21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
When we look at what is waiting for us there is a great desire to go to be with the Lord. I am not referring to suicidal tendencies... I am talking about being homesick for our Heavenly Home. We long to be reunited with loved ones who have already gone to that place. There are troubles, trials and tribulations that we long to escape. But greater than that those things that are in Heaven and greater than what will not be in Heaven is the fact that when we leave this walk of life we will forever be in the presence of God our Father and Jesus our Savior.
The Apostle Paul wants to be with Christ but also to remain on earth for the sake of the church. This was his dilemma. However, the outcome is in Gods hands, and Paul is confident that God has further work for him to do among the church.
Though Heaven is enticing we must not forget that we are on Earth for a reason. We were chosen for a purpose, given an assignment. In fact, the reason that we are still on this earth is because God is not finished with us yet! There are people all around you who could (and should) benefit from your life for Christ. There are lost people who need to hear about salvation through Christ and there are saved people who need to be mentored, encouraged and discipled.
So, just like Paul... many of us find ourselves in a dilemma. We are living for Christ here on earth and longing for heaven. That is the subject that I would like for us to consider today. Let's walk through Philippians 1:21-26 and consider some desires of those who are "Living For Christ, Longing For Heaven".
As Paul struggled with this great dilemma, he had several different desires. And I am sure that we can all agree that we too… face the same dilemma.
1) He Had A Desire To Leave.
2) He Had A Desire To Live.
3) He Had A Desire To Labor
For many of us who are born again we have those same desires simultaneously. Look with me to verses 21 & 23 as we see that:
1: THERE IS A DEIRE TO LEAVE:
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
It is clear that… Paul greatly desired to leave this walk of life and enter into eternity with his Savior. This is understandable considering the struggles that he had endured. He described some of these difficulties in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. He states that he had been in and out of prison, whipped time and again, five separate times he had received 39 lashes, many times he had faced death. On 3 occasions he was beaten with rods, he had been stoned, shipwrecked and lost at sea. He had traveled many weary miles, been robbed and beaten, he was persecuted by Jews & Gentiles. He encountered danger in cities, deserts and on the sea. He did without food when he was hungry and sufficient clothes when he was cold. Along with all of this he carried a heavy burden for all of the churches. It is no wonder that Paul was homesick.
The Apostle had faced even more hardships since he had penned those words in
2 Corinthians. In fact, the words we read in Philippians were written while Paul was bound in a Roman prison. Not only was he imprisoned, he was getting older and his health was failing. Though his body was deteriorating, his soul was getting stronger and every day he longed for Heaven more and more. The same is true for many of us... we look at the troubles of this life and we get homesick for Heaven!
There are several reasons that we are longing to leave. One reason is that:
A: We Are Going To A Place With No More Sorrow: Through God's Word we are told of a place where…
4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
WOW!!! Sign me up! I want to go to this place. Who wouldn’t? This life is filled with sorrow. But in Heaven we will never sit in a hospital room and watch our loved ones suffer. Never again will we see our children hurt and struggle. We will not have to stand beside a casket and shed a tear at the loss of a loved one.
There will be no more bad news from the doctor. In fact, there will not be any doctors there. We will not have to deal with Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Arthritis, Strokes, Alzheimer's, or any other ailment. (And of course, the number one enemy of the Fil-Am church…GOUT!!!)
NO MORE ILLNESS!!!
In Heaven, there will be no more hospitals, nursing homes or funeral homes. We will not have to deal with these old broken down, decaying bodies, because there… we will have a new, eternal glorified body! That alone is enough to make us long for Heaven, Right!!! The reason for all of the problems and sorrow that we face in this life can be traced back to sin. But praise God...
B. We Are Going To A Place With No More Sin: Notice what the scripture says in…
27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
How great to know that sin cannot follow us to that wonderful place. I for one, (and Im sure many of you can agree) am sick and tired of sin. I am tired of struggling with sin. I am tired of seeing sin. I am tired of the consequences of sin. I am tired of living in a world of sin. I am glad that we have already been delivered from the penalty and power of sin, and when we get to heaven we will be delivered from the very presence of sin!
Heaven is a place with no more murder, adultery, homosexuality, covetousness, jealousy, greed, pride, anger, hate, war or any other transgression. That is reason enough for us to long to leave. But it gets even better…
C. We Are Going To A Place With No More Satan - Satan desires to defeat and destroy the children of God. He is very powerful and will do all that he can to see you and I, suffer and fail. Peter reminds us in…
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
When we seek to live a life that is Holy and pleasing to God our Adversary will do all that he can to get us to fall. This is his reason for living. This is a daily event for the devil. To make you and I stumble and fall. But when we get to Heaven, never again will we have to deal with Satan. We have confidence in this fact because of what the Bible says in…
10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
That is just one more reason that we and Paul, “Desire To Leave.” But with all of the benefits of leaving this walk of life and gaining our promised reward, there is also a desire to remain here on earth. Let's look to verses 21 & 22 and examine the fact that…
2: THERE IS A DESIRE TO LIVE:
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
Here Paul states that for him, living means living for Christ. Though he faced extreme difficulty and suffered great hardships and even though he knew that a better place was waiting for him in Heaven, he had an intense desire to live.
There is a natural desire in every human being to continue to live. Many would like to live as long as possible. This is why many exercise, eat right and take care of ourselves. If you are diagnosed with a serious disease you are willing to do whatever it takes to try to beat that diagnosis… There is a natural desire to live.
But I want you to consider for a moment your motivation for living. What inspires you to keep pressing on?
Some want to get through college and begin a career. Those who have a career want to climb the corporate ladder. Others are hoping to reach retirement age so that they can "enjoy life". There are others who are hoping to fall in love and get married. Some who are married look forward to having children.
Some want to live long enough to see their children grow up and have a family of their own. Then when this happens they want to stick around long enough to see their grandchildren grow up and graduate high school and then college. Then they want to see them have a family of their own.
There is nothing wrong with having these desires. (Personally) There are many things that I would like to see before my time comes. I want to see my boys grow old and have a family of their own. I want to have grandchildren and hear being called grandpa! I want to help them be successful. Guide them and give them some advice on being husband and a father.
I love the idea of growing old with my wife. (Remind each other that we are forgetting stuff.)
I want to see what God is going to do here in this church. I would love to see our Sunday school kids start on ministries…see what God has prepared for them. Though these desires may be honorable, they should not be our supreme motivation for living.
Paul did not just desire to live out of a fear of dying. He did not desire to remain just to see how things turned out. His desire was to live… but ultimately, he desired to live for Christ. And this should be our hearts desire as well. After all, we owe Him our life.
There Is A Desire To Leave, There Is A Desire To Live and we also see in this passage that:
3: THERE IS A DESIRE TO LABOR:
24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Though Paul possessed a desire to go and be with Christ, he realized that it was more important that he remain and finish the work that had been assigned to him. He didn't know it, but at this point in his life he had some years left before Christ took him home to glory. What he did know was that there was still work to be done and he was ready and willing to serve his Master. The Apostle wanted to reach people with the gospel. He wanted those converts to be discipled. He wanted the churches to be strengthened.
What is our supreme motivation for living? Is it to fulfill our dreams? It is to mark items off of our bucket list? Is it to make as much money and buy as much stuff as possible? Are we living each day building our kingdom or His? In the kindest way possible let me say... if we are not living every day for Christ, we are wasting our life!
Are the things that we are focused on things that will last throughout eternity? Remember what Jesus said in…
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
The ultimate goal of our life should not be to leave your family a great monetary inheritance when you die.
- Maureen Ebel, 60, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a widow who was left millions by her husband. But she lost over 7 million dollars in Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. Listen to this quote from her in the Philadelphia Enquirer - "This is my fate, I was married, had a fabulous marriage to a man I loved and worshipped, a physician. We travelled. We had a very fine life. And he's dead. He died, and every penny I had in the world has gone." Ebel now spends her days cleaning other people's houses to make ends meet. Her husband thought he would be able to care for his beloved wife even after his death and look at what happened.
- Country singer Conway Twitty left a great fortune to his children in his will. But for years his children and their stepmother fought a lengthy court battle over his estate and the lawyers ended up getting most of what he left behind.
Many other individuals have spent a lifetime earning untold millions and buying everything that their hearts desired and when they died they could not take one thing with them! Some men have neglected their families…building a great business. Their intention was to leave that company as a legacy for their family. Many times, before they are even cold, and in the ground, that business is sold to the highest bidder.
We can spend this life seeking to attain material wealth, but in the end the things of this world will pass away. But it is possible to leave a legacy that will last throughout eternity! When we live our life for Christ we can indeed store up treasures in Heaven.
