Patterns of Discipleship

Patterns of Discipleship

Scripture: Matthew 10:8, Luke 16:19-31, Luke 9:28-31
Date: 04/05/2008  Lesson: 13
A recap of the main points of the quarter's lessons on discipleship, focusing on patterns that we can identify and emulate.
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Good morning, Happy Sabbath, we're so glad that you're joining us for another "central study hour" coming to you from the Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church here in Sacramento, California. Welcome, Happy Sabbath, those of you who are watching weeks later on the various networks, listening on the radio or watching live this morning at saccentral.org on our website. We have some requests that have come in and we're going to sing those. The first one, you'll find 82 in your hymnal, "before jehovah's awful throne" , and we're going to do the first, second, and fourth verse. This is from nimfami and Amos in eastern cape, south africa and eagan in brooklyn, New York.

Eighty two, verses one, two, and four. Thank you for that. It's not that often that we get a new song that's unfamiliar to jennifer. [Laughing] but she likes that, she gets to learn new songs. If you have a favorite that you would like to send in to our website at saccentral.

org, please go there, click on the music link, and send them in. And we will sing that for you on an upcoming Sabbath. Our opening song this morning is 633, "when we all get to heaven." This is from manasa in germany; eppy and louisa, also in germany; mike in pitcairn, south pacific; and that is our first request from pitcairn island, so, that is very exciting; cecelia in ghana; ula in the Philippines; josiah in Connecticut; albert in Maryland; helen in Maryland; joanne in New York; sherri in Oregon; neil in Texas; and bob in Washington. This is a favorite, 633, "when we all get to heaven" all four verses. I like that one.

I can tell you all get into that and marilyn on the piano, excEllent. Father in Heaven, we're looking forward to that day when we all get to heaven and we walk those streets of gold and those pearly gates will open. We can just see that right now. And we thank you so much for promising us that if we're faithful, we have something to look forward to, something much better than this world. And I just pray that we will each be ready for that day so that we can spend eternity with you in heaven.

We thank you so much for each person that is here, those that aren't, but are joining us from across the country and around the world, whether it's listening on the radio or on the internet or their television. We just pray that you'll be with each one in a very special way that they'll receive a blessing as we study together this morning. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our health and outreach pastor here at central church, pastor mike thompson. Well, we're on the last lesson of this quarter on discipleship.

And I was looking through it, it kinda hit some of the high points of the previous things that have been looked at; patterns of discipleship. And there's a memory text there from Matthew 10:8, it says, "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils, freely ye have received, freely give." Before we continue, we have a small commercial, which I should have done, but you know. Here it is, it's free offer number 155, it's called "life in the Spirit." Call the number... Or you can go to "Amazing Facts" that's www.amazingfacts.org. "Life in the Spirit" offer number 155, if you live in the continental United States, it's yours free.

So, you know what to do. We'll repeat that just at the end of the program today. So, getting back to our lesson here, "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils, freely ye have received, freely forgive." All of the above and more was and is to go hand in hand with the preaching of the Gospel. This is the commission that Jesus gave to his church. And if that commission had been fulfilled, would we be here this morning? No, we'd be having church, but it wouldn't be here in sunny California, it would be in heaven.

We'd be inside those pearly gates. So, there's still a work to do, still a work for God's church to take hold of. But if you noticed in the lesson, excuse me, I'm kind of swallowing strange this morning. I've got a frog in my throat. The first section is on compassion and forgiveness.

Now, while it was ever Jesus' purpose to save people, whether they responded or not, he always showed compassion and he always showed forgiveness, it's just the way he was. He didn't reserve special favors, per se, to those who were showing an interest. He just, he was here. He was love personified, and love has to find an expression. So, even on those who would turn away from him, he still demonstrated this love.

He healed the blind, he cleansed the lepers, primarily because his tender heart was touched by the sight of human suffering. Just the way he was. The man with leprosy, Jesus healed him. Then there was the other lepers, remember? How many were there? Ten lepers, he healed 'em all. Did they all say, "thanks so much Jesus"? No, one came back.

But he did it just as willingly for the others as he did for the one that said "thank you." Just the way Jesus was. And in Luke 7, we have there the story of the widow of nain. You know, there's so many events in the life of Jesus, I just wish, I just wish I could have been there. As this poor woman, this dear son is all she's got and now he's passed away. And they're making their way down to the little cemetery, wherever it was, and he's laid on this bier and this--Jesus is just kind of heading off past them, he's on a mission.

