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People Jesus Met - Zacchaeus - The Marks of True Salvation Part 42

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 5, 2020 7:00 am

People Jesus Met - Zacchaeus - The Marks of True Salvation Part 42

So What? / Lon Solomon

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May 5, 2020 7:00 am

Marks of true salvation. 

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Well, this morning we want to begin by singing a little song.

I'm going to sing it and I want you to sing along with me because I think a lot of you know this little song. So, ready? Alright, here we go. As many of you know, we are involved in a series of messages entitled, People Jesus Met. And guess who we're going to talk about? Today.

Well, if you guessed Zacchaeus, you guessed right. We're going to go back 2,000 years and see what happened at that very eventful meeting. And then we're going to bring all that forward and we're going to talk about, okay, so what difference does that make to you and me in the 21st century? So here's our plan. Luke chapter 19 is our passage and we begin at verse 1.

Here we go. And behold, there was a man there by the name of Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and he was wealthy.

Now here in verse 2, the Bible tells us three very important facts about this man Zacchaeus. Number one, the Bible tells us he was a tax collector. What do we know about tax collectors in the time of Jesus? Well, we know a tax collector was a Jewish person who collected taxes for the occupying Roman army.

The way it worked was like this. The Romans would tell the tax collector what the amount was that he was supposed to collect from his district. But he was free to collect as much as he wanted and anything he collected over and above that required amount was his to keep personally.

To make it even better for him, he was backed up by the very Roman army itself so no one could refuse or dispute whatever he wanted to charge them. In essence, my friends, tax collectors carried out a form of legalized extortion against their own Jewish people. The second thing this verse tells us about Zacchaeus is that number two, he was a chief tax collector. In other words, Zacchaeus was so good at this that the Romans actually promoted him and made him the regional manager of all the tax collectors. Finally, number three, the Bible tells us that Zacchaeus was wealthy. And how exactly did Zacchaeus get wealthy? Well, we just said it, Zacchaeus became wealthy by ruthlessly victimizing his own Jewish people. Now I'm sure that Zacchaeus was vilified and that Zacchaeus was ostracized and that Zacchaeus was demonized by every Jew in Jericho.

But you know what? Zacchaeus didn't really care because the bottom line of what verse two tells us about this man is that the God of Zacchaeus' life was money. Verse three, and Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man, he was unable because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him since Jesus was coming that way. Verse five, and when Jesus reached that spot, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately for today I must stay at your house. So Zacchaeus hurried and came down and welcomed Jesus into his house. Verse seven, and when all the people saw this, they began to murmur and say, he, Jesus, has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner. Well, indeed, Jesus had. And I can only imagine the dinner that Zacchaeus must have put on that night for the Lord Jesus and his disciples. I'll bet he had gefilte fish, and I'll bet he had matzo ball soup, and I'll bet that he had lox and bagels, and I'll bet that he had balances and brisket and kugel, and if you don't know what that is, it's because you're not Jewish.

But I know what it is, and I'm getting hungry. I'll bet that was some meal he put on for the Lord Jesus, and the Bible never tells us exactly what Jesus said to Zacchaeus during dinner, but the Bible does tell us that by dessert Zacchaeus was a changed man. Watch verse eight. Then Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, look, Lord, here and now I will give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will give them back four times as much as I took.

I love this. Zacchaeus stands up at the end of dinner, and in front of everybody there makes two announcements. Announcement number one, he says, I am going to give half of my possessions to the poor. We need to understand that this was not just some act of random kindness on the part of Zacchaeus. This was an act of biblical obedience. This was an act of obedience to God. Deuteronomy 15 verse seven says, you are not to harden your heart or close your hand to the poor man among you, but you are to freely open your hand to him. Verse 11, for the poor shall never cease to be in the land.

Therefore, God says, I command you, saying, you shall freely open your hand towards the poor and needy in your land. What does announcement number one tell us about Zacchaeus? It tells us, my friends, that that night during dinner, Zacchaeus switched gods.