My family do not have much in this life. God has indeed blessed us, but we are far from what this world considers wealthy. Our newest vehicle is 13 years old, the other is over 18 years old. We live in a house that we are still trying to pay off. For the most part we live paycheck to paycheck. There always seems to be more month at the end of the money. But we are happy, blessed, thankful and yes…rich!!!
Through God's Word I know that there are treasures waiting for us in Heaven. We have been promised Crowns from our Savior. I have a mansion waiting for me in Glory. One day I will literally walk on streets of gold. Because of this, I have A Desire To Leave. But even with this great promise, I have A Desire To Live.
Though Heaven is waiting, there is still work to do here on earth! But my Desire To Live is joined with A Desire To Labor. More than anything this world has to offer, I want to live this life having an eternal impact. When I take my last breath and step into eternity I want to know that my precious wife is going to spend eternity in Heaven. I want to know that my boys know Jesus as their personal Savior. I want my extended family to have assurance that Heaven can be their home.
I want my friends to experience God's saving grace. I want to tell strangers about salvation through Christ. And I want to do all that I can to help those that are saved to grow in their walk with Jesus.
I can honestly say, I have A Desire To Labor! God has…by His Spirit has placed that desire in my heart. As Gods children, we should also have that same desire that Paul had? Do you want to live your life laboring for the King? Ask yourself... "what am I doing with the life I have been given? When God said that, He calls everyone for a purpose, “am I fulfilling that purpose?”
Do you realize that you will one day stand and give and account to your Savior?
2 Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Paul faced a dilemma… he desired to be with Christ in Heaven and to serve Him here on earth. Somewhere around 57 AD Paul mentioned his desire to leave and be with Christ. This is seen in…
2 Corinthians 5:8-9
8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
Paul’s final words were written in…
2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
When time came for him to leave, Paul could do so with confidence. In my heart…Lord willing, by His grace, I would also love to say these words when my time comes. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And I am sure…without a doubt, many… if not all of you feel the same way. We can do this church…but only if we put our faith and trust in our Lord Jesus to see us through to the end! And on to ETERNITY!!!
Am I Truly Saved?
Am I Truly Saved?
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. 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.
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 or any 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. 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.
Let’s be honest here church. We have all witnessed those who came to Christ. Prayed a prayer, were baptized, joined ministries and so on. Then all of sudden their gone, as if that prayer that they prayed meant nothing.
I have shared the Gospel, because that is what we are supposed to do. And I am sure many of you have as well. We lead them into the sinners prayer and hopefully that prayer was from the heart and they meant what they prayed. Their faithful for awhile…then they are gone. What happened? Did we fail in telling them the truth about Jesus? Did they not understand that they are sinners and in need of a Savior? Or did the word, or promise of God failed? Of course we all know that Gods words and promises never fail. So…where did we go wrong?
Church…we have to come to the reality that salvation is all the work of God. You can be the greatest evangelist in the world and still you will not know who is truly saved. Until you see the actual work of the Holy Spirit in ones life. Is it bearing fruit? Or is it bearing weeds?
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?
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? This afternoon 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?
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 (Heb. 6:4,5). Yet those who are described within these verses have received profound spiritual blessings whether saved or not?
Interestingly enough those who teach that we can lose our salvation also teach that such a person can be “saved again.” You know the word, they were “backsliding”. 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 or her 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 their back on Christ, they cannot be restored to salvation. He or she is lost forever. They were never saved to begin with. They were just going through the motion.
I want to make it crystal clear that I believe we have a secure salvation because Scripture is very emphatic on this point. Once you truly believe…you were drawn to Christ and in Christ alone your salvation lies on power of God and not on your own. Then you are truly saved. There are many Scriptures that assure the believer that once he or she is saved he can never be lost again.
The Lord Jesus Christ … makes some tremendous statements about our absolute security. Jesus said…
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.
That sounds like a positive promise to me right! “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”. This is Jesus taking ownership!!!
What kind of life? Eternal life. If you can lose it, it is not eternal! “And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand”
It is not a question of your ability to hold on to Him, it is His ability to hold on to you. Are you His? Are you His sheep? Do you hear His voice? Does He (Jesus) know you? Are you following Him? If your answer to these questions are “YES”, then you have nothing to worry about. Be honest with yourself. Examine yourself even. Yes!!! We can go through some struggles and trials from time to time, but it through those struggles and trials that we can prove God promises are real. “and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”.