But he looks into the face of this dear woman and what he must have read there touched his heart. I would have loved to have seen the sorrow on this poor little woman's face. Not 'cause I'd love to see that, but to see it contrasted with the joy a few moments later, you'll understand. And I would have loved to have looked in the face of Jesus, to look in those eyes as he looked at that poor dear woman. There's her son and he's gone, you know.

And she's probably sobbing and she's heartbroken and her world has just come to an end. I mean, it's done now, all she had. And Jesus comes up to that little funeral procession and they stop. Maybe somebody knew who he was. "Oh, it must be Jesus.

" Maybe they didn't. But this stranger comes up, not dressed like a king or a rabbi or a priest, just an ordinary looking person, but there's something about him. Just the way he looks at this woman and he looks at her dead son. He comes and he tells him to get up. The young man sits up.

Can you imagine being there? "He's supposed to be--he's alive, praise the Lord!" And this young man gets up and you can see the mother just throws her arms around him and she sobs her heart out. And again, I would love to have seen her face and I would love to have seen the face of Jesus. That's just the way he was. Are you glad he's your friend? Are you glad he's your friend? Yes. I don't know what I'd do, if I didn't have a friend like that.

If I didn't have Jesus, I don't know what I would do, but I've got him and that's all that matters. Then again this morning, I was saying my prayers in that little front bedroom and I said again, "Lord, you can take this house, you can take my car, you can take the shirt off my back." And when you say prayers like that, you have to ask yourself, do I really mean this? But you know, I was so touched this morning by the cross. You know, I can honestly say I meant it. I said, "Lord, if you wanna take my house, you can take it. You can take my car.

You can take my time, you can have it all." And who knows, I said, "Lord, maybe tonight, maybe it will all be gone. But if I still have you, that's all that matters, that's all I care about." So, where were we? Oh, yes, just the way Jesus is, you know. So he raises this young man and goes on his way. And yet he makes an eternal difference. And then we find in Matthew 14, he--there he feeds the 5,000.

And as you read in that, and we'll read some Scriptures in a moment, but he had compassion on the sick. It says there, "that the sick came and he had compassion on them, he was of moved with this infinite pity." So, he's healing these people and then it's gettin' toward later in the day and, you know, there's a whole bunch of people who weren't healed, they were just there to see what was going on. And everybody's hungry. And surely he could have said, you know, he didn't owe them anything. "Well, you folks need to go now and go get yourself something to eat.

I've got a little potluck here with my disciples, so you go take care of yourself." But no, Jesus isn't like that, you see. He looked around and he was concerned and he said to his disciples. He said, "you know, these people are hungry, we need to do something about this." Of course, the disciples stand there, "well, here we go again, Lord. How do we feed these people?" Well, we know the story. He fed the 5,000.

But you can read the same account in John 6, and Jesus healed and fed these people solely on the basis of compassion. This is the point, knowing after the fact, most of those people would turn their back on him. It was not too long after, probably about the next day he tells these people, you followed me because of the bread. And he tells them they shouldn't seek the earthly bread, they need the heavenly bread. And because of that many turned away, and Jesus knew this would happen, yet he still fed them.

Okay, let's read the Scripture, John 6:64. "But there are some of you who do not believe, for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were, who did not believe, and who would betray him." Yeah, he probably saw--notice, it said the word "betray." You might think of Judas, yes, but he knew there were others. There may well have been some who were in that 5,000 who clamored for his blood that time when pilate says, "behold the man, what shall I do with him?" You want barabbas, he thought they would ask for barabbas. No, they didn't want barabbas. Other than they wanted barabbas to be let loose, but Jesus, "crucify him.

" He knew from the beginning that some would literally bite the hand that was feeding them. But you see, that's just the way Jesus is, isn't it? It's just the way he is. We can learn something from him. And so say what we will, Jesus died just as much for those who forsook him as those who stayed by him. Do you have that same kind of love and compassion? It's not naturally in the human heart, is it? It has to be put there.

But Jesus can put it there. And say what we want, claim what we want. If we don't feel anything for the people out there who are in need, then hey, we're not a true disciple, we're not a true disciple. We need to be willing to let Jesus take everything, your house, your car, if you have to, and extend yourself and be happily inconvenienced for the good of others. Not just temporarily, but eternally.

