Is it too late?
No. No, it's not too late for you to come to Christ, because Christ receives even those who have very little time to live and have absolutely nothing to offer to him in return. This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Today, Don brings us the second half of a message called, When You're Weary with Sin, showing us how to look at our failures and shortcomings through the biblical lens of grace rather than through the lens of self-condemnation.
Go ahead and text a friend and invite them to listen along with you. Here is Don Green to continue teaching God's people God's Word on the Truth Pulpit. Let's look at a parable that Jesus taught in Luke 18. Luke 18, verse 9. He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt. Jesus said, two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself, God, I thank you that I am not like other people, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, I pay tithes of all that I get, boasting in his righteousness, boasting in his works, and doing a particularly wicked thing in comparing his righteousness to that of others and congratulating himself and commending himself to God based on a comparative human righteousness that he thought that he had. And you can see how he separates himself and classes himself, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. He viewed them with contempt, thinking that God was receiving him, boasting in himself as that which would commend him to God, and thanking God for what a great person he himself was. He spoke in this parable, Jesus sets it up and this Pharisee is contrasting himself with a tax collector. Now you got to understand and remember that tax collectors in that society were absolutely hated, they were reviled, they were cheats, they profited on their arrangement with Rome to collect taxes and Rome gave them, said you need to collect this much in taxes and then they had the freedom and authority to go beyond that to whatever they wanted to do in order to plunder the people in order to enrich themselves. And the people hated tax collectors, they would just spit at the thought of a tax collector.
Tax collectors were thugs, they were thieves, they were a degraded class in society and not only degraded and detested, but they were enriched at our expense was the view. And so if ever there was a class of people that religiously oriented people would say they were outside the grace of God, they would not be forgiven, it would be a tax collector. What was Jesus' point here?
What did Jesus teach about even a hated tax collector? Verse 13, but the tax collector standing some distance away was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but he was beating his breast saying God be merciful to me the sinner. Notice he says the sinner, he sees himself as the worst, he identifies himself and he's not comparing himself to anyone else, he acknowledges his guilt, he owns his sin in the presence of God and with such humility that he doesn't even want to look up to heaven, he just looks down and humbly says God be merciful to me, one who is unworthy of your kindness. In contrast with the Pharisee, he was not righteous in himself, he did not compare himself to others, his hope of being received by God was in divine mercy alone. Look at it again, verse 13, God be merciful to me the sinner, God you're a God of mercy, God I'm a sinner in need of mercy, I appeal to your mercy alone, I realize God, I realize that there's nothing in me that would commend myself to you, there is nothing righteous about me that would cause you based on my own merits to receive me with favor.
I know that Lord, there's nothing in me, there's no good in me whatsoever, none, God but there's mercy in you and I appeal to you, I appeal to your mercy as the grounds on which you would receive me. What did Jesus say about that kind of repentance? Look at verse 14, this just turns traditional thinking about religion and righteousness and acceptance with God utterly on its head. Verse 14, Jesus said, I tell you this man, what man? The tax collector, the humble repentant outcast, that repentant outcast went to his house justified rather than the other.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but he who humbles himself will be exalted. Jesus says he went away justified. In other words, God considered that tax collector righteous because he turned to him in faith. And it was based on that repentant faith, it was through that repentant faith that God received him, not because that tax collector had any good works of any kind to offer to him. What can we say about this as it pertains to you? Your sins are bad, they are.
Let's not pretend otherwise. You see, the Bible, the gospel, oh this is so very important for you to understand. The gospel approach to dealing with your sin is not to mitigate it or to minimize it or to say it's really not so bad, it's not so severe. That is not the scriptural testimony at all. It's not that, okay, God gives you a little wink and says, ah, come here and takes you. It says, I guess it really wasn't so bad after all.
That's not it. And if you want to be saved here today, you have to own your guilt without condition. You have to humble yourself before God and say there is no reason for you to accept me.
I have sinned against you, I have sinned in your sight. I am not worthy to be in your presence, but would you have mercy on me through the Lord Jesus Christ? Would you receive me as I look to the cross as my sole basis for acceptance? You see, that is the grounds of acceptance with God, is the one that appeals to him alone, for mercy alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, based on the cross alone. And say, I need to be saved.
I need mercy. I come not as one asking for that which is due to me, not as a worker coming for wages that he has earned. I come for a gift that I don't deserve, but I come based on your promise and of your offer of mercy in Christ.
I come on that basis alone, oh God, and ask you to receive me. Christian, do you realize that the first basis on which you came to God in the gospel is the basis on which you come to him today as well? That you still come to him, not because you've earned anything, because you've grown some spiritually since your conversion, that's not it.