There is a second interpretation…which contends that this is a hypothetical case. In this view, “If they fall away” is only the presentation of a hypothetical situation, it is the classic “what if” they fall away? The writer does not say that it does happen, or even can happen, only what if it was possible?
The third interpretation… points out that in “V6” there really is no “if” in the Greek. It is a participle and should be translated “having fallen away.” According to this interpretation, what this passage is speaking of is mere professors, and they are not genuine believers. They only profess to be Christians. They really did not hear Jesus voice…Jesus never really knew them…because they never really followed Him!
Can A Christian really know they are saved forever? And answer is… Yes!!!
The Second important question is, How Is It Possible For Anyone To Come So Close And Still Not Be Saved?
Verses four through six tells us that those…
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
John MacArthur points out to have just enough exposure to Christianity to become immune. “A vaccination immunizes by giving a very mild case of the disease. A person who is exposed to the gospel can get just enough of it to immunize him against the real thing. The longer he continues to resist it, whether graciously or violently, the more he becomes immune to it.
His spiritual system becomes more and more unresponsive and insensitive. His only hope is to reject what he is holding onto and receive Christ without delay – lest he become so hard, often without knowing it, that his opportunity is lost forever.”
How is it possible for anyone to experience all that described in verse 4 and 5 and still not be saved, we ask? Scripture provides with a couple of examples.
Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) is an illustration of those who experience such convincing proofs who nevertheless stop short of salvation and rather turn to apostasy. Simon professed to believe Jesus, was baptized and yet was severely rebuked by Peter because “his heart was not right before God” (Acts 8:21).
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.
But perhaps the best example is Judas. Judas as one of the Lord’s disciple, 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”.
70 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.
When verse six states, “if they fall away” we must remember there is a great difference between “falling” and “falling away.” The word translated “fall away” (parapito) means simply to stumble or to fall down. Falling away isn’t just falling into some sin, it is actually departing from Jesus Himself.
When someone falls into sin, and leaves church for awhile, does not necessarily means that they have fallen away. They just stumbled and fell into sin, and by Gods power, will restore that person back to the right path. Or if someone leaves a church and ends up in another, does not mean that…that person has fallen away, it just means that God wants that person there and has a purpose to be there. God will use that person there.
Falling away as mentioned in our text is someone who has believed in God for awhile, then all of sudden his or her belief was never real to begin with. Proverbs 24:16, reminds us…
16 For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
The difference is between a Peter and a Judas. If you depart from Jesus, there is no hope! Jesus held on to Peter, because his heart was right with God. Judas was just in it for another reason. Judas was born to be the betrayer.
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 love sin more than they love God.
A good example of this would be the Biblical character Esau in Hebrews 12:16-17 we read…
16 lest there be any fornicator or [a]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.
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 word 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.
You see church…God wants to save sinners. God wants to give the gift of forgiveness through His grace. God wants to reconcile sinners to Himself. If it were not true, then God would not have sent His only Begotten Son to die on the cross to SAVE sinners. But He did! He sacrificed His only Son for you.
The Third important question is, How Can Anyone Crucify Christ Again? (v. 6b)
6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame.
What Hebrews 6 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! Many of the worlds famous atheist were once professing Christians.
When anyone has heard the gospel and then turns away, he or she has done exactly as those Jews who condemned Jesus to the Cross. Though they never literally took a hammer and nails and physically nail Jesus to the cross, they nevertheless agree to the justice of His crucifixion.
The Fourth important question is, Is It Possible To Truly Be A Christian And Have No Fruit?
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.
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 privileges listed in verses four and five are compared to the invigorating “rain.” The crop of vegetation speaks of the ultimate response of the person to the privileges received. This in turn determines whether the land is blessed or cursed.
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, the same rain, the same water, but “bears” nothing but “thorns and briers,” the fruit of sin. It receives but never produces useful plants. 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!
Failure to heed a warning can have disastrous effects.
Illustration: 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, to do so is to invite disaster.
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.
You see… when it comes to your salvation, remember that its all the work of God. You and I, we had no part in it. Don’t hold on to the fact that you have made a profession of your faith. Many make that profession and fails in the end. Hold on to the fact that only Jesus can save you.
