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You Can't Get to Heaven in a Wooden Crate

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 17, 2022 12:00 am

You Can't Get to Heaven in a Wooden Crate

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 17, 2022 12:00 am

Grace seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? It’s free, it’s eternal, it’s divinely given. Yet these qualities which make it so desirable to some also make it so contemptible to others. That’s because man, by nature, doesn’t like being told he is powerless to save himself. When he arrives at the pearly gates, he would rather pat himself on the back and say, “Look at what I have done,” than fall humbly to his knees before God and say, “Look what You have done!”

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To the Jewish nation who rejected the light of the world, they screamed, as you know, for Rome to extinguish the light. I find it fascinating that God in that scene gave them an illustration of what they wanted. Do you want the darkness?

Then I'll give you what you want. And so, as you remember, according to Luke's Gospel, for three hours, the sun was miraculously obscured, and darkness fell across the land. Deep, thick darkness. It's as if the Father was saying to humanity, you don't want the light, you want darkness?

Well, here you can have it. When people lose direction spiritually, they turn to whatever they think will fill the spiritual void in their hearts. It might be something mystical, or it might be in keeping a set of rules to help find spiritual peace. Grace seems too good to be true, doesn't it? It's free, it's eternal, it's divinely given.

Yet those qualities, which make it so desirable to some, also make it hard to believe for others. Israel lost its way spiritually. But does that mean Israel is lost forever?

Or does God still have a plan for that nation? Stephen called this message, you can't get to heaven in a wooden crate. I read this particular news article that ran in the Associated Press. It ran a story about Charles McKinney, a 25-year-old shipping clerk for a New York warehouse. He decided to visit his parents who lived in Dallas, Texas, but didn't want to spend the money on a plane ticket. So he concocted a plan to ship himself in a postal crate from the warehouse where he worked to Dallas and charge his company the freight. Well, on Friday, September 5th, 2003, after filling out paperwork describing the cargo as clothing and a computer, McKinley called for a courier service and then crawled into the wooden crate and nailed himself in. The crate was picked up by truck, driven to New Jersey before being loaded onto a cargo plane. Eventually, the crate was delivered to the McKinley home in DeSoto, Texas. On Saturday, the next day, Charles kicked open the box, startling his parents and the delivery man.

I'm sure he did. Well, without food or water on the 15-hour journey, this article went on to say he had actually taken huge risks he hadn't thought of. The crate could have been handled roughly, breaking perhaps bones.

The box he was in happened to be placed in the pressurized, heated storage cabin, but it could just as easily have been placed in the lower, unpressurized compartments where he would have died. The stunt could have cost him everything. It did cost him something. He was fined $1,500 and placed on probation. He could have been fined $100,000 and put in prison for one year, where he probably ought to be thinking about this for a while at least.

I did find it was interesting that the shipping charges he incurred ended up being $550, and that would have bought him a seat in business class. Well, I thought of humanity when I read that. You know, eternity? Yeah, I'm going there. Well, have you thought about it? Absolutely.

I know. I'll get there my own way. I mean, sure, it's crazy to go to Texas in a wooden crate, but my religion is sophisticated. It is developed.

I have thought of everything, and I know it'll take me to heaven. Well, that's the picture that Paul has certainly been developing with his painting of the Israelite nation. They are proud. They are self-confident.

They are secure. They are expert craftsmen who have made their crate of creeds, and they believe it's going to deliver them to heaven. They've forgotten some things. They haven't thought of everything. In fact, they have overlooked the condition of their heart. God is about to inform them through Paul and us through Paul that they have a serious medical condition.

Their heart will never be able to take the journey. There is a divine prognosis of the heart of this nation that has sought to create their own way to heaven. The spiritual prognosis of Israel is not good. Look at verse 7.

What then? That which Israel is seeking for, which happens to be righteousness, of course, it has not obtained. But those who were chosen or of the election ordained it literally, and the rest were hardened. The Greek word translated hardened is parao, which gives us our transliterated word, parosis. It's a medical term used even today. It refers to the growth of bone in joints, creates problems in some conditions. This particular condition and the original intention of the word would have been understood by that world to be referred to as a callous.

That's how the word was originally used. To cover over with thick skin, to harden by the covering by the covering of a callous. He was saying to them, you literally have a calloused heart. You have a hardened heart.

My grandfather's hands, the calluses that were permanent reminders of his hard work on the farm in Minnesota, you could have taken a stick pin and you could have poked it all around the palm and fingers of his hand without ever causing him any pain. A callous causes a particular part of your body to lose feeling. It becomes insensitive and unfeeling. Well, the divine physician examines the Israelite nation and says, among other things, they have parosis of the heart. They have a calloused hardened heart. It's a terminal condition, by the way, that's going to require a heart transplant if they are going to survive the journey from earth to heaven. Now, Paul goes on in this text and gives them the symptoms of the prognosis.