I want to read you a statement from "Desire of Ages" page 825. Now, this is pretty strong, this is pretty strong. But I like to read strong statements, there's something about them, it makes you search your heart and it makes you look and say, "Lord, where am I in reference to this? I'm gonna read this." It says--okay, we're God's church, right? We're supposed to go out, and memory verse was, "go out, preach the Gospel, cleanse lepers, raise the dead." Let's see where we are. It says, "divine love has been stirred to at some unfathomable depths for the sake of men. And angels marveled to behold and the recipients of so great love a mere surface gratitude.

Angels marvel at man's shallow appreciation of the love of God. Heaven stands indignant at the neglect shown to the souls of men." How does heaven stand? Indignant. "Would we know how Christ regards it?" Good question. Here, here's how it answers the question, how does Christ regard it? "How would a father and mother feel did they know that their child, lost in the cold and snow had been passed by and left to perish by those who might have saved it? Would they not be terribly grieved and wildly indignant? Would they not denounce those murderers who had wrath hot as their tears intense as their love? The sufferings of every man are the sufferings of God's child. And those who reach out no helping hand to their perishing fellow beings provoke his righteous anger.

This is the wrath of the lamb. To those who claim fellowship with Christ, yet have been indifferent to the needs of their fellow men, he'll declare in the great judgment day, I know not whence ye are, depart from me all ye workers of iniquity." I told you it was strong, strong. And you speak and you depart from me you workers of iniquity, not speaking to adulterers or robbers or thieves or assassins or any other. Those who simply have been blessed and are not willing to share it. I don't want that on my head.

I don't want that written to my account. How about you? Okay, let's turn to Hebrews 5, we're still in the section here, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, but let's look at something here. Hebrews 5:1-2. "Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. He's able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray since he himself is subject to weakness.

" Thank you very much, birdie. This primarily relates to the priesthood, speaking of every high priest taken among men is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices. But his own personal quality, his own personality, his own character has to be of a tender heart. Appreciate you reading that. In the King James you read, it says, "who can have compassion on the ignorant? Compassion.

And on them that are out of the way for that he himself also is compassed with infirmities." Now, we are--speaking of ministers, yeah, priests. But you know, we're all priests. When the protestant reformation came in, one thing the papal church hated to hear what's this term, "the priesthood of all believers." God calls us all to ministry. We're priests inasmuch as we don't go through a human media, we come directly ourselves to minister in the things of God. We pray for ourselves, we can pray for others.

So, God calls us to have compassion on the ignorant and them that are out of the way. And so we can have compassion on the ignorant and those who are indeed are, you know, as they are. Now, it's the test of our compassion when our hearts are touched with sorrow for those who are suffering with illness like lepers and the bereavement that just broke the heart of the widow of nain. Now, that's the test of our compassion. But it is especially a test of our character when we're able to feel compassion on the ignorant and those who are out of the way, out of the way of right and decency.

It's hard, a little bit hard--sorry, it's easy to feel compassion for the widow of nain, but it's a little hard to feel compassion for those who are exercising toward you, 'cause they're out of the way. A harsh, cruel, and unforgiving spirit. Those who would willingly and happily injure you. That's different, isn't it? Can you have compassion upon those? Can you exercise forgiveness for those, because they're out of the way? In other words, they're off track. You got people out there in the world that are out of the way, they're off track and they treat you despicably.

But you know, even so, in the church we've got those who are out of the way, they're supposed to be members of the church, but they may treat you even worse than somebody out in the world. How is your level of compassion with them? Widow of nain, oh, this poor lady, the one who wants to stone you, oh, I don't know about that. Jesus met them both, he met them both and he's our example in all things. There were his own people crying for his blood and on the other hand those who were out of the way in the world, the Romans, just happy to oblige. So, he sits before each one of us an example that he bids us emulate.

And there upon the cross, the Romans who nailed him there and there were the jews who clamored to have him put there. And to both, he says, "father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Are you up to that? I pray you are, brother. We need to be, we need to be. You see, only can we exemplify that love if the author of that love and compassion lives inside this heart of mine and this heart of yours. Because our hearts, naturally, they're like stone.

