Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O'Neill
Let's say you have a dear friend who has been your companion through grade school and high school and then through college, and you both graduate more or less together, in business. You know the way he thinks, and he or she knows exactly the way you think. You're like brothers, virtually like identical twins. Then the interviews start taking place for job opportunities and you find yourselves interviewing often for the same job. A certain interview comes up and your friend of course is going for it too but by this time you're both pretty well interviewed to death and getting just a little desperate. The interviewer talks to you about your qualifications and your abilities and says, so and so is also up for this job. And you say, "Yes, but I don't think he wants to stay in this area." And that's it. You get the job and he doesn't get the job. He in fact has to leave the area and get a job elsewhere on the other side of the nation.
You can do whatever you will but you know that there is a concrete wall now built between your dear friend and you. Even if he doesn't feel it, you feel it. You know what you did. So through the years, you send Christmas cards, birthday cards, and cards when his children are baptized. You have tried in every way to keep up the old relationship. You tell each other about what's going on in your lives but it's not the same. His wife gets sick and your wife goes out and helps her. In every way you try to help him. You do everything possible to help him. And yet there is not the same witness of your spirit as there used to be deep down that you two are "like that." Because you know that at one crucial moment in your lives you did the dirty on him. You know you did it, even if he doesn't.
Actually you know yourselves, the relationship will never be healed, until one incident takes place. That incident will be you, flying over to where he lives and then getting together with him in a room and saying, "Look John, look Jean, there's been something on my conscience for years that I did against you. You don't even know I did it, but things can never be the same between us as they used to be when we were at school, until I have settled this with you." Then you go and explain in detail what you did. You know fine well that even if he doesn't forgive you, even if he says that's the end, there is a burden of your conscience that sets you free.
But you know what most likely happens at that time in a human relationship. He just opens his arms and says, "Oh, that's all right, it's all over and done with now. We're further on in our lives. Let's put our arms around each other and be together again. You know that then something inside clicks and a gate opens or a door opens and your spirit is one with his spirit.
Now that's the same with this rich young ruler. He tried sending the birthday cards, sending the Christmas cards, visiting the wife when she was sick, trying to help in every way. In fact, he actually came to Jesus and said, "What good deed must I do to have eternal life?" I have sent the birthday cards, I sent the Christmas cards, what else can I do?" Then Jesus played the game with him, for a while. The Lord said, "Don't commit adultery, don't steal, and don't kill." Then the ruler said, "Yes, yes, I've been playing those games for all my life. All these things I've done."
Because of course he knew the problem and Jesus knew the problem. And then he said, "What more do I lack?" and Jesus said, "Well, you lack dealing with the only thing that separates you from knowing that God, My Father loves you. You lack the one thing that has built a concrete wall between you and your God. You lack the one thing that you know you have done against God. Go and sell all that you have and give to the poor."
And then, the young man turned and went away sorrowful. Sorrowful because he realized what he wanted could not be obtained by playing the religious game. It could only be obtained if he started to get honest with God about the thing or things that God had already pointed out were wrong in his life. Loved ones, it's the same with every one of us here this morning.
All kinds of us here can come to communion and we can say to ourselves, "Oh, you know I am not worthy to come to communion." And then we can go through all this business: "Well, I am not worthy but I am trying to be a Christian. I am trying." And many of us say, "Well, I am going to Bible studies, reading a Bible, and praying. I am doing all kinds of things. I am doing everything that a Christian is supposed to do. And I am a person that is fit to take communion." And yet we will go away sorrowful this morning.
That is, we'll go away without a consciousness that God is our Father and has forgiven us and has changed us in His son Jesus and that if we died today, we would go to heaven. That's it. We'll go away without that. We'll go without the witness of God's spirit that He has personally forgiven me. A down to earth blunt reason we will go away with that feeling is we have not dealt with the one thing that the Holy Spirit has brought to our conscious repeatedly as being wrong in our lives.
He said, "Obey all the laws" but if you don't deal with your dear God about the one thing that He has been pointing out to you repeatedly as something that is not pleasing to Him, then loved ones there'll be no consciousness in you of that oneness with your God. You see why there can't be, because this is a personal relationship between you and your dear Father who made you. This isn't some kind of religious game where you notch up: "I don't commit adultery, I don't murder, I don't steal." This is a dear father who loves you and against whom you have "done the dirty." Until you put that right, you will not feel in your heart or sense in your spirit the witness of His Spirit and you'll go away sorrowful this morning.