The prognosis itself is this hardened heart, this parosis of the heart. And now the symptoms he gives to us. And the first symptom we could call this, the loss of spiritual direction. He writes in verse 8, notice, just as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor. Now, this verse is taken from Isaiah, who wrote in chapter 29, verse 10, the Lord has poured upon you a spirit of a deep sleep.

Paul uses it here and changes it a bit. He's given you the spirit of stupor, like you're walking around in a trance. In other words, you don't know which way to turn, you're confused by your own spiritual wandering. It's a mark not only of Israel that was wandering around, but of any nation or any human being who rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the marks of unbelieving humanity is this spiritual wandering. And you read the newspaper and you get one illustration after another.

I got another one this past week. Actually, over the last few weeks, perhaps you've noticed the growing popularity among celebrities who've been to wear this red string. You notice that? Pictures of them, they're wearing a red strand or string around their left wrist, believing that the left part of the body is the entrance into the soul. This is the following of a mystical Jewish cult known as Kabbalah. The red string supposedly carries mystical powers to protect the wearer from the evil eye. I saw the newspaper Madonna was wearing in another celebrity's that shows pictures of them and there's a little red string on their left wrist. They believe that the red string has mystical energy. Now it comes from the belief that this bracelet is made of a longer red string that was at one point wrapped around the tomb of the Jewish matriarch, Rachel. It's then cut into pieces and worn by followers who believe they're now protected by this energy from the grave of Rachel. Whether it is a string, my friends, around the wrist or putting a mirror in the foyer of your home to direct the positive energy one way and thwart the negative energy of the universe. It's spiritual wandering and speculation of those who reject the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Listen, you don't need a string, you need a savior. Staggering, he says, of Israel from one day to the next without any true spiritual direction.

You make your wooden crate, you hope for the best, you think you've identified the risks. You don't look into the direction of God's word, you just make it up. Whether it's hanging a crystal on your rear view mirror to reflect mystical energy and light or making sure your house faces the right direction or the plants are placed in the right location or running water at the right spot to divert and direct energy or maybe you just kind of skip all of that and you wear a red string. God calls it wandering. Spiritual hunting for truth in the wrong places.

The great Christian thinker and author C.S. Lewis once said, very simply, there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who say to God, thy will be done and those to whom God says, all right then, have it your way. You'd rather have a string than a savior?

Have it your way. You'd rather yoke to the universe and the flow of energy you believe is out there than wear my yoke, which is easy and light, have it your way. If you'd rather fight evil energy by hanging mirrors on the wall rather than by applying the mirror of the word, have it your way. But be warned, your spiritual experimentations may be symptoms of a hardened heart. Paul goes on in this paragraph to give us the second symptom of hardened hearts against the gospel of grace, not only a loss of spiritual direction, but a loss of spiritual discernment. As it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not. Deuteronomy chapter 29 that refers to the spiritual blindness of the people, their inability to discern truth from error, which is the condition of the unbelieving world. In fact, even as a believer, did you know, according to the New Testament, you didn't wake up and all of a sudden have the ability to discern everything that's true from everything that's error?

You learn that by practice. The writer of the New Testament passage said, you learn discernment by practicing that which you apply in your own life you've discovered in the word of God. Well, people who do not believe never get even to the point of beginning to learn. They simply cannot see. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, a natural or an unbelieving man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for their foolishness to him and he cannot understand them.

Why? Because they are spiritually discerned. Jesus Christ is the physical manifestation of trying God. But as you know, the nation rejected the light. John would write later in Chapter three, and this is the judgment that light has come into the world and men love the darkness rather than the light for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed.

John 3 19 to 20. In other words, leave me in the dark. I don't want my deeds exposed by the light.

It hurts my eyes. So what I'm thinking or doing or saying or planning or dreaming, leave it alone. See, conversion to faith in Christ is exposure, as it were, voluntarily to the gaze of God. To refuse it is to wander without spiritual direction, to wander without spiritual discernment.

Third, the third symptom is the loss of spiritual discrimination. Verse eight and ears to hear not down to this very day. They had ears, but they couldn't hear spiritually speaking. In other words, we want to stay in the dark because unbelievers, since our deeds are evil, we don't want any lights turned on. But when we come to faith in Christ, we have the light, as it were, turned on. We have the light, as it were, turned on.

We have spiritual direction and spiritual discernment and spiritual discrimination. Paul writes to the Jewish nation here in Romans 11, you have chosen the darkness. You want the darkness, but beware there are consequences.

And he'll go on to give them. But first, let me give you some consequences we can see all around us. There is the consequence, first of all, of moral darkness. There is moral darkness to any person or any people who reject the light of the gospel. Moral wandering.

