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← People of Promise - Tim Conway

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Showing Revision 6 created 03/25/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. Ephesians 3.
  2. I want to read verses 4, 5, and 6.
  3. Ephesians 3:4
  4. "When you read this (this epistle),
  5. you (Ephesians) can perceive
  6. my (that's the Apostle Paul)...
  7. you can perceive my insight
  8. into the mystery of Christ,
  9. which was not made known
  10. to the sons of men in other generations
  11. as it has now been revealed
  12. to His holy apostles and prophets
  13. by the Spirit.
  14. This mystery is that the Gentiles
  15. are fellow heirs,
  16. members of the same body,
  17. and partakers of the promise
  18. in Christ Jesus through the gospel."
  19. Here's what's happening.

  20. In verse 6,
  21. Paul is considering this miracle
  22. that the Gentiles have
    not been left outside.
  23. Out in the darkness
  24. just basically to rot in their sins.
  25. (Incomplete thought)
  26. I've asked people before.
  27. Number the Gentiles
    from the Old Testament.
  28. Perhaps all of Nineveh repented,
  29. and they were saved.
  30. Perhaps they repented and
    just weren't destroyed.
  31. I'm not sure.
  32. But minus Nineveh,
  33. you start numbering them.
  34. You're not going to get
    to the second hand.
  35. You can number them on one hand.
  36. This is really incredible.
  37. Almost unbelievable.
  38. What's happening is
  39. Gentiles like these Ephesians and like us
  40. being swept into the kingdom.
  41. Suddenly, those who had sat in darkness,
  42. we're getting opportunity
    to see the great light.
  43. We don't recognize this
    so much 2,000 years later
  44. because the gospel now
  45. has been going among the Gentiles
  46. longer than the era from Moses to Christ.
  47. So, it's not so startling to us.
  48. But Gentiles are being transported
  49. out of the kingdom of darkness
  50. into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
  51. And what's happening here
  52. is it's the mystery.
  53. It was hidden for generations.
  54. It's like the sun dawning on a new day.
  55. The light is coming up. What?
  56. That Gentiles are included.
  57. It's broken upon the horizon.
  58. Verse 6 shows this inclusion.

  59. Now you don't see this in the English.
  60. But there's three words in the Greek here
  61. that all start with the same prefix -su.
  62. "Su."
  63. The mystery is that the Gentiles
  64. are "synklēronoma,"
  65. "syssōma,"
  66. "symmetocha."
  67. "Su" basically corresponds
    to our English prefix "-sym."
  68. Symbolic.
  69. Symbol.
  70. Symphony.
  71. Symmetry.
  72. It's a prefix that means "together with."
  73. You see, each one of these words,
  74. we're together with the believing Jew
  75. in this reality.
  76. Believing Gentiles are heirs
  77. together with believing Jews.
  78. Believing Gentiles are members
  79. together with believing Jews
  80. in the body of Christ.
  81. Believing Gentiles are together
  82. with believing Jews in the promise
  83. that's in Jesus Christ.
  84. That's what's happening here.
  85. What I want to do is draw your attention

  86. particularly to the last of the three.
  87. Three assertions.
  88. the last of the three.
  89. We are partakers -
  90. now if we want to be accurate
  91. to the Greek word here,
  92. you want to put "together" in there.
  93. The ESV doesn't have that.
  94. The King James doesn't have that.
  95. But listen to how the
    New American Standard
  96. captures this.
  97. The New English translation captures this
  98. by using the word "fellow partakers."
  99. The Holman Christan uses "partners."
  100. You see, that captures the idea
  101. of being together with the Jews in this.
  102. But the idea here is that we're together
  103. with the believing Jews in this promise
  104. in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
  105. Now, your Bible might say "His promise."
  106. It's interesting. In the Greek,
  107. you have the article "the" promise.
  108. If you've got the King James,
  109. the Greek text it comes from says,
  110. "of Him."
  111. But no matter what text
    your Bible comes from,
  112. in the original, it says,
  113. "the promise."
  114. Singular.
  115. There is an article "the" promise.
  116. I find that really interesting.
  117. Paul doesn't even tell us what "the" -
  118. what is this "the" promise?
  119. And he doesn't even tell us what it is.
  120. It's like there's one promise
    above every promise
  121. that stands out as "the" promise.
  122. That, to me, jumps out.
  123. Not promises plural;
  124. "the" promise.
  125. What is it?
  126. I mean, what is it?
  127. What is it that Paul wouldn't even need
  128. to define it for us?
  129. Well, he uses this same kind of language
  130. over in Galatians.
  131. He uses it in various places,
  132. but there's no place where you get
  133. such a treatment of the word
  134. as you do in Galatians 3.
  135. So it's the book right before Ephesians,

  136. turn back to the book just before this one
  137. and go to chapter 3.
  138. I want us to get a feel for "promise."
  139. What is the promise?
  140. I'm going to show it you right off.
  141. Even though the term promise
  142. does not show up in Galatians 3:8,
  143. that's where the promise is.
  144. And now, you'll see afterwards
  145. how he begins to call it
  146. by the term "promise."
  147. The promise is here:
  148. "The Scripture foreseeing that God
  149. would justify the Gentiles by faith
  150. preached the gospel beforehand
  151. to Abraham saying..."
  152. Here's the promise.
  153. In the ESV, it's in quotation marks
  154. because it's a quote.
  155. This is God's promise to Abraham.
  156. "In you shall all the nations be blessed."
  157. And now, down in verses 17, 19, and 22,
  158. Paul calls it "the promise."
  159. You can see it.
  160. Look down in verse 17.
  161. This is what I mean:
  162. The law which came 430 years afterward
  163. does not annul a covenant
  164. previously ratified by God
  165. so as to make the promise void."
  166. Now, what's going on here?

