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The Call to Love

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
January 28, 2024 6:00 pm

The Call to Love

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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January 28, 2024 6:00 pm

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In Matthew chapter 20, Jesus told the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. And the master, the one who owned the vineyard, went out to the marketplace. He found some men. And he asked them, would you come and work with me?

If you do, in my vineyard I will pay you a denarius for that day's wage. Three hours later he went out and he found some more men out in the marketplace. And he said, come and work for me in my vineyard and I will pay you what is right. Three hours after that he went out and found some more workers in the vineyard, in the marketplace. And he said, come and I will, you can work for me and I will pay you what is right. Three hours after that he went out and he found some more workers in the marketplace. He said, come on with me and you can work in my vineyard and I will pay you that which is right.

is right. One hour before quitting time, he went out to the marketplace. He saw some men that were out there idle. He said, why are you idle?

They said, nobody has hired us. He said, okay, come and work in my vineyard and I will pay you what is right. At the end of the day, he lined up all the workers from the ones that had worked the least until the ones that had worked the most. And he paid every single one of them the same wage. Now guess who wasn't happy about that? Guess who wasn't happy? The workers who worked all day and got the same wage as the workers who worked just one hour. And they said, wait a minute, that's not fair.

That's not fair. Well, how did the master respond? The master responded by saying to the workers who had worked all day, did we not agree that I would pay you a denarius? Did we not agree on that? And then he said, do I not have the right to pay any of the workers who worked any part of the day the wage that I want to pay them?

Do I not have that right if it's my money? Folks, let me ask you something. Why did Jesus tell this parable? Because we, and I mean all of us, don't understand and comprehend grace. We say we do. We think we do. But folks, we don't get it. We just don't really understand. How do I know that? Because let me ask you this question.

Be honest. When I shared that parable with you that Jesus gave us in Matthew 20, did you not say to yourself right then, wait a minute, that's not fair. That's not justice. Folks, the master in this parable is a picture of God. And let me assure you, you do not want justice from God.

And why is that? Because we've broken God's law. We've broken God's command. We've broken God's heart. We sinned against ourselves, we sinned against others, and we sinned against God.

Folks, if we receive judgment, I mean, if we receive justice from God, we would all be headed to an eternal hell. No, no, no, we don't want God's justice. This parable is a parable that is teaching us about mercy. And what kind of mercy did Jesus show us? He died for us, undeserving sinners. He died for us in order that he might be our substitutionary atonement, in order that he might take my sin and give me his righteousness, that he might take my misery and give me his joy, that he might take my hell and give me his heaven.

So what am I going to do? Am I going to grumble and complain because he saved me when I was just 21 and then called me to preach not long after that? Am I going to grumble and complain because I've had the privilege of preaching and serving him for over five decades?

And what if I see a murderer on death row and somebody goes in and witnesses to that murder and he comes to know Christ and he's saved just two weeks before he's executed? He's never been to church. He's never witnessed. He's never studied the scripture. He's never tithed. He's never given a penny to the work of the Lord. He has lived a criminal's life. And then two weeks after his conversion, he goes to heaven.

Is that unfair? Am I going to say, wait a minute, you shouldn't do it that way, Lord. I want you to listen to what Brian Chappell had to say about this parable.

He does a good job of explaining it. He said, some Christians mistakenly protest. It's not fair that I've worked and slaved for the Lord all my life, have missed all the fun of sinning. And a guy who accepts Jesus on his deathbed gets to go to heaven just like me. Such an attitude demonstrates a basic misunderstanding. The ones who missed out are not those who walked with Jesus daily, knew the assurance of divine care and personal difficulty, couldn't trust their family to God's hands, rest in the assurance of personal purpose, regardless of earthly recognition and claimed eternal purpose and salvation throughout life. The ones who live so long without those treasures in order to pursue the vain pleasures and empty pursuits of this world are those who really missed the best that this life can offer. Many of you have read John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life.

