Is It Too Late?
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Let me begin by saying that this is an important text, because we can all think of those we have known who, were once radiant witnesses for Christ…who were sidetracked and are now no longer a part of the church.
First, it is important because we can all think of someone who made a profession of faith in Christ and seemed to go on energetically for a while, but then something happened in their life. Perhaps they experienced some difficulty or tragedy. Perhaps they fell into immorality. Or perhaps they went off to pursue a career, college, a new job. Yet with a knowledge of the truth, they deliberately turn away from it. They completely turn their back on Christ and seem set on trampling on everything they once held sacred.
We have all struggled with the pain and confusion of seeing those who have come into the church suddenly turn and walk away as if their profession of faith in Christ were meaningless. What happened? Were they ever really saved? Did Christ fail in saving them?
They professed to be Christians, they were baptized, they were active in church activities. So, what happened?
Secondly, today’s text is important because it has caused untold agony to many sensitive Christians. It’s as if Satan uses scriptures such as these to create hopelessness and despair. So, what do these passages teach? Today, we are going to examine this passage in a little different manner, by asking and seeking to answer four important questions.
The First Important Question Is, Can A Christian Really Know They Are Saved Forever?
There are strong differences of opinion that swirl around about how to interpret verses four through six. In fact, this passage is one of the great theological battlefields of Scripture. The difficulty lies in determining whether the “enlightened” ones (v. 4) who “fell away” (v. 6) were believers or unbelievers?
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace.
The first interpretation of this passage is that it is used to support those who believe that you can lose your salvation. The four verbal actions of verses four and five - “enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good word of God” - do seem to express authentic Christian conversion experience. Correct!
Interestingly enough, those who teach that we can lose our salvation also teach that such a person can be “saved again.” But this passage teaches just the opposite, that in fact it is “impossible.” (v.4) So if this passage teaches that a person can lose his salvation, it also must teach that he can never be saved a second or third time. In other words if this refers to apostasy, once a saved person turns his back on Christ, he cannot be restored to salvation again. He is lost forever.
I want to make it crystal clear that I believe we have a secure salvation because Scripture is very clear on this point. There are many Scriptures that assure the believer that once one is saved he/she can never be lost again.
The Lord Jesus Christ … makes some tremendous statements about our absolute security. For example…
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
What kind of life? “eternal life”, If you can lose it, it is not eternal! Which will make our Lord Jesus a liar. But of course, we all know that Jesus does not lie. He is “the Way, The Truth, and The Life”.
“and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand”. It is not a question of anyone’s ability to hold on to Him, it is His ability to hold on to you.
How is it possible for anyone to experience all that described in verse 4 and 5 and still not be saved, we ask? Lets, let scripture give us the answer…
9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
So… it is clear, that Simon, believed, followed the disciples, and was baptized! But something clear was revealed about Simon. Did he really believe in Jesus? Or did he just believe for some other reason?
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
“You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God”. Which means that, being saved, receiving the Holy Spirit, is all by God’s power. No one has any part in this matter. ITS ALL GOD!!!
“for your heart is not right in the sight of God” Anyone can carry the name Christian, a believer. But it is God who knows the heart. if you have been born again, then your heart has been changed. You will truly follow, obey God’s commands. Because your new heart, has the same heart as Christ, which is truly in love with God.
Perhaps the best example is Judas. Judas as one of the Lord’s disciples, walked and talked daily with the Lord, heard his preaching, witnessed his miracles and was one those sent out to preach the “good news.” Yet Jesus called him the “son of perdition” and a “devil”
Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?”
Judas did not lose his salvation, he never had it. In spite of all the advantages he possessed and his enormous exposure to the truth, it is plain that he resisted and ultimately rejected Christ and turned away to a sad death and eternal judgment.
We must remember there is a great difference between “falling” and “falling away.” Falling, means simply to stumble or to fall down. Falling away… isn’t just falling into some sin, it is actually departing from Jesus Himself.
For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
The righteous man…those who have been truly saved, will persevere. There is no failure in Christ’s redemption.
We need to make something very clear. Does God ever reject anyone who comes in genuine repentance? The answer of course is, No! He is always ready to save the sinner who turns to Him for grace. “God has pledged Himself to pardon all who truly repent, but Scripture and experience alike suggest that it is possible for human beings to arrive at a state of heart and life where they can no longer repent. They just really love to sin more than they love God.