The loss of any moral absolute. Nobody today can say this is wrong or this is right. Is it any wonder then that a little more than 600 teenagers will contract syphilis every single day? Every day. Is it any surprise in this wandering moral world of ours that during the next 24 hours more than 35,000 Americans will contract a sexually transmitted disease that's 13 million a year?

Is it any wonder that there are 3 million alcoholics in this country between the ages of 14 and 17? No one to lead them. They wander. In fact, they choose the darkness.

Is it any wonder that homosexuality or fornication or any other form of sexual deviancy, according to the scriptures, not only accepted but defended in our world as a personal right? Just yesterday, another picture was in the newspaper of a lovely woman in a white flowing wedding dress with a long veil holding her bouquet of flowers, standing in civil ceremony next to another woman also wearing a white wedding dress with a veil and a bouquet of flowers. I thought, how sad. How sad. I studied their faces a while in the newspaper. I thought to myself, how sad. And they're wandering.

One side of them dreaming to be a bride in a white dress. The other side through a choosing of the darkness, perhaps abuse, deviancy, rebellion, bound in a natural union, Paul writes, to just another one wishing for the same thing. See, my friends, you reject the light of God's moral standard and you choose moral darkness. There is the consequence, secondly, of intellectual darkness. This is the inability to integrate and interpret what's truth. And maybe as you've attempted, and I trust you are, reach those unbelievers around you, you're startled at times with their inability to connect the dots, to interpret and integrate truth.

Brilliant people in society and spiritually, beginners if not even that. On the way to college to drop off our guys, we swung by the site and sound theater and in the middle of Amish country, we went to see with our guys, Noah and the ark. Live animals, the stage so designed that it came around that when the storm began, the way they had it set would put you literally inside the ark. It was unforgettable. And visually, it brought a lot of things to my mind. They would bring animals down the aisle of that huge auditorium and across this massive stage. And I remembered thinking, imagine being there. You've heard for 120 years, the warning that rain's coming and if you're not in the boat, you don't make it. Then you're there and you see animals and pairs showing up. I mean, surely you think God's doing something a little unusual or at least something strange is happening. There they go.

Yet to know according to the scriptures, nobody made a reservation outside the family of Noah. In fact, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4, they missed the connection between reality and biblical truth. They can't see it. They can't hear it.

Why? Because the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. They just can't see it unless the Spirit of God by the grace of God opens their eyes. I love the satire of this incident I read recently involving Sherlock Holmes and his bumbling friend, Dr. Watson. They're on the trail of some adventure and they have to camp outdoors and so they pitched their tent under the stars and they went to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, Sherlock woke Dr. Watson and said, Watson, look up at the stars and tell me what deductions you can make. Watson rubbed his eyes and looked up and said, well, I see millions of stars and if even a few of those have planets, it's quite possible there are some planets like Earth and if there are a few planets like Earth and I suppose we could deduct there would be additional life.

Holmes eventually interrupted, no, no, Watson, no, somebody stole our tent. Let that sink in here. How brilliant we can sound at guessing and at the same time miss what's directly in front of our nose. One old Puritan leader once wrote it this way, the man who deliberately shuts his eyes against the light of truth shall gradually lose the power of seeing. These are the consequences of moral and intellectual darkness. Let me give you another one more, the consequence of spiritual darkness. We've already talked and give an ample illustration of this in Rome and Israel and certainly even in America. To the Jewish nation who rejected the light of the world, they screamed as you know for Rome to extinguish the light.

I find it fascinating that God in that scene gave them an illustration of what they wanted. You want the darkness? You want to extinguish the light?

Then I'll give you what you want. And so as you remember according to Luke's gospel where the sun was miraculously obscured and darkness fell across the land, deep thick darkness, you could almost touch it. It's as if the father was saying to humanity you don't want the light, you want darkness?

Well here you can have it. They were given the physical demonstration of separation as it were from God. The land was covered with darkness. Unless you come to the gospel of grace there is eternal darkness in the future of our unbelieving world. But for the believer by the way, and this is off a rabbit trail I suppose, but Revelation 21 it's interesting to me that it describes heaven as a place filled with what? Light.

Light. For those of you who have accepted the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, your future won't even have any remnant of moral and intellectual and spiritual and even ethical darkness. Things that we may even struggle with now as we struggle in this journey to be conformed to the image of Christ.

Our hearts easily calloused, our hearts hardened. God would keep us clear and clean and fresh before him. Now the Jews felt secure in what we could consider their handmade crate. You know they had the law, they had the prophets, they had the writing.

They constructed their crate out of those and they felt confident as they clutched them as it were to their chest. And Paul, I think it's very interesting in this paragraph here, quotes from all three the law, the prophets, and the writing. In verse 8 the first part he's quoted from Isaiah chapter 29 verse 10. In the second part of verse 8 he quotes from Deuteronomy chapter 29 verse 4 or the law. And then he quotes from the writings verse 9, one of David's Psalms.