  167. What Paul is saying is this:
  168. The promise was given to Abraham;
  169. 430 later, the law is given to Moses.
  170. Now, here's what the Jew thought.
  171. The Jew thought if we
    keep the commandments -
  172. well, they kind of thought if
    you knew the commandments -
  173. if you knew the commandments
  174. and you made an effort at keeping them,
  175. that's how you ended up in glory.
  176. And he says no. No, that's not true.
  177. It was always by promise.
  178. Not by law. It was always by promise.
  179. And God didn't come along 430 years later
  180. and give a way to heaven
  181. that contradicted the way that was given
  182. to Abraham.
  183. That's basically what he's saying.
  184. But notice how he calls it "the promise."
  185. But it's not as though Paul's so rigid,
  186. because if you look back in verse 16,
  187. notice what it says.
  188. "Now the promises..."
  189. See, there is it plural.
  190. In other words, what it seems
  191. that Paul can do
  192. is he can talk about one promise,
  193. or he can talk about
    a plurality of promises.
  194. But they kind of boil down to one.
  195. One promise as much as anything else.
  196. And notice this, this word
  197. comes up again in verse 19.
  198. In verse 19, "Why then the law?"
  199. Well, if the law wasn't given for us
  200. to have a code by which we could keep
  201. and get to heaven,
  202. if that's not why it was given,
  203. if the only way to heaven is by promise,
  204. by the promise that was given to Abraham,
  205. well, why did God give the law at all?
  206. And he says, "it was added
    because of transgressions."
  207. And you find this in
    various of Paul's writings.
  208. But he said basically the commandment came
  209. to increase the trespass.
  210. What it does is it shows us
  211. how sinful we are.
  212. In fact, what it does is it shows us
  213. we need another way to
    God than by that way.
  214. The promise. It shows
    up again in verse 22.
  215. "Is the law then contrary
  216. to the promises of God?"
  217. Excuse me, I was in verse 21.
  218. Verse 22: "But the Scripture
  219. imprisoned everything under sin
  220. so that the promise by faith
  221. in Jesus Christ..."
  222. See, that's what we need to get.
  223. The promise.
  224. It's by faith in Jesus Christ.
  225. And if you drop down to verse 29,
  226. "If you're Christ's,
  227. then you're Abraham's offspring,
  228. heirs according to..."
  229. Now, the article's missing
    here, but "promise."
  230. See, heirs according to promise.
  231. And now I want to go back to verse 8 again
  232. because I don't want you
    to miss the first part.
  233. "When God said to Abraham..."
  234. You see, when you go back there
  235. into the Old Testament, you're reading.
  236. You're reading in Genesis 12,
  237. Genesis 15,
  238. Genesis 17 -
  239. it seems like it's repeated over and over.
  240. When God promises him,
  241. "I'm going to make you a blessing
  242. to all the nations,"
  243. what you want to recognize is this:
  244. "This is the Scripture foreseeing
  245. that God would justify the Gentiles
  246. by faith."
  247. The promise: In you shall
    all the nations be blessed.
  248. But how are the nations
    going to be blessed?
  249. You see, how's the United States
    of America going to be blessed?
  250. By this.
  251. By the Gentiles justified by faith.
  252. That's what that promise means.
  253. And listen, what he says in here
  254. is that the promise was given
  255. to Abraham and his offspring.
  256. But if you notice verse 16,
  257. he says, "'not to offsprings' (plural)
  258. referring to many, but referring to one.
  259. '"And to your offspring,' who is Christ."
  260. You see, the truth here is
  261. that the promise was given to Abraham
  262. and to Christ.
  263. Christ is the recipient of this promise.
  264. We become partakers of it.
  265. We become partakers with the Jews.
  266. And the promise is this:
  267. That if we cling to Christ in faith,
  268. we'll be justified.
  269. There's the promise.
  270. You see, the promise is the blessing
  271. of all the nations.
  272. The promise is this:

  273. That there is a way to heaven.
  274. There is a way to be justified
  275. by faith in Jesus Christ.
  276. That's the blessing.
  277. Justification by faith
    is the most glorious
  278. promise that can be imagined.
  279. I mean, this is it.
  280. This is it. Why?
  281. Because what God has done
  282. is He has found a way for us
  283. to be righteous without law-keeping.
  284. And that's huge!
  285. Because you see, if you keep the law,
  286. if you've kept it, you're just.
  287. You don't need any way to be justified.
  288. You are just.
  289. But if you've once broken His law -
  290. you see what God has done is
  291. He's given a promise to those
    who need another way.
  292. (Incomplete thought)
  293. See, the problem is, once you've broken it
  294. you can't heal that breach.
  295. There's nothing you can do
  296. once you're a law breaker
  297. to change that reality,
  298. except by the promise. That's it.
  299. See, there's no way.
  300. People who say, well,
    I'm a pretty good person.
  301. No, no, no.
  302. You can take that
    "pretty good" off the front.
  303. Because if by "pretty good," you mean
  304. that you sin sometimes,
  305. you're a law breaker.
  306. And as a law breaker,
  307. you're under a curse,
    and that curse says
  308. you need to keep everything written
  309. in the Book of the Law
    or you're going to go to hell.
  310. You're cursed. You're under
    the wrath of God.
  311. There is no hope.
  312. You have to keep everything.
  313. Everything. Every iota.
    Every jot and tittle.
  314. You cannot vary.
  315. You can't be at variance from God's law
  316. in the least bit.
  317. Why? Because to sin is to fall short
  318. of the glory of God.
  319. It is a reproach.
  320. It is an attack on His glory.
  321. And what God has said,
  322. "I give promise, Abraham,
  323. that a blessing is going to come."
  324. Oh, if Abraham could have
  325. laid his teeth into the fullness of it.
  326. It wasn't totally revealed.
  327. It was in darkness at the time.
  328. It was not revealed in other generations
  329. as it's now been revealed.
  330. Which is what?
  331. We Gentiles - there's a way to heaven.
  332. There's a way to have our sins dealt with
  333. that does not require
    me to keep God's law.
  334. And that is the promise.
  335. Justification. What is that?

