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The Downfall of the Soul (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
October 18, 2022 6:00 am

The Downfall of the Soul (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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October 18, 2022 6:00 am

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The Lord is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked.

That is our theology. Meekness as Christians does not mean weakness. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Meekness means you are strong enough to withhold your strength when it needs to be withheld. That's the definition of meekness. Of course, we get it from Christ when we exercise it. His mercy is strength held in reserve.

Today, Pastor Rick concludes his study called The Downfall of the Soul. He'll begin in Luke chapter 13 today. When I took a book like Nahum or any of the other books of the Bible that are relatively obscure, arcane, I hold their attention because I would teach them what these things were meaning. With what God has to say about sin and wrath in our Bibles, none should ignore it. If God doesn't, we should not.

Here is some Christian that will come along because they think this way, unfortunately. It's never mind what you have to make me holy, Pastor. What do you have to make me happy? What do you have for my teens?

Here's my child. Fix them. John Wesley said it this way about churchgoers in his day, and he was in the late 1700s. They came to church to enjoy religion instead of to learn how they could become holy. Well, I don't feel like as I pastor this church, I have this issue, but I know it exists.

I know firsthand that it exists. I know that there are other churches that are this way, and I don't say this to condemn them. It's not necessary.

But pointing it out has value. That kind of thinking is not taking Christianity seriously. When you come to God's house only for yourself and not for him, something's not right.

I mean, again, we have our seasons. Sanctification, that is the development of the Christian. I mean, there are two elements to sanctification. There's when you are justified and your sin is taken away, you are set aside by God, you are sanctified, you become a saint. When Paul wrote to the saints, they were all living, to the saints at Ephesus, to the saints at Colosse, to the saints at Rome. They were not voted on. They were those who had come to Jesus Christ.

They were separated. They were sanctified. But the second phase of sanctification is the development of the Christian walk. Ephesians chapter 4 verse 17 gets right into this. It takes work to develop as a Christian. It takes work to face the flesh, the sinful nature that you're born with.

And it takes constant work. It is by the sweat of your brow that you will enter into heaven to hear the Lord say, well done. John the Baptist, well Jesus said, and the righteous are pressing in.

We are pressing in. It is work. And if you think Christianity is not work, you haven't tried it. The cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the power of God. We all know that as believers. Unbelievers don't know this. And if they do, why are they still unbelievers? Because they don't believe it. Why do they not believe it?

Well that is a million dollar question. God's message to forgive or to damn is wrapped up in his mercy. No question about it. Mercy does not mean that the recipient has gotten away with their sin. It's the opposite. Mercy means you've been busted.

You have been caught. And strength is being withheld. Judgment is being held back. God's mercy is lightning fast.

When he shows it, it is instant. His condemnation though, it plods along very slowly. And this is why Nineveh was getting away with murder. For the seasons that belong to them before their judgment. I want to say that again because it is critical to understanding the heart of God in a cursed world.

A critical element. God's mercy is lightning fast. When you repent, your salvation is instant.

But for those who have not repented, the condemnation comes slowly. Luke's gospel, this is illustrated in the 13th chapter in verse 6. He also spoke of this parable. Jesus is now giving this parable. And a parable is a parallel. It is a great truth in the story that runs right next to life. And he says, a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down. Why does it use up the ground? That's me. That's what I would say. Cut that thing down. It's wasting time.

I put something better there. Here comes the reply. But he answered and said to him, sir, let it alone this year also until I dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit well, but if not, after that you can cut it down. You see the slow response to judgment, the keeper of the vineyard. Let's not rush to cut it down.

Let's give it a chance. For the hard-hearted, whatever mercy they may receive is temporary. Why? Why is it temporary? Well, it's only temporary if they don't come to God.

But why still? Space to repent. God is giving them time. He does this even with those who are in the church that are abhorrent. And there are churches where people are abhorrent by reason of their occult practices, by reason of their disregard for scripture in Christ. Revelation 2.21, to the church at Thyatira, this is precisely what we're taught. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality and she did not repent. There again is the sluggish movement of God towards judgment, the delay.

See, that's what our text is. Nehem chapter 1 verse 3. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked. That is our theology. Meekness as Christians does not mean weakness. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Meekness means you are strong enough to withhold your strength when it needs to be withheld. That's the definition of meekness.

Of course, we get it from Christ when we exercise it. His mercy is strength held in reserve. You say to somebody, I'll play a game of basketball with you, but I'm going to be merciful. I'm going to tie one hand behind my back. I do that to NBA players to get them stronger at their game. God can forgive, but He never ignores.

He never misses anything. For one lifetime, God is ready to forgive. Again, some people think they're so rotten, God can't forgive them.

What happens then? Well, that's up to us to cut through that stuff, to try to find a way to cut through it. Sometimes God can't use us on a particular person.

It's for somebody else. Relationships, that's how they are sometimes. Maybe you can't do that. Maybe you can't preach to a family member.

There's too much history, too much baggage there. Don't think that that is your objective in life, to overcome that situation with that person. Start praying that God would send somebody else who will slap them upside their head a few times on your behalf, too. When mercy is loved, it is because the soul is in harmony with God. When we love mercy, not only receiving it, it's so easy to love to receive mercy.

Thank you, thank you very much. What about being the one that is thanked? What about the one that says, I'm not ignoring the wrong, I'm forgiving it? To forgive is to pay. You have to pay to forgive.

It costs something. Especially, I mean, when you forgive a debt, you've lost the money, if it's a debt of money. If it is a debt of feelings, which is harder to forgive once your feelings have been hurt. Oh, brother, once there have been tears, you've heard me say this so many times from the pulpit, I've never come across it so much in my life until I became a pastor amongst Christians, who once they get their feelings hurt, you're done.

Not all of them. There are some champions that have had their feelings hurt and have overcome it and they are strong and it is a blessing and it's humbling and it's challenging because it makes you say, I want to be like that, too. But my feelings are hurt. But I don't give anybody a reason to hurt my feelings.

You don't have to give somebody a reason to hurt your feelings. The curse of sin is on the earth and it hunts all of us. But we are not defenseless. As I said, mercy. When mercy is loved by an individual, it is because the soul is in harmony with the compassion of God because the soul knows God. And this is the parable in Matthew 18, where Jesus forgave the debt and then found out that that person who was forgiven this huge debt grabbed somebody who owed him a tiny debt by the throat.

And we are to pay attention to these lessons. Blessed are they merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. If you do not forgive, your Heavenly Father will not forgive you. That is a soul's death sentence. That is the downfall of the soul. To refuse mercy. To refuse to show mercy. Now, there are times where there's no more mercy, thus the vision of Nahum, the Elkeishite, the burden against Nineveh. There was no more mercy coming their way. Now it was judgment. Mercy comes or concerns itself, I should say. Mercy concerns itself with past events and grace concerns itself with future events.

I forgive what was done, but going forward, let's do this. And there's some gift, there's some kindness. The Hebrew word used most frequently in the Old Testament for mercy is really a great word. It has in it the idea of stooping down, of bending, of lowering yourself to serve. There is an activity of love created in that word. You know, when I talk to the little children that come out, I try to stoop down a little bit so they're not looking up in awe at me, as you all should be. I like to get down a little bit closer to them, make them feel a little bit more comfortable. It seems to have worked over the years.

I haven't received any monetary gifts from it yet, but there's time. Anyway, this is God. Hosea talks about this. But then comes Christianity. That is the Christ that I spoke about, still pointing to the truths in the book of Nahum. But then comes Christianity. Acts chapter 1, verse 1. Of all that Jesus both began to do and to teach.

That's us. That's the book of Acts. Of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.

It has a dual meaning to it. There are those things that he did, that he continued to do with the church. Then there are the things that he has done to continue the church, to fill it with his spirit. Christianity is Christ, and he was ever ready at all times to tell the truth about God so men could be free, and we are to do the same thing. We are to be ever ready to do this. If you think being ever ready is just willing to do it, wanting to do it, then you like the idea of discipleship without entering into the idea, the ideal of discipleship. And that's hard work, to be ready. I mean, imagine, imagine going to war and, oh, I'm going to load my gun once the shooting starts.

You're not going to last. You've got to go in ready. You have to go in trained. You have to know the word of God well enough to default to your training and not your feelings.

And if you can do that, you're going to be more effective. If you just know the Lord. God is not calling us to be theologians. He's calling us to be witnesses. But we have to know what we've seen, and we have to know what we're looking at.

And we have to be able to some degree to at least share that much. That's what saves souls, and it does it so often without people even knowing it. Some of you have led some people to Christ, and you don't even know that's exactly what's happening maybe.

Maybe you do know full well. The Church of God is the instrument in the world that reveals God, because the world will never stumble into truth concerning God without the Church. Whenever this attitude of God towards cities or men is applied, there are results. Jesus said, you know, sometimes though you need to knock the dust off your shoes and move on.

Stop wasting your time there. Stop casting pearl before swine, and you need to be led to fields that you can sow seeds and have fruit. This is the attitude of the Church. The Church is never aloof when it comes to the souls of individuals. Never do we distance ourselves. This was the problem of ancient Israel, the problem with Judah, the problem with Jonah.

They distanced themselves from those who were in need of what they had to say. That's why God went and fetched Jonah from the fish. But the Church will not be dictated to, nor should the Christian be dictated to when it comes to what we believe out of the Scripture. Every day is Resurrection Sunday for the Christian. We don't have to wait until after the first full moon. Well, the Sunday after the first full moon that, you know, the Passover falls on a full moon. And Christ was crucified at the Passover. And that Sunday that he rose again was the first Sunday after the full moon.

So today is an accurate, there was a full moon this morning, last night. And today here we are recognizing the resurrection of Christ, which should get more of an emphasis, far more of an emphasis than Christmas. And I don't know why, I don't know why the Church is oftentimes missing this, but again, every day is Resurrection Sunday for the Christian. And true Christianity does not disguise itself. Christianity has nothing to conceal.

Everything to reveal as God leads, as God guides. Christianity never makes room for other religions to operate within Christianity. We have no chamber for things that are wrong about God.

Well, you know, bring a little bit of it and we'll sell you a book or we'll let you teach that. We don't do that. Christianity does not leave room for Christians who disagree with Christ. You disagree with Christ? There's a big problem here now. Are you claiming to be a Christian?

How can you do that? You said he is Lord. Or are you one of those that says, Lord, Lord, have we not?

And then he says, get away from me, I never knew you. Boy, that's terrifying. That will be terrifying until I get into heaven. Reading that verse, I'm skipping that. If I cut it out of my Bible, I don't like it. Christianity declares that other gods are not gods.

They are not divine. This is how we make enemies. This is how we become persecuted. Well, it's worth it because of the value of the soul.

Because the downfall of the soul is too tragic to be ignored. Christianity is not friendly to impersonations from hell. That's what's meant when I said that it declares other gods are false. Paul said this to the Corinthians. He says, rather the things which the Gentiles sacrificed, they sacrificed to demons and not to God.

And I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. He's getting this, of course, from the Old Testament because the Old Testament is just as relevant as the New. And as Christians, we are not to endorse ideas that disagree with the Scripture. This is one of the problems with so many books that come out that use Scripture but really are not in harmony with the Scriptures that they are using. They're just cherry picking the verses and if you're not, if you don't know what the real thing is, you're not going to be able to identify the counterfeit. The downfall of the soul is the worst thing that can befall a human being.

There's nothing worse than to be rejected by God in the end. This is not picking on those who contradict the Bible. They are picking on the Bible.

Let's keep this balanced here. If I want to uphold the Scripture, I'm not picking on other people. If I want to point out that praying to Mary is a sin, I'm not picking on anybody. Line up with the Scripture then. But don't inject something into the Scripture that's not there and call it God-given and expect me to be a mute on the subject. Titus chapter 1 verse 9, Paul said to Pastor Titus, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convict those who contradict. Oh, sorry, that verse expired.

