Our Father, we're so grateful that we can come to the Word of God and know that the Word of God has answers to those things which are on our minds and hearts. We thank You, Father, that You have not left us without a chart and a compass, without a guidebook, without the proper instruction for us to know the truth. Father, we pray tonight that, even as we discuss these issues and the answers that You have given in Your Word, that they might be accurate. We pray that the Holy Spirit would be our teacher, that my wisdom and my thoughts might not get in the way and cloud the issue, but, truly, I may speak the truth. Withhold my tongue from speaking error, and may I speak only that which is of Thee. Thank You for the time we share together. May it be helpful to all of us Christ's name. Amen.
Okay, the first question that I have, and, again, there's no particular order, is salvation based on accepting Christ as Savior and Lord, or does He become Lord later? Very often, you hear testimonies, and somebody will say, "Well, a long time ago I accepted Christ as Savior, but only recently have I made Him Lord of my life." Have you ever heard that? That's very common. Or, "I received Christ. I believed in Him, but He never was Lord until just recently." Well, lemme show you what the Scripture says about that. Turn in your Bible, first of all, to Romans chapter 10 verse 9 says this, and you know the Scripture, but I wanna point something out. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as...what?...Lord and so believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
Isn't that interesting?..."If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as...what?...Lord." Listen, friends, you don't make Jesus Lord. He is Lord. That's who He is. If you receive Jesus at all, you receive Him for who He is. Lemme show you another Scripture. Philippians chapter 2 verse 9. This is really a simple question. It's easy to answer. "Wherefore God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, things in Heaven and earth and under the earth...Now watch...and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is...what?...Lord." That's who He is. For somebody to say, "I received Him as Savior, but just recently I made Him Lord," you didn't make Him Lord at all. He already is Lord...So when you receive Him, you receive Him as Lord. Salvation is confessing Jesus as Lord of my life.
You say, "But there was a difference in my life. I mean there was a difference between when I received Him and...and just recently." You know what the difference was? You finally woke up that you oughta obey Him. It isn't a question of who's Lord. It's a question of obedience, right? He is Lord. He is Lord. There's no question about that. So don't say that, "I made Him Lord of my life." You're not in the coronation business. God has anointed Him, right? King and Messiah and Lord. You can't do that. You can't say, "I just made God Lord." He is Lord, and you just finally woke up to being obedient.
How can you know if a small child has been born again? What evidence? Only one way according to Scripture. That is this. Matthew chapter 18, and this is really the only way people are saying, "Well, how do you - can you see the fruit of the Spirit? I see my little kid, and he's...he says he's saved, but he doesn't read his Bible all the time, doesn't pray and lead family devotions, and, you know, and I don't see a whole lot of the fruit of the Spirit in his life. Well, how do I know whether this is just the child, or whether he's been saved?" There's only one way to know that a child can be saved, and that's because the Bible says he can, because he's really too young to manifest all of the things that indicate it.
"Jesus called a little child to Him...in verse 2 of Matthew 18...set him the midst and said, 'Verily I say unto you, except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same as greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And whosoever shall one such little child in My name, receives Me...Now watch...For whosoever shall offend one of these little ones who...what?...believe in Me." There it is. Jesus said that a little child could believe in Him. Listen to this. If somebody believes in Him, what is he? Saved. Can a child be saved? Yes. By the authority of the Word of God. Do you want any better authority than that? When he believes, that is salvation.
Somebody said, "How do you know when you're saved?" Well, I think there's really three ways to know you're saved, maybe. No. 1 is to believe the Word of God. The Bible says this, "But if thou shalt believe in thine heart and confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus or Jesus as Lord, thou shalt...what?...be saved." If you believe in Him and you've confessed it to Him, you're saved. The first way you believe it is because the Bible says so.
The second thing is...because the Spirit testifies to that. In Romans 8, it says in verse 14, "That the Lord sends His Spirit in us reminding us that we are the sons of God and crying out in us, 'Abba! Father!'" Testimony of the Spirit. The third test to know you're saved is the testimony of other people who look at your life. The Bible says, "By their fruits...what?...we shall know them."
There's three ways to know you're saved. Because you believe the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit testifies in your heart that you are redeemed, and because your heart longs to know God and to express to God and to talk to God and to sense God, to love God; and, thirdly, because those around you see the evidence of it in your life.
Does God answer every salvation prayer? Does God answer every salvation prayer? That's a good question. Is there ever anybody who prays to be saved and gets refused? Well, there's a clear answer to that, I think. The clear answer to that is in John 6:37. "All that the Father gives shall come to Me." That's the sovereign side of it. That's God in action. John 6:37, that's God in action. "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me...but watch...and him that comes to Me I will in no wise...what?...cast out." Yes, God answers every salvation prayer. "Him that comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out."
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will...what?...give you rest." What is the condition for rest? What do you have to do to get rest? Be elected, what? Come. Come. Come...Yes, every salvation prayer is answered. The thief on the cross, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom." What did He say? "Today shall you be with Me in paradise." You find me one time, anyplace, anytime in the Bible where such a prayer was not answered within an immediate yes. One man even came and said, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." The Lord took him...
In Romans chapter 5 verse 20. You say, "Yeah, but even the prayers of really bad people...like me?" Listen, "Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound...I love this...But where sin abounded...what?...grace super-abounded."...Some of you are thrilled about that. All of you should be.
How do you get life everlasting? First Timothy 1:16, "Nevertheless...Paul says...for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering." Paul says, "You know why I think...one reason why He saved Me? Just to show everybody how patient He is. That He would save somebody going around killing Christians." That oughta give you an idea of who He'll save, right? "That He might show in me first Jesus Christ as longsuffering for a pattern to them who should hear after believe on Him to...what?...life everlasting." How do you get life everlasting? By what? Believing on Him; and be reminded that, if the Apostle Paul, who spent his career hating Jesus Christ and killing Christians...was saved, let that be a good example as to who God'll save. Nobody, but nobody, under any circumstance gets turned down if they come.
Hebrews 7:25, "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." You say, "Oh, yeah, MacArthur, He's able all right, but the question is, is He willing?"...Oh, I'll tell ya, Peter chapter 3 says, "God is not willing that...what?...any should perish." Sincerity is necessary, and you study in Matthew 13 the different soils, and some people aren't sincere, but the sincere prayer of the sincere heart will always be answered. "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come,'...Revelation 22:17 records...And let him that hear say, 'Come.' And let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the Water of Life freely." Yes, God answers every salvation prayer...
Another question. Will people who accept Christ but remain Catholic be saved?...Well, I'll answer it this way. It does not say in the Bible that if a man is not a Catholic, he shall be saved. You could be an anything religiously and be saved; and I...I would take this opportunity to...to make a statement in this area. Frequently, as I teach, I'll mention, like I mentioned somebody tonight, or I'll mention a group of people like the Mormons or Seventh-Day Adventists or Jehovah's Witnesses or Roman Catholic, and so forth; and when I do that, I am not intending to slight the individual people. I am not trying to be unkind and unloving and indifferent and rude and crude and judgmental on the individual people. I merely take the opportunity to illustrate to you points of truth and error, because I feel that's my responsibility as a teacher of the Scripture before the Lord. And from time to time, it is necessary in our instruction to bring out certain areas of error in Roman Catholic theology; and we have said in the past, from time to time, that...that a person could not really be a true, historic Catholic in the full sense of the word and also be a Christian, because truly being a Roman Catholic, their whole area of theology is not compatible with salvation by pure and simple act of grace on the part of God.
