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The Way of Humility

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 15, 2023 12:01 am

The Way of Humility

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 15, 2023 12:01 am

In a world that elevates personal ambitions at the expense of others, Christ calls His people to a completely different way of life. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of the gospel of Luke by expounding on our responsibility to pursue God's glory in humble faithfulness.

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Coming up next on the Lord's Day edition of Renewing Your Mind. The Reformers had an adage that said, we're to live our lives, quorum Deo, before the face of God, under His authority and to His glory, not bound to this world and to the ambitions that define our earthly estate.

It is so easy to live for ourselves, to pursue our own desires, to promote ourselves, and to seek an advantage over others. But God calls us to something completely different. Today on Renewing Your Mind, R.C. Sproul takes us to the fourteenth chapter of the gospel of Luke and a parable of Jesus. We will learn just how countercultural Christianity is, and everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Well, let's continue this morning with our study of the gospel according to Saint Luke, and this is another watershed moment for us.

We're going to begin a new chapter, chapter 14. I'll be reading from verse 1 through verse 14, and I'd ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now it happened as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath that they watched Him closely. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy, and Jesus answering spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees saying, "'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?' But they kept silent, and He took Him and healed Him, and let Him go. And then He answered them, saying, "'Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull Him out on the Sabbath day?'

And they could not answer Him regarding these things." So He told a parable to those who were invited when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them, "'When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him, and he who invited you and him come and say to you, "'Give place to this man,' and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may say to you, "'Friend, go up higher,' and then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.' Then he also said to him who invited him, "'When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.'"

Again, what you have just heard is not the insight of an ancient thinker, but rather the veritable Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit carrying the full measure of God's truth and His authority. Please receive it as such and be seated. 54 years married to this woman this week, and she doesn't miss a thing, huh? Got a wonderful anniversary card that said that marriage is like playing bridge. All you need to get started are two hearts and one diamond.

But after a while, as things progress, you need two clubs and one spade. Let's pray, shall we? Our Father and our God, Your Word comes to us from Your lips for our souls. And we pray, as we consider this episode in the life of Jesus, that we may be instructed by it to the end, that we may make the chief business of our lives the desire to imitate Him in His holiness and in His righteousness. For we ask it in His name.

Amen. What we've heard this morning is the third episode given to us in the book of Luke of encounters that Jesus had with the Pharisees with respect to the issue of healing people on the Sabbath day. And it seems like there's no end to this dispute in the New Testament as the Pharisees pounced upon this one activity of Jesus as, in their view, the most sacrilegious and blasphemous thing that He did during His earthly ministry. Remember, these are Pharisees. They were so named, because in the intertestamental period, they saw the moral decline of their own nation, people moving away from a desire to obey the law of God. And so they called themselves the set-apart ones, because they were uniquely devoted to keeping every law that came from God in the Old Testament. And some of them were convinced that if they for one day kept the law perfectly, that that would induce God to send the long-awaited Messiah.

And here's the irony. That Messiah is standing before them, and these men who had dedicated themselves to the pursuit of righteousness had degenerated into a group of hypocrites. They were involved in a parade and in a charade. Their joy was to parade their righteousness and their holiness, not before God, but before the eyes of men. What they lusted for was the applause of human beings. And so they paraded their righteousness before the eyes of the people. But as I said, their parade was a charade. It was an exercise in hypocrisy. It was a pretense as their righteousness was not genuine.

And nothing exposes the counterfeit like the genuine. And when Christ came in their midst, they couldn't stand Him. And their overwhelming desire was to get rid of Him, if necessary, by execution. And here it happens again, where they invite Him to dinner, this time again on the Sabbath.

And Jesus come knowing full well that it's a trap. They haven't invited Him out of kindness or friendliness, or in a sense to honor Him, but rather to catch Him in another violation of the Sabbath. We're told that they watched Him closely. Every eye was on Him. What's He going to say?

What's He going to do? And Luke tells us that there was a certain man who was already there who had dropsy. Our best guess is that this man who suffered from acute edema, possibly manifesting a serious illness involving the heart or the kidneys or the liver, was a plant. The Pharisees went out and found somebody that they could put in the midst of this put in the midst of this feast to see if Jesus would do it again, like He had done on at least two other occasions on the Sabbath day. And so before Jesus did anything, He asked His hosts a question, speaking to those who were assembled there, including the scribes and the Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?

He put His petition before the court, before He acted, and asked them to give a judgment. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? Well, in fact, it was, according to Jewish law. There were exceptions to the prohibition against work.

Those exceptions involved emergency situations when human beings or animals were in severe distress. Now there was one sect among the Jews, the Essenes, who were even more narrow and scrupulous than the run-of-the-mill Pharisees. We know from the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran that the Essenes had a prohibition that you couldn't assist one of your animals, your livestock, in giving birth to their young if it was the Sabbath day. And if it was the Sabbath day, and one of your animals gave birth to its young, and the newborn animal fell into a pit, you couldn't rescue it on the Sabbath day. But that narrow view was not the traditional view of the Pharisees, and Jesus knew that.