Did not. None of them do. Christians don't want their sin to be dominant in their lives. Unfortunately, sin wants to dominate. Sin wants to take over. We understand that.

The fallen nature is rambunctious. We get it. We understand it. We need to be able to understand that when we're dealing with other Christians, too.

Otherwise, we become legalists. It's okay to learn the balance of grace. It's okay to exhibit grace.

It's okay to not be insecure in your Christian walk. But the greater part of it all is the Spirit of God in us. Jesus wants me nonetheless as he wanted Nineveh, as he wanted Jerusalem, as he reached out to Nineveh, as he reached out to Jerusalem, he reaches out to us. So Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.

But you were not willing. Where's the world going to hear that verse? Where are they going to get that?

Hollyweird? Where is that going to come from? This is justification when we come to Christ on his terms. Justification does not mean that God makes us righteous. Justification means that God has declared us righteous because of what Jesus has done. And if a Christian could live as they liked, we would live just like Jesus.

There'd be no difference if we had a choice. I would live as I ought. I would always be holy. That's what I would do if I could get rid of this old man, the sinful nature. The greatest happiness of a Christian is to be holy, is to be right with God, is to not have darkness within us.

But the fight goes on, and in the midst of that fight, we are to prevail. Jesus makes possible what God requires, and God requires holiness. And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unholiness, all sin.

Sin is unholiness through the removal of the curse and the cross. It is finished. It is done.

That's what he said. Now you've got to come and get it. The downfall of the soul is avoidable, and that's the message of Nahum. And so when you think about sharing the faith with people, you think about, hey, let me tell you about this book of Nahum. It is the wrath of God on sinners. Why? Why is it a whole book, The Burden Against Nineveh? Why is that? Is it because you think God is just this God of wrath? He's petty? You think he's just picked out who he likes and he's damning everybody else?

Where did you get this stuff from? Because you didn't get it from the Bible. What you get from the Bible is I have loved you with an everlasting love. God is not willing that any should perish. That's what you get from the scripture. And so you get an opportunity to open that up and say, here's why there is such a book of judgment on the Ninevites, and why it will be such a book of judgment on you.

And you will have no one to blame. No one to blame but yourself when faced with the truth. I mean, anti-Christian sentiment in this country is probably the highest it's ever been in this country.

Why? Where is it coming from? What's the church's response? The church's response is not, oh, come to my church.

The church's response is to preach the truth about Jesus Christ and let him take it from there. And so may we neither understate or overstate the wrath of God. Grace is balance. Balance according to God.

And it's not that difficult to do. We are to tell it as we have it. Well, how do we have it? This text. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked. Who are the wicked? We are to define these things for them. We are to show them where the light is, and it's going to take work. Laziness is not a virtue.

It is a liability. And I know you've got life. You have many of you.

You have children at home still, little children at home. You've got so much to do. You say, well, how can I do more in the Word?

Well, there are bookworms and there are tapeworms. So you can get yourself a tape or CDs now or listen online, but you can get the Word of God. But make sure as you get the Word of God that you digest it too. Don't just put layer atop of layer. Listen to sermon atop of sermon. You won't listen. You know, if you read a lot, you forget where you read.

Where did I get that from? If you read too much, you lose it all. It's all over the place. Unless you take notes and you can track it down. And incidentally, those of you who take notes, the youth here especially, ask the older Christians, what's their problem? Why don't they take notes? No, I'm kidding. Do you ever go back and look at the notes?

What's the purpose of taking them? If you don't go back and look at them. You see, that takes time.

It means you have to sacrifice time doing something else that you want to do something you need to do because that's what you want more. Thanks for tuning in to Cross Reference Radio for this study in God's Word. If you've missed any part of this message or would like to explore more teachings, you can hear them by going to crossreferenceradio.com.

Pastor Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. To learn more about this ministry, visit our website, crossreferenceradio.com. Again, that website is crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to our podcast. By doing so, you'll be notified of each new edition of Cross Reference Radio that we upload. It's a great way to stay connected to God's Word. Just search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. That's all for today. Thanks for joining us here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-02 12:21:53 / 2022-12-02 12:31:35 / 10

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