Another good example of this would be the Biblical character named Esau…
16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
“fornicator or profane”, in the NIV… “sexually immoral, or is godless” Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Esau genuinely repented and was rejected by God. God does not reject genuine repentance, the text plainly says “he found no place for repentance.” In other words, he could not repent. He was so hardened, that he cried out for things to go better in his life, but inside he would not submit to God’s terms. He really did not want to repent. His heart was not right with God.
Now… we get to a very important question, a self-examination if you will. IS THIS TRUE OF ME?
Is my heart right with God? Satan uses these verses to unsettle believers who are having physical, mental, or emotional difficulties. They fear that they have fallen away from Christ and that there is no hope for restoration. They worry that they have drifted beyond redemption’s point. Yet…it is possible to get just enough of the gospel to make you immune, but will not allow it to work deeply enough to save you!
You see… the big difference between the times that we stumble & fall, and falling away completely is this… When we do stumble and fall, we get right back up again, and that is by Gods power. We see the fault of our sin, our weakness, and God restores us back to fight the battle, and persevere. Completely falling away, is just like, Simon the sorcerer, Judas, Esau, and so many more. They were never really truly converted. Again, they held on to sin… sin deliberately, and was not at all in any area of their lives to repent.
Going back to our opening verse. Can anyone really crucify Christ again?
6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace.
What this verse reveals is that one who has come this close to the gospel and turned away is actually worse off than someone who never heard in the first place. We see it in the world around us. Many of the harshest critics of Christianity, like Ted Turner, are those who were once professing Christians! Christians who turns into atheists. They mock Jesus, they do their best, profess their best that at one time I was Christian, but not anymore. And they give their story as to why they don’t believe…follow anymore.
When anyone has heard the gospel and then turns away, he has done exactly as those Jews who condemned Jesus to the Cross.
Another important question, Is It Possible To Truly Be A Christian And Have No Fruit? Lets see what scripture will say…
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
An easier translation…
Hebrews 6:7-8 (NIV)
7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Now the writer turns to the world of nature to find a counterpart to the true believer (v. 7) and to the unbeliever (v. 8). In both cases the person is likened to the land.
The true believer is like the land “which drinks in the rain,” brings forth useful vegetation, and is blessed by God. In verse eight the one who refuses to believe is like land that also is well watered but it “bears” nothing but “thorns and briers,” the fruit of sin. It receives the same rain, but never produces useful fruit. Such land is worthless. It is condemned already. Its destiny “is to be burned.”
There was an ancient practice of burning the ground to destroy the weeds and make the field useful again. Land that produced nothing, but weeds faced nothing but fire! Sometimes you will see that in the mountains, they would close one lane or redirect you because they are clearing the land. (You would see signs, controlled fire.)
The author of Hebrews does not believe one can lose his salvation, or that his readers had, but he speaks to demonstrate the folly some might have in imagining that they can turn back to the old ways without suffering loss. THEY WERE NEVER SAVED. BECAUSE GOD DOES NOT FAIL!
Failure to heed a warning can have disastrous effects. A tragic illustration of this occurred on January 16, 2005 on the ski slopes of Park City, Utah. Officials carefully monitor the mountain for danger of avalanches. Signs are erected clearly marking certain dangerous areas “out of bounds.” The signs read, “You Are Leaving The Ski Resort, YOU COULD DIE!” Yet in spite of the warning, one skier, Shane Maxiner skied out of bounds and was crushed to death by a massive avalanche.
True Christians pay attention to spiritual warnings. Don’t leave God’s clearly marked path for you, to do so is to invite disaster.
I do hope and pray that the message today is both encouraging and scary. Encouraging in a way that we can rely on Gods promise of salvation simply because He did say… “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand”. That alone should make one persevere to the very end.
“Scary” in a way that, we cannot play around with God. It comes with an eternal judgement. God will not allow anyone to shame His name, or the Name of His Son. You know, I really hate it when I hear someone say, “give Jesus a try, what do you have to loose?” “Give Jesus a try?” so, if it doesn’t work, I didn’t get what I want, ill just go back to the world! You either belong to Jesus, or you belong to satan. No middle ground.
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” 44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.