And so He asked the question, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? And what did they say? Some said yes, some said no, yes, no, maybe no. They said nothing. The room was silent. They didn't know what to say to Jesus. So they kept their mouth shut. And so He took the man and healed him and let him go. And then He again directed His attention to the Pharisees and said, Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day? This is the same argument that He used on a previous occasion. And again, they couldn't answer Him regarding these things.

They haven't even started eating yet. And so Jesus punctuates His action by giving a parable. Let's look carefully at this parable. He told a parable to those who were invited when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them, When you were invited to anyone for a wedding feast, don't sit down at the best place. Lest someone more honorable than you be invited. And he who invited you and him come and say to you, Give place to this man. And then you begin with shame to go to the lowest place.

You can see it. The wedding feast was a memorable time. There were places set for those who came and who were holding high offices.

And it was similar to this very feast that the Pharisees had invited Jesus, where He healed the man. On a normal dinner party like that, the host would have three U-shaped couches, and people would recline to eat their meal. And the tables were established with priorities. Table number one was for the highest honored guest, table number two for the next group, table number three for the group after that. And the person who was in the highest honor sat at the bottom of the U. And then those that is left and that is right were also in this pecking order of honor.

Now there weren't any reserved signs or name signs placed at each table. It was open seating as it were. But everybody was supposed to know their place. And when the person who was the host who sat at the highest place sat down, he expected that the two seats beside him would be occupied by the most highly honored guests. But Jesus was watching what was going on here, and there was this mad scramble among the invited guests to try and sit next to the host or get closer to the host. Nobody wanted to sit in seat number nine.

That was for the lowly person among the guests. Well, one of the things that I was struck by at the symphony recording this past week was that there were 46 strings. I don't know how many of them were violins, but at least 25, maybe 30. And I got to meet the concertmaster who was the number one chair violinist, and he was playing a $250,000 violin. That's a good violin, by the way. But I watched him and listened to him.

His music was impeccable. And his concertmaster, he worked along with the conductor to hear notes that nobody else in the room heard that were not exactly what they were supposed to be. And I talked to him at one of the breaks, and I said, how does that person feel who's the violinist in seat 25? What's it feel like to be relegated to such a lowly place in the orchestra? And he smiled, and he said, who's ever in that seat is thrilled to be there, to be able to be in this orchestra at all. And then I thought about this parable, and I thought, what would happen on one day when it's time to record that the man who was assigned seat 25 came and sat down in the number one chair?

How long do you think you'd stay there? Until the concertmaster would come in and say, excuse me, you're in the wrong chair. And you see the man then sheepishly slink off going back to the back of the room sitting in seat 25.

Jesus says, don't be foolish. Don't be hustling and rushing and pushing to find yourself in the most honored position. Because when the host comes you will be ashamed when you are escorted to the back of the room. Rather, he says, when you come in, sit in the most lowly place, and then the host will come to you and say, my friend, don't demean yourself like this. I have a higher place for you.

Come on, forward. I have a place for you at seat number four. And then, before the watching group, you will receive honor and glory. And then Jesus gave the maxim that those who exalt themselves will be humbled. And those who humble themselves will be exalted.

And then He goes on with the prayer. He said, look, if you're going to give a feast, don't be like everybody else where you only invite the rich and the famous or your friends or your business associates expecting that as a consequence of your generous feast that you give, you'll be repaid and honored by those who are in attendance because they will reciprocate in like manner. But rather, instead, invite the poor, the maimed, the shunned, the lowly, the amarets, the people of the earth, bring them, those who cannot repay you.

And your repayment will be great in heaven because what those people will not be able to do for you, those people will not be able to do for you, My Father will do for you. Now what's this all about? What this is about is something basic to our humanity, an ungodly ambition and quest for recognition and honor and glory in this world. And Jesus is saying your gaze is in the wrong place.

Your gaze is fixed on this terrestrial plane. You need to lift up your eyes unto heaven. The Reformers had an adage that said we're to live our lives, quorum Deo, before the face of God, that everything we do should be done before God, under His authority, and to His glory, not bound to this world and to the ambitions that define our earthly state. I'd like to move briefly to another passage that was written by the Apostle Paul, a passage that has had a deep impact on my life. Working as a professional theologian for most of my life, I've had my share of theological debates and controversies. Several years ago, I was involved in one of the most painful theological controversies, painful theological controversies of my life, where there was an issue at stake that was so weighty and so severe that I felt constrained to stand in opposition to some of my closest friends and comrades in the faith.

I have to confess to you that was one of the most painful experiences of my life. But the issue was about the gospel, an issue over which we can't possibly compromise for the sake of relationships. The Bible teaches us as much as possible to live at peace with all men. We are not to be quarrelsome. We're not to be contentious. We're not supposed to be fighting over the falling of a leaf.

