MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
GOD WANTS US TO BE SURE!
TEXT: 1 John 5:11-13; John 10:14,27-28; Romans 8:31-39
What do we know for sure?
ILL. The great preacher, John Wesley, once said, “When I was young I was sure of everything. But after a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before.
"And at present, I am hardly sure of anything except what God has revealed to me.”
ILL. We seem to live in a world filled with unclear messages. And the undisputed champion of muddled messages was Yogi Berra, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame & former manager of the NY Yankees. Here are a few of his better-known “Yogi-isms.”
“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it!"
"You better cut the pizza in 4 pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat 6."
"Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."
“You got to be careful - if you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.”
"You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't come to yours."
And there’s the time a lady said to him, “Good afternoon, Mr. Berra. You look mighty cool today.” “Thank you, ma’am,” Yogi replied. “You don’t look so hot yourself.” (Bits & Pieces, February 4, 1993, p. 14)
Sometimes things are rather confusing. But our confusion doesn’t always stem from muddled messages. Sometimes the words are clear, but the message is simply untrue or has been twisted to fit the speaker's agenda.
We're seeing plenty of evidence of this today in reporters & celebrities who rush to judgment without first determining the facts, & in politicians who are quick to speak but evidently slow to listen.
PROP. As a result, sometimes it is difficult to know what is true & what is false. But surely, there are some things we can count on, some things we can know for sure. Just what do we know for sure?
I. THE BIBLE SPEAKS WITH CERTAINTY
First of all, like John Wesley, we can be sure when God has spoken. The Bible never speaks with timidity.
The Bible never says, "It could be this or "It could be that." In His Word, God speaks with certainty. Just think how the Bible answers these basic questions:
A. "How did life begin?" The world says, "Well, maybe there was a big bang 200 million years or so ago, & somehow that started an evolutionary chain. And they go on to add, “Of course, we haven't found the missing links yet, but we're sure we'll find them some day." Now that's a rather uncertain answer.
But the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) God created all forms of life ? in the sea, in the sky, & on the earth.
Then when He reached down & fashioned man, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, & the man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)
You see, that answer is a certain one. God’s Word simply says, "This is the way it happened."
B. Another question, "How did we get into all the mess in which we find ourselves today?"
"Why has mankind become so violent? How did we become so immoral? Why is there so much poverty? Why are there wars? Why can't we live in peace?"
The world gives all kinds of answers. But the Bible gives only one answer. The Bible says that we got where we are because of sin.
Go back to the Garden of Eden & to the fall of Adam & Eve, & you'll realize that is the reason we have weeds in our gardens. That's the reason there is pain in childbirth. That's the reason there is disease & sickness & death in our world - all because of sin.
C. "And how can we get out of our mess?" "What can we do to solve these problems?" The world has many suggestions but no solutions.
But the Bible says, "Nothing is going to change for the better until we have been changed inside ? not until our hearts & minds are changed, not until our wills & emotions are changed & refashioned into the image of Christ."
D. Again, "What is going to happen to us after this life is over?” The world has many answers, all the way from reincarnation to "Nirvana" - eternal nothingness.
ILL. A preacher named Cocoris tells about conducting a rap session with high school teenagers. In it one girl asked, “The Bible says that God loves everybody. Then we're told that God sends people to Hell. How can a loving God do that?”
Cocoris said, “I gave her my answer, & she came back at me with arguments. I answered her arguments, & she responded to my answers. I did not convince her, nor did she convince me. Soon the session was over.
“Afterwards I approached her & said, ‘I owe you an apology. I really should not have allowed our discussion to become so argumentative.’
”Then I asked, ‘May I share something with you?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ So I took her through a basic presentation of the gospel.
“When I got to Romans 3:23 & suggested that all of us were sinners she began to cry. It was then that this high school senior told me she was having an affair with a married man.
“The reason she refused to believe in hell was because in her heart she knew she was sinning. Her conscience condemned her, but rather than face her guilt, she simply denied any future judgment or future hell.” (Adapted from Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 163)
Despite what the world says, the Bible says that when we finish this life, if Jesus Christ is our Savior & Lord, we have the promise of heaven & life with Him for all eternity.
But if you refuse Him, if you turn your back upon Jesus & go your own way, then there is no promise of heaven, but a certainty of hell, of an eternity without God & His presence.
