Calvary Road Baptist Church

“YOU ARE COMMANDED TO BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST”

 

 It is the duty, the obligation, the responsibility, of every sinner to trust Jesus Christ, and I must command you to turn from your sins and trust Christ.

It might seem unusual for me to begin a sermon with such a statement, but I think that it is needful for me to speak to you in such a way because of the anarchy that fills the culture in which we live. I am unfamiliar with a time in our nation’s history when lawlessness and moral confusion was so rampant among those sworn to uphold the law. As I think about it with my limited grasp of history, I am filled with dread when I consider how similar the cultural decay I am witnessing reminds me of the conditions leading up to the French Revolution. Remember, it was not our own colonial leaders who were corrupt before our American Revolution, but the British monarchy. However, corruption was everywhere at the outbreak of the French Revolution.

My concerns are partly the result of a comment I overheard several months ago in connection with the conditions in Italy, a country in which one-half of the economy is described as under the table, off the books, without permits or licenses, essentially illicit. This is because officials at all levels in Italy are so corrupt, bureaucracy is so stifling, and the general attitude of the population is so profoundly cynical and disrespectful toward law and government that half of the population makes no effort to regard or obey the law. What does that have to do with the United States? The comment that I overheard was about “the Italianization of the United States.” It was about such a perception of corruption in our country, and frustration by citizens who feel so shackled by pointless regulations that they just give up trying to respect or obey the law.

Do you realize that the city of Santa Monica fines someone on the beach $1,000 for throwing a Frisbee?[1] Do you realize that a retired law enforcement officer with a legal permit to carry a firearm in California will likely be arrested and prosecuted for drawing his weapon in response to an imminent threat to life for the purpose of providing protection for innocent citizens when he sees a violent crime committed?[2] We had a student in our Christian school some years back whose parents enrolled him after a photograph of his dad and him with a duck hunting shotgun was observed inside his backpack by another student when he was attending a nearby public high school who then reported him. No threats. No gestures. He didn’t even show the picture to anyone. It was observed inside his backpack. After a trip to the principal’s office and a logical explanation caused the family to think the matter was settled, a SWAT team invaded their home that night about midnight to confiscate their legally owned and licensed firearms. They had done nothing wrong and violated no law. Then there is the home schooling mother of seven children here in Monrovia who was visited by the County Department of Children’s Services to investigate a claim she was abusing her children, the day after she publicly opposed Monrovia’s constitutionally questionable daytime curfew ordinance. She was convinced it was bureaucratic retaliation to silence her opposition to the newly passed ordinance. Add to this polling results about the leader among Democrat Party candidates for the nomination to run for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, who happens to be the subject of a lengthy FBI criminal investigation. Jumping in the middle of the article, I quote: “66 percent also said their opinion of the former secretary of state has not changed as a result. And 49 percent said it would have no effect on whether they would vote for her in 2016.”[3] Strongly suspected criminal conduct will not affect the voting patterns of half those polled? Incredible.

I could continue for hours, relating to you alternate examples of government corruption, school teachers being impregnated by their thirteen-year-old students, colleges and universities stifling First Amendment free speech guarantees, school boards allowing transgender adult males to use women’s bathrooms with young girls, and the United States Attorney General and “The US Department of Justice has been considering whether people should be prosecuted for the offense of climate change denial.”[4] Prosecuting people for voicing opinions at variance with the climate change proponents? With such stupidity and confusion, is it any wonder more and more people have thrown up their hands in surrender? Is it any wonder more and more people have resorted to being a law unto themselves? Is it any wonder that respect for the law and commitment to obeying the law is plummeting?

The issue, of course, is not the quickly changing social conditions of our country, the increasing stack of government regulations adopted by our country, or the fact that we now have such a maze of laws that any one of us could be arrested on any given day for violating some federal law.[5] The issue is the confusion that is created in the lives of sinners who think that conditions found in the material world in which we live justify conclusions drawn about spiritual things. At some point, your average citizen is so perplexed by the legal and regulatory confusion that surrounds him that he gives up trying to obey all the laws and regulations he is subject to and decides to pick and choose which laws and regulations he will abide by and which laws and regulations he will simply ignore. I dare say that everyone in this room has reached that point, whether we want to admit it or not. You do not comply with every law you are aware of. Such compliance is no longer possible.