The Cross is the symbol of the Christian faith. Churches and homes are decorated with it. Some people have a decal of a cross on their car. Many wear a cross as jewelry. The cross is so prominent in daily life that we rarely pay any attention to it. It may be that in all actuality we have forgotten what it truly represents. Society has so glamorized the Cross that we fail to remember the pain, the agony and the cruelty of the Cross where Jesus died.
The cross was a means of torture, humiliation and death. These days when men are executed in the USA, the common method is lethal injection. In times past they used firing squads, electric chairs and hung by the neck. None of these methods of execution come close to being as torturous as the horror of crucifixion.
There was an execution site just outside of Jerusalem called Golgotha. One day, there were 3 crosses that held 3 very different men. One man was the Son of God and the Savior of the World. On either side of the Savior hung two thieves or another translation, the criminals. As we go through these verses, Let’s examine how each of these men responded to Jesus.
For Gods justice to be final, each and everyone of us here today, should have a cross of our own. We should be right next to the two criminals. But our Heavenly Father showed mercy, instead of justice. As we have learned from our Bible Studies, the blood of animals was not enough, to make anyone clean from sin. Only by the blood of Christ can one be forgiven.
May we never forget the fact that Jesus was on that cross because of you and me…
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
This afternoon, I want us to take a trip to Calvary. Let us examine the scene on that hill the day that Jesus was crucified. There was a large crowd gathered around to witness the execution of 3 men who had been sentenced to die by the Roman Government. There were three crosses standing on that hill. As we consider the events of that day you will find that each cross represented something different. I would submit to you that…
There Was A Cross Of Rejection, There Was A Cross Of Reception, & There Was A Cross of Redemption.
On Calvary's Hill, Jesus was there fulfilling God's perfect plan of redemption. Through the events that took place, one of those sinners trusted Christ as his Savior. The other mocked and ridiculed Him and rejected the opportunity to be saved. One man died and went to Heaven, the other died and went to Hell.
Each person here must decide how they will respond to Jesus. Will you believe, trust & follow Jesus, or will you continue to deny Him. I say continue, simply because believing in Jesus is not a one time event. Believing in, trusting in, & following Jesus is an everyday, every minute way of life.
Just like these men you will choose whether to accept the fact that He is your Lord & Savior or to reject Him. Being Lord & Savior means that you have come to realize that you are a sinner, and that you need a Savior. By Jesus being Lord in your life means that, He comes first in everything. Jesus is Lord & Master of your life and mine.
If Jesus is your Lord & Savior, then you have received forgiveness, and an eternal home has been prepared for you. If not, like one of the criminal, or thief on the cross, then the lake of fire is what waits for you for all eternity.
There is much that we can learn from these two men. Let's begin by examining the fact that…
On Calvary’s hill, there was a cross of rejection….
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
The scriptures identify this man as a “criminal or a thief. He was a criminal who had been sentenced to die for his crimes. But that was just the earthly judgement of his earthly deeds. Whether he knew it or not, he was under a death sentence spiritually speaking. He was dying physically but he was already dead in trespasses and sins.
Not only will he feel the pain of dying on the cross, he will also be facing an eternity in hell.
We all were in a similar situation. Before Christ we were dead spiritually speaking! That is the case for all of us... we are all guilty!
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
And again on…
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
At one point in our life, we were on the same cross as this criminal. We were also facing a death sentence, spiritually speaking. Keep in mind this criminal not only did he not believe in Jesus, but he mocked Him as well. No different than the time that we lived our lives in a religion, believing that when we die, we go to this special place where we can be cleansed from our sins.
NO…SUCH…PLACE! If you think you can be saved outside of Jesus, then prepare to meet this criminal…this thief, when you end up in hell.
This man was guilty and would soon step out into eternity and face the wrath and judgment of Almighty God. Sadly, he did not realize the fact that the Door of Heaven was right there next to Him. Instead of seeing Jesus for who He was, this man blasphemed His name. He was suffering the agony of being crucified, he was in immense pain and he knew that death was imminent. He was not sorry or repentant of his sins, he was just focused on his current situation. Like so many throughout history, he had and earthly perspective instead of an eternal one! As a result he looks at Jesus and says … “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
What he did not realize was… that is what Jesus was doing! He came to save sinners. He was there on that Cross so that we could be saved eternally. This is why the Son of God left the glories of Heaven and came to this earth. Jesus faced the agony, the pain, the torture of the cross, so that you and you and I can be saved!
