Matthew 13-14, Psalm 87
It's interesting when presenting the gospel message, people like the ability to have choice in their lives, but don't like to have any consequences for wrong choices. In fact, most people now believe in moral relativism, meaning there is no absolutes, there is really no right or wrong only what the individual deems right for themselves. As we continue through Scripture, we see this is not how Jesus sees the world. In fact, there is nothing gray or middle of the road anywhere in His teachings. Everything is either/or, a choice must be made. When hell is brought up in a conversation, often I hear, "How could a loving God send anyone to hell?" The truth is twofold, everyone has a choice to make on earth to accept Jesus' free offer of payment of their sins and thereby choosing God, or they choose to trust in their own strength thereby not choosing God. After one dies they simply receive what they chose while on earth. If you don't choose God while in earth, you don't get to choose Him in eternity simply because you now see it as the better alternative. Also, God is not only 100% loving, but also 100% just and fair. How can a 100% just God not allow punishment for those deserving it.
We read in chapter 13 the beginning of the parables. This word comes from the Greek, meaning to come alongside. So parabolic teaching places a story alongside a truth or principle. To those interested and seeking it illuminates truth. To the lazy and disinterested it didn't make sense. Jesus was presenting to those truly seeking truth. We read in the popular parable of the sowers, in Matthew 13:9,16, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear." In this parable, notice that the sower and the seed are constants, they don't change. Jesus and the Word of God don't change. What differs is the soil or the condition of the heart. When we present the gospel message, we are tilling the soil of the heart of another. But the choice is theirs. We live in a world of distractions as described by the third type of soil in Matthew 13:7, "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them." Jesus explains this to his disciples in 13:22, "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful." Chuck Smith believes this is the largest group represented in churches today. How many Christians are being robbed of fruitfulness because they are caught up in the things that don't matter!
The consequences are real for how we choose to lead our lives. Do we act like we believe this? Over and over in Scripture we read hell described by Jesus as a place of "wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:42,50). Do we believe this? John the Baptist believed this so much that nothing could prevent him from speaking the truth no matter the consequences. In Matthew 14:4 we read that John was thrown into prison for speaking the truth to Herod the tetrarch and his wife, Herodias. Are we willing to speak the truth no matter the consequences? To effectively seek out others we must constantly keep our eyes on Jesus. We read of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14:29. But in 14:30, we read, "But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" Our days are all busy and full of countless distractions. When we consider the consequences we must stay vigilant and keep our eyes on Jesus and constantly keep our eyes and ears open in a world that is spiraling out of control, seeking out even one person who might be sensitive to the hope and offer of Jesus.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: