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Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
November 7, 2022 1:00 am


Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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November 7, 2022 1:00 am

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If your Bible's with you, turn with me if you would to Luke, chapter 19, we're going to be looking at verses 1 through 10. He entered Jericho and was passing through. There was a man named Zacchaeus.

He was the chief tax collector and was rich. He was seeking to see who Jesus was, and on account of the crowd, he could not see because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down from my stature house today. So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

When they saw it, they all grumbled. He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner. Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor.

If I had defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold. Jesus said to him, today salvation has come to this house since he is also a son of Abraham. The son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Now with me as we go to our Lord and prayer, Heavenly Father, I just lift up several tonight that are on our heart. We continue to pray for Kitty Clay as she is struggling with weakness and lack of potassium sodium.

We pray, Father, that her body might heal, that she would be able to eat as she needs to, just give her that strength, Lord, and the comfort that she needs for healing. I pray, Heavenly Father, for Elsie Camaro, that you would be with her as she is still not seen as she should, and pray that you would restore that sight to her and help her through a difficult time. Continue, Lord, to pray for Dan Clay, that you'd be with him and strengthen him and encourage him as he's had a struggle as well. Heavenly Father, I pray about this particular passage that we are dealing with tonight. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to see a man who was hated, a man who was filled with selfishness and sin, and Lord, we see a radical conversion. I praise you and thank you for that, Lord, for that gives hope to every single one of us that you might do that mighty work in us, that we might have that same kind of a radical dedication and commitment to you. Father, open our eyes to Scripture tonight. Help me, Lord, that you would keep my lips from error, and may Jesus be exalted. May this congregation be fed and edified, and it's in Jesus' holy, wonderful, and precious name that I pray, amen.

You may be seated. I want to begin this sermon tonight by reading you a letter. It's a real letter. It was written by a young 12-year-old girl whose name was Kimberly. Kimberly's dad had left his wife and left the family, and Kimberly had been trying everything she could, begging him, pleading with him, to come back home.

And her pleas and her tears had just fallen on deaf ears of her dad. So she decided instead to write him a letter to explain to him just how she felt. And the letter is kind of like a parable-type story. I want you to remember this is a true letter.

Her dad went out to the mailbox to get it, and he looked at it, and he thought, well, this is a birthday card or maybe an invitation to a party, and he was absolutely shocked to see a three-page letter from his daughter. Listen carefully. Dear Daddy, it's late at night. I'm sitting in the middle of my bed writing to you. I've wanted to talk with you so many times, but there never seems to be any time when we are alone. Dad, I realize that you're dating someone else, and I realize that you and mom may never get back together again. That's terribly hard to accept, especially knowing that you may never come back home and be an everyday dad to me and Brian anymore. At least I want you to understand what's going on in our lives. Don't think that mom asked me to do this.

She doesn't even know that I'm writing to you, and neither does Brian. I just want to share with you what I've been thinking. I feel like our family has been riding in a nice car for a long time. You know the kind of car you always feel safe in.

It's the kind of car that has every extra on the inside and not a scratch on the outside, but over the years, the car has developed some problems, smoking a lot, the wheels wobble a little, the seat covers are ripped, but it's still a great automobile, the little work it could run for years. Since we've got the car, Brian and I have been in the back seat while you and mom have been in the front. We really feel secure with you driving and mom beside you, but last month, mom was at the wheel.

It was nighttime. We had just turned the corner toward the house, but suddenly we all looked up and saw a car that was out of control, heading straight for us. Mom tried to swerve out of the way, but the other car crashed into us and the impact sent us flying off the road.

We crashed into a lamppost. The thing is, dad, just before being hit, we could see that you were driving the other car and we saw something else sitting next to you was another woman. It was such a terrible accident that we were all rushed to the emergency room, but when we asked where you were, no one knew.

We're still not sure where you are or if you're hurt or if you need help. Mom was really hurt. She was thrown into the steering wheel. She broke her ribs and punctured her lungs and almost pierced her heart. When the car wrecked, the back door was shoved into Brian. He was covered with glass. He shattered his arm, which is now in a cast.

That's not the worst. He's still in so much shock that he doesn't want to talk or play with anyone. As for me, well, I was thrown from the car. I was stuck out in the cold for a long time with my right leg broken. As I lay there, I couldn't move and didn't know what was wrong with mom and Brian. I was hurting so much myself that I couldn't help, couldn't help mom.

