In or Out
Posted on 03/02/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
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THERE IS A RIVER
There is a river whose streams
make glad the city of our God
There is a river whose streams
make glad the city of our God
I will rejoice, I will rejoice
and be glad
I will rejoice, I will rejoice
and be glad
There is a fountain full of grace
and if flows from Emmanuel's veins
It came and it healed me, it came and refreshed me,
It came and it washed my sins away!
TAKE ME IN TO THE HOLY OF HOLIES
Take me into the Holy of Holies
take me in by the Blood of the Lamb
Take me into the Holy of Holies
take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
Take me past the outer courts
into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord, I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
and the priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
and it's only found one place
NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES
Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.
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 ***
A few years ago, we talked about offenses. Since it was only four years ago, I'm sure you remember it clearly. Anyway, we discussed what should offend us, versus what is true and Godly and should not, but often does, offend us.
We should not, for example, be offended when we hear the truth spoken about what is sin. And we, as children of God seeking to please and obey Him in everything, should certainly not be offended when we hear from the pulpit that a sin that is close to our heart is wrong and should be removed from our lives.
Of course when I said that, I offended people. I still remember the instant messages and e-mails which made that pretty clear. An e-mail I received from a newsletter subscriber was rather hostile. But the word of God is a light that reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart. It shines into our darkness, and we can become offended when we think that word, or the one delivering it to us, is trying to make us look or feel bad.
The Scripture even talks about people who have that reaction, who want encouragement without correction and rebuke. But Second Timothy chapter four, verses 1-4 instructs us to preach the word, correcting, rebuking, and encouraging. Those three are equally important, and if I don't do all three, I am not obeying the word of God.
Verses three and four say, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
But I believe most of you here in this room and listening on the website are not in that category; and if you are, you don't have to leave the place you are right now before getting things right with God.
The title of today's message is "In or Out." And I hope that, in the midst of being challenged, you will also be encouraged.
The Scriptures tell us that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." So let's jump right in and turn to the Word of God for some of our daily spiritual bread.
And I would like to start off with some promises God has made to His people. These promises were made to the nation of Israel, but we have become partakers of the promises of God, both Jew and Gentile, because we have been grafted in to the Vine, and these apply to us as well.
Let's start by reading from the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28.
1 "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:
3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
7 The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
8 The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
9 The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.
10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.
11 And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.
12 The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.
14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
I'm sure you'd agree this is certainly a blessing we would want to claim, the blessings of God on every single area of our lives.
It almost sounds like America in the early days, who quickly rose up from humble beginnings to be the greatest country on earth -- in military, in productivity, in wealth, and in freedom.
Just like Israel has been time after time throughout the pages of history.
And of course not all of us here or listening live in America, but I want us to notice something here that is relevant to today's topic: America was founded by those who were seeking religious freedom. Our early leaders wrote that one of the main reasons for founding this nation was for the spreading the Christian faith. The Constitution and first laws were, according to the writings of the founding fathers, based upon the Ten Commandments and the principles of the Holy Bible.
Considering the passage we just read from Deuteronomy, is it any wonder that in just a few short years, we rose from nothing to the most powerful nation in the world?
Some would call this arrogance, but some call all geniuses prideful and all rich men greedy. It's simply history. It's the facts. America was founded upon the Word of God, and rose almost overnight to the greatest and most powerful, prosperous nation on earth.
And there is only one reason for this: The Word of God is true!
So what does this mean for us today? It's important to notice that this passage is not unconditional. And it doesn't say that God will do all these things if you say a sinner's prayer and go to church. Rather, it is quite clear in its conditions.
It begins with these words: "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today."
In verse nine we read, "The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways."
Then in verses 13 and 14 we read, "And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them."
So we are promised these great blessings only if we obey the voice of God, keep His commandments, walk in His ways, and have no other gods besides Him.
"Well, I can still be blessed if I explain away the parts of Scripture that I think are too harsh and offensive." Sorry, that's not what the Bible says.
"Well, I can still be blessed if I do my own thing and seek to make myself happy, thus putting myself before God, which is really idolotry. God understands." Sorry, that's not what the Bible says.
But if you do have a heart that yearns to follow after God, then it doesn't matter that you're human and you fail. It matters only that when you fall, you don't stay on the ground and try to excuse the fact that you're there; but rather that you get back up and keep seeking after the Lord.
And if that's you, then rejoice! God's hand of blessing is not far from your life. You are dwelling in the shelter of the Most High, and abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. There is no weapon formed against you that can prosper, for when God is for you, who can be against you!
If that's you, then God calls you His friend. He sees you as holy. He sings over you with joy. And He delights in hearing your voice raised to Him in prayer, praise, worship, thanksgiving, and just in daily fellowship.