But you could be a Christian and a poor Catholic, frankly; and there are some wonderful Christian people who remain in a Catholic framework. That is not an issue of salvation. I think, eventually, that can become a problem if you don't get the feeding of the Word of God and...and it can retard your growth. But, yes, the question is answered simply yes. A person could remain a Catholic and still be saved. You could remain an anything, but the chances are, if you really get plugged into what Christ is doing, and you really see the Word of God as it oughta be, you're gonna gravitate to somewhere where you're gonna hear what you oughta hear; and I...I'm thankful to God for what's going on, in some sense, in Catholic circles where the...the new liberty that the Catholics are enjoying and, as things have been breaking down since...since Pope John kind of eased up everything, is creating more of a personal interest on the part of priests and nuns, as well as people, to search the Scriptures and see the truth; and I'm thankful to God for that.
I've heard many times this statement. "When the last soul is saved, the Lord will return." You ever heard that? I think we've all heard that. What is the scriptural base for this? Well, there is no verse that says that, but it is certainly inferred; and...and it is inferred by this; and I don't know that I've ever said that, but I really don't have an argument with it. I guess I think that sometimes, that somewhere in the world, the last person's gonna be saved, and away we go. That's kind of exciting to think about. But there is no verse. But it is true that God acts in the fullness of things, doesn't He?
For example, you have Galatians 4:4, "In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law." God acts in the fullness of time, and there, you take that same concept to Romans 11:25, and there you have a very interesting statement, in Romans 11:25, that has to do with the church. Listen to what it says. "For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of the mystery, lest you be wise in your own conceits: that blindness in part has happened to Israel till the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." Now, most would agree, I think, with very few exceptions, that the fullness of the Gentiles is the church. The times of the Gentiles is a period of Gentile domination of Israel began in 586 BC and goes on till the Lord comes and established the Kingdom again. But the fullness of the Gentiles is the fulfilling of the Gentile group of believers the Lord calls out to Himself.
So blindness, in part, has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles. Once the fullness of the Gentiles is completed, then the blindness of Israel is taken away. Do you see? Well, the taking away of the blindness of Israel occurs in what period of time? The Tribulation. So the Tribulation then will occur immediately after the fullness of the Gentiles. What is the key event that starts the Tribulation? The Rapture. So it is truly inferred that, when the last soul is saved and the fullness of the Gentile is reached, we're taken out, and God begins to redeem Israel.
So, from that standpoint, I think the inference is correct, though, as I said, there is no very specific or direct statement that says that very thing. I'm thinking, too, of Acts 15:14, "Simeon declared that God first would visit the nations to take a people for His name." That God was gonna take a people, a designated people. Remember, also, in Acts, that the Bible says, "God had many people in that city," and once God's people are brought together, and the fullness is complete, then God's gonna deal with Israel, and the Rapture must intervene. So it is true, when the last soul is saved or soon thereafter, we leave.
Now, here's another question. If God is such a loving God, why does He send people to hell? Do you know that there's no verse in all the Bible that says God sends people to hell? There is a verse that says He has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell. Once a soul is in hell, God has the power of eternal destruction on that soul; but it nowhere says God sends people to hell. The Old Testament says that God said, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." Second Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is long suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." In Romans chapter 9, it says that, "There are people fitted for destruction." Passive verb, God isn't even in on it. Watch this. Here's the complexity. God accepts all the responsibility of salvation and gives man all the responsibility of damnation. Always in Scripture that's a man's responsibility.
Jesus said, "You will not come unto Me that you might have life." Jesus cried over the city of Jerusalem and said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that stonest the prophets and killest them that are sent to thee, how oft I would have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her brood, and you would not."...
"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' Let him that is athirst come and take of the Water of Life freely." Isaiah said, "Ho, everyone that thirst, come without money by free gift."...Jesus said, "All that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me," and then He said, "And no man that comes to Me will I ever turn away. Him that cometh to Me, I will not cast out." You see, He gives men the opportunity. It isn't God sending people to hell. It is God who has the power of destroying those who get there. All you have to do is look at Jesus Christ dying on the cross in the agony of the sins of the world, and you know that God didn't want men in hell. That was the wonder of the work of Christ.
There are questions like why did God allow sin? And the why questions are very difficult when they get into the nature of God. He did allow it, and that suffices the...the issue, because we just don't know why. We can speculate why He allowed it. The theologians have done that for years. That's called the problem of theodicy, or why God permitted evil. Maybe the best solution to that question is to simply say He allowed it in order that He might destroy it. By that I mean this. If there is a right, there is a left. If there is an up, there is a down. If there's an in, there's an out. If there's a good, there's a...bad. And so if there was goodness, there was always potential evil; and maybe God allowed evil to exist in order to ultimately destroy it, so that it could no longer again exist; and that's what Heaven is all about.
But that's a stab at it. That's the way I kinda look at it; but there are some questions that are very difficult to answer, because we just don't know the mind of God; and there is no specific revelation in the Scripture regarding such questions. Why did sin enter the world? Again, we have the difficulty of that same question; and I mentioned it to you earlier. There is no answer to that question. We don't know why. We just know that it did. But the question that followed that is important. Why did Adam sin? You ask most people, "Why did Adam sin?" and they say he was tempted by Satan, and he sinned. That isn't true. Was Adam deceived? No.
Paul said to Timothy, "Adam was not deceived. The woman was deceived." Eve was deceived. That's why women have, for one reason, taken the subservient role in God's order, because they sinned. They were deceived. Why did Adam sin? The best answer to that is that Adam sinned because he loved Eve; and once she was what she was, he wanted to be what she was...In addition to that, there is no answer. But apparently, and most scholars say to be what Eve was. I mean at that point, he didn't have a lotta choice. She was the only woman around, and if he wanted any kind of compatibility, that was how it was; and it shows you the foolishness of man's first decision. Now, don't ask me what would've happened if he hadn't done it. What if questions are tough, too.
All right, another question. God cannot sin, so how could Christ have been tempted by Satan to sin? Now, as I said before, you know, when you ask about how and why questions, and you're dealing with the nature of God, you have a very difficult time in answering. How does God do this, or why does God do this are extremely difficult questions. But I do think the question shows one thing that we must make clear. It says, "God can't sin, so how could Christ have been tempted?" Now, watch, you must understand that there is a difference between being tempted and what? Sinning.