Our approach, our appeal, our answer to our debt of sin is always in Christ alone as represented in this communion, elements that we'll be taking. So beloved, don't try to mitigate your sin. Own the fact that your sin is bad. Own the fact that there is evil in you, the one that wishes to do good, as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7. And say, despite that, I look past that and I look to the cross alone.
God, have mercy on me, your erring child, and receive me. And when we approach God in that way, notice what Jesus said. Look back at Luke 18 verse 14.
Look at what Jesus says, and notice that it is an absolute statement. Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, in other words, will not be received, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. If you humble yourself at the foot of the cross of Christ, you can know that Christ will receive you and own you. And even today, in light of your bad week, Christ says, come to my table, confess your sins, and I will gladly restore you.
What a merciful Savior. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy chapter 1, this is God's word. You know, we just take God at his word on these things. And we don't trust in our feelings about whether we feel worthy or not, or whether we feel like it or not.
We set all of that stuff aside. We realize that the motions of our heart are unreliable. But God's word can be trusted. We can take him at his word, and it brings clarity to our thought and our hearts and our minds. What did Paul say? He said it is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, Paul says, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate his perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life. And so what Paul is saying there is that I am the foremost of sinners. I persecuted the church of God, and yet God had mercy on me in Christ. Christ came to save sinners like me.
I'm the chief. And if he saved the chief, here's what we're supposed to draw from this. If he saved the chief, he'll save all the Indians like you and me. He'll save the lesser sinners like you and me. If he went all the way to save Paul, he'll save you too. If he showed mercy and forgave Paul, saved and had mercy on the tax collector, beloved, he'll have mercy on you too. Come to him humbly, forsaking, confessing your sins that have clung to you, and say, Lord, have mercy on me again. Rest in Christ, beloved, as you come to the table today knowing that he came for sinners just like you.
Just like you and just like me. There's a final question that should be asked and answered. We said, are your sins too many?
No, they're not. Jesus said, her sins are many, I forgive her. Are your sins too bad? Look at the tax collector and Jesus said, everyone, he who humbles himself, I'll exalt.
The one who comes to me, I'll never cast out. Do you get the sense, beloved, do you get the sense as Christ makes himself known through his word today? Do you get the sense of the grandeur of the greatness of his grace? The grandeur of the greatness of his grace that he would receive sinners who come to him, he would receive a sinner just like you and not scold you, not castigate you, not banish you to the corner, but to offer himself as the free and full complete access to God, total forgiveness, a complete and perfect righteousness credited to your account through faith in him so that you could know that you were fully reconciled to the God of the universe and he gladly owns you as his child and Christ gladly names you as a brother in Christ.
He's great. That kind of grace is great, should be magnified, should be lauded, should be trusted, should be submitted to. So your sins are not too many to keep you from coming to Christ. They're not too bad to keep you from coming to Christ.
There's a final question that I think should be asked and answered. Is it too late? Is it too late for you to come to Christ? Perhaps you're like I used to be. Perhaps you rejected Christ many times. Perhaps you have mocked him with blasphemy. And your central spiritual question is, have I committed the unpardonable sin? You've hated the people of God. You've despised being in a room like this where his word was preached. And there's just this pattern of rejection and resentment and opposition and hostility to the Lord Jesus Christ. And you ask yourself the question, is it too late for me? Perhaps you're near the end of life and there's not much time left for you. Can someone like you still come?
Well, the answer to that question is yes, you can still come. Or to state it and answer the question that I actually asked, is it too late? No, no, no, it's not too late for you to come to Christ. Because Christ receives even those men who have very little time to live and have absolutely nothing to offer to him in return. Remember, beloved, the thief on the cross. Look at Luke 23. Luke 23. If ever there was a man whom Christ should have rejected, arguably it was the thief on the cross.
If salvation had anything to do with human merits or human righteousness or doing something for Christ in order to earn it. We won't look at the parallel passage, but in other gospels it says that there were two thieves crucified with Christ, as you know. One on either side, Christ in the center. And early on in that day of the crucifixion, they were both mocking Christ.
They were insulting him and rejecting him. But one of those thieves had a turn of heart worked in him by the Spirit of God. Look at Luke 23, verses 39 and following. Actually, look at verse 38. There was an inscription above Christ saying, This is the King of the Jews. And so he had a written verbal testimony, the thief did, of who Christ was. Right there in front of him. And in verse 39, as the scene has progressed, one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Christ saying, Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us. But the other answered him. Remember, remember this is a guy that is attached to a cross. He is fixed to a stake. He soon will die. There is no turning back from death to him. He had nothing to offer to Christ.
All he had were parched lips speaking what we're about to see here. Verse 40, the other answered and rebuking him. Rebuking the other criminal said, Do you not even fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong. And he was saying, Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.