There had been times since that night when I wondered if any of us would make it. Even though we're getting a little better, we're still in the hospital. The doctor says, I'll need a lot of therapy and I know they can help me get better, but I wish it was you that was helping me instead of them. The pain is so bad, but what's even worse is that we all miss you so much. Every day we wait to see if you're going to visit us in the hospital, but every day you don't come. I know it's over, but somehow my heart would burst with joy if I could see you walk into my room. At night when the hospital is really quiet, the nurses push me and Brian into mom's room and we talk about you. We talk about how much we love driving with you and how much we wish you were with us now. Are you all right?

Are you hurting from the wreck? Do you need us like we need you? If you need me, I'm here and I love you.

Your daughter Kimberly. This father had refused to listen to his friends or his family or his coworkers. He found another woman. That was all that mattered, but a letter from his 12-year-old daughter pierced his heart, broke him open on the inside and showed him what a fool he had been.

He left his girlfriend. He went back to his family and he begged their forgiveness and they gave it. Several months later, he came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior.

That's a true story. Satan had blinded a man through the power of lust and it took a radical remedy to turn him around. I wanted to use that story tonight to introduce Zacchaeus because Zacchaeus had a very similar experience. It was a radical, radical change.

Now let me just throw a few things in as a way of introduction. We're going through the Gospel of Mark on Sunday mornings. This morning, we saw that Jesus was headed through Jericho, going to Jerusalem. He knew why he was going there. He was going to die on a cross.

He understood that. As he was going through Jericho, there was a blind man that was sitting on the curb waiting for him to come by. When Jesus came by, the blind man, Bartimaeus, screamed out to Jesus and said, Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. It was a purposeful profession of faith. What he was saying was given a messianic title to Jesus.

He was saying, I understand who you are. You are the deliverer. You are the Savior. You are Lord. You are God. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the creator of the earth.

You are the one that can help me. And Jesus healed this man. He healed his physical eyes and he saved his soul. This man, Bartimaeus, came to Jesus by faith. He trusted in him that Jesus was the Messiah, that he could do all the things that the Messiah was prophesied to do in the scripture. He came by faith.

Folks, how is it that we are justified? How is it that we are saved? We are saved by grace through faith. Now Jesus moves from talking to Bartimaeus and saving his soul and healing his eyes and giving him his sight back. He moves on to another situation where there's a man named Zacchaeus. I don't know how long it took, maybe minutes before he encountered Zacchaeus. Now I wanted to preach this tonight because in Mark's gospel he doesn't mention the story of Zacchaeus.

And I love the story, so I wanted to be sure that we saw that both of these events took place very close to each other and have a lot of similarities. Jesus calls Zacchaeus down from the tree, tells him that he wants to go home with him. He calls him a son of Abraham. And what was Zacchaeus' response to Jesus? His response was repentance. He immediately starts giving away his money.

He immediately starts making restitution to the people that he has cheated. So think of these two. One man was blind, one man could see, but they both wanted to see Jesus.

One man was poor and one man was rich, but they both needed something that money could not buy. One showed his faith while the other demonstrated repentance, but they both had a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I think Luke's got a purpose in telling us the two stories and putting them together like he did. I think he's telling us what the true gospel is. The true gospel is this, that Jesus Christ died for sinners, and if you come to Christ you have to believe that he died for sinners, that he was resurrected from the dead, and you have to turn from your sin. So what must I do to be saved?

Trust in Jesus and repent of your sins. You cannot do one without the other. There are two sides of the same coin. John Murray said it this way, the faith that is unto salvation is a penitent faith, and the repentance that is unto life is a believing repentance.

Let me throw this out. This is just conjecture, and I'm not saying I believe it, but I think it's interesting because many scholars do believe this. In Luke chapter 18, Jesus told the story of the Pharisee and the public under the tax collector.

There are some scholars who believe that this story has very special meaning, that it's not just a parable, that it was an actual story. And you remember what happened in that story, the Pharisee kind of puffed out his chest, and he starts praying. He says, oh, Lord, I thank you, that I'm not like other men. I tithe of all that I have, I fast twice a week. I'm not like this heathen, he kind of nods over there toward the tax collector.

The tax collector, on the other hand, won't even look up. He takes his fist and balls them together and beats his chest and cries out, Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. And Jesus said it was the tax collector who went home justified. Some scholars are convinced that that tax collector was actually Zacchaeus. And he had left the temple and that he had gone back home with deep conviction in his heart, but with a hope that maybe there was a possibility that he could come to know and have eternal life. And so when he heard that Jesus was coming into town, he went immediately out to him hoping that Jesus would give him that eternal life. Now, I don't know if that's a true story or not, but there are many scholars that believe it. All right, let's look at the text, and I've got seven points I want to share with you tonight.