  336. Justification is an act -
  337. a gracious act of God,
  338. where He counts you righteous.
  339. Not because you are righteous.
  340. Not because you've done good.
  341. Not because you've kept the law.
  342. But He counts you as such
  343. based on the merits of Jesus Christ.
  344. By His obedience,
  345. by His perfections,
  346. by His obedience all the way to the cross,
  347. by His death,
  348. by His righteousness.
  349. He fulfilled all righteousness.
  350. And it's by this,
  351. oh, do you hear those words?
  352. David spoke them and
    they're repeated by Paul
  353. in the 4th chapter of Romans.
  354. Blessed. Blessed is that man
  355. against whom God does not count his sin.
  356. If you're good, you have no need of this.
  357. Look, if you came in here today
  358. and aside from all of this,
  359. you could say, "I'm a pretty good person."
  360. Then, you don't need this.
  361. You see, Jesus said,
  362. those who are well,
    they don't need a doctor.
  363. This isn't for you.
  364. God hasn't designed
    a way to justify people
  365. who have kept the law;
  366. who are good people.
  367. That's not what this is for.
  368. This is for people who need another way.
  369. This is for people who,
  370. you know what?
  371. In the eyes of good people;
  372. in the eyes of religious people,
  373. they're hopeless.
  374. There's no way.
  375. You see, this is for people
  376. like the thief on the cross
  377. who have done nothing but live a life
  378. of wretchedness and debauchery
  379. and sin and thievery,
  380. and they've got nothing.
  381. And they don't have time left
  382. to even try to repair their bad record.
  383. Which is basically what most
    of the false religions teach:
  384. do enough good and you can undo the bad.
  385. But you see, no matter
    how much good you do
  386. after you've broken
    the law, you're unjust.
  387. Justification is God, by His grace,
  388. devising a way
  389. that bad people can be declared righteous.
  390. That's the reality.
  391. That's the promise.
  392. What greater promise could
    you be a partaker of than that one?
  393. That's it.
  394. Now listen.

  395. My whole point in this message is this:
  396. We are people of promise.
  397. And the truth is,
  398. that is "the" promise.
  399. It really is a synonym for the gospel.
  400. The good news.
  401. What is the good news?
  402. Well, the good news is
  403. that there's a way to be
    righteous in the sight of God
  404. aside from my own law keeping.
  405. And Jesus has fulfilled that.
  406. It's the gospel.
  407. That's what the promise is all about.
  408. But I want you to just remember
  409. we are a people of promise.
  410. Because you see, if you're a
    partaker of that promise,
  411. it's the key that unlocks
    all the promises of God.
  412. That's exactly what Paul says.
  413. He says in 2 Corinthians 1:20,
  414. listen to this,
  415. "For all the promises of God
  416. find their yes in Him."
  417. I like the KJV:
  418. "For all the promises of God
    in Him are yea (or yes)
  419. and in Him amen to the glory of God."
  420. Do you comprehend this?
  421. Listen.
  422. (Incomplete thought)
  423. See, this is the key.
  424. You can take this key,
  425. and you can read anywhere in your Bible,
  426. and you can find a promise of good.
  427. You can go back to Joshua,
  428. and you can find the
    Lord saying to Joshua,
  429. "I'll never leave you or forsake you."
  430. Stick that key in there.
  431. The author of Hebrews shows us that
  432. in Hebrews 13 right?
  433. Hasn't the Lord said He'll never
    leave you or forsake you?
  434. And that's exactly the promise
  435. that the author of Hebrews
    is trying to encourage
  436. those people with -
  437. those New Testament believers.
  438. Why? How can that be?
  439. That is a promise given to Joshua.
  440. You go back there and read it.
  441. It doesn't say that it was
    given to all of God's people.
  442. It says it was given to Joshua.
  443. But see, there's the key.
  444. In Him, all the promises of God.
  445. All of them!
  446. Get that.
  447. All of them!
  448. In Him. In Christ are yes.
  449. They're an affirmation. Amen.
  450. You know what amen means?
  451. Truth. Verity. Certainty.
  452. That's the key.
  453. If you once are a
    partaker of "the promise,"
  454. there is not a promise for good
  455. anywhere in this book -
  456. what you need to do is recognize;
  457. you need to put the right glasses on.
  458. And you look. They're the Christ glasses.
  459. And you read any promise -
  460. every single promise for good
  461. in this Bible is given
  462. with reference to Christ.
  463. Now, you don't see it
  464. in most of the places where
    those promises are given.
  465. But right there in 2 Corinthians 1:20,
  466. Paul shows us the reality.
  467. We are a people of promise.
  468. Do you recognize as you're scouring

