Following the Master: Discipleship in Action

Following the Master: Discipleship in Action

Scripture: Mark 8:35-37, Luke 5:17-26, Matthew 28:18-20
Date: 03/02/2008  Lesson: 9
Watching Jesus perform His ministry reveals an example for His disciples. Watching those He healed respond to His ministry gives us insight as well.

El Camino a Cristo by Ellen White

El Camino a Cristo by Ellen White
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to our study this morning as sac central. I'd like to welcome those that are visiting us here in the sanctuary. And of course, welcome to our regular members. And a very special welcome to you that are joining us from across the country and around the world, live on the internet this morning, or three weeks later from this taping you are studying with us either on television or through video, however you're joining us this morning, welcome.

Our first song this morning we're going to sing is hymn number 322, "nothing between." And that comes as a request from rapel in Oregon and margietifa from australia. We're gonna sing all three verses of hymn 322... If you have a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming Sabbath, just go to our website at www.saccentral.org. And there you can click on the music link. And you can request any hymn in our hymnal.

And we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn is a very favorite of people from all over the world. Hymn number 506, "a mighty fortress" written by martin luther. And this comes as a request from cheety and barbara and mubonga in england, uta in germany, garth and Ruth in new zealand. And garth and Ruth write, "we are isolated adventist Christians.

And to be a part of your fellowship on a Sabbath is a real blessing. Thank you and God bless. From garth and Ruth in new zealand." Sam from india, shirmy from republic of korea, seth in ghana, Paul and amara in nigeria, norene and allison in gayana, calvin from dominica, jon Mark in jamaica, claire in trinidad tobago, the vialona family in the dominican republic, andrew from New York, Paula from West Virginia, rauly from California, tony from tennessee, catherine from Virginia, and aurora from North Carolina. "A mighty fortress" hymns 1, , and 4, hymn 506... Let's pray.

Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for this beautiful Sabbath morning that we have the privilege to worship you. We thank you that we can come before you with humble hearts and empty lives. And we ask you to just fill us this morning with your spirit. We thank you, Lord, that you are a mighty fortress. And that when everything is crumbling around us, that we know that we can trust you, that Your Word is true.

And no matter what happens, that you will remain faithful. Please keep us faithful, Lord. Help us to be shining lights to a dark world. We know you're coming soon. Please just fill us that we can bring as many with us as we can to your kingdom to live forever.

Please be with Pastor Doug this morning as he brings us Your Words of life. Lord, just touch each one of us that we can go forward and forever live with you. We praise you and we ask these things in your name, Jesus. Amen. This morning our study will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central.

Thank you, jolyne, jenny, jessica, j-j-j. And our musicians, we appreciate that very much. It's exciting when you hear the requests coming in just one country after another. I think we went around the globe with those requests for that last song. And it's also--it's very exciting.

It's a privilege to know that we're able here at central church to share what we do in our Bible study with people all over the world. It's humbling and very grateful for that. We want them to be part of a church family. And we welcome you to be part of our internet church membership here at Sacramento central. You can just go to saccentral.

org. We're expanding the ways that we can minister to people with pastors that you can e-mail, questions too, prayer requests, chat, fellowship, and resources for study. Plus these streaming Bible studies that are live. So, if you'd like to know more about that, go to saccentral.org. We want to minister to you and keep you connected with the body.

Amen? And today for our friends who are joining us, as well as our class here, we're continuing in our study with our Sabbath school quarterly on the subject of discipleship. We want to remind our friends that we have a free offer today as others. It's called, "the surrender of self." It goes well with the passage about taking up your cross, "the surrender of self." It's offer number 153. We'll send it to you just by calling the number, -788-3966, or -study-more. And you can find that also at amazingfacts.

org. Today's lesson, number 9, talks about following the master, discipleship in action. We're gonna look at some scenarios of what it means, discipleship in action. And it's based on several passages, Matthew 8:14-15, Matthew 10:34-37, Matthew 28:18-20, and Luke 5:17-26. As always, we like to have you speak the word, a memory verse with me.

And it's Mark 8:35-37 today. That's from the new king James version. I'll give you a chance to find that of course. You can find it, it's right there in your lesson. So I'll be reading it from there, if you have a quarterly with you.

Once again, Mark 8:35-37. You ready? "For whosoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whosoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Very potent words. We're gonna talk about that a little bit in our study. Now I'd like to get right into the first snippet that we're going to examine today in our study together.

And it's an experience you find in Luke 4:38-39. It's actually found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but we're gonna read it from the very beginning--and, well, I take--you know what? I'm gonna read it from Matthew 8 first, Matthew 8:14-15. I think I actually gave that verse out to somebody. Who has that? Matthew--we have microphones here. Did I distribute that? Matthew 8? "Now when Jesus had come unto Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.