The great mistake that is made thinks you can apply that notion to God. If you think you can decide whether or not to obey God, of course thinking that there will not be profound consequences associated with your decision, you will be wrong. I come before you this morning deeply concerned for your friends, for your family members, and for other loved ones whose behavior suggests that they might have just decided to sit this one out. What do I mean? Consider the case of someone who comes to a place in his or her life. You know what it’s like. Put yourself in that person’s shoes. There comes a time when you’ve realized you’ve blown it, made a terrible mistake, botched everything, ruined whatever hopes, dreams, and aspirations you might have had, and just as you were seriously considering the claims of Jesus Christ, just as you were seriously considering waving the white flag of surrender to God once and for all, some jerk pretend Christian comes along and does the Devil’s work for him, with devastating results to you. Completely blown away and profoundly discouraged, you decide to throw in the towel. You decide just to forget it. You decide that the rest of your life will be spent pretending spiritual things don’t matter at all and that all there is to life is having fun. After all, the pain is too great, the disappointment was too profound when it seemed to you like the Christian faith, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was essentially the same nonsense as everything in the world.

Consider four things as they relate to your eternal welfare and whether or not you have to do what God commands, whether or not opting out is really a viable choice:

 

First, THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD

 

Perhaps it doesn’t register with most people, but God is different than anyone else. Although we have more conscious contact with government, with friends and associates, and with media sources such as the Internet, social media, and the evening news, it is a terrible mistake to carry over decisions made about everyday life to God. He is different. He is even different from Christians.

Those who are my generation have lived through astonishing changes of all kinds. Technology has changed from small black and white television sets to six-foot long high-density television, from one heavy black telephone that operated on a party line to a smart phone for everyone in the country aged fifteen and older, and a whole bunch of kids even younger. Computers used to be giant main frames that filled three story buildings when I was a university student, but every modern smart phone now possesses more computing power and still fits in the palm of your hand.

In addition to technology changing rapidly, morality is also changing rapidly. It used to be indisputable that men should wear men’s clothing and women should wear feminine attire. No more. It used to be that pornography, pictures of people with no clothes on, was wrong. But I saw Hugh Hefner interviewed on television a few weeks ago when it was announced that Playboy magazine would no longer display women as they once did. When asked why their policy was changing, that goofy old man Hugh Hefner smiled and said, “Because we won.”

So you see, it seems that everything changes. Even our Constitution is said to change because leftist judges and attorneys have an innovative theory about it being a living document that is properly subject to reinterpretation as the nation and situations it governs changes. However, and this is most important, God does not change. Please attend to this important truth. God does not change. The word for God not changing is immutable.

Consider the immutability of God as the matter is declared in the Bible:

 

Numbers 23.19:  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

 

Lamentations 3.22: “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”

 

Malachi 3.6: “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

 

Romans 11.29: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

 

James 1.17:  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

 

Though each of the verses I read addresses in some way the unchangeableness of God, we recognize that Malachi 3.6 and James 1.17 speak directly by way of declaring His unchangeableness.

Notice, also, the immutability of Jesus Christ declared:

 

John 8.58: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

 

Hebrews 13.8:    “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

 

Revelation 1.4:   “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come.”

 

Thus, while everything in this material world in which we live seems to be ever-changing, and even those who poorly represent God are unreliable on their best days, the Creator and Sustainer of all things does not change. He is immutable.

 

Next, THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

 

Allow me to read a portion of several people’s understanding of what is meant by the sovereignty of God:

 

Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling write,

 

sovereignty. The biblical concept of God’s kingly, supreme rule and legal authority over the entire universe. God’s sovereignty is expressed, exercised and displayed in the divine plan for and outworking of salvation history. Divine sovereignty is emphasized especially in the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition, where it is paradoxically contrasted with human responsibility.”[6]

 

Arthur Pink writes,

 

“The sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan. 4:35). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Ps. 115:3). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Ps. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.”[7]

 

Charles Hodge writes,

 

“Sovereignty is not a property of the divine nature, but a prerogative arising out of the perfections of the Supreme Being. If God be a Spirit, and therefore a person, infinite, eternal, and immutable in his being and perfections, the Creator and Preserver of the universe, He is of right its absolute sovereign. Infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, with the right of possession, which belongs to God in all his creatures, are the immutable foundation of his dominion. ‘Our God is in the heavens; He hath done whatsoever He pleased.’ (Ps. cxv.3.) ‘All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?’ (Dan. iv.35.) ‘All that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine.’ (1 Chron. xxix.11.) ‘The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness; the world, and they that dwell therein.’ (Ps. xxiv:1.) ‘Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.’ (1 Chron. xxix.11.) ‘Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine.’ (Ez. xviii.4.) ‘Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioned it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? (Is. xlv.9.) ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?’ (Matt. xx.15.) He ‘worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.’ (Eph. i.11.) ‘Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.’ (Rom. xi.36.)

