Too Good to Be True
Posted on 05/16/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
Wall - Was in hostipal with chest pain, diagnosed with GERD.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
A REASON TO REJOICE
I have a reason to rejoice
I have a reason to clap my hands
I have a reason to lift my voice
and sing praises to the great I Am
I have a reason to move my feet
and take the Gospel into the street
I have a reason to lose my will
and let Jesus take full control
For you have set me feet to dancin'
You have filled my heart with joy
You have freed me from my passions
and filled me with the Holy Ghost
You have set my heart on fire
Fill my soul with your desire and
Melt me Lord 'til only you remain!
SING A NEW SONG
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
For God is great
and greatly to be praised
God is great
and greatly to be praised
I EXALT THEE
For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou are exalted
far above all gods
And I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee O Lord
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
The title of today's message is "Too Good to be True."
You've probably heard the expression, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Is that a true statement?
You've most likely gotten emails or seen ads saying things such as...
"Start earning $10,000 per month doing nothing in as little as 5 days!" or
"Buy this program and use the Law of Attraction to effortlessly get everything your heart desires!" or
"Take this suppliment and get rid of cancer, arthritis, and hangovers. Order now and we'll throw in another super drug that is guaranteed to grow back your missing arms and legs!"
These sound too good to be true. And it's a pretty safe bet they're not. In fact, I'd suggest that sending them your hard-earned cash would be a very bad idea.
Let's get a little closer to reality. Actually, the second example is similar to some real ad headlines I've seen over and over. All you have to do, according to the one selling the products, is install a computer program or listen to a MP3, and without having to make any changes in your life, all your dreams will start to come true.
This is what could be called a greatly-exaggerated truth. You CAN change your life and start seeing more good things in it by changing your attitudes and thought patterns. Where this parts with reality is in saying you will become healthy, wealthy, and powerful and have to do nothing else to get there. It's not impossible, but for almost all of us, it is highly improbable.
But it doesn't stop with things like that. Even without saying anything, the commercials on TV say, just with pictures and music, that you will be free and happy if you buy their car, or you will become a woman magnet if you drink their beer, or you will have plenty of money to blow if you buy their insurance or put your money in their bank.
Most of us have realized a long time ago that Santa Claus is too good to be true, but without even realizing it, we believe our great Christmas is right around the corner as soon as we have this or that material Kris Kringle.
Proverbs 10:4 says this: "He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich."
If something sounds really good but it disagrees with what the Bible says, then it is too good to be true.
How about the claims of socialists, marxists, and groups with different names but similar ideas, that forced charity and the goodness of mankind can wipe poverty off the face of the earth? Is that too good to be true? I bet some if not a lot of us here today believe that's possible.
But what did Jesus say in Matthew 26:11? "The poor will always be with you." Yes, poverty WILL be wiped off the face of the earth. But not during time as we know it. And while Scripture clearly commands us to help those in need, our own human efforts will not put an end to poverty. Only Jesus Christ can do that, when he returns to this earth and establishes his everlasting kingdom.
Until that time, there will be famines, earthquakes, and various other disasters. And where these things are not the culprits, there will be spiritual curses and mental paterns which keep poverty alive and well. Only Jesus can and will put an end to all these things.
So our human dream to completely remove poverty from the earth by our own efforts really is too good to be true. And removing all suffering goes without saying.
How about all the fantastic claims found in the Bible? Are they too good to be true as well?
To answer that question, let's back up in time about 8,000 years. Imagine you are a spec of dust on the earth, which is formless and void. You've been there for years, or centuries, or maybe thousands or millions of years. We don't really know how long the earth was formless and void, that part of creation isn't measured in the Bible by time.
But you are that spec, somehow aware of what's around you. You never have seen light. You never have seen anything move. You've never seen trees or grass or fish. In all your greatest efforts, you cannot change anything at all. You cannot breathe, nor do you know what breath is. You cannot see, nor do you know what sight is.
Eating and drinking? What are they? And why would they exist? Love? You cannot comprehend it.
If a thought somehow crossed your mind that such things will some day exist, and that they will be created by a word, you probably wouldn't believe it. All the magnificent descriptions of glorious things yet to come would seem MUCH too good to be true.
As it is written in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
They seem just too good to be true.
"By His stripes we are healed." Sounds good, but we know we're sick.
"We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Sounds nice, but deep down, we feel like victimized losers.
"My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory." Useful head knowledge, but during difficult times, our feelings of worry and dread tell us that deep down we really believe that's just too good to be true.
But that's the thing... That's the difference between claims we hear from men, and claims we hear from God. And here's a headline you could believe: "The Bible: The only book that's too good to be true, but is."
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
All things? How about starvation? How about rape? How about losing everything and everyone you love? All things. All things will work out to your good if you live a life of loving God. All things. Sounds too good to be true, but it is.
Revelation 21:4-5a (NKJV)
4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
No more tears? No more death? No more sorrow? No more pain? That sounds WAY too good to be true. But it is.
So what do we have so far: During this life, everything that happens in our lives will work out for something good, and some day very soon, all pain and suffering and sickness and death will be just a memory. That's just too good to be true. But so is God.
Psalm 34:8 says this: "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who trusts in Him!"
Blessed is the one who trusts in Him... For that one, the one who puts his or her trust in God, everything -- EVERY thing -- will work out to their good, and in the blink of an eye, all pain and suffering will end for them, and they will live in perfect peace forever.
That's a pretty big promise. But we serve a pretty big God. And when He writes a headline, it's true.