So he touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them." Alright, thank you very much. The one difference you're gonna find in Luke's account is it says, "sick with a high fever." Now that means something, because of course, what was Luke's profession? He's a doctor. And so, he put that note in. This is serious.

If you have a high fever for too long, what happens? You die. You can suffer brain damage if it's not brought down and cook yourself basically. And so this was serious. This was on the verge of terminal. She has a high fever, very sick.

Is this Peter's wife? She's older than Peter's wife. It's Peter's wife's mother, his mother-in-law. So, I'm gonna bring out some spiritual analogies there. But Jesus did a lot of teaching and preaching around capernaum. How do we know that? Well, it was one of the cities on the shore of Galilee.

And that's where he did a lot of his teaching. When Jesus called Peter, James, and John, where were they? What did they do for a living? They're fisherman. Capernaum was one of the towns by the sea of Galilee. And as well as andrew and Peter, James, and John, fisherman, he did a lot of ministry about Galilee. We looked at one of the prophecies that said the people around Galilee would see a light.

"Those that sat in darkness, great light is shined upon them. And so capernaum, Peter's town, Peter's house, that was probably the place where he used as a beachhead for a lot of that ministry around the sea. Coming home from an episode of preaching-teaching, they find that Peter's wife's mother is--has a life-threatening fever. And instead of Jesus saying, "well, you know, we better just leave her alone. We're gonna go stay in James' and John's house," he heals her.

And immediately after-- how does he heal her? Touching her hand. He touches her hand. He doesn't touch her nose. He doesn't touch her ear. What do people do with their hands? They often serve with their hands.

If you say, "can you give me a hand?" What does that imply? And we call it manual labor. In spanish, mano right? It's talking about serving, work. He touches her hand. She's raised up for what purpose? She serves. She doesn't get up and say, "well, you know, I need to convalesce now for a few weeks.

It was not an outpatient surgery. It's more than an outpatient surgery. This healing was instantaneous. And she immediately got up and started to serve them. Now what does a woman represent? The church.

You often hear me refer to that. And I don't want to get too symbolic with too many spirituals, but it is true that the reason that Jesus saves the church is that she might serve him. Now there are two women in Peter's household. There may have been others. He might have had daughters.

They're not mentioned. We know he had a wife, 'cause you gotta have one of those to have a mother-in-law. Is that right? Used to work that way, I'm assuming--still works that way, I'm assuming it used to work that way. So, here you've got-- and typically one is older than the other. You sometimes find, if a woman represents a church, that you'll have one being a symbol for the old testament.

And one being a symbol for the new testament, 'cause you find, even in the Bible it talks about the law and the prophets, the new and the old covenant. You've got naomi and Ruth. They both nurse obed. And both the old and the new teach about Christ. You've got that woman who was bleeding for 12 years.

And then the same day, Jesus touches a girl, 12 years old; they both touch Jesus that day. They're both healed by Christ. Often you'll find these scenarios of the new and old testament. That woman in Revelation 12 is standing on the moon. Old testament, clothed with the sun: two bodies of light representing the old and the new testament.

So here, Peter--or Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law. And she gets up. And she serves him. Christ is glorified and identified principally by the old testament. It's through the old testament we know that he was the Messiah that was foretold.

Is that true? Does that make sense? But I especially want to emphasize that he's married to, in a sense, the new testament. It's the new testament that's the sun shining out. And so, I don't want to over-symbolize that. And if none of what I just said makes any sense, it won't matter. But do catch the part that we're saved to serve.

He saves her--he heals her, to serve. So many people join a church and they think, "okay, I'm part of the club now. I've got my reserved spot in the pew. And woe be unto you if you sit in my reserved spot." And we come once a week, we sit, and we say, "what am I gonna get out of this?" And you know, let's face it, a lot of people join a church because they want to be spiritually encouraged. It's, "what's in it for me?" As a pastor, I can tell you right now in case you didn't know it, by the time our worship service begins, on an average we'll have anything between 650 and 900 people here.

It goes up and down depending on whether there's a special program or speaker or concert or who knows. And of that number, only 20% are actively involved in some form of ministry in the church, maybe a little more. Central, I think, we got a little better than average. But you know what the average is? You know the 80-20 principle? It's typically 20% of the people that do 80% of the work. A lot of folks are spectators.

They're members. They mean well. Sometimes because of their age or some illness or distance, they can't really get involved, but I believe that everybody can get involved in serving Christ and his church in some capacity. And so if you haven't picked it up yet, take this as a commercial, an appeal, that everybody gets involved. Now why do I say that? Not just because Jesus needs more servants, the church needs service.

