When Achan stole and hid gold, silver, and fine clothing from God, the Lord withdrew from Israel, and thirty-six people died in battle. The Lord exposed Achan’s sin to all Israel, who stoned and burned Achan and his family. Just as the fire of judgment consumed Achan, the fires of hell will consume us if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to probe us and uncover the worst parts of our hearts. And just as Achan’s brothers died because of his sin, our fellow men are dying in sin while the Church at-large remains powerless because she refuses the work of the Holy Spirit to bring her to repentance, and brays, “We’re all sinners!” Are you still a sinner? Or do you fear sinning? Will you spread your sin before the Lord now in deep repentance and a holy fear of God, that you and those around you might be saved; or will you wait until the Day of Judgment, and be damned?
The parable of the prodigal son shows two responses to the gospel. In the first, the lost son comes to his senses and cries, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son!” In the second, the elder son holds onto a hard, angry heart and refuses to go in to his brother, in spite of his father’s pleading. It is easy and dangerous to think that we are responding as the prodigal son when in fact we are responding as the elder brother. Have you returned to Jesus everything that you’ve stolen, and fully consecrated yourself to him? Or, do you still reserve the “right” to deny your heavenly Father’s pleading?
Focusing on the parable of the prodigal son, this continuation in the study of Charles Finney’s book God’s Call sets in terrifying relief the true condition of sinners as thieves and liars towards God. Like the prodigal, we must come to our senses and see that we’ve lived in a pretend world that says, “I own my life. I can choose what I do. I decide whether, and how much, I will give to God and obey him.” In reality, everything belongs to Jesus, and anyone who walks otherwise is a thief and a liar. The gospel allows no compromise on this point–we will not enter heaven unless we are saved from all sin now!
A deep consideration of how you have stolen yourself from God will produce great pain. We must see this before we can truly offer a full confession to God and make restitution to people whom we’ve injured. When you see that everything that you own, and are, belongs to God; and that you’ve stolen it all, and lied about it; you can then disown your life and return what you’ve stolen to Jesus Christ. These are God’s indispensable conditions for forgiveness and salvation from sin. Is this your present position before God?
In this sobering message, Pastor Ray identifies that salvation consists in a state of mind that is supremely happy in (and resigned to) God’s will. To be saved, we must recognize that we’ve stolen ourselves from God, return to Him, and make restitution to all we’ve injured. Doubtful actions will block us from hearing the Holy Spirit, sear our hearts, dull our fear of God, and ultimately ruin our souls. Is Christ’s yoke an iron collar of duty to you, or is your delight in the will of God? Where’s your heart with Jesus today as you listen to the sermon?
Welcome message by Sister Michelle
In the American church and most of the western world, comfortable theologies of the sinning Christian have obscured the truth about God’s law and his atonement. A powerful illustration by Charles Finney, drawn from Ecclesiastes 8:11, demonstrates the intention of God to persuade sinners to give up their spirit of rebellion, and the great guilt of sinners who refuse obedience and abuse God’s mercy. Does the crucifixion of the Son of God melt your heart and fill you with intense desire to never sin again? Or, do your actions and heart say, “Jesus doesn’t have the power to save me from sinning. I can’t stop, and God loves me so much that even though I continue to abuse and insult him, he won’t send me to hell?”
In this vulnerable testimony, Pastor Ray shares his experience of entire sanctification. Entire sanctification is not some mystical experience: it is simply a covenant confirmed with Jesus that, “I disown my life, and I will receive from Jesus only what he chooses to give me.” As we deny ourselves the right to provide for ourselves, the Holy Spirit leads us down a path of suffering that eradicates selfishness and produces real righteousness. Have you made this covenant with Jesus? Are you living by faith that, if you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, everything will be added to you? Or is your life still filled with what you’ve created?
Are you in union with Jesus? Rees Howells’ testimony illustrates the need to abandon selfishness, which is sin, in order to enter and stay in union with Jesus. The gospel is designed to eradicate selfish motives and draw one’s heart into pure benevolence. On the nature of this change, Charles Finney writes, “If you love God, you cannot reflect that you have wounded his feelings, without pain. You would not complain that you could not repent: The truth is, that if you were in the exercise of love for God, you could not help repenting[…]” Christian, is this your experience?
Jesus said, “Do not begin to think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I came not to abolish but to fulfill.” Weaving in Charles Finney’s allegory about parents pleading for the pardon of their condemned son, Pastor Ray shows that the new covenant does not abolish the requirements of the moral law. In the new covenant, God writes his law in our hearts so that we become righteous now. Has the law, by faith in Christ, been totally fulfilled in your heart? Are you, like the parents, pleading with God for the guilty–or, like the son, will you come to the date of your execution in rebellion and proud disdain, protesting your innocence?
(Note: There is no video for today’s broadcast.)