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January 2, 2021 3:00 am
The Bible describes sin as a stain that cannot be washed away today on Truth for Life weekend.
Alastair Begg tells the story of a man who suffered from a dreadful disease and who cried out for cleansing and he explains how his experience is similar to becoming a Christian. Our message begins a new series titled Christian basics like you to turn with me to Luke's gospel into chapter 5 verse 12 of chapter 512 Jesus was in one of the times. A man came along who was covered with leprosy when he saw Jesus he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean Jesus reached out his hand and touch the man I am willing. He said be clean and immediately the leprosy left him.
While this evening we come to the first of four studies in basic Christianity which are going to be pretty basic. Studies will have a very brief time for each tonight in the first of these were looking at what the Bible has to say about becoming a Christian and it may be that for some of us.
The thought of beginning with a story of a man with leprosy is a strange place to start, but I hope it will become clear as to why in the passage that we just read both in the end of four and then into five it's clear that Jesus has been moving from time to time, and in Judea he's been preaching the good news of the kingdom the word about him has been spreading and as he reaches one of these particular times he runs into a man who is covered with leprosy. So this man that Jesus meets here is if you like a dead man walking. He is a prisoner of his own skin, and he knows what he needs.
He needs to be cleansed and cured. Presumably the news of Jesus had begun to spread preceding him preceding his arrival here at the news of this itinerant preacher who had the story of freedom for the prisoners, and of good news for the poor is therefore no wonder that coming face-to-face with Jesus. Luke tells us that he fell with his face to the ground and he begged Jesus to cleanse him. The phraseology makes it clear that he's absolutely convinced of Jesus ability to clean them up to cure in the only question is whether Jesus is willing if you look at verse 13. You see there that Jesus does the unthinkable.
He reaches out his hand and he touches the man seemed not particularly consequential to us until we think for a moment and ask ourselves. I wonder how long it was. Since this man had been touched by anyone other than another letter.
No one touched the left.
The disease was dreaded, but in compassion. Jesus reaches out his hand and he touches the man and he declares his willingness addressing his hopeless condition and in a drama with just one word in Greek catheter asked the Thai from which we get our English word catharsis. There is a catharsis takes place in the life of this man and immediately he is healed. Now there's more that follows in the story, but will leave the story at that point because the rest of it is not germane to our consideration tonight were asking the question what is involved in becoming a Christian and I found it helpful. I just to keep these three words in my mind as I thought of the man and as I thought about question.
First of all, the word condition. Secondly, the word compassion and thirdly the word cure for civil considering what the Bible says concerning the condition of men and women.
Actually the cleansing of laughter is a wonderful illustration of the spiritual cleansing that Jesus provides not only in the New Testament but also in the old, we discover that leprosy is one of the clearest pictures the clearest allegories that the Bible contains all of the predicament of men and women as sinners like the leper, our lives are spoiled. We suffer not from this physical ailment. But we suffer by our natures from the leprosy of sin, the leprosy that has spoiled our souls. Every one of us is born with an inherent bias to sin and every day we are confronted by the ravaging nature of our condition. We see it in our resentment and our disappointments in our regret and our pride. All of these things, played men and women spoil our lives, ruin our homes, rob us of any sense of lasting peace and satisfaction know so far nobody I think would be prepared to argue with. At least the predicament. Any sensible man or woman living their life and reading the newspapers recognizes that there is some reason why after all this time with all the advances of technology with all of the opportunities for the progress of humanity that tonight we sit in a world that is ravished by epidemics that are directly related to man's inhumanity to man. We are at war with one another on every front. We are at war within our homes were more within our own psyches. More money is spent on seeking to put people's heads back together again metaphorically than is spent in some countries on their whole gross national product.
Why is this what the Bible says it is because of sin, and sin is not an intellectual problem. It is a moral problem, no matter out your intellect no matter your status. No matter whether you are highborn or low born every one of you like me is just a miserable sinner doesn't sound very nice, does it, but that is the Bible's description of our condition alienated from God justly deserving the judgment of God in his holiness, God has decreed that sin must be punished and will be punished in the Bible speaks of hell in such a way as to make it awfully clear that for us to die in this present condition will be to face the full force of God's raw and of course the gravity of our condition is such just like the leper we are actually unable to rectify our circumstances. If there's going to be a rescue. It must come from the outside. The man threw himself at Jesus feet and begged him if you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus said I am willing be clean from the condition then to the compassion. Jesus was filled with compassion were told. In fact, on one memorable occasion as he looks out on the crowds that are milling around 10 of the gospel writer records that Jesus was filled with compassion when he saw the crowds because they look like sheep without a shepherd.