From these and similar passages of Scriptures it is plain, (1.) That the sovereignty of God is universal. It extends over all his creatures from the highest to the lowest. (2.) That it is absolute. There is no limit to be placed to his authority. He doeth his pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. (3.) It is immutable. It can neither be ignored nor rejected. It binds all creatures, as inexorably as physical laws bind the material universe.

This sovereignty is exercised, (1.) In establishing the laws, physical and moral, by which all creatures are to be governed. (2.) In determining the nature and powers of the different orders of created beings, and in assigning each its appropriate sphere. (3.) In appointing to each individual his position and lot. It is the Lord who fixes the bounds of our habitation. Our times are in his hands. He determines when, where, and under what circumstances each individual of our race is to be born, live, and die. Nations, no less than individuals, are thus in the hands of God, who assigns them their heritage in the earth, and controls their destiny. (4.) God is no less sovereign in the distribution of his favours. He does what He wills with his own. He gives to some riches, to others, honour; to others, health; while others are poor, unknown, or the victims of disease. To some, the light of the gospel is sent; others are left in darkness. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others perish in unbelief. To the question, Why is this? the only answer is that given by our Lord. ‘Even so Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.’

Although this sovereignty is thus universal and absolute, it is the sovereignty of wisdom, holiness, and love. The authority of God is limited by nothing out of Himself, but it is controlled, in all its manifestations, by his infinite perfections. If a man is free and exalted, in proportion as he is governed by enlightened reason and a pure conscience, so is he supremely blessed who cheerfully submits to be governed by the infinite reason and holiness of God. This sovereignty of God is the ground of peace and confidence to all his people. They rejoice that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth; that neither necessity, nor chance, nor the folly of man, nor the malice of Satan controls the sequence of events and all their issues. Infinite wisdom, love, and power, belong to Him, our great God and Saviour, into whose hands all power in heaven and earth has been committed.”[8]

 

John Gill writes,

 