SUM. There is no middle ground in the Bible - no multiple choices. The Bible speaks with absolute certainty & says, "This is the way it is."
II. THE WORLD SPEAKS WITH UNCERTAINTY
And yet we look at our world & find uncertainty with many voices clamoring for our attention.
A. There is the voice of doubt that says, "If there is a God, how could He permit all these things that happen? It seems to me that God's people ought to have preferential treatment. God's people ought to have a better life than anyone else."
Yet, some of God's people find themselves victims of disease, poverty, & loss of their jobs. So those speaking words of doubt say, "If there really is a God, surely He would not permit this to happen." So they decide that there is no God.
B. There are also voices of knowledge. We have computer banks full of information. All we have to do is just push the right buttons to get all the information we want. But you go through the maze of all that knowledge & ask, "What is the truth?” And there is no answer.
ILL. As someone has said, "If you educate your children without God, all you do is make clever devils of them."
C. There are even some uncertain voices of religion. The Bible says the church is to be the pillar & support of truth.
Yet, go to some churches & you'll hear uncertain sounds – messages denying the basics of our faith ? the virgin birth, the resurrection, whether Jesus Christ is really God's Son, & whether He did die on the cross for our sins. And at the same time you see others using religion to rip people off.
Too many people prefer religious leaders who say, "I don't want to lay a guilt trip on you. Just do it your own way, as long as you're sincere. It is all up to you."
III. GOD WANTS US TO BE SURE
A. And yet, God wants us to be confident, to be sure, & that's the reason His Word speaks with such certainty. Uncertainty leads to destruction, but certainty leads to confidence & courage.
Go back & study the martyrs who died for their Christian faith. Why did they die? Because they believed with all their heart that the message was true. There was no uncertainty there. They were ready to stand up for God & even face death rather than deny Him.
B. Let me read some of the confident messages in God’s Word.
1. In the Gospel of John 10:14. Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep & my sheep know me…”
Here is something we can know for sure. Jesus said, "You can know that I am your shepherd. I know every thought you're thinking. I know every worry, every concern of your life."
And then in vs’s 27-28 He says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, & they follow me. I give them eternal life, & they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
2. In Romans 8:31-32, Paul says, "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"
Paul is saying, "If God was willing to give His only begotten Son for us, then He will surely give us everything we really need."
3. Vs. 35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"
Vs’s 38-39 say, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Do you hear the confidence there? Paul is saying, "Here is something you can know ? nothing in this world, nothing in heaven or on earth will ever be able to separate you from the love of God.”
4. Then, in 1 John 5:11-13, we read these wonderful words of assurance, "God has given us eternal life, & this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
SUM. Here is something more we can know for sure. If you have the Son, you have eternal life. If you don't have the Son, you don't have life. And you make the decision!
Is Jesus Christ your Lord & Savior? Do you have the promise of everlasting life?
ILL. Tony Campolo recalls a deeply moving incident that happened during Jr. High week at a Christian camp.
Even though this was a Christian camp, many of the campers were not Christians, & they treated one of the other campers, a boy with spastic palsy, with heartless ridicule. Whenever he had to say anything, the boys would mock him, making fun of the difficulty he had in speaking.
One night some of these boys managed to have him chosen to lead the devotions for the camp. It was one more attempt on their part to have some “fun” at his expense.
Unashamedly the spastic boy slowly stood, & in his strained, slurred manner - each word coming with enormous effort - he said simply, “Jesus loves me - & I love Jesus!”
That was all he was able to say, but no one laughed. There was absolute silence, broken only by the sound of some of the boys beginning to cry.
Something wonderful happened in the hearts of the campers that week, & it was all because of his simple testimony, “Jesus loves me - & I love Jesus!” (Our Daily Bread, April 1, 1993)
Is Jesus your Savior? Can you say with assurance, “Jesus loves me - & I love Jesus”?
If that’s not yet true for you this morning, then we offer the invitation of Jesus Himself. He stands ready to receive you, to welcome you, to hold you in His arms as a shepherd would his sheep ? to forgive you of all your sins.
INVITATION: So if that is your need we invite you to come & make your profession of faith, & to follow His example & command in Christian baptism.
Or maybe you have already taken that step & are looking for a church home, a place where you can fellowship & serve. We invite you to come & join with us here, to share in the ministry that God has laid before us. Will you come as we stand & as we sing?