He took the Lord God money off the throne of his life, and he put the Lord Jesus Christ onto the throne of his life. But there was a second announcement, announcement number two, Zacchaeus said, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will give them back four times as much as I took. You say this, Lon, I got to tell you, this sounds like some of those insipid, nebulous, D.C. politician statements, you know, if I offended anyone, if I misspoke in any way, I apologize. No, you say, Lon, you know, it doesn't sound genuine. All my friends, to the contrary, this was very genuine. You see, when Zacchaeus said, if I have cheated anyone, in the Greek language, he used a first-class condition. You say, what? Well, what that means is, a first-class condition means that in the if part, if I have cheated anyone, whatever is in the if part is assumed to be true, to be correct.

A better word to use than if is the word since. Since I have cheated people is really the best way to translate this. And so what Zacchaeus was doing tonight, really, is he was confessing that he had cheated people. He was admitting that he had swindled people, and he had stolen from people, and that now he was going to go back and restore that money to them plus 400%.

What does announcement number two tell us about Zacchaeus? It tells us that that night, not only had Zacchaeus switched gods, but he had also repented. He had owned up to the sinful actions and the sinful behavior he'd been doing up to that point, and now he was determined to make right the sinful behavior he'd been doing up to that point. So look what Jesus said, verse 9. Then Jesus said to him, today salvation has come to this house.

I love this. Jesus said, hey, today I want everybody to know this man has come to Christ. Today I want everybody to know this man has gotten saved. Today I want everybody here at dinner to know that this man has been born again. Make no mistake about it, friends. Tonight this man has gotten the real disease. Now just before we leave Luke 19, let's notice one other very important thing, and that is that salvation had not come to Zacchaeus' house that night because he stood up and promised to go out and do all these good works.

No, no. The Bible is crystal clear about this. Romans 3, verse 20 says by the deeds of the law, that is by doing good works, no one will be justified. No one will be saved in God's sight. Friends, Zacchaeus had come to Christ. The reason that salvation had come to Zacchaeus' house that night is because, as we said earlier, that night Zacchaeus had decided to repent and to switch gods. These good deeds that he was talking about, in other words, were not the cause of Zacchaeus' salvation. They were the result of Zacchaeus' salvation. 2 Corinthians 5, 17 says if anyone is in Christ, there's the cause, there's the horse, they become a new creature, a changed person with changed behavior.

There's the result, there's the cart, and we need to be so careful that we don't get the cart of good works ahead of the horse of salvation and being in Christ. You guys all get that? You're with me? Hello, yes? We're all here, yes? All right, good, because now it's time for us to leave off in Luke 19 and it's time for us to ask our most important question. And all of you at Loudon and all of you at Prince William and all of you on the Internet and all of you in the Edge, are you ready? I heard that, I heard it. Wait a minute, hold on, I'm coming to you guys here, Tysons. I heard it. Okay, Tysons, are you ready? All right, here we go, here we go.

One, two, three. Ah, yes. You say, Lon, so what?

Say, hey, it's a great story and the little song was cute, but I mean, what difference does any of this make to my life? Well, we're going to talk about that right now. You know, back in 2002, one of the greatest NFL players of all time passed away. His name was Johnny Uninus. He was the quarterback for the then Baltimore Colts. And Uninus was an amazing football player. He led the Colts to three NFL championships, including Super Bowl V. He was selected to ten Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1979. And Uninus still holds to this day a passing record that many people consider to be akin to the 56-game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio, a record that will never be broken, and that is Johnny Uninus threw at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive football games.

No one's ever come close to breaking that. Well, when he died in 2002, there was a gentleman who came here to this church who came up to me in the lobby and said, you know, he said, I went to the same church in Baltimore that Johnny Uninus used to go to. And I said, really? I said, did he come often? And the gentleman said, yeah, he was there regularly.

I saw him there all the time. And then I said, well, here's my question. Do you think that Johnny Uninus was a real believer in Jesus Christ or was he just a churchgoer?

And the gentleman said, well, you know, I don't know him well enough that I can answer that question. But, folks, this is the million dollar question, isn't it? Not just for Johnny Uninus, but for everybody. Are we really followers of Christ? Has salvation really come to our house? Have we really got the real disease? And the question, the issue is, how are we going to know? What test are we going to use on ourselves to determine this? Well, let's go back and look at our verse from a moment ago, 2 Corinthians 5, 17.