  469. the promises of the Old Testament,
  470. you see some obscure promise
  471. given in Micah or something.
  472. If you have been justified by faith
  473. and you're a partaker of that promise,
  474. that's yours.
  475. You can appropriate it to yourself.
  476. And we need to know that
  477. and we need to live that way.
  478. And we need to live in light
  479. of that reality.
  480. We are people of promise.
  481. Faith is not some ambiguous thing
  482. that just sort of swirls around out there;
  483. this nebulous, obscure, ambiguous thing.
  484. Our faith has promise for its substance.
  485. Faith is not just this ambiguous thing.
  486. Oh, I have it.
  487. It is that which grabs
    hold of God's promises
  488. and climbs on top of it.
  489. You know what it means
    to climb on a promise?
  490. It means you put all your weight on it.
  491. That's how God's people live.
  492. That's what it means to
    live from faith to faith.
  493. That's what it means
  494. to fight the good fight of faith.
  495. It means that you are living on promise.
  496. It doesn't necessarily mean
  497. that you think about every promise
  498. at any given moment.
  499. You follow what I mean?
  500. We come under temptations.
  501. We come under attacks.
  502. We walk through this life -
  503. to be a child of promise
  504. doesn't mean that you're living on
  505. every promise of God
    at every single moment.
  506. You can't even think about
    every single promise of God
  507. at every single moment.
  508. But what it means is
  509. that in whatever situation you're in,
  510. you're living on what God has said.
  511. "Man does not live by bread alone."
  512. He's living on what God has said.
  513. Abraham. Think about Abraham.

  514. Abraham is the father of faith.
  515. Abraham is the one to whom
  516. the promise was given.
  517. Think about him.
  518. Abraham said,
  519. "Behold, You have given me no offspring."
  520. You see, this is the issue.
  521. Genesis 15.
  522. Do you know what happened
    back in Genesis 12?
  523. God told Abraham that he was going to be
  524. this father of many nations.
  525. By the time you get to chapter 15,
  526. he's looking and he's saying
  527. Eliezer - a foreigner - he's my heir.
  528. I'm old.
  529. Sarah's barren.
  530. You see where the temptation was?
  531. And what God says to him is this:
  532. "The Word of the Lord came to him,
  533. 'this man (Eliezer)
  534. shall not be your heir.
  535. Your very own son shall be your heir.'
  536. And He brought him outside and said,
  537. 'Look toward heaven
  538. and number the stars,
  539. if you're able to number them.'
  540. Then He said to him,
  541. 'So shall your offspring be.'
  542. And he believed the Lord,
  543. and He counted it to
    him as righteousness."
  544. What I want you to see is right there.
  545. He believed the Lord.
  546. What did he believe?
  547. What the Lord just said.
  548. It doesn't say that he believed
  549. every promise that God had given.
  550. Look, I'm not saying that he would have
  551. denied some of the promises.
  552. You follow what I'm saying?
  553. He was clinging to the one promise
  554. that flew in the face of him being
  555. a father of all nations
  556. when his wife was barren,
  557. he's old,
  558. Eliezer is head of his household and heir,
  559. and it looks like this can't happen.
  560. He seized hold on this promise.
  561. It doesn't say he was going
    through the file cabinet
  562. and looking at every single
    one of God's promises.
  563. It was that promise,
  564. because that promise dealt
  565. with the very thing that
    would challenge his faith;
  566. challenged what he believed.
  567. And what I'm striving at
    is this very thing,

  568. that look, as we go through our lives,
  569. the issue is we have all these promises.
  570. But you know what? It's not enough to say,
  571. "Well, I believe them."
  572. That's not it.
  573. Beloved, I am very convinced
  574. that the reason that God has designed
  575. the devil the way he is -
  576. I'm not saying God's the author of sin -
  577. but there's no question,
  578. the devil and who he is
  579. is right on script.
  580. This is God's design.
  581. The devil is fashioned
  582. to put fire to your faith.
  583. And when he comes calling,
  584. do you know what's essential?
  585. Not that right at that moment,
  586. you're able to recall every single promise
  587. that God has ever given in His Word.
  588. Do you know what you need right then?
  589. You need that one promise
  590. that will cause you to stand
  591. in the day of evil.
  592. Just this week,