In the garden Jesus said, (from last weeks message)
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
When Jesus was standing before Pontus Pilate, He said these words…
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
This criminal was placed in this story, for the world to know. He was an example of one who denies the Son of God. God's own son was there fulfilling the plan of redemption. Those who die without Jesus will die lost in their sins. They will stand before Christ one day, and will face judgement. Jesus will search the books and if your name is not recorded in the Lamb's book of Life you will be cast into an eternal lake of fire.
You see, there was another cross at Calvary that day and when you examined what happened there, you will find that there is a hope and a promise of deliverance to those who receive Jesus. Notice that…
On Calvary’s hill, there was a cross of reception. (Reception: the action or process of receiving something sent, given, or inflicted)
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
As the denying criminal blasphemed Jesus, this criminal defended Him. Basically, he was saying
"hey, wait just a minute!"…"we deserve the punishment that we are receiving, but this man has done nothing wrong". This man reached a place of humility. He came to the realization that he was guilty of his crimes. Instead of making excuses and blaming others, he took responsibility for his actions. He knew that he deserved the punishment that he was enduring. But more than that, he came to a realization about who Jesus was.
If you read the account on the crucifixion on Matthew, you will see that this criminal also denied Jesus…
41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
He mocked and ridiculed Jesus along with the rest of the crowd. But it is clear that somewhere along the way, his attitude toward Jesus changed. Scripture is clear right, look… “Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” So, how…why the changed of heart. Is it the fact that he came to realize that he was about die, and the fear of death made him believe? I cannot prove it nothing was written, but the fact of the matter is that, he did have a change of heart towards Jesus. And I think this verse had something to do with him having a change of heart towards Jesus….
Then Luke 23-34
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And, they divided His garments and cast lots.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Whatever the motivation, whatever changed his heart towards Jesus, it is clear that this man saw Jesus for who He was and he acknowledged Him as Lord! He said…
42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
That is all it took for this man to be saved! He did not have the opportunity to clean his life up. (he couldn’t if he tried) He didn’t have time to “work his way into Heaven” ( he couldn’t if he did have an opportunity) He didn’t have to offer a long and detailed “prayer of Salvation”. He simply trusted in Jesus, acknowledged Him as Lord and cried out for Him to save Him, and that is exactly what Jesus did! Jesus came to save!!!
Listen to what Jesus told him…
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
I want you to notice that this man still paid for his earthly sins. He still suffered and he died physically that very day! But from that very day that man will live eternally! How is this possible? Well, it is not because of what He did, it is because of what Jesus was doing right next to him! The same is true for you & I.
The story of this criminal…this thief was written so that we too can have hope… we too can be saved when we believe.
On Calvary's Hill there was a Cross of Rejection, a Cross of Reception and most importantly:
ON CALVARY'S HILL, THERE WAS A CROSS OF REDEMPTION…
44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.
When all things were accomplished, Jesus cried “It Is Finished”. God's plan of redemption was complete! Jesus Christ was and is the atonement for human sin. Because of His shed blood we can be delivered from our sins! Jesus paid a great price so that we could be redeemed.
It is good for us to be reminded of all that Jesus endured for us. The events at Calvary paint such a beautiful picture of God's love. Before He ever made it to the Cross, Jesus had already endured more pain than a normal man could bear. He was scourged, which was enough to kill most men. It is commonly believed that the instrument used for scourging Jesus was the “cat of 9 tails” or a “flagrum”. (Show Pic) This was a short whip with metal stones and bone tied into leather thongs. As they beat Him with this instrument of torture His flesh began to tear and blood began to flow.
(SHOW PIC) “cat of 9 tails” or a “flagrum”
They stripped Him of His clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. They fabricated a “Crown of thorns” and jammed this crown onto His head. They put a reed in His hand to represent a scepter. Then they blasphemously bowed before Him and cried “Hail, King of the Jews”. They will bow again one day, but they won’t be mocking Him, they will be begging for mercy!!
After this they spat on Him and plucked His beard. Then someone grabbed the reed and hit Him on the head with it. They forced Him to carry his cross to the execution site. It is believed that the cross weighed near 150 pounds. Some experts believe that Jesus carried His cross the distance of over two football fields, in a weak and tormented state, once at Calvary, the cross was put on the ground and Jesus was nailed to the very cross that He carried.