It says this. It says, if anyone is in Christ, they become a new creature. Old things pass away. Behold, all things become new. Folks, the Bible tells us that when true salvation comes into a person's life, when a person gets the real disease like Zacchaeus did, something supernatural happens inside of that person. God the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside of that person and the Holy Spirit begins to morph us into different human beings than we were. The Holy Spirit morphs a person into someone with different values and different morals and different desires and different goals. The Spirit of God morphs us into people who have different consciences and who use different language and who tell different jokes.

He morphs us into people who have a different attitude towards others and a different purpose in life. Jesus, in fact, spoke to this very process when He said in Matthew chapter 13 verse 33, He said, The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into a large amount of dough and it worked its way all through the dough. It affected every single part of the dough. You know, a number of years ago for Christmas, a friend of ours gave us a bread maker. Now, I was 40 some years old and I had never seen homemade bread ever made.

You say, what? You mean when you were growing up your mom never made homemade rolls or homemade cookies or homemade muffins or homemade anything? Listen friends, my mom when it came to cooking reminds me a lot of Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi Goldberg said her recipe for chicken soup was step one, send the butler to the store for chicken soup.

That was my mom. No, I'd never seen bread made in my whole life. And so as I watched, I was amazed how you took this little itsy bitsy bit of yeast and you put it in this huge lump of dough and that little bit of yeast goes off like an atomic weapon inside of that dough and completely changes the character of that dough. Well, listen, Jesus says that is exactly what happens to a person when the Holy Spirit comes into their life, when true salvation comes to their life. Jesus says that God injects the Holy Spirit, the supernatural yeast of God into our lives and he leavens us into completely different people. Supernaturally from the inside out. Folks, the Bible says this is an unavoidable process and the Bible also says this is a predictable process.

You say, what do you mean by that? What I mean, it's predictable in that the Holy Spirit brings the same changes into every single believer's life. And there are five of these the Bible tells us about, five of these changes, five of these marks, five of these indicators, if you will, of true salvation. And this is how we can tell whether Johnny Unitus got the real disease. This is how we can tell whether we got the real disease. Do we have these five marks of true salvation flowing out of the inner depths of our life? That's how you can tell. So I'm going to tell you what these five marks of true salvation are and I want you as we go through this to be honest and grade yourself. All right, evaluate yourself.

Do I really have these? Here we go. Number one. Mark number one of true salvation is a love for the written Word of God. Psalm 117 verse 97 says, oh, how I love your law.

It is my meditation all day long. David says later in that same Psalm 119 verse 127, I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold. You know, folks, before we're truly saved, the Bible is a dry book. The Bible is a boring book.

Even when we try to read it, it doesn't make any sense and it is sheer drudgery. Ah, but after we really come to Christ and after the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our life and he begins illuminating our heart and our mind, suddenly when we read the Word of God, we love to read the Word of God. We love to study the Word of God. We get chills up and down our backbone sometime from reading the Word of God. That is mark number one, indicator number one that you've got the real disease of salvation.

Number two. Mark number two is a love for God's people, for other true believers. John said this, 1 John 3.14, he said, By this we know that we have passed out of death and in the life.

How, John? Because we love the brethren. That is our fellow believers in Jesus Christ. When I think of this, I think of the Apostle Paul. Acts chapter 9 verse 1. The Bible says, Meanwhile, Paul, as a rabbi, was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. Do you remember Paul headed off to Damascus in Acts chapter 9 to arrest the disciples of the Lord, to put him in jail. But then on the road to Damascus, Paul got the real disease. He met the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now watch what happens. Verse 19, Acts 9. Afterwards, Paul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus, the very people he was trying to go arrest. Acts chapter 9 verse 26, And when Paul arrived back in Jerusalem, he tried to join up with the rabbis.

No, he tried to join up with the disciples. Look at this. Isn't this interesting? The Apostle Paul goes from murderous threats to brotherly affection for God's people almost overnight. And why? Why this change?

Because true salvation had come to the Apostle Paul's house. That's why. You know, I remember when I first came to the Washington area in 1971. I was 22. I'll save you the trouble. I'm 61. Now pay attention.

All right. Now look. And I was living in South Arlington and there was a church nearby. I was only a believer at that point for about four months in my life. And remember, before I was a believer, I used to smuggle dope in from Europe, sell dope on the streets of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Almost got arrested and sent to federal penitentiary. I mean, when policemen went east, I went west. When they went north, I went south. Me and police did not mix. You understand?