  593. I received a phone call from a man.
  594. A professing Christian for a long time.
  595. Even in the ministry.
  596. Living in all manner of immorality.
  597. Do you know what happened?
  598. A friend of his turned on
  599. Paul Washer's message -
  600. I think it was the same one
    that was preached here:
  601. Examine Yourself.
  602. Maybe the very same message.
  603. This man was laid bare.
  604. And he recognized,
  605. I don't measure up.
  606. And you know what he fears now?
  607. Is being in the ministry,
  608. having so much light,
  609. having this false profession for so long,
  610. living in this immorality -
  611. you know what he's afraid of now?
  612. That he's Esau.
  613. He's afraid he's committed
    the unpardonable sin.
  614. He's afraid he's gone too far
  615. and there's no way back.
  616. Now, I'll tell you this.
  617. I'll tell you what I told him.
  618. I can't tell you that there is a way back.
  619. The truth is there is a line in Scripture
  620. that when men cross it,
  621. there's no way back.
  622. There is a Hebrews 6 reality.
  623. There is a place men come to
  624. that there is no more repentance.
  625. He told me that his friends and counselors
  626. had sent him to the Word of God.
  627. That's good.
  628. To look at passages that
    dealt with the cross.
  629. I told him that's good.
  630. But you see, what he could tell me:
  631. "Well, I believe He went to the cross.
  632. I believe He died.
  633. I believe everything I'm reading.
  634. I just don't know if it's for me."
  635. I told him exactly,
  636. that is exactly the issue.
  637. I said what you need to do
  638. is you need to find that one verse
  639. that he can sink his faith into;
  640. that he can say, "that's for me."
  641. You see, that's where faith is.
  642. Saving faith isn't saying,
  643. "I believe Jesus was a
    true, historical figure."
  644. It's not saying, "I believe
    Jesus went to the cross."
  645. It's got to be personalized.
  646. There's got to be
    something you can hang on
  647. that you know is for you.
  648. Because you know what the
    devil's going to do to him?
  649. The devil's already doing it to him.
  650. He's going to whisper into his ear:
  651. "Oh, after what you've done,
  652. there's no hope for you.
  653. You are Esau."
  654. He just keeps hearing that in his ear
  655. over and over and over.
  656. You know how you answer that?
  657. You answer that with a kind of promise
  658. that resists the devil.
  659. That the devil simply cannot answer.
  660. What do you tell him?
  661. I told him you may have crossed that line,
  662. but I know this.
  663. That if he can find any
    promise in this book
  664. that he can lay his faith onto,
  665. he will not be disappointed.
  666. He will not be confounded.
  667. He will not be cast away.
  668. Because that's what saving faith is.
  669. And you know as I was thinking after
    I got off the phone with him,

  670. I started thinking about
  671. what sort of verses are they
  672. that a man in that condition might find?
  673. I mean, if he was going through Scripture,
  674. what might be one verse?
  675. I'll tell you one that jumped out at me.
  676. And sometimes they can be obscure verses,
  677. and sometimes you may think
  678. that they're not even dealing
  679. with the very thing that you take it
  680. in faith to mean.
  681. But if you take it in faith to mean it;
  682. if you take it in faith
  683. that you're trusting the
    God behind these things -
  684. I mean we could just look at that.
  685. The broadness of some of God's promises.
  686. I mean, you know what?
  687. You think about how in Isaiah 53,
  688. how by His stripes, we're healed.
  689. Does it blow anybody away
  690. that Matthew basically in Matthew 9 says
  691. He's healing the people,
    thus fulfilling that?
  692. You're like, wait a second.
  693. I thought that was spiritual
    healing back there,
  694. and Jesus is physically healing.
  695. We might just talk about the broadness
  696. of some of God's promises.
  697. But I got to thinking about this,

  698. Jesus Himself says,
  699. if somebody strikes you on one cheek,
  700. turn to him the other also.
  701. If a man could just find hope there.
  702. I've struck Him in the
    cheek by my actions,
  703. but He is such a God who sends His Son
  704. who is the radiance of the glory of God,
  705. and He is the kind that teaches us
  706. that if we're struck, turn the other also.
  707. I mean, if He's teaching that to us,
  708. is He not also a God who takes many blows,
  709. many dishonorings,
    and yet is still willing
  710. to turn the other cheek?
  711. Or, how about this?

  712. In Joel 2, God says,
  713. "Yet even now..."
  714. Those three words could be something
  715. that somebody's faith could cling to.
  716. "Yet even now..."
  717. Wait. What's that?
  718. "Yet even now, declares the Lord,
  719. return to Me with all your heart."
  720. You know when you say that -
  721. "yet even now,"
  722. it's after people have done a lot of bad.
  723. "Yet even now..." after all you've done,
  724. "if anyone will turn to
    Me with all their heart,
  725. with fasting, with weeping, with mourning,
  726. rend your hearts and not your garments.
  727. Return to the Lord your God,
  728. for He is gracious and merciful..."
  729. How about these three words?
  730. "...Slow to anger."
  731. If a man's faith can get into that
  732. God is slow to anger.
  733. I can put my weight on that promise,
  734. because I've provoked Him for a long time,
  735. but He's slow to anger.
  736. Oh, certainly the God of Scripture
  737. in all of His infinite mercies;
  738. certainly I could not
    wear out His kindness
  739. just in these years I've done this.
  740. Certainly God is greater than that.
  741. Those words, "yet even now."
  742. Or how about this?

  743. "God's kindness is meant
    to lead to repentance."
  744. Because one of the things I told him;
  745. I told him one of the things
  746. that tells me God is not done with you
  747. is He led you to that Paul Washer sermon.
  748. And He convicted you.
  749. And you came clean.
  750. He confessed.
  751. He confessed to his wife.
  752. He confessed to his church.
  753. That is a kindness.
  754. And what would you say?
  755. God's kindnesses are not meant
  756. to lead him to repentance?
  757. You see, that isn't the indication
  758. in my estimation of somebody
  759. that God is done with.
  760. Or how about this?