Number one is outward wealth and inward poverty. Look at verses one and two. He entered Jericho and was passing through and behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and he was rich. He's labeled here as a chief tax collector.

Jericho was one of the three major cities where they did the tax collecting and in an unbelievable amount of money came through this city. He was a chief tax collector, so it came through his hands and these other tax collectors that were under his supervision, they had to give him kickbacks. So he was the ultimate middleman, the kingpin of the Jewish tax cartel, so to speak. Here was a man who already had what most Americans want so desperately and that's money. He just had everything. He had a beautiful home, big bank account, shiny chariot, nice furniture, all the jewelry that he could possibly want. He ate at the five-star restaurants.

He had a club pass for his citizenship in the country club. He had all this stuff, had servants, servants that would wait on him hand and foot, servants that would wash his chariot and clean his house and take care of his children. And he had all of this, financially he was secure.

He made his money overcharging on taxes and then flaunting it in front of everybody. But you know what he understood? He understood something that was very important. He had all this stuff that everybody thinks is going to make you happy and he wasn't happy at all. There was a hole down inside of his heart that you could drive a truck through. It was Blaise Pascal that said, down in the heart of every man there's a God-shaped vacuum and the only one who can fill it is Christ. That perfectly describes our man Zacchaeus.

I point to the power of spiritual hunger, verses 3 through 4. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was but on account of the crowd he could not because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead, he climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him for he was about to pass that way.

I love that story. I can remember back when I was a little boy, kindergarten age in our church and we would sing that song about Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he, climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. Man, I like that story because I like climbing trees. I thought, man, this is great, he enjoyed that, climbed up the tree, what a great time of fun that was.

And then I became an adult, realized that here was Zacchaeus probably in just middle age adult. He had a job where he probably wasn't in very good physical health and he's just in a mess and he thinks, what in the world am I going to do with this tree? He didn't like climbing trees but he knew that Jesus was coming and so he had to climb the tree.

Not only was he not in good physical shape but he was short. He probably had to have somebody to lift him up so he could get on that first limb. And he climbed up the tree and the tree had a limb that was hanging over the street in which Jesus was coming down and he climbed up, got on that limb and he was waiting for Jesus to come by. I can imagine the people mocking and laughing at him.

Look at the tax collector, look at the old man, that doesn't look very dignified, does it? Man, hand me a rock, let me see if I can knock him out of that tree. Why would a man like Zacchaeus with all he had, why would he put himself through that kind of humiliation, through that kind of embarrassment, spiritual hunger? He was spiritually hungry, he wanted to fill that empty hole that was down inside of him. He was hungry for Jesus. Listen, when a man realizes that he's headed to an eternal hell and his only hope is Jesus, he doesn't care who mocks him, he doesn't care who laughs at him, he doesn't care who refuses to listen to him, he's going to do everything he can to get to Christ. Point three is the initiative of the Lord.