You got a stoney heart, by nature we're pretty good at encasing that in steel. By nature, we're good at encasing that, in turn, in ice. The only person, the only one that can reach in through all those barriers and get right to the core of your being and just melt you inside is Jesus, is Jesus. He's the only one. It's only Jesus.

And you know, he loves to do that. It's easy to think, you know, that good people can come and he can change them because they're half way there, they're already good in themselves. Forget that, Jesus loves people to come to him when they're the worst that society and parenthood can produce. He loves it when those types come. And you may feel you're one of those type.

Hey, because the worse you are, the lower you are, the bigger the hole, the bigger the slime pit he has to pull you out of, the more he can demonstrate his grace. So, he wants you, above all people, 'cause he can reach right inside and he can change you and send you out in this world where that cold stoney heart, encased in steel and ice, it's gone. And in your breast there beats this big soft warm heart so that you can confront those who want to stone you and you can look at them and you don't feel anger, you just feel this incredible, supernatural, unnatural love. And it is unnatural, and it is supernatural, because it's what Jesus puts there, you see. That's what he does to human beings.

I remember when I was--just before I was baptized, in my house, I was an only child, and there was this tension going on because, you know, I was getting out of the rock and roll band and I was gonna be a Christian. My parents didn't understand. And I was upstairs in the bedroom one night and I can hear my mother talkin' to my dad sayin', "you need to go up there and you just need to tell this son of ours that's being brain washed, this is nonsense. And she was gettin' angry and he was gettin' angry." And I was sitting there in bed and I was reading. And you know what? I had this wonderful peace and I could almost feel the heat coming from downstairs, I could smell the smoke, you know.

I could see my dad's fist kinda comin' in on my face. But you know what? I sat there and I was free, I was free from anger, I was free from resentment. I had this incredible love in my heart and knowing where I came from, because I tell people I used to be a foul mouth, beer sinking--beer drinking singer in a rock and roll band, I know where I came from. There was this incredible love and peace. Why? Because Jesus had come into my life.

And if my dad had burst through that door ready to just clock me, I was ready to give him a hug. And I knew, I thought, this is not natural. But praise the Lord, thank you, Lord. That's what Jesus can do for us. But you know, we can lose it the next day? Yes, that's why every day we have to just let him in and let him fill us and change us so that like Jesus, if we get nailed to the cross, if we're condemned by those in the church and they get the heathens and nail us on the cross, like Jesus.

We can say, "father, forgive them for they know not what they do." You ready for that? We better be. 'Cause I tell you this, beloved, oh, the truth, it's coming. It is coming, sooner than what we think. But again, it's not possible for us as humans to react like this. Let's go to Romans for a moment here.

Let's go to Romans 5. Romans 5:6, 7, 8, I'll read this, I wanna skim through it here 'cause time is moving on and I am getting a little side tracked. But you know, I just cannot help it, you know, I just cannot help it. Romans 5:6 says, "for when we were yet without strength in due time, Christ died for who?" The un-Godly. Verse 7, but God "commandeth his love toward us in that while we were yet" what? Saints, "sinners, Christ died for us.

" And then verse 8, but sorry, verse 9. Sorry, verse 10, "but if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life." As we contemplate God's compassion forgiveness to us, when we deserved it the least. As Romans 2:4 says, as we see this, it says, "it's the goodness of God that leads you to repentance." That's where it begins, when you see how undeserving you are and yet in that state, it just opens this fountain head of grace and pours his love all over you. And as we respond and as we repent and as we confess and we move on to converse in Romans it says, "the love of God is shared abroad in our hearts through the holy ghost that he's given unto us." Then, then we are qualified, that's where we kinda came in. Then we are qualified to truly be disciples of Jesus Christ.

You read the story some years back, corrie ten boom. What was that book called, was it "no hiding place" or something? "The hiding place" yeah, that's right. You know, I never actually read it, but I met people who have read it a thousand times and they--and you've probably heard this story, but I heard it where she's in the nazi concentration camp and it was just this horrible, just awful circumstance. And there was one of these ss guards and he was a beast, just a beast. And the war passes and there one day she's speaking or preaching somewhere and people are lining up to talk to her.

And lo and behold, who steps right in front of her? But this former ss guard from the concentration camp. Okay, here's the test of corrie ten boom's level of discipleship, the level of her spiritual maturity, the level of her forgiveness, the level of how broken she is before the cross. And this man, smart, sticks his hand out, "frau." And she says there was this--using my own words here, some of you know this story better than me. But there was this resistance for a moment, 'cause it all came flooding back into her mind that this man had been a beast. Now he was a Christian.