If you hadn't read it, I suggest that you do. But in the very first part of that book, he gives an illustration using his daddy. His daddy's name was Bill Piper. He was a Baptist evangelist. One night he was preaching in a revival service and an elderly man came walking down the aisle. And he got down on his knees with Bill. And he prayed, repenting of his sins and trusting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He stood up and Bill hugged him, gave him a Gideon New Testament and then prayed with him. Well, as the service was coming to an end, Bill looked back on the back row of that church and he saw this man back there sobbing like a baby. And he walked back to him and said, look, this should be the happiest day of your life.

What's the matter with you? And he said, I'm 86 years old. And he said, I just got saved. He said, I just personally experienced the beauty and the glory and the mercy of the Lord. And he said, but it just hit me. I've wasted my whole life.

I've wasted my life on myself. He said, my wife died lost. He said, all of my children are atheists and agnostics. And he said, they won't even speak to me anymore.

He said, they hate my guts. And he said, never one time did I ever tell them about Jesus Christ. And he said, yes, I praise God for my salvation.

But he said, it hurts my heart that I have wasted my life. I wanted to say all that this morning so that you would be focusing with me on grace, as we see Paul's continual call to sanctification, which is pursuing holiness with the Lord. In my last sermon to Grace Church, I want to encourage you to do God's will.

I don't know God's will for you as to who you're going to marry or how many children you should have or where you go to college. I don't know that. I do know this about God's will for you from verse three, for this is God's will for you, even your sanctification. Now folks, part of sanctification, and we're going to look at this briefly, is sexual purity.

I don't want to focus on this today. I want to focus on the love part, but I do want to address this. If you believe that you can stay sexually pure by sheer human determination, then I want you to know you are dead wrong. We will not win the battle with lust by biting our lip, gritting our teeth, and promising to do better. But you can defeat lust by substitute, by replacing lust with a superior pleasure. And what is that superior pleasure? That superior pleasure is fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And I'm talking about joyful, glorious fellowship. Nehemiah chapter eight verse ten says, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Folks, we must focus on the mercy of the Lord. We must say to ourself, I am his child. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn't hate me when I sin. He doesn't hate me when I lust. He doesn't hate me when I fail, but yet he hurts for me because he knows the destructive power of lust. I want to share an illustration with you that I've shared several times.

I don't apologize for that because I want you to remember it. This particular illustration has been extremely helpful to me when fighting against my flesh. Grant Castleberry is a young man. He's a teacher now, but he used his daddy as an example of how to defeat lust, and it's meant a great deal to me.

I want you to listen to what Grant said. My dad, Charles Kelly Castleberry Jr., was a Marine Corps fighter pilot and a Christian. One night, my dad's squadron took a mandatory trip to a beach house somewhere along the Atlantic coast.

No wives or children were allowed to come. This was a special night in which many of the young pilots would receive their call signs. Shortly after my father arrived at the beach house, he realized why family members were not invited.

Someone had invited strippers as entertainment for the evening. Later that night when he confided this event to my mom, she asked him how he responded. He said that he had stayed in the corner of the beach house with his hand over his eyes. A few months later, my father was killed in a mid-air collision over the Atlantic Ocean. After my father's crash, a pilot in the squadron gave my mom a picture that someone had taken inside the beach house that night.

He told my mom that deep down everyone respected Kelly for it, but no one had the guts to follow him. Sure enough in the photo was my father in the corner hand covering his eyes. When I was a young boy, my mom showed me that picture, explained the integrity and courage my dad had displayed in that moment, integrity and courage that had characterized his life in Christ.

Mom framed that picture, put it in my room as a constant reminder of his legacy. When the squadron cleaned out my dad's locker after the accident, they found taped up inside his locker Paul's last will and testament to a young pastor-in-training. Paul said, for I am now ready to be offered in the time of my departures at hand, for I've fought a good fight, I've finished my course, I've kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also who love his appearing. He said, my dad covered his eyes at the beach house because they were fixed on his Savior.