The spikes were approximately 7 inches long and 3/8 of an inch in diameter. These spikes were driven into His wrists and through His feet. They took that cross and lifted it up and dropped it into the hole, as the cross fell down into the hole, His flesh tore.
The position of the nailed body held His rib cage in a fixed position, this would have made it extremely difficult to exhale and it would have been impossible to take a full breath. He had suffered from the scourging, the beatings and the walk with the Cross. By this point Jesus would have been extremely weak and dehydrated. He was losing significant amounts of blood. He suffered for several hours and after all these things, “It Is finished”
30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Church, let the events of cross remind you of what He did, What He did for you & me. Understand that we will never make it to heaven without Jesus Christ! We will never be forgiven without Jesus.
The two criminals…thieves on the cross, showed us a very important decision that had an eternal result. One denied Jesus, and one believed. One went to hell, and one joined Jesus in paradise. You see, I can say that we are blessed to have read this story, be reminded of the cross. Those two criminals, gave us the answer to eternity. It is not by who we are, the family that we belong to. Its not the denomination that we belong to. It is not the good works that we do that will earn us a ticket to heaven, or to be forgiven. It is by God’s grace.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Understand that you & I are sinners by birth, and the only way to be forgiven, to be saved, is by Christ alone. I hope and pray that the reminder of the cross, what Jesus went through, just so that we can be saved, is enough for us to turn away from the sins that we are holding on to.
The reminder of the cross, should be able to make us stronger in our battle against temptations and sin. Jesus paid it all. Jesus said, “it is finished”. At CALVARY”S CROSS.
To Follow, To Betray, Or To Deny.
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.
What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be. Someday your heart will be asking. What will He do with me? Will I follow Him regardless of circumstance? Will I be a follower and betray Him, just like Judas? Or, when things get rough, and the persecution becomes real, will I deny Him? Everybody here tonight knows this story by heart. This story is not new, it happened two thousand years ago. But still the same type of people in this story, still lives today.
Each person here has made or will make a decision concerning Jesus Christ. You will follow Him, betray Him, or deny Him. Neutral you cannot be.
The Bible records many people's decisions as to what they would do with Christ. We read where Peter, James, John, Andrew, Thomas, Mary, Martha, Zacchaeus, Paul and many others who followed Jesus to the very end. Of course, as you all know the story, Peter was a strong follower of Jesus, up until Jesus was captured, and Peter denied Him three times. But even through that time of weakness for Peter…Peter became one of the most faithful follower of Jesus.
At Pentecost over 3,000 people were chosen to follow Jesus. Throughout history untold millions have made the decision to follow Jesus. Many of you here tonight, if not all of you, including myself, have decided to follow Jesus. But throughout the years many have rejected Him. Even His own people, the lost children of Israel rejected Him.
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
The gospels record the fact that many Pharisees and Sadducees rejected Him. The story of the "Rich Young Ruler" chose his possessions over a relationship with the Son of God. There were 2 other men being crucified at Calvary, one on either side of Jesus. One of those men believed in Jesus, while the other chose to reject Him. Still no different in the world…in the time that we live in now, and things will not change until the day Jesus returns. Some will, Follow, Betray, And Deny Jesus. You and I, we are not excused yet from this test. Time will tell, who will continue to Follow Jesus, who will Betray Him, Or who will Deny Him.
On the day Christ was crucified, Pontus Pilate posed a question to the crowd that had gathered....
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
That crowd made a decision that day that they will regret eternally. My prayer is that you will not make the same mistake. I have witnessed many, who have come forward to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, they were baptized, became members, remained faithful for a period of time, but eventually made a decision to betray, and deny Christ. What I mean by betraying Jesus in the time that we live in now is…when somebody tells you, “oh I used to be a Christian, but not anymore”. For whatever reason they chose to betray Christ. It could be a death of a loved one, or someone who tested God through prayers, but didn’t receive their request. Im sure that we all have witnessed at one point or another, someone who has prayed to receive Christ, baptized, became members, but have fallen away. “I have lost my faith”, is the most common one I hear.
As we examine our selected text we will see that there were several people who made different decisions as to how they would respond to Jesus on the evening before the Crucifixion.
Many Rejected Him. One Defended Him. One Betrayed Him. Several Abandoned Him.