Listen, can you be tempted and not sin? I hope so. I mean if...if you can't, we're in real trouble. Of course, I can be tempted and not sin. Why? Because temptation is not sin. Temptation is to bring about sin, and in 1 Corinthians 10:13, listen, "There has no temptation taken you but such is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will, with the temptation, make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." Listen, there is a difference between temptation and sin. You never are tempted at the place where you cannot have victory. The difference, I think, is...is clearly indicated to us in a simple passage of Scripture. Well, there's many, really, but I think one simple one. James 1, and there's a couple of things we could look at, but James 1:13, "Let no man say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted of God'; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man. But every man is tempted when he is driven away of his own lust and enticed." Now, temptation is the enticing; and it isn't God that does it. Temptation is the enticing. Verse 15, "Then when lust conceives, it bringeth forth...what?...sin." You see, the incitement of the lust is not the sin. It is when the lust conceives and begins to actuate that you have the sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
Now, God cannot be tempted in the sense that God never falls into lust; but Jesus Christ in His humanity was tempted. God is not tempted. Jesus Christ in humanity was tempted in all points like as we are, yet...what?...without sin. You see, it isn't a question of why. I don't know why, and I don't know how, and that's just what the Bible says. Read it, Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15. He was tempted and yet without sin. That's the fact...How He could have been tempted is simply answered this way. God can't be tempted in His deity, but Jesus could be tempted in His humanity; and just because He was tempted does not mean that He sinned. In fact, watch this. If He was tempted, and you better believe He was tempted intensely, right? If Satan wanted to get anybody, he wanted to get Him; and if He was tempted and never gave in, that meant that He endured the absolute limit of all temptation. He would have suffered temptation beyond the point that we would ever know it. Why? Because we give in. We get tempted up to a certain point, and, woooo, we give in. But Jesus never gave in, which meant He took the full fury of every temptation to its limits. So when it says, "He was in all points tempted," that's what it means. He was tempted. That's a fact. How, that's a mystery.
All right, let's look at another question. Is there any such thing as a healthy sense of guilt? That's a good question. When is it right and when is it destructive? Well, there's a lot of talk about that, and there are a lotta people trying to get off the hook on the area of guilt. Not too many years ago, there was a great big blowup in evangelical circles over the factors of guilt; and people were going around saying that the Christian should never feel guilty for anything. That we've been forgiven, totally forgiven, totally liberated, totally set free, and that any guilt is artificial, unreal, and self-imposed, and do nothing but destroy us. It really bordered on antinomianism or lawlessness.
Is there such a thing as healthy guilt? Yes, there is. That's like asking is there such a thing as healthy pain. All pain is good. It's good in this sense. You say, "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm not so hot on it." Well, pain is good. It's good, because it tells you your body has a problem, right? If you don't feel any pain, you just go on injuring yourself, and you don't know what you're doing. I don't know what you call it, but there is such a disease as that. There is such a problem as people who can't feel pain, and they can be terribly ill and have no idea. Therefore, they can seek no remedy. And so it is that in the area of spiritual life, in the area of the soul, the soul needs to be warned when its sick. I really praise God for guilt, real guilt, because I wanna know when I've violated God's law, don't you? I don't wanna go blissfully on in disobedience and stupidity. I want the chimes to go off, and, man, they do. Don't they?
You know, you can tell yourself, "I shouldn't feel guilty. I shouldn't feel guilty." Go out and sin and see how you feel. You'll feel guilty. God put that in you. That's grace. Now, if you can't forgive yourself when God's forgiven you, if you've... if you've taken care and you understand that God's forgiven your sin, and you've confessed it and repented of it, and it's still hanging on and pounding your brain, then your...you've moved from real guilt into psychological guilt, and that's destructive. You know what that means? That means you won't forgive yourself; and if you won't forgive yourself, you're better than God. You got a God complex, 'cause God forgave you, and the Bible says "He removed your sins...what?...far as the east is from the west and buried 'em in the depths of the sea, and He remembers them no more."
Listen, if God's forgotten my sin, I'm sure not gonna let myself get bothered by 'em. Real guilt is when I feel what I oughta feel. Psalm 51, "When my heart is broken, God wants a broken, a contrite heart," when there's real sin; but once sin is repented of, and once sin is turned from, and sin is taken care of, God doesn't want us playing God with our own lives and browbeating ourselves with needless, destructive psychological guilt. Forgive yourself. God has. So there is a need for real guilt. Incidentally, Psalm 51 is the best Psalm to study on the area of guilt.
Here's another question. What is true fellowship? What is true fellowship? We talk a lot about fellowship, and I...I guess I get on this a lot. You know, I was raised in a church where fellowship was associated with a room down below the auditorium that had a linoleum floor and a shuffleboard court, where you had those stale cookies and lousy church punch. Right? I mean that was fellowship hall. Remember that? We'd all go down there and do everything but have fellowship. You grew up thinking that fellowship was stale cookies and that pink punch, and that was it...We really throw the word around a lot. I was watching this afternoon, Pittsburgh do it to Oakland, and one of the commentators said, "They're all going to go into the dressing room and have fellowship." Did you hear him say that? He doesn't know what fellowship is. But then, again, I'm not sure most people do. They think it's doughnuts or something...
Well, if you wanna know what fellowship is, the first thing you have to do is look at 1 John chapter 1 verse 3. "That which we have seen and heard...John says...declare we unto You that You also may have fellowship with us." Now, here it comes. "Truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." Now, whatever our fellowship is, it's with each as believers, and it's with the Father and the Son; and you know that Paul talks about the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, doesn't he? So the fellowship with the Trinity, and the fellowship with the saints, what is it? The word is koynonaas, the noun form, koynoniahis the adjective form; and in the feminine form here, koynoniah. The noun form koynoaas, from which we get the basic root, has the idea of a partner. Fellowship means partnership. Now lemme hasten to say this; and I...I have some of this in...in the book on the church, The Body of Christ, so I won't go into detail, but the word fellowship means partnership; and once you receive Jesus Christ, you're a partner with Him. Is that right? How long does that partnership last? Forever.
Fellowship means partnership. Now, Christians come along very often and say, "Well, so and so's out of fellowship." Can you...could you be out of fellowship? That would be tantamount to losing your salvation. All...all you've done when you're outta whack with God is you're not out of fellowship. You're not cut off the partnership. You're still a joint heir with Christ. You're still a partner with Christ, and He's not ashamed to call you brother, according to Hebrews. You're still one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and every other believer. You're still in the body. You're still in the fellowship. You've just forfeited the joy. So don't say you're out of fellowship. Say, "I...I forfeited the joy that I should have in the fellowship." You see, fellowship is our common unity, our common life, our common oneness in Christ and with each other. True fellowship is the partnership we share with the Trinity and with each other. We're one great partnership. Now that's the positional fellowship, but how does fellowship operate? Well, I believe true fellowship isn't, you know, eating cookies and drinking punch. True fellowship is ministering to one another, isn't it? It's exercising the ministry of the partnership. True fellowship is me meeting your need. True fellowship is you meeting my need. I like to think that fellowship embodies all the one anothers of the New Testament: confessing your sins one to another, rebuking one another, exhorting one another, edifying one another, comforting one another, praying for one another, teaching one another, admonishing one another. All of the one anothers. That's real fellowship. When you get together and exercise the one anothers, you're exercising the prerogatives and the ministries of fellowship...
