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Summary: Jesus shared with his audience then and his congregation today that life is not always a rose garden. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Some who are open to the gospel are often rejected by those who oppose it and sometimes they are family members.

CRESCENDO

Text: Luke 12:49 - 56

Have you ever had something happen that made your Adrenalin glands kick in instant overdrive when you were almost asleep? It said that Beethoven would sometimes shock his audiences with a shift from soft music to abrupt harsh noise. Imagine sitting there as one in his audience listening to him playing music soft enough to lure you to sleep and then shocking your ears with an abrupt clashing sound as he put his forearm across several keys at once. What was his point? His point was that the world we live in is not always a “soft and cosy place”. (N. T. Wright. Luke For Everyone. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster, 2001, p. 158). In much the same way Jesus shared with his audience then and his congregation today that life is not always a rose garden. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Some who are open to the gospel are often rejected by those who oppose it and sometimes they are family members.

Wait a minute! Didn’t Luke’s Gospel mention “peace on earth and good will among men” (Luke 2:14) as Jesus our Emmanuel (our God with us) after Jesus’s birth? Do you remember Simeon’s words to Mary…”This child is set for the fall and rising of many” (Luke 2:34)? Could that be why Jesus is now addressing his congregation then as those of us in His congregation to day this way at the closing verses of Luke 12?

Three things we can glean from this text are combustion conviction and conversion.

COMBUSTION

Why is fire such a big deal in this passage of scripture? 1) Symbolism : To the Hebrew mind, fire is about judgment. One pastor summed it the best when he clarified it this way. “The symbolism of fire denotes two things: Fire destroys the temporary and it refines the permanent”. (Michael Duduit. Ed. The Abingdon Preaching Annual: 1995. Rick McDaniel. “Costly Change.” Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, p .286).

2)Refining fire: The same fire that “consumes our dross also refines our gold” according the the hymn “How Firm A Foundation”.

3)Rekindling the fire: The apostle Paul gives us good advice when he said, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame [some versions NRSV say rekindle; other versions KJV say stir up which is the translates as rekindle in the original Greek NT] the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands…” (2 Timothy 1:6 ESV). As it says in Luke 11:13: “If God wants to give to those who ask of Him the gift of the Holy Spirit …” (and he does), then shouldn’t we do all that we can to keep that fire going rather than quenching God’s Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19)? In the original Greek to quench mean the same thing as to extinguish.

How many people do you know that are playing with fire?

1)Playing with fire: As a kid I once played with matches and set a small portion of the yard on fire. Needless to say I went to stomp it out before it got bigger than my foot. Playing with matches is one thing but playing with the fire of God’s judgement is no joke.

2) Hell is no joke: The fires of hell are no joking matter! According to three verses in the bible the worm will not do and the fires of hell will not be quenched (Mark 9:44, 46 and 48). Consider the verse of Isaiah 66:24 which basically says the same thing. Since the fire will never burn out and the worm (maggot) will never die because it eats a body that it will never devour which suggests the idea of eternal suffering and remorse. (George A. Buttrick. ed. The Interpreter’s Bible. Volume 5. Thirty-Seventh Reprinting. James Muilenburg. Chapters 40 -66: “ Introduction and Exegesis.” 1987, p. 773). That is why we can say that hell is no joke!

CONVERSION

Do you believe that God want to save us all?

1)Repentance: II Peter 3: 9 says so! “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (ESV).  

2)Redeemer: John 3:16 - 18 says so! John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  3:17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 

If God wants to save us all, then why is there a hell? 1) Chosen people: If God wants to save us all does that mean that we are predestined? We are predestined by God for heaven, but we must choose God. Remember that God chose the children of Israel to be His chosen nation--- the nation that would be called the light to the Gentiles. Isaiah 49:6 said it this way: “… I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (ESV). As we know from the history, God sent prophet after prophet to get the people to get right with God after every relapse into sin. Their pattern looked like sin, repent, repeat sin, repent and so on.

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