MY sheep hear My voice and I (Jesus) know them and they follow ME (Jesus)
If these are all true in your life…in your walk, then you have nothing to worry about. Because, Jesus said… “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”.
If not, and you’re not sure…it’s not too late. Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to be saved. Cry out for forgiveness. Just cry out to the only One that can save!!! That is JESUS!!!
“What Will Be The Sign Of Your Coming?”
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
This afternoon, we are going to learn as much as we can… the most intriguing question ever asked amongst the Christian. “What Will Be The Sign Of Your Coming?” It will be based on Matthew 24:3-14, we will break down each and every sign, and hopefully by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will get the understanding of this very intriguing question.
From our responsive reading of the Lords Promise to return. Christians have asked the same question. “When will You return, and what will the sign of Your coming be?”. The very fact that Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for asking that question, I believe indicates that He approves of our watching for signs of His return.
Throughout the years many (scholars, pastors, believers) have tried to answer this question. They look at Bible and see if there is some kind of hidden codes written there as clue to the exact date of the Lords return. Many try to do the math since Israel became a nation, again…many have tried, and to their attempt…they were exposed as false believer!
As you can see from our text… “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” “Take heed that no one deceives you.” That should be clue enough to every believer and that it is a great warning. Let me show you another clue that Jesus taught!
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
This statement remains true. Although when Jesus made this statement, He was still in the flesh. To this day, Jesus reaffirms the truth that it is not given to anyone to know the “day or the hour”. But, like i said, many try and they are exposed!
So…first answer Jesus made…(warning) Also, in connection with Matthew 24:11…
5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
(Please Keep In One Slide)
If you remember one of the discussions that we had in our Bible study. Right now, there are three…who claims that they are the Messiah. One in Siberia who calls himself, the “teacher’.
One who has about 5000 followers. One in London, “David Shailer” claims that he is the Christ and lives in a squatter camp, because he claims that God will provide all his needs. One in our hometown, Philippines “Apollo Quiboloy”. He said that God had appointed him as Christ here on earth. I am sure there are many more as Jesus had warned every believer.
Of course, there have always been false teachers, for that is Satan’s way of distorting the truths of God. That is why we have so many cults, religions, and others that claim a Christian basis for their beliefs. If Satan cannot get people to disbelieve or rebel against God altogether, he will get them hooked on some false doctrine to lead them astray.
Here are some false teachings that I have heard throughout my Christian walk. “there are many ways to heaven”, if that was true then why did Jesus say, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no on comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6) Just do good works and you will go to heaven. You have posses one of the Spirits gift or else you’re not really saved. Or, everyone goes to heaven because God is love, that He will not send anyone to hell.
If all of these false statements were true, then Jesus died for nothing. God would not have had to sacrifice His One and Only Son to save sinners from going to hell. That is why I encourage all of you to spend some time with the Lord, through your Bibles, so that you will know the truth. Because if you don’t, you will be falling into false teachings.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Next clue that Jesus answered…
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars” Meaning, wars that are already happening right now, in the present. And rumors of coming war. Rumors of wars in all areas of the world now occur frequently thanks to instant media coverage and the availability of a multitude of 24-hour news sources.
Whether it be against countries, or against terrorists. Jesus said, “you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come”. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” That also falls in the same category. The fight for power, supremacy.
“There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” In another translation, “pestilence” is included.
Jesus said that before His return we would see an increase in these problems. I think that you can agree with me that sickness, disease, and starvation are becoming epidemics in the world today. If you are active in watching the news, earthquakes are happening everywhere.
And look at all the crazy weather patterns we are having. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods in different areas of the world. Because of these things, farms, crops livestock are ruined and dying. That’s where famine comes in. The economy will crash, many will be out of work, and will struggle to stay alive. Presently, wild fire is everywhere. Many are losing their homes, their properties. As you can see, all of these things needs to happen, because Jesus said it would.
“All these are the beginning of birth pains”. Moms can relate to what this verse means. Like a woman going into labor, the closer and closer she comes to delivery, the more severe the pains are and the more frequently they occur. Christ is telling us that the increase in the number of disasters and the increase in the severity of the disasters that we are witnessing today are just the beginning. And again, THESE THINGS MUST HAPPEN!!!
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.
Living here in America, we still have it pretty good. Although there some countries where Christianity is being persecuted. California is trying to pass a bill to ban the Bible. Because it offends the LGBT community. Christian businesses are being shut down because they have the right to refuse service to anyone, if it goes against their beliefs. Christians will be hated, even to the point of death.