All right, what is true worship is the second question on this card. What is true worship? Well, again, you know, we all grew up with a lotta misconceptions. That worship is where you have a very somber choir in long robes, a few stained glass windows, and a loud organ; and you say, "We're going to worship." What is worship? I believe this - worship means adoration or praise. Really, here it is. We sang it earlier. Worship is whatever glorifies God. Would you agree to that? Whatever honors Him, whatever exalts Him is worship. So all you gotta do is find out what honors Him.
"Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth Me," He says in the Psalms. He's glorified in our righteousness, in our holiness. He's glorified when we recite His wonderful works. He's glorified when we love Him. He's glorified when we minister to one another. He's glorified when we believe Him. He's glorified when we confess sin, like Joshua said to Achan, you remember, who stole outta the...outta the city of Jericho when he wasn't supposed to, and then he buried in a hole in the ground in his tent. Thought God would never find it there. God couldn't see through dirt; and then Joshua said to him, "Give glory to God and confess your sin." Confession gives glory to God. Anything that glorifies God is worship. It isn't some superficial thing. It's the real thing. It's really giving Him glory.
Is it Biblical to serve communion in your home? It sure is, and I really think it's a great thing, and I'm anxious, as our children grow older, to be able to share together with them in a time of communion around our family circle together. Just to show you how it was begun in the home, Acts chapter 2 says, "They continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house." One of the customs of the early church was to share in communion from house to house. It's a beautiful thing. It belongs in the home, equally as it belongs here. If you were to share once a week in a communion at your own home, this could be a tremendous thing, to celebrate together as a family the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. This praises God. This exalts the Savior. This brings the focus on the unity of the believers as we gather at the foot of the cross. Yes, certainly, it belongs in the home. You don't have to have official people serving it. It's something that every believer can do. Then the question that followed that, do you have to be a member of the church to take communion. Of course not. Just have to be a Christian. Love the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no requirement other than that.
Can a person bring glory to God and not be in God's will? That's a good question. The answer is yes, but it's very painful. Do you remember Exodus 14:17? It says this, "I will get Me honor from Pharaoh." Boy, what a statement...You see, "If Pharaoh will not respond to Me and give Me glory, I'll take it." Yes, you can be out of God's will and God will get glory from you ultimately, because all things ultimately will redound to His glory. Then the person asked, "Can you be in God's will and not give Him glory?" No, because being obedient glorifies God.
Somebody asked the question, "What does Romans 12:1 mean?" Let's look at that. Great verse, and maybe you've known what it says without knowing what it means. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual worship." What does it mean? Well, let's look at it part by part. "I beseech you," this is love. This is not law. He's not saying, "I command you." He's saying, "I beg you." This is love. "I beg you, therefore." What do you mean therefore, Paul? "Well, I've just given you 11 chapters of doctrine. Now, on the basis of 11 chapters of doctrine, I'm gonna ask you to behave a certain way.
Remember how we studied this in Ephesians? Listen to me, the Word of God never enjoins behavior out of a Christian until it lays a foundation of doctrine. The Bible always says, "This is so. This is so. This is so. This is so. Therefore, this is the way you are to live." Right? That's why we say, you know, so often in a church when a person just keeps telling people how to live without giving 'em Biblical bases and doctrinal foundations, their whole motivation is artificial. They're doing it because they're afraid not to do it, not because they understand why they're doing it...You know, when you say to somebody, "You don't need a reason, just do it, because I said so." That's not good enough. God never does that. God never requires something out of somebody without any reason. Paul says eleven chapters of doctrine. Do you realize that for eleven chapters in Romans, he hasn't asked anybody to do anything, really? Oh, a few little hints here and there about mortifying the body in Romans 8. Just a few little glimpses of it; but, basically, the entire eleven chapters is this is what God's done. This is what God's done. This is what God's done. Finally, in twelve, "Therefore, I'm asking you, by the mercies of God, all that He's done for you, all these eleven chapters of mercies, you present your bodies."
The word present is an airistactiveinfinitive. A once for all. Perostaysi, it's a once for all act. Once for all present, and it's a temple term. It means to bring something to God. What does He want? Your body. He wants your body. He wants your abilities, your mind, your hands, your feet, your mouth, your ears, your eyes. He wants you. What for? He wants you as a living sacrifice. You know what a living sacrifice is? Well, you say, "That's kind of a strange term, isn't it?" It is, because most sacrificed are what? They're dead. You say, "What is a living sacrifice?"
Well, I'll tell ya. I'll give you an illustration. One that I always think of. Abraham, God said to Abraham, "You're gonna have a child." He had a child, Isaac. Abraham loved Isaac, didn't he? Oh, he loved him. The child of all his promise, the child of his dreams, the hope of all the fulfillment of God's plan. God said to Abraham, "Take him up in the mountain and kill him." "Take him up in the mountain and kill him? After all we went through to get him? Wasn't born till I was a 100. Only son I have legitimately by Sarah." But he obeyed. Took all the sticks and tied 'em on Isaac's back. Isaac is like a picture of Christ carrying His own cross. Isaac goes up the mountain. Abraham goes with him. Gets up on the mountain...lays Isaac out on the altar, and Isaac's probably saying, "Gee, you know, sure what's going on here."...
Abraham lifts his dagger. Isaac was about to be a dead sacrifice. Right? But you know who was making the living sacrifice? Abraham. Do you know why? He was about to kill all his hopes, all his dreams, everything he ever wanted, because that's what God told him to do. Right? You know what a living sacrifice is? Not somebody who dies for God, but somebody who submits to God's will, whatever the cost. That's a living sacrifice. He says, "Because of all that God has done for you, present your bodies a living sacrifice." Listen, you're already holy. You're already acceptable. Who made you holy, and who made you acceptable? Who did? Christ.
So will you just present yourself? That is your required spiritual worship. God wants you. He doesn't want bulls and goats, and He doesn't want dead animals. He wants you, and He wants you to be a living sacrifice. That is wiling to pay the supreme price...for Him. I suppose if...if I got over in Boola Boola Land and got in the proverbial pot. Some natives were gonna boil me for lunch, I suppose I could muster my courage and die for Christ, right? Suppose I wouldn't have much choice. Suppose He'd give me grace, don't you?
That isn't the issue. The issue isn't can I at one time die for Jesus. It's can I every day, every day, every day sacrifice my dreams, my hopes, my will, my wants for His. See? It's living sacrifice. I bring my body into submission to His will. A living sacrifice. That's what God wants out of us, beloved. May it be so.
What should be our attitude and action toward brethren who walk consistently disobedient to God's Word? Such as legalists, compromisers, worldly, or the deceived. Now, that's a very important question, and our attitude toward those who continue to walk disorderly is very clearly indicated in the Scripture; but lemme pull one word out of that question. The concept legalist. If by the...the idea of legalist, you mean a Christian who is somewhat legalistic, the Bible very clearly tells us what our attitude is to be toward them. If you're talking about an unbeliever who's trying to work his way to Heaven, then that's a whole different matter. You're to tell him the truth of the Gospel. But I will assume that by legalist you mean a Christian who is still living under the law.