  761. To Sardis.
  762. Oh, when I preached about
    those seven churches
  763. in Asia Minor,
  764. Sardis jumped out at me.
  765. "You have a name
  766. that you are alive,
  767. but you are dead."
  768. This is a church.
  769. You talk about people exposed to light?
  770. But you're dead.
  771. What did He say? No hope?
  772. You've crossed the line?
  773. He doesn't.
  774. He says, "Wake up."
  775. See, if our faith can just
    grab words like that:
  776. "Wake up."
  777. Of course, there's these words:

  778. John 6:37
  779. Our Lord says, "Whoever comes to Me,
  780. I will never cast out."
  781. Whoever.
  782. It doesn't matter what
    you say you've done.
  783. If you go to Christ,
    He won't cast you out.
  784. Period.
  785. It's amazing when I come across people
  786. who are struggling with
    the unpardonable sin
  787. and I bring up this text,
  788. immediately, "yeah, but..."
  789. Look, if you want to find every reason
  790. not to believe a text,
  791. that's classic unbeliever.
  792. And you will perish.
  793. See, the only hope is that our faith
  794. can find a place to stay.
  795. Bunyan.

  796. In fact, as I was talking to this guy,
  797. Bunyan and his "Grace Abounding"
  798. came to my mind.
  799. If anybody's ever read that -
  800. "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,"
  801. basically what it is is a testimony
  802. of Bunyan the first few years
  803. of his Christian life,
  804. at least, maybe a testimony
  805. of how God saved him.
  806. Bunyan suffered hellish struggles.
  807. You know what he did?
  808. He would be under some kind of oppression.
  809. It sometimes would go on for years.
  810. And he would constantly be in this book
  811. searching for a promise
  812. to answer that thing
  813. that laid hold on him.
  814. Which was undoubtedly insinuations
  815. and accusations of the devil.
  816. Listen, at one point, it was like
  817. the devil came to him and said,
  818. "only the elect can be saved."
  819. Some of you have probably been there.
  820. "How do you know you're one of the elect?"
  821. "You're almost certainly
    not one of the elect."
  822. Do you know what it was that his faith
  823. laid hold on?
  824. He got to thinking about the lives
  825. of the people of God in Scripture.
  826. And he came back to this:
  827. Was there ever anybody in Scripture
  828. who trusted in God and yet in the end
  829. were confounded?
  830. And he found not one.
  831. Now, that's not a specific verse,
  832. but you know what he did?
  833. He's wondering about being elect
  834. and how's he going to answer Satan?
  835. He went back to Genesis 1:1
  836. and he began reading
    through the whole Bible,
  837. and everytime somebody came up,
  838. he looked: was there ever anybody
  839. who put their trust in the Lord
  840. who was thrown off at the end?
  841. You see his conclusion?
  842. Election isn't really the issue.
  843. Yes, there are elect people,
    but how do you know them?
  844. Anybody that clings to the Lord
  845. is never confounded.
  846. You know what he was
    gripped by at another time?

  847. He's walking along and
    it's like these thoughts -
  848. sometimes you see in Pilgrim's Progress -
  849. you remember Pilgrim?
  850. He's walking through the
    valley of the shadow of death,
  851. and these little hellish
    imps are coming up
  852. and whispering in his ear.
  853. Look, this is a reflection
    of his own life.
  854. Maybe some of you know -
  855. we know this as Christians.
  856. The devil comes up and suggests things.
  857. Whispers things. Whispers doubts.
  858. Suddenly, we're gripped by it.
  859. The devil came to him one day
  860. and said, "What if the day of grace
  861. should be past and gone?"
  862. What if there's no hope?
  863. Your opportunity came and went.
  864. The day of grace.
  865. Bunyan found his faith cleave to this:
  866. Luke 14:22 - you may know
    that portion of Scripture.
  867. You don't have to turn there.
  868. But it's where the great feast is.
  869. And you remember, those who were invited
  870. were told to come in
  871. and they all began to make excuse.
  872. You remember that.
  873. This text: "The servant said,
  874. 'Sir, what you have
    commanded has been done
  875. and still there is room.'"
  876. Those words right there:
  877. "still there is room."
  878. His faith was able to hold on.
  879. The devil's saying the day
    may be past for you,
  880. and those words came
    with power to his own soul.
  881. "But still there is room."
  882. God is wanting to fill His house.
  883. The day can't be past when
    there's still empty seats.
  884. (Incomplete thought)

  885. Before I tell you more about Bunyan,
  886. as far as his experiences.
  887. Let me tell you about Bunyan
  888. in another one of the illustrations
  889. that he wrote.
  890. I think this is classic.
  891. There is a man in the
    Interpreter's house -
  892. I told you about the muck raker before
  893. when his wife was there,
  894. but here's this man in an iron cage.
  895. You know what the man in the iron cage is?
  896. Somebody who has truly sinned beyond hope.
  897. And we could get all into that account,
  898. but you know what?
  899. That man in that iron cage said two things
  900. that I think are very insightful.
  901. He said this:
  902. "I've crucified Christ to myself afresh.
  903. I've despised His person.
  904. I've despised His righteousness.
  905. I've counted His blood an unholy thing.
  906. I have done despite
    to the Spirit of grace.
  907. Therefore, I have shut myself out
  908. of all the promises."
  909. I've shut myself out.
  910. Now how did he know that?
  911. Because he comes along and says this:
  912. "God's Word gives me no hope
  913. of encouragement to believe."
  914. Oh, that's key. That's key.
  915. I am certain that is when
    God is done with somebody.
  916. When they go through the Scripture,
  917. and they can't find a promise
  918. for their faith to land on.
  919. You come to them as a believer,
  920. and you tell them, look,
  921. Jesus says whoever comes to Me,
  922. I will never cast out.
  923. Your faith seizes it.
  924. You're trusting that.
  925. And you bring it to them.
  926. But it just goes right past them.
  927. Why?
  928. Oftentimes, whether they've actually
  929. committed the unpardonable sin or not,
  930. look, if their faith can't find anything
  931. in Scripture to latch onto,
  932. there's no hope.
  933. You need to remember,
  934. it's not that our faith
    latches onto a promise,
  935. so much as it latches onto the One
  936. who gave the promise.
  937. And if we're not able to do that,
  938. that's what an unbeliever is.
  939. You see, when you cross the line;
  940. when you sin so as to provoke,
  941. enrage the Spirit,
  942. the evidence is when that Spirit no longer
  943. gives you any hope in anything
  944. that God has said.
  945. We come back to Bunyan.