"The harvest is great, the laborers are few." It doesn't say the spectators are few. Lots of spectators in the church. The laborers are few. But it's for you. You cannot flourish as a Christian if you do not exercise your spiritual muscles.

You've gotta get involved. And I think there are a lot of people out there--and you know the pastors and leaders are partly to blame. We don't activate people who want to serve. They don't know what to do. They're just waiting for someone to tell 'em what to do.

They want to get involved. If you're one of those people, help us. E-mail the office. Say, "I want to do something." Tell us what your spiritual gifts are. We'll put you to work.

And those who are watching and studying with us, just think about how much the church is doing around the world right now, then multiply that. If you double that 20% that works and turn it into 40%-- I mean, we're still not even at 50%. Even 40% would be double. Imagine how much more would happen in the church if twice as many people got involved. And I'll tell you, it'd be a lot easier on that 20% too that are wearing themselves out.

I've shared this story several times, but it serves a purpose. Years ago this man needed to catch a stagecoach across the west. And he went to the office there in this western town and saw a sign above the stagecoach, place where you reserve your spot. And it said you can get first class and third class tickets. And there was the different prices.

And one was 25 cents for third class, 50 cents for second class, and $3 dollars for first class. And he thought, "well no way am I buying a first-class ticket." Because he noticed that when the stagecoach pulled up, all the people got out of the same compartment, sitting on the same seats. And he said, "I'm just gonna buy third class. I get to sit with everybody else." Well, he found out what the difference was after while. First, he got his ticket, began to take his journey.

He's sitting there feeling pretty smug, because he's right there with the first and the second class passengers. And he paid 25 cents. He thought, "boy, i--" hey, you know, they do that today. You fly on an airplane. It's depending on when you bought your ticket and who you bought your ticket through.

You might be sitting next to someone who paid a fraction of what you paid. It's very annoying. If you bought your ticket too late, you might be sitting next to someone who paid $1000 for a ticket. And you paid $100 for it. And they're in the same class section as you.

But the stagecoach was different. Passenger found out when they came to the first hill, the coach driver stopped and he said, "alright, all of the second class passengers if you'd please get out and walk. We're going up a steep hill, too hard on the horses. First class passengers remain seated. Third class get out and push.

And he found out what the difference was. Now the reason I say that is because in the church, we need more third class passengers. We've got too many first class passengers. Got a lot of second class, kind of walk along. But a lot of 'em just sit while everyone else pushes.

And that would be an appeal. He saves us for the purpose of service. Somebody read for me Isaiah 52:13. "Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high." Who is this prophecy referring to? It's a prophecy about Jesus. What is he called? My servant.

Now go with me please to Isaiah 53:11. You can read the same passage. Go ahead. "He shall see the labor of his soul, and be satisfied. By his knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.

" Alright, now who is it that bears our iniquities? Jesus. And he's called, "my righteous," what? "Servant." "Servant." Christ told the disciples, he said, "you're arguing and striving about who gets the highest position." He said, "that may be the way it is in the world's economy." People think, you know, you're successful based on how many work for you. He said, "but that's not how it is in God's kingdom." You're successful based upon how many you serve. And he said, "I've come among you as one that serves." Service is not something to be shunned. In God's kingdom, it is an honor to serve.

Why did the Lord save the children of Israel? Have you read that before? Moses comes to the pharaoh in Exodus 8:1. And he says, "let my people go that they may serve me." So, why did Jesus heal Peter's mother-in-law? To serve. Why does he save us? To serve. Some of us maybe haven't experienced much salvation, 'cause we're not willing to do much service. Jesus made a connection there.

If we're willing to serve and do whatever he wants, we might experience more healing. I, you know, I know there's exception, but generally speaking, I've observed that people live about as long as they're needed. You make yourself indispensable and God's more apt to keep you around. If you're just gonna gather dust on the shelf, I mean even if your health is failing, this is something almost everybody can do: pray, encourage others. There's something you can do.

But pray that God will show you what you can do. And be busy for God. And then, you know, I just--i started going through the Bible and looking at all the examples. the Lord called people that were busy in service. What was gideon doing when God called him? Threshing.

What was Amos doing? Gathering figs. What was David doing? Keeping his father's sheep. What was Elisha doing? Plowing. He called them all while they were busy serving. And so being willing to work for God--and that's the other thing, sometimes we don't do anything for God, 'cause we're waiting for something important enough.