The answer to the question how you treat a legalist is in Romans chapter 14 and 15. Romans chapter 14 and 15, the legalist is called in Romans 14 and 15 the weaker brother. He is the legalist. He is unable to really understand his liberty in Christ. He is unable to exercise that liberty. He is easily offended by what a more liberated brother does.
In the early church, for example, there were many Jews that were saved. When they became Christians, they still found it very difficult to do some of the things they were free to do such as eat certain foods, such as violate certain feast rituals, such as do certain things on the Sabbath that they never had been able to do, but now were free to do, of course, in Christ. The Sabbath was no longer a binding thing to them; but they could not exercise these freedoms. They were weaker brothers, in that they were too weak to understand their own liberty; and they were very easily offended. Some of the stronger brothers, some of those either Jewish Christians who had been saved for a longer time, or Gentile Christians who never understood what legalism was anyway, were exercising all of their liberties in the face of these weaker brothers and causing them to stumble; and the weaker brothers were evaluating their testimony by saying, "Those people are not godly people. Those people are not following God, because they do this and this and this. Even though those things were not binding, in their conscience, they still were.
In Romans 14 and 15, he simply says, "There's going to be a difference. The weaker brother is going to have problems, and the stronger brother is to take those to his attention." Verse 6 opens it up to us. "He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord." For example, if a guy wants to keep the Sabbath, and he feels that's right toward God, that's...that's his prerogative. He regards it to the Lord. "He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eateth not the not, he eateth not, and gives God thanks." In other words, the guy who's free to eat anything, thanks God for it, and eats it. The one who's not, doesn't and thanks God he doesn't eat it.
But the point is, we are not to cause division in the body or stumbling in the body over such issues. It says in verse 12, "Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God." Verse 13 says, "Let us not therefore judge one another any more, but judge this rather: that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." You have a weaker brother who doesn't understand his liberty, and he is somewhat legalistic, and he wants to maintain certain legalistic laws, you are to be sure that you do not cause him to stumble. In fact, in verse 15, it says, "If your brother is grieved with what you eat, then you're not walking in love toward him. Stop eating what you're eating if it offends him. Don't destroy him with your food for whom Christ died, and then your good would be evil spoken of, for the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Verse 21, "It is good neither to eat meat, drink wine, nor anything by which thy brother stumbles or is offended, or is made weak." Verse 1 of chapter 15, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak...and here it comes...and not to please...whom?...ourselves." We never exercise our liberty to the detriment of somebody who doesn't understand that freedom. So toward a legalistic brother, we have the obligation to be very loving...to be one, to be united with him. Verse 6 says that, "God wants us with one mind and one mouth to glorify Him."
Now, on the other hand, what about a disobedient, worldly brother who continually, continually disobeys, continually compromises? What are we to do to him? Matthew chapter 18 is the first passage. We're gonna look at these briefly, so we can move on. But Matthew chapter 18 tells us how we regard a brother who is disorderly or who is continuing to be disobedient. Matthew 18:15 says, "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone...If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." Now, you've got a sinning brother, the first thing to do is privately to go to him and tell him of his fault. If he listens to you and changes his behavior, you've gained a brother.
Verse 16, "If he won't hear you, take one or two more so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established." Take two or three witnesses, again, confront him with his sin. If he doesn't hear, doesn't alter it, the third procedure, Verse 17, "If he neglects to hear, tell it to the church, the highest court, the local assembly, and he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man."
You see what happens to somebody who fails to submit to the authority of the church? They actually render themselves as a pagan outside the authority of the church. So there it tells you what to do with such a person. You are to go to him. Then you are to go to him with two or three witnesses. Then you are to bring it to the church. If he doesn't hear, you are to treat him as an outsider. To carry this a little bit further, turn to 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 and verse 6...says this, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that continues to walk disorderly and not after the tradition which he received of us." If somebody will not repent, he has been brought to the church, he does not accept the discipline of the church, you put him out. He is rendered as a pagan. You are to separate or withdraw yourselves from that brother that walketh disorderly.
"For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we behave not ourselves disorderly." In other words, you are to follow our example. Verse 11, "We hear there are some who walk among you disorderly." You say, "Oh, boy, I wonder what kind of gross sins they're doing they had to be put out." "They don't work; they are busybodies." Say, "Is that gross? Gross enough to put 'em out of the church?" Somebody who is a lazy busybody, wow. "Now, them that are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ that with quietness they work and eat their own bread, earn their own living, stay home and eat their own meals. You, brethren, be not weary in well-doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man. Have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him or warn him gently as a brother."
Somebody who continues to walk disorderly, you are to go to that individual. If he doesn't hear you, you and two others or one other are to go to him. If he still doesn't hear, you are to bring that to the attention of the leaders of the church. If the church cannot get out of him a change in behavior, the church is to dismiss him and treat him as a pagan who is outside the authority of the church. When that occurs, you are to severe your relationship with that man, and that he may be ashamed of his behavior. You say, "But what's gonna happen to him?" Don't worry about that. If he God's child, God'll take care of him. He may, according to 1 Corinthians 5, "Come to the destruction of the flesh, but his soul will be saved, because he belongs to God." Now, when you have no company with him, you count him not as an enemy yet, but you admonish him as what? Your warnings are always loving and gentle.
Now, another question came along with this one was this. What should be our attitude toward those who have convictions about infant baptism and healing, etc.? Now, here, we are not dealing in the area of sin, but here we are dealing in the area of doctrine; and maybe not really in the area of primary doctrine, but in the area of the certain peripheral doctrines, not that they're unimportant, but that they are rather peripheral than basic to the Christian faith. Whether somebody believes in infant baptism or not has nothing to do with sin in their life. It probably has something to do with the background they've been raised in, right? It has something to do with their denominational heritage.
Somebody like that or somebody who believes in a certain view of healing, believes in healers or whatever, may not be the manifestation of sin. It may be the manifestation of Biblical ignorance at one point or another. But that's different than outright, overt sin. What is our obligation to those brothers and sisters who hold a wrong view of a certain practical doctrine, or a wrong view of any doctrine? It is simply this. The Bible says we are to edify one another. We are to take it upon ourselves to instruct those who do not understand.
The Bible simply says that we are all to be involved in teaching other people. "I am to commit the Word of God to faithful men...according to 2 Timothy 2:2...who, in turn, are to commit it to other faithful men who will pass it on." Godly women are to teach younger women. Godly men are to teach younger men. We are constantly to be instructing people in the Word of God. We shouldn't be shy. We shouldn't be bashful. Certainly, the chances are, if they're really committed to the Word of God, they'll be glad to hear if you have an argument and an answer and a solution that is scripturally supportable. I never hesitate to take an opposing view to some group that I'm speaking to if I can defend my position. Never hesitate. Why? I feel I owe it to them to tell them the truth. That's different. Instruct them. The second thing that I would say to you, if you find that they are not open to that instruction, is major on the things that unite you, not on those peripheral things that divide you.