Look at the seriousness of verse 10, keep in mind Jesus said that all these things must happen.
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other”. This is for every believer, every church, everywhere. Christians will hate and betray each other. Scary right. These will be our brothers and sisters. People we brake bread with…we fellowshipped with. This will happen to every church and even in our own household.
21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Scary right!!! But again, it must happen. Because Jesus said it would. “But he who endures to the end will be saved”.
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
False prophets, we have covered that part early on this message, on verse 24:5. The deception of lies will be rampant, and many will be deceived through them. Remember, that since there are false prophets, there will also be false believers. The false prophets will feed the its church false doctrines, it will disciples falls believers. And as a result when these false believers evangelize, what do you think they will say? LIES!!! Because, HE Who is the TRUTH is not in them!
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”.
Lawlessness is becoming rampant. Bizarre killings are multiplying, school shootings, church shootings. At least once a week I would get a notification from Chan2 news, about a crime happening everywhere. Robberies, home invasions, you name it, lawlessness is growing. Jails are filled to overcapacity with hardened criminals of all kinds. Drugs & alcohol are virtually a staple of modern society and traditional families are almost nonexistent.
Marriages are falling apart because hey had fallen into sin. Children are rebelling against their parents. Couples do not value marriage anymore, they would just rather “live in” together. Because its normal and accepted in the world.
Let’s continue…Matthew 24:14
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
With all these things happening in the world. This is also happening. Even though a lot of the bad stuff needs to happen. The gospel still needs to preached…everyone needs to hear the truth about Jesus!
Jesus declared that before His second coming, the Gospel much be preached for a witness to all the nations. The Gospel must be taken to the ends of the earth, reaching the unreached regions before the end will come.
No doubt this seemed a daunting task to the disciples present that day. They could not imagine being able to literally take the Gospel to the entire world. In fact, until recently this statement seemed almost impossible. However, our Lord continues to work and the Gospel continues to be proclaimed in the unreached corners of the world.
Even today, the Gospel is being shared with people… groups who are hearing it for the first time. Technological advancements have helped make this task a reality. Through use of the internet, tv and radio, the Gospel is reaching areas that preachers and missionaries have yet been unable to go. The Lord is fulfilling His plan to reach the world with the Gospel. We are getting closer to having a Gospel witness throughout the world. As we consider all that Jesus has said up to this point, I don’t see how anyone could argue against His soon return.
With all that we have learned today, there is hope. We read them through all those verses. Scary as they sound. There hope!
“But he who endures to the end will be saved”.
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved”.
(Keep in one slide please)
You see…with all the things that will happen. Many will fall away because they have no faith Jesus. Their belief was to their own ability, their own strength. The fear of all the disasters that were mentioned will put fear and doubts in their minds. They would feel that God has abandoned them to go through all of that on their own, that they would not be rescued.
“But HE”. The “He” there is the one who has complete trust in Jesus to get them through it all.
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. That is a promise!!!
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
This afternoon, we will be focusing on our “Christian Freedom”. We will be going through part of the book of Galatians starting with these three verses.
Gods Grace gives us freedom to explore creative and helpful ways to encourage and build up one another. Why would anyone who truly loves Jesus want to use their Cross bought freedom to do anything that disgraces His name?
If you have ever been to the circus, you can recall the tightrope walker on the platform high above the crowd, it sometimes seemed that…the person could almost touch the top of the circus tent. In front of that person was this silver strand of thin wire that is barely visible to the naked eye of the crowd below. It almost seemed that this wire was endless. The tightrope walker offers a bow of confidence, takes a deep breath, and slowly begins to walk across the wire one foot in front of the other. With unbroken concentration and focus… reaches the other platform, takes a bow and breathes a sigh of relief.
Talk about taking the “narrow path”, (literally) Like this tightrope walker in a circus, Christians are faced with a similar experience… walking a tightrope trying to avoid two extremes, legalism and licentiousness. For you see as we will examine together this afternoon… God calls us to keep on walking the tight rope of Christian Freedom.
True Christian freedom involves restrains, that helps not to hinder our spiritual growth and service. In fact, in Galatians 5, verses 13-15 gives us three principles to follow concerning our Christian Freedom.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”.