You'll go away with a wee bit of a lift because it is a nice service, isn't it? You'll go away with a wee bit of a lift, a wee bit of inspiration and you've talked about the things that happened. You might even be lightly healed. It kind of holds the conscience down for another month. So, you might go away, "Well, God's a forgiving God." But you won't go out of here with a clear sense that you're a child of God, that you're a Christian, that you will go to heaven, that God knows you, that He has dealt with you in Jesus, He loves you and if you die today, you'll go into heaven. You won't go away with that complete confidence.
That's why our society is cluttered with "so-called" Christians. I mean everybody is a Christian now. You're just out of it if you're not a Christian. If you're not born again, you're nobody. So, everybody is born again, everybody is a Christian. But why so many of us lack a personal sense of knowing God and of Him knowing us, is because at a time like communion, we deal with all the laws except the one that applies to our hearts. The whole danger of the moral majority is not even so much the political issue, though that's tricky enough. The whole danger is that: "If I oppose abortion, if I am for a strong America, etc., etc., etc., if I don't commit adultery too obviously, if I don't murder or steal then I am born again."
Loved ones, it's nothing to do with it, nothing to do with it. It's a personal relationship between you and the dear Father who made you. So you know in your own heart what it is. It can be something that doesn't seem bad to any of the rest of us here. Do you fully understand that I am not supporting smoking, but one guy could be smoking over here, and God might not be dealing with him on that? Yet another girl over here could be smoking and God is dealing with her on that. It's a personal thing. Where is God dealing with you in your conscience? If you don't settle that this morning and have done with that sin whatever it is, then you will go away sorrowful.
Now I know some of you have a tendency to think, "Oh well, he just went away sorrowful, but it wasn't any more serious than that." Well, listen to Jesus' comments: "Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." That's what Jesus said about it. This man wasn't just going away sorrowful as somebody who would get into heaven. This man was going away sorrowful and Jesus saw that he was not in the kingdom of heaven because He heard his words but he would not do them. That's the same with us this morning.
If you say to me, "Do you mean we have to be perfect to get into heaven?" No, but you have to be straight with God. You have to be living up to the light that He has given you in your conscience. It doesn't matter what the rest of us think of you. You might look terrible. You might appear to us a very evil person but if you're dealing with God on the issues that He is dealing with you about then you can know the witness of His Spirit.
It's very interesting isn't it when we think of the two guys that we talked about at the beginning. I am sure that the fellow that lived here had all kinds of things wrong in his life. He could have all kinds of things wrong in his life. His friend on the west coast or wherever he was, he wouldn't care about all those. Those didn't affect the relationship. The only thing that affected the relationship was the thing that the one guy had done against the other. Now, God's dear Spirit is whispering in your heart this very moment, "What in your life is making His Son's death here, a vain thing?"
God's Spirit at this moment is whispering in your conscience, "Look, I've changed you in My Son Jesus but I want you to accept the change here in this area. Until you do, all that I have done for you in My Son will be of no avail. You will go into outer darkness or live in loneliness." So loved ones, what is it in your life and what is it in my life? That's what will determine whether we go away sorrowful or joyful this morning.
So will you deal with it? If anybody here this morning is saying, "Everybody is lax in morals, everybody is lax. Everybody is jumping in and out of everybody else's bed. I am just doing what everybody else is doing." Loved ones, it doesn't matter what they're doing. If God has already convicted you about that, if you don't stop now this morning, you will go out of here sorrowful. It is the same with every other issue in our lives, whether it's dishonesty in our businesses or it's the sarcastic tone of voice we're using with those at home. Whatever it is, God is able to tell you now what He wants you to change. I'd encourage you to do it.
If you read on in this verse it says you won't give up anything for the kingdom of God's sake -- man, husbands, wives, children, houses, property, anything. God will give you it all back a hundred fold. So it's nothing. Remember what one of the greats said, "You give away what you cannot keep, to get what you cannot lose." So you give away this morning what you cannot keep anyway -- that little idol in your heart. Someday it's going to go. You give that away to get what you cannot lose which is the favor and love and the close friendship of your God and your Father. So will you think about that loved ones as I ask you now to stand and receive the invitation to communion?
You that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins and are in love and charity with your neighbors and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God and walking from henceforth in His Holy ways, draw near with faith and take this holy sacrament to your comfort and make your humble confession unto Almighty God.
Let's be seated as we pray.
We do not presume to come to this thy table, most merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table, but thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore gracious Lord, so by faith to receive thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, that the bread we break may be unto us the communion of his body, and the cup of blessing, which we bless, may be the communion of his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.
The Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and broke it and said, "This is My body which was given for you, this do, in remembrance of Me." In like manner, He took the cup after supper saying, "This is the cup of the new covenant in My blood, this do, as often as you drink it", for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup you proclaim the Lord's death till He come.
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