Seventhly, The will of God is most free and sovereign; as appears,

  1. From the making of the world, and all things in it. That the world is eternal, few have asserted; that it was made, and made by God, is generally agreed and by the will of God, as the scriptures assert, Rev. iv.11. and the making of it, as to time and order, and things contained in it, is owing to the sovereign will of God; to what else but to his sovereignty can it be ascribed, that he has not made more worlds than he has, who could, if he would, have made ten thousand worlds? or that he should make this world when he did, and not sooner, when he could have made it millions of ages before, if he would? or that he should be six days making that, and all things in it, when he could have made them all in a moment, if he pleased? or that he made this world no larger than it is, and made no more kinds and species of creatures than he has, and those he has made no more numerous than they be? no reason can be assigned, but his sovereign will and pleasure.
  2. The sovereignty of the will of God appears in providence, and in the various events of it; as in the births and deaths of men, which are neither of them of the will of men, but of the will of God; and there is a time for both fixed by his will; and in which his sovereignty may be seen; for to what else can it be ascribed, that such and such men should be born, and brought into the world, in such an age, and not before; and that they should go out of the world at the time, in the manner and circumstances they do? and that there should be such difference in men, in their states, conditions, and circumstances in life; that some should be rich, and others poor? riches and poverty are both at the disposal of God, as Agur’s prayer shews; and God is the maker both of the rich and poor, not only as men, but as rich and poor men: and to what can this difference be attributed, but to the sovereign will of God? some are raised to great honour and dignity; and others live in a very low, mean, and abject state; but promotion comes neither from the East, nor from the West, nor from the South; but God puts down one, and sets up another, as he pleases; and these differences and changes may be observed in the same persons, as in Job, who was for many years the greatest man in all the East, and, on a sudden, was stripped of all his riches, honour, and glory, and upon a dunghill; and then, after a while, restored to twice the wealth and riches he had before. So Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest monarch then on earth, and when in the most flourishing circumstances, and in the height of his grandeur, was degraded from his dignity, as a man and monarch, and driven to dwell among beasts, and to become and live like one of them; and after all, was restored to his reason, and to his throne, and former greatness; which extorted from him such an acknowledgment of the sovereign will of God as perhaps is no where more strongly expressed; He doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand , or say unto him, what dost thou? Dan. iv.35. Some are free from sickness and diseases of body all their days; their strength is firm, and no bands in their death, hut die in their full strength: whilst others drag on a life attended with a variety of infirmities and disorders, to their graves; and this is the case of the best of men: to what can it be imputed, but to the sovereign will of God? and how otherwise can be accounted for the many abortions, untimely births, infants that never saw light; and others, as soon as their eyes are opened in this world, ate shut again; when others not only go through the stages of infancy, childhood, and manhood, but arrive to a full age, and come to their graves like a shock of corn fully ripe? And a multitude of other things might be observed, in providence; which, though God has wise reasons for them, are unaccountable to us, but are obliged to refer them to his sovereign will and pleasure; who gives no account of his matters to the children of men.
  3. The will of God appears to be sovereign in things sacred, spiritual, and religious, both with respect to angels and men; as that some of the angels should be elect, and confirmed by the grace of Christ, in the estate in which they were created, and be preserved from apostasy, whilst a large number of them were suffered to rebel against God, and leave their first state; for which they were cast down from heaven, to hell, and reserved in chains of darkness, to the judgment of the great day, and no mercy shewn to any of them; as has been to many of the apostate race of Adam. What other reason can be given for all this, but the sovereign will of God? Among men, some God loves, and some he hates; and that before good or evil are done by them; some he chooses to everlasting happiness, and others he passes by and rejects; he has mercy on some, and hardens others; just as he, in his sovereignty, wills and pleases: some are redeemed from among men, by Christ, even out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, whom he wills, and resolves to save; when others are left to perish in their sins; for which no other cause can be assigned than the sovereign will and pleasure of God. According to which also he dispenses his gifts to men, and these of different sorts; some fitting for public service, as to ministers of the gospel; and such he makes whensoever he pleases, and gives them gifts differing from one another; to some greater to others less, to some one talent and to others five, dividing to every man severally as he wills, according to his sovereign pleasure: the means of grace, the ministry of the word and ordinances, in all ages, have been disposed of, just as seemed good in his sight; for many hundreds of years, God gave his word to Jacob, and his statutes unto Israel, and other nations knew them not; and these have been since distributed among the Gentiles, sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; and how apparent is the sovereignty of God in favouring our British Isles, these Isles afar off, with the gospel, and gospel-ordinances, when so great a part of the world is denied them, and is covered with Pagan, Papal, and Mahometan darkness? and still more it is manifest in that these outward means are, to some, “the savour of life unto life, and to others the savour of death unto death.” The special gifts of the grace of God, are bestowed upon men according to the sovereign will of God; of his own will he regenerates some, and not others; calls by his grace, whom he pleases, when and by what means, according to his purpose; reveals the gospel, and the great things of it, to whom he would make them known; and hides them from the wise and prudent; even so Father, says Christ, for so it seemed good in thy sight; nor does he give any other reason for such a conduct. The graces of the Spirit of God are given to some, and not to others; as for instance, repentance, which is a grant from God, a gift of Christ, was bestowed on Peter, who denied his Lord; and withheld from Judas, that betrayed him. Faith, which is the gift of God, all men have it not; to some it is only given, when others have a spirit of slumber, eyes that they see not, and ears that they hear not. In short, eternal life, which is the free gift of God, through Christ, is given only by him, to as many as the Father has given him, and to these alike; the penny, which seems to mean eternal happiness, in the parable, is given to those who were called to labour in the vineyard in the eleventh hour, as to those who bore the heat and burden of the day: some do much service for Christ, and others very little, and yet all share the same glory. To what can all this be resolved, but into the sovereign will of God? who says, Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Matt. xx.15. But though the will of God is sovereign, it always acts wisely: some sovereign princes will things rashly and foolishly; but God wills nothing contrary to his perfections of wisdom, justice, holiness, &c, and his will is therefore called counsel, and the counsel of his will, Isa. xxv.1. and xlvi.10. Eph. i.11.”[9]

 

What does God’s sovereignty mean to you and me? It means that God is in charge and that He gets His way in everything. Yes, we must deal with the paradox of God not seeming to achieve His will in everything. We grasp from the entire message of God’s Word that because He has condescended to communicate to us, limited in our comprehension as we are, it sometimes appears that God is resisted, that God repents, and that God’s will is thwarted. That said, as the Bible uses language in Scripture that suggests to us that God has eyes, that God has a tongue, that God has limbs, that God has ears, that God has nostrils, and so forth for the purpose of speaking comfortably to us in words that we can understand, so it is with other things. God also speaks as though He has the feelings of a man. However, this is for our benefit because we are a frail and fallen race. Recognizing this, let us not therefore mistakenly think that God is not sovereign and that He does not rule over all. That would be a most grievous error. Never lose sight of the clear declaration of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1.11, where he describes God as,