First point is, we are not free to indulge in the flesh. “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh”. Flesh in this passage, doesn’t mean our physical body. It doesn’t mean skin that is stretched over our bones and muscles.
Flesh here refers to our fallen sinful nature. That natural tendency we have within us to sin, In fact, the word flesh is used several times in the course of our passages today. We are not to use our Christian Freedom for opportunities for sin but for Service. In other word…CHRISTIAN FREEDOM, IS FREEDOM FROM SIN…TO SERVE THE LORD AND NOT… FREEDOM TO SIN AND NOT SERVING SELF.
We will also find this same statement made by the Apostle Peter…
1 Peter 2:16
16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
You see church, scripture is clear - WE ARE NOT FREE TO INDULGE THE FLESH, rather we are to use this freedom as servants of God. So…how will all this be possible? The answer is in the next phrase of our opening verse…We are servants of God, and we are also called to, “serve one another humbly in love”.
If last weeks message is still fresh in your minds, let me remind you the second greatest command. Which is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. It’s a command, and it’s not an option!
You see, we are instruments of God’s love to a dying world. We are to take His love and live it out to a Christ-less world. With the hope and desire to see God’s love working in us and develop a desire for God’s great love to give to others.
Serving is a humbling experience, It involves putting others before our own needs. Not only are we to have the right perspective… we are also, to demonstrate the right attitude. WE ARE NOT FREE TO INDULGE IN THE SELFISH DESIRES OF THE FLESH. We are to… “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
25 And behold, a certain [a]lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.”
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
How do we treat others? You see church, Christian Freedom was given to us, to share freely, and not greedily. We are not free to exploit others. Using people to get what we want is an act of the flesh not an act of faith, and when we treat others as things, we run the risk of hurting not only them but ourselves. And at the same time, we are breaking Gods second and greatest command!
Notice if you will v15…
15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Keep in mind that you and I are saved by Gods grace. We are not saved because we are perfect. Our perfect God is patient and loving to you and I each and everyday. And we should also be the same to each other.
Instead of tearing others down, we should take Solomon’s advice given in…
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
You see, CHRISTIAN FREEDOM TREATS PEOPLE AS PERSONS TO BE SERVED AND LOVED NOT AS THINGS TO BE ABUSED.
Now, we shall continue into the next half of the selected text…
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
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.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Verses, 16 to 26, reveals the struggle, the battle that we face each and everyday. FLESH VS SPIRIT!
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Here Paul writes WALK IN THE SPIRIT, IT is an imperative (Command) It is expected, of those who are in the family of God. Remember, those who are saved are meant to be together FOREVER!!! If we can’t get along in the here and now, how about when we get to heaven, where we will all be together FOREVER!!!
But then again, if you know the God of the Bible, you will also know that He does not fail in making one NEW! Those whom He has called will have their lives centered on those two great commands.
Let’s continue…walking in the Spirit, gives victory over the sins of the flesh. Notice if you will the second part of verse 16…
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Here’s an illustration, from Our Daily Bread…
The 19th century French inventor Louis Daguerre was one of the pioneers of photography. In those early days, he could take a picture by exposing a metal plate to light. When the plate was taken out of the camera, however the image soon disappeared. Daguerre tried many ways to keep the image from fading but nothing worked. One day he found a plate that had been left in a closet full of chemicals and to his amazement the image was bright and sharp He took other pictures, put the plates in that closet and got the same result He didn’t know what caused the image to remain, but he was determined to find out. He began by removing things from the closet one by one. Even after everything was removed, the images still remained. How could this be? Daguerre later discovered that some mercury had been spilled in the closet. Further, experiences proved that it is mercury vapor that was keeping the image on the photographic plate.
You see church… what the mercury vapor did to that photographic plate, The Holy Spirit does within us. He Helps us keep the image of Christ in focus. As we obey the Holy Spirit, He will keep a sharp image of Christ before us. We can defeat our fleshly desires by continually WALKING IN THE SPIRIT.
This continual battle as mentioned in v17…
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
This is evident, this is our daily lives church… OUR EVERY EMOTION, OUR EVERY CHOICE, OUR EVERY THOUGHT and OUR EVERY ACT. Is affected by the pressure caused by the conflict within.
Thus, it involves a daily commitment to follow the two great commands.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul allures to this spiritually battle that takes place within us. And how we are to deal with it.