He was there, he was praising the Lord. But there was something inside that was resistant. Him, everybody else, widow of nain, yeah, this person here, but him, no. But she stuck her hand out and she shook his hand. And as she was putting her hand out, I think she said something like this, she just experienced this power, there's something outside of herself as she shook this man's hand, she was able to love him and to forgive him.

Powerful, powerful story, just powerful. I don't know whether to tell you this, but now I will, of course. It was last, almost 2 years ago, we decided to have some meetings in a little school on del paso heights. Those of you watching on the internet and on television and by the way, I didn't meant--welcome you, so, forgive me. I'm not very good at doing this, so I'm welcoming you now, after the fact.

We're gonna hold a few meetings in a little church in a suburb of Sacramento. And we had minimum budget so we just printed off a few flyers. It says, "Jesus is the answer." Rolled them up, got a few volunteers and couple of Sabbath afternoons. We went and we were tossing these down people's paths and over in the yards and stuff. And did that a couple of weekends and then we were getting close to the meetings, but we still had a few flyers left.

And I was looking at the map and I saw a few streets. My family were all over in europe, out there enjoying themselves, I had to stay home and work. But that was all right, I'd used up my vacation time on other things. So, I decided I would go out, I think it was memorial day or something like that, it's in the spring--summer anyway. So, I'm going down the street and I had this grocery sack full of these flyers and I'm tossing them on to people's yards.

And I come to one house and there's three young men sittin' around a table under the tree. And I said, "hi, fellas," and I tossed it on the yard and I kept moving. And I got a little bit of a strange look, but you know, I kinda passed it off. I get down to the street, go down the other block, get them all finished, I'm coming back and I'm walking by this house. And one of these young men, he came to the fence and he didn't look very happy, didn't look very happy at me.

And he said to me, "you got some money?" And I said, "how much do you want?" And he said, "$20." I says, "no, I don't." But I says, "I have something far more important," I said, "I have a book here, here you can find something far for valuable than $20, this is the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ." And I offered it to him and he wouldn't take it so I just tossed it on the lawn, you see. And he got irate, got angry. And out came all this foul language. And here am i, he's old enough or young enough to be my son. And here am i, a pastor, you know, and he's saying all this stuff at me.

I want to tell you, it wasn't easy, I was stunned, I was humiliated, I was embarrassed and what could I do? I had to take it, you know. I couldn't retaliate, that would have been wrong. I could have just seen it in the newspaper, pastor gets in brawl with youth in street. And I thought, I can't do that. But you know what? I was hurt, I was humiliated, 'cause his friends were there.

All I could do was walk away. And I walked away to my car and I'm driving home to an empty house, there's no family there, they're all in europe having a good time. And I think, I think here am i, I go through this. And I'm praying and I'm thinking, Lord, you went through far worse than this, you were spat upon. But I tell you, I struggled, I was hurt, I was humiliated.

Ladies, you don't understand men sometimes, we have this thing inside, you know. You get insulted and men, as Christians, we've got to overcome that. We have, we've got to overcome that. Doesn't mean you can't be just as much as a man as a man can be. Jesus was a man's man, but he was humble enough he could take it.

Couple of days went by and I started praying for this young man. I've got a prayer journal here, you can get them from Amazing Facts. You can get soft back as well. But the next morning I'm up in our bedroom there in another house and I wrote, this is the prayer that I wrote if you wanna--do you wanna hear it? I know you wanna hear it, that's why I asked you. Oh, let me find it here.

Oh, you wouldn't believe it, it's here somewhere. Anyway, I started writin' about this young man and i--he was kind of hispanic young man, so in my prayer here, I just called him--i just called him jose. And I put here, Monday, September 4th, 2006. You know, what I needed to do was show him love and forgiveness. And I was struggling, but you know, God remedied that in the most amazing way.

It says, "Dear Lord, in your time I pray you will allow jose and I to cross paths again and become the best of friends in Jesus. Please deliver him from satan so that he will not perish. I claim your saving grace in his behalf that you will make him a mighty worker for you. Thank you, amen." So, I prayed for him. And then it was like the Lord, the Holy Spirit brought this impression.