He was the one who declared, I haven't come to call righteous people to put together a religious club.
I've come to call sinners to repentance.
I am the good shepherd.
I know my sheep. They know me I am the door by me. If any man enters and he will be saved. He looks out on the crowd and his heart is filled with compassion and on account of that Jesus comes to address our most basic needs alienated from God, where in need of reconciliation and stained, unpolluted by sin.
Our consciences testify to it are minds speak to it, even as I speak to you now stained by sin, where in need. Also on forgiveness.
That's why the story of the gospel. The Christian message of the gospel is so tremendously compelling God demonstrates, says Paul, his own love towards us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Peter takes up the theme in first Peter three and he says for Christ died for sins once for all the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God. In other words, if our condition is alienated from God what compassion on the part of God to provide in his son. The reconciliation needed. We need a reconciler we cannot reconcile ourselves no more than the leper could take his scabs away and see himself transform. When Paul addresses this in a passage of the Bible that I've given myself to try and understand before I die. He says in a quite memorable statement. All this is from God. All is good news.
All of this intervention. All of this is all of this grace is from God reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world and himself to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.
How can that possibly be the answer comes in this phenomenal verse, God made him that is Jesus, who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Because Jesus was sinless.
He could take our sins and the gospel is the story of this great exchange and exchange that takes place at the cross Jesus taking our place and bearing the wrath which our sins deserve, so that in exchange we might receive the righteousness which none of us deserves is he is only when we realize that Jesus died in our place taking our sin that we can then make sense of his death is an example of self sacrificial love and pride in reaching out to the leper Jesus is demonstrated in the way in which his kingdom comes in touching the leper is almost as if Jesus is saying to them I am prepared to become like you a man under judgment in order that you might become like me and all of the freedom and forgiveness that I provide unless someone comes from outside to do what I cannot do for myself then I am lost I am enslaved.
I am dead and I am finished, and the good news is that I just the right moment when we had no way of escape, Christ comes.
It almost makes you want to run out into the street and shout no matter what someone would say. Finally, a word about the cure. In the case of the leper. The mere knowledge of Christ's ability to cure was not enough to cure him.
And so far rise I sent to certain pieces of information is not enough to save us, giving us and acknowledging intellectually that certain things may be true is not the same as saving faith while you say what is saving faith. How may I know this cure in my life. If that is my condition in Christ is so compassionate and he send you and others to tell me how is this cure affected well to become a Christian trusting in what Jesus has done on the cross as our only basis for acceptance with God will involve at least these three elements, one acknowledging that I am absolutely helpless and cannot rely on any righteousness of my own is one cross-references it comes to mind isn't this what Paul says in Philippians 3 when he reflects on what Christ has done in his life. He says I I consider all the things that I used to stack up in my in my plus account all of the things that made me me and that I was resting and for for my own well-being and for my heavenly citizenship, he said, I consider them all rubbish now that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own to become a Christian involves not having a righteousness of my own and five there are only two religious systems in the whole world. If you think about one that produces a righteousness of your own and one that says there is no righteousness of my own that could avail me one iota with God. Therefore, if I do not have credited to my account the righteousness of someone else, and based my acceptance on that than I am. Without hope, acknowledging that I am absolutely helpless and cannot rely on a righteousness of my own. Secondly, believing that Jesus has died and has provided the very gift of righteousness that I just admitted that I need.
And thirdly, that on the strength of that I must then cast myself upon his mercy apply Christ to myself if you like appropriate Christ to me. And of course this is a very language that Jesus use was that I am the bread of life. You each of me will never in other words, he says I want you to appropriate me. I want you to receive me as I am. I want you to welcome me as Savior and Lord and King. It has to be the acknowledgment of my helplessness, my belief in Jesus as my only righteousness in the casting of myself upon him, how can that possibly be done because if we just understood accurately the state of our condition. We are lost we are enslaved and were actually dead, you might just as well go to the graveyard in sugar and falls and ask people to come out of their grave as ask dead people to become Christians because by our nature were disobedient were rotten to the core.
It's not our nature to trust Christ. It's our nature to disobey Wells as the thinker.
If there's going to be a Christian experience it's going to take a miracle is exactly right. The gospel is miraculous. God works within us. God works within us to create in us things that cannot be produced by our own dad enslaved humanity and God does this always in the same way he does it through his word and he does it by his spirit. In other words, God speaks to men and women inwardly. He imparts life to our dead souls and he brings us to New Bern.