Okay. So I show up. I walk up to this church.

First time I've ever been there. Walk in the parking lot. And here sitting in the parking lot is a police cruiser from Arlington County. And it's empty because obviously the police person is inside the church. I stopped right there in the parking lot and said, you know what, I think I'm going to find someplace else to go this morning. I'm not going in there with a cop in there. Are you kidding me? Me and cops?

No. And the Lord Jesus right there hit me upside the head and said, what is wrong with you if that policeman is in there? He's a brother. She's a sister in Christ. You get your parts into that church and more than that, you find that police person and you introduce yourself to them. I'm like, you have got to be kidding me. And the Lord was like, no, I'm not.

You get your parts in there. So I did. And I found John Baber and introduced myself to him and his wife Sharon. And Johnny Baber, who's now an elder here at McLean Bible Church, and I have been fast friends for 40 years, my friends.

And let me tell you what I learned. What I learned is the only place a cop and a drug dealer can get along is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Ex-drug dealer, ex-drug dealer, ex-drug dealer, thank you very much, is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen, when you come to Christ, suddenly you don't enjoy being around people of the world. You enjoy being around people of God.

That's one of the great marks that you've really come to Christ. Number three, one of the marks of true salvation, number three, is a deep desire to obey God. And what did Zacchaeus do?

He said, I'm going to give half of my possessions, half of my wealth to the poor. Well, folks, nobody under God's green earth in Jericho could have ever imagined Zacchaeus doing something like this. But you see, when we get truly saved, a new king takes over the throne of our life, and suddenly wanting to please that king and wanting to obey that king becomes the controlling obsession of our life. This is mark number three. This is indicator number three that we have truly come to Christ.

Mark number four is a dedication to making things right with people that we have wronged. Zacchaeus did this. Luke 19, verse 8, he said, If, or better, since I have cheated people, I will give them back four times as much as I took.

Now, folks, think for a minute. How did Zacchaeus get all the wealth that he had? He got it all by stealing it from people. So if he's going to give it all back plus four times over, Zacchaeus is going to go broke.

Zacchaeus is going to be bankrupt. He didn't care. He said, You know what?

I don't care about my own welfare anymore. Now that Jesus Christ lives in my life, what I really care about is going back and making things right with people that I wronged, because that's what Jesus tells me to do. And finally, number five, mark number five of true salvation is a passion to tell other people about the Lord Jesus Christ. This happened to Paul, Acts chapter 9, verse 20. The Bible says, At once, I love this, immediately Paul began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, He is the Son of God.

Amazing! Rabbi Paul for Jesus? I mean, whoever heard of such a thing? This is like vegetarians for five guys. This is like Glenn Beck for global warming. This is, this is oxymoronic.

This is ridiculous. And yet, here you got it. Friends, how do we explain this incredible change in the life of Rabbi Paul?

It's real simple. Rabbi Paul had met the living risen Jesus. That's how we explain it.

And Zacchaeus, the same thing happened to him. He stood up that night in front of everybody at dinner, and without hesitation or without reservation, he declared that Jesus Christ had changed his life. This is mark number five, indicator number five of true salvation. Churchgoers come on Sunday and keep Jesus to themselves, but people with the real disease consider every day to be Sunday and try to give Jesus away to anybody who will listen.

So, let's conclude. Paul said, 2 Corinthians 13, 5, he said, Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves. And the litmus test that God gives us in the Bible to use for this is the new creature test. Number one, do I have a love for the written word of God flowing out of my inner being? Number two, do I have a love for God's people flowing out of my inner being? Number three, do I have a deep desire to obey God flowing out of my inner being? Number four, do I have a dedication for making things right with people I wronged flowing out of my inner being? Number five, do I have a passion to tell other people about Christ flowing out of my inner being? Paul said it, Galatians 6, 15, he said, Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, and I would like to add, nor good works, nor church attendance, nor saying the rosary, nor being baptized, nor being bar mitzvahed, nor keeping the Ten Commandments, nor growing up in church.

None of this, says Paul, means anything. What counts is being a new creature. And you know, this is how I knew in 1971 that I'd really come to Christ, that I had the real disease. I mean, I saw these five changes begin happening inside of me, and it wasn't because I'd been to seminary. I hadn't. It wasn't because I'd been to Bible college.