This passage of scripture records one of the most tragic events in history. Jesus has been praying intensely in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had asked some of His closest friends to watch and pray, but they are now fast asleep. Now, one of His own disciples, a man who had traveled with Him for 3 years arrives with a band of soldiers to arrest Him. This crowd shows up with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus. They had been sent by the Chief Priests and the Elders. These were people who rejected Jesus as Messiah.
Let me ask you this afternoon, will you reject Jesus? We all know each other here. We are all professing Christians right! Will the time come that we too will reject Jesus?
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him.
Keep in mind that Judas was a follower of Jesus for three years. Witnessed miracles done by Jesus. A follower turned betrayer. This here is that part that hurts the most… “Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
“Do what you came for, friend.” For somebody to be called a friend, a relationship has been established. For three years Jesus took care of Judas, Judas never lacked in anything while he was with Jesus. But still, because of fear, and greed for money, Judas betrayed the Savior.
By this point Jesus was no stranger to rejection. He was rejected at His birth and throughout His entire life. He was rejected by the Jews and Gentiles. Unfortunately, the world still rejects Jesus today! Some believe that the story of Christ as a myth or a fairytale. Others would tell you that there are “many ways to Heaven”. Just be good, do good works, that will get you to heaven.
There are also some who actually believe that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. They have had ample opportunity to respond positively to His offer of salvation. Yet they continue to reject Him time and time again. By rejecting, I mean, continually sinning, as if you were never saved from sin. Church, if we continue to reject Jesus Christ in a way of habitual sin, we are in danger of eternal condemnation. If you are without Christ each day, every minute, you are lost in your sins. Scripture says that you are dead in your trespasses and sins! You are headed for judgment. Even worse you are headed for an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
Again… will you continue to follow Jesus, or just live in the sin that makes me feel good? By doing so, you are betraying, and denying Christ at the same time. As we dig a little deeper, I would like to ask you another important question…when it comes to betraying Jesus, will you be just like Judas?
The word "betrayal" will forever be linked with Judas Iscariot. As we have just read from our scriptures. “48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him”.
You can tell the Devil was working behind the scenes in this event. Not only would Judas betray Jesus, but he would do so with a kiss! All for a mere 30 pieces of silver, which is estimated to be about 4 months wage in their time.
Let's take a moment and consider the life Judas had lived: Here is man who was numbered with the other disciples. He had traveled with them… talked with them … lived with them! People recognized him as one of Christ’s followers. When it came time to betray Christ, Judas knew exactly where to find Him! He had been with Jesus and the others in this place several times before. Judas had witnessed the character and compassion of Christ. He heard Jesus’ words and saw His works. Judas knew Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus was the Savior!
Sadly, there are still some who, like Judas, live lives filled with contradictions. They appear to have honorable intentions. They seem to care about the work of the ministry. They play the role, talk the talk and in many ways walk the walk, but eventually their true colors will be revealed. One day they will stand before the Christ they professed to know and will hear the dreadful words…
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Ahhh… here is a question to those who profess to belong to Christ. Will you defend your beliefs, will you fight for Christ…defend Christ?
51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
As that mob surrounded Jesus, some of His closest followers were there. I would imagine that the disciples were furious at Judas for betraying their Master. Keep in mind, Judas was one of them…for three years. Certainly, they were devastated at the thought of Him being seized and arrested.
And (as usual) Peter decided to take matters into his own hands. He grabs his sword and cuts off the “servant of the high priest’s ear”. In Luke’s Gospel we read that Jesus reached down and put the man’s ear back on the man. Jesus rebuked Peter for this act – v52, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword”. Peter had the best intention, but he went about things the wrong way. But I think we can learn from Peter's passion. We should not sit back and allow our Savior to be attacked. We should stand up for Jesus.
By standing up for Jesus means that we recognize the fact that we belong to Him. We should stand for Jesus in the way we live our lives. Reflecting Jesus amongst others. Fighting the battle to overcome sin. Remember last weeks message… we are all in a battle, every day, every minute. This is how we stand for Jesus… win the battle.
Jesus is under attack in the world today, we must take a stand and defend our faith. Today, more than ever we need Christians who will stand up for Jesus! We should be courageous, we should be bold, we should be biblical, and we must put on the whole armor of God. The victory has already been won and we are on the winning side. Remember what Paul said in - Romans 8:31…
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Persecution and opposition will continue to increase. So, Church, let us be willing to defend Jesus! When the true testing comes. Remember… “To Follow, To Betray, Or To Deny”.