Does the Bible teach that restitution is necessary? For example, does money need to be repaid that has been taken dishonestly? I know Zacchaeus told Jesus he would repay four times, and that's Luke 19 you recall, but Zacchaeus was not commanded to do so. Does Jesus expect this of us, or is asking forgiveness of God enough in God's sight? Well, that's a very important question. Lemme hasten to say this. Forgiveness does not eliminate the need to do right. Forgiveness for the believer is in the cross, right? And it isn't a question of asking forgiveness for some sin. That's been taken care of. The reason that Zacchaeus repaid what he had taken dishonestly was because he was being obedient to the law of God. The law of God does require restitution.
Lemme call your attention to several passages. Exodus 22 in verse 1, it says this, "If a man shall steal an ox or a sheep, or kill it or sell it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep." So Zacchaeus, you see, was pretty much operating on Exodus 22:1 principles. Restoration was required. Forgiveness did not remove the need for restitution.
In Leviticus 5 verse 15, "If a soul commit a trespass and sin through ignorance in the holy things of the Lord, then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy valuation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering. And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and add the fifth part thereto." He had to pay for what he had abused, and 20 percent in addition.
Now, this is carried on in Leviticus chapter 6 in verse 4, where you have a similar indication there. In chapter 24 of Leviticus and verse 21. Also in Numbers chapter 5 verses 5 and 6. So restitution was something that was required under God's law. I think it is still a valid thing, that if you have taken things dishonestly, you are to return those things. Forgiveness notwithstanding, that has little to do with the obligation that you have to make right the thing which you have wrong.
All right, another question, and, again, we're just moving through at random. Does usury, U S U R Y, mean the acceptance of interest funds on mortgages or savings accounts? That's an interesting question, because the Bible has a lot to say about usury. Now, the Hebrew word is neshek, N E S H E K, neshek. It literally means a biting, and it came to mean extortion. Take a bite out of somebody. Have you ever heard the statement? "He put the...bite on me." He extracted something from me. That's where it comes from, the Hebrew neshek. Now, according to the Mosaic law...the Jews were forbidden to take interest from their brothers upon the loan of anything that qualified as a necessity, such as food...
Turn to Leviticus 25...this is important. Leviticus 25:35, "And if thy brother hath become poor and cannot support himself among you...and that happens. I mean, you know, there are some people who just become poor, and they can't support themselves...then thou shalt relieve him, help him out. Yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with thee. Take thou no interest from him or profit; but fear thy God, that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest, nor lend him thy food supplies for profit."
You see, in the case of food or money in extreme poverty, there was to be no interest taken. Even, if you didn't even know the individual. This was in order to teach men loving kindness to meet the needs of those who had needs. You know, the fastest way to make an enemy? Loan a desperate man money with interest, and then make him hate you all your life. If you really love him, you'd give him what he needed. You certainly wouldn't do any more than loan it to him to be given back with no interest.
Deuteronomy 23:19, "Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother, interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of any thing that is lent upon interest. Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest." Now here you go. With a brother, there was to be none of the staples of life loaned with interest; but to a foreigner, you may lend upon interest; but "Unto thy brother, thou shalt not lend upon interest that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand in the land to which thou goest to possess it." Notice this, if I don't lend him with some interest, I lose my money. And he says, "All right, God'll bless you." I'll take it. I'll take it. Rather have the blessing of God than interest anyway, wouldn't you? Of course.
So the law forbids usury in the case of the poor. It forbids giving a man that which is bare necessity and requiring interest at his hand. In the case of strangers, however, it was permissible to loan money with interest for some other situation. Now, the practice of mortgaging lands, and we're all involved in that if we're buying homes or buying property. The practice of mortgaging lands, sometimes at exorbitant interest rates, grew up among the Jews during the Babylonian captivity, and if you were read, and I won't take the time, but if you were to read the 5th chapter of Nehemiah, Nehemiah really comes down hard on this, and he forbids this extortion. They were mortgaging land at terribly exorbitant interest rates. People were desperate for land, and they were raising the prices, and they were demanding even more than they had said they would demand. This was extortion, and Nehemiah comes down hard in Nehemiah 5, first part of the chapter through about verse 13, against that.
Now, as you come into the...the New Testament, you find in Luke chapter 6 some more indication of this from our Lord Himself. I don't know if you ever read this, but it's interesting. Luke 6:30, "Give to every man that asks of thee." Now wait a minute, Lord. I mean couldn't you have put a few in there? Give to a few that ask you? I mean give to every man that asks of you? "And of him that takes away your goods, ask them not again." Now wait a minute. That guy's had my rake for three months. I want my rake back. And, incidentally, he says in 31, "As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them." That's a very, very helpful statement. Verse 35, "But love ye your enemies, and do good and lend, hoping for... nothing." Then if you get anything, it's a victory. That's right, "And your reward shall be great, and you shall be sons of the highest, for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Just because of the fact that you were kind to evil people, kind to unthankful people, God is gonna honor you. So give and ask nothing in return. Then anything you get is a blessing from God.
You see how high Jesus lifts the ethical level? Now, I don't think that we're talking here about the fact that in business and in certain purchases there is to be reasonable interest; and I think if you're a person who loans money for some reason or other to people. Maybe you have second mortgages on their homes or whatever else. You have some kind of a financial assistance program. I do not think that is forbidden. What is forbidden by our Lord Jesus is extortion, and that is interest and getting back money from people that you know cannot afford it when they need it for necessities of life. That's the point.
Now, look over in Luke 19:23 to just show you one other thought, because it is worth...our understanding. Luke 19:23, and here the Lord does not forbid a reasonable interest for the use of money in trade. Here is the particular story of...the servants who were given some money, and the lord comes back, and in 23, "Why then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with interest?" You see, here the lord says, "Hey, you should've made some interest on my money." You see, in terms of trade and in terms of business, interest is never forbidden in Scripture. In fact, the lord says you should've done that. But in terms of a brother's need, it is forbidden, and in terms of exorbitance and extortion, it is forbidden, okay? I hope that helps to clarify it. Now, I want you to know that if any of us ever come, it's always need.
What is a balanced Christian life with regard to food, sleep, and work? And that's practical. How do you balance off your life? Well...nothing is forbidden, but I think God intends for us to eat that which is good, "And He looked on His Creation and said, 'It's good.'" And I think God expects us to enjoy eating. You know why? Because He made flavor. Did you know that? He made flavor, and then He gave you taste buds to enjoy it. God did not make a bland, all food taste the same.
Some countries of the world, it does, but they'll manage to find something to throw in there to change the taste a little, spice it. God didn't make a bland diet, you know. God didn't make brown sky, brown mountains, brown flowers, brown everything. There's color...because God likes variety, and He knows that that enhances life, and so God has given us a world of variety, and God knows that we have the right and the privilege to enjoy that kind of variety. God wants us to enjoy eating. Nothing wrong with that.
In fact, in 2 Corinthians 9:10, it says, "God is gonna minister bread for your food." God is in the business of preparing food for you. He wants you to eat, doesn't want you to starve. He says in Matthew chapter 6 verse 25, "I say to you...Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount...don't worry about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor your body, what you shall put on. Isn't the life more than food, and the body than raiment?" And He goes down to say, "If God takes care of these items with animals, don't you think he's going to provide for you? Don't be anxious...verse 31 says...what you shall eat or drink, for your Father knows you have need of these things. You seek Him first, and all these things shall be... what?...added unto you."