This focus isn't easy. As Paul said, it's a fight of faith. It's a fight for purity, but it's worth it. Christ is the purity that we can count on. Keeping our eyes on him is worth it because he is the only one who can truly satisfy our souls.

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Folks, God wants us to hate lust like he hates lust. How do we do that? Here's the key. Enlarge your vision of Jesus. Be so wowed by Jesus that the desire for lust will diminish. The more you love Jesus, the more you will hate sin. That's the call to sexual purity, but I want to move on to his call for us to love. Here's the key.

We are to strive to love each other in the same way that Jesus loved us. Give you an example. Maybe someone has hurt you, and I mean hurt you bad. Hurt you so bad that you're saying to yourself, I just don't think I can forgive that person. So you don't forgive.

And what happens over time? Bitterness builds up in your life. And listen, if you harbor bitterness in your heart, it's like drinking poison.

It is going to permeate your soul. Many of you here remember Alex Diocubanzilla. Alex was born in the Congo, was raised in the Congo. He got polio as a little boy and walked with a limp the rest of his life. Moved to America, and he joined our church. And he died just a few years ago, and he's in heaven today. But I remember several years ago, he came and knocked on my door and came into my office, sat down, and he shared a story with me.

He told me that when he was a teenager, that he and his best friend had a man in their community that they both had great respect for. And he said that Alex and this man, they found out that this man's wife was cheating on him. And they watched this woman. And every day when her husband would go off to work, she would wait, and as soon as he was gone, she'd run off to some other guy's house.

She'd go from one man to another to another, one affair after another after another. And Alex and his friend said, we've got to tell him about this. And so they went to him, just got their courage built up and went to him and said, listen, we've got to tell you something. Your wife is cheating on you. And he said, please forgive her and pray for her. Two months later, they continued to watch her and they came back. And they said to this man, she's still doing it. This lady, your wife is cheating on you. And he said, please forgive her and pray for her.

Seven years later, the man came home from work one day. His wife was sitting on the couch. She was weeping like a baby. God had broken her heart. And she said to her husband, I am so sorry for what I have done. She said, I need to confess this to you. I know you don't know about this, but I need to confess it. She said, I've been unfaithful to you. I've gone from one man to another to another to another.

This has been going on for years. And she said, God has broken my heart. Can you find it in your heart to somehow forgive me?

I know you don't know anything about it. And he looked at her and he said, no, I do know. And you've already been forgiven. Alex said that woman came to Christ on that very day. He shared the gospel with her after that. And she came to know Jesus. They've gone on after that for 35 years of a great and godly marriage.

How do you do that? How do you forgive like that? Sheer willpower? No. Sheer human determination? No.

Let me tell you, this is what he said. Jesus forgave me and my sin against Jesus was much greater than my wife's sin against me. Who thinks like that? God does. God does. Alex sat there in my office with me that day, tears rolling down his cheeks. And he said to me, that man led me to Christ. He said, he showed me how Jesus forgives sin. All right, I got three points I want to share with you about our call to love. Point one is that God taught love. Look with me at verse nine.

Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for anyone to write to you. For you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. What does that mean that they were taught by God to love one another? Well, how are we taught by God? We are taught by God as we study the word of God. As you study the word of God, you will see all kinds of exhortations and admonitions that we are to love each other. I think Paul probably also meant that he was speaking through his apostolic authority, that God, the Holy Spirit had inspired him to give them this command that they were to love one another.

But I think there's another way we're taught by God. You see, when God saves you, he changes the heart. And God puts a love in you that was not there before. And all of a sudden, there's just a compulsion to love that you didn't have.

Why is that? Because you saw Jesus loving you so much that he died for you on the cross. And all of a sudden, you wanted to love this Jesus, and you wanted to love others, because that's the way that Jesus loves. Folks, what kind of love are we talking about here? We're talking about sacrificial, selfless, uncritical, God-inspired, hell-defying, Spirit-anointed love.