I hadn't. It was because the Holy Spirit of God had taken up residence inside of my life. And I would walk down the streets of Chapel Hill, and all my arrogant little college buddy friends would say to me, You know, this isn't the Bible, and the Bible's not this, and this, and give me all these, you know, all these contradictions so-called in Christianity. I couldn't answer all those things at that point.

I can now. But I was brand new in the faith. I couldn't explain all these little things they were throwing at me, but let me tell you something. I knew that I knew that I knew that I was a new creature in Jesus Christ, and none of all that nonsense they were throwing at me made any difference.

I saw the five marks of salvation coming out of my inner being, and I knew I was in Jesus Christ. You say, but Lon, look, sometimes even as new creatures we let the Lord down, right? Sometimes even as new creatures we fail the Lord, right? Absolutely. You say, well, sometimes we disobey God, and sometimes we fail to share our faith when we should, and sometimes we fail to apologize to people we've wronged as quickly as we should, right?

Yes. But listen, folks, when a new creature lets God down, and we do, the thing that marks that person as a new creature is that there is a sadness they feel way down deep, a contrition of heart that they feel way down deep that drives them to the Lord to make it right and drives them to go out to other people and make it right. This is also a mark of a true believer. They've got a conscience that is incredibly sensitive to letting the Lord down. So let me close today by saying that I wish that the number of new creatures in America equaled the number of churchgoers in America, but it ain't so. More close to home, I wish the number of new creatures in McLean Bible Church equaled the number of people who attend McLean Bible Church, but it just ain't so. And some of us here today passed this test, and we walk out of here and say, Thank you, Lord Jesus, I'm not what I used to be.

I may not be everything I want to be, but Jesus, thank you, I'm not what I used to be. Some of us in here failed the test today. We don't have these things in our life.

Folks, you might have walked an aisle, you might have prayed a prayer, you might have raised your hand, you might have stood in a church, you might have come down front, but listen, if these five marks of true salvation are not flowing out of your inner being, there is something wrong. And we want to help you with that. We want to help you get it right.

And that's why we have Christianity 101. We're starting a special session just for you tomorrow night, Monday night. And if you'll have the courage to come in and say, I think something's wrong, we'll help you figure out what it is and fix it. You say, Well, I can't be there tomorrow night, I've already got plans. It's okay, it's okay. You know what? We're going to tape it because I know this is short notice.

And if you go out there and sign up and say, I can't be there tomorrow night, we'll send you a DVD so by the time the second class meets, you've seen class number one. I'm not letting you out that easy. Forget it. Forget it.

No, no. Listen, if you don't have these five marks of salvation in your life, I beg of you, I beg of you, you go out there and sign up for Christianity 101. And if you're at Loudoun, you go down front and see Greg Bantle. And if you're at Prince William, you go out into the lobby and you see Mark Davis. And they'll help you. And if you need to talk to somebody today at all of our campuses, we have people with badges on that say, Got questions?

With a big question mark. And they're able to talk to you right today. But friends, if you really know Christ, you can pass this test. You may not be perfect, but you can pass this test.

And if you can't, there's something wrong and the stakes are way too high for you not to get it right. So I hope you'll do that. And the next time we give this test, you'll be able to say, Praise God. I couldn't pass it last time, but by the grace of God, I can pass it today. That's our goal.

Let us help you. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, thank you that when we come to Christ, we become new creatures.

Wow. How great that is. And thank you, Lord Jesus, that that new creature process looks the same in its basics for every single one of your children. So it gives us a test.

It gives us a barometer that we can use. And we've used it today. And Father, I pray for those of us who are able to pass that test, that we would walk out of here today just praising the mercy and the grace of God for giving us new creature status even though we never, ever could have deserved it. And Lord, for those who couldn't pass the test, give them the courage to go out, sign up for Christianity 101, and let's help fix whatever is wrong so that next time we take this test, they can pass it. Lord, thanks for speaking to us today. Change our lives because we were here today and sat under the teaching of the Word of God. And we pray these things in Jesus' name.

What do God's people say? Amen? Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 00:01:18 / 2023-06-10 00:13:20 / 12

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