"I'm not gonna waste my talents on doing dishes after a potluck. I mean, I'm important. I'm gifted." And so, we're afraid to do anything common or simple because we just, you know, we're above that. And so we're waiting for this great calling to come to us and we don't do the simple things that are needed. God--if you're not faithful in that which is least, you will not be faithful in much.

Before the great calling of leading Egypt was given to Joseph, he was cleaning buckets in prison. Right? He took very menial work. And because he was faithful in those little things, God gave him a great calling. We learn to lead first by following and being a servant. Now I don't want to spend all my time talking about Peter's mother-in-law.

Peter probably did plenty of that in his life, so we can move on. Let's go to our next story. We're talking about the paralytic. Luke 5:17-26. And you know what? I'm gonna read this for you.

It's a long passage. Luke 5:17, "now it happened on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out from every town of Galilee in Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him and to lay him before him," lay him before Jesus. "And when they could not--" if you read this in Mark 2, why could not they do it? 'Cause of the crowd, the press.

"When they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and they let him down with his bed through the tiling into their midst before Jesus." Now I want to pause right there. It says there was a certain man "borne of four," when you read this in Mark 2. This man was paralyzed. And if you read the book, "Desire of Ages" their inspired commentary tells us that he was paralyzed because of sin in his life. His sinful living had brought on some disease that brought on some paralysis.

And he was a comparatively young man, but he had to be carried around. And when folks woke up in the morning and they came to Jesus for healing, because of his condition, he had to get four friends to carry him. They got there late. The crowd had already filled in every window and door. And they couldn't get in.

It was just jam-packed all around. And I've seen this before. I remember when we were in india, we went to dedicate a maranatha church there. And not only was the church filled with the volunteers and the members, but just all around outside curiosity onlookers and some of the kids were peering in. And it was just swarming, like a swarm of bees all around the church.

And so, I kind of had a picture of what it must have been like when they got there. They just couldn't get in the door. And people were fighting for their position. They weren't gonna give it up. And so his friends said, "well, we tried.

We're taking you back home." Is that what they said? We're talking about discipleship. Some people will never get to Jesus unless others bring them. And notice that this man who's going to be brought to Jesus is not brought by any one person, but there are four. I like the story of naaman. Naaman, of course, was this leper who's healed.

But it's not one person that really brings about his healing. First a message comes from a little maid, right? Then a message comes from Elijah's servant, gehazi. Then a message comes from naaman's own servants, his soldiers. Finally he listens and he's cleansed. Most people who are saved, it's not any one message.

And by the way, the message always is the message of God, but it's coming through a lot of different people. Even for preachers, Paul talked about this. He said, "don't say, 'I've been saved by Paul,' or 'I've been saved by apollos.'" He says, "apollos might plant the seed. Or I plant the seed and apollos waters." And it's God who gets the increase. God uses a lot of us to reach people.

And it's been encouraging to me. Sometimes I get these e-mails that come into our office. And someone will say, "Pastor Doug," and they'll tell me this incredible testimony. And they say, "well, it started out like this. You know, I got 'the voice of prophesy' study guides in the mail.

And then I was flipping through the channels and I saw, 'it is written.' I started to watch that. And then I heard about this satellite program Amazing Facts was doing. And finally, I got baptized." And I'd say, "praise the Lord." And I'll forward that sometimes to lonnie melashenko or Mark finley or shawn boonstra. And I'll say, "isn't this wonderful, all working together." And this is the way it works. So God uses different people.

So he's got these four people working together to bring one person to a house where Jesus is teaching the word and healing. Well, let's suppose that house can be symbolized by the church. I don't think that's a stretch. Some people are never gonna get there. I mean isn't the church a house where Jesus teaches the word? Some people are never gonna get there unless others work together to bring them.

Do you invite people to church? Don't be afraid to do that. You know it's really tragic is every now and then I run into members. And they said, "Pastor Doug, I haven't invited anybody to church for so long, because our church just has a handful of people and it seems so pathetic. And I'm embarrassed to invite 'em." Now I'm not gonna ask for a show of hands, but raise your hands if you've ever had that experience. [Congregation laughing] you've met people, I've met people, maybe you've been in one of those churches before where maybe there was a fight going on in the church.

You thought, "man, how can I invite people to this church? Everybody's fighting." Or "the dear pastor, you know, puts 'em to sleep." Or "there's only a few people." You want to invite 'em to a church you're not embarrassed about. Is that okay to say that? Does everyone feel that way? Yeah? You like to invite 'em to a church where they're gonna hear the word. They're gonna meet friendly-- "I'd invite 'em to my church, but people are so cranky there. They're gonna judge 'em. They may not say something right.