So God wants you to enjoy eating; but there is a...there is sort of a...a point which you can go past. First Corinthians 6:13, and this is what it says, "Meats for the body, and the body for meats; or food for the body, and the body for food." Eat up, folks, that what bodies are for. Now you've gone too far. The Old Testament talks about gluttony, overeating. There has to be a balance. God wants you to have food. God has made food tasty. God wants you to enjoy food. Why, do you remember when God and two angels visited Abraham, what did Abraham tell his wife to do? Cook 'em a wonderful dinner. That's terrific. Nothing wrong with that.
But, obviously, like anything else, there should be moderation. Now, I don't know enough about the medical aspect of it to know all the balance of diet and so forth and so on, but it's obvious to me that God has created in the world a balance of food. We talk about the food groups. My little kids do reports on the food groups. They bring home the assignment. I wind up doing the report. The food groups, the carbohydrates, and all of this, and so forth and so on; and they gotta have some vegetables and some dairy products and some protein products and all this; and I think God has given us in our world a variety of things so that we, with our intelligence, could learn to eat a variety that would make us healthy as possible.
All right, let's go to the second item, which is sleep. Now, sleep is a good thing, and from time to time, it's necessary...In Acts chapter 20 verse 9, I...I want you to know that this is a great illustration of the fact that you cannot avoid sleep. You must get your rest. "And there sat in a window a certain young man...now wait a minute...named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep." The reason you want to get your sleep is not because you might die, because you might miss the sermon. See, that's what this passage is saying...I think there's some incredulity in your laughter.
All right, "So Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep; and as Paul was long preaching...bless his heart...he sank down...he sank down with sleep, fell out of the third loft, and was taken up dead." And to prove my point, Paul simply went down, resurrected him, immediately brought him back up so he could hear the rest of the sermon...And I...I would hastily add, really, people, you'll never be able to profit by Bible study if you aren't awake. It's good to get rest so that, when you have the time to study, your mind is alert.
Now, I'm gonna tell you a few other things about sleep. I'll give you a little sleepy theology here. Back in Psalm 127, there's some interesting things about it. You know, it never says in the Bible, "Go to sleep." It only says, "Get up." Did you know that? God knows you're gonna go to sleep sooner or later...It doesn't say anywhere in the Bible, "Get eight hours." Doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that you wanna make sure that you fully get your rest no matter what doesn't get done. But I'll tell you some interesting things about sleep. You know what it says? "Don't loo...loose sleep over worry...Psalm 127...except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain."
Listen it doesn't do any good to wake up worrying about whether your house is gonna burn down. It doesn't do any good to wake up worrying about whether your business is gonna fall apart. It doesn't do any good to wake up with any of that stuff, because if the Lord isn't the one taking care of your house, and the Lord isn't the one taking care of your job and your business, being awake isn't gonna help anything...It's like the guy who was in a story of Second World War was captured by the Germans and thrown in the hold of a great big ship, and he spent the whole night wide awake; and, finally, he said, "This is ridiculous. The Bible says that God never slumbers or sleeps. There's no sense both of us staying up and worrying about this."...
So, "Except the Lord build the house, you labor anyway in building it. It is vain for you to rise up early and sit up late to eat the bread of sorrows. He gives His beloved sleep." Will you just go to sleep? Don't stay up late, get up early, worrying. Whatever it is that you're worried about, unless the Lord is in it, your worry isn't gonna do any good anyway; and you know what most people worry about, I think? Most parents, verse 3, "Lo...what?...children." Lotta parents worry about the children. But, listen, "They are an heritage from...whom?...from the Lord." Listen, He gave 'em. He's gonna take care of 'em. Mom, don't lose any sleep over 'em. Go to sleep. Don't worry. Now that's a good thing. Don't stay up to worry.
Lemme tell you something else. Don't go to sleep when you oughta work, Psalm 132. People say sometimes to me, "Oh, John, you look tired." Well, I...I'm almost always tired, and that's the best way to be, because I keep saying to myself, "If I'm tired, I must be doing something," and that's very satisfying...
Now, Psalm 132 verse 1, "Lord, remember David and all his afflictions." David - he's got a lotta problems. "He swore to the Lord and vowed to the Mighty God of Jacob, 'Surely will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up to my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes nor slumber to my eyelids until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob." He says, "I'm not going to bed until I get God's business done. Now, I believe that in my own life. If...if I need to stay up late to do that, if I need to get up early to do that, that...I can remember back in seminary days, if I got two, three, four hours sleep a night, that was great, because I had to be studying and preparing. But if I've got the Lord's work to do, I don't say, "Sorry, Lord, I need my eight hours. You know what doctor so and so says. Forget it."
I'd rather be doing what God wants me to do than the doctor; and I'll tell you something. There's some other things about sleep that are practical. I'm gonna skip a few. If you look at Proverbs 3:24, this is good...Oh, this is good. Verse 21, "My son, let not them depart from your eyes, but keep sound wisdom." Hey, lemme ask you a question. Where do you find sound wisdom? Oooooh, tell me where you find it. In the Bible. All right, "Study the Bible," verse 21 says. Terrific, study the Bible. Verse 23, "Then you'll walk in the way safely, and your foot won't stumble." You'll be able to make it through the world without falling if you study the Bible; and I'll tell you something else. I love this, verse 24, "When you lie down, you won't be afraid. You shall lie down, and your sleep will be...what?...sweet."
You wanna sleep sweet? Study the Bible. You got insomnia? Open the Bible. It'll put you right to sleep. No, I don't wanna say that. You know what it'll do? It'll make your sleep sweet. Your mind will think of good things. See, your sleep will be sweet. Study the Word of God. You won't have any fears. Great, then. I'll tell you another way to sleep well. Sleep sweet. Ecclesiastics 5:12. You know, the people who sleep the best? The people who are tired. You know how to get tired? Work. Ecclesiastes 5:12, oh, this is good. "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet whether he eats little or much." Some people say, "Oh, I can't go to bed on a full stomach." If you're tired, dog tired, you could go to bed lying on the plate...
But I'll you something. Look at verse 12 again. "But the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep." You know why? He's got so much going on with all of his servants, that he never does anything, so he can't sleep. That's pretty practical stuff...You say, "Boy, I have trouble sleeping, and I work hard." Well, there's one other answer, and I'm gonna get off this. We'll be here all night. Proverbs 4:16...it's talking about evil people. He says, "They don't sleep except they have done mischief. They don't go to bed until they've done evil, and then, when they go to bed, their sleep is taken away." You know what keeps you awake a lot? Sin...
Now, what's the main idea of all of this? The main idea in Scripture is this. Regarding sleep, don't overdo it. That interesting? Nothing in the Bible about, "Get sleep." You're gonna get it, folks, when you need it. You'll fall in there and...and get it. Look at Proverbs 6. Here's the way the Bible looks at it. Verse 6. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard!"...You know what a sluggard is? Guy doesn't get outta bed. That's a sluggard. "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no guide, overseer or ruler, provides her food in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest." He works. You look at an ant. You ever see an ant sleeping? Work. Always moving. "How long will you sleep, O sluggard?" That's what to say to your husband at 11:00 Saturday morning. "How long will you sleep, O sluggard?...See?...When will you arise out of your sleep?...and his answer...Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands. Just a little longer... and then the reply...So shall your poverty come like one that traveleth, fast, and thy want like an armed man."
