple, with no apologies.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.–Matt. 10:32,33 (NIV)
9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” 11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” 12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. 13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.—-John 5:8-15 (NLT)
This amazing story gets even more amazing. Notice that this man doesn’t even know who Jesus is, he doesn’t ask Jesus to heal him, and there is no mention of faith at all. This is a real oddity, a completely different perspective from the time that Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has made you whole.” Why did Jesus choose to heal this man in this way? This is a great demonstration of God’s mercy and grace. God sent Jesus to find this man, just as He sends the Holy Spirit to find us today. This man didn’t deserve to be healed any more or less than we deserve to be saved today. Yet, God, because of His great love for us, healed and saved this man, just as He saves and heals us today. Jesus is telling us the same thing that he told this man, “stop sinning”. Our response should be the same as this man that Jesus healed, we should go and tell others how we were saved, The message is simple, yet powerful! “It was Jesus.”. The Name above all names! The Name that requires a decision every time it is spoken. “What will you do with Jesus”?
”I’m too bad to be saved!” “God would never forgive me for the things I have done!” If you have ever done much one-on-one witnessing, I am sure that you have heard these or similar statements. But as we learned yesterday, God has no degrees of sin. To Him, sin is sin. A liar is just as guilty as a murderer. God will and does forgive the “biggest” sinner just as quickly and mercifully as He forgives a “little” sinner. Living a good life will not save you, doing good works will not save you. God’s salvation plan is simple and free, but it is also non-negotiable. There aren’t several ways to get to heaven, there is just one way. Jesus said: “I am THE WAY”. Not one of the ways, but the only way. No matter what our past has been, Jesus stands ready to forgive and restore. The “best’ person in the world needs redemption just as much as the “worst” person. That is what Paul, through the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit is telling us here. We can’t be “bad” enough to not be saved*** and we can’t be “good” enough not to need salvation. The steps to salvation are simple: BELIEVE! RECEIVE! Now, we are on our way to heaven, so just give Him glory and honor!!
***There is only one unforgivable sin and that is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. If you have committed this sin, then your conscience is seared over and you have no concern about sin at any level. If you have committed this sin, the Holy Spirit withdraws from you and God has no way of convicting you of your sinful condition. If there is no conviction, there is no repentance and therefore, there can be no forgiveness of sin.
God made the plan of salvation very simple. Believe that He sent His Son to die for our sins. The name of Jesus is the only name in heaven or earth that can save us. We say, this is easy, I know all this, but we need to be reminded daily that our redemption cost more than we can ever repay. We need to be reminded that we are bought with a price. A price that only God’s great love could pay. Often those in the world and some Christians, as well. have the idea that God is looking down on us, just waiting for us to mess up, so He can zap us. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is looking for someone who is obedient and faithful. Someone that He can bless. Someone who is spreading His story. Make it a habit to tell someone every day about God’s great love.
27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” 31 But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district. Matthew 9:27-31 (NRSV)
12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:12, 13 (NRSV)<
In the passage above from John, Jesus tells us that we have access to the power to do greater miracles than He did because He is going to the Father. In the passage from Matthew, he asked the blind men if they believed that He was able to heal them. Their response was “Yes, Lord”. Simple, childlike faith and Jesus responded by touching their eyes and they both could see. As He touched their eyes, Jesus made this statement: "According to your faith let it be done to you". We say we believe the Word of God is inerrant and infallible. If that is true, then why don’t we see more miracles performed today? Perhaps we need to look deep inside ourselves and see what we really believe. In verse 13 above, Jesus made a statement that has only 1 condition to it, "ask in My Name and I will do it". Are you having any kind of problems this morning? Do you believe the Bible is inerrant, immutable, and infallible? Jesus also said "you have not because you ask not". Commit yourself totally into the Father's hands, ask in the name of Jesus, without doubting, and you will receive. If you can't believe it, then ask God to help your unbelief. Humble yourself under His mighty hand, believe it and receive it.