 

“him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

 

There is yet another consequence of God’s sovereignty that we need to come to grips with. Because He is sovereign He decides the means He will use to deal with us, and He has chosen to deal with us using fallible and deeply flawed human beings. I could take the time to point out to you the mistakes and outright sins committed by each of the apostles of Jesus Christ, each of the pastors of the Churches mentioned in the New Testament, and mechanisms put in place by the Savior to address the problems with such men that He knew would arise.[10] However, for lack of time, I will not. Just bear in mind that it is part of God’s sovereign plan for each sinner to deal with the clutter, to make his or her way through the chaff thrown up by unsaved Christian pretenders as well as well-intentioned but wrong servants of God. You had to deal with it. I have had to deal with it. It is God’s sovereign plan that each sinner deal with it, the Spirit of God providing clarity if clarity is honestly desired, so each sinner who wants it can see enough of the truth to set him free. With me as a teenager, it was a preacher presiding over a congregation while committing adultery, and a pastor screaming and yelling at me in the parking lot for doing what I thought he wanted me to do. For one man in our Church, it was charismatic confusion and then an unethical preacher. For another, it was preachers lining up on two sides of a battle royal. With others it is hypocrisy. Whatever each person’s particular situation, you can be sure God sovereignly allowed it to take place without relieving any sinner of his or her responsibility before God.

 

Third, THE GOSPEL OF GOD

 

Because you are so very familiar with the Gospel, allow me to rehearse with you two considerations:

First, the content of the Gospel. First Corinthians 15.1-4 is perhaps the most well-known distillation of the Gospel:

 

1      Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2      By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3      For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4      And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

 

From this summary of the Gospel accounts, we recognize that the Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ saves sinners and that it is based upon real history, of events that really took place, in which the virgin-born Son of the living God did real things to secure the salvation of sinners. As well, we see in this passage that the means by which a sinner secures for himself the benefit of Christ’s saving work is faith. He must believe in Jesus Christ, and his faith must not be a vain, or an empty, faith. These narrow facts understood, let us also understand that while the Gospel is at least these things, it is also somewhat more than these things. The Gospel is more than historical facts. Additionally, the Gospel is more than the proposition that if you trust Christ, your sins will be forgiven. The Gospel certainly includes deliverance from the penalty of sins, the deliverance from the power of sins, and the deliverance from the presence of sins. However, it is even more than that. The Gospel is also the good news that a sinner’s reconciliation to God through faith in the Savior’s work on Calvary’s cross effects the partaking of the divine nature by that sinner, adoption into the family of God of that sinner, new life of regeneration from being begotten by the Spirit of God, and the promise of exaltation in glory to that sinner.

Next, the command of the Gospel. You are aware that there is no such thing taught in the Bible that Jesus Christ asks sinners to accept Him. You are also aware that there is no such thing taught in the Bible of any sinner asking Jesus Christ to save him. The closest to such a thing was when the thief on the cross said,

 

“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,”

 

Luke 23.42. What we have instead is a pattern in which the Lord Jesus Christ asks questions only to provoke thought and stimulate discussion. Whenever it came to matters of sin, salvation, faith, and such as that, the Lord Jesus Christ asked no questions but always issued directives, which is to say, He told sinners what to do:

 

Matthew 4.17: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

Matthew 4.19: “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 

Matthew 9.9: “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.”

 

Matthew 11.28:  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

This corresponds to what we find in the epistles of the New Testament.

 

Romans 10.16:  “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?”

 

Second Thessalonians 1.8: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Second Thessalonians 2.14:  “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

First Peter 4.17:  “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

 

Three times we see Paul and Peter referring to the Gospel as a command that is to be obeyed, with Paul’s comment in Second Thessalonians 2.14 revealing the Gospel to be the means whereby a sinner is called, which is to say summoned by God.[11]

 

Finally, THE COMMAND OF GOD

 

Perhaps I should restate at this point that I am a Baptist pastor, which is to say that I embrace the Baptist distinctive of soul liberty, the notion that each of you is responsible before God for the choices you make, for the truths you embrace, and for the conduct you display. That said, because the same is true of me, I am obligated before God and called, in particular, to declare certain things to you and to urge you to respond in a way that pleases God. As Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 5.11,

 

“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

 

Having briefly addressed the immutability of God, the sovereignty of God, and the Gospel of God, I conclude with the command of God:

First, understand that a command implies a duty. Recognizing that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin, which can be distinguished but not separated, consider Acts 17.30:

 

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.”