Incredible. He asked for mercy. A short time earlier, he had been joining in the abuse. But something about seeing the gracious nature of Christ even on a cross. Something about this is the King of the Jews before him. Something about the work of the Spirit in his heart. And he does a turn. He changes his perspective on Christ. And he looks and he asks for mercy. Just like the woman did.
Just like the tax collector in the temple did. Different words, same spirit of heart. Have mercy on me, Lord. Remember me. What does Jesus say? Had your chance, bub.
It's time for me to go and I don't have room, I don't have time for you. Don't you remember what you said just a few hours ago? Don't you remember what you said? And you have the goal to speak to me and to ask me to remember you when I come into my kingdom. Is that what Christ did? That's a horrible thought, isn't it? Can you imagine the broken hearted thief on the cross getting a response like that? Well, even in his own hour of extremity, how did Christ respond? Verse 43, he said to him, truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.
It's sometimes hard to press ourselves back into the historical occurrence to know what certain things must have been like. But here the thief is in his own excruciating physical agony crying out for mercy, nothing to offer Christ, and he gets this word that today, in just a little bit longer, you're going to be with me in paradise. Can you imagine the flood of joy over his soul? Can you imagine, this is temporary, the suffering is temporary, I'm going to be with him in paradise and I don't even deserve it.
He just said that. He said, we're getting what we deserve. We're condemned justly.
And what did he do? He appealed to Christ for mercy. And Christ said, yes, I'm glad to grant you mercy.
I'm glad to forgive you. In fact, I promise you that before this day is over, we'll be together in paradise. Even in impending death, even conscious of his unworthiness, it was not too late for that thief. You know what that means?
It's not too late for you either. If you're not a Christian, you can come today knowing that Christ is as willing to receive you today as he was the thief 2,000 years ago, as he was the Apostle Paul, as he was that sinful prostitute who wept over his feet. You know why we know that? It's because it's who Christ is. It's because he's gracious. It's because he's merciful. It's because he came to seek and to save the lost just like you. That if you're feeling the weight of your sin today, in this hour, in this moment, you can know that Christ will receive you if you come to him.
Praise be to his name. Now notice something about all three of these people. The prostitute, the tax collector, the thief on the cross.
Notice something about them, every one of them. They didn't try to excuse their sin or mitigate it. They simply gave themselves to Christ in humble, repentant faith.
And on that simple basis, Christ received them, forgave them, cleansed them, justified them, sanctified them, glorified them. Is that you today? Have you turned from sin like that? Do you come to the table today saying, Lord, I'm mindful of how bad I've been, but Lord, I forsake it all and I just come and ask you to receive me afresh again. You know what?
This table's for you. This is designed to remind you of the great graciousness of Christ, the grandeur of his grace in a way that would refresh you and settle your conscience and give you peace and make you love him all the more. That's why we do this. If you're not a Christian, you can receive him now. Now. Why would you wait? It's not too late.
It's also not too early. Come to Christ. But Christian, let's sum it up. Christ's blood paid the price of justice for you. He paid the penalty that your sin deserved with his blood. His righteousness, his perfect life of obedience to the Father is now credited to your account so that no one, not even Satan himself, can accuse you before the throne of God. Christ's righteousness, Christ's blood is the answer to it all on your behalf. Christian, one day, maybe soon, you will be with Christ in paradise. And so, as we come to the table, you're mindful of your sins of the past week.
Listen, you don't have to sit in the corner. You don't have to do acts of penance or count silly beads on a necklace as if repetition like that would somehow impress Christ with your sincerity. Not true.
None of it. No, you can rest in Christ. You can rejoice in Christ because he paid it all. That's worth remembering, isn't it?
That's worth rejoicing in, isn't it? Christ invites you to come to his table. That's Don Green, wrapping up our study today on The Truth Pulpit. Well, friend, if you'd like to share this message or this entire series with a friend, simply go to thetruthpulpit.com.
That's thetruthpulpit.com. And, Don, what would you say to the person listening who just can't seem to scrape off that last barnacle of self-condemnation in their life? Well, Bill, it is just so important for us to go back to the cross of Christ again and again to review what Christ has done for us. The issue is not our self-condemnation, but that Jesus Christ bore our sin at the cross of Calvary. You know, in Isaiah 53, 6, that great passage of Scripture, it says, All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him. My friend, God punished Christ for the sins of those who would believe in him. Therefore, your sins are nailed to the cross, and you bear them no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul, as we sing in that great hymn of the faith. So, my friend, you have to look to Christ and not to yourself, and in Christ you find forgiveness that will give you the peace of conscience for which you long. Thanks, Don. And, friends, that's our time for today. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you to join us again next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 12:56:13 / 2023-03-22 13:05:16 / 9