But at the same time, there are times when a line has to be drawn where you simply cannot tolerate the intolerable. That's what happened in the sixteenth century. That's what happened at the Diet of Worms when Luther said, Revoco? You want me to say, Revoco? I can't.

I can't do that. If a floodgate of iniquity is opened, so be it. But I have to tell you, I was in agony over this particular issue, and I went into this church, and I was by myself. I had my Bible. And I opened it up to Galatians chapter 1, beginning at verse 6, where the Apostle Paul writing to the Galatians wrote these words, I marvel that you're turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel. Paul's expressing apostolic astonishment that some of these Christians who have embraced that gospel by which they were redeemed had moved away from it so quickly to what he said was a different gospel.

But then he corrects himself, as it were, and he says, which is not another. As the Apostle understood, there was only one gospel. There are not two gospels. And yet there are some who trouble you and want you to pervert the gospel of Christ. And then he said this, But even we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

The Greek anatema, the literal translation, let him be anathema, cursed of God. Anyone who preaches any perversion of the gospel, even if it's an angel from heaven, let him be accursed. If an angel walks in the door and tells you a different gospel from what I've preached to you, you're to take him by the seat of his celestial pants and kick him out of the church under the anathema of God.

So, as we said before, let me say it again. If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Now, I have to tell you that before I went into the church that day, I had read that passage a hundred times. And I knew that the Apostle Paul had told us that we're not to negotiate or compromise or do anything. And I knew that the Apostle Paul had to negotiate or compromise or exchange the gospel in any way whatsoever, and that if any would seek to pervert that gospel, they were under the judgment of God.

I knew that. I knew what happened in the sixteenth century at the Council of Trent, where the Protestant doctrine and understanding of justification by faith alone was subjected to the denunciation of Rome with a series of canons at the sixth session of the Council of Trent, where it says, if anyone says, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, let him be anathema. And that the Reformed doctrine of justification had been cursed by Rome in the sixteenth century. And I knew that the Roman understanding of the gospel and the Reformed understanding of the gospel were two different ones.

They couldn't both be right. One's gospel, the other one isn't. And I knew what the pressure would be to soften that difference and negotiate that article upon which the church stands or falls. And so I kept coming back to Galatians if anyone, even an angel from heaven, even if it's your best friend, even if it's your co-laborer, preaches a different gospel. You can't.

You can't negotiate that, no matter what. But you know, all those times that I read that passage and that conjunction with that, I stopped at the end of verse 9 and didn't go on to verse 10. But that day in that church, I read verse 10, for do I now persuade men or God?

That's the option. Am I trying to persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be the bondservant of Christ. Now Paul's not saying that we should be as displeasing to human beings as we possibly can. Nor was Jesus saying that it's always wrong to have a dinner party where you just bring your friends in. He doesn't say that. But Jesus was talking about the sin of being a man-pleaser, where there are those moments in our life that every Christian has to face from time to time where you're faced with that dilemma.

Do I please these people, or do I please God? The Bible is a history of what happens to people who've made that choice and who've decided to please God rather than men. And it's a bloody history. It's not a pleasant thing to lose friends. It's not a pleasant thing to lose friends. It's not a pleasant thing to lose thing, to have your reputation tarnished because you wouldn't play ball. But with respect to the gospel, it's never, ever, ever a game.

It's a commitment where eternity hangs in the balance. And it's better to lose a thousand friends. It's better to lose a thousand relatives than to lose the gospel. Because if you seek to please men rather than God, it might get you into the most honored seat in the house until He comes and said, Please move. Go to the back of the house for those who have kept the faith, who have honored Me and have sought more than anything else to please Me, rather than the applause of this world.

Come up here and sit in my Father's house. Who do you want to please, the world or the Lord of the world? I don't know about you, but I found that message convicting.

It is so easy to prioritize the things of this world. You're listening to the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, and I'm glad you could be with us today. Each Lord's Day we return to Dr. Sproul's series from the Gospel of Luke, and today we heard a great challenge from Jesus out of chapter 14. Over the coming months, we will finish the entire book, so let me recommend that you take advantage of our resource offer today.

Contact us with a donation of any amount, and we will provide you with a digital download of R.C. 's commentary on this Gospel. You'll find helpful notes and explanations for each verse.

I think it will be a great help to you in your study of Luke. To receive it, just contact us today with your donation of any amount at If you're new to the Christian faith and want to learn more, Ligonier's app is also a great place to begin exploring. You'll find articles, videos, and an archive of past Renewing Your Mind programs.

You can download the app for free by searching for Ligonier in your app store. Renewing Your Mind is the listener-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Thank you for being with us, and I hope you'll make plans to join us again next Sunday for Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-15 08:35:44 / 2023-01-15 08:45:06 / 9

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