Let me ask another question, will we underestimate Jesus power?
53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
A Legion is anywhere from 3000 to 6000 soldiers, in this story, angels. Going up against Judas and a large crowd as scripture has told.
After Jesus rebuke’s Peter, He goes on to explain the great power at His disposal. He said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” A legion consisted of 6,000, so Jesus is saying that He could call more than 72,000 angels if He desired. Though He had this power, He refused to use it because He sought to glorify the Father Who sent Him. Listen to what Jesus said in - John 12:27
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”
Jesus didn’t call the legions of angels because the scriptures must be fulfilled! Jesus didn’t call the legions of angels because of His love for you and me! Jesus didn’t call the legions of angels in order to save us from our sins! I think it is safe to say that Peter underestimated the power of his Master. Many times, we do the same thing...we underestimate the power of Jesus. We look at the condition of the world around us and raise our hands and say, “Oh no, what are we going to do?”
Things are on a rapid downward spiral and sometimes we feel that we have no hope. We have a tendency to look at the problem instead of looking at the POWER OF THE SAVIOR! In Luke 21:28… Jesus was speaking about the end times…
28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Remember, our true testing will soon come. Things are bad... and they are going to get much worse, but Jesus said ... “look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Don't forget His promises, remember that He is all powerful and everywhere, at all times. Whatever may come your way, it is not bigger than your God! Don't underestimate His power.
If you would look with me to verses 55-56 there is one last question I would like to ask…
Will you abandon, or deny Jesus?
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.
“Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled”. Judas has betrayed Jesus and now the rest of the disciples flee in fear. Peter just cut a man’s ear off defending Jesus and now he is gone away and soon will deny Him 3 times. John, The devoted apostle of Love is gone. Andrew, James, Thomas, Thaddeus and the others are nowhere to be found.
These followers of Jesus had spent 3 years watching miracle after miracle. They had heard the preaching and teaching of Jesus. They had seen him cast out demons, heal the sick and cleanse lepers. They had even seen Him raise people from the dead... but now feared for their lives. Things got tough and they abandoned their Master! Sadly, this is still going on in many churches today. The most common excuse is, “I’ve lost my faith”. Newsflash, you never had it!!!
Jesus experienced the most horrific agony that any man has ever faced, and His closest friends abandoned Him! Church, I want you to know that everything Jesus faced, He faced for you and
Being betrayed by Judas, being denied by Peter being rejected by the crowds, all of it was for you! The false trial, the mocking, the scourging, and the pain of the cross... it was all for you! Jesus sacrificed His life to save you from your sins, He did what He did to deliver you from Hell. He has gone to prepare you a home in Heaven. He loved you, in spite of all that you have done. Will you abandon Him still when things get rough? Better yet, have you already abandoned Him?
Many people proclaim to be devoted to Christ and then when tragedy happens or persecution begins they walk away from Him. Jesus didn’t walk away from God’s plan when we faced such agony in the Garden. He didn’t call that legion of angels to deliver Him. Though all the disciples left Him, He persevered, He faced everything He faced in order to secure out redemption!
Each person here today must face this reality. How will you respond when the true tests comes? Will you persevere, because Christ lives in you? or will you betray, and deny Him because all you really did was profess to be a follower?
You cannot be neutral… You are… “To Follow, To Betray, Or To Deny.”
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Tonight, we will be partaking in the Lords Supper as we always do once a month. Why is so important that we come to the Lords table with all seriousness? Do we come to the Lords table as a means of just tradition? Or is there really something in the Lords Supper that we need to take seriously? If you look at v24-25…24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
We can clearly see that it resembles the Lords Body & Blood. And to partake of this in the wrong way, other than a clear heart, comes with a warning of judgement.
1 Corinthians 11:27-32
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
“For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body”. What is Paul saying here in these verses? Paul is basically saying…look, this is the Lords Body & Blood, do not take it lightly! If you are going to partake, make sure that you have confessed any sin done, in action, mind, and speech. That is why when we partake of the Lords Supper, we take about a minute or two to confess any sins that we have done against the Lord, or with another.
Keep in mind that we do live in a fallen world where sin is normal. But remember that we have been separated by God from the rest of the world. Chosen, made new, being sanctified. The work of the Spirit is to change the person from the inside out. To be conformed to the image of Christ.