In Numbers 23:19 (NKJV), we read this:
19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
I think we tend to get so numbed by fantastic claims that we don't pay much attention to the headlines found in Scripture.
Isaiah 61:1-3, 7, 10-11 (NKJV)
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Do you want to find comfort, freedom, and joy? Maybe you're afraid to believe you can have these things. But just maybe you might find that, in this atmosphere where God is, you have the courage to set your fears aside, and imagine: what if God's promises, which are true, are true for ME too?
And as you wait upon the Lord and allow this truth to sink in, just maybe you can reach out, surrendering your worries, your doubts, and your fears, and in exchange, you can embrace God's presence, knowing that in Him, in Jesus, all God's promises are Yes and Amen. They are absolutely true, and every single one of them will come to pass, and they will come to pass for you.
You know, the Gospel Message is too good to be true. Psalm 103:12 (NKJV) says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." That's amazing.
Imagine if you had committed some serious crime, such as blowing up a daycare full of children. Sure, you probably would never do such a thing, but imagine with me for just a moment: you are that person who would, and you did.
You're in court. The evidence is laid out, and the proof is incontrovertible. You did it, and everyone knows it. Suppose you were to get up and say, "Judge, I'm so sorry for murdering all those kids... I promise I'll never do it again!" Do you really think the judge will say, "Alright, since you're truly sorry, I'll let you go free." Hardly. Justice must be served.
But then imagine that someone you don't know, the husband of one of the daycare workers you killed, who is also the father of two of the children you murdered, walks into the courtroom.
Your sentence has been pronounced -- you have been given the death sentence. But this man, this man from whom you have senselessly taken everything he loved and held dear, this man walks up to the judge, and they talk quietly. And then the man turns and walks to the officer, and puts out his hands to be put in hand cuffs, and is led quietly away.
Next, the judge turns to you and says, "Your judgment has changed. I find you innocent. You are free to go."
Bewildered, you can't believe what you're hearing, so you say, "Wait a minute, what do you mean I'm innocent and I can leave?!"
"That man," the judge replies, "the man whose wife and children were killed, has confessed. He is now the guilty one, and you are free to go."
You might say you've never done anything like that, you're a pretty good person. But what does James 2:10 say?
10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
Have you ever lusted? Ever held anger in your heart against someone? Ever told a lie? Ever stolen something, even something small? Have you ever done anything that lacked love toward God or toward another person?
If so, you are guilty of all. You are guilty of breaking the law of God. The whole thing. In this sense, all sin is equal. Your holding resentment against someone makes you just as guilty of hell as someone who spent his whole life torturing and murdering innocent people just for the fun of it.
God is perfect in every way, including justice. NO sin will go unpunished. And that leaves us all in a terrible perdicament. What will happen when you and I enter God's courtroom?
Our sin must be paid for, and they payment for sin is death -- eternal separation from God, and hell is the only place where God is not.
But God loved you so much, that He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. And Jesus loved you so much that He paid the price for YOUR sin. He had no sin of His own, so instead, He took your sin upon himself, and paid the price of death for your transgressions against God.
He walked into that courtroom and talked with the judge. Are you willing to turn from your sin? Are you ready to start walking with God? You know, not walking with God, not spending time with Him, is a type of sin. So by turning from a life of sin, you turn away from prayerlessness. You turn away from apathy. You turn away from self-seeking and pride.
If you're holding onto your sin, how can it be nailed to the cross? But if you choose to turn away from sin and take on Jesus' robe of righteousness instead, then God will consider you righteous.
And if you mess up and fall to temptation, we can remember what John 2:1 says: "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
That just seems too good to be true. But out of all the things we've talked about today -- everything working out for our good, having freedom, joy, and peace today and having no pain or sorrow or death tomorrow -- out of all these things, the greatest by far is the fact that our heavy debt of sin, that debt we could never pay after all eternity, Jesus took it upon himself and paid the price for us!
He took our dreadful shame upon himself, and gave us his glorious righteousness! And when God looks at you, he doesn't see the person you used to be, but he sees the glory of His beloved Son in whom he is well pleased.
It's much too good to be true. But glory be to God -- it is!
Have you made that great exchange? Have you given all your sins to Jesus in exchange for his righteousness? If not, then what are you waiting for?
The Bible says God's spirit will not strive with us forever. So just stop fighting Him! Bring your sin-stained rags to the cross today, and be cleansed in the fountain of the blood He sacrificed to wash your sins away.
I'd like anyone here on the the ministry team to come stand at the front now.
And if you'd like to answer the call of the Lord on your life today, then you're also invited to get out of your seat, and make your way to the front, as we lay our lives on the altar.
Maybe you've already been born again, but you realize today that there are some things you've held on to -- some things that you know don't please God, but for which you've made excuses. Come to the altar, and get that thing out of the way today, so you can be at peace with God.
Perhaps you realize that you've had some hidden doubts or fears, things that show you don't believe God's Word as much as you may have thought you did. Well, come gather at the altar and confess these things to God, asking for His help. You know, Jesus came to set the captives free, and he will bring you liberty from the doubts and the fears that have you bound!
You're all invited to make your way to the front, as we gather for a time of prayer, ministry, and seeking after God. If you would like prayer or ministry, you can instant message me or someone else on the ministry team. Otherwise, you're free to go, and I hope you have a week that finds you closer to God.
If you can, stick around with us for a little while, and after this time at the altar, come to the room on your left for a time of fellowship.
But for now, let's gather at the front and seek after the Lord, laying everything at his feet, as he reveals the absolute reality of His amazing goodness which is just too good to be true.