And I thought, you know what? I'm going back. And I wrote this letter, and I said, "dear sir, I want to thank you for the interesting encounter we had other day." 'Cause he threatened to kick me, you know, get out of here. "I want to thank you for the interesting encounter we had the other day." And it says, "that I've been thinking about this," and I type like this, you know. "I've been thinking about this, I don't wanna apologize to you. I realize that you probably thought I was disrespecting you and being smart when you asked for money.

And I asked you how much you wanted and I didn't give you any, instead I came back and asked you--told you I had something more valuable that is eternal life." I says, "I still believe that, but the way it came across may have made you feel I was disrespecting you or that I was trying to be smart and witty." I says, "I'm sorry for that, I apologize." And the book that I tossed on his lawn, he actually gave it back to me. I thought he would throw it in the street, but he gave it back. I said, "I want to apologize as well, for throwing the book and the flyer on your lawn, because you probably thought I was just trashing your yard. I apologize for that." And I said, "please accept my apology, here's $20, you deserve it." I wrote this letter, put $20 inside and I still have the book which was "steps to Christ." And I put it in the envelope and I put, "oh, by the way, I have enclosed the book, I still want you to have it, because life can play some pretty nasty tricks on us sometimes and you may need it one day." And I put, "sincerely, pastor mike thompson." And you know what? I had such a peace, Jesus gave me such a peace for this young man. There was no desire to kinda, you know, retaliate or feel worse, it was gone.

I was free, I was free. And so, that week I got ready and it was a Friday morning and I went back up to the same place and I said, "Lord, you know what's the best thing here. If you want me to see him and say this, I'll say it. If he's not there, I'll just take it that you just want me to leave this on his doorstep. So, it's in your hands.

" So, I go down up off del paso heights. I'm going down the street, I see the garden with the table and the tree and he's not there, so, oh. So I go down to the end and I turn around, as I'm coming back, who do you suppose was in the yard? He was there. So, I come up, do a u-turn, pull up right outside his fence, I get out and I walk over to him. And he looks and he sees me.

And I had this big smile on my face, I said, "hi." I said, "you may remember me." [Laughing] I said, "you know what?" I said, "I've come to apologize to you." You know, his head went down and he said, "oh," he said, "I felt so bad that I spoke to you like I did." He said, "I am so sorry." He said, "I wasn't mad at you." He said, "something had happened." I said, "that's all right." And I could say that, 'cause I was free, you know, I was free. And I said, "you know what?" I said, "I told him," I says, "I apologize for throwing that book on the lawn and that thing and." And he says, "what was that thing, by the way?" I says, "it's something for some meetings we're gonna have." And I says, "the book, I said, "it's in this envelope." But I said, "inside this envelope," I said, "there's $20, it's yours." You should have seen the look on his face, he didn't know what to do with me. We shook hands, found out his real name. And then he told me, he says, "you know," he says, "I was actually in a church the other day." And he says, "there was just kinda this feeling of peace." And so he spoke for a little while. And then I said, "do you have a Bible?" He says, "no.

" I said, "do you want me to get you one?" He said, "oh, yeah, would you get me a Bible?" I said, "sure I will." So, a few days later, I went back, went to his house and I got him this Bible with Jesus' words in red letters and we were friends. So, uh--and you go back and see him again, but hey, praise God. Praise God, because who did that? Not mike thompson, you better believe it, not mike thompson. It was Jesus. And I was just as happy as a lark, I mean, I was just like a sand boy, I was just happy.

And I had this great joy and this peace in my heart. And so, you know, God answered my prayer. All things work together for good. Even when we--when we're in this life and we're working for the Lord and we get these apparent obstacles that seem so--you can tell the devil's put them there. Bible says, "where sin abounds, God's grace does much more abound.

" So, praise the Lord. I didn't mean to take so long with that, but anyway I hope you got a blessing from that. Let's move on, shall we? We spent about 45 minutes on the first section. But let's moving on here, in Luke 16, we got the rich man and Lazarus. And in Luke 18, we got the pharisee and the publican, we'll be reading from those sections in just a minute.

But in Luke 16, with the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus was bringing to light here this caste system that existed among the jews. Between the rich and the poor, there was a caste system, definitely. Those who were rich felt they were rich because it was God's demonstration of his favor toward them. They figured, I must be righteous that God has blessed me with all these, you know, this wealth and these means. It was a total perversion of fact.