  946. You know what, he's reading
    through Scripture one time,
  947. and he saw that Jesus specifically called
  948. certain people to follow Him.
  949. But it's like the devil rushed right in
  950. and said, "Oh, but He
    didn't call everybody."
  951. He said he was especially struck
  952. by how Jesus is said to have chosen
  953. certain individuals that
    He called apostles.
  954. And what he was struck with
  955. was fearing that he was not called.
  956. Oh, how he longed to be John and James
  957. and Peter - even the rich, young ruler,
  958. to actually hear the words
    from Jesus' mouth Himself:
  959. "Follow Me."
  960. Now listen, you have to understand,
  961. he was often months and years
  962. plagued by these thoughts.
  963. It gave him no rest.
  964. He'd lay there in bed at night
  965. and he'd be thinking
    through all these things,
  966. scouring Scripture looking for something.
  967. Do you know what he found?
  968. He found a text in Isaiah 45:5.
  969. "I will gird you though
    you have not known Me."
  970. And it brought hope and light to his soul.
  971. You say I don't see it. It doesn't matter.
  972. He did.
  973. And his faith laid hold on it.
  974. And you know what?
  975. A text he never saw, you might see.
  976. You know another one?
  977. He was listening to a sermon
  978. on the Song of Solomon 4:1.
  979. "Behold, you are fair..."
  980. This is Christ speaking to His people.
  981. "Behold, you are fair, My love."
  982. Behold, you are fair...
  983. Those two words: "My love."
  984. It chased the clouds away.
  985. Two words!
  986. You see, there's promise
    in those two words.
  987. My love.
  988. And if they come home to your soul,
  989. to where your faith can lay hold on them,
  990. you can resist the devil
  991. in the fiercest battle,
  992. by just two words,
  993. if your faith is able to cling to them.
  994. You know, the devil came to him one day
  995. and said, "Oh, you may have found Christ.
  996. But you know what?
  997. If you live any length of time,
  998. ah, you see how many people fall away.
  999. You're going to fall away.
  1000. You won't hold fast."
  1001. Now this is a text that
    we might anticipate:
  1002. He found Romans 8:38-39:
  1003. "I am sure that
    neither death, nor life
  1004. nor angels, nor rulers,
    nor things present,
  1005. nor things to
    come, nor power,
  1006. nor height, depth, anything else
    in all creation will be able to
  1007. separate us from the love of God
    in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  1008. And he said if that's true,
    long life can't separate me.
  1009. And another time, it was
    his extreme sinfulness.

  1010. He just felt like I'm too wicked
  1011. to be a Christian.
  1012. This time it was Colossians 1:20 -
  1013. "making peace by the blood of His cross."
  1014. It came to him with sweetness and power.
  1015. And another time, he's being tempted

  1016. to exchange Christ for the world.
  1017. It's like these thoughts just keep
  1018. bombarding him, bombarding him:
  1019. "Just give up Christ."
  1020. "Sell Christ and you can have this,
  1021. you can have this."
  1022. He was just being tormented.
  1023. And of all things, a text in Leviticus.
  1024. Leviticus 25:23 -
  1025. Now look, you will never
    go to Leviticus 25:23,
  1026. unless you first recognize
    2 Corinthians 1:20.
  1027. And that if you're justified by faith,
  1028. it's the key to every
    single promise of God.
  1029. And you know what he saw?
  1030. This text: "The land shall
    not be sold permanently,
  1031. for the land is Mine."
  1032. You know what he recognized?
  1033. God saved me.
  1034. The inheritance He gives is permanent.
  1035. It's not just that's reason to think
  1036. I shouldn't exchange Christ for the world.
  1037. It was reason for him to think:
  1038. I can't exchange Christ for the world.
  1039. If God once bestows inheritance on me,
  1040. He's not going to take it away.
  1041. His confidence was in God.
  1042. He's going to cause me to stand.
  1043. I won't give it away.
  1044. Sometimes the thoughts come into our mind,
  1045. and then it's almost like
    the devil can do this:
  1046. he puts the suggestion in your mind
  1047. and now that you've actually thought it,
  1048. you feel guilty yourself
    and he condemns you
  1049. for having thought it.
  1050. Other times, he thought he committed