God does that. You don't do that. God does that. That's why you have to ask him to be gracious and merciful to not sit in your own smug self-confidence say one day when I'm good and ready.
I'll give God a chance of my life. Don't you hate those things. God a chance, as if somehow or another, God is helpless standing waiting to see whether any of us are going to decide to seek him. The way the gospel is proclaimed. It's as though Adam and Eve were seeking God in the garden. No, God was seeking Adam and Eve in the garden. It was the people running around Judea looking for Jesus it was that Jesus was moving around Judea looking for lost sheep and he comes tonight and the word of God comes home to the heart and the spirit of God as Thomas Watson puts it remarkably easy says our wills are like a garrison holding out against God until the spirit with sweet violence conquers or changes it making the sinner willing to have Christ upon any terms to be ruled by him as well as save by what is that mean for the word of God comes in the voice of someone.
Maybe the preacher the preacher preaches and comes and knocks at the door of the human heart, calling for a response saying, as I said this morning.
I implore you, I beseech you, in the mercies of God, be reconciled to God. Here I come with the Bible trying to explain it to you finding it to confirming it to you, urging you to trust his promise, and the Holy Spirit comes to the human heart with the key turns the key diffusers the Ray and what cannot be accomplished by the mouth of a man is accomplished by the work of God. It is a miracle used to sing an old song to the miracle to put the stars in place. Remember that once it took a miracle to hang the world in space, but when he save my soul and cleansed and made me whole it to come miracle of love and grace.
You see why a Christian should be a humble evangelical Christians if they believe if they really are evangelical if they believe this topic, we should be the most humble people in the face of Godzilla because we know you know every sin I've ever done by your blood has covered everyone all sides. Love and fight is one of the marks of genuine Christian experience, not the smug, self-satisfied proclamations of what we've done and how well we've done well and somebody may be asking, and I must close. How would I ever know if this miracle is in process. Let me ask you, are you beginning to see that you've done wrong and the guard is rightly angry with you. Are you beginning to sense that Jesus has been sent by God the father to bring you forgiveness. If so, that is the work of God spent we could never believe such things without his help. The salvation that he provides. He provides completely because no sin is too shameful. He provides permanently separating us from our sins forever. He provides unconditionally, because none of us can make ourselves worthy or forgiveness. The work of the gospel is totally uninfluenced by our status on our lack of and he saves us immediately. Our sins are gone.
The leper was full of leprosy in every sense a lost cause. No amount of picking at his scabs could solve this problem. Maybe that's how you are tonight being a great sinner. The loathsome nature of it all makes you feel that you've gone so far.
So far so far that Jesus would never take it all away but I want to assure you that if you're sending conscience cries out in the leper's words Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.
You will hear him say I am willing he still with Don with me in prayer. When I understood enough of the gospel to realize my condition and that Christ paid the penalty for my sin.
I wanted somehow or another to respond and you me from your heart tonight. Want to cry out to the garden and let me pray this little prayer Lord Jesus Christ. I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through you. I more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope, I thank you for paying my debt bearing my punishment, and offering me forgiveness. I turn on for my sin and receive you as my Savior receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior pivotal decision that results in eternal life, and that's the good news to her first message in the new year on Truth for Life weekend with Alistair Begg. Today's message reminds us that the Bible is unlike any other book. It is God's very word it has the power to transform lives as unbelievers hear God's word hard hearts are open to the love of Christ, and men and women are converted and become committed followers of Jesus. For those who are believers.
The Bible is a lamp to our feet alike to our path. It does what we can't do for ourselves. It transforms us into the image of Christ. This is the reason we teach directly from the Bible. Here on Truth for Life so that the miracle of God's transforming spirit can do its work in unexplainable and powerful ways that very message is echoed in a book titled facing a task unfinished.
The author is evangelist Roger Carswell and he explains that we become more like Jesus. As we study the Bible and when we do we develop an overwhelming desire for others to come to faith in Christ facing a task unfinished lays out 52 weekly devotions that include a series of Scripture passages prayers and hymns, all designed to stir in us a fresh desire for evangelism. Each brief entry is meant to be read once a week and help you spend time praying for the salvation of friends or loved ones and the needs of people in the world around us all. Over the course of the year. Find out more about this inspiring devotional by tapping on the image on the mobile app or online the Truth for Life.orc and Bob Lapine hope you have a wonderful start to the new year. Be sure to be with us again next weekend. As we continue the series, Christian basics Alastair will be explaining why all of us should know what we believe and why we believe the Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life with the Learning is for Living