2 Corinthians 4:16
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT GIVES US VICTORY OVER THE FLESH. WALKING IN THE SPIRIT INVOLVES A DAILY SURRENDER OF OUR LIVES TO HIM. To be led by the Spirit is to allow the Holy Spirit to Guide and direct us toward that image of Christ.
Back to our text…
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The Jewish religious Law. When we walk in the Spirit, we are in conflict not only with the flesh, but also with the law. As Christians freed from the bondage of sin, we also are free from the bondage of the Law.
In our study of Galatians, we have learned that the law points out our sinful state and need for a savior. The churches of Galatia, struggled with the law and traditions of the Jewish religious
culture. Traditions are not to replace scripture, yet we place them on the same plane or even higher. This is called legalism.
Not only are we in conflict with the flesh but we are in constant battle with Traditions and legalism, that is why we need to allow the Spirit of God to guide us in these matters as well. Hence the tightrope that we must walk to protect our Liberties in Christ.
Remember… CHRISTIAN LIBERTY IS FREEDOM FROM SIN TO SERVE THE LORD, IT IS NOT FREEDOM TO SIN. IT IS NOT FREEDOM TO SERVE SELF.
Characteristics of the FLESH…and the battle with the Spirit:
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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
The works of the flesh - viewed in 4 Categories.
Sexual sins - Adultery, fornication, pre-marital sex, uncleanness, strong sexual desires cause trouble here… challenging the family Structure that God has set from the beginning.
Religious Sins- Idolatry, witchcraft.
Idolatry- worship of anything other than God. This can include Money, fame, social lifestyle, and busyness.
Witchcraft- use of fantasy to satisfy our desire- Drugs, evil spirit, Astrology. It takes our focus away from God. In fact, It’s power and purpose comes from Satan.
Drunkenness- excessive drinker. Which can also fall under witchcraft, since you are no longer the one in control, but the alcohol controls you.
“ I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of God”.
Christ has to be first in all things. NOT these things that The Apostle Paul had mentioned.
18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Preeminence: Superior to all others, outstanding. High status.
Is Christ first in our life? Is He the driving force of our life? The works of the Flesh rob us of our motivation towards Godliness. The works of the flesh rob us of our worship to God- giving him our all. The works of the flesh robs us of surrendering all to Jesus. The works of the flesh destroy relationships not only with God but others. It destroys the two greatest commandments.
Church, bitterness and anger, being out of control is of the flesh. We need to avoid them.
Here’s another story from Our Daily Bread
The Fable of the Jealous eagle:
The Great Evangelist DL Moody once told a fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him “I wish you would bring down the eagle up there.” The man said he would, if he had some feathers for his arrow. So... the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another - until he had lost so many feathers that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around and killed the helpless bird. Moody then made this application: IF YOU ARE ENVIOUS OF OTHERS, THE ONE YOU WILL HURT THE MOST BY YOUR ACTIONS IS YOURSELF.
The flesh says look out for number one. God says SERVE OTHERS.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Describe for us the fruits (or work) of the Spirit. They serve as a contrast to the works of the flesh. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us. He produces spiritual fruit that is like a ripe cluster of grapes.
We are not going to spend a lot of time discussing each one of the nine virtues listed. Many of us have heard many sermons, and Bible studies concerning the fruit of the Spirit. But I briefly want to share a few things.
Notice the order:
Love, joy, Peace - Concern our relationship to God. God is our first love and our first joy. When we rest in Him we are at peace.
Forbearance, kindness, goodness- deals with our relationship towards others. Godly characteristics demonstrated on others.
Faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - looks at our inward relationship.
I will end this message on verse 24-26…
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This is the resolve. “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires”. We are to be the master over our fleshly desires. And maintain a lifestyle that is pleasing to our Lord. Remember Galatians 2:20?
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.
Be resolved to walk in the spirit by living a life that is consistent to your confession of faith.
Allow the Spirit of God to guide our actions. Be fully yielded to Him. IS Christ First in our lives, does He have the pre-eminence of our life? If not, let’s make this commitment today. ALL OF US!
From last week’s message, we all know and confessed to love God. Let’s put into practice the lesson we learned today. Gal 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other”. And by doing so, we are being obedient to the second greatest command.
How are we in the area of treating others? Hopefully, we will all heed the Lords commands today. These are His words, each and every verse that you saw, ARE ALL THE WORDS OF GOD!
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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