 

This is not new to either the Bible or to God, as Isaiah 45.22 makes clear:

 

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

 

God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, including you. He is immutable, meaning He has not changed. He is sovereign, which means He has the right to decide and to do. As well, we have seen that the Gospel is regarded by the Savior, by the Apostle Paul, and by the Apostle Peter as a command and not a request. Therefore, it is your duty to respond, it is your duty to obey, it is your duty to trust Christ, it is your duty to believe in Him, it is your duty to repent of your sins.

Next, the Gospel commands you to repent; therefore, it is your duty to repent of your sins. We see this command stated by the Apostle Paul to the Athenians, did we not? But there is also the directive of the Lord Jesus Christ in the form of the Great Commission as it is found in Luke’s Gospel, in Luke 24.46-47:

 

46    And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47    And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

 

Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ does not ask, but commands. Kings to not ask, they issue commands. Therefore, messengers to not carry requests as emissaries of the Savior, but directives, requirements, duties, obligations, and commands. Do you know someone who has dropped out and seems to be opting for the self-centered life of devotion to the religion of Disneyland and Magic Mountain, with a dash of Knott’s Berry Farm thrown in for good measure? Somehow and in some way that individual needs to be told by someone who speaks for God that he is being summoned to turn from his sinful self-centeredness using repentance, a change of mind. By my way of thinking, Jeremiah 31.18 describes repentance best:

 

“turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.”

 

Finally, the Gospel commands you to believe; therefore it is your duty to believe in Jesus Christ. You may well remember the question asked by the Philippian jailor to Paul and Silas in Acts 16.30:

 

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

 

In Acts 16.31 they said,

 

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

 

This verb to believe is imperative, meaning it is a command. This man was not asked to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ was not suggested for his consideration by Silas and Paul. They commanded that lost man to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and he complied with their directive.

 

The message that we preach, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, is not an invitation to trust Christ. Neither is it a suggestion to consider Christ. Rather, it is a directive sent forth from the throne room of heaven, a command uttered by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is a summons. Therefore, it is in the best interests of all those we know who are not Christians to clearly understand the nature of the message that we preach, the essence of this Gospel that we declare. It is not an option. It is not a request. It is not something that may be ignored. Oh, a sinner can ignore the Gospel, though he may not ignore the Gospel. A lost person has the ability to disregard the Gospel, though he will never be granted God’s permission to turn his back on the Gospel. And if he does, for whatever reason he feels justified in so doing, there will be consequences of such magnitude that right-minded people shudder to think about them.

To the Athenians, the Apostle Paul declared in Acts 17.31,

 

“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

 

Sinners must repent. Sinners must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because there is coming a day when God will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ. How do we know? He raised Him from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof that God will judge those who do not comply with His Gospel command. This is why we must by some effective means communicate to those we know who are lost that you are commanded to believe in Jesus Christ, commanded by no less than God Himself.

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[1] Comment made by KFI radio’s Tim Conway, Jr. on air June 2, 2016.

[2] Published on Dec 5, 2015 California does NOT protect good Samaritans from persecution, prosecution or law suits. Knowledgeable California concealed carry permit holders may not be willing to help defend others in an active shooter situation. This video explains why. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTZ7moSaYnM&index=42&list=PLHnZgFqBDGkftAGGkx2lR5q7243zg2Gh3

[3] http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/poll-hillary-clinton-support-democrats-116219

[4] http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/03/10/us-attorney-general-we-may-prosecute-climate-change-deniers/ 6/3/2016

[5] http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/06/no-one-is-innocent.html 6/3/2016

[6] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 109.

[7] Arthur Pink, The Sovereignty Of God, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, Sixth Edition, 1959), pages 23-24.

[8] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Volume I, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Edition, reprinted from the edition originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), pages 440-441.

[9] John Gill, A Complete Body Of Doctrinal And Practical Divinity - The Baptist Faith Series Volume I, (Paris, Arkansas: the Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., reprinted 1989), pages 76-78.

[10] Matthew 7.15; Acts 20.29-30; Galatians 2. 11, 13; Titus 1.10-16; 2 Peter 2.1; Jude 4, 18-19; Revelation 2.4, 14-16, 20-24; 3.15-18

[11] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 502-504.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org