You wanna be poor, sleep all the time. Well, the Bible doesn't tell you to go to sleep. It just tells you to get up. It assumes you'll go to sleep when you're tired. If you have trouble with it, maybe it's because of sin. Maybe you need to spend time studying the Word of God, so your sleep will be sweet. "Love not sleep...Proverbs 20:13 says...lest you come to poverty. Open your eyes, and you'll be satisfied with bread. Get up and go to work." That's the idea. Well, that's pretty practical, and I hope that helps. Those are the general patterns. How you balance those out in your life will be between you and the Lord...
Here's another question. Do you believe in predestination? Of course I do. How else could I believe when it says in Ephesians chapter 1 these wonderful words? And I thank God for these words, and you know them well. "According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him." Yes, He chose us before the foundation of the world, "In love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of our will." Is that what it said? His will. Do I believe in predestination? What else could I believe? It's in the Bible.
Romans 9, He says, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated." He says in that same passage there, "Are vessels fitted unto honor. There are vessels that have been fitted to destruction." Yes, God is a sovereign God, but I believe also that somehow, mysteriously, within the framework of predestination and within the framework of His sovereignty and the framework of election, which I believe in, there is a place for human choice; and how that resolves itself is God's problem. I'm gonna leave it with Him.
Well, here's another one. Ephesians 4:26, please explain it. Ephesians 4:26, "Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down on your wrath, neither give place to the devil...27..." Well, "Be ye angry and sin not." There are three Greek words for anger: thumos, which is, you know, explosive, turbulent, emotion, boiling, agitation, outta control, you know, volatile, wham. You know, that's when you start throwing stuff and hitting people, and it's mindless. It's wild. I don't know if you've ever been in that situation where somebody's like that, and they have sort of a...a strength you can't cope with, you know. That's thumos; and then there's another Greek word, parorgismas, and that is translated here as the word wrath at the end of the verse 26. It says there, "Don't let the sun go down on your parorgismas."...It does sound kind of funny, doesn't it? But parorgismasis less explosive than thumos. What it is, is that burning on the inside. It's that kind of, you know, there's something about thumos, it's there and it's done. Right? Parorgismasis that burning, eating thing that just tears up, and that is absolutely forbidden, absolutely forbidden. That is absolutely destructive. Then there is orgay. Now orgaykind of anger is the settled kind of attitude of a person towards certain things that is aroused at certain time...and here it is permitted, for it is "Be ye orgay, and sin not."
In other words, it may be that you have a right to a settled conviction of something; and, at certain times, the arousing of that conviction causes anger; but it should always be justified and never sin. You see? A person could be angry and not sin if he was angry about something he oughta be angry about, such as the righteousness of God. Have you ever read the Psalms about David? How David was so zealous for God, how his heart burned within him with vengeance toward the enemies of God, how he actually prayed, "God, do something to those men. God, come down against those, Your enemies." He was angry with them, but he had a right to be angry.
Jesus going into the temple made a whip and scourged the place, didn't He? And He had a right to do that. So there is a place for orgay, that settled conviction that, at certain times is aroused when it is violated; but it should never be sinful. It should never be for a personal reason. It should always be for righteous indignation...We are to be angry about some things, folks. We oughta be angry about sin...That's the meaning. There is a certain kind of anger that is allowable.
Another question. Would you explain 1 Peter 3:21? Look at it, let's see if we can. We studied this long time ago, but probably have forgotten, those of you who were even here. Let's look at it. This is a very difficult passage. I mean the whole passage is difficult, and we're gonna get back to this passage with another question in a minute, but, anyway, it says in 21, "The like figure unto which even baptism doth also now save us." Now, you see, here's the problem. People say, "Oh, baptismal regeneration is here." The like figure, what like figure? The ark in verse 20. Just like the ark saved those eight people, so baptism, which is a like figure, it is an antitoopon, an antitie, a pattern, just like that ark saved those people, so baptism saves us. "Oh," you say, "What, does that mean that we believe in baptismal regeneration?" No, look at the next statement. "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh." Not a bath. Not physical water. "But the answer of...what?...a good conscience toward God. Then by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Now, notice, the like figure, as those individuals got in that ark, they were saved, right? Now, watch, this is beautiful. "As you...are placed in Jesus Christ and baptized into His death and...what?...resurrection, so you are saved." It's the baptism of Romans 6. You're buried with Him in baptism, into His death. You rise to walk in newness of life. There isn't any...any H2O here. That's what he's saying. It isn't the putting away of the filth of the flesh. It isn't washing your body in water. It is what is the baptism of the Spirit? It is the Spirit placing us into the body. It is our union with Christ. We die, and we rise...and, you see, that's the picture. Just like souls.
You see, if it was water baptism, it wouldn't make sense. Just like the people in the ark were saved, so the people in the water are saved. No, no, that's a bad analogy. It was because they were in the ark out of the water they got saved, right? It would be a terrible analogy...Hey, I mean give Peter a little credit. He's not gonna mess up his metaphor, and the Holy Spirit is the author. No, it's the being in Christ that is the baptism. When I put my faith in Him, was I identified with Him? Was I crucified with Him? Did I die with Him and rise to walk in newness of life? That's Romans 6. That is the baptism, okay? Now you understand. So it is my being placed in Jesus Christ.
Let's bow and pray. Father, it's been good tonight to just share with those we love...the questions that are on our hearts. We've tried, Father, to answer in love and with understanding... to try to deal with those things that matter. Somehow, Father, take all the disconnected subjects and thoughts and tie them together in our hearts. God, how grateful we are that You've given us answers. We would pray, Lord, that You'd make us students of Your Word. Help the people to know that the same Word that's available to me to study and learn is available to them. Help 'em to know that all the things that we need to know are here...and the things that we don't need to know aren't here, and we can praise You that You...that we don't need to know 'em. Help us to be satisfied with what You've told us, to live on those things. Lord, if there are any here tonight who do not know our blessed Lord Jesus Christ...we pray that they might make Him Lord of their life only in the sense that the receive Him as Savior and Lord, for that's who He is. If there are Christians who have been disobedient and not obedient to the Lord, we pray that tonight they will make the step of commitment that will be obedient to You...God give us a love for Your Book for, in it, You are revealed to us; and, really, God, it isn't that we wanna know the Book. It's that we wanna know You. Teach us how to get behind the page to the God who is there...Teach us not to have artificial standards of spirituality. Teach us how to walk in the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to do in our lives what He wills. Teach us to be loving to the weaker brethren. Teach us to be patient with all men...Teach us to be like Christ...We thank You for our fellowship tonight, for the dear ones gathered here, for all of those who are part of Grace family and all those that You sent visiting us. Thank You for all of 'em. May some of the things we've talked about be a catalyst to change their lives this week, and perhaps for all eternity. Pray in Christ's name. Amen.
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