And if that's NOT you, then make sure you take care of that before you leave here today.
Now, Deuteronomy chapter 28 doesn't end here. Or at least it didn't used to. But the IEV Bible, the Itching Ear Version, would have to cut out the rest.
You see, if we keep reading after "And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath," we would see the following highly-offensive verses:
15 "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.
17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
20 The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.
21 The LORD will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess.
22 The LORD will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish.
23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.
24 The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
25 The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away.
27 The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed.
28 The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart.
29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you.
30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes.
31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them.
32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.
33 A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually.
34 So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see.
35 The LORD will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.
Now wait just a minute! This can't be the God we know. He wouldn't say such terrible things to his people. The God I know wouldn't demand we obey Him... Would He?
We've become so super-sensitive that we can no longer tollerate the full nature of God. So we create a mental image of God, formed after ourselves, or after the way we think we should be. We remake God into a God of our own liking who agrees with what we feel is right, and who has a personality we think the King of Heaven should have.
Some of us have even gone so far as to believe only the words Jesus spoke while here in the flesh, because both the Old and New Testaments contain too many things that offend and that challenge our preferred image of God.
But if we don't worship the God of both the Old and New Testaments, the one whose nature is displayed to us on every page, then we are worshiping a false god.
36 The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone.
37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will drive you.
38 You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it.
39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.
40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off.
41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity.
42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.
43 The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.
44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.
46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever.
47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything,
48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.
49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand,
50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young.
51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.
This just keeps going and going, doesn't it? Hearing about the blessings that come from obeying God and walking in His ways, that's a joy. We can't get enough of it. But hearing about the cursings that come from disobeying God and not walking in his ways?
52 They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God has given you.
53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you.
I think we get the picture. And finally, verse 68 says this:
68 And the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, 'You shall never see it again.' And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you."
Do we want to go back to Egypt? In the Bible, Egypt represents bondage to sin. Well, this tells us that if we choose to continue in our sin, God will take you back to Egypt, back to bondage to your sin. You see, Jesus said that those who practice sin are slaves to sin. Has Jesus set you free? Then walk with Him, and walk in that freedom! Have you not been set free from sin? Then let's get that taken care of before you leave here today.
Holiness is old fashioned. It's out of style. It's considered optional, and insisting we be holy in everything we do is labeled legalistic and extreme.
But 1 Peter 1:14-16 tells us this:
14 As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
Yes, God does expect us who have been set free from sin to live holy lives, and to be holy in everything we do.
I get in trouble almost every time I mention homosexuality; much more trouble, in fact, than any other sin. And the problem is that I repeat what the Scripture says about it being a sin.
There are many sins, it's far from being the only one; but since so many people take such great offense to this particular sin being called a sin, I'd like to take another opportunity to offend, in hopes of seeing just one person set free from bondage.
Is one sin natural and good, and another one an evil choice? Or is all sin the result of our fallen human nature, and is all of it an evil choice?
Well, of course the Bible teaches the latter, that all sin is the result of our fallen human nature, our fleshly lusts, and all sin is an act of our will. It also states that before Jesus sets us free, we are all slaves to sin, and are controlled by it. So while sin is a choice, those who are not in Christ ultimately have no choice but to sin.
We see this explained in the book of Romans, chapter six, verses 18 through 22:
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
So those things which are sins have an end result for those who continue to walk in them, and that end result is death. But if Jesus has set you free from sin and you are a servant of God, actively serving him with your life, then you will begin to bear fruit. And that fruit is holiness.
And the end result of holiness? Everlasting life.
Of course being good and doing good things can't buy you everlasting life. But persevering in the faith DOES result in eternal life. And part of perseverance is seeking to please God in everything we do, and living a life of repentance, daily turning away from sin.
"There you go again, preacher, offending people and making them feel bad, when you should just be talking about love."
Well, here's TRUE love, as James 5:19-20 says:
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
And what IS the truth of the matter? We can find it in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
And therein lies both the problem and the solution. In these verses we can see both the hopelessness and the hope. Hopelessness to those who never turn from their sins, and hope for those who come to Jesus, repent of their sins, and walk in the freedom only Jesus can give.
And verse eleven says, "Such were some of you." In the church of that day, there were people in the church who used to have sex outside of marriage. They used to worship idols, things besides God. They used to commit adultery. They used to be homosexuals. They used to be perverted and immoral.
In this group of early Christians were those who used to steal. They used to covet what others had. They used to get drunk, talk bad about people, and cheat others.
What does this passage say? It says that no one who continues living any of these lifestyles will inherit the kingdom. They will reap their reward, which is the second death -- eternity in hell.