And of course, those on the other side of the coin who were poor, while the wealthy looked down upon them because you're not blessed like I am because you don't deserve the favor of God. You're obviously not as righteous as I am. It was just a wicked way of looking at things. And same with people who were sick as well. Those who were sick, very often it was looked upon that, "well, you must have been a great sinner for the Lord to afflict you with that.

You must have been just a terrible soul to have this sickness." And we know, leprosy, bad as that was, that was often looked upon as, well, it was a symbol of sin, it was. Even closer to our times. You know, we speak "somebody's had a stroke." You know where that came from? We don't give the full meaning these days, but we use the term stroke, that actually meant the stroke of God. This person must have been a bad person, so, God kinda came by and stroke them and suddenly, you know, this state of paralysis, they got brain damage. That's where it came from, a stroke.

Of course, it's not that. And so while the rich man and Lazarus--through telling this allegory, Jesus rebuked the wealthy who looked down upon the poor and also those who looked down upon the sick with the idea that, you deserve it, you must be a terrible sinner, you sure had this coming. Now, let's turn to John 9 here, because here we get this story of a blind man from the Gospel of John now. And I believe we get some insights here that we don't get in the other passages, which are still very good. But I want us to read John 9:1-7 and notice here, even Jesus' disciples have this same distorted and twisted mind-set, if you're sick or afflicted, you must be a sinner.

Would somebody please read John 9, the first two verses, please. "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth and his disciples asked him saying, 'master, who did this sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'" Yeah, so you see, even his disciples, "Lord, who's sin was it, him or his mom and dad?" Very, very tragic. I'm gonna read the rest here, see what Jesus says in verse 3. "Jesus answered, neither has this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day, the night cometh when no man can work.

As long as I'm in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, "go wash in the pool of siloam," which is by interpretation sent. He went his way therefore and washed and came seeing." Praise the Lord. That's just how Jesus is, you see? But Jesus said that this, he was born blind by the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Not just the works of God's miracle working power whereby he can restore sight to somebody who's blind. But just as much the works of his mercy and his kindness and his compassion toward the blind man, here presenting this in stark contrast to the hard heartedness of the pharisees and even his disciples. "Lord, who sinned, him or his mom and dad?" Where was their compassion? They had a lot to learn, didn't they? And of course when the pharisees heard what Jesus had done and especially, of course, on the Sabbath. The ensuing controversy, again, just contrasted like day and night. The, if you like, the pharisee verses the publican, another parable that Jesus taught.

And it was played out right in the front of everybody who was looking on. They--let's read the other one. So, it first of all, he shows that it wasn't sin, need to have compassion. But then the pharisees act as they do and then lo and behold we see these righteous and holy men. And it's shocking and it's shameful and it's painful to behold it.

But let's have a look, Luke 18, story of the pharisee and the publican. And who'd like to read this? Luke 18:9-14, we need somebody. Do we have any-- victor's right over here. We need somebody on the left side of the house. Thank you, victor.

"Also, he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: two men went up to the temple to pray; one a pharisee the other a tax collector. The pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the tax collector standing afar off would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'" Verse 14, did you read? Oh, I'm sorry. "I tell you this man went down to this house, justified rather than the other.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Thank you very much, victor. So, Jesus healing this blind man just flushed out, just flushed out there so everybody could see it. This manifestation of the pharisee's self-righteousness and their bigotry. And this is why, in John 9:39, we're gonna go back there for a moment, John 9:39. Look what Jesus says here, Jesus says, "and for judgment I came into this world that they would see," sorry, "that they would see," not might see.

"And they which see might be made blind." It was showing here that here's this poor man who could not physically see, now he can see. And as these who think they see, but they're just spiritually blind, bigoted, blind to their own self-righteousness, they're just like the pharisee standing there in the temple. "Oh, God, I thank you I'm not like this man here." Ha. Could you be like that? You might be, but you just don't realize it. We all have to search our hearts, you know.

I need to search my heart every day. We might be like that. We need the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, and this, you see, this is why laodicea. One of the problems with laodicea, laodicea is blind, spiritually blind. He says, "I'm okay, rich and increased with goods.