All three parts of sacred scripture condemn the choice of Israel to reject the grace of God through Jesus Christ. You see ladies and gentlemen you have here the divine prognosis. The nation has a hardened heart. You have the symptoms of the prognosis, eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear. And now you have in verse 9 the seriousness of the prognosis. Here are the unavoidable consequences in coming judgment. Look at verse 9. David says, let their table become a snare and a trap and a stumbling block and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see not.

You can circle the words of warning in this text. Snare, trap, stumbling block, retribution. They trusted in their table, David begins, but their table turns on them and becomes their snare. It could be their table of ritual. It could be their table of feasts. It could be their table of show bread. We're not told exactly which table. It could be the table that David refers to in Psalm 23 verse 5. The Lord who is my shepherd prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.

But that table which they held such great confidence in is going to turn on them. There will no longer be protection under the judgment of God. Verse 8, they move from eyes that will not see to here in verse 10, eyes that cannot see. It moves from I will not believe the gospel to I cannot believe the gospel. So is Israel going to be discarded? Then as a nation, this is quite a prognosis here.

These are terrible symptoms and this is quite some judgment facing them. Well, if you look over to verse 25, Paul says, I don't want you to be uninformed, brethren, of this mystery lest you be wise in your own estimation. He explains, a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. In other words, believe it or not, there is hope for this hardened nation. He says the hardening of Israel's heart here is partial, not total. While the nation is hardened, there are individual Jews within the nation that can be part of that election. They can believe. Some Jews can. In fact, I had one come up to me and introduce himself to me and he said, I'm Jewish and I want you to know I've come to faith in Jesus Christ.

I'm one of these who are part of the partial members of Israel who have believed in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. So the hardening of the nation's heart is partial, not total. Furthermore, according to that passage in verse 25, it is temporary and not eternal. In fact, he says in verse 25, it's going to be over after this fullness of the Gentiles has come in. You say, well, what does that mean? Well, we'll get there to verse 25 eventually and we'll find out more. Let me say one more thing by way of application here from this text.

The Israelite held to their law, their writings, their prophets. But God said, I see your heart. And that's the problem.

You'll never make it. Your heart can't take the journey from earth to heaven. I don't know of an American that would ever consider taking a journey without an inspection tag that's current, unless you forget, like I periodically do too. And it just kind of slips up on you.

Proper identification. And we're so convinced we have to have it. And we're going to be here for 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 years.

And then we have 80, 90 billion. Where's that blessed assurance? There's a vast difference between Blue Cross, Blue Shield insurance and blessed assurance, isn't there? Most people see the benefit of Blue Cross. Not many see the benefit of an old, rugged cross. The truth remains, the only way there is the light of the gospel shed through Jesus Christ.

It's the only way of ever hoping to arrive safely home. I want to tell you one more story here by way of illustration, and then we're done. In January of 1985, a large suitcase, it was unmarked and it was unclaimed. It arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport. It went around and around and around until finally it was set aside. It finally caught the attention of US customs agents. And when customs agents opened the suitcase, they found the curled up body of a young Iranian woman. She had been dead for four days.

The story, according to this article, finally fell together under an investigation. She was the wife of a young Iranian living in the United States. She was unable to obtain a visa to enter the States. So she took matters into her own hands and decided to ship herself into America via the cargo bay of an airplane. Unlike Charles McKinley, we talked about him earlier, she wasn't put in a pressurized cargo bay and was killed in flight. The truth is, even if she had survived the journey, she would have been an illegal alien and forced to return to Iran. You know, Paul is making it as clear as he possibly can make it here. You can't sneak into the kingdom.

You can't come up with some clever way. You're never smuggled in and you can't get there in a limousine either, right? And a rowboat, a wooden crate. The good news is God has already purchased a ticket for us in first class.

We don't know when it will take flight. God has determined the days of our lives, but it is that vehicle of grace that takes us safely home. When we come to the gospel of Christ in faith, we gain entrance into God's everlasting kingdom of heaven.

I'm glad you've joined us today. Today's message from Romans 11 is called, You Can't Get to Heaven in a Wooden Crate. Stephen Davey is our teacher here on Wisdom for the Heart. He's also the president of Shepherd's Theological Seminary. If you or someone you know would like to pursue graduate level seminary training, consider Shepherd's. There's a link to Shepherd's Seminary on our website.

You can study at one of our four campus locations across the United States, and you can study online wherever you are. You'll find us online if you go to wisdomonline.org. The link to Shepherd's Seminary is at the bottom of that homepage. Be sure and visit our website often. There's a lot of information there, as well as many resources to help you grow in your faith. It would encourage us to know that you're listening and to learn what God's doing in your life. You can write to us at Wisdom International, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. Join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 17:05:57 / 2022-12-03 17:16:12 / 10

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