They may not dress right and someone's gonna nag 'em." And you're afraid to invite people to a church like that. We want to invite people to a church where Jesus is teaching the word, right? By the way, I think there's a connection between that crowd around Peter's house and the fact that Jesus was teaching the word. I think if you preach and teach the word, people will come because they're hungry. And the sheep go where the grass is, right? So, only way that this man was gonna get there is if his friends bring 'em. So they don't give up.

They know that Jesus is not only teaching in the house; he's healing in the house. And they say, "look, we carried you here. You're walking home." Right? We're not giving up. So, they can't get through the window. They can't get through the door.

They keep trying. Finally they think higher thoughts. They elevate their thinking, and they look at the roof. You got to be innovative if you're gonna bring people to Jesus. Sometimes you gotta be a little unconventional.

I've heard so many creative things that people have done in soul-winning. And it works. We get people that run ads in their local paper. If you'd like to understand the final events of Bible prophecy, call this number, we'll send you a dvd. And they send them "the final events" dvd.

And they've given out thousands that way and brought people to the church. Just something simple like that everybody can do. I mean, you know, folks come up with some very creative ideas. So they look up on the roof. I don't want you to think that they took a ladder and they climbed up on the house of Peter.

We think this may have been Peter's house. And like firemen with axes they began to chop a hole in his roof. That wouldn't have been very nice. In Bible times, the houses were built where they used to cook in their houses. They had an opening in the roof that they would make wider or smaller depending on the season to allow the smoke to go up.

And in the summer time, it'd open up and they'd allow convection and the little cool air to come in. And they also--remember when Peter went up on the roof to pray, acts 10? They'd go up there. There's a ladder already there. They'd go up in the cool of the day when the breeze was there. David was walking on the roof of his house when he saw bathsheba.

It was very common in the middle east to have a little railing around the house. They even had a law about it. You go up on the roof. So that was already there. I don't want you to think that they were wrecking someone's house.

They went up on the roof. They moved aside the tiles that were already there. Jesus is in the midst. The house is crowded. He's teaching and the scribes and pharisees are there.

Oh by the way, they wanted to bring their friend to Jesus, but there was an obstacle. What was that obstacle? The crowd. What kind of crowd was there? Crowd around Jesus. What crowd is it that usually becomes the greatest obstacle to people coming to Christ? You've heard me say this before, but there are many stories in the Bible of people who wanted to come to Jesus or see Jesus or be healed or touch Jesus or talk to Jesus and the crowd got in the way. Why do you think nicodemus came by night? Trying to avoid the crowd around Jesus.

That woman wanted to talk to Jesus. She couldn't get near him. She reached through the crowd and just got the hem of his garment. Blind bartimeus wanted to ask for healing. He said, "son of David, have mercy on me.

" And the crowd said, "be quiet." Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus, but what was the problem? Too short. He wasn't too short. That wouldn't have been a problem if the crowd was in the way. Right? Crowd was too tall is the problem. Isn't that right? And you go through the Bible, mothers wanted to bring their children to Jesus, but the disciples, the crowd around Jesus said, "no, no, no, he's too busy.

" It is often the crowd around Jesus that ends up being one of the greatest obstacles to Christ. Now let me translate that for you. Through history, it's often God's own people that present an obstacle to God. the Lord is wanting to bring people. We're supposed to be a conduit.

We're supposed to bring people to Jesus, but sometimes we become obstacles. Having said that, now I don't want to make you feel too bad. I'm just asking you, make sure that you're not an obstacle. And be persistent. In all of those stories I just sited--did zaccheus see Jesus? He had to get above the crowd, just like this story here.

Did that woman finally talk to Jesus? Yes. Did nicodemus get to be with Jesus? Did the mothers get their children blessed by Jesus? Did bartimaeus get his eyes open? You go through the stories in the Bible and all of those times it was overcome, meaning do not let people in the church who have discouraged you be an obstacle. Don't look at people. Don't let them come between you and Jesus. If somebody in the church has behaved badly, or they're being a bad example, or they've discouraged you, or if they've hurt your feelings, don't let them get in the way.

You keep going to Jesus. The other thing is this man, they could have said, "well, as long as we get you to the house where Jesus is, you don't necessarily need to be in the presence of Christ. You can have a secondhand relationship through the crowd. Jesus relates to the crowd and you relate to the crowd that relates to Jesus. That's good enough.

" No, they would not accept that. They said, "he must be in the presence of Christ personally." It's not enough to go to church and think you become a Christian through osmosis. "Because I'm around Christians, I become a Christian." They weren't satisfied with that, were they? They said, "he must be in the presence of Christ." Everybody needs to have a personal relationship. Again, all those stories I just sited, that woman, nicodemus, zaccheus, bartimaeus, they all needed to have a personal contact with Jesus. Some people think, "well, I go to church.