I do not sense any spiritual poverty." But Jesus says, "you're poor, wretched, blind, naked, you need the white raiment to clothe your spiritual nakedness. You need," what else? "The goal, the faith and love. You need more love and compassion and you need the eye salve so you can see." And sad to say, these pharisees that were so indignant at Jesus, they were poor, blind, wretched, and naked in the eyes of God. And the sad and frightening thing is they couldn't see it. So, while we were told in the Spirit of prophecy that pride, of all the sins, pride is the most hopeless and the most incurable.

Now, it can be cured, yes. But boy, only through praying and asking the Lord to show us, "can we see our deficiencies in this area." So, we need to pray that prayer, most definitely. But let's get back here, we've got 5 more minutes left to what happened here in John 9. Here in John 9:24, let me find it here. So the pharisees call this man, "they again call--then again call they the man that was blind and said to him, 'give God the praise, we know that this man is a sinner.

'" They're talkin' about Jesus. They said, "this man is a sinner here." And in verse 28, what do they say? And they reviled him and said, "thou art his disciple, but we're Moses' disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses, but as for this fellow, we know not whence he is." In verse 33 and 34, "if this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him," this is what the man said in verse 33, "if this man were not of God he could do nothing." But the pharisees said in verse 34, "and they answered and said unto him, 'thou wast altogether born in sins. That's why you were blind.

You were born in sins and dost thou teach us?'" What does it say? They cast him out, they kicked him right out of the synagogue. Here they are, the Spiritual leaders. We read in Hebrews 5, what are the prerequisites to be a faithful priest who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way. These men, they just didn't have it, they just didn't have it. And so, this poor man, he's cast out of the synagogue.

And you know, I won't read it 'cause I don't have time. But if you read verse 22, you'll see that this was the thing here. The people were afraid that if they associated with Jesus, they would be kicked out of the synagogue. So, they obviously have this mind-set that salvation is only through the church. Well, Jesus stomped that right into the ground.

He made it very clear that salvation is not through the church. Now, the synagogue was more than the church, it was a social place as well. I mean, you know, to not be in the synagogue it was kind of a slur on your social standings. So, there was that as well. But ultimately what is more important than social standing? It's salvation, and salvation does not come through the church, it comes through Jesus Christ.

And so Jesus attacks this whole thing here, absolutely head on. In verse 35, let me go there. "Notice this, when Jesus heard that this man had been cast out, he comes to seek him." Verse 35, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out. And that when he had found him, he said unto him, 'dost thou believe on The Son of God?'" You don't reading anything here about Jesus come and gives this sad lament about, I'm so sorry that they kicked you out of the church. Oh, this is really gonna cause problems for your salvation.

I am so sorry. Never says a word about it, he bypasses the whole thing and he says, "do you believe in me?" That's where salvation comes. You see, he says, "do you believe in me?" Verse 36, he answered and said, "who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" You see, he had been blind. "And Jesus said unto him, thou hast both seen me and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, 'Lord, I believe.

And he worshipped him.'" Can you say, amen? Never lose sight of that, friends. Is there a place for church membership? Oh, absolutely. Hebrews 10:25, you know, neglect not the assembling of yourselves together. We were baptized in the church, we're baptized into the body of Christ and sure, God wants us to be a member of the church. We need to seek that, we shouldn't be out there as isolated atoms and all of those things.

But at the same time, the church, the building, the organization, the structure and all these kinds of things in themselves they possess no virtue. The only virtue is in whom they represent or are supposed to represent, and that is Jesus Christ. You see, far better to have your name written in heaven than on a church book somewhere, when it doesn't mean anything. And in Hebrews 12:23, it speaks there of those whose names are written in heaven. It says, "to the general assembly and church of the first born which are written in heaven.

" So, time's about gone, we're just getting into it, as usual, and we have to stop. So, anyway maybe next time they'll put 2 hours on the clock. And you look worried, no, we can't do that. So, thanks for being a good class, thanks for participating. In conclusion, you can send for offer number 155, "life in the Spirit" from "Amazing Facts.

" Phone number is... Or go to www.amazingfacts.org. God bless you, have a great Sabbath and see you next week. If you've been encouraged by today's message and would like to know more of what God's Word says to you today, Amazing Facts invites you to visit our educational website at www.Bibleuniverse.com. At Bibleuniverse, you'll discover exciting truths that will fill you with peace and purpose.

The mysteries of the Bible will unfold for you at your own pace. Visit www.Bibleuniverse.com today. Expand your universe.

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