What kind of love? John 3.16 love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 5.8. For God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I tell you, this church at Thessalonica was known for its love. They became Christians, and they left the city, and they went into the countryside, and they began sharing the Gospel with farmers and traders and merchants. And the farmers and traders and merchants felt their love. They heard the truth of the Gospel, and many were converted. And Paul was absolutely ecstatic, for that's his evangelistic methodology.

Love people, share the truth with people, and then watch God build his church. What does Paul tell them to do? Verse 10. For that indeed is what you were doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia.

But we urge you, brothers, do this more and more. So Paul is saying, don't stop. He said, man, you haven't scratched the surface yet about how you're to love God and how you're to love others. It was a God-taught love.

Secondly, it was a quiet love. Look at the first part of verse 11. And to aspire to live quietly and to mind your own affairs. Paul is writing to a real church. He's speaking to real people who have real problems. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul talks about some of these people, and he says some of these people in this church are just lazy. He said they depend on the generosity of other people in the church.

They depend on them for food, for money, for all this other stuff, and they're not giving of themselves. He says many of these people are busybodies. They're minding everybody else's business. So what does Paul say? He said, stop it. Stop it.

Don't do that. But instead, aspire to live quietly and to mind your own business. 2 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 3, Paul said this, but I'm afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray for a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. A pure and sincere devotion to Christ.

What a great definition for the way that we are to love Jesus and to love others. The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety. He whispered in Eve's ear, God's holding back on you. He's not protecting you by telling you not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and evil. He's not protecting you at all.

He just knows that if you eat of that fruit, then you're going to be like God, knowing both good and evil. God doesn't really have your best interest in mind. The serpent says he's holding you back. Very interesting, we have college professors all over America who are using the same tactics on their students. They say this Christianity stuff is holding you back. It's stifling you. We want you to have an open mind.

We want you to be encouraged to listen to these new ideas and to embrace these different values. Forget the Bible. That's just an old book that was written by a plethora of unlearned men back 2,000, 4,000 years ago. They didn't have access to our scientific technology.

So they were extremely limited. So just lose your simplicity in Christ. Just lose this pure and sincere devotion for Christ. That doesn't really matter what you need to do is you need to listen to the wisdom of these real scholars. Who are these real scholars? These real scholars are the people who are calling us idiots for not wanting grown men, adult men, to share bathrooms with little unprotected girls. The survey was taken a few years ago by New York Times of all people.

But here's the question. They said do you think it's right for men to be free to go to a ladies bathroom if they identify themselves as a woman? They went to three different groups. They went to college students first, 19, 20 years old. And they said what do you think? Do you think that's right? And the college students said oh yes, that's right.

That's a very kind and very loving thing to do. Then they went to the 13-year-olds in the middle school and they said do you think that's right? And they said ah, we guess it's okay, but it just doesn't sound right. Then they went to the fifth five-year-olds in kindergarten and they said do you think that's right? And the little kindergartener said what? Are you crazy?

Are you crazy? Men should go to men's bathrooms and a man's not a woman just because he thinks he's a woman. He's a man because God made him to be a man. Folks, the five-year-olds got it because they weren't trying to outthink God. Listen, your simplicity in Christ doesn't mean that you stick your head in the sand and don't deal with the skeptics and the agnostics and the atheists that's there.

But what do you do? You implicitly trust the one who loved you so much that he went to the cross and shed his precious blood to purchase your salvation and then rose from the dead to break the power of death over you. And this Jesus who loved you so much has not left you with nothing to get wisdom from.

He has left you with his word. And in the Sermon on the Mount, he tells us how great that word is. For he tells us it is the inerrant infallible word of God and that it's truth even down to the jot in the tittle. In other words, it's not just the statements of the word of God that's true, it's the words, it's the letter down even to the jot and to the tittle. It was the Apostle Paul who said, study to show yourself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. It was Paul who said, all scripture is given to us by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for a proof and correction in righteousness. In Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12, the writer of Hebrews said it this way, for the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and the joints of the mera as a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Folks, that's not being a busybody. Quiet love will win the day. My last point is a busy love.