I must be saved. I'm with the crowd that's with Jesus." Do you have a personal-- do you know him? See how important that is? They said, "we're gonna bring our friend into the presence of Christ." A personal relationship. So, Jesus is in the house. And they break up the tiles. They move the tiles away.

And I can see it now. The sunlight begins to filter in, and the dust is falling down. And all the scribes and pharisees are looking up and thinking, "this is terrible. What a distraction. They shouldn't do this.

" And what does Jesus say when they do that? "Don't they have any manners at all? Can't they wait until later?" And it says in verse 20, "so when he," Jesus, "saw their faith." How did Jesus see their faith? Because of their persistence, because they were doing something. So often we make faith just something abstract. Bible faith is tangible. Jesus saw their faith in their determination to bring their friend to Jesus. Was he disappointed or was he pleased? This man is getting ready to be saved by the faith of the man on the bed, or is it also partly because of the faith of his friends? How important is it for us to pray and work for our friends' salvation? Isn't that part of discipleship? Jesus is pleased with their discipleship because they are being persistent to bring their friend to Christ.

He saw their faith, their determination. Don't give up too easy. When he saw their faith, he says to the man, "son, your sins are forgiven." Don't miss that: their faith, his forgiveness. Through their persistence, their prayers, their determination, the man is forgiven. So, can you and I be involved in others finding forgiveness? I can't forgive anyone's sins.

But you and I can be vehicles through which people find forgiveness. A lot of people stumble over the statement where Jesus says, "whoever's sins you remit, they are remitted. Whoever's sins you retain, they're retained." What Christ is talking about is when you've got the Gospel, and when you have faith, through sharing the Gospel, people's sins are either remitted or retained by virtue of what you do or don't do. That's why the Lord says in Ezekiel, "I've given you a message. Share the message.

Tell the wicked to turn from his wicked ways. If you know the truth and you make no effort to tell them, they're gonna die in their sins, but I'll require their blood at your hand. We've got an opportunity, a privilege, and a responsibility to be disciples. He saves us to serve. Amen? I know that's heavy, but it's biblical.

If you got a problem with that, I'll show you the Scriptures. Alright, so he says, "your sins are forgiven." Now, what did it look like that man needed the most? Physical or spiritual healing? It looked like he needed physical healing. From outward appearances, it looked like he needed physical healing. But I know what you're saying. Because Christ addressed what problem first? The most important problem.

So many people who are sick physically, if they could ask for something from Jesus, they would first ask for physical healing. A lot of evangelists, many of them are false evangelists, exploit this. And they have healing crusades. And they bring people to these healing crusades. And some of them are so crass as they manufacture artificial healings to inspire those who are really sick in these large audiences to try to bilk them for their money.

They bamboozle them out of their money, because they know, "oh, I'd do anything to be healed." And what they want more than anything is physical healing. Now Jesus knows how important that is. And a big part of Christianity is physical healing. But let's face it, most earthly physical healing is simply prolonging your mortal, corruptible bodies a little longer. These bodies, if Jesus heals 'em are just gonna last a little longer.

And most healings are simply a lengthening of our tranquility. Isn't that right? I believe we should do everything we can to teach people how to live longer, stronger lives, to do everything we can to lengthen their lives, their abundant life. Feel better. It's wonderful when you feel good physically. But any health without salvation, all a person becomes is a healthier sinner.

It's the Spiritual healing ultimately that is the one that lasts forever. It is the Spiritual healing that will then give you the immortal body. And so of the two healings, what's the most important one? Spiritual healing. So the first thing Jesus deals with is the biggest problem. "Son, your sins are forgiven.

" And you know, when you read--matter of fact, I got a quote here from "Desire of Ages" page 268. After Christ spoke those words, this is what it says. "Now in words that fell like music on the sufferer's ear, the Savior said, 'son, be of good cheer. Thy sins be forgiven thee.' The burden of despair rolls from the sick man's soul. A piece of forgiveness rests upon his spirit and shines out of his countenance.

His physical pain is gone. And his whole being is transformed. The helpless paralytic is healed. The guilty sinner is pardoned. In simple faith he accepts the words of Jesus as the boon of new life.

He urged no further request, but he lays in blissful silence, too happy for words. The light of heaven radiated his countenance. And the people looked with awe upon the scene." Now notice, he's laying there forgiven and healed, but nobody knows that he's been healed because he hasn't moved. The man is first so thankful for the Spiritual healing that this peace floods his soul. He accepts the words for spiritual healing.