Look at verse five, and when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today. Theologians have a term for this, they call it the effectual call. There are two calls that we see in scripture, one is the general call, the general call is universal and powerless, the effectual call is specific and very powerful. The Westminster Confession of Faith defines it this way, the effectual call is the work of God's spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ and renewing our wills, he doth both persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel. If the general call goes out to everybody, I can give you a general call from this pulpit, I can share with you the gospel, Jesus died on the cross to pay the sin debt for sinners, and if you will repent, you can come to know Christ as your Lord and your Savior, that's the general call, that's what I can do. Let's say we are here on a Sunday morning, and there are 50 people here in the church that are not Christians, and I give that call that morning, and 49 of those 50 people say, wow, what are you saying is truth there, I hear what he's saying, that my only hope is Christ, that I need to repent, and I realize that I really need to do that, I don't want to go to hell, but if I repent of these things that he's telling me that I need to repent of, then those are things that I enjoy, I know that God hates them, but I enjoy them, so I don't think I really want to do that right now, I'll put this on the burner, I'll wait till later to get to this, but I don't want to do it now, that's the general call, the general call is powerless, it does not have the strength to change a heart, to change a life, but let's say there's one of that group of 50 that hears that message, and instead of just hearing a general call, they hear an effective call, he says all of a sudden, wow, I'm lost, I'm headed to an eternal hell, I don't have any hope outside of Jesus, I want to repent of my sins, I don't want to spend forever separated from God, I want to be with Jesus, I don't love my sin anymore, I hate what's going on in my life, and I want this change, so I'm going to turn from this, I'm going to turn to Christ, I'm going to trust him, because I desire more than anything in the world to be with Jesus Christ forever, that's the effectual call, and that's what happened with Zacchaeus, one of the best pictures that we have of the effectual call is in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus went to the cemetery, the graveyard where Lazarus had been buried in the tomb for four days, and there were some men there, Jesus told the men to move the stone out of the way, they did, Jesus looked into the darkness of that tomb and said, Lazarus, come forth, and Lazarus immediately came to life, and he walked out of that tomb covered with grave clothes, and Jesus said, release him and set him free, and the people took the grave clothes off of him, and he was able to walk, and he was well and perfectly alive, notice that Jesus called him my name, Lazarus, come forth, why didn't he just say, come forth, because if he did, and everybody in that graveyard, it was in the graves, would have popped right out of the grave, but he didn't, he called him by name, it was an effectual call, so that's what an effectual call is, Lazarus didn't initiate all this, he was dead, he couldn't initiate it, Lazarus couldn't stop it, he couldn't stop it, he was dead, the Son of God gave him life, and all the demons in hell couldn't stop it, folks, that's the physical realm, but that's exactly what Jesus did for Zacchaeus in the spiritual realm, Jesus called him by name, how did he know his name, scripture tells us that the Lord knows all men, and who initiated this, was it Zacchaeus that initiated this meeting, well no it really wasn't, the Bible tells us in 1 John chapter 4 verse 19, we love him, why, because he loved us, the Lord sought you before you sought him, so many times I've heard people say, get saved, and they say, man I found Jesus, I say correction, Jesus found you, that's what we need to understand, Zacchaeus was in that tree, he was waiting for Jesus, so he was the one that initiated it right, no no, it was God who put that desire in his heart to shinny up that tree, and he was convicted, he was waiting for Jesus because the Lord put it on his heart, Francis Thompson wrote a poem years ago that states it well, it's called a hound of heaven, and the message that rings through that poem is the message that rings through the scriptures, the Lord is the initiator of our salvation, or like the prophet Jonah said, salvation is of the Lord, alright point 4 is the joy of the Lord, look at verse 6, so he hurried and came down and received him joyfully, Christianity is not a relationship, is not a religion, it is a relationship, I know a lot of religious folks who are sour and unhappy all the time, and they look like they've been weaned on a pickle, but knowing Jesus is joy, Jesus is Lord, he is our creator, our redeemer, our sustainer, he is our savior, and if he's all that, to know him personally is the most glorious and joy filled experience that you could ever have, Zacchaeus is getting a little taste of that here, and what he's going to find out is this, the better he knows Jesus, the more joy he's going to have, coming to Jesus shouldn't be like pulling teeth, it shouldn't be this sad, sorrowful experience where you just regret having to give up the world of flesh and the devil, huh, Matthew 13, 44, Jesus described it this way, he said this, there's a man that was walking through his neighbor's property, and he sees a buried something there, and he opens it up, and it's a treasure chest, and it's filled with gold and silver and precious stones and diamonds and all this stuff that's in it, he realizes the wealth that's there, it's just unbelievable, so he runs home, he sells everything he's got, he sells his house, he sells his camel, he sells his horses, sells his clothes, and he runs over to his neighbors, and he buys the property, why does he buy the property, why was he willing to give up everything he had, because he knew that that treasure was worth it, and if he would buy the man's land, then he would have the treasure, and the treasure was worth a million times more than everything that he had, listen, if you come to Jesus griping and whining about what you're having to give up, then you don't know the true Jesus, Zacchaeus came down that tree joyfully, alright, point five is repudiation by the world, look at verse seven, and when