The title of this message is, “Forgive Me Lord For I Have Sinned”. Emphasis on “Me & I” Myself, not my wife, not my sons but me! Look at the person next to you, it is not their sins that needs to be examined, it is yours!
Sadly, we do live in a world where putting the blame on someone else is the norm, right! There is always an excuse, and there is always someone else to blame. Am I right!!! Am I the only one who believes this? Remember, we will be partaking in the Lords Supper this afternoon, its not the sins of the person next to you that will be on the Lords judgement, it is yours, its mine.
Here is the biggest excuse every Christian has ever made. We blame the fall, correct! We blame Adam & Eve, we blame the flesh! Sounds familiar! If I am being honest with you tonight, I too have made that excuse. And then im reminded of this verse…
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
So…with this verse alone, we can no longer put the blame on Adam & Eve. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”. We cannot use this excuse anymore church, we cannot pass the blame on anyone ever again! Speaking of Adam & Eve, I know that we like to joke around that it was the “Woman” who is to blame right? But was Adam really blaming Eve, or was Eve the excuse? Let’s look at that real quick…
10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
“Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate”. Sounds to me that Adam was blaming God, & Eve was the excuse for his mistake. “The woman whom You gave to be with me”.
So… men, after tonight, we can longer say, “it was the woman”. I like how John MacArthur quoted this verse…
“Look…I went to sleep single, I woke up married. I didn’t even know what a woman was and there she was, and she lead me into sin, and You made her”.
I’m no lawyer, but Adam had a good point there, Adam was the one taking care of the garden, he was naming all the animals, and all of a sudden there is Eve. “The woman whom You gave to be with me”. And of course, you all know the rest of the story. Adam blames God for creating Eve, Eve blames the serpent for being crafty, and the blame game continues till now! It is always the easy way out just to blame someone else. Even to the point of blaming God.
Let me share something with you, in all my years as a Christian, I have heard… not just once, not just twice, coming from Christians, how they blame God for what is happening in their lives.
(I don’t know why this is happening in my life? Why is God allowing this to happen? Now that I gave my life to Christ, why is my life miserable?)
My marriage isn’t working out, blame God. My children are disobedient, blame God. For our singles here tonight, the whole dating game, your praying to God to send you a nice guy, nice girl, and as the months, years go by, that guy or girl turns out to be not so nice, blame God. Its also the same for our youth, why did God make my parents so strict, why can’t they understand what I’m going through? Even in the area of relationships, the world tells them to just bounce from one relationship to the next, until you find the right one.
Before we put the blame on God, let see what James… scripture has to say on this topic of blaming God…
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”.
So…James, scripture, the Word Of God is clear, we cannot blame God whenever we are being tempted. The temptations of the flesh is already in us, and this what we fight with every single day, every single minute. But, it should no longer have any control over us, because as Galatians 2:20 remind us that… “I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me”
What is James trying to say here, what are these desires that he is telling the readers, that can give birth to sin?
Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV)
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I only used two translations here, but which ever translation you read it in. it will have the same meaning. And in every translation, the warning is the same…
“I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NKJV)
I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV)
You see… we all know that the struggle is real. The battle against the flesh is real. “Forgive Me Lord For I Have Sinned”, Comes with a willing heart to repent. Repent from what? What did we just read? Repent from what? “adultery, sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness”, and so on… these are like heavy baggage that we need to let go. We don’t need to hold on these things, let it go. There’s a warning if we don’t… “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
These are the things that we cannot blame anybody on, especially not God! “Forgive ME Lord For I Have Sinned”
I am not up here preaching this because I have already overcame all of these, no not at all. I am in the same battle as you are. The only difference between you and I and the person next to you is this… Which one of these is your biggest struggle, biggest battle?
“adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like”.
Church… you and I are in a battle everyday, every minute. Whether its by action, speech, or thought. The struggle, the battle is real. The desires, the temptations, they are all real. As we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, we should be defeating these desires of the flesh one by one. We should be crossing them out one by one, battle won! If not, the warnings are real…
“That those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
We are going to partake in the Lords Supper in a just few minutes. You have heard the Lords message tonight, you and I, we have no excuse anymore. The sin is ours, the blame is ours. By action, speech, thought. You are the one to blame, I am the one to blame. Admit it, own it, confess it to God, and by His Spirit, let us win the battle together.
1 John 1:8-10
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Let Us Pray….
Pastor Richard Santos
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