And when he does that, the physical healing happens. You know, when you call for the elders to come and to pray for you for physical healing, part of every anointing should be a repentance of sin and a willingness to turn from it. And sometimes people say, "you know, I'd like to get the elders to come together and pray that I could be healed." And when we visit with them, we say, "okay, now part of this is we're gonna be praying for your forgiveness for any sins." Because to separate the two is not right. They both need to go together, don't they? I'm spending a lot of time on this. And then finally Jesus said, and he says in Mark-- of course, the listeners said, "this is blasphemy.

Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" And Jesus says to them, "why are you reasoning these things in your heart?" Can the Lord read our hearts? That means he's God. Only God knows the thoughts of men's hearts. He says, "which is easier, to say, 'your sins are forgiven' or to say, 'rise up and walk'? But that you may know The Son of man has power on earth to forgive sin." "He said to the man who was paralyzed, 'I say, arise, take your bed, and go your way to your house.' Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed." Now, this is a very, very important passage. Jesus said, "that you might know I have power to forgive sin.

" Ultimately when Jesus did miracles, why did he do the miracles? That we would believe in the greatest miracle, that he could forgive sin. If he never heals you physically, but he has healed you spiritually, he's done the best work." And you will be healed physically eventually. Sometimes God heals in degrees. Like the man who was blind and first he put mud on his eyes. And he opened his eyes.

And they saw men as trees walking. He was blurry, but it eventually got better. Karen recently had lasik surgery on one of her eyes. It was actually kind of a second generation of it. And the doctor said, "it's gonna be worse first, but then it's gonna be better.

" And that's the way it worked. He said, "it takes a few weeks." And she's happy. Just knowing it's getting better is making her happy. You can handle anything if you know it's gonna get better. Well, I got news for you.

If you're a Christian and your sins are forgiven, you're gonna be healed. I'll promise you, you're gonna be healed. If you should die, your next conscious thought is a new body. And you've been healed, right? He may heal you before. He might heal the old body.

But then I want to build one more thing. I know I'm taking up all my time with this story, but I love this story. He said, "take up that on which you lie your bed." In Mark, it says, "take up your bed and go your way to your house." When he came to Jesus, he was carried by the bed. When he left Jesus, did he still have the bed? But who's carrying who? He's carrying the bed. This illustrates the relationship for the person when they come to Christ, before they're a disciple.

We've got these carnal natures. It's like Paul says, "oh, wicked man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death. I'm being carried around by my lower nature. I'm controlled.

Sin has dominion over me." The bed in the Bible is a type of sin. It's talking about the carnal nature. But when you're saved, do we still have that carnal nature? We still have the temptations of the flesh? But who is carrying who? Sin no longer has dominion over. Sin shall not reign anymore in your mortal flesh. You may still have temptation.

You still got that carnal nature, but it's not on the throne anymore. Instead of it carrying you, you're carrying it and doing God's will by God. And how did that man get that ability? He came to Christ and Christ worked a miracle. And yes, he still had those temptations and those sins, but now he went where Christ told him to go. Jesus said, "get up and go back to your house.

" He got up and went where Christ went. He had his bed, but he's doing God's will, going where God tells him to go. See the difference? That's I think a very important point in that story. Ah, what can I do in 7 minutes? Let's go to the next section. It says, "descend fire on the earth.

" Now this is Matthew 10:34-37. Let me read this for you and then somebody look up for me Hebrews 4:12. Who did I give that to? Right here. Hold your hand up. They'll bring you a microphone.

Someone else maybe Ephesians 6:17. Did I give that to somebody right there? Give her the next microphone. Jolyne, okay. Let me read this for you, Matthew 10:34, "do not think," Jesus said, "that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

" That sounds like he was a little hawkish there, pro-war. "I didn't come to--" I thought Jesus is the prince of peace. Why did he bring a sword? "For I have come to 'set a man's father against a daughter--" I'm sorry, "I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother." Doesn't the Bible say, "honor your father and mother?" What is he talking about? "And a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Now what is this sword that Jesus came to send? Alright, somebody was gonna read for me now, Hebrews 4:12. Do you have that? Go ahead.

"For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart." Alright, thank you. And you notice it says there, "the Word of God is sharper than any," what kind of sword? "Two-edged." Those two edges represent the two witnesses that you find in Revelation, the law and the prophets, Moses and Elijah. You'll notice that he then goes on and he uses dual here, "division of soul, spirit; joints, marrow." It's a two-edged sword, new and the old testament. This is the Word of God. Alright, somebody had Ephesians 6:17, jolyne? "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

" The sword of the Spirit, so are we stretching things if we say the Spiritual meaning of the sword is the word? Matter of fact, there's one place where Jesus says, "he that has a sword, let him take it." And people think that Christ is here endorsing taking up of swords. He didn't mean that. That's why he told Peter to put away the sword. "Those that live by the sword will die by the sword." He's talking about the Word of God. In Revelation, Christ is pictured with the Word of God coming out of his mouth, this sword.