Then it says something else. It says that some of the ones in this early church USED to do these things. BUT... There's a word of great hope... BUT... But they were washed, they were sanctified, they were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
In short, they were set free! Thank you Jesus! Do you see the incredible hope there? People are bound to sins they think are part of their identity, and this lie makes it even more difficult for them to be set free. No matter how hard they try, or how much they squelch the sin on the outside, the roots still bind them deep within, and they simply cannot break free.
But we see here a beautiful promise, and that promise is that they can be washed, they can be sanctified, they can be justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God!
I'm trying to save someone from death today. But there are others that only you can reach. Will you love them enough to be bold enough to tell them the truth, letting them know that, although they're on their way to hell because of these things that won't let them go, Jesus Christ can break their chains and truly set them free?
This is an encouragement. You can be a life-changer. You can bring the message of liberty to those held in bondage to sin. It's only the true Gospel, turning to Jesus and repenting of sin, that has the power to set someone free from deep-rooted sins. And that true Gospel is offensive.
The Gospel can make people "feel bad about themselves." And we in the Church today so often try to keep that from happening. But can't we see why this is so important? If I had never felt as though I was wicked and wretched, I would have never wanted to turn to Jesus and repent. If I feel good in my sin, I will probably stay in my sin, and I'll end up in hell.
So boldly speak the truth, the full Gospel of faith and repentance, in love; and let it offend. Let it make someone feel dirty inside. That's a good thing! It's the Word and the Spirit of God shining a light into the dark corners of their hearts, and when they know the truth, the truth will set them free!
Will you be an ambasador of liberty? Will you proclaim the year of the Lord's favor?
The year of the Lord's favor can be today. He is favoring you by letting you hear the truth. He has favored you by sending his Son, the sacrificial lamb to take the punishment for your sins.
And today, let's close by reading about this favorable year of the Lord, the year of repentance, the year of the drawing of the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, and the year of the atonoment for our souls by the precious blood of Jesus.
And this is what this favor brings, from Isaiah chapter 61, verses 1 through 3. And it says:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
Good news to the poor. You may feel as though you are poor in riches, poor in friends, poor in health; but Jesus brings you good news!
Healing for the broken hearted. You may be broken and bruised. You may be abandoned and abused. You may feel as though you can't go on another day because of the pain inside. But Jesus will bind up your broken heart and heal your deepest wound!
Freedom for the captives. Are you a captive to sin? If you're conviced a sin is not a sin, I supposed you won't think you're captive or that you need to be set free. But if you'll hear the truth and call sin sin, or if you'll share the truth with others, then there is hope; for Jesus brings freedom for the captives!
Release from darkness for the prisoners. This darkness could be depression. It could be deception. It could be false beliefs. It could be thinking you're okay when you're really living in darkness. But Jesus brings release from darkness for those imprisoned therein!
Comfort for those who grieve and mourn. Jesus will place a crown of beauty on your head instead of ashes. He will pour out the oil of gladness upon you instead of mourning. And he will give you a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Will you accept this year of favor for you today?
Those who walk in the favor of the Lord are called trees of righteousness; in fact, they are oaks of righteousness, tall and strong. They are planted by the Lord. And he has planted them, the trees of God's righteousness, for this purpose: to display his splendor.
That's good news! It's certainly worth seeing your depravity and filthiness! For once you were walking in darkness, but now you have been set free by His marvelous light!
If you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and savior, turn to Him today. Turn to Him and surrender your life of sin. Don't wait until you clean up your life, because you'll never be able to do it on your own. Trust in Jesus to set you free, and He will set you free indeed!
And if you're not completely in and you're not completely out, but you're dabbling in sin and dabbling in Jesus, stop it! You can't be half way in and half way out, believing only what you want the Bible to say, and explaining away the parts that offend.
Are you all the way in? Have you already made that choice, or is that the choice you're making today? Then rejoice! Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life! Just endure until the end, and you will receive a crown of life!
This altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front for a time of praise, worship, and ministry. If you would like someone to speak or pray with you, you can instant message one of us, or if you're listening on the website or here later in the week, go to almcyberchurch.org, click the Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.
Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed; and if you can stay during this time at the altar, you're invited afterwards to meet us in the room up the steps to your left for a time of fellowship.
Come, and let's seek the Lord together!
Lord God, we thank you for speaking to us through your word today. I ask that your truths would not be choked out or stolen away, but that you would remind us of these things, and that our lives would change as a result.
And as we seek you here Lord, both now and throughout the days and weeks to come, I ask that you would give us the strength, courage, and the will to be totally In, without any compromise, 100% on fire for you.
And we ask these things in Jesus' mighty name.