  1051. the unpardonable sin.
  1052. This was Psalm 68:18
  1053. that he found deliverance.
  1054. "Thou hast received gifts for men..."
  1055. You know this is what Paul quotes
  1056. in Ephesians 4 that we're
    going to eventually get to,
  1057. but it's Jesus giving gifts to men.
  1058. He found this: "Thou hast received
  1059. gifts for men, yea,
    for the rebellious also."
  1060. And he thought if Christ gives gifts
  1061. and even gives them to the rebellious,
  1062. he started thinking,
  1063. well, that's what he was
    condemning himself for.
  1064. After knowing Christ, having
    committed some rebellion,
  1065. and here's somebody
    having committed rebellion
  1066. and Christ is giving gifts to them.
  1067. And so if that's the case...
  1068. He started thinking at first,
  1069. I've committed the unpardonable sin.
  1070. Well, there's David.
  1071. Yeah, but my sin that I
    committed isn't like David's.
  1072. And then he thought about Peter.
  1073. And he thought yeah, Peter's closest.
  1074. And then he felt like, yeah,
    but there's exceptions.
  1075. Mine's not exactly like that.
  1076. Then he felt all condemned and he said
  1077. my sin is more like Judas'.
  1078. But in the end, with all the struggles
  1079. it was this.
  1080. One little text about Jesus giving gifts
  1081. to the rebellious also.
  1082. And see, when he would grab hold on these,
  1083. then the devil's ability would weaken
  1084. and you resist the devil
  1085. and he flees away.
  1086. My whole point of saying all
    these things to you is this:

  1087. My brothers and sisters,
  1088. we are people of promise.
  1089. When Bunyan portrayed this,
  1090. Apollyon fighting Christian.
  1091. You'll remember in the battle,
  1092. the sword flew out of Pilgrim's hand.
  1093. That means he lost touch
  1094. with the promises for a moment.
  1095. And when that happened,
  1096. Apollyon said, "I'm sure of you now."
  1097. And you know how Pilgrim won the day?
  1098. His fingers got hold of the sword.
  1099. And he quotes Micah 7:8,
  1100. "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy.
  1101. When I fall, I shall arise;
  1102. when I sit in darkness,
  1103. the Lord shall be a light unto me."
  1104. What Bunyan is doing is
    portraying the reality of this fight.
  1105. You've got to find the promise.
  1106. Whatever your struggle,
  1107. what sins you struggle with,
  1108. what trials you go through,
  1109. what thoughts haunt your mind
  1110. in your brain,
  1111. what attacks the devil may throw at you,
  1112. what slurs, what accusations,
  1113. this is where we must come to.
  1114. We must be a people of promise.
  1115. We must be thinking about promise.
  1116. Look, men of old like Bunyan;
  1117. men made of the same stuff we're made of,
  1118. they were finding promises in Micah.
  1119. They were finding promises in Colossians,
  1120. in Leviticus, in Psalms, Isaiah.
  1121. They were finding promises -
  1122. sometimes obscure promises
  1123. to sink their faith into.
  1124. But you'll never do that, like I said,
  1125. you'll never do that
  1126. unless you believe that every promise
  1127. is yours in Christ.
  1128. Read this book as for yourself -
  1129. even the Old Testament.
  1130. It's for you.
  1131. Don't write that off as:
  1132. well, that's for the Jews,
  1133. or it sounds like He's speaking
    to Israel all the time.
  1134. How can I lay claim to this?
  1135. That's what the
    dispensationalists will do to you.
  1136. They'll see to disarm you.
    Don't let them do that.
  1137. Don't let them steal away your promises.
  1138. Because you need those promises.
  1139. You need them to survive.
  1140. You need them to fight.
  1141. We are people of promise.
  1142. We are partakers of the promise.
  1143. Remember that.
  1144. We are people of the promise.
  1145. We have promises.
  1146. And God's given us a bunch of them.
  1147. They're His promises.
  1148. They're not just worldly promises,
  1149. vague promises.
  1150. They're God-given promises
  1151. that He's given to us to fight
  1152. the good fight of faith with.
  1153. To seize hold of. To put our weight on.
  1154. Like I said before, climb on these.
  1155. Even if it comes down to two words:
  1156. My love.
  1157. Or three words: There's still room.
  1158. I mean, whatever it is, look.
  1159. Look. Search. Know.
  1160. Read your Scriptures.
  1161. Be here.
  1162. Arm yourselves.
  1163. People of promise.
  1164. Arm yourselves.
  1165. We have a promise Giver.
  1166. You don't need every single promise
  1167. every single day.
  1168. You can't even think of all of them.
  1169. But it may be just two words.
  1170. It may be three words
  1171. that will carry you victoriously in battle
  1172. against an archangel.
  1173. Isn't that amazing?
  1174. That's what you've been given.
  1175. That is the offensive weapon
  1176. that we're going to come to
  1177. in Ephesians 6.
  1178. The sword of the Spirit.
  1179. You can defeat powers
  1180. and principalities of wickedness,
  1181. sometimes through two or three words.
  1182. If your faith will see in those words
  1183. a promise of the living God
  1184. and hold fast.
  1185. You'll resist the devil and he'll flee.
  1186. May God help us, brethren.
  1187. Father, we pray,

  1188. give us these words.
  1189. Give us these promises.
  1190. Help us to find them.
  1191. Help my brothers and
    sisters to find the ones
  1192. that they need now to deal with
  1193. what they're dealing with in their lives,
  1194. even on the best days,
  1195. the glorious days,
  1196. the sun-shining days,
  1197. we still need to live on promise.
  1198. Lord, give us minds and hearts
  1199. that work right.
  1200. Sound minds
  1201. where Scripture is real;
  1202. where it flows.
  1203. Help us to fight
  1204. just like our Savior fought.
  1205. When the devil brought his accusations
  1206. and his temptations,
  1207. our Master answered perfectly
  1208. with Scripture.
  1209. All three responses from Deuteronomy.
  1210. Help us to handle Scripture like that.
  1211. To know how to answer.
  1212. Lord, arm us. Equip us.
  1213. Help us to be like Bunyan,
  1214. and even more, help us to be like Christ.
  1215. We pray for His help and in His name,
  1216. Amen.