And so what is it that brings division? It's the truth. So, even in a family, when one accepts Christ and one does not, there's often division. Paul talks about that even in marriages. One might be a pagan, may hear the Gospel, they believe. The unbeliever departs and it causes strife.

The Word of God can often bring division. Matter of fact, if you do a good evangelistic meeting, the question is going to be, "what kind of problems did you have?" If one of our Amazing Facts evangelists is preparing to hold a series and everything is going hunky-dory, we start to worry. I mean you almost want to plan on there being challenges if God's really gonna bless. Look at the ministry of Paul as he went from town to town. He was thrown in jail.

He was whipped. He was stoned. I mean he was having all kinds--chased out of crowds with mobs, imprisoned, and all kinds of problems. And who had the greatest impact? And so the preaching of the word will often bring--if you preach the straight word, there's often gonna be conflict, because we are invading the devil's territory. We're in a world that has been held captive by the devil.

And of the elements of the armor of God, the only one implement--most of them are defensive in nature: helmet, shoes, breastplate, shield. But the sword is not only defensive, it's offense. You go forth conquering and to conquer. And so there's gonna be strive. Sometimes people accept the truth.

Others do not accept the truth. I remember one time after I became a Christian, I wanted to go share with my family. I don't know that I used the most tactful approach. My mom had a boyfriend. And I began to preach to her about morality.

Do you think she appreciated her son talking to her, especially with my colored past? Do you think she appreciated me talking to her about morality? Created a little strife in my family. And then I began to talk to my dad about alcohol. He didn't appreciate that at all. Talked to him about smoking. He finally did quit smoking.

But it caused conflict. And I'm not sure I used the best tact. I was probably a little obnoxious. But the idea was that when you share truth, some people don't want to hear truth. It causes conflict, even in family.

And Jesus said, "look, you preach the truth, there'll be persecution." The first couple hundred years of the Christian church when they were the purist, and when Christ was going forth conquering to conquer, when the sword was drawn, there was the greatest persecution. Not only in families, families were turning over their own family members to the roman authorities because the Christian religion was illegal. And so this is what Jesus is talking about. Translation: being a disciple means you must be prepared that if you share the message, there will be conflict. You'll experience rejection.

You may be persecuted for righteousness' sake. Do not be discouraged. Jesus said, "if they've done that to me, your master, then you're not exempt. Are you willing to be a disciple? It's not always easy. Sometimes you gotta carry people for miles in a bed.

Sometimes it involves--well it always involves service. Being a disciple might mean that as you share the truth, some will reject you. They'll reject the truth. It'll break your heart. They may be family members, or friends, but you might persecuted and thrown in prison someday for what you believe.

If you're a disciple, Jesus said, "they've done it to me." Was he betrayed by one of his own twelve? Yeah. So, there's even friendly fire as they say. I want to remind our friends about our closing offer. I can see the clock is ticking down. If you simply call the number on your screen, for our friends listening on radio that's toll-free 788-3966.

We'll send you our free offer this week. It's called, "the surrender of self." And when you call that number, ask for offer number 153. I want to remind you also you can see these programs streaming live instead of prerecorded by just going to the Sacramento central website. That's saccentral.org. And in the meantime, keep studying God's Word.

Prepare for our next lesson, lesson number 10 in our study guide dealing with discipleship. God bless you, friends. Hello, friends. The program you're watching is the culmination of a dream and a mission. Let me tell you about the mission.

Amazing Facts believes strongly in the great commission given by Christ in Matthew 28 to share the wonderful news of salvation with the entire world. We believe that a spiritual encounter with God is the only way to affect real change. Now let me tell you about the dream. Amazing Facts started in 1966 after the founder of this ministry, Joe Crews, decided to take the mission of sharing God's Word with everyone personally. Since then, we have shared this wonderful message about God with millions around the world through our free Bible school, free Bible study guides, our television, radio and internet ministries.

If you've been blessed by this program and would like to join with us in this mission of taking the Gospel to the world, why not call to become a partner in evangelism? Our partners have decided to consistently contribute to our efforts in sharing this message that has changed not only my life but the lives of countless others. Prayerfully consider joining our efforts. Until next time, may God continue to hold you in the palm of his hand. [Music]

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