they saw it, they all grumbled, he has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner, tax collectors were Jewish, but they worked for the Roman government, they were hated, they were hated with a passion, they were known as cheats and thieves and extortioners, they were known as traitors to their country, so when Jesus showed interest in Zacchaeus and said that he's going home with him, all of a sudden there are all these complaints, oh no Jesus you shouldn't do that, this man's a sinner, don't you realize that, this man's not good, you ought not to go to his house, you ought to be fellowshipping and being around people who are good people, there's a problem with that, there are no good people, we're not good people, Isaiah says that all of our righteousness, that's the good things that we do, are like filthy rags before God, all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God, all of us were born with a sin nature, so none of us has the right to stand up and stick our spiritual noses up in the air and act like spiritual snobs, except for the grace of God we would all be lost, point six is the repentance God desires, look at verse eight, and Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, behold Lord the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything I restore it fourfold, a few weeks ago in the Gospel of Mark we saw a rich young man, ruler came to Jesus and he said Lord what must I do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus shared the commandments with him, he said oh I've done that, for my youth up I've kept all those commandments, Jesus said okay, one more thing you need to do, go sell everything that you've got, take that money, give it to the poor, then come and follow me, and he dropped his head down and he walked away sadly, for he had great riches, Zacchaeus doesn't do that, he does the exact opposite, Jesus doesn't have to tell him anything, he starts giving away his money, he starts paying back restitution to the people that he has cheated, he's saying my money is not going to come between me and my Lord Jesus, take the whole world he's saying and give me Jesus, the two primary Greek words in the Greek New Testament for repentance, one of them is metanoia, and metanoia refers to the inward change that takes place in the mind and in the heart, and then there's another Greek word for repentance it's estrefo, and that particular word emphasizes the outward change that takes place in the sinner's actions, if Jesus has really gotten a hold of your heart, if Jesus has really converted you, if Jesus has saved you, then both of those words come into play in your life, metanoia and estrefo, Zacchaeus is repenting without begrudging it, he isn't complaining, he's not griping, he is praising God for the opportunity of giving away his money and paying back restitution, there's a movement in evangelicalism today that repudiates repentance, they teach that no repentance is necessary for salvation, it's just not necessary they say, all that you have to do to be saved is have a head belief in what Jesus did on the cross and in the resurrection of Christ, if you add repentance to that then that's just a work salvation and you don't have anything, folks Jesus said unless you repent you shall all likewise perish, as I said before faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin, you don't have one without the other, several years ago Lea Flint the publisher of Hustler magazine said that he was born again and all Christendom rejoiced with that, this is wonderful, this wicked man has come to know Christ, yet said he was born again, he never quit, stopped printing his pornography, kept right on, six months later he said I recant, I didn't really mean that, it was just a stupid thing in fact it was the most stupid thing I've ever done, he turned away from it and walked away, now what happened, he had heard a false gospel, the gospel that says all you need to be saved is a head knowledge of what Jesus did on the cross and what he did through his resurrection, listen if you believe in your heart there will be a change in your life, point seven the salvation that Jesus seeks verses nine through ten and Jesus said to him today salvation has come to this house since he is also a son of Abraham, for the son of man came to seek and to save the lost, Jesus is salvation, he is the only savior, John chapter 14 and verse 6 Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by me, now was it real was that kiss, did he did it last for him, Philippians chapter 1 verse 6 says he who has begun a good work in you will complete it or perform it to the day of Jesus Christ, Jesus is not just the author of our salvation, he is also the finisher of our salvation, well what happened to Zacchaeus, we don't have any more scripture that tells us about what took place later but I want you to listen to what R.C. Sproul said about what happened to him, scripture is silent about the future of Zacchaeus but church history is not, the bishop of Alexandria, Clement whose writings exist to this day mentions in one of his homilies that Zacchaeus continued faithfully in the growth and nurture of the Lord and he served Christ to the end of his life with distinction being elevated ultimately to the role of bishop of Caesarea, so this little man who climbed the tree to see Jesus left the lucrative money changing tables at the crossroads leaving to Jerusalem and became a spiritual leader in the church, how exciting and how glorious that is, let's pray. Heavenly Father we thank you for the story of Zacchaeus, we thank you Lord for what you did in his heart, we give you the glory for it Lord for we know that you are the initiator, Lord we also know that you're the finisher, we also know Lord that without you we would all be hopelessly lost and so Lord we praise you for your grace, we thank you for your mercy, for Lord we don't need justice, if we got the justice that we deserve we would all be in hell but Lord you gave us mercy and our sin was taken care of by the justice that God meted out upon our Christ on the cross of Calvary, help us Lord that we might love you more, help us Lord that we might be willing to give up anything that you're calling us to give up that we might experience the joy of the Lord in a sweeter and more glorious way. We love you, praise you and thank you for your loving goodness to us and it's in Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-07 07:24:16 / 2022-11-07 07:31:42 / 7

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