Look at 11b through 12. And to work with your hands as we instructed you so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. This verse has played a very important role in developing a Christian view of work. You ever heard the term Puritan work ethic?

What is that? It means there's great value in working and working hard and making your way so that you're not dependent on others. That didn't start with the Puritans.

It started with Adam. God gave Adam the command to work, not after the fall, but before the fall. Work is good and it is godly.

Now, we know that they are elderly and there are those that are sick, those that are infirm, those that are disabled, and they're not able to work. And we as Christians have the responsibility of ministering to them and helping them out. And we need to do that. That's good and that's biblical. But listen, hard work will bolster your testimony. When I was in my former church, we had a young man who one Sunday morning came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior.

His name was Rick. And the next Sunday, I preached on the very passage that I'm preaching on today. And after the service was over, Rick came up to me. He said, Doug, are you telling me that I'm supposed to work for my hard-headed boss in the same way that I would work if Jesus was the head of the company?

And I said, that's exactly what I'm saying. He said, okay, so be it. Two months later, his boss showed up at our church. And his boss said, I'm not a Christian, but I had to find out what's going on over here.

And I said, what do you mean? And he said, I'm Rick's boss. And he said, Rick used to be the sorriest employee that we had. He said he was late every day to work. He would take longer breaks than he was supposed to. He said he had a foul mouth and all the customers would get upset with him. And he said he was just awful. And he said, all of a sudden, he said that he came to know Christ.

Everything changed. He said he gets here before anybody else. He works through his breaks. And he said his language is so cleaned up that now all he does is encourage everybody.

He says he does everything he can to help me build my business. He said, I don't know much about religion. But he said, if all my employees were sold out to Jesus as he was, he said, man, I'd have quite a business.

And you know what? That guy, two months later, came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior. In conclusion, I want to tell you a story about an archbishop from Ireland. His name was James Usher.

He lived from 1581 to 1656. He was on a boat that was shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland. He lost everything he had in that shipwreck, just about died. But he found himself, he was able to finally swim to shore. And he saw a house not too far. And he walked up to that house. Man, he looked awful. He was just soaking wet. Everything was disheveled.

He just looked awful. And he knocked on the door. It was a house of a preacher. And the preacher came out and he saw him there. And he told him he was an archbishop. And he looked at him and said, man, he doesn't look like an archbishop. He said, he looks like a bum.

And he's probably here to rob me. He said, so I'm going to test him. He said, I'm going to ask you a Bible question. He said, how many commandments are there? And he said, there are 11 commandments. He said, no, you missed it.

And he said, no, I didn't miss it. He said, hand me your Bible. He took his Bible and he opened it up to John chapter 13 verse 34. And Jesus said, a new commandment I give unto you that you love one another. And the preacher reached over and hugged his neck and said, come on in. You are the archbishop. Come on in. And I want to let you get warmed up by my fire and we'll bring food to you.

You can stay as long as you like. As I finished the sermon, I wanted you to hear not only Paul's command that we're to love one another, but I wanted you to hear it straight from the mouth of Jesus. Jesus said, a new commandment I give to you that you love one another. In the men's prayer breakfast last week, I shared the devotional with them. And as I was ending the devotional, I gave them a goal to reach out for.

And I said to these men, be tough, be spiritually resilient, and come hell or high water, don't quit. Grace Church, these are my parting words to you. Share the gospel every chance you get. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love each other so much that all hell won't be able to break it.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, this is my last sermon as a senior pastor at Grace. I love this church like I love my family.

I thank you for the support that I've received from them over the last 35 years. Lord, help this church to grow. May you fill each heart with an evangelistic zeal and a devoted love to you and a constant love for each other. We love you, Lord. Thank you for loving us. And it's in the precious and holy name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 14:40:08 / 2024-02-21 14:52:14 / 12

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